A Small Town Play Production with Big Movie Stars!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Birthday Gift
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Modern-day Pride and Prejudice
SETTING: Summer Hill, Virginia
SYNOPSIS: When big-time Hollywood heartthrobs Tate Landers and Jack Worth come to the quiet country hamlet of Summer Hill for a month’s respite, it stirs some excitement. Especially when both actors decide to take part in a play production of Pride and Prejudice that is being put on for charity! With one of the town’s wealthiest members, Kit Montgomery directing the play, it seems everyone is getting involved. Including chef Casey Reddick, who recently left her stressful job of running a high-profile restaurant in Washington D.C. Although, Casey thought she would only be providing food for the cast and crew. Now it looks like she has a role in the play itself! And guess who she is starring against….the obnoxiously rude celebrity actor who had the audacity to insult her, break into her home, and eat one of her pies!
WHAT I LOVED:
- Pride and Prejudice within Pride and Prejudice: As with Melissa Nathan’s Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field, this story is about a group of characters putting on a theatrical, and it is amusing to see the parallels with Jane Austen’s masterpiece appear in the play and in real life! I especially enjoyed the new directions the director took with his production – like when he tells Darcy to reveal his longing and emotions to the audience with his expressions when Elizabeth isn’t looking, and the surprise alterations and improvisations that happened on opening night! And how the audience reacted to these changes. 🙂
- Charming Setting: I love the idea of a small town named Summer Hill. And it was just as enchanting as it sounds with a large plantation home, guest cottages, blackberry patches that hide well houses, and memories of people visiting and spending summers here long ago.
- Multiple Romances: Just like with Jane Austen’s novel, there are several couples that are spotlighted in this story. But only a few of them are the same! (Sorry no Collins/Charlotte relationship here.) I really enjoyed the unique twists to some of these relationships – the new obstacles some couples need to overcome (Jane and Bingley), the surprising alterations (Wickham/Georgiana/Lydia), and the past intrigue (Mrs. Bennet). I loved the inventive and refreshing developments Ms. Deveraux implemented with her story. Instead of feeling predictable, it kept me guessing!
- Compelling and Absorbing: This book is definitely a page-turner! With its inviting setting and delicious chemistry between characters The Girl From Summer Hill was hard to put down! I loved the fast-paced action, captivating drama, and intriguing reveals!
- Part of a Saga: It is stated that this book is the beginning of a series that doesn’t have any other books yet (this story is stand alone). However, it looks like some of the characters from this story (Olivia and Kit) are featured in another book – As You Wish. It would be awesome if the next book in the Summer Hill series had some Jane Austen ties too – with some nods to Persuasion? 😉
WHAT I WAS AMBIVALENT ABOUT:
- Tate Landers (Darcy): There was a lot I loved about this Darcy – his sense of humor, his playfulness with his niece, and how he does so much for those he loves. But at the same time there were some things that I wasn’t too fond of – like his come ons to Casey (that just doesn’t feel like Darcy) and his quoting romantic passages from his movies (sorry, that is more lazy than it is romantic). But perhaps the author was trying to illustrate how unfamiliar/unpracticed Tate is with pursuing women since he is always the one being pursued?
WHAT I WASN’T FOND OF:
- Small Quibbles: Just a few little things that bothered me a little, like: how sometimes the dialogue felt a little unnatural, Devlin Haines’ (Wickham) farfetched scheme, and Tate’s farfetched responding ploy to apprehend Haines – especially when he started to feel remorse/pity towards Devlin (really, after all he has done?)
Note: Due to a few brief romantic scenes, I’d recommend this story for readers over the age of 14.
As I have never read a novel by Jude Deveraux before, the main draw for me to read this story was its ties to Pride and Prejudice. But after reading The Girl from Summer Hill and enjoying the multi-layered storyline, intertwining family relationships, detailed histories, and charming eventfulness of small-town life I am definitely inclined to read more novels by Jude Deveraux! Hopefully she will write more installments for this series soon!