Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’


Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Again Tate’s face changed, only this time he went from anger to what appeared to be amusement. “I have never owned you, even though you first appeared to me in a nightdress that was from a child’s fairytale. Was your intent to seduce me into an illicit liaison?”

Casey’s anger increased. “Seduce you? Why you vain, arrogant –” She glared at him. He was not going to make her forget where she was! “You, sir, are the villain in this. When you first showed yourself to me, you were as bare as the day you were born. You conjured rain from above and soaped parts an unmarried woman should not see.”

(from The Girl from Summer Hill)

The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux is a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in Summer Hill, Virginia. Casey Reddick is a chef who left the hustle and bustle of D.C.’s restaurant scene to live in the guest house on Tattwell Plantation. She has been hired by Kit Montgomery to cater meals for the cast and crew of the stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that he is directing for charity. She meets the sexy actor Tate Landers when he shows up naked on the porch of her cottage. They get off on the wrong foot when he catches her watching him at the outdoor shower and accuses her of taking pictures on her phone. She later catches him in her home eating one of her fresh-baked pies after having torn apart her bedroom.

Much to her chagrin, Kit casts Casey as Elizabeth Bennet and Tate as Mr. Darcy. Casey can’t stand Tate, and her opinion of him only worsens when his ex-brother-in-law Devlin Haines (cast as Mr. Wickham) tells her his tales of woe at the hands of the rich and powerful actor. Meanwhile, Tate is drawn to Casey because she is the only woman he’s ever met who isn’t in awe of him, sees the man behind the celebrity, and has no qualms telling him how she really feels about him.

As Casey and Tate grow closer, there is plenty of behind-the-scenes drama involving Tate’s best friend Jack (Mr. Bingley), Casey’s half-sister Gizzy (Jane Bennet), Kit, and Olivia, who once played Elizabeth and has returned to the stage after many years to play Mrs. Bennet. Jack is an action-movie star who is in awe of Gizzy, who appears to be a delicate flower but is really a danger-loving adventurer. Kit and Olivia seem to share a secret from a long-ago summer at Tattwell, and Devlin will never be happy unless he’s bested Tate at something.

The Girl from Summer Hill is a real page turner, one of those books you pick up for a few minutes before bed and end up breezing through 20 to 30 pages in no time. Deveraux does a good job writing two Pride and Prejudice adaptations — one on the stage and one behind the scenes — and running them parallel to one another. It’s easy to see Austen’s characters in how Deveraux’s characters act both on and off the stage. (In this aspect, I was reminded of a delightful book I read a few years ago, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan, which also has a stage version of the novel running parallel to the modern adaptation.)

For the most part, I liked how Deveraux updated Austen’s characters, though I must admit that I initially found Casey annoying, but then she softened a bit and grew on me. I enjoyed the chemistry between Casey and Tate, and Tate’s encounters with a peacock are humorous and thoroughly delightful. Deveraux handles the modern-day Wickham/Lydia scandal in a sensitive, realistic way, and it was fun to see the characters evolve over the course of the play — especially when they are supposed to love or hate each other and the actors feel the complete opposite.

The Girl from Summer Hill is the first book in Deveraux’s Summer Hill series, but don’t let the fact that it’s a series prevent you from reading it, as there is a satisfying ending that doesn’t leave you hanging at all. I’m not sure where the series will go next, but I’m looking forward to it. The Girl from Summer Hill is a lighthearted and fun take on Pride and Prejudice that doubles your Austen fun and strikes the right balance between funny and sexy and serious and sassy.

Disclosure: I borrowed The Girl from Summer Hill from the public library.

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

Read Full Post »


Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

Yes, the stone-cold sniper hated snakes, each and every one of them, but he knew that while danger was real, fear was never an option. He feared no man, woman, or experience. The only thing the assassin feared was his own demons — or rather, facing them.

(from Denial of Conscience)

Cat Gardiner’s Denial of Conscience is a modern-day Pride and Prejudice of sorts — not a straight retelling but inspired by Jane Austen’s characters. It’s safe to say I’ve never read anything like it. Fitzwilliam Darcy is an assassin contracted by the CIA. Part of the covert civilian contract group Obsidian, Darcy is the Iceman — able to eliminate targets without flinching and so haunted by his past that he has frozen his heart to any woman. That is until he is hired to kill Thomas Bennet and can’t pull the trigger once he spies the stunning Lizzy Bennet in the window of the dilapidated Longbourn Plantation House in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Lizzy knows what it’s like to suppress her true self, having devoted the last eight years of her life to her depressed father’s every need. She’s even willing to marry a man she doesn’t love to save the plantation — her father’s legacy and obsession — from ruin. Darcy’s decision sets in motion a dangerous series of events that force both of them to acknowledge the passion between them and conquer their demons.

