Dear Ms. Brockway,
I’ll say it right from the beginning – you got me with The Songbird’s Seduction. The teaser intrigued me quite a bit, and when I started reading it, I was absolutely and completely drawn in. It’s rare that I find a historical romance that’s not set in or near the Regency period or the American west. To have one set comfortably in the Edwardian era, with a heroine who doesn’t exactly come across as a proper young woman is surprisingly daring – and wonderfully delicious. I won’t say that it was a book I couldn’t put down – I couldn’t quite read it straight through. But it was a book I was quite happy to go back to.
Lucille Eastlake, Lucy to her friends and admirers, is a young woman who, as a child, was orphaned and given into the care of two genteel maiden great-aunts after bouncing from one relative to the next. Each of those relatives taught her something different – none of it exactly proper, or legal. Lavinia and Beatrice, the great aunts who took Lucy in, rounded out her education with everything that a proper young woman should know. The only problem they have is money – they have none. What little Lucy brings in is thanks to her work as a chanteuse of the stage – one whose face graces collectible cards. And it’s money on everyone’s mind when Aunt Lavinia learns that she is to soon have a share in a small fortune of rubies – if only she, Bernice and Lucy can get to a small town in France where everyone is supposed to meet. Enter Professor Ptolomy Archibald Grant – whom Lucy promptly nicknames Archie. He’s the grandson of the man who loved – and left – Lavinia. What follows is an almost farcial comedy of errors that makes Gilligan’s Island look like one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces.
The characterization all through the book was absolutely wonderful. I adored the little peeks into Lucy’s mind contrasting with Archie’s (usually) more structured thought patterns. The story is, quite simply, what happens when you mix an absolutely repressed gentleman with a volatile imp of a woman who has little to no thought for propriety – and is a mischief-making mastermind. Mix the two, shake once or twice, then sit back and watch the fireworks blossom across the sky. The resulting show is quite impressive. Lavinia and Bernice were the perfect sweet little ladies who very much needed to get out of their quiet little world. And who better to escort them in Lucy’s absence than her friend Margery – a man who makes a quite lucrative living on the stage as a female impersonator. How could the old dears deny Lucy’s bosom friend and fellow entertainer, Mrs. Marjorie Martin? Every time Margery / Marjorie appeared on screen, as it were, I could hear Nathan Lane’s voice in my head and visualize the body movements.
I have to quibble just a little with the length of time Archie and Lucy spend together getting into (and out of) scrapes. It felt a little bit like they kept bouncing from one bad situation to another with little regard to plausibility. No matter what the situation, actress Lucy had an answer for everything and a way to get them on to the next leg of what seemed like an impossible journey. There were times I wanted to take a rolled up newspaper to both of them for the sheer and utter idiocy of their decisions – which, well, was most likely your whole point.
I really enjoyed the refreshing view of a slightly different period of time. It was a breath of fresh air, different from the norm, as it were. The madcap pacing and oftentimes absurd situations both brought a grin to my face and frustrated me to no end. It was a little difficult, at first, to connect with things – but once I gave it a couple chapters, the story drew me in and kept me all the way to the end. B-
Eagerly Looking for More,