Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Manors and Marches--Blog Tour review of The Second Season
I occasionally know the authors whose books I feature on my blog--Lauren Skidmore, Emma Parker and Rebecca Greenwood, for example--but I had a fun opportunity last weekend.
The Sandy, UT Barnes and Noble had an Authorpalooza, where 30 authors did signings. I think our marketing person said 20 of them were Cedar Fort authors. Some of these people I had never heard of. One person's appearance reminded me that I needed to buy her cookbook for my cousin. I got a ride from Rebecca and said hi to my old friends from Salt Lake City Comic-Con a few weeks ago and the author with whom I shared a book birthday..
Most of my contact was with the person sitting next to me, Heather Chapman. After worrying that she wasn't speaking up enough (a worry everyone shares at some point in the publicity process), she devised a points system and a prize. Nervous as we both were to be relentlessly cheerful extroverts, we talked to people as much as possible, handed out cards and bookmarks as much as possible and came up with clever ways to connect with our readers. When I won by what I think was a narrower margin than what she actually did, she bought me a chile hot chocolate to celebrate me being more (according to her) audacious.
I tell you this story to introduce the sort of soul who wrote this book. When I was dating my ex, John, his mother introduced me to Frances Burney. Writing a generation before Jane Austen, Burney wrote the primers for the sorts of books that Austen produced. The social customs that we take for granted after watching Pride and Prejudice a few too many times are explored and explained in her books and they're utterly delightful. The protagonists were typically sheltered girls or young women approaching the social season for the first time and without much preparation. Some characters were even introduced only by their trope--one of my favorite of her characters is known only as The Fop.
Any time you mention Regency romance to me, I immediately start talking about Frances Burney. Frankly, I think she's the most positive thing I got out of my relationship with John.
The Second Season reminds me strongly of its inspirations (and I'm impressed that Heather says it was somewhat inspired by her grandparents), but while she calls it a Regency romance, I found myself reading Burney into a lot of the pages. Moreover, the humor and adventure of the main characters made me feel as though I was sitting down with my well-worn copy of Little Women. I spent more time caring about the family dynamics and the occasional background mysteries than anything else.
This is not because the romance was badly-written. I prefer books that establish a world and an ensemble cast and then tell the story of how a love interest finds his or her place within that world. I feel as though Heather did a great job doing that sort of world-building and allowing us to form our own opinions of who should be welcomed into that microsociety.
The plot brings to mind Pride and Prejudice, but the characters seem to come out of some of my other favorites--Persuasion and Emma. They are neither dull nor standard and they definitely have a kindred spirit with the person who sat next to me in Barnes and Noble.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Second-Season-Heather-Chapman-ebook/dp/B01KPDTD1I/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.