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Second Impressions Cover

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★☆

Darcy was now a man who merely existed and had forgotten how to live. The fire in his life had flickered out when Elizabeth’s smile floated away across the miles. And Darcy did not care.

(from Second Impressions)

Second Impressions is a novella variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that throws some huge obstacles at Darcy and Elizabeth and even puts an original character front and center. In this variation, Jane and Bingley are married with twins and another child on the way, but Darcy for some reason did not return for Elizabeth when Bingley returns for Jane. Thinking Darcy no longer loves her, Elizabeth impetuously flees after the Bingleys’ wedding to live in Boston with her cousin, Emeline Poston. When Elizabeth returns to England two years later, determined not to miss the birth of her next niece or nephew, she finds Darcy to have drastically changed. He hardly ever comes out into society, has a drinking problem, is plagued by nightmares, and ignores his baby daughter. But Elizabeth’s return and her determination to make things right with Darcy begin to change him, and he starts to hope that being a family is possible.

Meanwhile, Emeline is determined to see Elizabeth happy with Darcy. She is a very modern woman with no concerns about propriety and no plans on ever marrying. She is fiery, opinionated, and will never submit to a man. But when she bumps into John Dalton on the street, she fears she may have met her match, though a shady figure from her past and her worries over Elizabeth’s happiness conspire to prevent her from finding happiness herself.

George shakes things up so much in this variation that I couldn’t put it down. I figured Darcy and Elizabeth’s troubles would work out in the end, but I had absolutely no idea how things would play out for Emeline. Second Impressions also shines in its portrayal of Jane Bingley as a scheming matchmaker, still lovely and all that is good but with a hint of a wild streak. The scenes where Elizabeth helps Darcy become accustomed to being a father were heartwarming, and Emeline and John’s passion steamed up the pages.

However, there were a few things that kept me from loving the story. I wanted to know why Darcy didn’t pursue Elizabeth when Bingley returned to Jane and what pushed him to marry. Without any real details about his marriage, I had a hard time believing that he would fall so far and be such an absent father. Moreover, even though I loved Emeline and her spark, she seemed way too modern for the time period, and I had a hard time believing that people would be so willing to overlook her scandalous lack of propriety.

Still, I really enjoyed Second Impressions and admire George for taking such liberties with Austen’s characters. It definitely was an exciting and memorable novella, with strong original characters and an intriguing plot. I look forward to seeing what George writes next.

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Disclosure: I received Second Impressions from Meryton Press for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

last adventure

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

Violet’s gaze was frank and open, with a hint of interest. It was similar to the penetrating look often seen in Sir Percy’s eyes. This was no simpering miss; this was a woman-in-waiting, mature and intelligent beyond her years. Her full lips smiled in honest approval — approval of him.

A strong stirring filled Frederick’s being. It was more than simple desire. He needed this girl to think well of him.

(from The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel)

Jack Caldwell’s latest novel, The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel, is inspired by both The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It also is a companion novel to Caldwell’s The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, but it is a standalone novel. In fact, I’ve never read The Scarlet Pimpernel — just searched for a detailed summary online — and I had no trouble following the story.

The novel opens with a bang: Captain Frederick Tilney, the heir of Northanger Abbey, is challenged to a duel over Isabella Thorpe, and then his close friend, Colonel Sir John Buford, cut ties with him until he sees the error of his ways, takes responsibility for his shortcomings, and essentially grows up. Frederick is not a scoundrel like Wickham, but he needs to sever ties with some unsavory people of his acquaintance.

When he is reacquainted with Violet Blakeney, the sister of his longtime friend, George, Frederick realizes he wants to be a better man. However, he has a lot to live up to in the eyes of her father, Sir Percy Blakeney — the retired Scarlet Pimpernel — and Frederick’s fumbles and missteps raise Sir Percy’s ire. While Frederick works to earn Sir Percy’s favor and become worthy of his daughter, an M. Lafarge in Paris is scheming to put an end to the Scarlet Pimpernel once and for all. When Violet encounters trouble on a holiday to Paris, will Sir Percy accept Frederick’s help to save the woman they both love?

