Persuading the Captain: An Austen Inspired Romantic Comedy, by Rachel John— A Review

Persuading the Captain by Rachel John 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Modernizing a classic through a retelling can be fraught with authorial peril. One must do more than simply slap a pair of blue jeans on a heroine and put some slang on her lips, but at the same time, one has a duty to the legacy of the classic and the reader should recognize the original story within the fresh tale. Did author Rachel John avoid these pitfalls in Persuading the Captain, inspired by Jane Austen’s final novel Persuasion? Stick around and see.

Anne is about to start a new chapter in her life when her family must leave her childhood home in Hollywood when her actor father’s fading career is not generating the money to match the extravagant lifestyle that he and her older sister think that they deserve. Anne is done catering to their whims and has taken a step away toward her own dreams by getting a dinosaur museum job up in San Francisco along with taking on part-time babysitting for her younger sister Mary in exchange for room and board. She is joining Mary and her husband’s family for their family reunion up at a lake cabin before it all begins. Naturally, the reunion brings some family excitement and tension when Carl’s younger sisters corral one of their cabin neighbors into joining some family camping activities. He is Eric Wentworth, her hottie ex-boyfriend who she is definitely not over, yet.

Eric knew Anne’s family were snobs toward a guy who grew up far from Hollywood, but he never thought she’d pick her family over him. Breaking off their engagement left him at a loss so he threw himself into his work. His commercial pilot job has taken him all over the world and rarely staying in one place. But, now after all these years, he’s taken a job for his brother in law in a new commercial venture to do air charters for the wealthy and the venture is based in San Francisco. His sister and brother in law have invited him to enjoy the cabin and the lake before diving back into their new work. He thought he put Anne her in the rear-view mirror until being near her and seeing all the wonderful traits he appreciated and loved about her is a danger to him and he struggles hard to keep away from her and hide by hanging out with vibrant Lucy. Then a drastic situation makes the choice for him and Anne is further away than ever.

Persuading the Captain is sweet, heartwarming, and full of humor. The bittersweet flavor of regret and longing are there, but there are more light-hearted moments layered with it. Much of this story lines up with the classic and the characters are recognizable to those in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. However, the author has placed them well in the 21st Century and she didn’t hesitate to drop characters and bits that were superfluous or didn’t jive with the plot and pace of her own story. For instance, the reader will look in vain for a Lady Russell figure and there was no cousin looking to secure the family time and estate by cozying up to Anne. And, while Mary is a tad hypochondriac, there is a sisterly connection at times and even with Lizzie the oldest sister who is self-absorbed.

The tone of the story is light and fun and even the conflicts throughout are easily dealt with—perhaps too easily at times. Eric’s best friend, Benneck, is a flirty adorable scene-stealer who had some heartache, but he is a hundred percent committed to kicking Eric in the butt when he’s about to screw up his own happiness and he’s a great friend to Anne when she needs one. Anne’s family’s antics are eye-rollingly funny much of the time. But there are some gentle romantic moments too. Who knew a mud fight could be a courtship move?

I liked seeing the same gentle, kind, and thoughtful Anne who regrets her choice, but at the same time, she is more assertive than the original when it comes to the point. Mary even gets in on a girl power moment at just the right time.

All in all, I thought this was an excellent retelling in a modern romcom format and it was the best in the series so far for me. I would recommend this for Austen lovers who don’t mind contemporary settings, but also this will appeal to all sweet romantic comedy fans in general.

4 out of 5 Stars

  • Persuading the Captain: An Austen Inspired Romantic Comedy, by Rachel John
  • Independently Published (May 18, 2020)
  • Trade paperback, & eBook (170) pages
  • ISBN:  979-8647102980

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Disclosure of Material Connection: We purchased a copy of this book for our own enjoyment. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. Austenprose.com is an Amazon.com affiliate. We receive a modest remuneration when readers use our links and make a purchase. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cover image courtesy of Rachel John © 2020; text Sophia Rose © 2021, Austenprose.com

A Preview & Excerpt of Sons of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Reimagining, by Elizabeth Adams

Sons of Pemberley by Elizabeth Adams 2020Hello Gentle Readers. I am happy to welcome Austenesque and romantic comedy writer Elizabeth Adams to Austenprose today in celebration of her latest novel, Sons of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Reimagining.

I have read several of Elizabeth’s novels and short stories and have always enjoyed her creativity and humor. I recently re-listened to the audiobook of The 26th of November and continue to be amazed by her skill at turning an important date in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into a mind-bending farce in the vein of the popular movie Ground Hog Day. I laughed. I gasped. I applauded.

Elizabeth’s latest Jane Austen-inspired novel is another take on Pride and Prejudice that re-imagines the lives of the characters if the mother of Fitzwilliam Darcy had not died when he was a boy. It is an insightful family saga that includes all of our favorite characters, but spins the plot in new directions and then brings us back to familiar ground.

Here is a description of the book from the publisher and a dramatic excerpt from the novel to give you a taste of what you can expect.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

What if Lady Anne Darcy was alive to meet Elizabeth Bennet?

A sweeping tale of tragedy, devotion, and betrayal—spanning over 25 years and two generations—this family saga explores the life Fitzwilliam Darcy would have had if his mother had not died young.

An up-close view of the Darcys’ marriage and Fitzwilliam’s childhood … a retelling of the circumstances that shaped the man we have come to love … a reimagining of the friendships and relationships that formed each iconic character … a tale of love, loss, heartbreak, and triumph—that is Sons of Pemberley.

