May. 1st, 2011

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A long time ago, I reviewed Tracy Grant's Daughter of the Game, now reprinted as Secrets of a Lady.

There are now four books in the series, and I have read them all, so I thought I'd do a recap:

Daughter of the Game/Secrets of a Lady: Publication order: 1st. Series order: 3rd. Yes, this is weird. This book had so many revelations and reversals that I honestly do not understand the existence of prequels. I thought it was fabulous, with some quibbles.

Beneath a Silent Moon: Publication order 2nd. Series order: 2nd. I thought this book magnified the quibbles, especially the soap opera family relations and overwrought politics. I don't remember much. It's...kind of irrelevant, considering what happened in Daughter of the Game. (ETA: Apparently, I reviewed Beneath a Silent Moon, too, and liked it much better at the time.

The Mask of Night: Publication order: 3rd. Series order: 4th. This was the sequel I had been waiting for! And um. Eh. Again with the complicated politics and family relations. Nobody's happy, everybody's secretly spying on everybody, our hero and heroine are glittering for society but their own relationship is as fractured as one might expect from the previous book. Unfortunately, it stays that way. I don't feel like they moved at all from the beginning to the end. It was pretty static. The plot was clever but ended up (to me) making Charles especially look really dumb. Also, it's Kindle-only, and the Kindle formatting and copyediting was problematic to say the least. At least it was cheap.

Vienna Waltz: Publication order: 4th. Series order: 1st. This was really weird, because she's with a new publisher and they wanted her to change the names of the hero and heroine. So Melanie Frasier is now Suzanne Rannoch, and Charles is now Malcolm (which you may remember was her pseudonym with the early Regencies she wrote with her mother, ha). I didn't know it was really a Frasier book going in, so it took me a while to be sure; but the continuing secondary characters all had the same names and so on.

If I had read this first, I might have liked it more. As it is...too much more soap opera family and politics, and some of it should have affected the later story/earlier books more than it did (did O'Rourke know/know of Princess Tatiana? If not, why not? Etc.) Some foreshadowing for later books, which were actually earlier books, which... Yeah. Like the other prequel, it's kind of irrelevant, because Melanie/Suzanne has a Big Secret she is not sharing. Instead, part of Melanie's dilemma is that she is being blackmailed by another character for a secret that is so minor compared to the revelations in the first book that it's just ridiculous.

Overall...I recommend the first book, but I don't recommend the series, at all. The prequels and sequels have progressively drained my happiness with the first book (ETA: and, apparently, the second). Overall, nobody is happy, everyone is spying/lying/sleeping with others. It's not that they're bad books individually; it's that they add up to be much, much less than the whole. Melanie and Charles are supposed to be so smart, and in the first book they really seemed to be! But as it went on and all their friends betrayed them and each other I had to revise my opinion of their intelligence and perspicacity, which is annoying. Grant's characters have always been a little too modern for their time (I'm progressive! I like progressive historical characters! But you can make it fit the historical context better, dammit!), and it's become more glaring. Going back in time has the effect of removing consequences, which makes the characters seem even more Mary Sue than they started.

The best books in the series are Daughter of the Game and Vienna Waltz, in my opinion, but I think they clash horribly, and Daughter of the Game is better.

YMMV. But between Mask of Night and Beau Carusoe, I'm beginning to think that if an author can't get a book published by her usual publishers, maybe she needs to completely rethink the book.

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pocketgarden

May 2012

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