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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Under a Gilded Moon

ISBN: 9781542019415

Publisher: Lake Union

Publication Date:12/01/2020

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars + Top Books of 2020

Book Giveaway Contest

Dec 1-15, 2020

Enter Here Crawdads meets the Crawleys…Threaded through with a meticulously researched, well-crafted mystery, this is historical fiction at its best.” —Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue From the bestselling author of A Tangled Mercy comes an enthralling novel of secrets, a tumultuous war of ideas, and murder as classes collide in the shadow of Biltmore House.

Biltmore House, a palatial mansion being built by the Vanderbilts, American “royalty,” is in its final stages of construction in North Carolina. The country’s grandest example of privilege, it symbolizes the aspirations of its owner and the dreams of a girl, just as driven, who lives in its shadow.

Kerry MacGregor’s future is derailed when, after two years in college in New York City, family obligations call her home to the beautiful Appalachians. She is determined to distance herself from the opulence she sees rising in the Blue Ridge Mountains, however close its reach. Her family’s land is among the last pieces required to complete the Biltmore Estate. But something more powerful than an ambitious Vanderbilt heir could change Kerry’s fate as, one by one, more outsiders descend on the changing landscape—a fugitive from Sicily, a reporter chasing a groundbreaking story, a debutante tainted by scandal, and a conservationist prepared to put anyone at risk to stoke the resentment of the locals.

As Kerry finds herself caught in a war between wealth and poverty, innocence and corruption, she must navigate not only her own pride and desperation to survive but also the temptations of fortune and the men who control it.

Q&A with the Author


Crawdads meets the Crawleys in Jordan-Lake’s latest, where she offers up a powerful location in the Biltmore House of Asheville, North Carolina. Pitting rugged locals against Gilded Age interlopers and threaded throughout with a meticulously researched, well-crafted mystery, this is historical fiction at its best.”

—Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

“Elegantly written and expertly crafted, Under a Gilded Moon soars as high as any piece of literature can reach. You’re transported to a time and place in history that begs [to be] read late into the night.”

—Robert Dugoni, international bestselling author of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell and the Tracy Crosswhite series

“I was swept away by this dazzling, masterfully written tale of the clash of classes and cultures around the Biltmore in North Carolina. Joy Jordan-Lake brings the past alive with impeccable details, raw emotion, and parallels to our present world. A triumph.”

—Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls

“This is historical fiction at its finest. With pitch-perfect dialogue and details so rich and so right, Joy Jordan-Lake sets us squarely—lock, stock, and barrel—in 1895 Asheville, NC, in not just one but two distinctive worlds. The grand Vanderbilt's and their luxurious Biltmore fascinated me, and the mountain people with their human struggles pulled at my heart.”

—Bren McClain, author of One Good Mama Bone, winner of the 2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction and the 2019 Patricia Winn Award for Southern Literature

Under a Gilded Moon


My Review

Two Worlds Collide

Intricately woven and meticulously researched —Joy Jordan-Lake’s UNDER A GILDED MOON is a perfect blending of fact and fiction. Rich in place, history, detail, and character. Joy brings her characters to life on the pages with emotion, resilience, hope, and courage.

Crossing several genres, from historical fiction, literary, mystery, suspense, and thriller rolled into one captivating read. Good vs. evil, there is a sharp contrast between the Appalachians’ poverty and the wealthy and privileged surrounding Biltmore— paralleling to our present-day headlines.

Protagonist Kerry MacGregor, a smart and driven young woman, and has worked hard to escape her poor background for a higher education and has been living in New York. She now is leaving college to return home to the rural mountains of North Carolina to take care of her family. Her aunt meets her on the train with her younger twin siblings.

They are headed toward Asheville, NC, to the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the journey they meet some other diverse characters, which become a big part of the storyline.

Her mom has passed away, and her dad is in poor health. He was not a nice man. They are estranged. However, now she must take care of him and her siblings, which forces her to take a job at Biltmore, the last place on earth she wants to work, along with her aunt.

Set in the late 1800s, George Vanderbilt has chosen Asheville to build his palatial estate. In doing so, his people are buying up all the land surrounding the estate. The poor, uneducated people have worked hard for their homes and trying to survive.

To the extreme, the wealthy guests and Vanderbilt’s family are on opposite sides of culture, class, education, social, and more. In addition, there is scandal, murder, and injustice with some literary twists book lovers will enjoy!

What an intriguing cast of characters! We have royalty. A fugitive from Sicily. An investigative reporter, chasing a groundbreaking story. A debutante tainted by scandal, a conservationist, and a young lady trying to achieve a life and education in New York when she is pulled back to the mountains of North Carolina and caught in the cross-fires.

If you love Asheville, NC, and the Biltmore Estate as much as I do, you will love this one! Joy is a master storyteller and brings her characters alive.

Check out my in-depth Q&A Elevator Ride Interview with Joy and learn all the behind the book moments and more about this talented author. It is one of the best.

I first was introduced to Joy’s writing with A Tangled Mercy, and when I saw Under A Gilded Moon, I knew it would be a must-read. After reading, I was blown away and realized I had not read her award-winning Blue Hole Back Home and quickly purchased the audiobook, and once again, wowed. Joy is a master of dual timelines. All three are 5 stars and highly recommend, as well as her children’s book A Crazy-Much Love.

If you have had the opportunity to read Joy’s prior books, you will fall in love with UNDER A GILDED MOON. As a North Carolina native, I have spent much time in Asheville, NC, and at the Biltmore Estate. Who doesn’t love visiting during the Christmas holidays? Check out Joy’s website and read all about the 125th Biltmore anniversary on Christmas Eve.

Curl up with a cup of tea or coffee and find a comfy chair. Joy takes us on a journey, back in history to 1895 with the Vanderbilt's and some scandalous suspense and mystery. UNDER A GILDED MOON is illuminating, lyrical, meticulously researched, and elegantly written. 5 STARS Top Books of 2020!

George Vanderbilt is definitely a favorite character as well as Kerry. To think, George with all his education, travels, culture, and wealth would come to the North Carolina mountains to build this palatial estate and come to offer many opportunities for people in the area for years to come. I love the library, which is favorite room, and at Christmas time, the estate is magical. Joy does an outstanding job with the historical notes making you want to rewind time to revisit this exciting era.

I hope you enjoy UNDER A GILDED MOON as much as I did. The book would make an elegant Christmas gift. The hardcover is stunning (with beautiful mountains under the cover jacket). Ideal for book clubs and further discussions. Highly recommend!

Book Giveaway Contest (Dec 1-15, 2020)

Behind the Scenes of Under a Gilded Moon


About the Author

Joy Jordan-Lake

Joy Jordan-Lake is the author of eight books, including A Tangled Mercy, a #1 Amazon bestseller and also an Editors’ Choice recipient from the Historical Novel Society; Blue Hole Back Home, which won the Christy Award for First Novel; and the children’s book A Crazy-Much Love.

Raised in the foothills of the Appalachians, she spent several summers in and around Asheville, North Carolina, where the Biltmore Estate is located. She continues to love the Blue Ridge Mountains and drags friends and family there with her whenever possible.

Jordan-Lake holds two master’s degrees and a PhD in English and has taught literature and writing at several universities. Now living outside Nashville, she and her husband have two daughters, a son, and a ferocious ten-pound rescue pup. To learn more about the author and her work, visit Read More

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