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Review: Bespelling Jane Austen (anthology)

Bespelling Jane Austen by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard, & Janet Mullany
Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance
Trade Paperback (HQN, 384 pages, $14.95)
ISBN# 0373775016
But even if the whole world was against them, it would not matter. They were together—again. And this time they would remain together. Until death do them part and, of course, long after that.
What if Austen had believed in reincarnation and vampires? Join four bestselling romance authors as they channel the wit and wisdom of Jane Austen.
Almost Persuaded
In this Regency tale of Robert and Jane, New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh brings together former lovers who have seen beyond the veil of forgetfulness to their past mistakes, and are determined to be together in this life, and forever.
Northanger Castle
Caroline's obsession with Gothic novels winds up being good training for a lifetime of destroying the undead with her newfound beau, in this Regency by Colleen Gleason.
Blood and Prejudice
Set in the business world of contemporary New York City, Liz Bennett joins Mr. Darcy in his hunt for a vampire cure in New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard's version of the classic story.
Little to Hex Her
Present-day Washington, D.C., is full of curious creatures in Janet Mullany's story, wherein Emma is a witch with a wizard boyfriend and a paranormal dating service to run.

Author Site: www.marybalogh.com, www.colleengleason.com, www.susankrinard.com, www.janetmullany.com

A delight even for someone who has never read Austen. (4 stars)

I've never actually read Jane Austen's work. Isn't that the most blasphemous thing to say when opening a review of Austen-inspired short stories? Sadly, it really is the truth. I'm just not a big fan of Regencies so they just keep being pushed back on that list of "I really should read this" books I have. So please forgive me for reading and reviewing Bespelling Jane Austen with such ignorance of the source material. I couldn't help it! I may not have read Emma or Persuasion but I think I've seen enough films and know enough of the basic storyline to appreciate them from afar.

What brought this book to my interest was the paranormal twist. I adore seeing classics retold and what better tales to add an element of the freakish and supernatural to? I am very pleased to report that Bespelling Jane Austen was anything but a disappointment.

Beginning the collection Mary Balogh's ALMOST PERSUADED takes Austen's Persuasion to interesting depths. As lovers are reunited through-out time only to be torn apart over and over they begin to question the very nature of love. Reincarnation, romance and brilliant writing made this one emotional and solid. I've never read Balogh's work before but if this short is any example of what she has to offer I hope she can be tempted to dabble in the paranormal palette again. 5/5 stars

In Colleen Gleason's NORTHANGER CASTLE—a spin on Northanger Abbey—both Austen lovers and fans of the Gardella Vampire series get a taste of imagination run wild. Around every corner Caroline finds a reason to believe that vampires, evil widows and monsters are out to get her and the other young women of Bath, England. Tongue-in-cheek funny and with all the guts and gusto of the series it ties in to this was my favorite of the stories offered in this collection. If you love Gleason's work it's worth buying for this one alone. 5/5 stars

BLOOD AND PREJUDICE is the story that started it all. Probably the most retold of Austen's tales, this version of Pride and Prejudice has a contemporary Lizzy and Darcy sorting out the matter of a pharmeceutical company and oh yeah, he's a vampire. I hate saying it because I know everyone loves this story in general but I hate it and this retelling didn't help change my mind. I think fans might like it but I found the paranormal element felt a bit after-the-fact for me as a paranormal junkie. 3/5 stars

Rounding out the offerings is Janet Mullany's LITTLE TO HEX HER in which a modern Emma plays match-maker to a host of magical folks. Matches are made and curses fly as our heroine and her Knightley suitor try to ward off trouble. I'm unfamiliar with Mullany's work before this but her release just a couple of weeks before this one, Jane and the Damned, has had good reviews and features Austen as a vampire herself! Looks like that should be the next stop for readers or vice versa. This story was a little take-it-or-leave it for me. It wasn't thrilling nor awful either. 3/5 stars

As a collection I recommend this anthology to any paranormal fan looking to dabble in the Austen waters a little. It's entertaining to even a novice in the world of Jane, such as myself. But I'd also recommend it for the opposite... those Janeites who might want to sample their favorites with a preternatural or contemporary twist. Better yet, if you like both paranormal romances AND Jane Austen this is a musn't miss.

Other Reviews:

Sullivan McPig of Pearls Cast Before a McPig

Notes: I requested and received a copy to review via netGalley.

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