Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Our heroine, Lizzie Mansfield, single mother of two, former pastry chef, and ardent Janeite, spends her days earning a living as a legal secretary and her nights writing cooking mysteries about a pastry chef who solves crimes in San Francisco. Maintaining two jobs while shouldering the responsibilities of two children makes for a very stressful, eventful, and hectic life. To support her writing career, Lizzie attends several mystery conferences a year. Always in attendance with her at these conferences is her dear friend, Janie Eston, who also works as a legal secretary and writes brilliant historical mysteries for Longbourne Books.
Also attending the mystery conference circuit is William Pemberley, publisher and executive editor of Pemberley Publishing – who is well-known for being wealthy, intelligent, sought after, and of course, arrogant. Through his blog he has made it quite clear how much he despises cooking mysteries and neon orange covers (guess whose book he is insulting with this?) Joining William is his newly published star, Charles Netherfield, who as expected, is immediately interested and attracted to Janie Eston, bringing the four characters frequently together.
What a fun and inventive pastiche of Pride and Prejudice! I loved the integration of Jane Austen, crime novels, and the publishing world. I enjoyed exploring the many different facets of writing and the publishing world through this novel such as writer groups, conventions, and small publishing houses – I found it all very informative and interesting. As an avid reader, it was fun to be so immersed in the other side of the writing world!
Claire M. Johnson is a new author for me, and one thing I loved most about her book is her style of writing. I loved her matter-of-fact, conversational tone; like our beloved Jane she doesn’t mince words and there is some stinging acerbity to her observations. I also took great pleasure in all the clever forms of media included in the novel – it’s always fun to observe emails, texts, and blog posts being exchanged between several characters. In addition, I loved being privy to our heroine’s thoughts – she was utterly adorable and likable. Definitely reminded me of Bridget Jones with her list of neuroses, tendency to make lists, 😉 and talent for humiliating herself. However, she is not all Bridget, she is definitely more independent and happier with her single status than poor Bridge.
Besides our neurotic and flappable heroine, there are so many other well-crafted and wonderfully defined characters to enjoy in this tale. Every member of Lizzie’s family (including her kids) were given strong personalities and unique traits making them a very memorable, endearing, and delightful cast of characters! Loved the hilarious Elton Collins and his alter-ego, Mac (a stuffed Scottish terrier) and must mention the excitable Missy Longbourne (totally Mrs. Bennet) and her love of using exclamation points!!!!!!!!
My one main quibble for this book is that sometimes the pace felt too fast. I also thought the ending felt rushed and the conclusion a little incomplete. I’d love to know what happened between Musgrove and Theo, and I’m very curious about Fiona Barber and what her relationship was with William, she seemed to drop out of the book halfway through.
But despite that, I greatly enjoyed this original and entertaining modern-day tribute to Pride and Prejudice and I eagerly look forward to reading more by Claire M. Johnson!!
*WARNING: Some profanity is used in this novel.
**Also just wanted to make mention of the incredibly awesome chick-flick movie marathon playlist Lizzie and Janie established in college and, due to a horrible weekend, resurrected during this tale. Starting with To Catch a Thief and ending with It Happened One Night – a list of 18 movies full of adorable men, gorgeous women, and romance at its best! (Must try and watch all the ones I haven’t yet! Thanks for the recs, Claire!)
Claire has kindly offered some lovely treats for me to give away in conjunction with her author visit earlier this week!! The two prizes include a paperback bundle of each of Claire’s novels – Beat Until Stiff, Roux Morgue, and Pen and Prejudice – and another paperback of Pen and Prejudice for me to give away to 2 lucky winners!!!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review!
- This giveaway is open to residents in the US and CANADA! Thank you, Claire!
- This giveaway ends September 1st!
For another entry, leave a comment on my interview with Claire M. Johnson!