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Monday, September 10, 2012

Dancing at the Chance by DeAnna Cameron

Dancing at the Chance by DeAnna Cameron
Amazon | Goodreads
336 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Berkley Trade
New York City in 1907 is a kingdom of endless possibilities for anyone who dares to dream. The Gilded Age has ended, and immigrants fill the bustling streets. The glamour of Broadway lures those who desire the limelight-but only a few are fortunate enough to thrive in the lights of a city that casts long, dark, and merciless shadows...

Pepper MacClair and her mother arrived penniless in New York thirteen years ago, and their fortune has not changed. A dancer of fluid grace and motion, Pepper is still only one chorus girl among many, struggling for an opportunity to prove herself worthy of something bigger.

For now, Pepper dances at The Chance, a rundown venue long past its prime. It is not only Pepper's workplace, where she has pushed her physical endurance to its limit, but also her home. And as the larger world changes around her and she is pulled into the intrigues of New York's elite, it is her last hope, not only to fulfill her dream, but to fulfill her heart.

I like Vaudeville. If it wasn't on my list of buzzwords, it should be. I guess it's kind of a subheading under Circus, which is all under the umbrella of Spectacle, and I love Spectacle. Which is why, even though this is somewhat out of the realm of books I'd normally accept for review, I accepted it. (I mean, early 1900s Old NYC vaudeville? Don't mind if I do!) And though I definitely liked Cameron's view of vaudeville as it sort of crumbles into the past, the rest of the book left me feeling sort of lukewarm.

Mostly I think it was that it felt a bit rushed. I would have liked more development to the characters - all of the characters, because the side characters had the potential to be fascinating, too. I wanted more of their side stories and escapades, and more emotional development throughout. There were some really interesting things going on in the story that gave it the potential to be more compelling (Pepper's unrepentant friendship/closeness to a lesbian character, which would have been fairly controversial; her turn as an unintentional mistress, and general sexual predatoriness, as well as the social mores versus the looser atmosphere of the stage; the clash between stage and the burgeoning world of film, etc.) that I found really fascinating, and wanted more of - but the book just barely scratches the surface of these things.  It left me feeling a little unfulfilled, like there was wasted potential.

And the characters - and even to an extent, the plot - were a little lackluster for me. In fact, within a week of finishing it, I found myself struggling to remember names and details. The world was vivid, and I think so much of Cameron's focus went into building an authentic, accurate world, that the other aspects suffered. But until I was able to connect with the characters more fully, the world was the saving grace. I liked Pepper ok-enough, but I actually liked the other characters more. I sometimes found Pepper a little hard to connect to or root for, at least early in the story, anyway, and in general, I preferred Gregory Creighton's narration. I found him a more fascinating character, and scenes with him felt more authentic. I would have loved to see more of his story, and of everyone's story - and a little less of Pepper in her own world.

But for all that I couldn't help thinking it was fluffy and somewhat forgettable as I was reading, I found myself fairly engrossed. It's mostly really wholesome, which works for the time, and opens it to a wider audience, and it was a quick and easy read. I didn't necessarily think much about it when I'd set it down, though - nothing compelled me to pick it up again. But when I did pick it up, I found myself engaged pretty easily, and I did quite like how it ended, and the potential the ending holds for all of the characters. It just was never quite enough to make me feel I had to read it, had to know what was going to happen. And that's probably because, as I mentioned in my Rewind vlog, it felt like a Hallmark movie - you pretty much know the minute you start this where it's going to go and how it's going to end and the emotional investment is pretty much zilch - but for some reason, that doesn't stop you from watching or enjoying them.


  1. The premise and cover are awesome - so I'm really bummed that it fell short!

  2. It didn't fall super short - it's a light, fun fluffy read, but I'm not always a light fun fluffy person... I would have liked more depth, but I still enjoyed it.


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