The A Circuit

The A Circuit
Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka
Bloomsbury, 2011

Competitive, A Circuit horse shows. A high-stakes, high-dollar competitive circle of the horse world. Late-teenage angst and self-discovery, amplified by money (or lack thereof) and opportunity. And horses. A lot of gorgeous horses.

That is definitely not a description of my world, but it is a very real world - and it's the world explored in The A Circuit (which, by the way, is apparently the first in a series! Yes! That means there's more coming!). I've always been a bit of a horse nut - I decided to go into Library Science in kindergarten when my elementary school librarian refused to let me check out Marguerite Henry books because they were chapter books. I have a lot of memories about horse books, and horse dreams. It's never been a world I was able to enter into however, except through the pages I was devouring. And this is definitely a great addition to that collection.

The storytelling is split between three main girls: Tommi (Wall Street money), Zara (celeb daughter), and Kate (working student), allowing readers to get to know each girl on a personal level: their story, their struggles, their reactions and opinions of what's going on - and of each other. Additionally, there's a whole barn of secondary characters, some of whom play pretty key roles. And the horses. We can't forget the horses! I really enjoyed getting an insider's peek into the world of 'high-end horse showing' (Georgina Bloomberg is a competitor herself), and learning a little more about the way things work. I also, as a fan of YA, I appreciate the characters and story. All the teens have an authentic feel - even with their privileged lives, they've got "normal" problems. They're human. They're young. They're learning - and making a lot of mistakes in the process. And as they make these mistakes and learn these lessons, they're starting to realize that personal actions have an impact on others - that sometimes, your first impression (or prejudice) is wrong - that sometimes, what you need most is to let others in.

Tommi, Zara and Kate - as well as their horses - have caught my attention, and I will definitely be waiting for book two to hit shelves.

Book provided by my local library.


Sense and Sensibility (DVD)

Sense and Sensibility
Columbia, 1995
Starring: Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet

I'm trying to remember if I read Sense and Sensibility or watched this version of the movie, first, and honestly, I can't think back that far. I feel like I probably read the book and then saw the movie. Regardless, this was my first visual introduction to the story, and while I like it - it's not my favorite. (That honor belongs to the 2008 BBC version).

On the whole, this film is a good representation of Austen's original novel, but far from perfect. They've played with the characters, and not always in a good way, especially since I've recently reread the novel. I have a hard time with this portrayal of Edward - he just seems more...wishy-washy? awkward? flat? Something. In contrast, Col. Brandon is a nice, strong character (as he should be), but the difference in age is so dramatic that it's really a wonder Marianne even talked to him. Like I said, I do like the film - it's a fun movie, and it has its high points. This Willoughby is definitely the best there is - he's got just the right amount of charm and appeal that you're thrown off the trail of his 'deviousness' (as opposed to the 2008 Willoughby who just gives me the heebies). Definitely an Austen film-variation that I've watched several times and will see many more in the future.

DVD provided by my local library.


Blog Tour: Double Clutch

Double Clutch
Liz Reinhardt

Welcome back to the second phase of the Double Clutch Blog Tour! Did you catch Liz's guest post last week? You should definitely check it out - she bares her soul and reveals all about...her First Kiss! Today, I'm going to share my review, and if you keep reading, you just might find a happy little surprise. It is officially the holiday season, after all!

Brenna Blixen spent her freshman year homeschooling in Denmark, and recreating herself. So when she arrives back in New Jersey for sophomore year, she's ready for a new adventure - and seeing just what she's capable of. It's an interesting, eye-opening experience that is nothing like she expected. From the first day - the first day - of American high school, Brenna finds herself in the middle of a complicated, passionate, and dramatic mystery of sorts. The sort of mystery commonly known as 'boy drama'. But it's more than that, as Brenna discovers. What's going on between herself, smooth-talkin' charmer Saxon, and reformed bad boy Jake is deeper than just high school drama, or even boyish competition. It's real, and it's deeply rooted in the boys' shared past as well as the intense attraction each has for Brenna - and she for them.

I really enjoyed Double Clutch, and look forward to reading the second installment of Brenna's story - Junk Miles. I've got to know how this adventure progresses, where it goes, how it ends. Because Liz has created a very *real* story. It's raw, it's authentic, it's believable. The characters are realistic -- if a bit 'growny' at times, that's still realistic: there are a lot of high school kids that I look at and shake my head. Everything feels like it could be going on in a high school, it didn't have that television movie-feel to it, if you know what I mean. It's a serious story that is a lot of fun to read.

Digital copy provided by author for review.

Would you like to win a copy of Double Clutch for yourself? 
Liz has generously agreed to supply an e-book! If you want to enter, just leave a comment on this review and include your email (so I can contact you if you win)!
Giveaway ends on December 2nd at 11:00am (EST).


Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving...

...and not just because it's the start of a 4-day weekend of football, food and family either.
No, really!

Today is the day when we consciously stop to think about what's important...what we've been blessed with...how good we've got it...

I'm thankful for my family - for the ones who share my genes, and the group of friends who might as well be blood, because we're just that close.

I'm thankful for my country - even when it's messed up and struggling, it's the greatest land in the world. The land of the free, home of the brave. Where I can dream anything, and know I have a fightin' chance to make it come true. Where I can wander around in jeans and bare feet, knowing I'm safe.

I'm beyond blessed with freedom - and always aware that it's been purchased with blood.

I'm thankful for the chances I have, the opportunities I get - to read, to write, to chase down dreams and sunny afternoons...to meet international scholars, to get to know authors and fellow readers...to laugh and to cry, to make new friends and reconnect with old ones...

I'm thankful for the people in my life who make me smile on my bad days, and let me return the favor on theirs.

I'm thankful for every breath I breathe, every move I make, and every beat of my heart.

So while I'm feeding my insatiable hibernation-instinct-hunger with the amazingness of Thanksgiving feasting, and screaming myself hoarse watching football, know that I am, truly, thankful for the sheer ability to do so.

God bless.


Tuesdays at the Castle

Tuesdays at the Castle
Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury, 2011

I love Jessica Day George's ability to create characters that I can't get enough of. Princess Celie, her sister Lilah and brother Rolf (Bran also has potential, but we don't really get to know him), and the dashing Pogue (the blacksmith's son) are characters I fell in love with. Celie & Co. live in Castle Glower: a mysterious castle that is 'alive', always building on and making renovations to itself. Particularly on Tuesdays. Castle Glower is opinionated, and will always make its feelings known - a fact which Celie's family understands and embraces, but that others, from outside the Castle, tend to think of as a fairy tale. But we all know there's truth in fairy tales, and when the King and Queen suddenly vanish during a routine trip, the Castle starts to share its deepest secrets with Princess Celie - its favorite person.

As Celie learns more and more about - and from - Castle Glower, she quickly realizes that there are a lot of things 'not right' about the whole situation. For one thing, the Castle has not changed her parents' room, convincing Celie and her siblings that perhaps the King and Queen really are alive. With much sneakiness and an amazing sense of humor, Celie, Lilah, Rolf, Pogue and the Castle wage a quiet war to retain their kingdom and their Castle. With twists and turns and unexpected allies, Celie & Co. fight until it appears all hope is lost. And then, in one last, stunning moment of courage, the Castle surprises everyone, and everything falls into place. It's a quick-reading story, with colorful characters and a plot that keeps you guessing. The ending was all I wanted it to be - except...it came too soon! I can't help but hope there's more adventures in store for Celie and the rest of the crew at Castle Glower.

Book provided by my local library.


Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Laurel Ann Nattress, ed.
Ballantine, 2011

I am a regular visitor to Laurel Ann's amazing blog Austenprose, and several of my blog buddies were finalists in the contest to have their short story featured in this anthology. So when I was emailed asking if I'd be willing to review Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I accepted with a happy grin. As with The Road to Pemberley, a variety of authors have written short stories in their own unique styles and voices - the difference is where Pemberley was limited to Pride and Prejudice-related stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It features all things Jane: so long as there's a connection to our beloved Austen, it's fair game.

A sampling of my favorite stories:
  • “Jane Austen’s Nightmare”: Our dear Jane comes face to face with her characters, and is surprised to discover their true feelings. While a few (think Bingleys and Darcys) are happy with their stories, others are rather disgruntled. The nightmare experience however, provides the inspiration for a new story – about a Naval captain in Bath, with sad eyes, and a heroine the ripe old age of 27.
  • “Nothing Less than Fairy-Land”: Have you ever stopped to think about what it must have been like when Mr. Knightley moved in with Mr. Woodhouse?
  • "Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss": This is just a sweet Christmassy story. It made me smile, and just feels like a cozy read - especially this time of year.
  • "When Only a Darcy Will Do": Any guy who takes that much time and effort to meet a girl? Yeah, he totally earns the 'Darcy' tag!
  • "Me and Mr. Darcy, Again...": I loved getting to see how the story picks up for characters I met in Me and Mr. Darcy a few years ago. So. Awesome.
  • "The Love Letter": This is the story that won the contest for inclusion, and it's simply beautiful. A good example of how Jane Austen can still play key roles in 'modern' lives (and romances).

This is a wonderful collection of Jane-related stories, and definitely one I want to keep handy for when I need a 'pick-me-up' without wanting to read a whole novel.

Book provided by author for review.


Blog Tour: Guest Post by Liz Reinhardt

I am very excited to be participating in the Double Clutch blog tour hosted by Missy's Reads & Reviews! Be sure to swing by and check out the complete line up: interviews, guest posts, reviews, and giveaways. In fact, you might want to swing back by here next Friday for my own review - and you never know, there just may be a little 'holiday cheer' thrown in the mix. Today, I am handing the blog over to Liz Reinhardt, and she's going to tell us about her First Kiss. Young love...happy sigh...Find some cookies to munch, and read on for Liz's delightful walk down Memory Lane!

First Kiss! How Lurlene McDaniel Helped Me Know
I Should Kiss Aaron T

I recently wrote a YA contemporary romance called Double Clutch, and writing it made me reflect on all of those amazing firsts...first heartbreak, first crush, and, of course, first kiss! My first kiss was fantastic, and I'd like to share the experience with all of you!

If you read about my first crush on Mike A. on http://smmirza.blogspot.com/, you'll know that I came within a hair's breadth of kissing him in order to save our week-long, sitting-by-each-other-at-lunch-and-meeting-at-our-lockers relationship. In the end, I decided to hold out and pursue my studies instead of joining into the kissing drama, and I'm so glad I did! 

I had a few years to read. And read. And read. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. And when I cleaned out all the children's books and classics, I moved up to romance novels for YA. What I read most (and most voraciously) were Lurlene McDaniel's tragic tales of love and terminal illness. If you've never read on, pick one up NOW! They were addictive, romantic, and left me a sobbing, blubbering mess at the conclusion of every single book.

I don't know if I read this specific one, but this is what I remember the covers looking like, and they were wonderful! Me and all my book-loving friends devoured them, and would come to school with red, puffy eyes from crying over them!

But Lurlene McDaniel taught me something essential about love...she taught me that it was important to cherish love, because life could be short. Tragically short!
The summer after seventh grade I went to Danish language camp in Minnesota (I know! Awesome! Oh. Wait. Were you thinking 'nerdy'?). I was dragging my suitcase through the camp to my cabin when a boy with the sweetest drawl I'd ever heard said, "Can I help you?"

It seemed silly not to allow an adorable guy with dreamy hazel eyes to help me out, but this was the first time I was staying away from my parents at a sleep-away camp, and I was determined to prove my independence to everyone. "No! Thanks!" I yelled.

He smiled. And helped me anyway. Aaron T. was a boy Lurlene would have approved of...well, she may not have written him into a story. We were both extremely healthy young people. But she would have liked him because he knew a good thing when it told him to go away. 

Because I did. Over and over. Camp was going to be about learning the ancient, guttural language of my Danish ancestors, not mooning around with some boy.
Denmark, you have my sincere apologies. I meant to take a very active interest in you...but that boy! How could you compete with his drawl, and those long lashes, and those highly kissable lips? I know you understand!

"Wanna go walk by the lake?" Aaron asked as I helped mix a gigantic bowl of almond cookie batter with a group of grimy younger kids.
"No! Thanks!" I yelled over the din. "I want to learn to make traditional Danish almond cookies and eat them."

Aaron raised his eyebrows. "Sven's arms are a different color above the elbow. You sure you wanna eat those cookies?"
I glanced down and young Sven did, in fact, have two-toned arms. The half that were buried deep in the dough were clean and light, right down to his over-long fingernails. The half that weren't in the dough were a dirty, grisly grey. Even my iron stomach blanched. I wiped the flour off of my hands and joined Aaron for a walk around the lake.

He was quiet. He liked to read, too. He was from Tennessee. He didn't want to come to camp. He wanted to work so he could save up money and not have to borrow from his mom. He liked that I was gruff and bookish and knew my own mind. I liked his Soundgarden shirt, his black hair, and the slow way he talked and smiled.

