Persuading the Captain: An Austen Inspired Romantic Comedy, by Rachel John— A Review

Persuading the Captain by Rachel John 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Modernizing a classic through a retelling can be fraught with authorial peril. One must do more than simply slap a pair of blue jeans on a heroine and put some slang on her lips, but at the same time, one has a duty to the legacy of the classic and the reader should recognize the original story within the fresh tale. Did author Rachel John avoid these pitfalls in Persuading the Captain, inspired by Jane Austen’s final novel Persuasion? Stick around and see.

Anne is about to start a new chapter in her life when her family must leave her childhood home in Hollywood when her actor father’s fading career is not generating the money to match the extravagant lifestyle that he and her older sister think that they deserve. Anne is done catering to their whims and has taken a step away toward her own dreams by getting a dinosaur museum job up in San Francisco along with taking on part-time babysitting for her younger sister Mary in exchange for room and board. She is joining Mary and her husband’s family for their family reunion up at a lake cabin before it all begins. Naturally, the reunion brings some family excitement and tension when Carl’s younger sisters corral one of their cabin neighbors into joining some family camping activities. He is Eric Wentworth, her hottie ex-boyfriend who she is definitely not over, yet.

Eric knew Anne’s family were snobs toward a guy who grew up far from Hollywood, but he never thought she’d pick her family over him. Breaking off their engagement left him at a loss so he threw himself into his work. His commercial pilot job has taken him all over the world and rarely staying in one place. But, now after all these years, he’s taken a job for his brother in law in a new commercial venture to do air charters for the wealthy and the venture is based in San Francisco. His sister and brother in law have invited him to enjoy the cabin and the lake before diving back into their new work. He thought he put Anne her in the rear-view mirror until being near her and seeing all the wonderful traits he appreciated and loved about her is a danger to him and he struggles hard to keep away from her and hide by hanging out with vibrant Lucy. Then a drastic situation makes the choice for him and Anne is further away than ever.

Persuading the Captain is sweet, heartwarming, and full of humor. The bittersweet flavor of regret and longing are there, but there are more light-hearted moments layered with it. Much of this story lines up with the classic and the characters are recognizable to those in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. However, the author has placed them well in the 21st Century and she didn’t hesitate to drop characters and bits that were superfluous or didn’t jive with the plot and pace of her own story. For instance, the reader will look in vain for a Lady Russell figure and there was no cousin looking to secure the family time and estate by cozying up to Anne. And, while Mary is a tad hypochondriac, there is a sisterly connection at times and even with Lizzie the oldest sister who is self-absorbed.

The tone of the story is light and fun and even the conflicts throughout are easily dealt with—perhaps too easily at times. Eric’s best friend, Benneck, is a flirty adorable scene-stealer who had some heartache, but he is a hundred percent committed to kicking Eric in the butt when he’s about to screw up his own happiness and he’s a great friend to Anne when she needs one. Anne’s family’s antics are eye-rollingly funny much of the time. But there are some gentle romantic moments too. Who knew a mud fight could be a courtship move?

I liked seeing the same gentle, kind, and thoughtful Anne who regrets her choice, but at the same time, she is more assertive than the original when it comes to the point. Mary even gets in on a girl power moment at just the right time.

All in all, I thought this was an excellent retelling in a modern romcom format and it was the best in the series so far for me. I would recommend this for Austen lovers who don’t mind contemporary settings, but also this will appeal to all sweet romantic comedy fans in general.

4 out of 5 Stars

  • Persuading the Captain: An Austen Inspired Romantic Comedy, by Rachel John
  • Independently Published (May 18, 2020)
  • Trade paperback, & eBook (170) pages
  • ISBN:  979-8647102980

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Cover image courtesy of Rachel John © 2020; text Sophia Rose © 2021, Austenprose.com

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh (A Pride and Prejudice Novel), by Molly Greeley — #BookReview, #HistoricalFiction, #GothicFiction, #JaneAusten, #Austenesque, @MollyJGreeley, @WmMorrowBooks

The Heiress by Molly Greeley 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Miss Anne de Bourgh is known only as the sedate and sickly shadow of her mother, Lady Catherine’s, condescending and loudly opinionated character. The heiress of Rosings Park in Kent, Miss de Bourgh was intended from infancy—as a favorite wish of both her mother and her aunt—to marry her first cousin, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire, thereby uniting two grand fortunes and estates. But when Mr. Darcy ultimately marries that obstinate, headstrong Miss Elizabeth Bennet instead, what is to become of Miss de Bourgh? This is one of many questions explored in Molly Greeley’s fascinating second Pride and Prejudice variation, The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh.

