Lady Be Good by Amber Brock

Lady Be Good

Amber Brock

Kitty Tessler, a socialite, wakes up to the world beyond her privileged corner of Manhattan when she meets Max. Set in the 1950s in New York, Miami, and Havana, Kitty must consider her choices and her future.

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Set in the 1950s, Lady Be Good marks Amber Brock's mesmerizing return, sweeping readers into the world of the mischievous, status-obsessed daughter of a hotel magnate and the electric nightlife of three iconic cities: New York, Miami, and Havana.

Kitty Tessler is the winsome and clever only child of self-made hotel and nightclub tycoon Nicolas Tessler. Kitty may not have the same pedigree as the tennis club set she admires, but she still sees herself as every inch the socialite--spending her days perfecting her "look" and her nights charming all the blue-blooded boys who frequent her father's clubs. It seems like the fun will never end until Kitty's father issues a terrible ultimatum: she may no longer date the idle rich. Instead, Kitty must marry Andre, her father's second-in-command, and take her place as the First Lady of his hotel empire. Kitty is forced to come up with a wily and elaborate plan to protect her own lofty ideas for the future, as well as to save her best friend, Henrietta Bancroft, from a doomed engagement; Kitty will steal Henrietta's fiancé, a fabulously wealthy but terribly unkind man from a powerful family--thereby delivering the one-two punch of securing her now-fragile place on the social ladder and keeping her friend from a miserable marriage.
     Then Kitty meets Max, a member of a band visiting New York from her father's Miami club, and her plans take a turn. Smitten, but still eager to convince her father of her commitment to Andre, Kitty and Hen follow Max, Andre, and the rest of the band back down to Miami--and later to Cuba. As Kitty spends more time with Max, she begins waking up to the beauty--and the injustice--of the world beyond her small, privileged corner of Manhattan. And when her well-intended yet manipulative efforts backfire, Kitty is forced to reconsider her choices and her future before she loses everyone she loves.

Advance Galley Reviews

Quick read. Interesting characters and entertaining story. Like books set in historical times and getting an author's perspective of that time.

Lady be Good by Amber Brock is a journey of self-discovery and almost a coming of age story for Kitty Tessler. Her journey, however, comes in the context of a romance. The romance plots in many ways takes over. The statement about themes of equality and prejudice is still made but in the context of the romance, making both less impactful. The end result is a simpler summer beach read, as the cover suggests. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read.

I was attracted to the book because of the title and description, but I could not get past the first chapters to finish the book. I did not care for Kitty at all even though I was ready to like her.

This book had it all, I loved the glamorous era plus the different settings. It begins when Kitty Tessler, who is the daughter of a self-made hotel, nightclub tycoon who happens to have made it by a lot of hard work and he's not accepted into the snobby upper-crust "country club" set that his daughter, Kitty so desires to be a part of. She's a beautiful young woman who has it all but it's not enough for Kitty. Her best friend, Henrietta Bancroft is part of the "country club" set and she's engaged to a man who is a womanizing, cheat who is from a very wealthy family this union is about the worst thing that could happen to poor Henrietta. Everyone knows his true colors but they turn a blind eye to it because basically, it's an arranged marriage between two very social, powerful families. When Kitty's father, gives her Nicolas gets tired of Kitty wasting time and money chasing what she sees as her dreams, he offers her two choices; she can learn the family business from the ground up or she can marry Andre, her father's second in command. She's blown away, she's not going to marry Andre, who is a perfectly nice man but he's just not for her. She and "Hen" decide to go to Miami to see how hotels work there as and to keep Hen away from her awful fiance. When they arrive in Miami, they are taken by the sunshine and exotic locale. Kitty learns a few valuable lessons in life when she catches a glimpse of what really matters in life. That's one of the things I liked about this book was the different settings: New York City, Maimi and finally Cuba. There was a lot too like about this book really. I would like to thank the publisher and Firsttoread for the providing me with a copy of this e-galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

A rather quick read overall. It's pretty interesting to actually read as a character develops in the that Kitty does. It's definitely worth reading and I'm glad I got a copy. 4 stars.

This book was a surprising delight. I initially found myself to be frustrated & annoyed with Kitty and her self centered immaturity. Throughout the book we slowly see her grow and become more culturally educated as well as learning who she was. In the end she had me feeling a little proud & rooting for her. This was a fun quick summer read!

Lady Be Good is set in 1950s New York City, Miami, and Cuba, in the world of nightclubs, fancy drinks, handsome musicians, and just a hint of social change. It is a bright and breezy story of a young woman with new money who has set her sites on climbing the ladder of high society, no matter the cost. Much to her surprise, she begins to fall for a man who most certainly will not help her make her mark among New York City’s elite. Her new relationship opens her eyes to realities she had never seen before and pulls her, ever-so-slowly, out of her sheltered world. I enjoyed seeing how Kitty’s perspective and priorities grew throughout this novel and loved the twist of social consciousness infused in this fun summer read.

I received an advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. I really tried to like this book, but after a few chapters, I gave up. Kitty is just so unlikable. She's spoiled and shallow. Judging from the book synopsis, it sounds like she eventually starts to overcome these flaws, but I just couldn't get that far.

4/5 stars Plot: 4/5 - All throughout reading this book I have made this comparison and I stand by it- Lady Be Good is like if you mashed up Emma by Jane Austen and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (the incredible, grossly-unrated prequel to Dirty Dancing. If you've never seen it I highly recommend... hello young Diego Luna). AND I LOVED IT. This novel uses the social commentary and meddlesome protagonist of Emma mixed with the setting and chemistry of Havana Nights and it just worked sooooo well. The premise of the story begins in 1953 New York City where our main character, Kitty, is a hotel heiress with one thing on her agenda- snagging a husband who will place her atop the social ladder. Her best friend Henrietta (Hen) has such a fiancé... but he's also a cheating jerk. Kitty devises a plan where she can kill two birds with one stone: if she can break up her best friend's engagement, she can free her friend for a man worthy of her, and snatch up the scoundrel for herself. Of course, none of this goes according to plan, especially when handsome musicians Sebastian and Max are thrown in to the mix and Kitty's antics carry her and Hen to Miami and eventually Cuba. I loved the general plot and ESPECIALLY the main romance. The only reason I took a star off for this category was because we had the briefest glimpses of the beginning of the Cuban revolution and I felt that could have been better utilized and delved into further. Characters: 4/5 - This book had such a fun cast of characters. Of course our main character, Kitty, is the star of the show- she begins the novel with some hidden depths but quite shallow overall, and certainly too fond of interfering with other people's lives. Over the course of the story she goes through some beautiful character development and I loved that this was spurred by another character but ultimately a part of her own journey and something that happened quite independently. I loved seeing her social awareness developing (aka she became woke), because I think that's a very relatable experience for teens/young adults of this time and was paralleled very nicely in the very discriminatory 1950s setting. Oh, and I loved how much Kitty loved and appreciated her dad. Too often you get these rich girl characters who rebel against or take advantage of their dads but their relationship was very genuine and sweet. Her best friend Hen was super cute and endearing and I LOVED seeing her learn to stand up for herself later in the novel. It didn't seem too out of character but, again, like a natural development for her. I happened to predict her plot line but could NOT have been happier to be right because it was too cute. Max and Sebastian I'm going to talk about in tandem- though they are very much individual characters, we rarely see the two apart, and when we do Max is still usually talking about Sebastian so it just makes sense to me. These guys were SO CHARMING and I loved them to pieces. In fact I wish this book had more of them both, and they were pretty prevalent. Both of these men have faced discrimination- Max is Jewish, Sebastian is Cuban- and though this of course has effects on them they are very much whole characters who aren't just here for the social commentary. I found them both to be so charming and sweet- I found their friendship believable and I very, very much loved Max as a romantic interest. Oh, and I loved that they're musicians because musician tropes are cute as can be. Minor characters- Andre was cool, no complaints about him. Kitty's dad was totally a dad in the best way and, as I said earlier, I loved their relationship with each other. Charles was a jerkwad but he served the plot well. Pacing: 4/5 - I thought overall this book was a quick read and had great pacing! I personally would have liked more time in Cuba and talking about the issues there, but other than that I have no complaints. Writing: 3/5 - This was solid, did-it's-job writing. Nothing astoundingly good, nothing distractingly bad. Nothing to write home about, but there were a few very subtle romantic moments that had my heart fluttering for sure. Enjoyment: 5/5 - I loved this story! Despite the minor complaints I have, I really enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it for fans of historical fiction that's a little more on the lighter side. The main romance was SUPER CUTE and not neatly tied up with a bow, which I appreciated as well. I'll definitely be picking up a physical copy of this book for my collection.

