Austen in Austin (Four Novellas) – Review

4 stars

 

“Kathryn!”
The brisk shaking of her shoulder proved she’d finally fallen asleep.  “Jane. Stop. I’m awake.  What is it?”
“You must get ready.”
It took her a moment to rise and dress.  Her cousin’s devoted assistance roused her suspicions.
“Do you have any idea of the conquest you have made, Kathryn?”
All that from just one of the cowboy’s glances?  Could it be?  Her heart drummed in delight.
“Mr. Wellington made no doubts of his interest in you.”
Oh.  That.  She turned away.  “I’m sure he is just being kind.”
“Don’t be silly.”  Jane grabbed Kathryn’s shoulder.  “This is it.  The chance we’ve waited for, and I’m not going to let you ruin it.”
Kathryn pulled away.  Breathe.  Slowly.
She’d come here determined to make a change, and the first step was standing up to her cousin.
Only, not right now.  Not when her head pounded at the thought of a suitor.  Goodness sakes, she wanted a suitor – she’d long dreamed of a suitor.  And now that he was here . . .
He didn’t suit her at all.

Alarmingly Charming
by Debra E. Marvin

Synopses
Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love–Jane Austen style.

If I Loved You Less (Gina Welborn) based on Emma
Emmeline Travis is an excellent judge of character.  More than that, she has a gift for knowing people’s suitability for one another.  So when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor she makes sure to set her on the right path.  And she could have told Noah Whitley that he and Anne Fairfax were not suited, if only he had sought her counsel.  Surely, if anyone is going to be able recognise the best woman for him it will be her, his closest female friend…

Refinements (Anita Mae Draper) based on Sense and Sensibility
Miss Marion McDermott has graduated from the Jeannette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies and is spending a month on her Aunt Mattie’s ranch before heading home to her father’s – with a handsome cowboy in tow, if she’s lucky.  Jeffrey Whelp certainly fits the bill, and he’s making no secret of his admiration of Marion.  But is he really the man he appears to be?  And if she’s so attracted to Jeffrey, then why does she keep noticing the ranch foreman, Brandon Tabor?

One Word from You (Susanne Dietze) based on Pride and Prejudice
Eliza Branch’s family are in dire straits – her father’s stock breeding failed and they need to sell the ranch if they want to keep their house in town.  Her parents’ solution is to marry her to the rich, but distasteful Hezekiah Cray, but Eliza is determined to use the earnings from her journalism to help support them.  She is less than impressed when she meets railroad owner William Delacourt, and so when she learns some information about him that could give her the story she needs she is quick to take advantage of it.  But has she been too quick to judge?

Alarmingly Charming (Debra E. Marvin) based on Northanger Abbey
Kathryn Morton has come to Austin with her cousin Jane, determined to find a newer, more confident self.  But it’s not looking so good when she can’t even stand up to her cousin’s attempts at getting her to accept Jonathan Wellington’s attentions.  She’d much rather be in the company of handsome cowboy Harmon Gray, but it seems she’s mistaken about his interest in her.  Maybe she’s better off forgetting both men and simply trying to solve the mystery of the haunted cemetery. . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My review
Janeite though I am, I have tended to steer clear of Jane Austen sequels, rewrites, and the like, and was therefore a little nervous when I agreed to review this volume. Not only was I unfamiliar with any of the authors’ previous books (meaning I didn’t know what to expect from their writing), but I am not a big fan of novellas. I guess you could say these novellas had their work cut out for them where I was concerned! Imagine my relief, then, to find that they were pleasant diversions from my standard full-length reading fare.

Readers who are familiar with the original Austen novels will note that these stories do not simply teleport Austen’s characters into a new setting. Names have been altered (even if it is simply in spelling), secondary characters omitted or redefined, and while the primary characters and the conflicts remain recognisably Austen, the way in which each story develops has been re-imagined, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on which novella you are reading.

Of the four novellas on offer I will confess I enjoyed the third and fourth a bit more than the first two. The plots felt better developed, the writing was tighter and more engaging, and I enjoyed the way the story of Pride and Prejudice, in particular, was re-imagined.  I am sure this collection will hold great appeal for Austen fans with an affinity for stories with a Western setting.

Each of these novellas can be read as a story in its own right, but as the stories are all set in or around the Jeannette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies, the characters do make brief appearances in each other’s novellas. For this reason, some may prefer to read the novellas in the order they appear in this volume.

I received a copy of this book from one of the authors in return for my honest review.

Buy now:     Amazon.com             Amazon.com.au

Release date:  15 January 2016
Publisher:  WhiteFire Publishing

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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2 Responses to Austen in Austin (Four Novellas) – Review

  1. Pingback: Austen in Austin Vol. 2 – Review | Fiction Aficionado

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – Things That Will Make Me Want to Review A Book | Fiction Aficionado

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