Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Era, Reading Challenges

Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

With a title like Undressing Mr. Darcy, author Karen Doornebos’ new release is sure to turn a few heads this holiday season. “Sex sells, even to smart, liberated women, and Mr. Darcy was the smart girl’s pinup boy.” p. 7 And like the novel’s heroine, a master PR rep who has turned tweeting into an #artform, Doornebos has carefully crafted another contemporary romance novel about an ambitious, highly energized, very modern woman who meets a charming Mr. Darcy re-enactor, sure to draw the attention of Janeites and romance readers alike.

When Vanessa Roberts, PR extraordinaire with the perpetually-present smartphone and ever-ready clever social media tweet or posting, takes on a pro-bono job as a favor for her elderly Jane Austen loving aunt, little does she expect promoting the English author of, My Year as Mr. Darcy, to turn her organized world topsy-turvy. When she finally meets Julian Chancellor, who has capitalized on his good looks “as he gives a little historical background on his Regency-era clothing as he proceeds to take it off –down to his drawers” at his book signings, she finds she too, like the throngs of Darcy fans in the audience, is caught by his artful allurements.

When she realizes his incentive for writing his book is to raise money to support the restoration of his ancestral home, coupled with his charm and gentlemen-like behavior, she can’t help herself but start to fantasize about what a fling, nay relationship, with him might be like. As they all attend the Jane Austen Society North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Chicago, while surrounded by Austen lovers fully immersed in the hubbub, Vanessa is busy promoting her author, “Want to tie the knot with Mr. Darcy? He’s in Cravat Tying 101 right now.#JASNAagm #UndressingMrDarcy #OrDressingMrDarcy?” p. 71 Surprisingly amongst all the bonnets and lace, she discovers she might be open to the possibilities of something more to life than constantly being plugged in.

It felt as if some of his Austen quotes were speaking directly to her at times, and it occurred to her that it might be time that she gave the author another chance. Perhaps her aunt had been on to something all these years. Was there something beyond the happily ever after stories and the demure portrait of a woman in a white ruffled cap that popped in Vanessa’s head every time ‘Jane Austen’ was mentioned?” p. 36

As Julian’s clothes come off, the heat turns up. But it’s not just his fine person that captivates her; his endearing friendship with her beloved aunt coupled with his affection and knowledge of all things Austen soon bewitch her body and soul. “‘The conversion has begun. It’s in your blood. Resistance is futile.’ He looked into her eyes and took a step backward. ‘You’re becoming an Austen fan.‘” p. 9

As in life, every dry spell has its flood. And for the lonesome, loveless Vanessa, soon after meeting Julian she meets a handsome, amiable pirate! Turns out HeroCon is happening simultaneously at the same Chicago hotel. Is Chase MacClane a rogue of the highest order or is he the hero in disguise?

Two Austen events later, Vanessa finds herself in England for the celebrated ten-day Jane Austen Festival in Bath. As soon as the plane lands, the consummate media maven posts, “‘Here I am once more in this Scene of Dissipation & vice, and I begin already to find my Morals corrupted.’ Could a girl ask for more? All sorts of sordid things happen in London.” p. 209 But all may not be how it appears. Later as she scampers about London and Bath on a wild, Austen-inspired scavenger hunt, she questions the authenticity of her relationship with Julian, her friendship with Chase, her aunt’s imminent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and what she is going to do about any of it. “She laughed at her own folly. Folly? Had she ever used that word before? Why did she palpably feel Jane Austen’s presence across the room, near the trio, with folded arms and laughing at her?” p. 214 Doornebos’s storytelling had me biting my bottom lip until the very last, guessing who, if anyone, our fair heroine might choose!

Karen Doornebos, the author of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, has certainly delivered me good tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season with this latest offering. Because of her concise research of Austen, in concert with the believable dialogue and madcap romantic antics, I am compelled to tweet: “@xtnaboyd Undressing Mr. Darcy is the #perfectstockingstuffer for Austen & Darcy lovers everywhere- regardless who are naughty or nice!”

5 out of 5 Stars 

Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos
Berkley Trade (2013)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-0425261392

Cover image courtesy of Berkley Trade © 2013; text Christina Boyd © 2013, Austenprose.com

Book Reviews, Contemporary Era, Historical Romance

Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany – A Review

Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd.

Austenesque and romance writer Janet Mullany dives headfirst into erotica genre in her latest release, Hidden Paradise.

Warning:  Dear readers, please avert your eyes if your genteel sensibilities are offended by a romance novel that might be classified in the same arena as Fifty Shades of Gray.

Disturbingly, the book opens in the throes of a ribald sex scene – without even a “how do you do” – only to be awoken by a phone call from a friend in England! Thusly, we are finally introduced to the recently widowed Louisa Connelly, Jane Austen expert, who is to be the honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort and spa, catering to the Austen enthusiast.  Hmmmmmm? Sound vaguely reminiscent of Shannon Hale’s bestseller, Austenland?  However, dressing up in authentic Regency-style clothing and experiencing everything Austen in a real Georgian country manor – similarities end there.  For one, Paradise Hall is no secret, exclusive get-away as the proprietors are most assuredly determined in getting the word out to potential guests… Enter Mac Salazar, handsome, lusty journalist whose middle name just happens to be Darcy!

Although, it has only been a few months into her mourning, Lou escapes her Montana ranch, and accepts to give a trial run of the place and give her Jane Austen stamp of “authenticity” for her friends and proprietors, Peter and Chris. Moreover, she hopes to encounter her late husband’s shade in the very place they had once planned to visit together.  But almost within the first few hours of being on the property, she realizes that this experience might be a bit more eye opening than she first expected when she secrets upon a couple coitus a la vache.  And she stays to watch! Later when she is formally introduced, it doesn’t take Einstein to surmise Mac Darcy Salazar is the resident lothario, noting that his historically accurate britches betray his virile reflex constitutionally inclined to passion.  “‘It’s an interesting concept, time travel with no chance of getting stuck in the past, or treading on a bug and changing the course of history.’  ‘It’s a very sexy period.’  She was halfway down another glass now and the room was beginning to take on a subtle, mellow glow that was half sunset, half alcohol. ‘Mainly because in popular culture, of course.  People say there’s no sex in Austen.  They’re wrong.  Her books are full of sex, but it’s all subsex.  Subtext.’ ‘That’s the champagne talking.’” p. 40.   Lou, willing Paradise Hall as all fantasy and nothing more, is determined what better place to satiate her own pangs of lust. And loneliness. It just so happens that Mac happens to be charming.  Smart.  And unbeknownst to the world around him, in search of something more substantial than romp after romp. Continue reading “Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany – A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Era

Northland Cottage: Where the Heart Comes Home, by A. P. Maddox – A Review

Northland Cottage, by A. P. Maddox (2012)Review by Jeffrey Ward

Many readers may think a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility the ‘lazy way’ to a debut novel.  Just hang everything on the framework of the classic original since Jane Austen did all the work.  Easy? Not!  Can you imagine the adjustment difficulties in making the two-century quantum-leap in technology, societal mores, and the fleshing-out of contemporary characters from the original to author A.P. Maddox’s Northland Cottage?  Let’s find out of it worked…

Having visited both locales myself, I was thrilled the author chose North Carolina for the setting of Northland Cottage because I consider it nearly as romantic a location as Sense and Sensibility’s South Devon, England.

I’d almost forgotten how complex the cast and plot is for Sense and Sensibility but I’ll make a “go” at first introducing the characters in Northland Cottage, then their Sense and Sensibility counterparts in parentheses, followed by a brief plot synopsis.  (Take a deep breath and plunge ahead)

The Hathcocks (Dashwoods) are an old-moneyed traditional southern family whose wealth came from agriculture, textiles and furniture.  Following the death of their father, the Hathcock ladies’ beloved Hamilton Estate (Norland Park) is inherited by Brother Frank (John Dashwood) and his wife Dottie (Fanny Dashwood) who brashly move in and take over.  Dottie makes life miserable for Mrs. Hathcock (Mrs. Dashwood) and daughters Caroline (Elinor), Ashelynn (Marianne), and Maggie (Margaret), who look for a means of escape.  Before they move out, Caroline is introduced to Dottie’s brother Conner Burroughs (Edward Ferrars) and the mutual attraction is instantaneous.  The Hathcock ladies are invited to live in a vacant cottage on their cousin Lloyd Honeycutt’s (Sir John Middleton) Northland Estate near Winston-Salem.  Kindly and generous, Lloyd and his wife Ilene (Lady Middleton) love society and dote upon Sarah and her daughters.  The ladies are introduced to Lloyd’s busybody matchmaking mother-in-law Mrs. Johnson (Mrs. Jennings) and a wealthy close friend, Afghanistan war hero Captain Harrison Lowder (Colonel Brandon).  Despite being much older than Ashelynn, he is immediately smitten by her.  But before he can make a romantic move, Ashelynn injures herself while hiking and is gallantly rescued by handsome young Will Houston. (John Willoughby)  Ashelynn tells her sisters about Will’s advances:

 “He kissed me,” Ashelynn sighed with a dreamy smile…”Aw,” Maggie sighed, enraptured.  “I hope my first kiss will be that wonderful.  How about your first kiss Caroline?  Was yours that wonderful?”  Both sisters looked at Caroline, expecting to be thrilled with another amazing first kiss story…”When or if it ever happens, I’ll let you know.”

Ashelynn is head-over-heels in love, but before they can plan an engagement, Will mysteriously escapes to the city of Charlotte with no further explanation.  Lydia (Lucy Steele), Nancy Anne (Anne) and their parents visit Lloyd at Northland and Caroline is shocked to learn that Lydia is secretly engaged to Conner! No wonder his behavior towards Caroline is so ambivalent.  Scheming Lydia encourages Randall’s (Robert Ferrars) advances at a Halloween masquerade:  

 “Well, you’re a Pirate,” Lydia giggled.  “Why should I trust anything you say?”  “Don’t trust me,” Randall warned with a devious gin.  “My only purpose here tonight must be to steal someone else’s treasure.”

Harrison tries unsuccessfully to keep a family secret from Ashelynn. He has a young ward named Kathryn (Eliza) who has been taken advantage of by Will and is expecting.  Caroline and Ashelynn are invited to attend college in Charlotte and live with Mrs. Johnson.  Will avoids Ashelynn at all costs and Conner seems miserable.  Harrison continues to be a loyal and helpful friend to the Hathcock ladies, but especially to Ashelynn, whose love he fears he will lose to Justin Holliday.  For those of you who have not read Sense and Sensibility, I’ll stop here, for fear of spoiling the original masterpiece because Northland Cottage is that accurately rendered.

A.P. Maddox’s bio reveals she has written for children and young adults and cherishes traditional family values.   The book is thus squeaky clean and returns us to a time not long ago when young people fell in love and actually wanted to (gasp) get married!  The author’s writing style is wholesome and seems aimed squarely at the young adult market.  That shouldn’t put you off one bit because I think Jane Austen herself would heartily approve.  The author’s North Carolina is lush and scenic.  Her updated characters are instantly recognizable.  Finally, after you have enjoyed this timeless romance, you can pass it down to your daughter or even granddaughter with complete confidence in its appropriateness.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Northland Cottage: Where the Heart Comes Home, by A.P. Maddox
Brighton Publishing LLC (2012)
eBook (293) pages
NOOK: 2940014225779
Kindle: B007RO91LG

Jeffrey Ward, 65, native San Franciscan living near Atlanta, married 40 years, two adult children, six grandchildren, Vietnam Veteran, degree in Communications from the University of Washington, and presently a Facilitator/designer for the world’s largest regional airline.  His love affair with Miss Austen began about 3 years ago when, out of boredom, he picked up his daughter’s dusty college copy of Emma and he was “off to the races.”