(Review below does have minor spoilers) This book was so much more than what I was expecting. It took me a really long time to get into it, I really couldn’t understand or relate to its main character, Kitty. The author made good work of spending half a book convincing me that Kitty was vapid and shallow, essentially making me dislike her. I couldn’t even understand why when prompted, the character couldn’t even mention any other likes besides fashion. I wish the author had added more inner monologue so I could have gotten to know the Kitty from the last third of the book, the Kitty I couldn’t get enough of. She was so brave and inspiring, and I wish I could had seen it earlier. I also wished Kitty and Hen had gone explore Havana on their own, but I feel like an editor read that scene and thought “nah, cut it, it’s fluff.” But I wish they had gone out and explored it. I’d have loved to hear more from it, and how the experience would have evolved their characters more. Instead, we got more pool time. Sigh. I though it was a wonderful story, and well worth the read. I just wanted to get to know Kitty a bit earlier.

This is a fun, brisk read with some depth -- similar to the vivid descriptions of the shallow society and club scenes of New York, Miami and Havana that dominate the tone. A month out of their bubble and brushes with different types of people radically change schemer Kitty and her friend Hen, and they tr;y to think for themselves. The skepticism Kitty meets from those around her when trying to change seems fitting for the time, but counter to the plot -- it would have been great to focus more on how she handles her change and less on setting her up. Also, she has one grand plot and allusions to some other ones, but somehow earned a huge reputation among people who weren't involved in that. This is an interesting testament to how powerful the societal forces are stacked against certain people, but how each person should try to fight them nonetheless -- some just take longer to realize it than others.

I enjoyed the book for what it was. It's a light beachy read that I would suggest to my friends. I have never been to some of these places in the book so it was interesting to read about.

Lady Be Good is a light historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed a view into life in NYC, Miami, and Havana in the 1950’s. While Kitty was not the most likeable or relatable main character, I enjoyed seeing her grow. She learned a lot about her world and how poorly certain people are treated based on their race, religion, and status. Max was a great influence on her perspective. I especially appreciated how she challenged herself to get out into the city to see things from another perspective than Upper East Side. It was fascinating to see her start to learn on hotel management from Andre after her life awakening, since during that time women with her status weren’t expected to work. I also really loved her friendship with Hen. Kitty definitely took some actions that were not right and had some sneaky ulterior motives, but she really did have Hen’s best interests in her heart. I appreciated that Hen didn’t immediately forgive Kitty for her actions, but that they were starting to work on repairing their friendship since this felt more realistic.

A good beach read. The plot is a little simple and predictable, but it did manage to get me caring about the characters and interested in seeing how it all worked out. The scenes set in Miami and Cuba were especially entertaining, and gave a great sense of the local color.

Light and entertaining. The main character is a self centered, shallow spoiled girl , who strives, plots and schemes to be a social climber, and for a time makes this her main goal in life, always justifying her often hurtful decisions. Kitty Isn't dumb, but she is a product of a time when women were still supposed to look pretty and not be too smart. If you are looking for depth of character and detailed plot, this Isn't the book to read. But if you want a fun read, sit back, relax, and start reading.

I really tried to like this book, but by Chapter 4 I had to throw in the towel. The author’s style and sentence structure are awkward. It was impossible to move beyond these elements.

I really found Kitty to be a deplorable character and almost gave up the book because she was so superficial. I became drawn to the scenery and the flair of this book so I proceeded. Kitty had a lot more depth than I previously thought, but still came out not liking her much. Her scheming was obvious and it seemed ridiculous how quickly she was forgiven. Thanks for the ARC, First to Read.

Kitty Tessler is a charming character, and the novel follows her schemes and their aftermath from New York City night clubs to Havana casinos and back. These settings are richly described and the characters are most engaging when exploring new settings. Otherwise, there's little development and even less tension. Great light beach read.

Lady Be Good is historical fiction novel set in the 1950s in New York, Miami, and Cuba and tells the story of Kitty Tessler, a spoiled, wealthy, conniving, social climber. When her father gives her an ultimatum, she schemes and connives to find a way to spare herself the indignity of settling down with a man who isn't from the "proper" circles. Then she meets Max, a band member in one of her father's clubs, and her ideas about the world and meaning of social status start to change, but it could be too late, and she could end up destroying everyone she loves with her plans. I have to say that Kitty was a shallow, vain, and manipulative character, and I disliked her for much of the novel. I only continued to read the book because I liked her friend Hen, and I wanted to see what was going to happen with all Kitty's scheming! And I'm glad that I did keep reading since Kitty actually did grow in the book, and I was glad to see that although more character development could have been done. This is more of a fluffy historical type fiction than I'm used to reading, but it did have a few moments of substance. The glitz and glamour were just fabulous though, and I loved reading about New York, Miami, and Cuba during this era. This is an enjoyable read...quick and breezy, but it would have been better if the main character had not been tedious for much of the book. **Thank you First to Read and Crown Publishing Group for my review copy to read in exchange for my fair and honest review. **

I generally love period piece stories, but this book didn't hold my attention so I had trouble finishing it. I liked the story taking place in a few different places: New York, Miami, and Cuba and enjoyed getting a glimpse of the 1950's. Aside from that, I found the plot to be weak. I'm open to reading another book by this author though.

