From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:
When I was first asked to review Then Comes Winter edited by Christina Boyd, I felt that the fact that it was a short story compilation was perfect. In the midst of holiday planning, gift buying, and cookie baking, I had less than my normal appointed time for reading. So, having the ability to read these shorter, Austen-inspired stories let me fit them right in with my schedule and enjoy them that much more. Couple that with the fact that I now had a bunch of new authors to check out, and I was certainly excited to get started. Even more exciting, however, is the fact that my fellow Austenprose contributor Christina Boyd is the editor!
As I did with my last compilation review, Sun-kissed, I’m posting the publisher’s description below as there are multiple stories and I cannot summarize them all here.
If you long for a toasty snuggle on a cold winter’s night, this compilation of original short stories inspired by the magic of the holiday season-and more than a nod to Jane Austen-is fancied as a sublime wintertime treat. On the heels of the summer anthology, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and in concert with some of Meryton Press’s most popular authors, this romantic anthology introduces several promising writers. With a robust mix of contemporary and Regency musings, Then Comes Winter rekindles passionate fires with equal wonder, wit, and admiration. Stories by: Lory Lilian, Linda Gonschior, Suzan Lauder, Beau North & Brooke West, Sophia Rose, Natalie Richards, Anngela Schroeder, Melanie Stanford, Denise Stout, Erin Lopez, and Maureen Lee.
This anthology has a great selection of stories that will be sure to please all Austen fans. In the first four stories alone, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park are all represented. One of the early standouts was definitely “A Man Whom I Can Really Love,“ by Natalie Richards. I cheesed (when you smile so large that your face hurts) through the whole thing! The story is a contemporized version of Sense and Sensibility in which Marianne is in a coma after a serious car accident. Col. Brandon visits her daily, talking and reading to her, not knowing that she can hear him and understand his words. Marianne begins to have feelings for Col. Brandon, and the ensuing story is definitely the most adorable of the collection. (I dare you not to cheese while reading it.)
On the other hand, “The Unexpected Gift”, by Erin Lopez, really roped me in but didn’t have that great of an ending. I’m not sure if a full length novel is planned as a sequel to this short story, but it left me feeling bereft. Don’t get me wrong, the writing was fabulous and I really became invested in the story, but overall it read like a scene from a larger work rather than a short story. I really hope that Lopez can expand this story in the future, as I think it has serious potential to being a unique reimagining of Pride and Prejudice. (Any P&P story that includes more Georgiana is a win in my book.)
“A Perfect Choice”, by Lory Lilian, deserves a shout out as well. A Pride and Prejudice variation that has Darcy’s Great Dane, Blackie, as the catalyst to Lizzy and Darcy falling in love, it is a gem that you shouldn’t pass up under any circumstances. I liked the little elements of humor that were added into the story. Mr. Bennet too, played an interesting role not often found in Pride and Prejudice variations. His normal aloof behavior is traded in for a gentleman interested in taking an active role in his daughter’s happiness. It was a nice change to read for sure.
Overall, I think this was a fantastic collection of Austen inspired short stories. As in any short story compilation there are sure to be stories that appeal to you more than others. In this work, the strength is that having such a variety of short stories enables the work to appeal to a large audience and introduce a whole new group of viewers to Austen themed fan fiction. There are themes in the stories that are representative of multiple Austen novels, and there is a little something for everyone. I found myself quickly drawn in to the stories, and although I liked some more than others, I highly recommend this to those of you that need something to get you through the holiday hustle and bustle. Romantic, endearing, and filled with stories to keep you warm this winter, Then Comes Winter is a sure bet.
4 out of 5 Stars
Then Comes Winter, edited by Christina Boyd
Meryton Press (2015)
Trade paperback & eBook (324) pages
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.”
Cover images courtesy of Meryton Press © 2015; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2015, Austenprose.com