© 2007 – 2012 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Era

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Review by Jeffrey Ward

Following A Weekend with Mr. Darcy and Dreaming of Mr. Darcy comes the caboose in Victoria Connelly’s “Austen Addicts” trilogy: Mr. Darcy Forever.  Every niche of this contemporary romance is lavishly replete with enough references from Jane Austen’s six novels to sate even the worst addict. This charmer, set in two of Jane’s best-loved locations: South Devon and Bath, is devoid of lurid sexuality or profanity, and sweetly laced with humor.

Sisters Sarah and Mia Castle have always been closer than twins although Mia is almost a decade Sarah’s junior.  Because of their shared love of Jane Austen, Sarah books the actual home used as Barton Cottage from one of the Sense and Sensibility film adaptations as a birthday surprise for Mia.  While there, they encounter a handsome and Willoughby-like visitor who unfortunately drives a wedge of estrangement between the two sisters that stubbornly persists for three years.  Following the unfortunate rift, incredible developments occur that neither would believe possible of the other.

Three years hence, Mia visits her closest friend Shelley who lives in Bath where the two plan to participate in the annual Jane Austen festival, something the sisters formerly did together.  The only thing less wanted than the sisters bumping into each other is encountering the guy who started the whole mess and he is indeed lurking in Bath!

The personalities of the two sisters unfold into likenesses of the Dashwood sisters from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility: sensible Sarah very much like Elinor and impulsive Mia similar to Marianne. Sarah acts as the mother-figure trying to curb Mia’s often wildly impetuous nature while simultaneously trying to control her own terrible condition.   Sarah suffers from acute Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which has already destroyed her marriage and she struggles hopelessly in its grip.  I was instantaneously attached to this flawed heroine’s plight, identified deeply with her, and hoped so much for her.  Ironically, the most hilarious moments in the entire book involve poor Sarah’s inability to cope with her OCD!

Sense and Sensibility comparisons rise again in the men the sisters encounter while in Bath.  Mia meets Gabe who lives in an adjoining home to her friend Shelley.  He’s a widowed architect and seems too old for her but she craves his company. “She’d always dated men her own age and had never been tempted by the older man, but she was enjoying talking to Gabe.  He was easy to listen to, and she felt like she’d known him for ages.”  Can this be anyone else but Colonel Brandon?

Meanwhile, Sarah timidly explores Bath, and unable to find a spot for lunch, bravely sits on a bench next to a gentleman named Lloyd, a professional media photographer, who is taking pictures of the festival for a magazine.  Acquainting easily, they soon discover they are both list-keepers, “germaphobes,” despise disorder, and neither seems put-off by their confessions.  Is Lloyd vaguely reminiscent of Edward Ferrars? A dramatic moment ensues as Lloyd shows her images in his camera.  ‘As picture followed picture, Sarah’s eyes picked out the image of a young woman she thought she recognized. Could it have been Mia? “Go back!” she suddenly blurted. “Back!” Lloyd looked surprised but scrolled back through the photos. “Stop!” Sarah grabbed the camera from him and zoomed into the figure,’ 

For about half the story, the author switches between past/present and Barton/Bath revealing little-by-little what actually happened between the sisters and the man that bewitched them both.  Initially, I felt lost in the maze of brief chapters that shuttled back and forth between place and time but once I finally understood the author’s intent, I found this technique indeed accentuated the dramatic intensity of the plot.

Finally, for those unfamiliar with Jane Austen or her “fan-fiction” world, don’t be dissuaded from reading this one.  Remove most references to Austen (God forbid) and this book stands just as tall on its own strengths.  The poignant story of two sisters ripped apart and their three-year journey back to reconciliation is compelling enough in its own right.  Then kick it up another notch with the two loveable heroes who gently try to restore the shattered lives of Sarah and Mia and their lost relationship with each other.  Deeply hurt and guarded ever since their tragedy at Barton, can the sisters ever hope to trust their hearts to men again or return the growing affection that Gabe and Lloyd are feeling for them?  Will author Victoria Connelly confirm to us that the right man can indeed become Mr. Darcy Forever?  I hope you understand my meaning when I say the 330 pages just evaporated in my hands as I sought the answer.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251382
NOOK: ISBN: 9781402251399
Kindle: ASIN: B0073KA3HA

Jeffrey Ward, 65, native San Franciscan living near Atlanta, married 40 years, two adult children, six grandchildren, Vietnam Veteran, degree in Communications from the University of Washington, and presently a Facilitator/designer for the world’s largest regional airline.  His love affair with Miss Austen began about 3 years ago when, out of boredom, he picked up his daughter’s dusty college copy of Emma and he was “off to the races.”