4.5 Stars As someone who spends copious amounts of time in New York and is moving to Miami in just a few weeks, this book had me instantly captivated. I thought the 1950s clothing, culture, and norms were extremely well-researched and demonstrated the author's effort to create a believable AND entertaining story. No doubt, this novel is for someone who enjoys analyzing the narrator - Kitty is a psychological creature who thinks, overthinks and strategizes every single thing she does. You'd expect it to be hard to relate to a Russian heritage woman trying to social climb in 1950s New York, but the author's specific memories and plot points allow the reader to join Kitty on her quest.

3.5 STARS It is the 1950's, Kitty Tessler is the only child of Nicolas Tessler, who lives a "high" life of freedom with daddy paying for everything. With her single days seemly coming to an end when her father tells her it is time to settle down and marry; and even he suggests Andre, his right hand man is the perfect match. When Kitty objects he then explains she needs to learn everything about the nightclub business starting with cleaning the toilets! Kitty decides she can not only help her best friend Henrietta "Hen" find a better fiance she can also help herself! From New York, to Miami and then Cuba - Kitty realizes she she may have gone too far and lose everything that is most important to her. Thanks to First to Read for the ARC.

I really enjoyed this book. Great Beach Park. Enjoyed reading about Miami and Cuba in the 1950s. Enjoyable characters , storyline was a little long, nevertheless I enjoyed it and would read more books by this author

I felt the storyline was flat and lacked the passion that makes a good romance.

I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I read it in one sitting. Something about it sucked me in and made me keep reading to see how it would all turn out. Kitty is a master manipulator, and probably should have been an unlikable protagonist, but somehow I just had to root for her. I enjoyed seeing her perspective grow and change throughout the story. Though this is really a light read, it does address issues of class and race in the 1950s. At its heart there's a great message about standing up for what's right. Overall this was a fun, light read and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.

This is fun romp through the 1950s in New York City with Kitty Tessler. It's a good light read that does address the changing times as the 1960s approach. Even though Kitty is a little conniver, she is a likable character. The novel does address race, class and standing up for what you believe. I would say Beatriz Williams fans would enjoy this one though it may be a bit lighter and more predictable than William's novels. This was my first Amber Brock novel and since I enjoyed it, I will check out her A Fine Imitation as well.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review. The year is 1953, the place is New York. Kitty Tessler is rich, carefree and conniving. Kitty has everything except what she really wants – to be accepted into the fold of the social elite of the day. By her calculations, she is snubbed because her family is part of the new money generation. She longs to marry into an old money family so she can claim her spot in the social circles that talk about her behind her back. But time is running out for her plan. Her father owns posh hotels and has given her an ultimatum. If she doesn’t stop partying and settle down, he will cut off her funds and insist she start working for the hotel. As if that isn’t bad enough, she will start at the bottom. Becoming a maid will boot her out of the edge of society she is clinging to, so something has to be done, and soon. To make matters even worse, her father has come up with a prospective groom that will thwart her plan to marry into a well-heeled family. This is when Kitty begins to hatch an elaborate plan. She has to work quickly and carefully manipulating, planning and lying to those closest to her. What she doesn’t bargain on is falling for the wrong guy and losing someone she dearly loves. Lady Be Good is light enough to be a beach read, but has an underlying current of a much deeper novel. The plot is interesting, and the real beauty of the story lies in the characters. The main characters are flawed, much like any and every one you may know. No one is perfect, especially Kitty. She is not always likeable, often abrasive and occasionally schemes and plots at other’s expense. The beauty of her and the other characters is the growth they experience as the novel progresses. One of my favorite quotes is, “Sometimes a part of you must die to begin living again.”  This resonates with me as an integral part of emotional growth on many levels. This is the first novel I have read by Amber Brock. Her critically acclaimed debut book, A Fine Imitation is also available.  Both books are historical novels. Brock brilliantly takes readers back in time with relevant historical facts woven into her fictional character’s lives. I recommend stepping back in time with Kitty and enjoy the ride in vintage style.   Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Light read but not my new favorite book. The setting of the 50’s was interesting.

