I do love it when an unexpected gem falls into your lap.
Regency romance/supernatural YA is not my usual genre, but I can tell you now, that this review of Alison Goodman's first installment in her Lady Helen trilogy will be a rave one with some outright gushing thrown in for good measure!
I could barely put this book down and when I did have to, you know, to go to work or actually talk with my family, it was done so reluctantly. The whole time counting down the minutes until I could pick it up again.
It has been a long time since a book seduced me in such a dramatic, slightly obsessive way.
How was this possible?
I recently attended the Harper Collins Christmas roadshow for work. The Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club unedited ARC was part of the goodies package. Goodman was also one of the guest authors at the event...in full Regency regalia (below)!
I wasn't feeling very well the night of the roadshow.
After the official presentation I was therefore happy to stay in my seat (with a glass of bubbles for company) and people-watch.
One of the truly fascinating sights was the small, but dedicated crowd that quickly formed around Goodman.
There is a LOT of love out there for her previous YA fantasy books, Eon and Eona and her fans wanted her to know about it!
I found it a curious thing that an author renown for dragon fantasy stories had gone to the trouble to dress in a full Regency costume. What?
It turns out that Goodman is a Georgette Heyer fan from way back. Her only quibble with Heyer (& Jane Austen) has been that their books assumed that the reader had a lot of knowledge about Regency society and customs. She has always wanted to write her own Regency story with all these interesting details included.
Somehow I missed out on reading any Heyer's in my younger years, so I can only imagine that they were similar to my go-to historical fiction romance books at that age written by Eleanor Hibbert (a.k.a as Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr).
Perhaps because I was unwell, I viewed this entire Regency/dragon/Jane Austen/supernatural powers conversation through a haze of total bemusement.
But at the bus stop on the way home, I pulled out my ARC of Lady Helen.
And that was the end of all sense and sensibility from me for three days.
I couldn't get enough of Goodman's regency world. I loved how the story gradually morphed into the supernatural. It felt natural and (almost) believable. The main characters were well-drawn, although at times a little stereotyped (the strict uncle, the protective older brother, the illusive, darkly handsome older man with a deadly secret from his past). But that's half the fun of a Regency romance!
The story was full of surprising action, sexual tension and moral dilemma's to keep the pages turning quickly.
I for one, will now become a Goodman groupie, hanging around, demanding to know when the next book is coming out.
This post is part of my Australian Women Writer's Challenge and promotes #LoveOzYA
Sadly, the rest of you have to wait until January 2016 before you can read Lady Helen and The Dark Days Club when it will be published by Harper Collins Australia.