I picked this up at the library after reading about it on Jane’s blog greenish bookshelf, and wasn’t sure what to expect. I do occasionally like a clean romance, but let’s face it I also enjoy some pretty trashy and raunchy novels/works. I also wasn’t 100% sure where this would rank on the romance scale with it often being categorized as Christina Fiction, but I did ultimately enjoy the book. I have also complained multiple times about the books where characters jump right in to sex and living together and the whole book happens in two months. So basically, I don’t know what I want in a romance novel. But seriously though, coat it in Austen or Brontë, no matter how tenuous, and I’ll be happy!
Overall, this was a solid mid-range romance novel – great for the beach, great for a night in front of the fire. There wasn’t anything too special that stood out and the characters weren’t the most developed characters, it’s been a couple of days and they’re already starting to fade, but their experience isn’t.
The book takes place first in Austin, Texas (coincidence? Nah) and then in Bath, England at an old estate house that has basically been converted into a Jane Austen LARP (Live Action Role Play). They main character, Mary Davies, is dragged along by her best friend Isabel Dwyer, even though they both love Austen, Mary is very hesitant. Isabel is ostensibly attending to finish her doctoral dissertation, but faces a temporary memory loss similar to one she experienced as a child. The rest of the story is about personal growth for both Isabel and Mary. There’s not much more to the book than that.
I felt Mary’s growth was much broader than Isabel’s, but even it felt slightly stunted. Nathan, the primary love interest was more of a cliché, or at least Isabel and Mary’s interactions with him were incredibly cliché. As Jane says the book felt a bit rushed, especially toward the end, but ultimately, I enjoyed the book and it left me with a smile on my face if only a fleeting memory of what happened in the book.
Recommendation: If you enjoy Austen or clean romance, this is a great quick read. I almost wish I would’ve waited until I was on vacation to read this one, but it’s okay because I’ve already picked up Dear Mr. Knightley, Jane and Lizzie, and The Brontë Plot, so I have plenty more to read on the beach.
Opening Line: “‘How can I help?’ The world stilled.”
Closing Line: “We ignored Benson.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)