Kind of a whimsical silly fantasy of a book. I’m not sure I liked it

At first I thought this was going to be the most ridiculous story, flimsy and impossible. However, the read progressed to become a story about love, personal growth and understanding.

I enjoyed this book. It was definitely a light read. Kitty was very selfish and a horrible friend but I really enjoyed the settings in the book. I think that is what made the book for me.

Amber Brock’s Lady Be Good started out as a funny story for me that revolved around Kitty Tessler, a rich socialite and descendent of Russian immigrants plotting and planning her way to elevating herself in society while simultaneously trying to rid her best friend of an egotistical, no-good man regarded as a perfect pairing in society. Perhaps it was funny to me because it seemed so shallow and silly to me. The story finally took on true heart and sincerity when Kitty’s plot gets her involved with Max, a Jewish musician based in Miami. Her travel to Miami and Cuba, her growing relationship with Max, and her opportunity to see the world and herself in a deeper way turned this from a funny to sweet novel, reflecting on the things we should truly take seriously in the world.

A romance novel with quite a twist. Kitty Tessler, a conniving "society" woman, wanting to be in the "upper social class" in NYC meets her match in Max. Max, who would never be accepted into her social desires. Kitty learns to grow up and become the woman she could be proud of. Too bad it too all but a few pages of the book for Kitty to do this. Liked the premise, the actions almost realistic, but the whiney, conniving Kitty took up too much time. NY, Miami and Cuba from a rich perspective was pretty interesting.

I had high hopes for this book because I really enjoyed Amber Brock's A Fine Imitation, but it fell flat for me. It had no real plot, especially for the first half, and Kitty was a bit annoying. It also felt really long when it was actually less than 300 pages. The second half redeemed it a little for me, but it was still not a favorite read.

My God if Kitty Tessler isn't the most manipulative and conniving little social climber I've ever rooted for! Ha! Her plans are quite selfish and yet? One totally can relate to her motivations. NYC, Miami and Havana in 1953 are wonderful setting

Calling this light reading is an understatement. The self redemption is ok, but the entire story was just trite, boring and not believable. Even the “adventures” were silly. Can’t recommend this book. Thanks First to Read for the advance copy.

It took a long time to really get into the book. Kitty was a master manipulator and eventually hurt all her friends.she would do anything and hurt anyone to get her way. In the end she is totally changed and given second chances at love and friendship.

Amazing book. A novel following the times of a not quite "A" list woman searching for her Romeo in the tennis club crowd in the 1950s. As usual, she veers off course... Well written with good characters.

This book just did not grab me.

The message of the narrative it great but getting there was a bore. Kitty is difficult to like, all the babble of clothes, drinks, scheming and other such nonsense was trite after a while. The characters, the dialog felt incredibly stilted. There was an awkward feel throughout the book - call it boredom or a disconnect, there wasn't a smooth flow. The ending was deflating. Fast read, incredibly taxing, lackluster.

Kitty Tessler wants nothing more than to find a man she can marry who has status and money so she can finally fit in with New York's elite social circle. It's the 1950s and despite Kitty having money due to her father's hotels and nightclubs, she just doesn't have the old money or pedigree that matters more than anything to the old money set. When her father gives her an ultimatum, Kitty comes up with a plan that will spare her from having to settle down with her father's hotel manager and will hopefully save her best friend, Henrietta, from marrying her cheating fiancé, Charles. But Kitty's world is turned upside down when she meets Max, a member of a band who plays at her father's club. As she spends more and more time with Max, she begins to question many of her beliefs. But with her schemes already set forth in motion it might be too late to change course and her plans could backfire big time. Kitty is unlikable, manipulative, and shallow but despite those things I found myself highly interested in how her story was going to play out. I'm glad I stuck with the book because even though Kitty is more like this weird caricature at first, there is definitely some personal growth by the end of the story. I loved the chemistry between Kitty and Max and also Kitty's friendship with her best friend, Hen. My only complaint for the book is I needed more from the ending as it felt like too much was jammed into the last few pages and it left me feeling slightly disappointed that an important piece of the story felt more like an afterthought. Overall this was a fun read though and I recommend giving this one a chance because there is some substance to the story than it at first appears. Thank you to First to Read for the advance digital copy!


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