Caldwell does a great job mixing in characters from various Austen novels — the Darcys, the Tilneys, and Colonel Brandon, among others, all make an appearance — and it was exciting to read an Austen-inspired sequel that wasn’t about Pride and Prejudice  for a change. I can’t comment on Caldwell’s interpretations of the characters from The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I found them thoroughly enjoyable — from Sir Percy’s wit and his passionate relationship with his wife to the strong bonds of the Blakeney family and Lady Marguerite’s refusal to stay quiet when her husband is being stubborn and foolish.

In The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Caldwell seamlessly merges The Scarlet Pimpernel and Northanger Abbey into an exciting adventure novel led by an aging hero whose mind is as sharp as ever and a young man who is not inclined to sit idle. There’s plenty of action to balance out the more romantic aspects of the story, and if I had to find something I didn’t like, I would only say there are places in the story where the pace slows down just a bit, though that’s a minor quibble. Overall, I found The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel to be a delightful tale full of interesting characters, a heartwarming love story, some history, a dash of humor, and quite a bit of danger. I hope Caldwell revisits these characters again in the future.

***

Giveaway

Jack Caldwell is generously offering a copy of The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open internationally. If the winner is from the U.S., there is a choice between an ebook (mobi or epub) and a paperback. If the winner is outside the U.S., he/she will receive an ebook. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about this novel. The giveaway will close Sunday, September 4. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

darcy's maltese falconI’m delighted to announce the release of Barbara Silkstone’s latest Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel, Mister Darcy’s Maltese Falcon, which is the eighth book in her Mister Darcy comedic mystery series. I had the pleasure of editing this book, and I found myself laughing throughout. This was my first time reading the series, and I was able to follow the book because Barbara provides enough backstory, but I definitely want to go back and read them all in order!

Darcy and Lizzie, now happily married, are off on another Templar quest. With their first baby due in two months, Darcy insists that Lizzie remain in London while he adventures to Malta. Pregnancy will not hamper Lizzie; she is determined to stand by her husband. Lizzie inserts herself in the caper, accompanied by Boris, the Russian wolfhound, and other surprise stowaways. Oh no! Caroline and Wickham return to add to the chaos.

In this, the eighth book in the Mister Darcy comedic mysteries series, the Maltese Falcon holds the key to finding the Bogart Diamond, a priceless gem that was stolen from the ancient order of the Knights Templar. Darcy is tasked with recovering it. Fall in Love with Laughter!

If that’s not enough to entice you, maybe this sweet note Barbara received recently from an anonymous fan will:

I love your books and always look forward to the audio books. I buy the books then the audio. I do reread them and listen to them when I can’t read them. It keeps me going throughout the day.  My life has not been happy recently due to some deaths in my family. It’s getting better and it’s partially due to your books. Thank you.

There’s also an excerpt of Mister Darcy’s Maltese Falcon on Barbara’s website, Second Act Cafe.

Buy Mister Darcy’s Maltese Falcon:

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K. | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Connect with Barbara Silkstone:

Second Act Cafe | Amazon Author Page | the Darcy Collection

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

the-secret-language-of-stones

Source: Review copy from Atria
Rating: ★★★★★

In our war-torn world, no one believed in enchantments. They thought witches and spells and conjurers were the stuff of fairy tales. The only mystery anyone still believed in were ghosts.

(from The Secret Language of Stones)

Quick summary: M.J. Rose’s latest novel, The Secret Language of Stones, is set in Paris during World War I and is told through the point of view of Opaline Duplessi, a young jewelry maker who spends much of her time crafting talismans for women who lost loved ones in battle. Weighed down by guilt over the death of a friend, Opaline fled the life her parents planned for her in America to use her gifts to help these women in their grief. She can receive messages from beyond through the energy emanating from gemstones, which is haunting enough by itself, but then Jean Luc, a dead soldier whose mother has turned to Opaline’s magic for comfort, speaks to her directly. As she struggles to come to terms with her powers and her feelings for Jean Luc, her gift and her connection to the Orloffs, who own the shop where she works, take her to England — and to the exiled dowager empress anxious to learn the fate of the Romanovs.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve been a huge fan of Rose’s for several years, and I certainly couldn’t pass up the chance to read a novel about World War I and the occult. How intriguing! Also, even though this is the second book in The Daughters of La Lune series, it’s a standalone novel; now I need to go back and read The Witch of Painted Sorrows, which is the story of Opaline’s mother.

What I liked: I was held captive by this novel from the very first sentence: “Every morning the pavement in front of our shop in the Palais Royal is washed clean by the tears of the mothers of dead soldiers, widowed wives, and heartsick lovers.” Right away it becomes obvious that Rose is truly a painter of words. Rose’s vivid descriptions bring Opaline, and Paris, to life. I was fascinated by the historical aspects of the novel, particularly how the massive losses during the war prompted grieving women to seek out people like Opaline and how an old ban on fortune telling was enforced because these women were being preyed upon by charlatans. Rose skillfully weaves together Opaline’s powers with the history of the war and the Bolshevik Revolution and even a ghostly love story.

What I disliked: Nothing! It was a beautifully written page-turner from start to finish, and one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Final thoughts: The Secret Language of Stones is M.J. Rose at her best. There are so many layers to this story, and the characters and descriptions are so well done that I wasn’t ready for it to end. The historical and supernatural elements are so well combined that I never once doubted them as I read. Rose is a fantastic storyteller, and The Secret Language of Stones is a definite on my Best of 2016 list.

Thanks to France Book Tours for having me on the tour for The Secret Language of Stones. To learn more about the book, follow the tour, and enter the giveaway, click the banner below.

the-secret-language-of-stones-banner

Disclosure: I received The Secret Language of Stones from Atria for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Liebeslied-Final-Kindle

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

Why did I have to wait until marriage–until I was a mother–to be able to say I’d contributed to society in a meaningful way? I couldn’t fight on the front lines like my brother; I couldn’t work overnight like my mother since I was in school; I knew nothing about the construction of airplanes. I felt the sudden urge to ask my mother what she thought I could do before hearing her voice in my head say, “Make my life easier. That’s what you could do.”

(from Love Song (Liebeslied))

Quick summary: In 1944 Virginia, Cassie Wyndham is 16 years old and wants to matter to someone. The only one who seems to appreciate her is Lucy, her 2-year-old sister. Her father is always away from home running the family business, and her mother is constantly berating her. Her brother, Amos, the apple of her mother’s eye, was the only one who could redirect her mother’s bullying, but he’s gone off to fight, leaving Cassie to fend for herself. Between taking care of her sister and avoiding her mother, Cassie volunteers for a ministry program at a nearby POW camp, where she meets Friedrich Naumann. Despite their obvious differences in both beliefs and circumstances, the two are drawn to one another. Tensions run high amidst the losses of war and a fractured family, and Cassie and Friedrich must keep their relationship secret. But secrets in the wrong hands tend to be revealed, with dramatic consequences.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve been a fan of Baumgartner’s writing since I started reading her Sophia’s War series. Her obvious love of World War II history and detailed research shine through in her novels.

What I liked: I loved how Baumgartner told the story in the first person through Cassie’s eyes. I really got to know Cassie, and I hadn’t read far before I’d grown to love her. She felt real to me, from the tumultuous emotions of adolescence to her desire to find a purpose. And given that she’s my daughter’s age, I had a hard time with how her mother treated her, and I just wanted to give her a hug. Baumgartner did a great job developing Cassie and Freidrich’s relationship, making it believable, and even though I didn’t like Cassie’s parents very much, Baumgartner skillfully crafted them into complicated and even sympathetic characters. I haven’t read much about the POW camps in the United States, so I found it fascinating that programs were established to talk to the German POWs about Christianity. (For more about Baumgartner’s research on this and the inspiration for Love Song (Liebeslied), check out her guest post here.) Cassie’s faith is important to her and the plot, but Baumgartner doesn’t make the Bible study meetings sound too preachy. In fact, the questions that Cassie and Friedrich are expected to discuss reveal a lot about their characters and further their friendship.

What I disliked: Although Love Song (Liebeslied) is the first book in the Captive Hearts Trilogy, the ending is satisfying. However, I wish I could immediately dive into the next installment!

Final thoughts: Love Song (Liebeslied)is a story about a young girl’s efforts to break free from the oppression of her family, to find herself and her purpose in life, and the love that helps her accomplish this. The impossible relationship at the core of the novel is one that readers can’t help but root for. Baumgartner has created a novel with many layers and complexities, and it is so much more than a romance. Love Song (Liebeslied) is Baumgartner’s best novel yet (and I’ve really enjoyed all of her novels so far), and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Disclosure: I received Love Song (Liebeslied) from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

austen's independence dayI’m thrilled to welcome Melissa Belle to Diary of an Eccentric today with an excerpt of her novel, Austen’s Independence Day, which I will be reviewing soon. Melissa also is generously offering a giveaway of the book. Please give her a warm welcome!

Lifelong friends with occasional benefits, Macey Henwood and Morgan Thornbrush are at a crossroads. After Macey tells Morgan in no uncertain terms that she will never marry anyone, especially him, Morgan gets engaged to another woman and is heralded as the Mr. Darcy of their small town of Austen, Texas. In the following scene late one night at the town lake, Macey is blackmailed into giving an interview with Skip, an out-of-town, nosy reporter, about how Jane Austen’s ghost ended up in Austen, Texas. Skip also wants to know exactly what is the deal with her and Morgan? Macey ends up giving Skip more than he bargained for…

Excerpt from Austen’s Independence Day

Skip presses record as I watch Morgan and Gigi laughing together. I swallow down the jealousy and take several large sips of beer.

“I can’t remember a time when my mother wasn’t consumed by her.” My gaze passes over Skip to the dark woods behind him. “By a ghost, for God sakes. Because Mama used to say Jane never asked to be Queen. ‘A true heroine never does, Macey. A true heroine just is. And Jane Austen’s ghost certainly never asked to be jailed against her will and kept apart from her soul mate.’ But whether the whole thing is true or not, one thing I know for sure—the spirit of Jane Austen is no ordinary ghost. And my position at the Cowherd is no ordinary bar job. As my daddy once said to me, ‘Darlin’, running the Cowherd Saloon & Chapel isn’t like running your normal, run-of-the-mill bar. It’s like adding gasoline to whiskey and trying not to let it catch fire.’”

Skip nods solemnly as he pushes the phone closer to my mouth and types vigorously into his iPad.

And I keep talking. “But the legend of Austen, Texas didn’t begin here. It started all the way across the Atlantic, where town founder and first mayor Frederick Woodholm Howells was still living in England with his new bride, Vivian Elmstock Howells. That’s when Frederick strayed with another woman. And that’s when the facts get fuzzy and the legend gets louder. It’s widely believed that an outraged and humiliated Vivian agreed to still sail with him across the Atlantic and settle in the Texas Hill Country part of America he’d visited and fallen in love with two years prior on one condition—that he name their landing place after the author who wrote about romance, and that he kidnap that same author’s spirit from her peaceful resting place in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral and bring her to Texas. Jane Austen wasn’t even that famous yet, but literary people already respected her writings. And of course, soon she would become known the world over.”

“What about Pride and Prejudice?” Skip asks. “How did the greatest love story ever written play a role?”

“Well,” I say. “One evening Vivian found an open copy of the novel alongside an unknown bottle of perfume in her husband’s private study, and she put two and two together. Rumor has it there was hell to pay when he returned home from the local bar. But Vivian didn’t just yell at her husband—she also picked up that copy of Pride and Prejudice and read it cover to cover. And she decided Jane Austen’s romantic touch must have been the X factor in her husband choosing another woman over her.”

“The X factor.” Skip nods vigorously and continues typing. “Of course.”

“Desperate to keep Vivian’s affection, her husband agreed to her terms. He hired a witch to cast a spell and draw Jane’s spirit out from the grave and trap her in ghost form. The witch gave the ghost to Frederick in a bottle, to be opened inside jail cell number one in the Austen Jail, a cell that the founder was to instruct no one ever to use. But even if the cell were opened with a key, Jane’s ghost would still be trapped, because the witch had put a spell befitting Jane: only when she is witness to the coming together of true soul mates will the spell break and Jane will return to Great Britain and her soul mate.”

More beer. My eyes focus below the cypress tree, where Dunce puts his arm around Ginny’s shoulders as she leans her head against him. Maybe they will make it. Maybe Dunce really will grow up.

“But what came of Vivian through all of this?” Skip asks me. “Why did she get even more embittered?”

“Vivian became obsessed with Jane Austen’s message of love, but as hard as she tried, she was never able to rekindle that former magic with her husband. The way I see the legend is as a parable. Vivian was trying to hold onto something she’d lost—her husband’s love—by holding onto or imprisoning a symbol of true love, in Jane Austen’s ghost.”

I gulp down the rest of my beer and Skip does the same with his.

“This is heavy,” he says. “So Vivian never had the happy ending she craved.”

I shake my head and glance toward Morgan.

“Both of these couples have a shot to make history.” Skip glances at Morgan and Gigi and then over at Ginny and Dunce.

I look for an extra beat at Morgan.

“It’s never as easy as boy meets girl, is it?” he says. “No matter what century.”

I guess not.

“Over to you now.” He returns to his iPad. “Why did you vow to never marry?”

“You know, Mama was obsessed—obsessed—with Pride and Prejudice. Calls it her Love Bible. And she means it.”

“It’s the greatest romance novel ever written,” Skip concurs.

“So she used it for all it was worth. Even made me memorize the most important parts. Like when Darcy tells Elizabeth, ‘You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’”

Skip sighs ecstatically.

“Mama would sigh just like you’re doing now. ‘Would you listen to that?’ she’d say. ‘THAT is true love. THAT is a man showing real love and respect for a woman.’”

“So you’ve been sitting around waiting for your Mr. Darcy to show up in Texas?” Skip asks me.

I never should have had a beer. I certainly shouldn’t have practically chugged it. I already had that half a bottle by the cooler, and I’m just not a drinker. One drink is enough to loosen my tongue. It always has been.

“No. Maybe when I was little. But once I became a teenager, I knew that marriage just wasn’t for me.”

“But now Morgan, your best friend with benefits, is marrying somebody else and he’s the town’s Mr. Darcy. How does that make you feel?”

I clear my throat and look down at my beer. “Relationships aren’t for me.”

“Why not? What makes you different than anyone else?”

Maybe if I’d stayed completely sober I wouldn’t have answered Skip’s question with—

“Love is always hard, but when you’re supposedly cursed it throws a whole new wrinkle into it. I’d always vowed to be the opposite of my mother in romantic relationships—you know, I never wanted to lose myself in a man and in needing that man to be my everything. I didn’t want the world to go cold if he wasn’t there to keep me warm.”

“Beautifully said.” Skip types hastily. “But what do you mean—cursed? That sounds serious.”

“My mother’s word. She thinks I’m cursed.” I hold out my arm and show him the inside of my wrist. “A freak accident that gave my mother proof I’m destined to share the ghost of Jane Austen’s fate. Unless the soul mates unlock the ghost, Austen Macey Henwood’s heart will stay locked as well.”

“And she believes this why? Sounds like she’s a bit theatrical.”

“She is. Who else would steal a page out of Vivian’s diary and make her oldest daughter hide it for fear of the town finding out she’s jinxed? Yeah, sure, the page says something about the eldest daughter of the jailkeeper and a scar she bears, but so what? The whole thing’s stupid.”

Skip drops his phone onto the table. Unfortunately, it stays intact, because I’ve just realized what I gave him. The hook of all hooks for a hungry reporter looking for a story.

“Oh, no.” I put my head in my hands.

“Oh, yes,” Skip’s excited voice says next to me.

About the Author

melissa_belleMelissa Belle writes steamy romance novels where the hero and heroine are passionate, independent, and good to each other. The first romance book she read (and fell in love with) was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Melissa wrote her first novel riding through Europe on the train, and she travels with her husband (and first reader of all her stories) as much as possible.

