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

ADDITIONAL BOOKS IN THE SERIES

AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

Disclosure of Material Connection: We purchased a copy of this book for our own enjoyment. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. Austenprose.com is an Amazon.com affiliate. We receive a modest remuneration when readers use our links and make a purchase. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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

A Preview & Excerpt of Sons of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Reimagining, by Elizabeth Adams

Sons of Pemberley by Elizabeth Adams 2020Hello Gentle Readers. I am happy to welcome Austenesque and romantic comedy writer Elizabeth Adams to Austenprose today in celebration of her latest novel, Sons of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Reimagining.

I have read several of Elizabeth’s novels and short stories and have always enjoyed her creativity and humor. I recently re-listened to the audiobook of The 26th of November and continue to be amazed by her skill at turning an important date in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into a mind-bending farce in the vein of the popular movie Ground Hog Day. I laughed. I gasped. I applauded.

Elizabeth’s latest Jane Austen-inspired novel is another take on Pride and Prejudice that re-imagines the lives of the characters if the mother of Fitzwilliam Darcy had not died when he was a boy. It is an insightful family saga that includes all of our favorite characters, but spins the plot in new directions and then brings us back to familiar ground.

Here is a description of the book from the publisher and a dramatic excerpt from the novel to give you a taste of what you can expect.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

What if Lady Anne Darcy was alive to meet Elizabeth Bennet?

A sweeping tale of tragedy, devotion, and betrayal—spanning over 25 years and two generations—this family saga explores the life Fitzwilliam Darcy would have had if his mother had not died young.

An up-close view of the Darcys’ marriage and Fitzwilliam’s childhood … a retelling of the circumstances that shaped the man we have come to love … a reimagining of the friendships and relationships that formed each iconic character … a tale of love, loss, heartbreak, and triumph—that is Sons of Pemberley.

EXCERPT

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

Amelia Webster: A Novel After Jane Austen, by Robert Rodi—A Review

Ameila Webster A Novel After Jane Austen by Robert Rodi 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:  

Long before Jane Austen was widely known for her six complete novels, she was a youthful storyteller who wrote humorous tales for the amusement of her family and friends. In more recent years, Austen’s juvenilia has been put in the spotlight and given the adaptation treatment that was previously only bestowed on her most famous works. Indeed, this year’s Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting focused on Austen’s earliest stories. Robert Rodi—author of this latest juvenilia variation—was a plenary speaker at the JASNA AGM and discussed how Austen’s writing had evolved from pure farce to social satire and finally to the irony of her mature novels.

The original Amelia Webster epistolary short story by Jane Austen—introduced by the young author as “an interesting & well-written Tale”—was comprised of only 454 words in seven brief letters, and yet masterfully presented eight protagonists and a fairly complete storyline. In a most amusing fashion, Robert Rodi has crafted a sardonic wink of a novel out of Austen’s juvenile attempt in the upcoming Amelia Webster: A Novel After Jane Austen.

Welcome to the tiny village of Rovedon in Hertfordshire, where the gossips make sport of predicting the nuptial pairings in the extremely limited number of local youth. Our narrator begins with the introduction of Tom Pierce and Jack Fitzmark, two gentlemen who “took up residence together at two-and-thirty, thus making it apparent that they would marry no one at all.” (4) Tom and Jack, no longer the subjects of matrimonial speculation themselves, carry on with their own thoughtful conjectures about the eventual wedded bliss of the remaining young people. Continue reading

Jane in Love: A Novel, by Rachel Givney—A Review

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Australian filmmaker, and debut writer, Rachel Givney brings us a whimsical time travel romantic adventure for none other than Jane Austen herself with her new novel, Jane in Love.  What does the twenty-first century have to teach this well-loved author? Equally important, what does Miss Jane have to teach her counterpart in the twenty-first century?

Jane is twenty-eight and living with her aging parents in Bath. Her writing isn’t good enough to get published and her mother threatens to burn any further attempts. Mrs. Austen insists Jane focus on the serious business of finding a husband. Jane doesn’t find this objectionable, but is it too much to ask that the gentleman accept her the way she is and that she finds love? One more opportunity and yet one more disappointment force Jane to take the desperate step of trusting in an odd and mystical matchmaker who sends her two hundred years into the future to find what she’s looking for.

Sofia Wentworth is an A-List actress and has made millions fall in love with her. That is until recently when her own husband wants a divorce, and she can’t get a leading role. She is determined to get back her career, but more importantly, renew what they had together with Jack by taking a role in his new period film, Northanger Abbey. She encounters one of the extras who is crazy and thinks she’s the real Jane Austen, but the startling bit is that she just may be the real deal and something odd is happening as Jane meets Sofia’s brother Fred who plays a minor role in the film. Jane and Fred get over their early antagonism and are there to help Sofia with her plans. Sofia helps Jane as she must decide where she really belongs and what she really wants. Continue reading