Rummanah Aasi
 Thanks to a particular lascivious book, you can't say the words shades or grey without having a few people raise their eyebrows. Let me assure you that's not why I was drawn to Shades of Honey and Milk, but I happened to stumble upon it while looking for some urban fantasy series. The tagline promising a Jane Austen-like ambiance with a dash of magic, and a nod to Beauty and the Beast is what made me pick this one up.

Description (from Goodreads): Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.
   Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Review: Shades of Honey and Milk definitely delivers as an Austenesque read. The scenario is typical as two middle class sisters wait around to be married off to a man of nobility or at least some money to his name. The sisters are the plain on the outside but extremely talented Jane and the beautiful and fair Melody. Readers of Austen will immediately pick up the nods throughout the book, but irony, social criticism, as well as complication of character that make Austen's novels so loveable are not present in this book. Instead we are adding a neat magical system, which unfortunately isn't explored and seems little integrated with the world. 
  The characters, whose character traits seem to be picked from various Austen novels, are enjoyable. You have your obvious bad guys (I always thought Austen's villains were completely obvious), the love interest, the plain but in her own way extraordinary that takes people a while to recognize. I would have liked to know each of the characters a bit more, especially Jane and Vincent.
  The story takes time to warm up and is a bit obvious. I did notice a few period glitches found in the book, but it didn't take me out of the book. I chuckled a few times at the dead pan humor and was a bit surprised to see how the book's quickly ends given the slow start. 

  Kowal is a talented writer and Shades of Milk and Honey is a lovely tribute to Jane Austen, which she acknowledges in her author notes. I do plan on reading more of this series at some point, but I'm not rushing to it. I think the series has great potential and I'm curious to learn more about the world and hopefully, the next books won't seem as unfinished as this first book.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended to teens and adults who enjoy a clean romance with a dash of fantasy and magic.

If you like this book try: Glamour of Glass (Shades of Honey and Milk #2), The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey, The Native Star by M.K. Hobson
5 Responses
  1. I love historical fantasty. This sounds great. Too bad it was only good enough for 3 stars. Especially that there are a few historical glitches. That takes you out of the zone of the book.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I love a good meaty read...and I love Austen so I would probably like this one...:) Off to put it on the TBR, thanks for the great review!

  3. Jenny Says:

    Hmmm while I do love the "the plain but in her own way extraordinary that takes people a while to recognize" type of heroine (love how you worded that), I think I could go without picking this one up. It sounds like it was good but clearly didn't blow you away, and there are so many great books out there I want to get my hands on that I'll wait until you give something a 4 or 5 and then rush to get it:) Beautiful review Rummanah!

  4. Oh the tag line would have drawn me in as well. I'm glad this is such a good tribute to Jane Austen. It looks like something I'd really enjoy as well. I think I'll have to add this to my huge wishlist! :)

  5. Jess Says:

    I heard someone raving about how wonderful this book was at BEA, so I'm glad I stumbled across your review. I'll have to check this one out.

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