Nancy’s Theory of Style
Published 2010 362 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Lively young socialite Nancy Carrington-Chambers has always believed an excellent sense of style and strict attention to detail are what it takes to succeed, but her own husband Todd is showing symptoms of incurable tackiness, so Nancy flees their McMansion for her posh San Francisco apartment. She knows her event planning company, Froth, is a real winner, but she must prove herself by reinventing the turgid Barbary Coast Historical Museum fundraiser. Luckily, Nancy now has the perfect assistant. Derek Cathcart is British, impeccably dressed, gorgeous, and clearly gay – so why does Nancy find him so attractive?
Before Nancy can unravel her feelings, her irresponsible cousin Birdie abandons her little daughter with Nancy and takes off. Nancy, Derek, and Eugenia make an unlikely “family,” but strangely it seems incredibly right. Now Nancy’s parents are pressuring her to return to Todd, and she still has to pull off a spectacular party. For someone who’s always known exactly where she’s going, Nancy is in dangerously uncharted waters.
Nancy’s Theory of Style is something of an odd choice for review on a vampire fiction website, namely because it isn’t a vampire story. Actually the book isn’t fantasy or sci-fi either. There are no stake wielding heroines, dire prophesies or demon sidekicks – just Nancy Carrington-Chambers and her battle to live a life of stylish perfection.
Nancy’s Theory of Style isn’t entirely without vampire connections – Grace Coopersmith is the pseudonym of Marta Acosta, author of the hip Casa Dracula vampire romance series. In fact, Marta’s fans will recognise Milagro, protagonist from the Casa Dracula books, who has a small part to play in this story as one of Nancy’s old friends. While Milagro maybe a vampire in the Casa Dracula books, in Nancy’s Theory of Style she plays the part of slightly wacky yet stead-fast friend and her vampirism is unknown and unmentioned. There is nothing supernatural about any of the characters or events in this book.
So, after establishing what readers are not getting with Nancy’s Theory of Style (vampires!) what is the book all about? It is, like the Casa Dracula books, a comedy of manners combined with social satire and romance. In addition to that there is the humour caused by some of the misapprehensions and misunderstandings that occur as Nancy clings to her first impressions and her desire for her ideal life. In Nancy’s ideal world she has always dreamed of having a male British assistant, who would have impeccable manners, exquisitely good taste in clothing and be gay. When she launches her event planning business and Derek answers the job ad to be her assistant he is the embodiment of her dreams.
Any self-respecting sci-fi geek would have picked up at the job interview that Derek is not perhaps all that he seems to be but Nancy is as far too wrapped up in her lifestyle dreams to see it. In classic romance fiction style Derek soon finds his way into her heart but falling in love with a gay man, even if he is stylish and British, clearly has no future for Nancy – as much as she might want it. Add an abandoned young child (Nancy’s cousin’s daughter) into the mix and soon Nancy’s fashionable life is looking a little less stylish and a little more chaotic.
Nancy’s Theory of Style has all the hallmarks of a lightweight beach-read romance. It’s fun and frothy with witty dialogue, fashion and style. Yet scratch its chick-lit surface and there are some pretty weighty issues lurking underneath. Stylish Nancy gives the impression that she might be a style obsessed airhead but unlike a lot of chick-lit books the narrative isn’t all about parties, shoes and the latest fashions. Nancy’s natural stylish inclinations have turned into style rules and these rules are used to run her life. She can’t live with her husband because he’s too unstylish and tacky – which is a great way of dodging the real issue, that they are completely unsuited and need to get a divorce! Alcoholism, feckless parenting and scheming lovers all add depth to the story, making the book a most satisfying read for any romance reader.
Fans of Marta Acosta’s Casa Dracula books should enjoy this non-paranormal visit with San Francisco’s high society. Nancy’s Theory of Style shouldn’t fail to appeal to non-paranormal romance readers either – fans of Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella or Marian Keyes should certainly enjoy this humorous romance.
Nancy’s Theory of Style is rated down half a point for its lack of vampires but don’t hold that against it. If (like me) you’re likely to only read one non-paranormal romance this summer make sure it’s this one!
LoveVampires Review Rating: