Second in the trilogy of the sisters Susannah, Sylvie and Sabrina. Separated as young children when their mother was unjustly convicted of murdering their father, each book follows the events that reunite them. Sylvie is a premier ballerina, the toast of Paris, but when following a clue to England to find Susannah, she is robbed and ends up employed by Tom Shaughnessy, owner of the White Lily Theater, which is only for "gentlemen". This is a fun read.
Part fish out of water story, part glimpse into the world of the 19th century bawdy theatre, with Long's trademark wit and strong characters. A fine read.
Didn't work for me.
Following a similar style as Beauty and the Spy, Julie Anne Long unravels the love story too slowly in the second of the Holt Sisters trilogy. We take up the story with Sylvie who was raised French and has recently found out she may have a sister in England. She sneaks away from her possessive lover and hies off to London in search of her sister. Her search is thwarted by her sister's absence from her home and a highwayman who steals all her money. She's forced to work in a bawdy dancing hall until her sister returns home.
While the book had many interesting anecdotes about the dance hall, the various characters in the hall, and life as a dancing girl, the romance was flat. In the first 150 pages the hero and heroine barely even saw one another, much less had time to develop any romantic feelings.
Once they finally seem to be moving toward romance, it barrels forward at light speed. They barely speak for 200 pages and then they're in bed together. And of course there's the possessive lover who must be resolved.
The fact that these characters are not your typical blushing maiden and heroic aristocrat makes them more interesting. However, part of why we read historical romance is for those rigorous social rules of the time that prevented men and women from touching in public, from even kissing before marriage, and the tantalizing wickedness of those who do. Reading about a woman who leaves one lovers bed for another within a few weeks, well that isn't super sexy even in contemporary romance. It feels out of place in a historical romance and makes the heroine seem a little fickle.
Long writes a good story and her characters are appealing but her style doesn't work for me. If I didn't already own the third in the series, I'd probably just give up now.