From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:
Today I have the distinct honor of reviewing Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, edited by none other than my fellow Austenprose contributor Christina Boyd. It comes along at the perfect time of year as many of us are packing our beach bags full of summer reads that provide companionship while lying on a beach towel or sitting in a chair with our toes in the sand. I’ve always been a big fan of short story anthologies because they offer fun and tantalizing stories that typically lead me to read more of the authors’ works, much like an appetizer before the entrée. This particular collection of works has been chosen for its relevance to summer or other light and refreshing themes. Although I personally don’t have any plans for a trip to the beach soon, I sat down with this collection on my back porch and improvised, taking in the light and fun works that soon whisked me away.
Since there are several stories in the anthology, here are their plot summaries from Goodreads:
“So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in…” Thomas Hardy
If you desire a little heat, a summer flirtation, or an escape to bask in your own private sun…this whimsical collection of original short stories is inspired by all things summer. From some of Meryton Press’s most popular and award-winning authors, the anthology debuts other promising and emerging talent.
- In KaraLynne Mackrory’s “Shades of Pemberley,” Mr. Darcy, with some fantastic assistance, discovers Elizabeth Bennet in a most unlikely place.
- Karen M. Cox’s “Northanger Revisited” modernizes Northanger Abbey at a fictionalized Georgia seaside.
- Linda Beutler takes us to Paris as a young gentleman is schooled in the ways of amour in “The Incomplete Education of Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
- In “Spyglasses and Sunburns,” J. Marie Croft takes the Miss Bennets to the seaside where they chance upon handsome acquaintances.
- In Abigail Bok’s “Summer at Sanditon,” a little sea-bathing seems just the thing to cure what ails Anne de Bourgh.
- In Natalie Richards’ “Midsummer Madness,” an honest confession and a promise between mysterious strangers at a masque ball mends a misunderstanding.
- Sophia Rose re-imagines a modern-day Persuasion in “Second Chance at Sunset Beach.”
- In Morgan K Wyatt’s “Dream Spinner,” a near-death car accident and an unlikely trucker, brings a fresh perspective to a young co-ed’s life and love.
- Contemporary and Regency alike, each romance was dreamt as a perfect summer refreshment to bring a smile to your own sun-kissed face.
Typically I provide a synopsis of the work I’m reviewing, but given that this is an anthology, I’ll provide some thoughts on certain works that stood out and made me smile. First off, “Spyglasses & Sunburns” by J. Marie Croft was definitely my favorite work of the bunch. I really enjoyed how Croft infused humor into the story, and as a hilariously pale person myself, I often chuckled every time a character mistook someone’s blushing for sunburn. It was a collection of these small yet smart and funny asides that made the story a joy to read and kept me laughing to the end.
My second favorite work was “Second Chance on Sunset Beach” by Sophia Rose, a contemporary version of Persuasion. Simply put, the writing was beautiful. Although these short works only have a limited amount of time and space to get their points across, this one came through loud and clear. It packed an emotional punch that pulled me in from the very beginning. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a short story that has been able to have such a fast-acting impact on me, and as such, I was riveted until the end. Callie and Cameron are definitely characters that will stick with you.
Another great standout in this collection has to be “Midsummer Madness” by Natalie Richards. Although it could just be the shared word, it really reminded me of A Midsummer Night’s Dream due to its whimsical nature. It was quick, smart, and I really enjoyed the way that Richards used the masque ball as a backdrop to the story. The imagery was really vibrant and I had no trouble imagining the setting. (And the star crossed “Lady Butterfly” and “Sir Shadow” will certainly make your heart flutter with their feelings on the loves they seem to think are gone forever.)
I have to commend Christina for editing together such a great group of short stories. I love the unified themes of summer, romance, and the sea that permeate these works and make me feel even closer to summer. I think it’s a great testament to the Jane Austen fan fiction community as a whole that such quality work can come together and provide us with great entertainment this season. As in any anthology, there are bound to be stories that readers will like and dislike. There is enough of a variety here to please Austen fan-fiction readers of all tastes. In all, the stories in Sun-kissed will make you feel all the joy, beauty, and respite that a day spent in the sun at the beach exudes.
5 out of 5 Stars
Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, edited by Christina Boyd
Meryton Press (2015)
Trade paperback & eBook (251) pages
Cover image courtesy of Meryton Press © 2015; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2015, Austenprose.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. 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.”