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Holidays with Jane: Thankful Hearts (Volume 5) Paperback – November 6, 2016
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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1) A Persuasive Visitor: Celia Gray: [Rating: Moderate]: ends at 13%
“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.” Jane Austen, Persuasion
Dr. Anne Elliot pediatric doctor took the advice of Dr. Russell, her advisor, mentor, division chief and ended her budding relationship with Patrick Wentworth. This story picks up eight years later where he works with the national park service as a firefighter or smoke-jumper, to be more precise. I really liked this story. It was steamy but it held true to the tone of Austen’s Persuasion.
2) North By Northanger: Jessica Grey: ends at 32%
“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Kate Moore came from a sports family. Her father was a coach, she had a softball scholarship at Abbey College, and her brother, James Moore, was a famous football star [quarterback for the NFL]. Henry Taylor, a theology student, invites her home for Thanksgiving. There she meets his mother, NY [2nd term] State Senator Bethany Taylor, and his sister Lana, who is 17-years old. This was a cute clean story that kept the character of Austen’s story and the HEA we expect. There are limitations as the characters are young… so, we really only have the early stages of their relationship.
3) Second Time’s the Charm: Nancy Kelley: ends at 50%
“The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much.” Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Marianne Dashwood believes in ‘One True Love.’ When Will Hoffman, [her one true love], turns out to be a dud, she is thrown into a tailspin. Neighbor and friend Brandon Collins comes to her rescue and tries to show her that not all is lost. I love the use of the names from canon in Allenham College and Delaford University. Characters remain true to Austen’s blueprint. We have the romantic Marianne, steadfast Elinor, conflicted Edward, and a Lucy Steele that is not averse to using modern technology to secure her man. This was so cute.
4) Thanksgiving on Hartfield Street: Jennifer Becton: ends at 66% [Rating: Steamy]
“It’s such a happiness when good people get together.” Jane Austen, Emma
Our author did something I’ve not seen before. This story is from the POV [point-of-view] of Harriet who is Emma’s adopted sister. She is Harriet [Addy] Smith Woodhouse, doctor of veterinary medicine. This switch was so cool.
Emma Woodhouse worked at a tiny local TV station [Channel Four] as a nightly news anchor. And like canon was a tiny bit meddlesome... OK… she was a lot meddlesome. She loved to meddle help others be the best they could be. She refuses to think that Martin Roberts [farmer/rancher] is good enough for her sister Addy. And Liam Knightley will help Emma adjust to her mistakes.
Philip Elton, attorney, is running for City Council and is trying to wheedle funds from the wealthy Mr. Woodhouse. August is his campaign manager. Yeah, right. Brick-House Gyms: partnership between Dr. Perry Brickman and Mr. Woodhouse... that was a cool twist. Frank Churchill [his stage name… yeah] works with Jane Fairfax: producer Channel Four… you can see where this is going. Cute story with a HEA that we just knew would happen.
5) Melanie Perceived: A Mansfield Park Story: Rebecca M. Fleming: ends at 79%
“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
College Campus News ‘The Lion’s Den’: Melanie Frances [Frankie] Price, Eddie Bertram: editor-in-chief. We have MaryJo Crawford and Hank Crawford: editor… I enjoyed the college feel to this. However, it didn’t grab me as Mansfield Park does, even though the author tried to remain true to the story line and characterization.
6) The Construction of a Heart: Melissa Buell: ends at 98%
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
I loved this story because Pride & Prejudice is my favorite Austen story. Meryton Chamber of Commerce calls on local businesses to host the annual All-Town Thanksgiving Feast. This year’s hosts are Bennet Homes and Pemberley Estates… rivals in the construction and renovation business. I loved all our characters even with the slight name changes. I did not think it distracted from the story. Their characteristics remained true to canon and their behavior was consistent with their roles in P&P. I always love seeing how Darcy and Elizabeth get together.
I hope you find this breakdown helpful!
A PERUASIVE VISITOR – Cecilia Gray
- The Premise: Dr. Anne Elliot has an important career decision to make during her Thanksgiving break. But her plans for quality time with her family are destroyed when she discovers an ex-boyfriend (that she terribly regrets breaking up with) is invited to her sister’s house for dinner!
- What I Loved: That Anne was at a crossroads similar to the one she experienced when dating Patrick before medical school. I also loved the flashbacks to Anne’s and Patrick’s steamy summer interlude and their palpable chemistry. However, I did wish the present-day story moved a little slower.
NORTH BY NORTHANGER – Jessica Grey
- The Premise: Kate is spending Thanksgiving Break with her…boyfriend? (not sure, no labels yet) and meeting his family the first time. But with the tense atmosphere and cold formality coming from Henry’s politician mother, Cate doesn’t experience the warmest of welcomes…
- What I Loved: That this story began right in the thick of it with Kate and Henry already a couple. I loved that Henry’s strict parent was a matriarch (and not patriarch) and that the whole “suspecting-the-parent-of-something-terrible” incident was refreshingly different! The flashbacks were lovely and Henry’s sweet banter with Kate gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies. One of my faves!
SECOND TIME’S THE CHARM – Nancy Kelley
- The Premise: Even after having her heart broken, Marianne vows that Will was her “once-in-a-lifetime-love.” But little does she know that her quiet next door neighbor Brandon Collins is hoping she will give him a chance…
- What I Loved: I <3 Marianne and Brandon stories! I enjoyed seeing a lot of Brandon’s thoughts throughout his encounters with Marianne. I love how Marianne was focused on matchmaking her sister with Edward (partly as a distraction from her own heartache), and how Brandon stepped in to give her some needed advice. Yay for Brandon!
THANKSGIVING ON HARTFIELD STREET – Jennifer Becton
- The Premise: Even though Harriet knows her sister Emma means well with her meddling and pushy ways, she has had enough. During her trip home for Thanksgiving this year, Harriet finally has the chance to turn the tables a little…
- What I Loved: It’s a Harriet/Robert Martin story – how unique!!! And what a unique switch to see Harriet as Emma’s adopted sister. I loved the friends-to-lovers evolution between Harriet and Martin, how Harriet only faked being ditzy, the clever enterprise Mr. Woodhouse co-owns with Dr. Perry, and, last but not least…GIANT JENGA! Yasssss! One of my faves!
MELANIE PERCEIVED – Rebecca M. Fleming
- The Premise: Melanie and Eddie have been neighbors and best-of-friends for over a decade. And while Melanie wished their relationship would develop into something more, it looks like Eddie has never thought of her in that way…
- What I Loved: College life, campus newspaper, photography, football – I really liked the theme and setting of this story. I appreciated how Melanie wasn’t timid and shy, and instead stood up for herself. Also, I loved Melanie’s relationship with the football-loving, kind-hearted ‘Grampa Jamie’.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF A HEART – Melissa Buell
- The Premise: Two rivaling construction businesses are asked to share the honor of hosting the annual All-Town Thanksgiving Feast. The teams from Bennet Homes and Pemberley Estates find it a little challenging to work together and blend their different styles…
- What I Loved: Witnessing all the planning sessions and menu preparations for the big day. It is heartwarming to see a community work like this to celebrate Thanksgiving together. I enjoyed how both Jane and Elizabeth are very involved with their family business, and also have dreams of other types of career paths. However, I thought the Lydia/Wickham incident felt a little implausible.
I’m continuously amazed by all the unique and clever directions these authors take with Jane Austen’s characters, and how they can skillfully construct a fulfilling and satisfying tale into such a compact story. These Thanksgiving tales are as vibrant as the changing leaves, as warm as your favorite flannel, and as sweet as some hot apple pie! I highly recommend!