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jane and the waterloo map

Source: Review copy from Soho Crime
Rating: ★★★★☆

My brother snorted. “Why should any person wish you harm?”

“Because of what I have seen.” I gazed at him soberly. “Because of the Waterloo Map.”

(from Jane and the Waterloo Map)

Quick summary: Jane and the Waterloo Map is the 13th book in Stephanie Barron’s Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, but only the second one I have read. Set a month before Jane Austen’s 40th birthday and told from her point of view, the novel takes readers to the Prince Regent’s London residence, Carlton House, where she has been invited by the Reverend James Stanier Clarke to tour the library. While on the tour, Jane finds Colonel McFarland, a hero of Waterloo, dying on the floor. While waiting for help, McFarland utters the phrase, “Waterloo Map,” and Jane is swept up into a mystery in which she must determine the importance of a watercolor map and who would kill to possess it.

Why I wanted to read it: I really enjoyed the previous installment in the series, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, and since they are pretty much standalone novels — with editor’s notes to explain historical details and highlight certain parts of the backstory — I couldn’t resist this one.

What I liked: For the most part, Jane and the Waterloo Map, is a standalone novel, but I am glad I read the previous book because the artist Raphael West, whom Jane meets in the last installment, is drawn into this newest mystery with Jane. I love that Jane gets some help from her family as well. Barron does a great job creating a complicated mystery and unraveling the threads at the right pace. It’s a treat to be taken along for the ride, following the twists and turns and not figuring everything out before the end. The inclusion of historical facts, particularly Jane’s visit to Carlton House and Clarke’s strong suggestion that she dedicate Emma to the Prince Regent, creates a fuller story and makes Jane believable as a heroine and sleuth.  But most of all, I appreciate the heroine she has created in Jane Austen, from her cleverness to her determination, from her unwillingness to be pushed aside because she is a woman to her thoroughly entertaining first-person narrative.

What I disliked: I thought the book opened a bit slow, and it took me a couple of chapters to be pulled into the story, but I knew I was in for a treat and was not disappointed overall.

Final thoughts: Barron is a creative storyteller, and she brilliantly weaves together fact and fiction. I really need to find the time to go back to the beginning of the series and read them all in order. However, given that Jane is approaching the last years of her life, I am especially curious to find out how Barron continues the series and what kind of trouble our heroine will find herself in next.

About the book:

Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

Photo credit: Marea Evans

Photo credit: Marea Evans

About the author:

Stephanie Barron was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books.

She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Giveaway:

Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

Waterloo Map Blog Tour Prizes x 500

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016. Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to U.S. addresses. Good luck to all!

To follow the tour, click the banner below:

JANE AND WATERLOO - Blog Tour Horizontal

Disclosure: I received Jane and the Waterloo Map from Soho Crime 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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jane and the 12 days of christmas

Source: Review copy from Soho Crime
Rating: ★★★★☆

“Perhaps,” I said unwillingly, “they are mere caricatures, and thus demand nothing more.”

“Your Darcy is no caricature,” he retorted.  “Nor is Willoughby.  I have met that gentleman’s like on countless occasions, in the gaming hells and ballrooms of London — petted, indulged, weak, and subtle.  That is where you excel, Miss Austen — in the subtleties.”

(from Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas)

Quick summary: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is the 12th book in Stephanie Barron’s Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.  I can vouch for it being a standalone novel because it’s the only book in the series I’ve read so far.  It’s Christmas 1814, and Jane Austen, along with her sister, Cassandra, her mother, and the family of her brother, James, are invited to spend the holidays at The Vyne, the lavish estate belonging to her old friend, Eliza Chute, and her husband, William, a member of Parliament.  They are barely into the celebrations leading up to Twelfth Night when an accident occurs that Jane and another guest, the artist Raphael West, suspect to be murder.  The stakes are high, given that the Treaty of Ghent — which is intended to end the war between the British and the Americans — has gone missing, and the fact that The Vyne is snowed in means that the murderer is a fellow guest.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve heard such good things about this series, and I can’t resist a novel with Jane Austen as the heroine.

What I liked: Barron’s portrayal of Jane Austen felt real to me.  She is 39 years old, celebrating the success of Mansfield Park, and currently working on Emma.  Readers see varied opinions about her career, with Mr. West obviously a fan of her novels and her brother scoffing at her success.  Barron also portrays her as a loving and fun aunt, playing billiards with her nephew and spoiling her niece with gifts for her new doll over the twelve days of Christmas.  We also see a Jane who is not afraid to speak her mind and whose powers of observation enable her to write realistic characters and piece together seemingly small details to solve a complicated crime.  The characters at The Vyne are all intriguing, and while I had my suspicions about them, I was happy that I hadn’t figured it all out on my own.  I enjoyed all the twists and turns of the mystery and was happy to just go along for the ride.

What I disliked: There were a few places where the narrative slowed down a bit, and it was hard to keep track of all the characters at first, but neither of those issues prevented me from enjoying the novel.

Final thoughts: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas was a fun novel, with some dark characters, some ridiculous characters, plenty of historical details, and even a bit of a love story.  Jane’s astute observations of the people she encounters make her the perfect sleuth.  I definitely plan to work my way through the rest of the series.

Disclosure: I received Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas from Soho Crime for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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