What to do after you have read all the Austen novels.
There are variations on her stories, but sometimes you don’t want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read or watch?
That’s why I started this series. I will review other books that have things we love about the Austen novels, but are something fresh, rather than a retelling.
A Love for Keeps (Brides of Arkansas #1) by Janet Lee Barton
This book takes place in Eureka Springs, Arkansas- year 1886 (70 years past Regency England). Megan Snow is the eldest of the three Snow daughters and with the death of their father, has tried to find a way to take care of her family. She has been approaching different banks in the hope of getting a loan in order to start her own dressmaking and designing building. Unfortunately, she has struck zero.
They approach the last bank, Connors Bank, in which the handsome and charming bank manager, Mr. Nathan Brooks, takes a chance on them. Mr. Nathan finds the Snow family to be very charming, and talented as Megan creates an amazing series of outfits for his daughter.
The two strike up a lot of conversations and Nathan finds himself drawn to Megan.
But Nathan has a sad past…his wife was killed in a fire and his daughter managed to just barely escape-being saved by his sister-in-law. He feels heavy guilt, as he was not there to save his wife. He has remained single due to this, but now is starting to open his heart.
There is more complications to this story as Abigail Conners, Nathan’s sister-in-law, is deeply in love with him. She has been when she first met him, far before he married her younger sister Rose.
Ever since the fire she has always felt it is her time, her chance-but unfortunately Nathan has continued to grieve. Now, to her delight, he is willing to consider marrying again, but at her chagrin-he is interested in Megan Snow! A dressmaker? A Merchant? Someone below their station? NOT ABIGAIL!!!
While Nathan tries to woo Megan, Abigail tries her best to dissuade Megan-pulling every plan in her arsenal to convince Megan she is not capable of becoming the next Mrs. Brooks.
As you can see this has quite a few elements of the Austen stories and characters for those who are fans. We have a great romantic character-with a sad heartbreaking backstory (making him even more romantic) like Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility or Captain James Benwick from Persuasion.
We have a lot of Pride and Prejudice as Nathan and Megan have a romance that crosses the social line-although the class system was much different in England than America.
And of course the number one thing, Abigail could be Caroline Bingley’s twin. The two are so similar in their scheming to get the man they love-from clothes to catch his eye, lying about things and engagements to dissuade the women, and any other scheme they can to get the guy to look and choose them over their rival.
A fun, clean, quick read that gives Austenian elements we love in a new story.
For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights