What Would Jane Austen Do?
Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. In late 2007, author Laurie Brown published a ghost story time-travel romance that felt fresh to me. Too bad that with What Would Jane Austen Do? she’s doing almost exactly the same thing again — only less skillfully. <a href="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Click&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” target=”_blank”> <img src="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Get&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” width=”150″ height=”200″ border=”0″ alt=””>
Modern woman Eleanor arrives at a hotel in Bath in preparation for a lecture she’s scheduled to give on historical costumes at a Jane Austen gathering. Her stay in the inn’s supposedly “haunted” room soon enough reveals the truth of the myth when she sees the apparitions of two young girls in her room in the middle of the night. As the two ghosts tell our heroine, she must travel back in time with them to keep both sisters from succumbing to the charms of one Lord Shermont — an event that, in turn, led to the death of their brother.
Eleanor soon awakens smack dab in the middle of the Regency with everybody in the house party — including the two young girls who don’t remember meeting her — believing her to be a long absent cousin from America. Of course, there’s a devastatingly attractive man as a guest and, of course, Eleanor quickly finds herself attracted to him. But Lord Shermont also has his own agenda: Discovering the identity of a spy who’s compromising the security of England. To justify the use of Jane Austen in the title (cha-ching), the author is also a guest at the house party.
To be honest, what I really enjoyed about Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake is diluted here. And, though, it’s been well over a year since the publication of her last novel, this one feels kind of under-written — and under-edited, too.
For example, Eleanor’s adventures begin when we know next to nothing about who she is in the modern world and we don’t even find out what she does for a living until page 165. I was never able to get my finger on who Eleanor was as a person – and that is a big problem since the bulk of the story is told from her POV.
The author does better with Shermont who has standard rake appeal, but, honestly, his generic Regency spy plotline is just that. Generic.
As for Jane Austen, I’ll refrain from comment other than that bringing her name into this is a disservice to the great Jane and those who love her. But Generic Jane isn’t the worst of the problems since the book also features a hokey, multiple eye roll-inducing ending.
I very much enjoyed Laurie Brown’s last novel and asked to review this one with some degree of anticipation. But without adding some new elements into the mix — other than a half-assed characterization of romance’s most beloved author — the sad truth is that fresh is only fresh once. And this one just isn’t.