Standalone Sunday was started by Bookslayer and you can find more here. It’s for title that are not part of a series.
Title: Newt’s Emerald: Magic, Maids, and Masquerades
Author: Garth Nix
Setting: Alternate England 1830s
“On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.
When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.
In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide. ”
Lady Truthful’s family has guarded the Newington Emerald for generations, using its magic to control the waves. One stormy night, her father displays the emerald to her and her cousins when there’s a violent crash. When everything is cleared up, the emerald is gone. Her father is distraught over the loss of the heirloom. Truthful decides she must recover the jewel on her own.
Garth Nix has done it again. He is such a versatile writer. I just finished a review of Frogkisser! which I really enjoyed. This book was just as much fun. He takes all the conventions of a Regency romance and turns it into something fresh and new. Every romance trope is in here – a heroine in disguise, a masquerade ball – but uses them to gently poke fun at the conventions. The addition of the magic was a fun touch.
The romance in here was a lot of fun too. Major Charles Hartnett – or is it Robert? – is dashing and heroic, but it’s Truthful who manages to rescue him more than once. Their attraction is combined with some nicely managed sexual tension, but it’s all PG rated.
My biggest complaint is that I wanted to see the emerald’s powers used more. There’s some stuff at the end, but it could have been used better. In general though, Nix does a great job of taking a traditional Regency romance and weaving in magic. The fantasy aspect is well thought out and a lot of fun.
This one is recommended for fans of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer or those looking for a romance with something extra.