When William Nesmith accepts a new position as copy editor with the Herald in Manhattan, his only goals are to make a positive impression and save enough to wed his long time fiancé, Violet. Moving from a small city paper to a large city one proves to be a huge adjustment, which is only complicated by the brash reporter, Charlie Kohlbeck. Charlie is on the verge of a huge promotion and the last thing he needs is an editor determined to slash the life out of his articles. When Charlie and Will clash publicly, they draw the ire of their boss and are forced to work together in order to obtain the story of the season.
Desperate to get an interview with the elusive Lord Belcourt, Charlie and Will become embroiled in a complex game of aliases, speculative land deals, and wealthy societal engagements. Juggling an elaborate fiction keeps both men on their toes while they try to meet the demands of the paper, manage their growing affection for one another, and not hurt the innocent people around them. When the game turns dangerous, Charlie and Will must depend on one another to survive, while scrambling to unmask a true fraud.
There aren’t many authors I consider an auto buy, but one of them Tamara Allen. She publishes few and far between to be sure, but usually her books are worth the wait. And Invitation to the Dance is no different. The slow-building relationship, well-established characters, and solid plotting are all part of Allen’s signature style. Now Invitation to the Dance felt a bit slower to me than most of Allen’s other novels, but I appreciated the fact the story evolved naturally and didn’t rush through the parts of everyday life. Charlie and Will have a naturally charming banter and the two interact with an easy sweetness that I adored. They’re characters that just fit together perfectly and they really steal the show as a result.
A couple of things that frustrated me about Invitation to the Dance involved editing. One had to do with poor transitioning. The narrative would reach a break in time and instead of having a paragraph break in the actual text, the passage of time occurs over the course of a sentence. So the characters discuss going to a ball in a week and in the next sentence they’re attending the ball. As a result, the flow of the story was disrupted and I found it a bit jarring. Also, while the first half of the book is strong, the second half could have benefited from some trimming. It felt somewhat cluttered and repetitive. It was nothing that ruined the overall story though.
Despite the fact Invitation to the Dance was a tad slow and tended to have some messiness that stronger editing would have resolved, it’s an enjoyable novel. Will and Charlie are a engaging pair and their tangled interactions with high society are definitely worth a read, especially if you enjoy historical fiction and romance with a bit of charm.