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Whispered Kisses Paperback – February 12, 2015
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About the Author
Sarah Johnson is a professional juggler in the circus of life! Married to her own Mr Darcy for sixteen years, they traveled the world thanks to the US Army. Now back in the civilian life and settled in Texas, where she grew up, they focus on homeschooling their six children and participating in church and community activities. She can often be found writing a manuscript between spills, science labs, and pencil wars, or late into the night when the house is finally still enough for her imagination to run wild! When she has a few spare moments, she enjoys just about anything crafty - scrapbooking, painting, sewing, quilting, crocheting - basically anything except knitting, a craft she swears few left-handers truly ever pick up well. A devotee of all things Jane Austen, she enjoys exploring the story lines Jane never lived long enough to give the world. She is often found discussing with her online friends the intricacies of the novels we do have from our dearest author. It is these discussions that often lead to the plot bunnies that have now become many stories over the last few years, and hopefully further into the future as well.
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Elizabeth arrives home to the bosom of her family. It seems that Elizabeth is a writer and spends her time [like most writers] in her head concocting story ideas and then writing them down. During one of her long walks Elizabeth sees the same London delivery boy bringing her another posy of flowers. They are not the blue flowers that she received from London but wild flowers. She decides to put them in her hair for the Meryton Assembly Ball they are attending that night.
Mr. Bingley, who has let Netherfield, has returned from a recent trip to London and brought with him a party of relatives and friends to the Meryton Assembly. As readers of JAFF we suspect who is sending the flowers and who will be in the Bingley party when they arrive at the Ball.
The tone of the book is romantic and sweet even though the pace moves the action fairly quickly. With only 8 chapters, that doesn’t leave much time to sort out the rising action. You suddenly find yourself at the climax and then the falling action to the conclusion. At some point you want to yell, “Wait! What the heck happened.” There were many surprises with characters and I was surprised at how the author handled them.
The action with Wickham was a total surprise. I’ve not seen it done before. Being of a suspicious nature, I kept waiting for the ax to fall. Our trust issues with the Wickham character spans hundreds of books where his behavior ranges from slightly annoying to an outright maniac with murderous tendencies. The riff between Darcy and Wickham was evident as soon as they encounter each other in Elizabeth’s presence. Her curious nature regarding their riff has her putting herself in danger as she agreed to meet Wickham alone. She then decided to mediate between him and Darcy as she wants to hear both sides of their story. This was so dangerous. If we had been in a theater, this is the point where someone would yell out, “Don’t do it. Don’t go there alone.”
The end result of that encounter was a total shock and surprise. Due to the rushed nature of this short work, it truly felt rushed. To resolve something that had been going on for years in such a short time did not feel plausible. Darcy own nature would have resisted… his good opinion once lost… was just shot down in one attempt. Other than that, I enjoyed reading this work.
I loved the language, the feel of the story as it evolved. I liked how the author used Elizabeth’s own words to convey emotions, feelings and desires. I liked the tone of the story. Elizabeth, the writer, created a plethora of words in describing her perfect admirer. She had it all worked out in her head. She knew just how it would be to the point she was looking forward to meeting him. Her descriptions were swoon worthy and I loved hearing her thoughts play out. Yeah, it was good.
Thank you for the pleasure, Sarah.
Like other reviewers observed, the book is sickly sweet. Every bit of intrigue and complication that Ms. Austen used to create the rich world of Pride & Prejudice was completely obliterated, sometimes in overly convenient one-sentence write-outs. For example, Mr. Collins decides not to visit because Elizabeth is sick; Bingley's sisters are only mentioned in one short paragraph describing the ball at Meryton; and the first mention of Charlotte Lucas has her appearing at Elizabeth's side only to leave her in the very next sentence without saying a word. Granted Charlotte does play a larger role later, but it seemed like the author wrote her in out of obligation than any real plot purpose. There are similar problems with Mr. and Mrs. Bennett and Lady de Bourgh, although the latter two as well as the Bennett siblings are highly marginalized. But these are minor irritants compared to other blaring problems.
The lack of three-dimensional, in-depth character development was cringe-worthy. Even though P&P variants have the advantage of readers already knowing the players and scenes, authors still owe readers an attempt at living up to Ms. Austen's vivid personas. The frequent references to Elizabeth writing stories brought to mind more Fanny Price than the quick witted, sharp tongued Bennett. And Darcy's morosity was so out of character as to seem like a completely different, original character instead of the beloved proud and proper gentleman.
Other reviewers also focused on Wickham's reparation, but it like Darcy's mourning and the mysterious delivery of Elizabeth's flowers were actually *refreshing* concepts. If only a little more care had been taken into fleshing out these plots, Whispered Kisses could have been one of the best P&P variants available. There are actually 2 very strongly written scenes that are obviously the author's self-described "plot bunny" inspirations. But instead of giving the entire novella the same treatment as these scenes, there was only a little build up that fell flat as each also was quickly resolved before any intrigue could turn the story into an exciting page turner.
The last major offenses had to do with grammatical errors and sophomoric sentence structure. Later chapters had several comma splices and incorrect grammatical numbering, i.e. gentlemen instead of gentleman. The rich language of Regency England is almost completely nonexistent in lieu of more modernized prose and dialogue. Then there is the problem of present day liberties enacted by multiple characters that would have resulted in scandal and compromising situations leading to rushed marriages or ruined ladies. The break in the very prim, well-mannered societal norms of the 1810s is especially surprising after learning the author is a self-proclaimed Jane Austen devotee.
Even though there are a few positives to Whispered Kisses, they couldn't outweigh all the wince-inducing negatives. The only reason I chose to write this review was so that others wouldn't get sucked in by the many positive, fluff reviews that are completely misleading. In good conscience, I cannot recommend this book to anyone. It definitely is not worth $0.99 that Amazon usually charges for these types of novellas, much less the $3.25 Amazon charged at the time of purchase. It honestly should be free as part of the Kindle Lender's Library if nothing else. Skip this one and go after one of the many other P&P variants.