Shades of Milk and Honey

somahGlamourist Histories Book 1
Mary Robinette Kowal
TOR Books 2010
Kindle ed, 208 pages, also in hardcover
Genre(s) historical romance with magic, fantasy romance
Source Author’s rep

Other books in this series: #2 Glamour in Glass, #3 Without a Summer, #4 Valour and Vanity, #5 Of Noble Family

The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written

Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

About the Author:
Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and her short story “For Want of a Nail” won the 2011 Hugo. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies. She is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass (Tor 2012).

mrk.jpgMary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She also records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi.

Mary lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative. I am providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰
Yes, yes, yes! You must read this book if you like Jane Austen style stories and magic. This was wonderful. The added touch of magic to the JA style was really marvelous. I really wanted to say magical, but…well, it was!

We meet Jane Ellsworth, who is plain with a large nose and mousy brown hair. That’s her personal description of her appearance. Her sister, Melody, is gorgeous with lovely golden hair and is a happy flirt. Why would Melody be jealous of Jane? Melody took the same lessons with the same instructor when they were old enough to learn glamour. She simply doesn’t have the same talent with it. And it seems to be making a difference.

While Melody can swish in the draperies for the party, it’s Jane who has to add all the details and perfect the elements that go into what’s there so that the draperies hang just so and the tasseled tie backs are all tied at the same length. She makes the fruit arrangement in the epergne for the table setting as well since she can perfect the blush on a peach until it looks as if you should be able to bite it and the juice would run down your chin. You see, women are supposed to use their glamour for household things to enrich the home. While for men, glamour is an art.

That’s where we meet Mr. Vincent. The very mysterious Mr. Vincent. Who is he really? What makes him so rude to Jane? She was admiring his glamour and trying to see how he created it. She tried to do something similar and added a little something to it. She felt she could learn so much from an artist as great as he.

The book was paced much like a tea party. Everyone arrived and was admired for this or that. Soon, they are all settled into their places and exchange a bit of gossip. Then for the big moment, the tea and goodies are served. A cup is tipped over and tea is spilled. Someone chokes on crumbs from a tea cake. A lace hankie has been misplaced. Please, pass the glamour and gossip. Then everyone is set straight and all lost items returned to their rightful owners and people are on their way. But did they all go home with the ones they came with?

Yes, you really do need to read this book!

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