Camp romances work because camp is intrinsically romantic. Walks by the shimmering lake. Rustic cabins. Way more campers than there are counselors to keep an eye on them. 
C'mon! Who could see something that freaking beautiful every evening and not swoon!
Aaron and I spent many afternoons skipping crafts/sports so we could lie around on benches at the boat house, watch the sun in the trees, and talk until we settled into a comfortable silence.

Our easy friendship blossomed on the way back from a campfire, where he pulled me aside in the shadow of a cabin. Everyone else was coming back slowly, so we had a few minutes to ourselves. He brushed his hand over mine. All the air in my lungs locked down.

"I wish we could see the moon," he said with a nervous shuffle of his feet. The thick pines of northern Minnesota kept us from seeing any sign of the moon.
"Why?" I demanded.

"It's romantic." He smiled.

I pressed my eyebrows together. "So?"

"Don't you want to look at the moon with me?" This time his hand didn't just brush mine. He full-on grabbed my hand and locked our fingers together.

Shock sent my adrenaline racing. "But there is no moon! No moon!" 
"Well, there's a romantic-lookin' patch of grass. Kinda looks like the man in the moon," Aaron said, his eyes flicking to the spotty, much-trampled grass by the side of the cabin. He twisted his lips. "Or maybe Colonel Sanders? What do you think?"

My brain was turning to goo, but I managed to say, "Definitely Colonel Sanders."
"I agree." He grinned and leaned in. "We have a lot in common." He tilted his head and leaned closer.

"Are you trying to kiss me?" I asked as panic seared through me.
He backed away and chuckled. "Um, trying. Trying really hard, actually."

"Oh." My heart was hammering all over, so I talked even louder. "I have a hat on. That's why you couldn't get close to my face!"
Aaron's shoulders shook, and he covered his face with his hand, laughing so hard, I thought he'd double over. "I'm sorry. I'm rushin' this. I thought you wanted to..."

"I do!" I panicked. Did I? I did! I liked him! I liked this boy, and I wanted to kiss him! I was going to kiss someone! I was going to kiss Aaron! "But my hat?" 
Obviously, the excitement of the impending kiss rendered me deficient in the problem-solving area.

"You could take it off," Aaron suggested. He reached out and plucked off my very sexy Notre Dame ballcap, pulled me closer, and kissed me.
I still can't pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken without sighing over my first kiss!
It was a fireworks and saliva and beating hearts and screaming nerves kind of kiss, and I almost instantly went from 'never been kissed' to 'want to kiss this boy every second for the rest of my life.'

Then a screen door slammed. I popped my lips off of his, shoved at his chest with both hands and bolted to my cabin. I sat on my bunk and tried to contain the total, impossible, blood-humming, crazy joy coursing through my veins. 


I knocked my head on my bunk and stifled a scream. Aaron's voice came through the screen.
"Go to bed, Aaron!" I demanded in a whisper, suddenly unsure what to say to this boy-I-had-kissed.

"That was nice. Can we do it again sometime?" His voice was quiet and sweet in the dark.
"Go to bed," I repeated. I heard his feet crunch away. "Aaron!"

The footsteps came back. "Yeah?"

"Yes, we can! Now go to bed!"

I could hear him laughing all the way back to his cabin.
Ah! Young love!

And we did practice kissing. For the rest of camp, we used every spare minute. It was much more fun than painting bird houses or playing soccer. And when the last day of camp rolled around, my gut clenched at the thought of leaving my kissing buddy.

We stayed penpals for two years, writing long, mopey letters back and forth. But Aaron was older, and high school was in full swing for him, so eventually, the letters petered out, and my summer kissing friend existed only in my memories. But what awesome memories they were!

Thank you, Rebecca, for letting me tell my insane first kiss story on your blog! If you'd like to hear about my first real boyfriend, please check out my post on November 22 at alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com!


A Race to Splendor

A Race to Splendor
Ciji Ware
Sourcebooks, 2011

The cover of this one caught my attention immediately. That is a gorgeous dress. Like, seriously. gorgeous. And then, Laura's Reviews hosted Ciji Ware for a guest post and giveaway, and I realized I had to read A Race to Splendor. (Happily, I won the giveaway!)