© 2007 – 2012 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Era

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Reviewed by Kimberly Denny-Ryder

There are many readers in the Jane Austen fan fiction world that appreciate a good, clean love story.  Author Victoria Connelly obviously appreciates them as well, as she publishes contemporary novels that fit those parameters.  Her popular Austen Addicts trilogy seems to have really struck a chord with Austen lovers the world over.  The second book in her trilogy, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, has a plot influenced by Pride and Prejudice and Emma, with a location taken directly from the pages of Persuasion!

Kay Ashton has struck it rich.  After receiving an unexpected cash windfall, she decides to indulge a lifelong dream of hers to live in the Regency Era world that Jane Austen’s characters enjoyed so many years ago.  Ashton purchases a decrepit bed and breakfast in Lyme Regis, and begins the processes of restoring it to its former glory.  Halfway through the renovation, all of the available rooms are booked by producers of a movie adaptation of Persuasion.  In time, Kay begins to fall for Oli Wade Owen, the actor slated to play Captain Wentworth.  However, a writer by the name of Adam Craig has fallen for Kay despite her feelings for Mr. Owen.   Will Adam ever tell Kay about his true feelings?  When will Kay realize that Oli is hiding a big secret?

It took me a really long time to get into this story, but when I did I connected.  Connelly’s strongest suit as a writer is unquestionably her ability to create uniquely appealing and relatable characters.  Kay is a dreamer- one who creates really vivid imaginings.  Even though she spends a lot of time up in the clouds (much like Emma and maybe a bit like Catherine Morland too?), she still stays rooted to the ground with the rest of us, experiencing amazing new things with Adam.  Adam is that nice guy who girls become friends with, yet never date (he’s got a bit of Darcy, Bingley, and Knightley all thrown in).  He’s kind, considerate, and completely selfless.  The supporting cast of characters (most notable are Oli and Gemma) also have their own character quirks that have been influenced by other Austen characters.  All in all, these characters combine to form a wonderful mix of personalities and traits that Connelly draws from to form the plot.

With this great character description I became extremely invested in the lives of the characters, only to be disappointed in the end.  I felt like so much time had been spent getting to know these characters (300 pages) that I was faced with a very short conclusion.  It left me feeling bereft to be honest!  Gemma’s story was probably my favorite out of the whole novel, and unfortunately it is never really “officially” wrapped up.  This caused a gaping hole in my heart (yes, a gaping hole I have filled by creating my own happy ending for her!).

All in all this was a fun book.  Even with the shortened ending it was still a good, clean love story that any romance reader (Austen fan or not) can enjoy.  Even though the character buildup was met with a shortened ending, you may be able to imagine a more substantial ending if you give it a try.  So, I suggest you pick up a copy and get reading! The Third novel in the Austen Addicts trilogy, Mr. Darcy Forever, will be released April 1st, 2012.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251351

Kimberly Denny-Ryderis the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association.  When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.

© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Contemporary Era, Guest Blog, Young Adult Fiction

Sass & Serendipity Blog Tour with Author Jennifer Ziegler

Sass and Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler (2011)Please join us today in welcoming young adult fiction author Jennifer Ziegler for the official launch of her book blog tour of Sass & Serendipity a new Sense and Sensibility-inspired YA novel that is releasing tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12, 2011, by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House).

Growing up, I found great comfort in reading Jane Austen.  I can’t remember exactly when I discovered her, but it was sometime during my high school years.  From a purely literary standpoint I would have to say that Pride and Prejudice is her masterwork, but Sense and Sensibility has always been my favorite.