Denial of Conscience is a downright hot and sexy novel. Darcy oozes sex appeal; he’s a bad boy with tattoos and a Harley, but he’s also James Bond, suave in a suit in a Monte Carlo casino with Liz on his arm. Oh, how I loved Gardiner’s take on Darcy! The danger and excitement, the passion and the painful soul-searching on nearly every page made this novel unputdownable. I loved how Gardiner worked in other characters — from Jane Bennet the wild child to Caroline Bingley as a cold and calculating member of Obsidian. The intricacies of the operations were well thought out, and there was plenty of humor and action to go along with all the sex. (And, yes, there is a lot of sex in this novel, so be aware!)


Source: Gift from the author
Rating: ★★★★☆

Gardiner was so kind as to send me a copy of Guilty Conscience, a novelette to get readers excited about the upcoming sequel, Without a Conscience. I breezed through these vignettes right after finishing Denial of Conscience, loving the scenes with Liz on a Harley and being able to get a glimpse of the next novel. It’s not necessary to read Guilty Conscience, but it sure was fun!

Denial of Conscience was the third novel I’ve read by Gardiner this year (check out my reviews of Undercover and A Moment Forever), and it’s another winner. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller, whether writing a steamy take on Pride and Prejudice or historical fiction. She has a knack for crafting fun and sexy characters and exciting plots. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of her novels, and I’m anxiously awaiting Without a Conscience!

Disclosure: Denial of Conscience is from my personal library.

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

Read Full Post »


Source: Review copy from the authors
Rating: ★★★★★

It was that smile, that sparkle of mirth in her eyes, which was his undoing. He could no longer claim to be Fitzwilliam Darcy of Derbyshire, brother to Georgiana, master of Pemberley. In that moment, he was but a man. A man filled with more frustration than most souls could bear. A man torn asunder by his desperation, his fruitless dreams and desires. He had become, in that moment, quite common.

(from The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy)

Beau North and Brooke West’s latest novel, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, can best be described at Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice meets Groundhog Day. Try as he might, Mr. Darcy can’t overcome his feelings for Elizabeth Bennet, and he also can’t comprehend why she dislikes him so. For reasons he cannot fathom, Darcy is forced to live the same day over and over again — the day he proposed to Elizabeth at Hunsford and was rejected. While reliving the worst day of his life, vacillating between utter clarity and near madness and unable to escape the confines of Rosings Park, Darcy is forced to confront himself and his wrongdoings head on and accept some harsh truths.

I absolutely adored this novel from the very first page. North and West make a great team, with a fascinating and clever premise and a Darcy who is at turns hilarious in how he navigates the monotony and endearing when he takes the time to observe those around him. I loved the scenes between Darcy and Anne (who was such a lovely character here), Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam (ever the charmer), and even Darcy and Lady Catherine (with a surprisingly tender moment between the two).

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy is unique and exciting. It made me laugh, and it left me in tears, so much so that my husband kept asking if I was okay and I worried I would short out my Kindle! It’s been a while since I’ve been so emotionally affected by a Pride and Prejudice variation. It’s absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year, possibly one of my all-time favorites, and definitely one I won’t forget!

Book Description

“He could no longer claim to be Fitzwilliam Darcy of Derbyshire, brother to Georgiana, master of Pemberley. In that moment, he was but a man. A man filled with more frustration than most souls could bear. A man torn asunder by his desperation, his fruitless dreams and desires.”

After Elizabeth Bennet rejects his marriage proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy finds himself in the most unusual of circumstances. At first believing the extraordinary turn of events has granted him an inexplicable boon, he is eager to put the humiliating proposal behind him.

He soon discovers that he is trapped in the same waking dream with no end in sight and no possible escape. All that he holds dear—his name, his home, his love—remains ever out of reach. How will he find his way back to his normal life? Will one mistake haunt the rest of his days? It will take all of his fortitude to weather the storms of his strange new fate, and all of his courage to grasp the promise of his future.

Check out The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy on Amazon | Goodreads

About the Authors


Beau North

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, a pop culture podcast and website, and a contributor at the San Francisco Book Review.

Connect with Beau North on Facebook | Instagram: Miznorth | Twitter: @BeauNorth | Newsletter | Podcasts | Blog (coming soon) | Goodreads | Amazon


Brooke West

Brooke West is a contributing author to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Brooke has a naturally creative soul that pulls her into myriad artistic endeavors.  While writing fiction always has been her life’s passion, Brooke also finds joy in silversmithing, sculpting, and costuming. Between projects, she runs and practices yoga.  She lives in South Carolina with her fiancé, son, and three cats.

Connect with Brooke West on Facebook | Twitter: @WordyWest and @BrookeWest | Goodreads | Amazon


Beau and Brooke are giving away 8 copies of their book, which includes 4 ebooks and 4 paperback copies. To win a paperback copy, the winners must have a U.S. mailing address.

