Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
First line: There are few things in this world that can simultaneously delight and dismay in the same manner as a formal dinner party.
Review: This second book in Kowal's Glamourist series returns to the Regency world she created in Shades of Milk and Honey (my review here), but Kowal departs from the strongly Austen-y feel of the first to a more standard paranormal historical feel -- a development I welcome!
Jane and her new husband find themselves in Belgium for their honeymoon, and they use the time to study some of the Continental glamour techniques and skills, as well as experimenting with the use of glass in glamour work. But Napoleon escapes Elba and suddenly they're at the front lines of battle. Unhesitating in their support of the British army, their loyalty to country and their skill in glamour make them targets.
As with the first book, I think heightened expectation set me up for disappointment, for while I liked this one more than Shades of Milk and Honey, I wasn't in swoons as I imagined I would. Once again, I yearned for more -- more detail, more character depth, more exploration of the world and its mores, that kind of thing. Kowal evokes warm intimacy, real sexual chemistry, and devoted friendship between Jane and Vincent, but it's done in quick brushstrokes that didn't satisfy me.
There was also a huge plot element I found problematic, but can't really discuss without spoiling it, so check out my GoodReads review if you want all the spoiler-y deets.
In rereading this review, I can see I'm damning with faint praise -- which isn't my intention. (I'm hooked enough that I'm starting the fourth book!) It's fluffy, Regency-ish fun, in which artists use magic, there are no love triangles, and we follow a couple through their new marriage (which is refreshing!).
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Regency / 19th Century / Magic / Napoleon / Marriage / Pregnancy / Espionage)
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books (4/10/2012)
Source: My public library
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction