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Friday, August 2, 2019

Emma the Matchmaker by Rachel John — guest review from Sophia Rose!

Sophia Rose is no stranger to The Book Rat or the Austen In August audience, having been a guest poster & featured author in every AIA for the last five years! She's back this year with her take on a 2019 release; click through to check out her thoughts, and share yours in the comments!

Emma the Matchmaker by Rachel John
Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Self/Indie
Published: 4.23.19
Pages: 155
Rating: 4 stars
Format: ebook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Sellers: Amazon

GoodReads Blurb:
Emma Woodhouse is happily single, though that’s never stopped her from making matches for others. Her best friend, George Knightley, thinks it’s a sure way to trouble, but what’s wrong with giving romance a little nudge?

George has been fighting his feelings for Emma for years, but with families so closely intertwined, rocking the friendship boat would complicate more than just their relationship. He won’t do that to her, or ask why she keeps cuddling up next to him on the couch to watch their favorite show at night.

When a matchmaking scheme gone wrong drives a wedge between them, the last thing they want is to face each other. But when Emma’s sister goes into labor and they’re the babysitters for the weekend, they’ll have to set aside their pride and undeniable chemistry to tackle diaper duty together.

A modern take on Jane Austen's Emma with all the characters you know and love.

A light, romantic comedy can be just the thing on a hot, sultry day and I was eager to pick up this author's latest Austen-inspired modern retelling of Emma. Austen fans will recognize a favorite tale and those new to Austen will have a quick, entertaining story of a woman's (mis)adventures into matchmaking.

Emma the Matchmaker is a standalone piece that begins at the moment when her good friend Taylor has married leaving Emma a bit at loose ends. Taylor wasn't just her friend, but the long-time live in nurse for Emma's aged, fussy grandfather. Now, Taylor has taken a job in a new city and Emma must find a new nurse for her grandfather. Meanwhile, she enjoys torturing her friend George Knightley, her sister's brother in law, with her declaration that she is going to take up matchmaking as a hobby since she's so good at it- Exhibit A Taylor and West. As can be expected, George rises to this taunt and warns her on no uncertain terms not to start playing with people's lives.

George started out as friends with Emma after their siblings tied the knot, but it has gradually become something more. He doesn't want to ruin the close camaraderie they share when she has given no hint that she feels the same way about him. Now, she's trying to fix up her granddad's new nurse Harriet with her next door neighbor, Elton. George can see where Elton's interest lies and it isn't bubbly Harriet who is getting over a break-up with her boyfriend. But, Emma likes arranging people's lives and won't believe that she might just have this one wrong. It may mean their friendship and more, but he can't just say nothing.

This was a gently-paced 'comedy of errors' piece. Friends to lovers was the romance element at the center with both Emma and George alternating narration time. George is a little older than Emma, serious, and somewhat introverted, but he's a true blue guy that really cares about the seniors at his job and helping out with Mr. Woodhouse and the house needs that an old man or Emma can't do as well as hanging out with Emma after work on the couch watching reality TV with popcorn.
Emma appreciates this, but takes it for granted until she nearly loses him when she gets hung up on her own brilliance at solving her need to have a good person with her grandfather by convincing Harriet to break up with her boyfriend to fix her up with Elton the neighbor all under George's disapproving eyes. Oh, yes, you can imagine the mischief this causes and the soul searching that comes after.

I have to give the author credit. It could have been loaded with drama and angst and it did have some, but it didn't wallow in it. So, if you're looking for intense emotions and complex character and plot development, it’s not to be found here. Though not boring, there is a lightness that breezes over the surface rather than plunging deep.

The author presented the classic story at the heart, but it was also original so that each character and situation was up to date and suited the time. I enjoyed the Emma is a personal shopper and fashion advisor for her career, George is a physician's assistant at a senior center where he knows the Bates' family as they are in his case load and Jane becomes his secretary, Harriet is Mr. Woodhouse's nurse, and Mr. Woodhouse is in his nineties and is a fuss-budget, but also has real ailments. George's brother is a strong side character, but the focus is mostly on Emma and George's friendship as both become it is something more when they stand to lose the other to other people.

The author also abbreviated the original so this one paced out quickly in comparison. I know the original well so I felt the cuts of some characters and some big moments that were combined in this one, but I also felt that this still left a light-hearted story that didn't seem to miss the essentials to make it a good modern romcom romp. That said, I have one niggle. There is a storyline about Jane coming to stay with her Aunt Betty to get over an ex-boyfriend who ends up pursuing her. They are in a few scenes, melting away into the shadows like they arrived. It was just there and poking out with no real need to be included at all the way the rest of the story was written. I think it was supposed that an Emma retelling must have her old rival Jane and the smarmy Frank there to stir things up. I guess they did that, but it didn't feel more than a distraction at best.

All in all, it turned out to be a moderately engaging, sweet and fun version of Austen's Emma that I can recommend to old time Austen fans or those just looking for something quick, sweet, and light. I would also recommend the author’s modern retelling of P&P, Engaging Mr. Darcy.

Author’s Bio:

Rachel John is the author of books filled with awkward humor and sigh-inducing romance. When not burning dinner or chasing kids, Rachel can be found working on family history, writing, reading, or putting off writing by staring at Facebook. She lives in Arizona with her husband, four crazy kids, and her desert tortoise.
Website: https://www.racheljohnwrites.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RJohnAuthor

Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate. Writing has been a compelling need since childhood. Being published is a dream come true.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sophia.rose.7587
Associate Reviewer @ Delighted Reader blog www.delightedreader.com

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  1. Hi Sophia. I think Emma modernises really well. This sounds like a cute story, so I will add it to my humongous wish list :)

    1. Oh man, the list... I have one of those, too, Ceri. Hope you like it when you get the chance. :)

  2. A more briskly paced "Emma" sounds like a fun, light read!

    1. It was perfect for the quick and light reading mood. :)

  3. I like light-hearted stories to balance out the ones I read with so much angst. It hadn't been on my radar before so thank you for sharing your review on it. I like the changes that was made to it to modernize it especially Emma's father becoming her grandfather and that he has some real ailments. Harriet becoming his nurse makes sense. It wasn't mentioned but I'm guessing in this modern setting, the circumstances of her birth are not an issue but probably just her lack of wealth.

    1. Yes, exactly! Harriet has a regular life and just needs the work and friends. I thought making him a granddad with old age ailments was a nice change-up, too.


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