There’s no place for pride in this Austen misadventure.
Chloe Parker was born two centuries too late. A thirty-nine-year- old divorced mother, she runs her own antique letterpress business, is a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society, and gushes over everything Regency. But her business is failing, threatening her daughter’s future. What’s a lady to do?
Why, audition for a Jane Austen-inspired TV show set in England, of course.
What Chloe thinks is a documentary turns out to be a reality dating show set in 1812. Eight women are competing to snare Mr. Wrightman, the heir to a gorgeous estate, along with a $100,000 prize. So Chloe tosses her bonnet into the ring, hoping to transform from stressed-out Midwest mom to genteel American heiress and win the money. With no cell phones, indoor plumbing, or deodorant to be found, she must tighten her corset and flash some ankle to beat out women younger, more cutthroat, and less clumsy than herself. But the witty and dashing Mr. Wrightman proves to be a prize worth winning, even if it means the gloves are off…
Let me say right off, this is not a parody. It’s more like a RomCom set in an Austen-like world. A RomCom that’s a mash-up of an English-style Bachelor, costume drama, and reality show all in one. And I really enjoyed it. The reality show portion reminded me of a PBS special I saw several years ago where everyday people tried to live like they were in the 1900’s (I think it was called The 1900 House), foregoing everything modern. *shudder* Not something I could do—I’m way too attached to my social media.
American Chloe Parker, our main character, wins a place on this Jane Austen-inspired show and, leaving her daughter behind with her parents, travels across the pond to transform herself into a proper Regency lady. She’s a bit put-out when she finds out that the show’s evolved into a Regency dating show but, unwilling and unable to go back home, she makes the best of it. It’s a good thing the bachelor’s easy on the eyes and a perfect gentleman. Of course, he’s not the one she keeps tripping over, though he’s the one she has to impress to stay on the show. It’s the other guy who makes her heart skip a beat.
Chloe has some serious trouble letting go of her connections to the modern world, especially since she can’t talk to her daughter on the phone, and this gets her in some trouble with the show’s producers. This fussing about her inability to access current technology gets a bit repetitive at times but also leads to some madcap-ery. (Yes, I just made that word up.)
The plotline itself is a bit predictable but I really liked Chloe—she’s a lot older than many romance books (being nearly the big 4-OH), she’s got a kid, and she’s not fit or gorgeous or perfect. The ending’s a bit too open-ended for me as I like all my T’s crossed and I’s dotted but it works for this story. DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY is a fun read—curl up next to the fire, your snuggie and a cup of tea and enjoy. Oh, and be happy you didn’t live in that time (it may seem romantic but, um, no.).
Rating: 3.75 out of 5.0