Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Dancing at the Chance, by DeAnna Cameron

Dancing at the Chance is a rich, historical novel about vaudeville in the early 1900s and will appeal to those that wish to learn more about that period while experiencing a heartwarming, romantic story.

Pepper has lived in the basement of The Chance Theater for over 13 years, since she and her mother came to help with the costumes. After her mother died, Pepper continues to be the wardrobe assistant, until she gets a chance to actually be a dancer in the show--something she's dreamed about since she arrived.

Pepper is plagued by insecurities about her abilities as a dancer, though. And, because of her loose tongue, she continues to stay on the bad side of Stanley, the stage manager. She's in constant fear that she will be let go.

It's 1907, and the old fashioned, small theater is almost dead. Bigger, more extravagant theaters, owned by large partnerships are squeezing out the small guy. Pepper, however, blames much of their failures on Stanley. When she finds out the owner's son is returning, her hopes grow. Before Robert was suddenly shipped away to school, Pepper and Robert were romantically involved. She has hopes that not only will his return cause the theater to be successful once again, but also that their romance will continue, as Robert promised.

As a reader, we know this is unlikely. The owner taking up with a performer? Not likely. But Pepper is young and naive, and we must experience her mistakes. There are a few interesting side characters, in particular Em, Pepper's mother's special friend, who tries to take care of Pepper. The performers fit the model -- some are arrogant, while many are incompetent. Some of them have both of these characteristics.

The first thought that comes to mind about Dancing at the Chance is "richly detailed."  I could see myself at The Chance, sitting in the audience, or backstage with the performers. The amount of detail was also a put-off, though. The actual events of the story proceeded very slowly; the action was not the emphasis in this one.

Cameron includes interesting historical personalities. It is the birth of motion pictures, and we are introduced to Edwin S. Porter, a famous movie maker of the time. We also meet Florenz Ziegfeld, who is just introducing his Ziegfeld Follies.

The romance is predictable. We know who Pepper belongs with, and it's just a matter of time before she figures it out too. The ending is simply perfect. The happiest of happy endings possible -- and that was OK with me. I love "feeling good" after finishing a novel, and Dancing at the Chance definitely gave me that feeling. This book doesn't have wide appeal to teens (it is billed as an adult book), but those fans of historical romance, especially if they are interested in theater will enjoy it.

Published by Berkley Trade, April 3, 2012
Ebook ARC obtained from the author
336 pages

Rating: 3/5

To celebrate the back-to-back releases of DANCING AT THE CHANCE and the reissue of THE BELLY DANCER, weekly prizes & a grand prize of a Kindle or Nook (winner's choice) are up for grabs on the author's website. Visit and follow the contest link for details.

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  1. This sounds like a good historical fiction book and I love that cover. So lush!

  2. Thank you for such a lovely review, Annette! I love that you could picture yourself inside The Chance Theatre. I wanted to bring the theater to life for readers, and I'm glad I succeeded with you :)

  3. This is a wonderful review. I have had my eye on this one for awhile. I love the time period and setting. I actually like a predictable romance. I enjoy knowing that the characters belong together and seeing how that plays out.
    - FABR Steph


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