Book Reviews, Regency Romance

Charming Artemis, by Sarah M. Eden — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,” as Jane Austen once wrote. But when tender hearts are hidden behind protective shields, will their charm ever be revealed? Bestselling author Sarah M. Eden explores the promises and pitfalls of tender hearts in the highly anticipated finale of her acclaimed Jonquil Brothers and Lancaster Family series, Charming Artemis.

Miss Artemis Lancaster had been utterly neglected by her widowed father through most of her impoverished childhood. “Oh, how she’d needed someone to see her, to understand the tears that sat on her heart all the time.” (97) When her eldest sister married a duke, Artemis was catapulted into a world of plenty, supported by siblings who cared for her. But nothing and nobody could heal the wounds of her overwhelming fear of abandonment. She had built an impenetrable fortress around her heart and disguised her pain with a detached and disdainful veneer, yet she was ever-hopeful of finding the unconditional love she sought.

Charlie Jonquil was the son of an earl and the youngest of seven brothers. “The Jonquil family had not merely an heir and a spare, as the saying went, but an heir and six spares. He wasn’t often needed or helpful.” (331) Obligated to select a career, he had focused his efforts at Cambridge on his love of mathematics, determined to become a lecturer there. “Strange, perhaps, but Charlie wasn’t embarrassed by his passion for numbers. He’d come to appreciate that he had a knack for something. He’d found purpose and focus in knowing, at last, what he was meant to do with his life.” (184)

After an unpleasant meeting several years before that left them adversaries, Artemis and Charlie are disgruntled to find themselves thrown into each other’s company once again at the wedding celebration of mutual friends. “Indeed, there was not a member of Charlie Jonquil’s family whose company Artemis didn’t find delightful. Except for Charlie. And from what she’d heard, she was one of the only people in the entire world he didn’t like.” (292) For the benefit of their friends, they agree to a temporary ceasefire.

Then disaster strikes. They are caught in the appearance of a scandalous situation, and the only reasonable solution to the misunderstanding is a forced marriage. “If he and Artemis did not move forward with this plan, she would be ruined, and he would be labeled a rake for the rest of his life. They would both forever be tainted by the scandal, and their families would suffer for it.” (570)

They are each burdened with bitterness over the destruction of their dreamed-for futures. For Artemis, “once more, she would be living with a man who despised her in a home where she would never be wanted.” (503) And Charlie “was going to be as unneeded and unnecessary in his own marriage as he had been in his family growing up.” (704) The future they face together looks bleak, at best. Will the love and support of the Jonquil and Lancaster families be enough to liberate them from a marriage of inconvenience?

Everything that Edenites adore about the Jonquil brothers and Lancaster family is in this book: adorable children, witty banter, the dangerous duke and the entertaining earl, heartrending moments, and an abundance of love in all forms. I laughed, cried, smiled, and sighed. The story was so immersive that I didn’t want to put it down, and I valiantly attempted to pace myself so that I could savor it because I didn’t want it to end. Inevitably, I lost track of time every time I traveled into their world, and much sooner than I wished, it was over. It warmed my heart, and my Kindle is full of highlighted passages that made me smile. I’ve become inordinately fond of these characters over the years, and I’m sad to leave them behind. Yet I’m also hopeful about all of the wonderful tales still to come from the charmed pen of Sarah M. Eden in the form of the two related series, The Gents and The Huntresses.

Charming Artemis is an ending that feels like a promising beginning thanks to masterful storytelling that beckons readers to become honorary members of these beloved families who will always live on in our hearts.

“Think on me fondly, with smiles and laughter. Dry your tears. Hold fast to hope. Forget me not.” (2692)

5 out of 5 Stars

  • Charming Artemis, by Sarah M. Eden
  • Covenant Communications, Inc. (October 4, 2021)
  • Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (340) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1524418069

Cover image courtesy of Covenant Communications © 2021; text Katie Jackson, Austenprose.com

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Pride and Prejudice Sequels

A Longbourn Entanglement: A Comic Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Monica Fairview — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

“O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!” said Sir Walter Scott, and such were the words that ran through my mind when I found myself entwined in the uniquely amusing events of A Longbourn Entanglement by prolific Austenesque author Monica Fairview.

On the day after the Netherfield ball, Fitzwilliam Darcy is tormented by thoughts of his charming dance partner, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. “He had known with absolute certainty that if he stayed a day longer, he would find it impossible to leave. And leave he must, because duty and position and the weight of centuries of tradition dictated that he could not even consider her a suitable candidate for marriage.” (23) Furthermore, his friend Bingley is on his own path to a potentially unsuitable attachment with Miss Elizabeth’s sister Jane. Darcy resolves to save them both from the delightful danger the two beguiling country misses represent by insisting he and Bingley depart for town immediately. “His friend’s unhappiness mirrored his own. They would have to weather the storm together – they would have to stay strong against the temptation to give in to their feelings.” (89) Continue reading “A Longbourn Entanglement: A Comic Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Monica Fairview — A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Short Story Anthology

A Seaside Summer: Timeless Regency Collection (Book 17), by Josi S. Kilpack, Martha Keyes, and Heather B. Moore — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

As summertime meanders through our calendars each year, with its slower pace and often unbearable heat, it is natural to dream of the refreshing breeze and the tranquil sounds of the perpetual waves at the seashore. A Seaside Summer invites readers on a soothing journey to the shore through a trio of sweet romance novellas in the latest addition to the Timeless Romance Anthology® collection from Mirror Press.

“The New Countess” by Josi S. Kilpack explores how open communication and common goals can lead to trust and true companionship. Lord and Lady Avery have entered into a marriage of convenience after their respective spouses’ untimely deaths. The earl needs a countess to manage his household and his reputation and to raise his motherless daughter. His new wife, left penniless by her late husband, Continue reading “A Seaside Summer: Timeless Regency Collection (Book 17), by Josi S. Kilpack, Martha Keyes, and Heather B. Moore — A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Pride and Prejudice Sequels

Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In a November 1814 letter to her niece, Jane Austen wrote that “nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without love.” She had brilliantly illustrated her point with many unenviable couples in her novels serving as warnings of what her protagonists should strive to avoid. Likewise, readers found in her most famous story, Pride and Prejudice, a hero dutifully resigned to such misery and a heroine determined to evade it. Prolific Austenesque author Shannon Winslow explores that hero’s path from misery to love in her latest Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words.

Fitzwilliam Darcy believes that he is destined to fulfill his familial duty by securing a society-approved mate for himself and proper mistress of Pemberley—and by choosing prudently, hoping for mutual respect at best, and knowing that love was neither desirable nor wise. “My early years had taught me, again and again, that to love was to suffer pain. To love was to surrender a part of oneself, to give the object of that love power over one’s life – power to wound or to destroy, either by accident or with intent.” (189) Therefore, Darcy resolutely heeds his late father’s advice by discreetly selecting a decorous lady from a suitably wealthy and consequential family, ever mindful of his family’s expectations and his own responsibilities. “To choose the wrong path, to be careless of the way, to neglect minding every step, was to invite calamity of a kind most painful and permanent.” (171) Continue reading “Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow — A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Romance

Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In 1837, a sheltered yet determined 18-year-old became Queen Victoria and ushered in an era of immense transformation. Increased educational and employment opportunities for women and an overall increase in literacy cracked open the previously elite worlds of journalism and literature and scientific invention in exciting new ways. It was a time when a lady bluestocking might finally earn the chance to collaborate with other intellectuals as an admired and respected equal. Master storyteller Jennifer Moore has created a lovely and well-researched representation of this unique era in the latest tale from The Blue Orchid Society series, Inventing Vivian.

During a fateful meeting in a library sanctuary while escaping the unwelcome pressures of a ballroom, science-minded inventor Miss Vivian Kirby had made a pact with four other remarkable young ladies to form the Blue Orchid Society and to achieve their private ambitions with each other’s support and encouragement. Vivian was thrilled by the thought that her dream “was actually achievable. And the difference, she realized, was that she had the support of people like herself.” (237) Continue reading “Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews

Dangerous Magic: A Pride & Prejudice Variation (Mr. Darcy’s Magic Book 1), by Monica Fairview — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

The world of Austenesque stories has expanded exponentially in recent years, and now enthusiasts of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) can treat themselves to fantasy versions of their beloved novels. There’s even a delightful new Facebook group dedicated to the subgenre: Fantasy Reads for Austen Fans. Bestselling author Monica Fairview is the latest creator in this whimsical realm with her imaginative Pride and Prejudice variation, Dangerous Magic.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has the weight of the Kingdom on his shoulders. As an elite and formidable Royal Mage, he is destined to help save England by winning the war against Napoleon and his ever-increasing army of French mages. “Darcy wondered if there had ever been a moment in his life when he could have forged his own path. He had always been guided by duty, honor, and good principles, and he had never thought to question their hold on his life.” (17) Trained from childhood as a true-blooded mage at the exclusive Royal Academy, Darcy is well-versed in the textbook spells—but they’re not strong enough, and England is on the verge of being overtaken. Darcy needs to Bond with a Janus Twin—an equally powerful mage, thus doubling their magical strength—if the Kingdom has any chance of surviving Napoleon’s attack. But such mages are exceedingly rare, and time is running out. Continue reading “Dangerous Magic: A Pride & Prejudice Variation (Mr. Darcy’s Magic Book 1), by Monica Fairview — A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews

Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion: An Austen-inspired Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright — A Review

Mr Darcys Persuasion by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s final complete novel, Persuasion—published six months after her untimely death—the heroine, Anne Elliot, is influenced by her prideful father, a baronet, to break off an engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth, who was considered a poor match due to his low social status and lack of wealth. Similarly, in Austen’s earlier novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the prideful man causing heartbreak over his disapproval of an undistinguished family. The consequences of such prejudiced persuasion collide spectacularly in Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion by prolific writing duo Cass Grafton and Ada Bright.

Mr. Darcy is in denial. In a letter to his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, he insists, “Despite your suggestion to the contrary, no young lady has caught my attention.” (152) Yet he flees Hertfordshire posthaste following the ball at Netherfield hosted by his friend Mr. Bingley, whom he has advised to avoid a growing attachment to Miss Jane Bennet. All the while, Darcy knows his own hypocrisy as he likewise advises himself to avoid the undeniable attraction he feels toward Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth. He acknowledges that the Bennet family is far beneath the notice of a wealthy gentleman landowner such as he, thus he removes himself from danger and warns his smitten friend to do the same. Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion: An Austen-inspired Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright — A Review”