Katherine Roberts is fed up with men. As a lecturer specialising in the works of Jane Austen, she knows that the ideal man only exists within the pages of Pride & Prejudice and that in real life there is no such thing. Determined to go it alone, she finds all the comfort she needs reading her guilty pleasure – regency romances from the pen of Lorna Warwick – with whom she has now struck up an intimate correspondence.
Austen fanatic, Robyn Love, is blessed with a name full of romance, but her love life is far from perfect. Stuck in a rut with a bonehead boyfriend, Jace, and a job she can do with her eyes shut – her life has hit a dead end. Robyn would love to escape from it all but wouldn’t know where to start.
They both decide to attend the annual Jane Austen Conference at sumptuous Purley Hall, overseen by the actress and national treasure, Dame Pamela Harcourt. Robyn is hoping to escape from Jace for the weekend and indulge in her passion for all things Austen. Katherine is hoping that Lorna Warwick will be in attendance and is desperate to meet her new best friend in the flesh.
But nothing goes according to plan and Robyn is aghast when Jace insists on accompanying her, whilst Katherine is disappointed to learn that Lorna won’t be coming.
However, an Austen weekend wouldn’t be the same without a little intrigue, and Robyn and Katherine are about to get much more than they bargained for. Because where Jane Austen is concerned, romance is never very far away…
I am an Austen fan, I enjoy her books, but with the wealth of material out there to read I don’t re-read them all that often. Books about books I also enjoy and if that comes packaged in the form of a good story so much the better. This novel is a good story, does relate back to Jane, her life and her books, and does use the themes of her writing in its own weaving. On top of all that I thought this sounded like a bit of a giggle and it was that too, in particular the scene at the conference where Jace rides into the dining room on a horse!! I will leave it to you to find out more…
The blurb above covers the beginning of the story well and to tell you more I would have to include a huge spoiler! I saw it coming a few paragraphs early, but you can’t talk about the story much without giving the game away so I won’t do that.
Victoria has written interesting characters, I liked both Katherine and Robyn. Katherine has been a bit battered by her love life and brings that to the situations she finds herself in. As an Austen lecturer she is very knowledgeable and her thought s are often turning to Austen and Darcy in particular. She gives voice to that feeling that we might all have that it is unfortunate that there is only one Mr Darcy and no-one else quite seems to measure up. Robyn on the other hand has got stuck in a rut in her love life but is much more naïve than Katherine, and although she also is in love with the thought of Darcy she is romantic enough to believe it is possible (although maybe not for her…).
There is more than one love story in this story, which I enjoyed, shifting the focus between the two women also allowed Victoria to use different parts of Austen, falling in love with the wrong people, the help of chaperones, waiting for the right time and the right man, overcoming deceit, dealing with first impressions, following your own heart, not settling for second best and so on. I could see Persuasion, Emma, Pride and Prejudice themes all coming out. These themes are often there in romantic literature but with this being an Austen book you can’t help but feel this is not accidental. More than one love story also provides more good looking men to read about too!
Verdict: So in short, if you enjoy Austen (but are not snobby about it) and enjoy a good romance then you should definitely read this. A great light read.
Reviewed by Helen