by Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Debra E. Marvin, and Gina Welborn
Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen’s Novels
Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love–Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:
If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.
Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.
One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.
Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.
This collection had me a Jane Austen. What’s unique about this adaptation is that it is set in 1800s Austin, Texas. Each novella includes the essence of one of Austen’s beloved stories. In this first volume, readers get Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey.
With Mrs. Collins who runs Austen Abbey anchoring each of the stories, I loved that there is a small amount of character crossover. The characters are acquainted with each other or run across each other at some point in each story, yet each hero and heroine has their own journey to travel.
Four authors contribute to this collection but manage to keep it cohesive as each new story is introduced, and our couples navigate misunderstandings, misconceptions, assumptions, and revelations before finding true love.
And to make my Jane-Austen-loving-heart happy, I now have an Austen in Austin Volume 2 to delve into.
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
What a wonderful collection of Austen-esque stories set in 1880s Austin, Texas! This collection of novellas is somewhat unique in that each novella progresses in timeline and involves the characters from previous novellas to tie the four stories together. Such fun! I have only read Susanne Dietze’s books before so the other three authors were new to me. All four novellas are well-written, feature multi-dimensional characters worthy of the reader’s sympathy and affection, have great plots (though, of course, the ending is somewhat obvious since this collection is devoted to Jane Austen’s novels), and carry messages of faith, hope, and forgiveness.
The first novella by Gina Welborn (If I Loved You Less) pairs up childhood friends Emmaline, a rich hotel heiress, and Noah, a banker, in the style of Emma. Emmaline is strong, stubborn, and proud and needs to learn humility and the fact that she’s not always correct. Noah, though ignorant of his heart’s leanings toward his friend Emmaline until almost too late, is a patient hero.
The second novella by Anita Mae Draper (Romantic Refinements) pairs up Brandon, an injured and soulful Texas Ranger now turned ranch foreman, and Marion, a rancher’s daughter, in the style of Sense and Sensibility. Brandon is a swoony hero who is loyal, dedicated, and hardworking but carries physical scars of his Ranger days as well as emotional scars. Marion is a young finishing school graduate who needs to learn emotional stability and maturity. I have to say Brandon was my favorite character in the book and loved watching him overcome his fears and sense of helplessness.
The next novella by Susanne Dietze (One Word from You) pairs up Eliza, a finishing school student whose family desperately needs money, and Will, a railroad tycoon hardened to the idea of love, in the style of Pride and Prejudice. Eliza has much pride and prejudice that she needs to overcome; Will also has some that he needs to address as well. Will is a kind-hearted soul who needs to learn to forgive and extend grace. In that sense, Eliza helps him break down the walls around his heart.
The last novella by Debra E Marvin (Alarmingly Charming) pairs up Kathryn, a kind and sensitive wallflower, and Harmon, a rancher and an engineer, in the style of Northanger Abbey. Kathryn is sweet and kind but also a doormat; while visiting Austin’s finishing school, she resolved to stand up for herself and be less timid. Harmon gets into a competition for Kathryn’s attentions with his cousin Jonathan but realizes that he needs to resolve some old family conflict prior to pursuing Kathryn for selfless love’s sake and not for competition’s sake. There is a bit of mystery regarding a graveyard in the story as well.
Anyone who enjoys stories loosely based on Jane Austen’s famous books would love this collection. The novellas read like full-length novels and are quite enjoyable.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from WhiteFire Publishing. I was not required to write a favorable review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and subjective.
I am a huge Jane Austen fan; consequently there are great retellings or horrible ones—there is no middle ground. I always approach them with some trepidation, but a novella collection of Austen rewrites was just too much for me to resist. Happily, these stories both honored the original novels and added some of their own Texas flavor to create a delightful reading experience.
Each author takes one of Austen’s beloved novels and relocates it to Austin, Texas in the late 1800s. The character names are changed, but similar enough that we have no trouble piecing them with their alter-egos. The only confusing part happens when some characters have the same name, but vastly different personalities from Austen’s original, for example, the headmistress of the Abbey, Mrs. Collins, is a widow in the collection. From the description, her husband was nothing like the Mr. Collins who inhabits the nightmares of single women everywhere.
Because the readers ostensibly know the stories each novella is based on, the authors are able to concentrate on aspects of the original novel that intrigued her. These are small slices of time that emphasize the romance of each book; while some things remain the same, sometimes details change and the focus is different, but I enjoyed seeing the journey each writer took the characters on.
One of my favorite parts of this collection is how the authors worked together to interweave the characters from one story to another, incorporating characters from other Austen novels into the rewrite they were doing. It expands Austen’s story world, in a way, populating it with characters from all of her work, creating a place to visit with any of our friends regardless of their original boundaries.
Each author lovingly incorporates the spirit of Austen’s work while at the same time making the story uniquely her own. It is the best possible formula when writing a sequel or derivative work that has such a devoted following. I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation—now, bring on the second novella collection!
I received an electronic copy from the author in exchange for this honest review. All of the opinions are my own, and I have received no further compensation for sharing them.