A Certain Appeal

Putnam. Nov. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780593330715. pap. $16. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
DEBUT By day, Liz Bennet is an administrative assistant; by night, she’s a “stage kitten” at Meryton, the Manhattan burlesque venue where her best friend Jane furnishes the musical talent. When Jane starts dating Charles (a prospective buyer of Meryton), Liz crosses paths with the suspicious, grumpy Will Darcy, and sparks fly. Darcy mistrusts the sexy veneer that he associates with burlesque, but he’s drawn to Liz regardless. Liz, meanwhile, feels defensive of her Meryton family and of burlesque, which gave her confidence after a personal betrayal derailed her career. She’s wary, having been burned before by men’s assumptions about her passion for the art. Liz and Darcy clash, reconsider, and clash again, with help from a manipulative Wickham, until catastrophe strikes and Meryton’s future is brought into question. In this debut, King describes the burlesque setting vividly and appealingly for readers and makes Liz’s involvement in burlesque an integral part of her journey. The inevitable misunderstandings spring naturally from King’s characters (as they typically do in the characters of Jane Austen); it feels unforced.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy sexy contemporary romance will be charmed by King’s light, irreverent retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in the New York City burlesque scene.
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