This is one of those involving stories that just keeps evolving. Every time you think you have something figured out, there's a new twist: either a character reveals a little more of their personal secrets, or the plot shifts on you, or you just suddenly realize you'd been reading it all wrong. I loved getting to know Amelia as she struggled to overcome the massive curveballs and setbacks life hurled in her way following graduation from architecture and engineering school in Paris. A full-fledged architect, Amelia faces not only the 'normal' struggles of a being a woman in a man's world, but this is San Fransisco in 1906. The Earthquake and Fire that destroyed much of the city - and also gave it new life. Then too, there's the small detail of her father gambling away her rightful inheritance - the Bay View Hotel - and her ongoing 'battle' with the new owner JD Thayer. It's a complicated story, but Ware has detailed it beautifully.

This is the kind of historical fiction that gives historical fiction a good name: very researched, very detailed. Ware didn't just skim the surface, she got down into the heart of the history - researching and writing not just the aftermath of the Earthquake, but also the 'inner-workings' of San Fransisco: the corruption, the day-to-day struggles, the people. I absolutely loved the characters. Every one was well-developed and real. They read like living people, with secrets and pasts and a mix of good and bad - some with more bad, some with more good. They're flawed, but they're human. Their relationships feel authentic and believable, taking what could have been a dull, dusty novel and making it a living story. If this is the way Ware's novels always read, I'm definitely going to be looking for more of them.

Book provided by my personal library.


Chronicle Books: Happy Haulidays, take 2!

Chronicle Books has brought back their Happy Haulidays extravaganza, with an added 'perk' this year: Not only will one lucky blogger win their $500 wishlist, but one commenter on the winning post will also win the wishlist. That's not all! This year, the winning blogger also gets to pick a non-profit/charity of their choice to win $500 to spend on books/products from Chronicle Books! Amazing.

Of course I'm participating, my wishlist is below. Check it out, and leave a comment if you like what you see. If I win, someone will be picked from my comments to win too!

There are so many great non-profits out there, it was a little hard to pick just one. But I decided to go with my first impulse: The Tim Tebow Foundation. You can check out their site for more details, and as for why I pick it as my charity of choice? I have been a fan and admirer of Tim Tebow since the first time I saw him on the Florida sidelines as a freshman. In the years since, he's proved himself to be a class act person and role model, as well as athlete. His foundation is one I can fully support - with a mission to "bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need."

The Wishlist (click on image to go to Chronicle Books' description):


Total: $495.88

Don't forget to swing by and check out all the other blogs participating too! So many wishlists...
And if you're entering here, leave an email or some other contact with your comment - in case you win!


Why Jane Austen?

Why Jane Austen?
Rachel Brownstein
Columbia University Press, 2011

When I was approached to review Why Jane Austen? I jumped at the chance - over the last year, I've really gotten involved with the Janeite community, and I welcomed the opportunity to take a closer look at the concept of Jane's attraction. Going into the reading, I expected something along the lines of A Jane Austen Education - a look at what Jane's novels mean to us as a people or society, what we learn from them, why we love the stories and keep returning to them over and over. What I got was something far more scholastic - and while different, definitely not 'bad.'  

Why Jane Austen? is essentially a literary critique, with a healthy dash of analysis and a sprinkling of cross-curricular thought. That is to say: Brownstein has definitely done her research and gathered the works and opinions of scholars and readers spanning from Austen's contemporaries (and herself!) on through to our own contemporaries. I think it's striking that there is such a body of 'work' to draw from, in terms of just how deeply Jane Austen has been embedded into not only the scholastic cannon but also the social experience. With deft handling and navigation, Brownstein presents her findings and interpretations in a way that is accessible for readers who are merely lovers of Jane (assuming, of course, they're read at least a little nonfiction/critical analysis-type works before - otherwise, they might get a little lost). I learned a great deal, and found myself wishing I could have either been in an English class that used this as a text or could teach a class myself using this as a text.

With Jane Austen being such a hot commodity right now, there's an overwhelming amount of information available - Why Jane Austen? is a concise volume that guides readers not only through the literary aspects of Jane's appeal, but also looks at the social and cultural elements. There's even a foray into Jane's place in gender studies and feminism. (I'll be honest: not my favorite part.) Why Jane Austen? is not the light, introspective read I thought it'd be, but I am happy to have read it and broadened my Janeite horizon.

Book provided by publicist for review.