Melissa dances in a belly dance troupe. She is a professional tarot and oracle card reader. She also loves songwriting, hooping, and her two rescue kitties. And cupcakes.

Connect with Melissa on her website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About Austen’s Independence Day

What if you don’t find your Mr. Darcy… until you’ve already lost him? It is universally acknowledged in the tiny town of Austen, Texas that Macey Henwood will never get married. When your hometown is obsessed with freeing Jane Austen’s ghost from the local bar, staying single feels like the only way to stay sane. But then Morgan Thornbrush, her lifelong best friend with benefits, gets engaged out of the blue, and it drives Macey crazy, especially when the town anoints the new couple Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Now she’s smack in the middle of a wedding she wants no part of. From “bonding” with Morgan’s bombshell fiancé to helping him let go of their complicated past, Macey’s forced to face the truth—the perfect arrangement she had with Morgan is over. But when the pages of an explosive diary ignite fireworks between her and Morgan as his July fourth wedding approaches, Macey must make a life-changing decision. Can the town’s version of Mr. Darcy really be the man for her after all?

Buy Austen’s Independence Day on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Giveaway

Melissa is generously offering an e-book version (Kindle, Nook, or iBooks) of Austen’s Independence Day to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address indicating what intrigues you most about the excerpt. This giveaway is open internationally and will close on Sunday, July 31. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

undercover book cover

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

If she hadn’t been a principled woman (and undercover) she would’ve shacked up with the suit — had he offered. He might have made her rethink that Eli Bennet doctrine. Of all the men who had made passes at her, his would have been the one she welcomed and accepted. When he had glanced in her direction her breath caught. Tall, mysterious, and handsome, his brooding smolder was hard-boiled through and through.

(from Undercover)

Quick summary: Cat Gardiner’s Undercover brilliantly blends Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with crime fiction Noir, telling the tale of Elizabeth “Eli” Bennet, a gumshoe on the trail of George “Slick Wick” Wickham as she investigates the disappearance of her best friend, Mary King. Elizabeth’s family thinks she’s a bookkeeper for Macy’s but instead she runs Bennet Private Investigations in an office/apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. She’s a career girl who high-tailed it out of her drunken parents’ home in Queens as soon as she was able. She’s at odds with her sister, Jane, who’s biting comments put a dent in Elizabeth’s self-esteem, and she knows what it’s like to have loved and lost. Her investigation leads her to wealthy bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, and you can cut the sexual tension between them with a knife. The two join forces when Darcy’s socialite sister, Georgiana, gets entangled with Wickham and some communist thugs. Set in 1952 in the midst of the Red Scare, Gardiner takes readers on an exciting ride through the dark side of New York City and the nightlife in Havana.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve long wanted to read Gardiner’s work, and the cover is among my all-time favorites.

What I liked: Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who had me hooked from the very first page. The use of slang from the era, her vivid descriptions, the steamy scenes, and the murder mystery are handled so perfectly that I could picture the entire book in my head, as though I were actually watching a black-and-white hard-boiled crime drama on the screen. She moved Austen’s characters into 1952 New York City in a way that felt true to them. I loved that she gave Darcy a painful back story and that Elizabeth and Jane weren’t the best of friends. Gardiner’s portrayal of Georgiana as a modern and independent though innocent and sheltered young woman is handled beautifully, as is Lydia’s downfall at the hands of Slick Wick.

What I disliked: Only that I’ve been so busy lately that I couldn’t finish the book in one sitting! And that I waited so long to finally read one of Gardiner’s books. (I am so thankful that I have a few more waiting on my Kindle!)

Final thoughts: Undercover is unique among Pride and Prejudice variations, and if I were to attempt to create a list of my all-time favorite variations, it likely would be near the top. Gardiner is a breath of fresh air in JAFF (and historical fiction in general), and I can’t wait to read more of her work. Undercover is a definite on my Best of 2016 list.

To learn about Gardiner’s inspiration for Undercover, check out this guest post from April.

Disclosure: I received Undercover from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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