Anne de Bourgh was a wretchedly inconsolable infant. Her parents and nurse were therefore quite thankful for the medical intervention when the local doctor prescribed a dose of sleep-inducing laudanum and declared that she would always possess a delicate constitution. Consequently, Anne spends her formative years receiving twice-daily doses of her magic drops that keep her in a permanent state of lethargy. “My medicine turned me stone-heavy, a breathing statue, eyelids drawing down despite all my best efforts and thoughts drifting like milkweed fluff.” (118)

Under her mother’s formidable thumb, Anne drifts through her days in a stupor, confined to the house and gardens, wearing only what her mother selects, eating little but what her mother approves and her weak appetite allows, not permitted to dance or sing or play an instrument, and restricted from learning or reading too much. All are convinced that she is far too frail to do much of anything at all but simply exist. “If I had a shell like the snail, I thought, I would tuck myself back inside of it, away from their branding pity. I felt at once all-too-visible in my fine gowns and gaudy bonnets, and ill-defined as the edges of a ghost.” (316)

Anne is merely a detached observer of her own life, her languorous health slowly turning to vivid hallucinations. Despite her governess’s insistence that she could aspire to be so much more than what she has settled for, “if you did not stun yourself so thoroughly with your medicine” (1171), Anne continues to see herself as she has long been trained to. “Useless, I whispered inside my head, little mortified arrows that pierced my softest inner places. Useless, stupid, useless.” (1188) Continue reading

A Preview of Dating Mr. Darcy: A Romantic Comedy (Love Manor Romantic Comedy Series Book 1), by Kate O’Keefe; #Contemporary Romance, #Austenesque, #RomanticComedy, @kateokeeffe4, #RomBks4Chris20

Dating Mr Darcy, by Kate O'Keeffe 2020 Happy Holidays to all of our fabulous readers! Are you still shopping and making merry? I have trimmed my tree and decked the halls and am all ready to kick back and relax a bit during the remaining of the holiday season.

Today I happy to present a light, fun, and humorous Austenesque rom-com for your consideration. Dating Mr. Darcy is the first book in Kate O’Keeffe’s “Love Manor” trilogy, a combination of Pride and Prejudice meets The Bachelor reality TV show. It is a contemporary Austen-inspired novel to bring a smile and a quick escape.  

By featuring Dating Mr. Darcy here today we are participating in the Clean Romance for Christmas online event with several other book bloggers. It features 14 bestselling and popular authors, so please check them out too. AND…be sure to enter the Amazon gift card giveaway listed at the end of this post. Good luck to all.

I am wishing you all a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Hugs to you all!

Laurel Ann

Is it a truth universally acknowledged, that a girl must compete on reality TV to win a modern-day Mr. Darcy’s heart?

Emma Brady is having doubts about how far she’ll go to promote her new activewear line. Sure, being on a reality show could be the big break her business so desperately needs, but is putting up with a Mr. Darcy wannabe worth it?

Sebastian Huntington-Ross is straight out of an Austen novel. But it’s hard to focus on his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders, and wickedly sexy accent when all Emma can see is his pride, arrogance, and smug demeanor.

Sparks fly when Emma realizes Sebastian has his own agenda for being on the show. Will Emma hold fast and keep the aristocratic Sebastian at arm’s length? Or will she put her reservations aside when the lines between reality and “reality show” start to blur?

Continue reading

Schemes of Felicity: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Skirmish & Scandal Series Book 1), by Suzan Lauder — #BookReview, #Austenesque, #HistoricalRomance, #RegencyRomance, @SusanLauder, @MerytonPress

Schemes of Felicity by Suzan Lauder 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Suzan Lauder, an author whose Austenesque books I have appreciated in the past, offers a new variation inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with an interesting twist. Schemes of Felicity begins like many variations of the novel after the stormy failed marriage proposal made by Fitzwilliam Darcy to Miss Elizabeth Bennet in the Hunsford rectory. What if this proposal is followed by not one, but two letters to Elizabeth and the second altering the original events completely?

