Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal first attracted me because of its Regency time period setting, then for its fantasy elements. It was an interesting mix.
This first struck me as a novel of manners, and reminded me much of Jane Austen's characters and their interactions. One of the largest fantasy elements of the novel is that of "glamour" which I find a bit hard to describe, but importantly to this novel, it is a skill that young ladies should acquire, in addition to playing music, drawing and embroidery. Our heroine, Jane, is very skilled with glamour, but is just unattractive enough to be close to becoming a spinster. Her sister, Melody, is the pretty, younger sister, who despite her beaus, is actually jealous of her sister's accomplishments.
As the novel begins, the neighbors have hired a famous glamourist, Mr. Vincent (apparently, men can be skilled with this art too), to enchant their dining room while they entertain a young Army Captain. Other neighbors are active with guests as the novel progresses; Mr. Dunkirk also brings his sister Beth to visit for the summer. The book brings together society's hierarchy, romance, art, lies, jealousy and betrayal. I thought I knew where Shades of Milk and Honey was going, but I was happily deceived with a few twists in toward the end.
Recommended and I look forward to Ms. Kowal's next book.
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal published in 2010 by Tor Books ISBN 9781429963367
This book was sent to me for review Macmillan Publishers; no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review.