I previously raved about SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY, Mary Robinette Kowal's novel that takes a Jane Austen-like story and injects a unique form of a magic into its world. The second book in the series, GLAMOUR IN GLASS, is just as wonderful, and it uses the same elements to tell a rather different sort of story.
SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY is mostly drawing rooms and courtship, though the story does involve a bit of action and danger. In GLAMOUR IN GLASS, the stakes get a lot higher, with characters risking their lives and some awful things happening. I think this is a good development for the series, because a second book with the same sort of premise would have been repetitive. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, Kowal designed the second one to stand on its own, so you could start with this one if you'd prefer more action and intrigue.
This story takes the British characters from the first book over to France. Napoleon has just been forced to abdicate the throne, making it safe for them to travel to a small French town where they can study with a fellow glamourist. But when Napoleon escapes from exile, the situation becomes more and more dangerous, and they have to use all their skills in glamour to get back home.
If you've already read GLAMOUR IN GLASS and would like to know more about it, I recommend listening to the episode of Writing Excuses in which Kowal discusses the choices she made when writing the book. I know that she has at least two more books in the pipeline for this series, and I'm really looking forward to them.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ At The Millions, Allison K. Gibson has an excellent analysis of a problem that contemporary writers must grapple with, The Awkward but Necessary Role of Technology in Fiction: "It isn't hard to make a case against including technology in fiction. First, technology can be awkward to write about. Also, to read about. The jargon is clumsy: download, reboot, global positioning device. It's embarrassing, really. So I understand an author's impulse to avoid littering pages of otherwise lyrical prose with the bleep-boop-beep of tech speak."