Austenesque, Book Reviews, Holiday Reading, Pride and Prejudice Sequels

A Hopeful Holiday: A Pride and Prejudice Novella, by Heather Moll — A Review 

From the desk of Sophia Rose: 

What if Lady Catherine never makes her infamous visit at Longbourn? What if Mr. Darcy never returns to the neighborhood? Can Jane Austen’s most iconic pair still discover a way to ‘only remember the past’ with pleasure together? It might take a bit of yuletide mischief and interference orchestrated by a talented writer, Heather Moll, whose tales I have enjoyed in the past.

A Hopeful Holiday opens with Elizabeth Bennet looking forward to the holiday season with a tired, dreary spirit. Her family has noticed and happily encourage her to accept Charlotte Collins’ invitation to visit Hunsford. Elizabeth accepts and is full of regrets over the outcome of her last visit and the heated speech she delivered to Mr. Darcy having no idea at the time that her feelings would be quite the opposite a half year later. If only he had come with his friend back into Hertfordshire so she could make him see that her feelings were all for him.

Fitzwilliam Darcy endures quiet misery that he must be forever parted from the one woman he could ever love. He is convinced that she could never look on him the way she had last summer at Pemberley after her sister ran off with Wickham and it was Darcy’s attempt to protect his family pride that prevented word to get out what a scoundrel was in their midst. And, if his aching heart were not enough, now he has drawn the short straw with his cousin the colonel to represent the family at Rosings for Christmas and Lady Catherine’s annual masquerade ball this year. Wouldn’t it be a lovely dream to discover that the Collinses had a special guest like the last time he visited his aunt?

A Hopeful Holiday is a Pride and Prejudice variation that picks up at a place late in the original story. With such a set up, it is most definitely written for those who are already familiar with the story. The setting is festive with each dwelling decorated so lovely and several scenes of jolly making including a game of Snapdragon, snowball fights, Christmas meals, and a lavish masquerade ball.

There is a feeling of second chances because Darcy and Elizabeth are meeting after the close of major events and in a new place during a time of reflection and renewal. I enjoyed this and appreciated that it fit well with the well-developed shorter story and faster-pace of the already existing romantic feelings.

I appreciated that it wasn’t all clear sailing, however. There are their own hesitating feelings about speaking up for fear the other person doesn’t feel the same, but yes, Lady C must have her say and doesn’t even realize that she is de trop. A new character arrives, Sir Hugh de Bourgh, Lady C’s nephew on her husband’s side, and he is definitely not a fan of Darcy’s. He has his own agenda for the Christmas holidays that include scotching Darcy and Elizabeth’s chances and promoting himself with his aunt.

All in all, A Hopeful Holiday was a light, entertaining, holiday romance pleaser that caught the spirit of the season and the magic of a second chance romance. Sweet holiday historical Austen fans settle in and click this one onto your reader.

4 out of 5 Stars

  • A Hopeful Holiday: A Pride and Prejudice Novella, by Heather Moll
  • Excessively Diverted Press (November 1, 2021)
  • eBook (116) pages
  • ASIN: ‎B09H534MRN

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We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose.com is an Amazon.com affiliate. We receive a modest remuneration when readers use our links and make a purchase.

Cover image courtesy of Excessively Diverted Press © 2021; text Sophia Rose © 2021, Austenprose.com

Book Reviews, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Regency Romance

The Debutante’s Code: Thorndike and Swann (Book 1), by Erica Vetsch — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose: 

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, then she must seek them abroad.” Jane Austen says of Catherine Morland in the beginning pages of Northanger Abbey. However, what is true for Catherine is decidedly not true for Lady Juliette Thorndike or the young Bow Street Runner trying to solve his first big case. Erica Vetsch introduces a sparkling new mystery series set in Regency London featuring an intrepid and unlikely detecting pair and a cunning mystery.

Lady Juliette has been away seven years to a ladies’ seminary in Switzerland honing genteel accomplishments and studies while looking forward to the day she is to return home to the parents she is not embarrassed to miss terribly. After a harrowing journey home by way of Italy with Continue reading “The Debutante’s Code: Thorndike and Swann (Book 1), by Erica Vetsch — A Review”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction

The Curse of Morton Abbey, by Clarissa Harwood — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

What would the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, look like if all the main players were adults? That is what author Clarissa Harwood asked herself and a lush, atmospheric, and romantic historical suspense was born. A book from a new to me author and a set up I could not resist brought early tingles of excitement.

Vaughan Springthorpe finished settling her deceased solicitor father’s affairs and must now face an uncertain future. He trained her to copy and review legal documents and it is her dream to become a solicitor, herself. Facing resistance from her surviving family, because she is a woman and has a disability, she ignores this and takes the first step toward her dream by way of placing an advertisement for employment. A reply comes and she is hired by absentee estate owner, Sir Peter Spencer, to get the estate papers in order so he can sell. Continue reading “The Curse of Morton Abbey, by Clarissa Harwood — A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Pride and Prejudice Sequels

A Consuming Love: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, (Skirmish and Scandal Series) by Kelly Miller, narrated by Harry Frost — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

In the fifth entry in the sparkling Skirmish and Scandal series of standalone novellas written by multiple Meryton Press authors, Kelly Miller offers A Consuming Love. Inspired by Pride and Prejudice, Miller’s creativity shines once again when she alters what was the infamous first meeting in which the heroine Elizabeth Bennet is snubbed by the hero Mr. Darcy as not a tolerable enough temptation. In fact, Mr. Darcy finds Miss Elizabeth more than tolerable and a dazzling temptation. This new approach from the beginning launches the variation onto an alternate path when less pride and prejudice are on display, but misunderstandings and interference offer challenges on the road to love.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has agreed to accompany his friend, Charles Bingley, on a tour of a Hertfordshire estate that Charles is interested in leasing. When the steward is unavailable, a neighboring estate owner and his daughter are there to greet them, give them the tour, and respond to any questions. Charles is enthusiastic about the neighbors and the estate and Darcy even finds himself well pleased Continue reading “A Consuming Love: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, (Skirmish and Scandal Series) by Kelly Miller, narrated by Harry Frost — A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Pride and Prejudice Sequels

The Bennet Women, by Eden Appiah-Kubi — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Jane Austen’s works have a timeless quality that make them appealing for contemporary retelling. The Bennet Women, by debut author Eden Appiah-Kubi, is a new adult tale inspired by Austen’s Pride and Prejudice centered around the young women living at Bennet House on a private college campus who experience the ups and downs of life and love. We shall see if this diverse offering of modern characters can translate the social conflicts and romance from early nineteenth-century into modern-day.

The Bennet Women opens with the introduction of EJ, the RA (Residential Assistant) of the Bennet House, rushing around on the day of one of the school’s biggest social activities, a dance. The women of the house have gone mad as a result of learning that some famous faces will be seen there and EJ has been putting out fires. She’s excited to dress up and cut a rug at the dance with her friends. But, then after squeeing over the arrival of a surprise guest, she is deflated when an arrogant guy who happens to be the Continue reading “The Bennet Women, by Eden Appiah-Kubi — A Review”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque: A Novel, by Todd M. Johnson—A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Crusaders come in all shapes and forms and some don’t even realize they are such a person until they face down injustice at the expense of reputation, career, and even life to see a wrong is righted.   The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson, a historical mystery that balances Regency backdrop with legal thriller, contains a crusader that captivated me from page one.

A Regency period barrister, William Snopes, who champions the commoner in his clever and cunning way finds himself faced with a conundrum. Does he take a case that goes against his principle of never representing someone from the upper classes and particularly a case that has far reaching ramifications for all involved or tell the desperate woman, Lady Madeleine, he cannot?

To help make up his mind, he has his well-trained, staunch junior barrister, Edmund, his solicitor, and other reliable sources help him determine if the lady is telling the truth about her cousin, his ship, his crew, and goods being seized by the Crown for piracy because the Letter of Marque he was carrying Continue reading “The Barrister and the Letter of Marque: A Novel, by Todd M. Johnson—A Review”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose

Reader, I must confess that I went into this book totally blind. No blurb, no captions, and a mere glance at the cover. This is because I spotted the title and the author, and it was all over. I needed a gender swapped Jane Eyre-Dracula mash up to quench my insatiable curiosity and wonder over such a combo. Some authors might have difficulty pulling off such a feat, but I did not have a doubt in the world that in Mimi Matthews’ capable hands that John Eyre would dazzle.

John Eyre arrives at his new place of employment on a cold, rainy, and foggy night. He barely catches a glimpse of the new Yorkshire countryside or Thornfield Hall. His mind is weighed down by the past and his head aches dreadfully.  He craves the laudanum that he has been using to dull his memories and pain. But it is not long before natural curiosity for his peculiar new charges, his absent employer, and his new surroundings rouse him. Thornfield Hall might be remote, creak with odd noises, and the Yorkshire environs bleak, but John Eyre starts to settle in and feel a modicum of peace. Then Mrs. Rochester arrives.

Mrs. Rochester is changeable, direct, capable, and very much in charge. He senses there is great mystery from this well-traveled world-weary woman. She challenges him and his notions of women, and the world he has barely experienced in his humble circumstances. His very stolidity and sureness Continue reading “John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Pride and Prejudice Sequels

A Life Worth Choosing: A Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Anngela Schroeder – A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

In a heart-tugging mash-up of It’s A Wonderful Life and Pride and Prejudice, author Anngela Schroeder gives Austen’s most beloved hero the opportunity to witness a world in which he had never been born. A Pride & Prejudice world without Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy? Gasp! Exploring such a possibility had me clearing some time and settling into my cozy reading chair.

After delivering his marriage proposal and having Miss Elizabeth Bennet not simply reject it, but vociferously state that Mr. Wickham would have made a better Master of Pemberley than he, Fitzwilliam Darcy pens a response letter and his own private wish that he wasn’t around to feel the pain and dejection from her stunning refusal of his love and all that his wealth can give her. In addition, long ago, a gypsy predicted he would have a monumental decision to make in his life.

Not long after the delivery of said letter, an accident befalls him and he awakes in a world that makes little sense. The same people surround him, but their circumstances and his own are vastly different. What has happened? Is he even awake? His physician, Clarence, explains. Darcy wished he hadn’t Continue reading “A Life Worth Choosing: A Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Anngela Schroeder – A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Sense and Sensibility Sequels

The Year in Between: A Sense and Sensibility Variation, by Christina Morland — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

At the end of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility after the last vestiges of the book’s main conflicts, the reader is met with a less than meticulous summation that closes out the book. For those who fell in love with the Dashwood family and their friends—even those who are not their friends—there is a feeling of dissatisfaction about the wrap-up.  The Year In Between, by Christina Morland fills in that gap by continuing the story before Austen jumps forward to the marriage of Marianne and Col. Brandon, offering an in-depth and layered exploration of that time. We shall see if it quells our curiosity.

The story opens at the time of Elinor Dashwood’s marriage to Edward Ferrars and their preparations to leave Barton Cottage for Delaford. Marianne Dashwood’s health is restored, though she still struggles with the vestiges of a heartbroken by John Willoughby. She is determined to do better, but the loss of her capable sister leaves her Continue reading “The Year in Between: A Sense and Sensibility Variation, by Christina Morland — A Review”