In this contemporary rendition of the classic Jane Austen's Emma, Caroline is back hone in Thorny Hollow to take care of her fragile mother. Caroline had been a successful journalist but her father's death made her return home essential.
Her long time friend is Brooks, a professor of journalism at a nearby college. He is a bright spot in Caroline's life, a voice of sanity in a world of lemonade and bridge parties.
The settled world of Caroline and Brooks is rocked when a handsome fellow comes to town and asks Caroline to write copy for manga books at his up and coming digital publishing company. Brooks doesn't trust this fellow – or is he just jealous?
This novel is good southern romance. There are garden parties and southern belles to match. There are Civil War reenactments and homes full of antiques. There are good guys and bad guys and a few quirky ones too.
The characters were well presented. Brooks is a real southern gentlemen. He'll even buy a cake when he knows Caroline has messed up the one she baked for her mother's bridge club. He is so gentle he has trouble expressing his deep feelings for Caroline. And Caroline seems to be that typical southern woman who wants to fix others' lives. She does grow in the novel as she realizes her fix isn't always what is best for the other person.
This is the second in the series yet it can easily be read alone. I didn't find as much humor in this one as I did in the first novel. I did enjoy reading about the Civil War aficionados. Those guys (and gals) really get into character. This is a nice southern romance and will give additional pleasure to those who enjoy Austen's novels. The author has even included a couple of recipes at the end of the book.
Mary Jane Hathaway is the pen name of an award-nominated author. She is the homeschooling mother of six young children. She holds degrees in religious studies and theoretical linguistics. She and her family live in Oregon.
Howard Books, 336 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.