Dejected and brooding, Fitzwilliam Darcy simply wants to be left in quiet to lick his wounds on the way back to London from Kent, but his friendly cousin is curious about their sudden departure and the vivacious guest at Hunsford. By the time the journey concludes, both cousins are ready to be done with one another and Colonel Fitzwilliam shares with his mother that Darcy was abominable on the journey and wouldn’t explain what had him in such a state. The countess does her own investigation and concludes that it is high time her nephew was married and calls a family council for an intervention that Darcy only agrees to if they will stop pestering him. Yes, he will agree to one month of attending balls and events of the London Season and put himself out there socially to promising young ladies.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bennet is chagrined after reading his explanatory letter and has a change of heart about the man at whom she threw such undeserved vitriol when he proposed with words that were too honest about her situation and family even when stunning her with his professed love. She had him wrong and thinks better of him though he was still responsible for separating her sister Jane from Mr. Bingley. A letter from her father that sends her to join Jane in London and be chaperoned by their aunt and uncle for a season among eligible men while he takes his wife and her younger sisters to task over their impropriety lands her right in Fitzwilliam Darcy’s world. There she encounters a Darcy who defies her past prejudices and gives them a second chance. Continue reading

The Ladies of Norland: Twisted Austen (Book 6), by Alexa Adams — #BookReview, #Austenesque, #GothicRomance, #HistoricalRomance, @ElegantExtracts

The Ladies of Norland by Alexa Adams 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

For several years beguiling authoress Alexa Adams has enjoyed warping our comfortable and familiar Jane Austen stories into quick, deliciously revolting variations that readers can experience with a tingling sort of shock at the new outcome. Her cold, conniving Jane Bennet, in Jane and Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling (2013), to a pitiable Mrs. Norris in Becoming Mrs. Norris (2014), left me properly aghast as the hair on my arms stood on end. For her latest Twisted Austen effort, The Ladies of Norland, she revisits the Dashwood family in Sense and Sensibility to give us an alarming ‘what if’.

When the invalid owner of Norland Park dies and leaves his estate in the hands of his nephew, niece, and their girls, he goes a step further to protect the female dependents. This is followed by Mr. Dashwood when he too passes on. Instead of being left bereft of a father, home, and future income depended on the dubious honor of a selfish, grasping brother and sister-in-law, they are heiresses and the Misses Dashwood of Norland.

Naturally, Mrs. John Dashwood nee Ferrars is chagrined but has not lost hope to fill her family’s coffers. She is determined to see her oldest brother Edward attached to the oldest Miss Dashwood. All seems to be going her way as the Dashwood ladies, Elinor, Marianne, and their mother are happy to have Edward as a dear friend and possibly more. Felicities are on the tips of many tongues until…

Surely, you can guess, dear friends, that there must be a monstrous twist of fate or this could not be a Twisted Austen tale. I have enjoyed each of the tales from when they started out on the author’s blog in installments and eventually were published. I like the quirky pleasure of seeing some of the worst imaginings in story variations and appreciate the author’s deft hand in making them in the style that is strongly Austen-flavored in the process which gives it more possibility and suspense. Continue reading

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Play with Fire: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by J. Marie Croft

Play with Fire by J. Marie Croft 2020Good morning Janeites! Please help me welcome Austenesque author J. Marie Croft to Austenprose today in celebration of the release of her Pride and Prejudice-inspired novella, Play with Fire.

J. Marie is well known in the Jane Austen fan fiction world having written novels, a novella, and several short stories. She tends toward imaginative Jane Austen variations in a topsy-turvy style, upending our beloved characters’ lives in a way that will make you laugh-out-loud. Play with Fire is no exception. Just imagine, if you will, the occupants of Netherfield Park during Jane and Elizabeth Bennet’s contracted visit joining together to put on a theatrical, and then totally put aside reproof and just run with it.

This novella is part of the Skirmish and Scandal Series being published by Meryton Press. Recently, we featured another novella in this series, Schemes of Felicity: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Suzan Lauder that I recommend checking out. There are also five additional novellas in the queue that you can learn about on their website. There is lots of great reading ahead for Jane Austen variations fans from this publisher.

The author has kindly offered an exclusive excerpt of Play with Fire. Enjoy, and thank you for visiting today.   

Madness! It was nothing but madness from beginning to end, and Darcy was caught up in it.

What do occupants of Netherfield Park do on a dreary Saturday while the Bennet sisters are still in residence and they have nothing at all to do? They take a page from “Mansfield Park,” of course, and decide on a theatrical.

In the process of planning and performing the play, certain participants get more than a little carried away, especially Fitzwilliam Darcy where Elizabeth Bennet is concerned. There might even be a kiss…and a skirmish…leading to a duel.

No one involved in the play had set out with the intention of creating a scandal. None performing in the theatrical began with the aim of ending with blushing faces, or bruised bodies, or blemishes on their reputations.

Blame it on “The Mesalliance.”

INTRO: Continue reading