I love Jane Austen, so I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Year Without a Summer. A historical mystery series based around Austen's life? Sign me up!
|Pub Date: 2-8-22|
Adult - Historical Mystery
It's May 1816, and the stress of family burdens and writing a new manuscript has finally started taking a toll on Jane Austen. Plagued with stomach issues, fatigue, and fevers, Jane is instructed by her local apothecary to rest and advises her to seek out the restorative waters at Cheltenham Spa. Jane decides to use some of the funds from her last book, and sets off with her sister, Cassandra, in tow.Jane was hoping for a quiet, peaceful respite, but Cheltenham Spa proves to be anything but. It's clear that the rest of the guests at the Spa have stresses, and secrets, of their own, and some prove to be deadly. After an incident at a masquerade ball turns into murder, Jane finds herself once again thrown together with the handsome artist Raphael West to solve the case. Can the pair uncover the culprit before it's too late?
I was hesitant going into this seeing as how it's the 14th installment of a series I'd never read before, but I quickly realized there was nothing to fear. There was never any point where I felt confused or didn't understand what was happening. I did get overwhelmed just given the huge cast of characters, but once I found my footing it didn't feel as daunting. I did find the first half very slow, but it picked up nicely by the second half. I enjoyed the mystery aspect and wasn't expecting it to be as twisty as it was. Mysteries aren't that fun to me if I can predict what's happening, but this one left me guessing which I appreciated. I also wasn't expecting an element of romance to be in this between Jane and West, but I thought it was lovely, and it tugs at your heartstrings. My favorite part of this was how much Barron nails Jane Austen. You could tell how much research she must've done into Austen's background to make the narrative sound so spot on and as if you were reading from her perspective. It felt very authentic. Overall, if you enjoy historical mysteries or Jane Austen, this series is one to check out.