Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy for Author
Is it dangerous to believe in for storybook romances and happily ever afters?
Jane, an event coordinator at North Abbey, a charming resort in Southern California, is a hopeless romantic who is still waiting for her storybook romance to happen. For awhile she thought her co-worker Austen would become the real-life hero of her dreams. But when he leaves to take a new job in Boston and does not leave with a romantic declaration of love in the rain, Jane realizes, quite painfully, that his regard for her was in no way equal to hers for him.
Eighth months later Austen returns, just as Jane’s biggest and most elaborate event is about take place. Taylor Weston, Jane’s closest friend and mentor is about to marry Chuck Bigley, a man she met through an online dating site called “Em’s Matchmakers.” And they are celebrating in style with a weeklong extravaganza that has Jane up to her eyeballs with work, preparation, and bridezilla drama. Through this event Jane and Austen are often thrown together and they can’t help but constantly debate with and antagonize each other. But when both characters start to feel like their own lives are playing out like a romantic novel, they put their differences aside and try to survive this baffling and turbulent week.
What a endearing and madcap romantic comedy of errors this novel is! I absolutely loved the premise – two opposite sides of the romantic spectrum constantly debating and trying to prove each other wrong. With such an extravagant wedding and a number of trying wedding guests, this tale was full of action, drama, and chaos! There is plenty going on, so be prepared for a fast-paced and exciting ride! I found it easy to keep up with the fast pace and thoroughly enjoyed going from one calamity or conflict to the next.
In a very unique way Stephanie Fowers pays homage to Jane Austen with the reconstruction and updating of many of her characters. The whole cast of characters is made up of a collection of Jane Austen characters from her six major novels. I had such fun discovering which personality each character resembled – sometimes it was not so obvious! I also love how romance blossomed between some characters unexpectedly and how new couples were formed (different from the couplings in Jane Austen’s novel). What fun! While this may be a large number of characters to follow and keep track of, I found their personalities so distinct and well-drawn that it was easy to distinguish them. My only complaint would be that some characters did seem to exaggerate just a tad and their actions sometimes were just a little over the top.
By far though, my favorite characters are Jane and Austen – the diehard romantic and the ever-practical unromantic. I love how they were both concerned for their friend Taylor and her unhappiness, and would often get in heated debates about romance, relationships, and reality. Jane, is adorable with her theories of how romance is made up of “meet cutes” and “moments.” She definitely is similar to Catherine Morland in regards to her imagination and firm belief of novels representing reality. And Austen, with his lecturing, cautions, and disabusing Jane of her romantic notions, strongly echoed Mr. Knightley to my mind! I was especially entertained by his rant on how romantic comedies and storybook romances feed you lies (as well as his spontaneous binge-watching of Jane Austen movie adaptations!)
I was “excessively diverted” with this novel! It constantly kept me on my toes, I was never sure of who was going to end up with who and where each persons’ hearts were leaning. Full of surprising twists, engaging characters, and an abundance of “moments” – this novel is a must read for all hopeless romantics!