Click here to enter the giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule

October 8/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway

October 9/ Just Jane 1813/Interview with Beau and Brooke

October 10/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway

October 11/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/Guest Post

October 12/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway

October 13/ Margie’s Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway

October 14/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway

October 15/ The Calico Critic/Excerpt & Giveaway

October 16/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Guest Post

October 17/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway

October 18/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Book Review & Giveaway

October 19/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Fitzwilliam Vignette

October 20/ So Little Time… So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway

The Many Faces of Fitzwilliam Darcy contest

Vote for your favorite Darcy by clicking here. The choices were based on reader submissions at Just Jane 1813. The winning image and the winner will be announced on October 20, 2016, at the last blog stop, So Little Time… So Much to Read.


Disclosure: I received The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy from the authors for review.

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

Read Full Post »

Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4

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

He consciously ran his fingers through his forelocks to brush them to one side, yet kept the pose nevertheless for Georgiana’s benefit — until he felt compelled to look her way again, merely to discover that his sister was not the only one who kept him under scrutiny. Miss Bennet’s eyes were also steadily fixed on him, her countenance oddly solemn, but before he could wonder why, she dropped her gaze and instantly turned away.

(from Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Miss Darcy’s Companion is the latest Pride and Prejudice variation by Joana Starnes, and it imagines Elizabeth Bennet as a temporary governess for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s nieces and nephew, which is how she meets Mr. Darcy. The Darcys and Richard feel bad for how Lady Stretton treats Elizabeth, and Darcy thinks about how he would feel if his sister, Georgiana, were in her shoes: the daughter of a gentleman thrown out of her home upon the death of her father.

Convinced by Richard that Georgiana needs a companion closer to her age and that, despite her lack of experience, Elizabeth’s liveliness will do her a world of good, Darcy agrees to hire Elizabeth as Georgiana’s companion — and the three settle into a comfortable friendship at Pemberley. That is until Elizabeth becomes withdrawn, and Darcy realizes he wants the love and passion he witnesses between his friend Bingley and his new wife, Elizabeth’s sister Jane. Forced to distance himself from Pemberley to get his feelings under control and make a life-changing decision, Darcy must rush back to Pemberley when a ghost from his past arrives and destroys his hopes for happiness.

In Miss Darcy’s Companion, Starnes puts Darcy and Elizabeth in entirely new situations with entirely different misunderstandings but stays true to Jane Austen’s characters, namely Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s impertinence. She also portrays a Darcy whose true character is known almost immediately by Elizabeth, and a more solemn Elizabeth who is more difficult for Darcy to figure out. I really enjoyed seeing Georgiana blossom under Elizabeth’s watchful eye and Richard relentlessly tease his cousin. There also were plenty of original characters to liven the plot, from the obnoxiously arrogant Lady Stretton to the vicar’s sweet sister, Miss Bradden, to Fitzwilliam’s charming nieces Margaret and Hetty.

Miss Darcy’s Companion is the third Pride and Prejudice variation I’ve read by Starnes, and it’s another winner. (Check out my reviews of The Subsequent Proposal and The Unthinkable Triangle.) Starnes has quickly become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. She never lets me down with her beautiful writing style, tenderly drawn characters, and imaginative plots. I can’t wait to read her next book, Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter, for the blog tour next month!

Disclosure: I received Miss Darcy’s Companion 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.

Read Full Post »

the unexpected consequences of love

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

On the surface, her day-to-day life was happy; she laughed and joked and behaved like a completely normal person. Other people regarded her as cheerful, up for a laugh, and extroverted.

But that was on the surface, purely for public consumption. Unaware of her past — simply because it was no one else’s business but her own — what they didn’t realize was that there was a permanent chunk of ice embedded in the center of her heart.

(from The Unexpected Consequences of Love)

The Unexpected Consequences of Love is another winner by Jill Mansell about a woman unwilling to ever let another man into her heart and a man hellbent on squeezing through the slightest crack in the wall she’s built around it. Sophie Wells’ last relationship is a mystery to all except her best friend, Tula, but it was tragic enough for her to swear off men altogether and focus all her energy on her photography business. Sophie catches the eye of Josh Strachan when her job brings her to his grandparents’ hotel in St Carys, and he is determined to convince Sophie to give him a chance, even if it means digging into her past.

Meanwhile, Josh’s grandfather’s efforts to win back his ex-wife take a hit when the man he wronged sets his sights on her; Tula can’t take Josh’s friend Riley’s attentions seriously because she needs a reliable man, not a womanizing surfer; and Riley’s aunt, Marguerite is on the prowl for husband No. 4 while harboring a deep secret.

Mansell never lets me down when it comes to her characters. They often stumble their way through life, but that’s what makes them feel real. Mansell’s plots are clever and full of just the right balance of seriousness and humor. Sophie’s last relationship is shocking and sad, and it’s easy to understand how she would be stuck in limbo. I loved all the little twists and turns in each character’s story, and Sophie being forced to finally confront her past was so beautifully handled that it brought tears to my eyes.

The Unexpected Consequences of Love is about finding love when you least expect it, realizing what’s been in front of you all along, and the many ways one’s prejudices can complicate matters of the heart. Once again, Mansell has proved to be a master of the romantic comedy.

Disclosure: The Unexpected Consequences of Love is from my personal library.

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

Read Full Post »

three amazing things about you

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

For a short while, they sat together in silence while everyone else laughed and chattered around them. Then Hallie put her phone down on the table and adjusted the oxygen tubing behind her ears. ‘Anyway, make the most of every day, that’s what I’m going to do. Make more of an effort, stop worrying about what could go wrong, just go ahead and do more things, have a couple of adventures. Before it’s too late.’

(from Three Amazing Things About You)

Jill Mansell’s Three Amazing Things About You follows three women: Hallie, who has cystic fibrosis, is in need of a lung transplant, writes an online advice column, and is in love but can’t act on those feelings; Tasha, whose anxiety makes it difficult to handle the fact that her boyfriend is an adrenaline junkie; and Flo, whose job as a companion for an elderly woman leads to an unconventional living arrangement and an unlikely romance with a man whose obnoxious sister puts a damper on their happiness. When the novel opens, Hallie is on her way to the hospital with the promise of a new life, and Mansell takes readers back in time to show how these women’s lives will converge.

Three Amazing Things About You is a beautifully written tale that stays funny and lighthearted despite putting the characters into some tough situations. Hallie is an inspiring character who keeps on living regardless of the limitations of her condition. The secondary characters, as always, are fantastic — from the feisty Margot to the hilarious banter between Joe and Carmel to the pampered feline Jeremy. I don’t want to say more about the plot or the characters because I don’t want to give anything away. Mansell kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the novel, as I knew it would eventually return to the opening scene and I had no idea what was going to unfold.

Mansell has another winner with Three Amazing Things About You. In fact, of all the Mansell novels I’ve read so far, this was my favorite. (It also made my Best of 2015 list, but I am woefully behind in posting non-blog-tour reviews.) I was worried that this book would be too sad for me, but I shouldn’t have been, as Mansell manages to insert plenty of humor and liveliness into Hallie’s story. I’m still working my way through Mansell’s back list, but I’m doing it slowly so I can savor these little treasures!

Disclosure: Three Amazing Things About You is from my personal library.

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

Read Full Post »

open house

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

‘No thanks. I’d rather walk.’

So much for largesse. Enraged, Marcus demanded, ‘Why?’

‘Don’t you remember?’ Nell hoisted the bulging, end-of-term haversack containing far too many textbooks on to her shoulder. ‘People like us shouldn’t accept lifts from people like you. If we did,’ she added sweetly, “we might start getting ideas above our lowly station. And that would never do.’

(from Open House)

Jill Mansell’s Open House begins with a spat between 15-year-old Nell O’Driscoll and the Earl of Kilburton’s arrogant son, Marcus. The O’Driscolls have a reputation in the village and almost enjoy being the subject of local gossip. Fast forward a decade, and Nell finds herself working for Marcus, the new earl, as he prepares to open the family’s castle to the public. Marcus sees Nell in a different light, but old hurts and secrets force her to keep her distance. Meanwhile, Nell’s best friend, Hetty, is struggling to rebuild her life since her husband left her for a successful novelist — who has no qualms about parading her sex life through the media, even if it means hurting Hetty and Tony’s teenage daughter, Rachel, whose crush on Nell’s younger brother, the suave Derry, pushes her down the wrong path.

The myriad characters Mansell worked into this novel — from Hetty’s ex-husband’s obnoxious mistress Vanessa to Marcus’s over-the-top, whiny sister Jemima — were all thoroughly entertaining. There was a lot going on in this novel, but it never felt like too much. Mansell even describes various people in the village who hardly make an appearance, but doing so paints a richer portrait of life in a small town, where everyone’s business is known by everyone and where gossip runs rampant. Even when I have a pretty good idea of how it’s all going to play out, Mansell always manages to throw in a few surprises.

Open House is an utterly charming, feel-good novel from start to finish. Mansell never lets me down, always providing an enjoyable novel with plenty of humor, romance, and even some weightier moments. She perfectly balances the numerous subplots and secondary characters, which I usually find just as interesting as the main story. Her characters are endearingly flawed, and I can always relate to them in some way. Like the many Mansell books I’ve read before, Open House had me laughing out loud and never wanting it to end. Mansell is my go-to author when I’m in need of a pure comfort read.

Disclosure: Open House is from my personal library.

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »