Between the Wars Era, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

A Bright Young Thing: A Novel, by Brianne Moore — A Review  

From the desk of Katie Patchell:

I have a question for you, fellow bibliophiles: Have you read P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves series? Written between 1915 and 1974, this series of short stories and novels is a sometimes biting (yet always fun) satire of Britain’s posh upper class. Starring wealthy and hapless Bertie Wooster and his much-put-upon butler, Jeeves, these stories dazzle with Wodehouse’s charming turn of phrase and list of characters with bizarre surnames. There’s a brilliant adaptation as well, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, that further brings to life these wonderful characters and their times. Brianne Moore’s 2021 release, A Bright Young Thing, echoes the glamour and glitz of the aristocratic set that Wodehouse immortalized. In this novel, readers meet a heroine who lives up to the title’s moniker–but who, like all of us, is so much more than merely a label or stereotype. Continue reading “A Bright Young Thing: A Novel, by Brianne Moore — A Review  “

Austenesque, Book Reviews

The Price of Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds — A Review

The Price of Pride by Abigail Reynolds 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that unbridled pride can result in unintended consequences. Much to the dismay of those who realize it too late, it often requires an event of heart-wrenching significance to stir them from their self-righteous stupor. But what sobering fates will befall them due to their untimely awakening? Prolific and bestselling Austenesque author Abigail Reynolds explores the uncertain destinies of two such prideful characters in her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Price of Pride.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy had returned home to Pemberley in Derbyshire a broken man following the stunning refusal of his marriage proposal to Miss Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford parsonage in Kent. “The four months since then had not been enough to begin to erase the traces of her from his heart. Instead, losing her had only deepened his feelings for her, the woman he loved so passionately but could never have.” (33) Continue reading “The Price of Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds — A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Regency Era

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh (A Pride and Prejudice Novel), by Molly Greeley — A Review

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) Continue reading “The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh (A Pride and Prejudice Novel), by Molly Greeley — A Review”

Book Reviews, Regency Era, Regency Romance

School for Love: The Hapgoods of Bramleigh (Book 3), by Christina Dudley – A Review

School for Love, by Christina Dudley 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Besides their prominent place on many Regency fans’ bookshelves, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Georgette Heyer’s Frederica have another trait in common: Their plots revolve around a group of loud, lovable, and independent people who have the good fortune to call each other ‘family.’ While our lively Elizabeth Bennet might complain (if given the chance for an interview) about her claustrophobic world, the charm and humor of Pride and Prejudice would be lost without the rest of the Bennet clan. Despite the familial meddling in these two great works, the heroines and heroes find love and, perhaps equal in worth, readers enjoy hours of amusement at their antics. Since 2013’s release of The Naturalist, Christina Dudley has followed in the footsteps of Austen and Heyer in her series, “The Hapgoods of Bramleigh Hall.” School for Love, her latest installment, continues the story of the eccentric Hapgoods and their hilariously romantic escapades.

As an unmarried member of a small community, Rosemary DeWitt has long worn the label of spinster. It isn’t that she’s afraid of marriage; rather, she refuses to marry a man who desires her solely for her wealth. As Rosemary busies herself by championing the right of education for her village’s young women, she hides her growing sense of discontent, only showing her free-spirited side to her parents and brothers. That is until a solemn-faced, sparkling-eyed visitor arrives in town. Continue reading “School for Love: The Hapgoods of Bramleigh (Book 3), by Christina Dudley – A Review”

Book Reviews, Holiday Reading, Novella or Short Story, Regency Era, Regency Romance

The Christmas Bride: A Chance Sisters Novella, by Anne Gracie — A Review

The Christmas Bride by Anne Gracie 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

There’s nothing like a romantic Christmas novella. Every year I look forward to a new batch to brighten my holiday reading. The best ones warm the heart, and this year we especially need that. The many readers already familiar with Anne Gracie’s Chance Sisters novels will love The Christmas Bride.

The story begins with Blake Ashton, known as Ash, making his way back to England after ten years abroad. He’s been living in the Far East, where his daily life involves “…balmy breezes, azure skies, spicy foods, and warm, willing golden-skinned, sloe-eyed women.” After a meeting with his business partners over the holidays, he intends to return to his adopted home immediately, without seeing his family. We learn that as a young man, he made some disastrous moves that had placed his mother and sister on the brink of ruin, but it’s not until later in the book that the scope of his misdeeds is revealed. Continue reading “The Christmas Bride: A Chance Sisters Novella, by Anne Gracie — A Review”

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

A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen – A Review   

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

In this holiday season, acclaimed novelist, Julie Klassen, returns to the Regency world with her latest historical romance, A Castaway in Cornwall. Featuring dangerous wreckers, shifty smugglers, and mysterious strangers, readers may well detect a similar refrain to the haunting melody that is Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Jamaica Inn. Readers brace yourselves: prepare to be transported outside of the lights and glare of the 21st century to an old-world bathed in mists and deafened by the roaring of the sea. Prepare to meet a heroine who, against all odds, bravely fights to reclaim what the ocean has stolen.

“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here in Cornwall, so far from my childhood home. I feel like a castaway, set adrift on the tide…” 

Laura Callaway has lived along Cornwall’s unpredictably beautiful shores since the reported death of her parents while en route to the Isle of Jersey years ago. With no closure from her own loss, Laura combs the shores for items to save from greedy locals in order to return them to the families of loved ones who have perished in shipwrecks. When a man washes up on the shore one fateful night, half-alive, by instinct Laura spares him from a wrecker’s death blow. Little does she know that this man isn’t the only survivor of the wreck, and this final survivor will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Continue reading “A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen – A Review   “

Book Reviews, Regency Era, Regency Romance

Otherwise Engaged: A Regency Romance, by Joanna Barker—A Review

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker 2020

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

Regency romances have their fair share of obstinate, headstrong girls, yet it is always a delight to discover another less-than-perfect heroine. Especially when “pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked,” as the incomparable Jane Austen once wrote. Joanna Barker’s Otherwise Engaged is one such Regency romance with an imperfect heroine getting herself into unladylike scrapes and earning our respect along the way.

Rebecca Rowley is a bold, rebellious young woman with a sarcastic wit and a determination to leap over fear as if it were a hedge she wished to jump with her horse. While riding bareback. On muddy ground. Hatless. In other words, Miss Rowley had a tendency to be reckless. Her brother William admonished that “you could cut stone with a tongue that sharp.” (588)

Continue reading “Otherwise Engaged: A Regency Romance, by Joanna Barker—A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Regency Era

The Rogue’s Widow: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Nicole Clarkston—A Review

The Rogue's Widow by Nicole Clarkston 2020From the desk of Debbie Brown:

It’s become obvious to me that Nicole Clarkston loves messing with her readers’ heads in the opening chapter of her books. She starts off in one direction, apparently setting the stage for one kind of story, and then unexpectedly careens off into previously unexplored territory. The Rogue’s Widow, her recently released variation of Pride and Prejudice, sure does.

As Chapter One begins, Elizabeth Bennet is in London interviewing for a position as a lady’s companion, and she meets Mr. Darcy, her prospective employer, for the first time. His behavior is even more arrogant and brusque than in the original Pride and Prejudice. Okay, we’ve read THIS premise before, right? It’s obvious how this is going to go, especially when he decides she’s right for the position and hires her on the spot.

…And now Darcy’s taking Elizabeth to the debtor’s prison to marry a resident there.

Wait. What??

Yup. It’s simple, really. Mr. Darcy is killing two birds with one stone.

The first reason is that man she’s to marry, Bernard Wickham, owns Corbett Lodge, a small, poorly maintained estate adjoining Pemberley. He’s in prison with not much time left to live—the direct result of a depraved life. Bernard’s one brief scene in Chapter One proves this guy doesn’t deserve any pity. The big news is that George Wickham, his younger brother, is currently next in line to inherit Corbett Lodge. Darcy sure can’t have THAT.

As it happens, Bernard hates his kid brother even more than he hates Darcy—which really is saying something, since it was Darcy who’d bought up his debts and had Bernard imprisoned. At least Darcy is putting out some coin to make his jail time slightly less unbearable. Consequently, Bernard agrees to get hitched to the lady of Darcy’s choice in order to keep the money flowing and to spite his brother, George. With no entail on Corbett Lodge, SHE will inherit it when he inevitably throws off his mortal coil. Continue reading “The Rogue’s Widow: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Nicole Clarkston—A Review”