These Book Club Belles are ready to put down their novels and find some real-life leading men!
In the sleepy village of Hawcombe Prior, five young ladies of the local book society are reading a salacious romance called Pride and Prejudice. Upon finishing the book, the ladies race to find their own Mr. Darcy, and the handsome, mysterious Darius Wainwright is the perfect mark.
Justina Penny can’t understand why her fellow Belles are starry-eyed in the newcomer’s arrogant presence. But if the town’s only eligible bachelor marries anyone, it should be her sweet, beautiful sister. And it’s up to Justina to make it happen. How could this plan possibly go wrong?
Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society, #1) by Jayne Fresina
This book did so many good things!
Something you should be aware of is that there is a free introductory novella to this series, and I really think it should be read first. There’s a whole crazy backstory for four of the characters and you’ll get much more out of the book by getting to know them that way.
Now, the funny thing is, I was really hesitant about Once Upon a Kiss. In the novella, our heroine is young, immature, a social disaster, and bordering on Too Stupid To Live.
However, something that impressed me so much about her was that she grew hugely from start to finish. In fact, both hero and heroine make extraordinary character developments throughout the book. I started off not all that thrilled with either, and finished loving them both.
This may be due in part to the fact the story is based on Pride and Prejudice. Because of this, it forces the characters to actually get to know each other and fall in love before going at it like rabbits. That thing – the falling in love – it was wonderful. I’m so glad to have read a love story rather than an anachronistic porn fest (don’t get me wrong – it’s not Jane Austen-chaste; it’s just believable for the era!).
Another thing I loved was the shy hero, Darius. He might have been based on Mr Darcy, but he was a different sort of creature. I loved his awkwardness, and felt really sorry for him a few times. I really liked him, and he is definitely one of the more memorable historical romance heroes I’ve read.
Justina, on the other hand, is a different sort of person to Elizabeth Bennet, but I appreciated that the author wasn’t just trying to recreate Austen’s characters.
I also liked that the author included dates on the 1815 calendar (e.g. a Friday the thirteenth when there actually was one). A small touch, but I appreciated it.
I’ve really loved some of this author’s books, while other have characters who are quite “out there”. This one had the out there characters but was also so much fun for me. If you’re not a fan of slightly antic-ridden historical romances, this might not be the one for you, however.
It turns out a series I wasn’t so sure about turned out to be one I’m really enjoying – even with the horrid cover! If the introductory novella doesn’t grab you, keep on reading anyway. The character evolution is impressive, and I bet there’ll be a lot of converts by the end of book one.