Did you know that contemporary fiction outnumbers historical fiction by tenfold in the young adult genre? I have never understood this trend. I have been told that teens prefer to read about heroes and heroines their own age and set in their own time. When I was younger, I read many historical novels and adored period dramas, and still do, so when a special historical romance in this genre arrives I am doubly pleased. Dangerous Alliance, by Jennieke Cohen is being touted as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen. For those of you who have not read Mackenzi Lee’s bestselling 2017 novel, I highly recommend it. Most of you landing on this blog have read a Jane Austen book or seen a movie or two, so I am sure that you will understand the comparison to Ms. Cohen’s new novel.
Dangerous Alliance is not only a witty historical romance, it has some mystery elements in it to keep you guessing. Here is the description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt from the author.
Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home. But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.
Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility. Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.
“Thea—” Vicky began. She wanted to say she didn’t wish to marry anyone. That the thought of being trapped in a marriage of convenience terrified her. That she wished none of this was necessary, but she voiced none of it. It was the truth, but what good could it do? She’d made her sister a promise, and she would keep it.
Vicky walked to the window. Like her own room, Althea’s bedroom sat on the front side of the town house; it boasted a large window overlooking the square. Gentlemen on horseback nodded to women trundling along in open carriages, while nursemaids looked on as their young charges played on the grass.
“I wish Mama and Papa had waited to tell me.” She turned to face her sister. “What if Mr. Carmichael and I have nothing to say to one another?”
A line appeared between Althea’s brows. “Had you anything to say last night?”
Vicky looked down at her fingernails. “Yes. He was very pleasant.”
“But you worry he will not be today?”
Vicky bit her lip. What could she say that wouldn’t sound like she wished to break her promise?
Althea closed her book on her finger. “Do you like Mr. Carmichael less because our parents sanction him?”
Vicky frowned. “Of course not, that would be foolish.” She’d known how highly they’d thought of him. She just hadn’t known they wished her to marry him.
“Then pretend they said nothing.”
She inhaled. Despite her parents’ wishes, she was not bound to Mr. Carmichael. “You’re right, Thea. If I don’t care for him today, I shall find someone else to marry.”
“Someone else with a large fortune, whom the prince regent approves of, with unimpeachable moral conduct,” Althea muttered.
Vicky turned to face the window with a tiny pout. When Althea put it that way, the whole endeavor sounded quite impossible. “I did fancy I would have done better than I did last night. I danced a respectable number of times, but the only new gentleman I met was Mr. Silby, and I don’t think he cared for me overmuch, even if he did ask me to accompany him on an outing.” After they’d danced a set last night, Mr. Silby had asked her to accompany him to Hyde Park later in the week.
“I don’t know that he’s much of a catch anyway,” Althea said.
“Thea . . .” Vicky turned to look at her. “You always say one should have a plan, so I rather thought”—she hesitated, feeling silly—“that if I acted as Fanny Price did at her first ball, all the gentlemen in the room would find me irresistible.”
Althea’s eyes widened. “This is no novel, Vicky. This is our lives!”
Vicky exhaled. “I’m well aware of that, but there are lessons to be learned from books too.”
Althea threw her gaze to the ceiling. “You’ve never agreed with Fanny Price’s actions, anyway. Why would you adopt her manners now?”
“I wanted the evening to be a success.”
“With two outings with two separate gentlemen, you cannot call it a failure.”
Vicky blinked. “I suppose not. Though I was dreadful at acting like Fanny Price.”
“I cannot say I’m surprised. If you must adopt a pretense, you’d be far better off imitating someone you actually admire.”
Vicky chewed the inside of her cheek. Althea was right. By attempting to act like Fanny Price, she’d been trying to be something she wasn’t. Little wonder events hadn’t progressed as she’d imagined.
“Mr. Carmichael actually said Elizabeth Bennet was his favorite of Miss Austen’s heroines.”
“Did he indeed? There you are—you have much in common. You can spend the afternoon speaking of Pride and Prejudice.”
Vicky nodded, her heart lightening. She grinned at her sister.
“Just don’t expect him to be Mr. Darcy,” Althea said, looking down at her book.
She was dismissing her, but Vicky turned back to the window.
“I don’t imagine I shall find a Mr. Darcy.” Although she certainly wouldn’t object. “But I do wish to avoid someone like Dain. How can I?”
“I’m hardly the one to ask,” Althea replied without inflection.
Vicky clasped her hands together and grimaced at the window. Why could she never say anything right? As Vicky observed the activity of Mayfair, an elegant black barouche pulled by a pair of matching red chestnuts separated itself from the stream of traffic, and the driver stopped the horses in front of their house. Mr. Carmichael disembarked the vehicle wearing a charcoal coat and black hat.
She took three deep breaths, but the knot in her stomach remained. “I’m sorry, Thea. I will not fail us.”
- “A delightful romantic romp perfect for those cold December nights.” — Barnes & Noble Teen Blog
- “Contemporary fans of Austen will relish this rousing, late Georgian romance.” — Booklist
- “Cohen’s debut is lighthearted and well-researched…” — Kirkus
Debut novelist Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kuh CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Read more on Jennieke’s website http://www.JenniekeCohen.com or find her on Twitter or Instagram @Jennieke_Cohen
There is a lightness and exuberance of young adult books that can really lift your spirits when your adult life is wearing you down. Add to that the fact that this new novel is set in Regency times, the heroine thinks that after reading Jane Austen that her books hold keys to solving her own life dilemmas, and Dangerous Alliance is unpassable. I can’t wait to dive into it. Please return on December 30th, 2019 for our review.
Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance, by Jennieke Cohen
Hardcover, eBook, & audiobooks (448) pages
Cover image courtesy of HarperTeen © 2019; Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, Austenprose.com