How many contemporary Austenesque books have you read? If you are like me, my bookshelves and Kindle are packed with stories set in the Regency era with just a few set in modern times. It is a challenge to transport Austen’s characters and plots into contemporary settings. Authors must tweak much of it to fit and that does not always work. I have found that the best bet is to incorporate Austen elements into the story, like Marilyn Brant’s According to Jane, and Karen Doornebos’ Undressing Mr. Darcy. Both authors have excelled at this subgenre of Austenesque fiction in the past.
Adding to this niche is Loving Like Jane, by Connie E. Sokol. What intrigued me about this new novel was that it used the same premise as the successful Austenesque books by Brant and Doornebos. A Jane Austen obsessed heroine gets thrown into a challenging situation and uses her “Austen powers” to work through it to overcome her obstacles in her career and her love life. Here are a book description and an exclusive excerpt from the publisher for your enjoyment.
Allie’s dream of writing a best-selling novel for a top literary agent is finally coming true. Except, she’s already agreed to go on a bucket list Jane Austen Tour for three weeks with her newly divorced aunt and widowed mother. To complicate matters, Allie can’t decide what the Best Novel Ever idea should be, and the first three chapters are due in, what else, three weeks. Determined to buckle down, Allie devotes her time to writing while refusing to engage in the trip’s delights, or gorgeous but enigmatic Beckett, the assistant tour director. Despite her attempts to stay focused, Allie is drawn to Beckett’s quick wit, Jane Austen wisdom, and deciding if his help will further her dreams or get in the way. Join Allie on her inspiring, hilarious, and romantic adventure as she learns how loving like Jane Austen creates unexpected changes that could lead to the life she loves.
“I will be calm. I will be mistress of myself.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Allie smiled, fingering the flower stem in her hand. “I’ve been reading Jane’s stories and you’re right in that she understood more about the heart than you’d imagine.”
Beckett smiled. “My go-to Jane advice is simple. She was advising Fanny, her niece, and she said, ‘Your own feelings and none but your own, should determine such an important point.’” He leaned forward, his elbows on his muscular thighs. “Maybe try an easy word association exercise. What’s your biggest fear right now?”
“That I can’t do it.” Her voice went higher. “That I’m really a fraud and that I don’t have the talent I need to make it and I’ve been holding onto a lie that I’ve told myself and everyone else for years—”
“What’s your worst nightmare?”
Her breath came more rapidly and she found herself squeezing her eyes shut. “Disappointing myself. No—disappointing my dad. He knew I could do it and told me so. But what if he’s wrong? And what if I’m just mediocre? Beck—what if I really can’t do this?”
He covered her hand.
“What’s your deepest secret?”
I’m not in love with Tate.
Allie shook her head, reeling with the thought. Was that true? “I can’t say it.”
“Yes, you can.”
Her voice was a whisper. “I can’t.”
“It’s important that you do, but it’s okay. What’s the one thing you want most right now?”
“For you to hold me.” Her eyes flew open. What had she just said. “I mean, I’m sorry, it’s not like that. I think I meant—”
Without a word, Beckett closed the gap and wrapped his arms around her. He pulled her close and she breathed into his shoulder hollow, calming herself down. Why had she said that aloud? What would he think of her?
“We all hit the wall at some point. And that’s okay.” He held her in silence, a deep enveloping warmth between them. “What would be the worst thing to happen if you didn’t get the Best Novel Idea Ever to Pauline?”
She thought about it. “I would lose the opportunity.”
“And do you think another will come along? If you continued to write, do you think the opportunity would come again in some form?”
Allie went very still. Pauline had said a good solid story, a talented writer, a handle on the mechanics of writing. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Okay, then. Write for the opportunity that works, not for the one before you. Jane didn’t get her first real contract until she’d been writing for 25 years. She took the long view. Maybe release some of that pressure and allow writing to be fun again.”
Yes. That was it. Write without the suffocating self-pressure. She breathed in, the scent of leather and cologne coming with it. “Wow, that’s amazing. I actually feel better. I can’t believe it. You’re right—again.”
“My three favorite words.” He gazed down at her with that content expression, as if his only desire today had been to make her happy.
She sat up quickly, aware of the closeness and unsure of what to do. “I still want to write something amazing, but I don’t feel that sick worried feeling. Just…hope.” She turned to him for understanding.
“And that is the gateway to creativity.”
For a moment, he simply stared at her. Allie let him, forcing herself to think rationally, to not let this situation get out of hand. He took her in, as if deciding something. Allie hesitated on the precipice of looking down or pulling back, but remained still. In the moment of conflict, Beckett reached down and took the flower stem from her hand. Gently, he raised it and pushed it through her hair to rest on her ear. His feathery touch sent a trail of hot and cold on her skin. For a moment, birds gently called, grass whispered, the lush countryside seemed collectively to hush. Beckett inclined ever so slightly toward her, as if drawn. Then he stopped.
He turned and looked out at the scene, an immediate distance between them. “Speaking of gateways, we likely should find our way out of here before Reggie gets fired.”
Allie swallowed and followed his view. “Good thinking.” And yet they stayed where they were. She sat still, just as he did, both trying to find polite words that hid simmering emotions. As if with the same thought, they stood to go.
- Loving Like Jane is a fun look at modern love through the eyes of Jane Austen–sweeter and when the days seemed longer. It’s a book of growth, finding oneself, learning to let go of your past, and those pesky fears. It’s a joyous celebration of true love with a bit of old-fashioned charm. You’ll laugh, you may shed a few tears, and you’ll enjoy yourself immensely. — Jenni James, author of The Jane Austen Diaries and The Austen in Love series
- “This is a fantastic story! Readers are going to adore it. I was ready to pack my own bags and find an Austen tour. The scenes and settings are gorgeous and so, so romantic.” — Michele Page Holmes, bestselling author of The Timeless Regency series
- “…amazing characters I loved it and am still thinking about…A refreshing contemporary romance novel, Loving Like Jane is a must-read for any Austen fan!” — Books are Sanity
Connie Sokol is a national speaker, bestselling author of 17 books including Pride and Persuasion (2019), media personality, and mother of seven. She is a regular contributor on the top-rated lifestyle show “Studio 5 with Brooke Walker”.
She is the founder of the Balance reDefined programs, teaching women to live purposeful, organized, and joyful lives. Ms. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. For her TV segments, blog, podcasts and more, visit http://www.conniesokol.com.
Contemporary Jane Austen-inspired stories can be fun. Add in some clean romance and Loving Like Jane could be a light, quick read when you don’t want anything too taxing. I don’t know about you, but I could use a Jane Austen tour in my life right now too!
Loving Like Jane (Princeton Ladies Book 1), by Connie E. Sokol
Mirror Press (September 24, 2019)
Trade paperback and eBook (379) pages
Cover image, book description, and excerpt courtesy Connie E. Sokol © 2019; Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, Austenprose.com