The Season – Sarah MacLean
The Summary (from jacket):
Seventeen-year-old Lady Alexandra Stafford doesn’t fit into the world of Regency London – she’s strong-willed, sharp-tongued, and she absolutely loathes dress fittings. Unfortunately, her mother has been waiting for years for Alex to be old enough to take part in the social whirlwind of a London season so she can be married off to someone safe, respectable, wealthy, and almost certainly boring. But Alex is much more interested in adventure than romance.
Between sumptuous balls, lavish dinner parties and country weekends, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get entangled in her biggest scrape yet. When the Earl of Blackmoor is killed in a puzzling accident, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. It’s a mystery brimming with espionage, murder and suspicion. As she and Gavin grow closer, will Alex’s heart be stolen in the process?
Romance and danger fill the air, as this year’s season begins!
Okay, to be honest, I almost skipped this ‘09 release altogether. It wasn’t on my to-read list this year, and despite the glowing reviews, I found the premise to be a little yawn-inducing. You know how it is with historical novels – you read one, you’ve read them all, right?
I had no idea a historical novel could be so much fun! My experience with the genre is pretty limited – my YA one exclusively confined to two Meg Cabot novels – but really, you don’t get a bunch of 17th century English high-society Debs more fun than this.
Alex Stafford is a strong, level-headed, low-maintenance sort with four brothers and a father who pays attention (and encourages her to be smart, not airheaded – go Dad!). Her mother’s probably the most normal of fictitious mothers you’ll find in the entire genre – there’s no swooning episodes a la Mrs. Bennet to be found here! Alex’s two best friends share her mindset, but have personalities of their own. It might seem like a huge cast to keep track of at first, but it really isn’t. There is no way you can confuse Vivi with Ella, or vice versa, and each of the Stafford brothers seems to emerge with his own set of quirks. And then there’s Gavin… oh yum, Gavin.
Of course, it’s a little longer than the standard fun read, but Sarah MacLean very cleverly uses each page to its fullest, with descriptions and characterizations galore. And that’s where the biggest forte of this novel is, the fact that every single one of the characters has a unique personality, and they don’t blend together.
The mystery in the story might be unraveled a little sooner than ideal for a mystery novel, and you’ll know exactly how it ends early on, but it’s the ride you need to experience. Excellent imagery, great use of characterization, and a romance that leaves you swooning. You’ll wish for sequels with Alex and Gavin, and more stories for every single one of the other characters!
This one’s deserves nothing less than the full five crowns, and maybe a fun, girly tiara too!
PS: Thanks again to Saundra for sending me a copy!
PPS: Why do most historical novels have a particularly irritating character titled “Stanhope”? It’s getting rather peculiar.
PPPS I found out right at the end of the book that Sarah and I went to the same college. Eeep! So obviously, I’m reading through this again soon, to see if we’ve been in any of the same “places”. Hey, I practically lived on the staircase that inspired the one in Gone with the Wind, I’m long overdue for another lit-squee in my life 😉