Thursday, November 19, 2015

"christmas with miss austen" by laura briggs

I'm sure you know by now that I love all things Jane Austen—film adaptations, novels loosely based on her work, parodies, anything. So when the author of Christmas with Miss Austen contacted me about reviewing her novella, I jumped at the chance.

Julia Allen is a waitress by day, painter by night, and…a famous 1800s authoress on weekends? 

Moonlighting as Jane Austen for a historical open house is a strange hobby for a contemporary artist, but Julia loves the role–until she falls asleep and gets locked inside after all the visitors are gone! Rushing home from the dark, historical mansion, she collides with a stranger in the snowy park, and discovers later her shortcut cost her the rare copy of Austen’s Northanger Abbey borrowed from a friend’s treasured collection. 

Book historian Eliot Weston thinks he imagined the Regency-era figure, but the book he finds in her wake proves otherwise. The first edition of Jane Austen’s novel is authentic and incredibly rare, but he fails to find any trace of its owner. Reminders of the unusual encounter keep popping up, however, like the pretty modern artist eager to buy an identical volume. Coincidence? Or Divine intervention making it clear this is anything but an ordinary Christmas for these two hearts? 

Christmas with Miss Austen is the story of Julia, and artist/waitress who moonlights as Jane Austen at a historic house during the holiday season. When she loses a first edition Northanger Abbey belonging to a friend, she enlists the help of book historian Eliot to find another, unaware that he found the very copy she lost.

Christmas with Miss Austen does several things very well. The author uses Jane Austen as a basis for the plot, rather than adapting one of Austen's novels in a modern setting, so she's not bound by one Austen plot. I also appreciated all the name references: Eliot, Collins, Pemberley, etc. Julia and Eliot are a fun pair with undeniable chemistry, and their journey to romance was endearing. I also loved Eliot's relationship with his little sister, and their interactions were some of my favorites throughout the novella.

While overall I very much enjoyed Christmas with Miss Austen, it does suffer from what I like to call "just talk about it already" syndrome. (I talk about the syndrome here.) Why Julia doesn't just tell Eliot she lost Northanger Abbey in the park or why Eliot doesn't tell her he found a copy in the park is beyond me! (I mean, if either of those things happened, the novella would be considerably shorter ...)

Perfect for a wintry evening, Christmas with Miss Austen is an enjoyable romance. It may not be a book that sticks with you, but you'll definitely enjoy it while you're reading it. 3-1/2 stars.

Buy the novella.

Laura Briggs's first published work was Only in Novels, a short romance story from Pelican Book Group that garnered a CAPA award nomination. She has since published several other titles with the same company, all featuring an Inspirational Romance theme. Among her independently published works are a series of wedding-themed romances and Jane Austen-inspired fiction. Laura is also the co-author of a series of Grimm-esque fantasy-themed fairytale retellings known as The Dark Woods.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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