I adored the characters of Elinor and Marianne, and, being a sister myself, I could really relate to their relationship – especially the way they were so different and yet still fiercely devoted to each other.  I realized that sisterhood today wasn’t all that different from sisterhood two centuries ago, and I started to wonder when somebody would do a modern retelling – something that would stay true to the themes and moods of the book.

And here is where I make a confession:  I think, in some ways, Jane Austen wrote YA.  Before anyone tosses tomatoes at me, please allow me to explain…

Austen’s books centered around young women on the verge of adulthood.  They are nearly ready to leave the nest and take their spot in the world – and in the Regency era, the best landing of all would be that of a happy marriage to a good and prosperous man.  Standing on this threshold of life is the emotional setting for all young adult novels.  Teens are caught between the insular world of the childhood home and that of society at large.  Even if they don’t strike out on their own at the end, they have surely become more “adult” by the final page.

Austen never makes the search for a proper husband the point of her stories.  In every case the main character needs to go through some significant growth first.  Whether it’s Elinor learning to trust her feelings as much as her intellect, Marianne coming out of her fantasies and into her senses, Elizabeth learning not to judge too prematurely, Emma learning not to meddle in other people’s lives, and so on, Austen makes sure her heroines recognize and overcome character flaws in order to earn their happy-ever-afters.  Such maturation is central to young adult literature, as it is with all good character-based fiction.  However, in YA, the age of the protagonists is key.  Teens and early twenties don’t know as much about the world or themselves quite yet.  Because of this, the problems they face are brand new, but also – and this is critical – their emotions are brand new.  This is first love, first heartbreak, first crushing disillusionment.

Thus, when I really stopped to consider it, I realized that any retelling of an Austen novel would almost have to be a young adult book in order to stay true to these themes and arcs.  At that point it was a quick hop from “Someone should do an update of Sense and Sensibility” to “Yes … and why not me?”

Of course, it was a daunting suggestion.  Me update Austen?  Would I give the original source material the proper care and reverence?  The answer was no.  I mean, I knew I would do my best, but I also knew that I couldn’t duplicate Austen’s prose.  My writing style is just too different.  I also knew that the scope of the book would have to be changed – favorite scenes and characters would have to go.  An exact retelling, with faithful character match-ups and plot recreations would be impossible.  Any attempt would end up a mess.

So, to avoid disappointing Austen fans, my fans, and myself, I decided early on that my novel would pay homage to Sense and Sensibility without being a strict retelling.  It was the feel of the book – the themes of sisterly bonds, romance, and identity – that inspired me to update it in the first place, so that is where I would start.

Ironically, to be true to the tone and premise of her book, I had to stay far away from it.  In fact, I avoided all things Austen while drafting the novel (a huge sacrifice for me).  I didn’t want to be tempted toward replication, so instead, I worked from memory – the storylines, moods, and ideas that had made an indelible impression on me.

The result was Sass & Serendipity, a story of two sisters living in modern, small-town Texas, and their run-ins with romance, economic hardships, societal pressures, and each other.  It was tough to write – but fun.  I really enjoyed getting to “play Austen.”

And now that the book is out, I’ve gotten the best endorsement ever:  my sister, Amanda, loves it.  I hope others will, too.

Author Jennifer ZieglerAuthor Bio:

Jennifer Ziegler is the author of Alpha Dog and How Not to be Popular. Born in Temple, Texas, as a child she also lived in Anchorage, Alaska and then returned to the Lone Star state to attend the University of Texas, where she earned degrees in journalism and English. While there she fell in love with Austin and its many cool hangouts, music venues, swimming holes, and hip people. Upon graduation, she decided to settle there, working as a freelance reporter, editorial assistant, and middle school language arts teacher. Jennifer also met a cute musician guy named Carl and the two got married. Visit Jennifer at her website, or Facebook, and follow her on Twitter as @ZieglerJennifer.