EXCERPT

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Georgana’s Secret: (Proper Romance Regency), by Arlem Hawks – A Review

Georgana's Secret by Arlem Hawks 2021From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Captain Frederick Wentworth: bold, self-confident, and passionate. At fifteen, I thought him boring, far preferring Mr. Darcy’s distant, sophisticated persona. Now at twenty-five, I find that Wentworth, Jane Austen’s final hero, has captured my attention. As I sit here and type this, I ask myself ‘What’s changed?’ For one, Wentworth has energy–vibrancy–that leaps off every page. There is no brooding silence or long caution with him. A man of action, he strides through life with a joie de vivre and a strong sense of compassion for those he encounters. Now that I look at this list, I wonder at my ability to ignore this very worthy hero for years! Before I crack open my copy of Persuasion for a re-read, let me introduce you to a novel starring Captain Wentworth’s equal in character and bravery. In Georgana’s Secret, Arlem Hawks’ debut Regency novel, readers meet a hero and heroine bound irrevocably to each other and the sea’s mercurial waves.

Dominic Payton loves the ocean. It is his life, career, and passion. Despite his mother’s growing pressure to look for a wife, he knows that few women would be willing to live an unconventional, often dangerous life on a Navy frigate. To care for his single mother–and because life isn’t worth living away from the sea–Dominic accepts a promotion to become HMS Deborah’s newest lieutenant. Under the guarded eye of Captain Woodall, Dominic begins to prove his knowledge and skill. Yet it is the role of friend that quickly becomes the most challenging; George Taylor, Captain Woodall’s skittish young cabin boy, is greatly in need of a confidante…and pugilistic mentor.

Georgana Woodhull has a secret. Three years ago she vanished from Society and her abusive grandmother’s power. While Society at large believes her to be locked within the shadows of her ancestral home, she instead treads the boards of the HMS Deborah as a lowly, stoop-shouldered cabin boy for her father. The dark humor at her situation hasn’t escaped her–before her mother’s death three years prior, the sea ruled her dreams. It was a wild freedom that ever called to her. Now, all she longs for is a fresh start on land. Continue reading

Austenprose’s Best Austenesque & Historical Books of 2020

Pop Art Jane Austen

Happy New Year dear readers!

While I am not shy about kicking 2020 to the curb, it was not a total bust for those of us who enjoy reading. Publishers and indie authors continued to supply us with a fabulous selection of choices in the Austenesque, historical fiction, romance, and mystery genres.

Of the 75 books that were reviewed here last year by our dedicated staff, several were outstanding and will remain favorites. Here is a list of our highest-rated and most cherished of 2020. Follow each link to read the full review.

 BEST AUSTENESQUE HISTORICAL NOVEL

  1. Miss Austen, by Gill Hornsby (5 Stars)
  2. Murder at Northanger Abbey, by Shannon Winslow (5 Stars)
  3. Fortune & Felicity, by Monica Fairview (5 Stars)
  4. The Other Bennet Sister: A Novel, by Janice Hadlow (5 Stars)
  5. Tempted, by Nicole Clarkston (5 Stars)
  6. Rebellion at Longbourn, by Victoria Kincaid (5 Stars)
  7. Being Mrs. Darcy, by Lucy Marin (5 Stars)
  8. The Rogue’s Widow, by Nicole Clarkston (5 Stars)
  9. A Timely Elopement, by Joana Starnes (4 Stars)
  10. Two More Days at Netherfield, by Heather Moll (4 Stars)

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The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh (A Pride and Prejudice Novel), by Molly Greeley — #BookReview, #HistoricalFiction, #GothicFiction, #JaneAusten, #Austenesque, @MollyJGreeley, @WmMorrowBooks

The Heiress by Molly Greeley 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Miss Anne de Bourgh is known only as the sedate and sickly shadow of her mother, Lady Catherine’s, condescending and loudly opinionated character. The heiress of Rosings Park in Kent, Miss de Bourgh was intended from infancy—as a favorite wish of both her mother and her aunt—to marry her first cousin, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire, thereby uniting two grand fortunes and estates. But when Mr. Darcy ultimately marries that obstinate, headstrong Miss Elizabeth Bennet instead, what is to become of Miss de Bourgh? This is one of many questions explored in Molly Greeley’s fascinating second Pride and Prejudice variation, The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh.

Anne de Bourgh was a wretchedly inconsolable infant. Her parents and nurse were therefore quite thankful for the medical intervention when the local doctor prescribed a dose of sleep-inducing laudanum and declared that she would always possess a delicate constitution. Consequently, Anne spends her formative years receiving twice-daily doses of her magic drops that keep her in a permanent state of lethargy. “My medicine turned me stone-heavy, a breathing statue, eyelids drawing down despite all my best efforts and thoughts drifting like milkweed fluff.” (118)

Under her mother’s formidable thumb, Anne drifts through her days in a stupor, confined to the house and gardens, wearing only what her mother selects, eating little but what her mother approves and her weak appetite allows, not permitted to dance or sing or play an instrument, and restricted from learning or reading too much. All are convinced that she is far too frail to do much of anything at all but simply exist. “If I had a shell like the snail, I thought, I would tuck myself back inside of it, away from their branding pity. I felt at once all-too-visible in my fine gowns and gaudy bonnets, and ill-defined as the edges of a ghost.” (316)

Anne is merely a detached observer of her own life, her languorous health slowly turning to vivid hallucinations. Despite her governess’s insistence that she could aspire to be so much more than what she has settled for, “if you did not stun yourself so thoroughly with your medicine” (1171), Anne continues to see herself as she has long been trained to. “Useless, I whispered inside my head, little mortified arrows that pierced my softest inner places. Useless, stupid, useless.” (1188) Continue reading