(Other reviews: )
One of my Erika’s, who is also a librarian, an Austen fan, and my weekly date for trashy reality TV shows so when she asked if I had read this new release as of yet, I said no but immediately set on getting it.
The concept of Austen and reality TV really hits the mark with me as it covers two of my favorite subjects.
In the beginning, I was irritated with Phaedra with her billowing Regency gowns and ballet slippers. It was a bit too on the nose for me. Phaedra’s argument is that by wearing Regency clothes as she teaches gives an “Immersive experience,” which seems kind of fun, the irritation began when it seemed that she wore Regency gear all the damned time. It’s in the 21stC and yes, while there may be those who wish it were back in the 1810s, you would be hard pressed to find someone who actually honestly wants to live in pre-electricity, air con, and contemporary indoor plumbing days. Oliver it seems gave up the idea of having Phaedra always in Regency mode when she started introducing Phaedra wearing contemporary clothes, driving a Mini, and having a laptop and cellphone. Thank god.
The mystery was solid and there were a few twists and turns that Oliver took you down that was interesting. Nothing too obvious or out of sync with the character, which was good. The settings seemed genuine and believable and nothing seemed to be too stretch of the immagination.
I did adore several things about the book:
- Name checks of Pride and Prejudice characters sprinkled throughout the like Phaedra’s cat Wickham and her best friend’s maiden name is Lucas
- Oliver set Phaedra up with not one but two potential love leads. Neither seem to strike particularly smarmy such as Wickham and both seem to be as haughty as Darcy so it’ll be interesting to see where this goes
The one massive hiccup is that the use of the “Jane Austen Tea Shop” group was sparse and Phaedra didn’t really need them to suss out the murder so to name it as such and attempt it as such was a bit of a misnomer.
tl;dr Overall the book was a fast read and was sturdy in its compensation. Nothing too obvious seemed to be off and the ends of mystery tied up a bit nicely. The writing was competent. Austen fans who happen to be cozy mystery fans will love this and the series is worth exploring.