Giveaway of Sass & Serendipity

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Sass & Serendipity by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Sense and Sensibility-inspired young adult novel or which character in the original novel is your favorite, by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 21, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Sass & Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler
Delacorte Books (2011)
Hardcover (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0385738989

© 2007 – 2011 Jennifer Ziegler, Austenprose

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Era, Young Adult Fiction

Prom and Prejudice, by Elizabeth Eulberg – A Review

Prom and Prejudice, by Elizabeth Eulberg (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Young adult fiction author Elizabeth Eulberg is back with Prom and Prejudice, her teen driven homage to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Eulberg has quickly earned a name for herself in the world of teen romances due to the popularity of her debut novel The Lonely Hearts Club. Her novels have a flare for the comedic which this blogger believes is to her credit, as it shines as one of her strengths. She takes perhaps the most well known line that Austen ever wrote and adds her comedic flair to draw us in.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.”

It is with this line that we enter the world of Longbourn Academy, an all-girls school filled with rich, privileged, boy-crazy teen girls who have fashion designers on speed dial and have never heard the word no before. Hoboken native Elizabeth Bennet is the new scholarship student who is tortured on a daily basis for her poor and meager background. Her roommate Jane, fellow scholarship student Charlotte Collins, and piano teacher Mrs. Gardiner are the only friends that Lizzie has at Longbourn. Lizzie understands that she’ll never be accepted into the society of her fellow students and thus throws herself into her academic studies and the piano, where she has incredible talent. Being friends with Jane however does thrust her into the company of Charles Bingley, Caroline Bingley, and Will Darcy. (Will and Charles attend Pemberley Academy, the all-boys school near Longbourn) There are some sparks between Lizzie and Darcy at first, but they quickly fizzle out once her scholarship status is found out. Unfortunately the two continue to be thrown into each other’s paths since their best friends Jane and Charles are dating. Unbeknownst to Jane and to Elizabeth, Charles’ sister begins putting a wedge in between Jane and Charles. Caroline is unimpressed with the company that Jane keeps and finds Jane an unsuitable match for her brother. Charles soon disappears from Jane’s life, causing Jane to have a major meltdown. With prom only weeks away and Vera Wang already beginning her designer prom gown, how will she show her face without a date?! Elizabeth tries to convince Jane that prom is not the most important thing in life, but to a Longbourn girl it’s the social event of the season. Will Jane and Charles get back together in time for Prom? Will Lizzie and Darcy ever get over themselves to see the other for what they truly are?

If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and have a younger girl in your family that has no interest in reading it, get them to try Prom and Prejudice. I can almost guarantee that after reading it they will be interested in trying Jane Austen. Elizabeth Eulberg has crafted an excellent teen drama with the characters from the novel we’ve come to know and love. Elizabeth Bennet is a spieited heroine who has amazing strength, tenacity, accomplished piano skills that could rival Georgiana Darcy’s in the original novel and some misdirected notions of the wealthy. Jane and Charles are kind, caring, and looking for the good in everyone. Wickham is still a womanizing jerk, always scheming for a way to discredit Darcy. Darcy is still always looking out for his friends and family with a fierceness in him that is sometimes misjudged for arrogance and conceit.

I really enjoyed this fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Eulberg did a fantastic job in creating a new story to bring to a younger audience and adults too. I’ve read quite a few Austen inspired novels (as chronicled here of course) and I wasn’t bored with it at any point. It was refreshing to read not only a modern adaptation of Austen’s work, but one that adapted it to a time that we all experience in our lives, our teen years. You can definitely relate to the main characters as they struggle with finding a date for prom, trying to get through finals, first loves, broken friendships, etc.

My only disappointment was in its length. At 288 pages it was a tad short and could have benefited from a longer conclusion to the story. I’m hoping that Eulberg will continue writing more about Lizzie and Darcy inspired novels in the future. It’s a nice change to read about their teenage versions, and I think it provides a new audience an entrance into the world of Jane Austen.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Prom and Prejudice, by Elizabeth Eulberg
Scholastic, Inc. (2011)
Hardcover (288) pages
ISBN:  978-0545240772

© 2007 – 2010 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose