Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love–Jane Austen style. Volume 2 includes:
Simply Lila by Suzie Johnson, based on Lady Susan
Yearning to find a real-life hero, a wallflower must learn to live outside the pages of an Austen novel.
Fully Persuaded by Niki Turner, based on Persuasion
A brokenhearted artist struggles with the shame of her family’s bankruptcy and the return of her first love whose proposal she’d spurned because he was poor.
Mansford Ranch by Dina L. Sleiman, based on Mansfield Park
An aspiring novelist with a keen eye for character must determine who is worthy of playing her own leading man.
Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, based on Sense and Sensibility
A would-be missionary is determined to make it to Ceylon, but when her funds disappear, she has to accept help from the man she most wants to avoid.
Don’t miss the first four exciting novellas in volume 1!
“You have a beautiful laugh, Lila.”
“Oh.” She dropped her gaze and traced the delicate handle of her teacup. He couldn’t have caught her more off-guard if he tried.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“No, please don’t apologize. I’m just not used to -” She broke off, unsure if she wanted to admit she wasn’t used to praise.
“Compliments? You deserve compliments.” His green gaze was gentle and unwavering.
“That’s very kind of you.” She remembered her mother’s letter and wondered if he was thinking about the cruel words he’d overheard.
“I’m not trying to be kind. I mean it.” His lips curved into a soft smile.
Unsure what to say, she dipped her head. The silence grew awkward. Was he as embarrassed as she was? She glanced up again, only to find him still looking at her. She picked up her teacup, and hot liquid splashed over the side.
Kirby was out of his chair in an instant, one of the linen napkins in his hand. “Here, let me help.”
Once the tea was blotted, she expected him to go back to his chair. Instead, he stood by her side and appeared to be debating something. Finally, he said, “I’d be honored if you’d accompany me on a stroll through the park tomorrow afternoon.”
And there it was. She’d already decided she’d accept if he asked her again. But suddenly, looking at him, she froze. Was he asking because he felt sorry for her?
“I’m sorry, Kirby. I’ll be attending church tomorrow.” She wasn’t sure why she said it. Unable to bear her mother’s behaviour in church, of all places, she hadn’t been to church in a while. Now she’d have to go in order to keep from being a liar. “And then I must dine with my mother.” No, that wasn’t quite right. She’d almost forgotten her resolve not to eat with her mother.
It was hard to believe, but he actually looked disappointed. “I understand.” He reached around her and picked up his cup of tea, then drank the last of it. She reached for the pot to pour him another cup. “No, thank you. I must get back to my sister.” He turned toward the door.
“Kirby, wait.” Her heart thundered so hard she was certain it could be heard throughout Austen Abbey. “I-” She broke off, unsure if she could go through with it. But when he looked at her expectantly, she rushed on. “I usually have to be somewhere after church. But I nearly forgot, I’ve cancelled for this week. I’d be happy to accompany you to the park after church.” She sucked in a breath, waiting for his reaction.
“I’ll call tomorrow after church, then.” His smile nearly took her breath away and never dimmed as he put his hat on and slipped out the door.
If you’re an Austen aficionado who’s looking for something a little different (but not quite ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ different!) then the Austen in Austin novella collections may be just what you’re looking for. On the other hand, maybe you’ve never even read the Austen originals. *GASP!* That’s okay. Well, kind of. I mean, you’ll still be able to enjoy these stories. (But, seriously, you haven’t read ANY Austen? At all?)
Anyway, this is the second volume in the series and, although the stories do follow one another chronologically (with previous characters making cameos with their new husbands and ever growing families), you can read the stories in any order. The novellas are all set at the Jeanette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies in Austin, Texas, but for all the obvious nods to Austen and her characters, they do not set out to recreate Austen’s stories; rather, they have taken certain elements from them – say, a particular conflict or certain characters – and created a variation on the original; with a definite Western feel.
I couldn’t help feeling that each novella also came with a little bit of ‘cheese’ – whether it was the way the romantic declaration came about, the redemption of a previously antagonistic character, or the way in which the villain was outed. There was also a level of predictability to the stories, although this is hardly surprising when one knows the Austen originals. But on the whole, these novellas were a pleasant diversion from my usual full-length reading fare.
Thank you to the authors for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for my review. I have included a brief outline of each novella below.
Lila Wentworth is the French teacher at the Austen Academy, and although she enjoys her career, her socially pretentious mother despises it. She is also very free in her criticism of Lila, leaving Lila with a dim view of her marriage prospects. What’s worse, every time her mother invites a potential suitor for dinner, she makes a play for them herself, leaving Lila to flee the house in mortification.
The conflict in this novel is largely between Lila and her mother. Kirby Ross, the older brother and guardian of one of Lila’s students, overhears Lila talking about the way her mother treats her and sets out to convince Lila that she is neither ugly nor unlovable, but Lila is certain that he will run the other way as soon as he meets her mother.
Annie Ellis is the art teacher at the Austen Academy, determined to save the family’s ranch from bankruptcy. Annie’s mother gave her legal control of Kelly Ranch before she died, but that hasn’t stopped Annie’s father or sister from spending far beyond their means.
Eight years ago, Annie was persuaded to reject Ford Winters’ proposal because of his ‘questionable parentage’ and ‘insufficient prospects for the future’. But now things have come full circle; because Ford is returning to Austin to purchase fifty-one percent of the shares in Kelly Ranch and turn it back into a thriving cattle ranch.
Franny Sue Price is a recent graduate of the Austen Academy and now volunteers there one day a week as a creative writing teacher. She came to Mansford Ranch as an eight year old when her family landed on hard times, and has grown up with Eddie Mansford, whose step-mother is a distant cousin of hers.
Franny has grown into a beauty to catch the eye of any man, but Eddie knows they’re not suited. She wants a fancy city life, and he’s a cowboy through and through. But if it could just be anyone other than Hank Crawfield!
Hank may have been a devil as a child, but Franny’s prepared to give the adult version the benefit of the doubt. Well, almost. With the help of the local drama troupe she creates a series of trying circumstances to test Hank’s character…
Sense and Nonsense
Evangeline Danwood is a full-time teacher at the Austen Academy who is preparing to travel to Ceylon to teach in a missionary school; until her closest friend, Megan, confesses that she has somehow lost the missions money that was to pay for her trip. Megan is already engaged to James Ferris, the man Evangeline had hoped was coming to care for her as she does for him. And now she’s lost the money that was supposed to take Evangeline far away from having to watch the two of them get married!
James’s father is the president of the missions board, and tasks James with making sure that no scandal is attached to the family as a result of the missing money. It means working with Evangeline; the woman he had hoped to make his bride, before his father convinced him of the need to marry Megan out of duty to his family and his parish. It also means that his success in recovering the money will mean losing Evangeline for good…
Buy from US: Amazon
Buy from AU: Amazon
Release date: 15 September 2016
Pages: eBook only
Publisher: WhiteFire Publishing
Authors’ website: http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/
Read my review for Volume One of the Austen in Austin collection