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Mary Robinette Kowal's first entry in this series, Shades of Milk and Honey, was a very standard regency romance with a very fun and genre appropriate magic system. It channeled Jane Austen very effectively, but stayed so close to the Pride and Prejudice formula that, while very enjoyable, was also fairly predictable.
Glamour in Glass keeps the regency voice and style, but ventures out of the drawing room into an adventure that is more Dumas than Austen. The result is charming, exciting, and sometimes touching. The author's prose and storytelling has improved noticeably from her last book, which was still very well written but slightly more forced.
As in Shades of Milk and Honey, the author herself narrates the book. She does quite well with both her British and French accents - at least my untrained ear was not bothered by either. I found the performance to be very pleasant.
While regency fantasy isn't the genre I would normally pick up, I would happily recommend this to any fantasy fan who doesn't require dark, moody environments and angsty endings. Happy listening!
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Glamour in Glass left me incredibly frustrated after a promising beginning. I liked so much about the first half of it, but the second half was riddled with all the weaknesses of Shades of Milk and Honey. And unlike Shades, which at least had a satisfying ending, it offered a culmination clumsily executed and much too convenient.
The trouble, I think, came from the author's seeming inability to know just what to make of her story. Is it meant to be a domestic drama about early married life? A tale about magical innovation? A Napoleonic spy caper? The author's indecision made for awkward pacing, and as the focus shifted to the intrigue surrounding Napoleon's return to France, she fumbled the remaining plot threads.
Early on, I really did like how she portrayed the everyday adjustments and struggles to communicate inherent in a new marriage - not a territory much explored in romance novels. I thought Jane & Vincent's love for one another, their difficulties and their mistakes were written very realistically. At first, Jane's pregnancy added to the effectiveness of the portrayal. The author was brave to show a woman's ambivalence at the possibility of becoming a mother as well as her excitement.
Unfortunately, the pregnancy became a tedious burden later on, because of this world's rule that women "with child" must not work glamour. The reasons for this precaution were never explained and didn't make sense in a society valuing glamour as a "womanly art." The prohibition took Jane off center stage, and just as in Shades, the story slowed to a snail's pace. The author needs to stop spending so much time in Jane's head, because her insecurities and constant worries - about her attractiveness, her worth, her husband's love - become insufferable to the point I wanted to scream at her, "Get over yourself, already!"
About two-thirds of the way through, I was still wondering when the story would kick into high gear. It finally did - only to offer a clumsily executed spy plot that read like Trixie Belden does espionage.
Honestly, I rolled my eyes at one improbable development after another, until I just wanted the book to end. Everything worked out for the "good guys" MUCH too easily, with their enemies conveniently behaving in improbable ways (even though Jane and Vincent themselves wandered into Too Stupid to Live territory).
The author's narration compared to Shades was weak also, as she forgot to keep track of who should speak with which accent. She sometimes neglected to give French-speaking characters any accent at all.
I will eventually listen to the third book in this series, as I've already downloaded it as a freebie from an Audible sale. But I definitely plan on taking a break from this world - long enough to forget the bad taste this book left in my mouth.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed listening to "Shades of Milk and Honey", so I went on and got "Glamour in Glass" as well. In terms of the story, the book is entertaining, the characters interesting. But I found the poor performance really distracting in this volume. The narrator's put-on British accent was already a bit hard to swallow in the first volume. "Glamour in Glass" is set in large part in Belgium, with short passages entirely in French, and long passages in fake French accent. The pronounciation of both was really, really poor to the point that it distracted from the story in a big way.
I thought I could ignore it, but now I think I'd have been better off reading the book, instead of listening to it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful