Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight

Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight
Get It | Add It
Contemporary/Romance/Jane Motherlovin Austen Adaptation, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 29th 2013 by Kensington
Steamy, funky, and thoroughly modern, Austin, Texas isn’t much like the gardened country estates of Jane Austen’s work. But there might be a few similarities in its inhabitants…

Cate Kendall is no stranger to daydreams of brooding men and fancy parties—after all, she teaches one of her beloved Jane Austen novels in her English classes every year. But as for romance or adventure in her own life, the highlight of most weeks is Scrabble with her cute coworker, Ethan, and he draws the line at witty banter. But Cate is ready for a change. When she finds a mysterious journal that seems to have a link to the soul of the great Jane Austen herself, she knows it’s her chance. And she grabs on with both hands…

Before she knows it, Cate has invented an alter ego with an attitude, attended some seriously chic soirees, and gotten tangled up with a delicious mystery man. And she’s uncovered enough unexpected secrets about Ethan that her Scrabble partner has taken to brooding looks and unfathomable silences. It’s a positively Austenite predicament, and Cate is sure she’ll land in hot water and heartbreak—but maybe not with Jane herself to guide her…

I mentioned at the end of my quirky little interview with Alyssa that this book is perfect for those looking for a good time.
That sounds like something you'd find written on a bathroom wall.*
I don't mean that kind of good time. (Probably.) I mean, Austensibly Ordinary is super fun and engaging; the tone and voice were excellent, the main characters were lively, and Alyssa's writing was cheeky, flirty and hilarious. No matter the plot, no matter if the word "romance" makes you cringe, I think characters you connect with are what sell a book - people will put up with just about anything when the characters are lively and engaging, and Cate absolutely is. Exactly what you want when you're looking for a good-time book. And a romance that doesn't take itself too seriously is certainly something I look for, and it's rare that I find it, so that sorta makes me want to sing its praises.

And speaking of things rarely found in romances that makes me want to dance around like a fool sing praises, this actually kept me guessing, which is INCREDIBLY rare for me in general, but especially in anything of the romance variety. It's almost unheard of. (I mean, a romance that actually surprised me on multiple occasions? WHAT IS THIS WITCHERY?)  Now, some of these surprises might stretch credibility a little too far for some readers, but really, for any absurdities or lack of believability in the story, I never - not once - cared. Like, for real, at all, couldn't have cared less because I was enjoying myself. This book is just too damn fun to be bothered by any plot points that might usually give me pause, or any obvious wish-fulfillment. And isn't that was this type of book is all about anyway? It's a Jane Austen adaptation, for god's sake - of course there's a healthy dose of wish-fulfillment. But this isn't the cheesy, eye-rolly kind; it's the mmmm, why didn't any of my teachers look like Ethan Chavez? kind - Cate's adventures as her alter-ego, Cat Kennedy,** are the pinnacle of conscious wish-fulfillment, and it was delightful.

One of the things that surprised me was that this has a tinge of magical realism to it, but not in the traditionally weighty way. There's no grandoise meaning; I also hesitate to call it paranormal, or anything like that, though those elements are there. But Goodnight uses a soft touch with these elements; they're a means to an end and a way to enhance the fantasy of the story, but they're not the focus, and so the story doesn't get bogged down in them.  At its heart, this is just a good old fashioned romance, pulling in Jane Austen's Emma to great effect, but balancing it with a good dose of pop culture and - of all things - spy fic, and tying it together with a pretty magical realist bow. It's ridiculous how well it all works. (I mean, Jane Austen and Alfred Hitchcock? And it somehow makes sense together? Again, WHAT IS THIS WITCHERY?) All of this adds to the lighthearted, quirky tone of the story, but beyond that, it makes the book appeal to a broader audience, kind of pulling everyone in along the way, and I liked that.

All in all, the book is peopled with interesting, fleshed-out characters, a good sense of place (Austin, TX), a fun mash-up of elements, and a fantastically fun voice. And the healthy dose of supah-sexah doesn't hurt, either... Highly recommended for fans of Austen adaptations, fun contemporary romance, or those in need of a good funk-breaker book.

*For a good time, call Alyssa Goodnight. Or maybe call Cate-as-Cat? Definitely call Ethan; so say the ladyparts.
** Yes, I know. It adds a whole other layer of hilarious to read about the sassy exploits of a character who shares a name with someone you know... Though I'm sure Kat would approve of Cat's sass.


  1. Bahaha, best beginning to a review ever.

    I think I'm glad my teachers didn't look like Ethan Chavez, because then I'd have to feel like a pathetic creeper all through school. Best not. He was so extra super yum. Oh, I want one. :)

  2. Yeah, maybe it wouldn't have been a good idea for my teachers to look more like Ethan Chavez... though I would have gone to school more often.

  3. Great review! I actually ran out and bought this one (which I rarely do) - can't wait to dig into it!

  4. Awesome! You'll have to let me know what you think of it. =)

  5. This sounds delightful!
    A fun, quirky read that doesn't take itself seriously AND keeps you guessing AND has some magical realism AND has good, believable characters? It's like you just dangled bacon in front of my nose!

  6. I love a book that keeps you guessing! Can't wait to read this one.


Tell me all your thoughts.
Let's be best friends.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...