Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dancing at the Chance by DeAnna Cameron

Synopsis (from Amazon):
New York City in 1907 is a kingdom of endless possibilities for anyone who dares to dream. The Gilded Age has ended, and immigrants fill the bustling streets. The glamour of Broadway lures those who desire the limelight-but only a few are fortunate enough to thrive in the lights of a city that casts long, dark, and merciless shadows...

Pepper MacClair and her mother arrived penniless in New York thirteen years ago, and their fortune has not changed. A dancer of fluid grace and motion, Pepper is still only one chorus girl among many, struggling for an opportunity to prove herself worthy of something bigger.

For now, Pepper dances at The Chance, a rundown venue long past its prime. It is not only Pepper's workplace, where she has pushed her physical endurance to its limit, but also her home. And as the larger world changes around her and she is pulled into the intrigues of New York's elite, it is her last hope, not only to fulfill her dream, but to fulfill her heart.

My Thoughts: In this charming novel, DeAnna Cameron shines the spotlight on the world of vaudeville theatre in the early 1900's.  I knew next to nothing about this realm of entertainment going in but I really liked experiencing it through the eyes of Pepper MacClair-a young woman who wants nothing more than to be a part of the excitement at The Chance. She finally gets her shot by scoring a spot as part of a dance trio but it seems no matter how hard she tries she cannot please Harland Stanley, the overbearing stage manager.  Although Pepper sees The Chance a wonderful place it is clearly not the venue that it once was.  Stanley brings in one terrible headliner after another in the hopes of filling the increasingly empty seats.  Pepper sees hope on the horizon when Robert DeGraaf, son of the Chance's owner, comes back from Harvard to take over the business from his ailing father.  Robert was Pepper's first love and she hopes their relationship picks up right where it left off before Robert went away.  Robert may have other ideas though concerning his intentions with Pepper AND his plans for The Chance.

As you would expect with a book about theatre, the Chance is populated by a cast of lively characters including the cross-dressing legend Em Charmaigne (or her alter ego Uptown Joe), Gregory-a stagehand and Pepper's close friend, her fellow dancer-the diva like Beatrice, dwarves who do Shakespeare, plate spinners, magicians, singers-you name the act, it has probably graced that stage.  While I liked the character of Pepper, you could tell she still had a lot of growing up to do.  She is stubborn and constantly butts heads with Stanley which sets her at odds with everyone else.  I also felt myself wanting to smack her at times-especially in regards to Robert DeGraaf.  I found myself thinking GAH! Pepper!  Why can you not see his true character?!  The romance aspect does take a different and more preferable direction later on.  I could tell fairly early on that this was the route the book was taking but even though I figured out how this part would go, I liked watching it all unfold.  I love a good underdog story. Pepper may be young but she has experienced a lot of sadness (especially the death of her mother).  I was rooting for her and for the rescue of the Chance all the way through. I enjoyed the romance and was enchanted by the inner workings of the theatre.  Kind of made me wish Vaudeville would make a comeback!  Check this out if you are a theater geek, like quirky characters, or (like me!) adore all things historical New York.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  

Dancing at the Chance is being released today.  Author DeAnna Cameron is holding a Publication Celebration Contest to honor the release of Dancing at the Chance and the reissue of her novel The Belly Dancer.  There are weekly prizes to be won as well as a grand prize drawing for an e-reader!  You can check out the details by visiting www.DeAnnaCameron.com and clicking on the publication celebration link.


  1. Thank you for the lovely review, Holly! I'm happy you enjoyed your time at The Chance
    Theatre and its quirky cast of characters.
    ~DeAnna Cameron

  2. Love the cover! Might just have to read it just because of that. Well, plus the story sounds interesting too. :-)

  3. This novel sounds good. Thanks for the review - I'll be adding this one to my wish list.

  4. I am excited about this book! I love stories set in theatre or music. I also have recently been introduced to some of the stories of Vaudeville and it sounds so interesting. Thanks for this review!