Prom & Prejudice

Prom & Prejudice
Elizabeth Eulberg
Point, 2011

By now, you've probably figured out that I'm not only a confessing Janeite, but also a big fan of YA literature. Elizabeth Eulberg's second novel (the 'follow-up' to her smashing debut novel: The Lonely Hearts Club), is a delightful and enjoyable blending of those two loves. In this contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice - the beloved, timeless Jane Austen classic - Eulberg shifts everything into the world of twenty-first century, old-money boarding schools. Longbourne Academy is the girls' school, and Pemberley is the neighboring boys' school. Most Longbourne and Pemberley students come from old money, and fit that distinct social mold - with a few exceptions, like Charles and Jane. Unlike these students, Lizzie is at Longbourne on scholarship, and the society girls are not too keen on her arrival. Jane and Charlotte (the other scholarship student in Lizzie's class) help make things bearable, but nobody can wholly deter the likes of Caroline (Charles's twin) or Cat De Bourgh. And then there's Will Darcy, who alternates between seeming human and being just like any other Pemberley boy.

Prom and Prejudice is a quick read that follows the storyline and general make-up of Pride & Prejudice, while making it 'real' and relevant. It's still a world far, far removed from my reality - but it's got a sense of possibility. With just enough of the fairy tale. I loved the characters, and felt like Eulberg did a great job of imagining how the 'originals' would look like as contemporary teenagers. This was definitely a book I had a hard time putting down, and the twists the familiar story took brought a smile. I am now officially a fangirl of Elizabeth Eulberg, and eagerly await her upcoming third novel Take a Bow!

Book provided by my personal library.


A Shore Too Far

A Shore Too Far
Kevin Manus-Pennings

This new fantasy offering is the first in the Daughters of Damendine series, and it's a very intriguing read. Kara is both Princess and High General of her father's kingdom, Avandi. She's much more 'in touch' with her warrior-side, and her first instincts always reflect battle strategy -- a trait her older brother Eric points out to Kara, causing her to actually see the difference. Where he sees people and their personal obstacles, she sees military statistics and odds. Kara does finally get what Eric is saying, but it takes a while. This journey to discovery is at the heart of A Shore Too Far, and is also what kept me reading.

The story revolves around strange 'demon' visitors who have appeared on the northern shores of Avandi, north of Abringol. Kara is sent by her father to assess the threat and deal with it accordingly - which also includes negotiations with this new people. There's a lot of waiting, of trying to see past the obvious and track down the illusive truths just out of reach. The characters are interesting - there's a lot of backstory hinted at, backstory and relationships I really want to know about and hope are addressed in future installments.

The pacing of the story was a little slow for me - I felt like this was more of an introduction to set-up the series, and for us to see the progression and development of Kara and the other characters. The actual chronology of the tale is short, but it's stretched out, which actually works with the events, but still. I kept thinking I was being led to a huge build-up, and then things just drifted down again. Still, characters are interesting and the concept is intriguing. I'll be interested in seeing how future novels proceed.

Digital copy provided by author for review.


Caroline Bingley

Caroline Bingley
Jennifer Becton
Whiteley Press, 2011

Caroline Bingley. Anyone familiar with Pride & Prejudice probably shudders at the name. Miss Bingley is one of Miss Austen's most Love-to-Hate characters. She's snobbish and catty, she snubs Jane Bennet and makes scathing remarks about Lizzie. In short, Caroline Bingley is not a nice person. So why read a book about her? Because Caroline, like any good villain, has a story of her own. And Jennifer Becton does a masterful job of letting Caroline tell her story.

Caroline has been banished. Or rather, Charles - manning up and demanding his sister make things right with Jane and Elizabeth (both now married to their Heroes) - has sent her home to their mother, giving her plenty of time to rethink her decisions. Needless to say, Caroline is seething over the perceived injustice of her punishment - especially the addition of her 'companion' Mrs. Pickersgill. After trying so hard and so long to redeem her family's heritage in trade, Caroline Bingley is not about to see herself squandered in the country. After indulging in some well-deserved self-pity, Caroline quickly takes stock of what's what and formulates a plan that will both insure her place in society and prevent the humiliation of apologizing to Elizabeth Darcy.

As with Caroline's other, more infamous plans, things do not go as she believes. The pieces do fall in place, yes, but Caroline is shocked to discover that she is not able to follow through. You see, Caroline has a heart. Seriously! And even a strong sense of morality. And both of these come to her rescue - though it takes her a while to realize just what she's supposed to do, who she's supposed to be. But not before several mishaps, misunderstandings and surprises to keep things interesting! With a knack for story and an ability to weave historical and cultural details into a fleshed out, enjoyable narrative, Jennifer Becton has made 'Caro' come alive.

Digital copy provided by author for review.