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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Austentatious

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Austentatious

Austentatious

Author: Alyssa Goodnight
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kensington
Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:
In this quirky, sexy novel set against the lively, music-filled backdrop of Austin, Texas, a young woman learns that romance can wreak havoc with even the best laid plans. . .

It started innocently enough. While browsing in one of Austin's funky little shops, Nicola James is intrigued by a blank vintage journal she finds hidden among a set of Jane Austen novels. Even though Nic is a straight-laced engineer, she's still a sucker for anything Austen-esque. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to disbelief once she starts writing in the journal--because somehow, it's writing her back. . .

Miss Nicola James will be sensible and indulge in a little romance. Those twelve tiny words hit Nic like a thunderbolt, as if her diary was channeling Austen herself! Itching for a bit of excitement, Nic decides to follow her "Fairy Jane's" advice. The result: a red-hot romance with a sexy Scottish musician who charms his way into Nic's heart in about five seconds flat.

Sean MacInnes is warm, funny, and happens to think Nic is the most desirable woman he's ever met. But a guy like Sean doesn't exactly fit into her Life Plan. With no one but Fairy Jane to guide her, Nic must choose between the life she thought she wanted--and the kind of happy ending she never saw coming. . ..


First Sentence: "As the song goes, there are 'miles and miles of Texas.'"

Review:
Ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice, back when I was somewhere around twelve or thirteen, I've been an unmitigated Austen fangirl. Dear readers, I know that right now, you are probably all either pumping the air in sisterly solidarity or rolling your eyes at how trite it is to be obsessed with Jane Austen. For me, there can never be anything remotely hackneyed in appreciating some of the wittiest, best-written literature ever composed, so you can say what you want, but you will not change my mind. As part of my obsession, I simply cannot resist any of these Austen-inspired novels, be they spin-offs, retellings, continuations, or merely quirky Austen-referencing romance novels, as is the case here. No matter how many bad ones I read, and believe me I've read some serious stinkers, I keep coming back for more. Thankfully, Austentatious proved to be entertaining and not to fall anywhere near the designation of 'stinker.'

The basic premise here is that Nicola James, scientist and Austen fan, has always lived her life according to plan. She does not believe in wasting time on Wentworths or Crawfords, and does not intend to step foot outside her carefully ordered life. In her early- to mid-twenties, Nicola's focusing on her promising career and has no interest in getting bogged down in a relationship just yet, as it might distract her and derail her from her ambitions. Life, of course, has other plans, because this is a romance novel; in real life, not being distracted by romance is laughably simple.

Nicola's character proved a bit difficult for me to really relate to, largely because I think the launching off point of the story should have been a bit earlier than it was. Because we meet her only just as her life is about to be thrown into chaos, we really only have Nicola's assertions, backed up by her friends', about how her life used to be. We don't get to see her being a capable scientist at work or turning down a possible romantic prospect because he doesn't fit her timeline. Nor do we really have any idea what her Plan looks like in detail or why men can't be a part of it. Personally, I think a prologue of her thirteen-year-old self creating the plan, and why the plan means so much to her, might have been really helpful in establishing her character.

Anyway, she finds this weird little journal at an antiques shop and buys it to give as a present. Then she spills on it, thus deciding to keep the journal for herself. She writes an entry and heads off to bed. Later, when she opens up the journal, she discovers that most of her entry has been erased, leaving only these words: "Miss Nicola James will be sensible and indulge in a little romance." Basically, this diary has apparently been channeled by the spirit of Jane Austen and wants to be her matchmaker or fairy godmother.

Listen, as I've already stressed, I love Austen, but I thought the Austen references were a bit weak, and not that well thought out. The quote-a-day Austen calendar was well-used, but the other references were mostly just to characters and really did not feel especially apt. I mean, Nicola compares Sean, her love interest, to Darcy, and he just is NOT a Darcy. I like him well enough, embarrassing tendency to serenade people in places not intended for such activities aside, but nothing about his personality says Darcy; he's outgoing and flirty, and convinced from moment one that he wants to be with Nic. Calling him a Darcy is a serious Austen gaffe. He's closest to Henry Tilney actually, though with a good dose of Willoughby or Crawford (only not the asshole bits). The journal's snippets did not read like Jane Austen either. I would have been happier had the journal been just a random spirit that Nicola chose to think of as Jane, rather than it actually being Jane, because that felt wrong to me.

Nicola did definitely need an invasion of excitement into her life, and a sexy Scottish man certainly fits the bill. I do like him as an influx into her life, to keep her from crushing on that awful boring guy at her office, but I'm not convinced of their compatibility. Of course, I might have more faith in their relationship if they weren't confessing love after just a couple of days. Instalove automatically lowers my belief in your actual feelings, guys. Go for it, by all means, but you do not need to be in love before you can decide to make space in your lives for one another. Try each other on for a while first, okay. Austen's heroines didn't immediately fall in love, did they? No, they didn't, except for Marianne, and we ALL know how that turned out.

Though I obviously had a lot of issues, Austentatious was an entertaining and quick read. Some of my three star reviews just come out sounding a lot more negative than they really are, but, honestly, this is one of the better Austen-inspired books I've read, if not in the use of said Austen. A lot of my problems stemmed from Nicola herself, and I hope that, in the next installment, I'll be able to relate more to the heroine. So far, I would recommend these books more for chick lit readers than hardcore Austen fans.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "After that, I slid into a dream involving a field of heather and some carelessly tossed skirts—it was impossible to tell whose, because he was most definitely wearing a kilt."

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8 Comments:

Blogger Jenni @ Alluring Reads said...

I have never read Jane Austen. Nope, actually I don't think I have read any of the classics. But it's really cool to see how fluent you are in the subject matter! It must be hard to read something like this being such a big fan of the work it is based off of. It's too bad it didn't start a little earlier so you got to know the MC a bit better.

November 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Do they not make you read classics in school in Canada? Seriously, how has this happened?

Also, I'm scary obsessed with Jane Austen. haha. :-p

November 27, 2012 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

Honestly, this seems kind of like an Austenite beach read, something with fluff that you pick up, read, and then forget the next day. I'd totally read it with that purpose in mind.

November 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Steena said...

I've read this! Oh my gosh, I'm so excited that I've read this and can comment upon it with authority.

I agree! I enjoyed reading this but it is not a substance book nor is it really an Austen book. This is a marshmallow book and would have been just as much fun to read without the Austen references. In such a case, I feel Goodnight just used the Austen name to reach a certain demographic. It was funny and sexy but the journal felt to me like the spirit of busybody Emma Woodhouse, not actually-often-sensible and sharp-tongued Jane Austen. I enjoyed it but it also left me wanting.

November 27, 2012 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

True. I know that I'm a harsh critic when it comes to Austen. She just means so much to me! This would be a great vacation read.

November 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Exactly. The Austen is what sold it to me, but I think, ultimately, it might have been better without them. Definitely not Jane at all. She would be more of an Emma, I agree.

I've got the next one, Austensibly Ordinary, for review, and I'm hoping I'll like the narrator a bit more. We shall see!

November 27, 2012 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Kat Balcombe said...

I've never read a Jane Austen book. Do you still loves me?

I've always WANTED to, but never got there. I think I probably should before reading adaptations though....

December 3, 2012 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

How have you not read Austen? DO IT. And if you hate her, don't tell me.

If you're interested in this one, I would read it pre-Austen.

December 4, 2012 at 9:35 AM  

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