Without a Summer
Fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal enchanted fans with her novels Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass, which introduced Regency glamourists Jane and David Vincent. In Without a Summer, Jane and Vincent take a break from their international travels. But in a world where magic is real, nothing—even the domestic sphere—is quite what it seems.
After a dramatic trip to Belgium, Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane's family, but quickly turn restless. The spring is unseasonably cold, and no one wants to be outside. Mr. Ellsworth is concerned by the harvest, since a poor one may imperil Melody's dowry. And Melody has concerns of her own, given an inadequate selection of eligible bachelors locally.
When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent London family, they take it, and bring Melody with them. They hope the change of scenery will do her good and her marriage prospects—and mood—will be brighter in London. Talk here frequently turns to increased unemployment of coldmongers and riots in nearby villages by Luddites concerned that their way of life is becoming untenable. With each passing day, it's more difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, which does not really help Melody's chances for romance.
It doesn't take long for Jane to Vincent realize that in addition to arranging a wedding, they must take on one small task: solving a crisis of national proportions.
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In Kowal's charming third Austen-influenced magical Regency novel (after Glamour in Glass), spouses Lady Jane and Sir David Vincent, who create magical artwork called "glamour," accept a commission in London that leads to political turmoil and romantic complications. Coldmongers, who can magically affect temperature, are being blamed for the volcano-caused wintery spring, coinciding with unrest from the antitechnology Luddites. The Vincents observe mysterious potentially treasonous interactions involving their client's son, Irish Catholic Alastar O'Brien; the Luddites; and the Worshipful Company of Coldmongers. Matters are further complicated by Vincent's strained relations with his family and Jane's efforts to find a spouse for her younger sister, Melody, who accompanies them for the season. Readers will appreciate the realistically warm and loving romance between Jane and Vincent all the more for their flaws and foibles, as their relationship is tested by internal and external forces.