Synopsis: While Chloe Parker thought she just became a contestant on an immersion documentary with a trivia contest, she was actually signing on for a Jane Austen-style reality dating show. How could a thirty-nine-year-old divorced woman with a daughter and a failing business become a debutante American heiress? The other seven contestants were all younger and much more likely to be chosen by Mr Wrightman, the show’s “Darcy”, thus winning the prize money and the man, but Chloe has something to prove…
Author: Karen Doornebos was an award-winning copywriter who lived in London, but this member of the North American Jane Austin Society eventually switched to tea and Chicago to write her first novel.
Cover: The front cover is split into three sections; the bottom is a faded depiction of an estate home, the central is the title information with some scrollwork, and the top is the bottom hem of a dress and the soles of a pair of shoes resting on the grass. Though I still cannot figure out why there is a woman lying on the lawn, the art is oddly eye catching.
Pages: Though the novel is not overly long at just over 300 pages, this is not a book that can be read in one sitting. And while the pages do not have that uncut feel to them, the outside edge is oddly more feathery than the usual laser cut –possibly attempting to give them a suggestion of being a hand-cut book like those mentioned within.
Hook: It is time-travel without the disbelief, and a pretty good look at how it would be should a modern female have been planted into a twisted version of a Jane Austen novel.
Setting: Placed in the English countryside, and mimicking the regency era fairly closely. There are no electronics, running water, or even deodorant. What there is consists of bedpans with rags, needlework, and horse-drawn carriages.
Pacing: While the 1800s had a much hectic pace than the 21st century, Chloe always managed to get into some form of hijinx that could make even the tedium of the 19th century become amusing.
Romance: It may seem unlikely that a woman would fall in love with brothers, and that they in turn might both feel some affection back, but when you are stranded at a house party –consisting of eight women, two men, and a bunch of servants- it vastly limits your choices. Not to mention, there is a large sum of money at stake that depends on attaining the ever-elusive and most coveted proposal. Somehow, this book makes it work though a bit more believable in some relationships than in others.
Personal Thoughts: While not quite the expected fairy-tale, or rather Jane Austin-esque, ending that is expected of a romance, it is still very hopeful and thus redeeming the finish. I did not quite like how the finale was unfolding, but the very last page actually makes a sequel more possible than the anticipated close would have.
Quote: “It’s not about the manners. It’s about the man… Or maybe it’s about the money”
The Verdict: It is quirky and fun; a great read that depicts the brutal reality of living in the regency era along side the beautiful gowns and swoon-worthy gallantry. I do hope there will be a continuation of Chloe’s misadventures in England.
How would you do if you were living in the year 1812? Could you survive or would you rather stick to cars and cell phones?