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REVIEW: The Season by Sarah Maclean

Dear Ms. Maclean,

054504886901lzzzzzzzI can’t remember where I first heard about your debut novel.   All I know was that the idea of a group of female friends navigating through London’s Season to solve mysteries and intrigue made me very excited, so I asked Jane if she could find a way to get me a copy.   And because she’s just that awesome, she did.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Stafford has absolutely no desire to marry.   Fiercely independent and intelligent, she finds most men dull and believes they all want idiots for wives.   But as the only Stafford daughter, her mother’s been anticipating Alex’s Season for years and intends to ensure that Alex make an appropriate match.

Thankfully, Alex won’t be alone.   With her childhood friends, Vivi and Ella, by her side, she’ll be able to endure the balls.   However, as the weeks pass, she finds herself growing increasingly attracted to her childhood friend, Gavin Sewell, the newly-made Earl of Blackmoor, and doesn’t quite know what to do about it.     For most of her life, she’s viewed him as a fourth brother and the shift in their relationship leaves her unbalanced.   But then she stumbles upon a plot involving the mysterious death of Gavin’s father, which had previously been deemed an accident, and that’s when things get interesting.

First off, I’d like to say I adored the dialogue in this book.   The quips and witty banter between the characters were delightful.   I also loved the fact that this was a book where female friendship was celebrated.   So many books set in this time period feature rivalries and manipulations as women angle for matches, but you sidestep that well-worn path here.   It would have been very easy to take that road, especially with the opportunity presented by Penelope and her intentions towards Gavin, given her history with the girls.   Instead, we have Alex, Vivi and Ella, none of whom are satisfied with their expected roles in society and yearn for something more — Alex who doesn’t want to marry if it means she has to become a useless twit, Ella who wants to be an author, and Vivi who — scandal of scandals! — wants to marry for love.   It was refreshing.

I also adored the relationship between Alex and Gavin.   Theirs was obviously one born out of affection and trust.   It was wonderful to watch their growing attraction to one another.   I thought the way their heightened awareness made them awkward in each other’s company was very realistic.

On the downside, I thought the main plot about the circumstances surrounding the death of Gavin’s death started a bit late in the book.   It’s always present since we were given brief scenes from the murderer’s point of view, but it seemed like Alex and company got involved halfway through the book.   I also thought the identity of the murderer was obvious so I wasn’t kept in much suspense.

The Season is a very quick and pleasant read.   Unfortunately, the fact that the main action doesn’t really start until it’s halfway complete lessened my enjoyment.   I’m not sure if this is the first in a series but I admit I’m be interested in reading more about Vivi, Ella, and oddly enough, Lord Stanhope.   I confess to have a secret weakness for rakes that are really just frauds and whose reputations far outstrip the reality.   B-

My regards,
Jia

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

13 Comments

  1. Christine M.
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 19:33:31

    Just out of curiosity… I saw in the tags that this is a YA book. That’s fine with me. When I go to the Amazon page, the “reading level” is 9-12 years old. I’m not a huge reader of YA so I was wondering how much of an impact it had on the story. As in, at that time, being 17 you were an actual adult. Are the MCs teenagers of our days or adults of their time? What would you say?

  2. Jia
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 19:41:45

    They read and felt like teenagers to me, personally.

  3. Christine M.
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 19:48:48

    Thanks for the heads-up, I think I’ll pass in this case. But it still sounds like an interesting book. Just not my cuppa.

  4. SonomaLass
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 20:01:55

    I like the idea of having 17-year-old Regency heroines who really ARE 17. One of the delights of Pride and Prejudice for me, on every re-read, is the difference between the 20-something Jane and Elizabeth and their younger sisters. I can’t wait to buy this for my 17-year-old daughter, and to read it when she lets me. (She finally let me read the Libba Bray trilogy, and it was worth the wait.)

    Thanks, Jia!

  5. katherine
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 20:04:17

    This looks cute! I’m going to look for it this week. Thanks!

  6. Christine M.
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 20:06:56

    @SonomaLass

    I agree but then Lydia was fifteen in the novel and from my perspective, in the book she acts like I did when I was 18 or even 19, flirting with all those officers and getting into that kind of trouble, you know. Marie and Kitty, 18 and 17 in the book if I remember well, are already acting more like adults than Lydia and yet the age difference is that big. Just my two pence :)

  7. Jia
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 20:30:34

    @SonomaLass: The book isn’t quite as nuanced as Libbra Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy — of course, it’s not nearly as long! — but I think of The Season as a sort of gateway into Regencies for young adults.

  8. Heidi R. Kling
    Mar 01, 2009 @ 23:07:51

    What a lovely review! I really look forward to this book.

  9. Twila Price
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 07:40:38

    I picked it up but haven’t read it, yet. It looks really good, though. I adore the thought of YA Regencies, and I’d be very happy if it became a series, too.

  10. NTE
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 12:45:00

    “quips and witty banter”? So up my alley… off to add to the TBR.

  11. Angie
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 14:25:04

    Jia, thanks for the review. I’ve read a couple positive reviews of this one, but yours has pushed me to definitely get it. Sounds like much fun.

  12. Joyce
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 21:44:32

    Adding this book to my TBR list.

  13. Anita C.
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 05:17:00

    Don’t you think we contemporary readers (and the publishers) have arbitrarily pushed the “appropriate” marriagable age of a Regency girl up the scale to 19 or even the early 20s? That’s not my understanding of historical fact. In fact, 16 or 17 was about the time parents usually took their girls to London for a season. Hence, the raised eyebrows at Lydia’s 15-year old marriage, but no outright condemnation of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. —– We’ve probably done this more for our own comfort level, than anything else, or maybe because we use the “22-year-old spinster gets a second chance” story line so often.

    Oh, and just for accuracy, Jane’s and Elizabeth’s younger sisters were Kitty and Mary (not Marie).

    This sounds like a fun read, even if it’s YA. Unlike a lot of you, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Regencies.

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