Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.
But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.
Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.
Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Sexual assault, Alcohol, Domestic abuse, Mention of rape
Booklist (September 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. When Vicky, more properly known as Lady Victoria Aston, receives the unwelcome news that she must find a husband soon to secure her family’s ancestral home estate—and, thus, safety—she takes on the burden and participates in the London social season with determination. But no spirited young woman would willingly marry a milksop, a mountebank, or a cad. And sadly, Tom, the childhood friend she secretly loves, seems strangely distant since his return from the Continent. Meanwhile, who’s behind the accidents and attacks targeting Vicky? Can she unmask the villain before it’s too late? Vicky’s frequent references to Jane Austen’s novels will charm readers who love them as much as she does. The story brims with Austen-like characters, dilemmas, and turns of phrase. Vicky’s emotional turmoil will ring true for today’s readers, though her feisty responses to physical attacks are less believable in an era when young ladies lacked training in the art of self-defense. Putting such quibbles aside, contemporary fans of the Austen novels and their screen adaptations will relish this rousing, late Georgian romance.
Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2019)
A Regency-era teen needs to find a husband to save the family estate—provided someone doesn’t murder her first. When 17-year-old Lady Victoria Aston’s older sister, Althea, flees her abusive husband, Viscount Dain, Victoria’s parents tell her she must marry soon: Without Vicky’s erstwhile husband as a possible heir, should her father die before Althea’s separation can be legally recognized, his estate and title would default to Dain. But someone seems intent on harming Vicky: She’s attacked by a stranger and later survives a mysterious carriage accident. Tom Sherborne, her old friend and neighbor returned from years in exile after succeeding to his father’s title, saves her both times. But Vicky’s still angry that Tom dropped their friendship when he left five years earlier. As various suitors vie for her hand, Vicky has one question: What would Jane Austen’s heroines do? Cohen’s debut is lighthearted and well researched, but a lack of focus—is it mystery? Romance?—keeps it from being a page-turner. The central conceit—that Vicky draws inspiration from Fanny Price, Elizabeth Bennet, Marianne Dashwood, etc.—only muddles the story, as it’s likely going to be lost on many YA readers who may not know who these characters are. There are mentions of India, the West Indies, and abolition, but all characters seem to be white. Not scary, not sexy, not quite enough. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)
About the Author
Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual. Her website is www.JenniekeCohen.com.
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