Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Kensington Books
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: Jane Austen, ghosts, romance, matchmaking
Format read: ARC received from the author. (Thanks!)
Summary: Cate has always been on the prowl for her own Mr. Darcy, or her own Austen-esque happily ever after. As an English teacher and totally the bookish type, she’s not known to let loose. But she decides to channel her saucier side and introduce Cat Kennedy in her vintage duds and red lipstick to the Austin nightlife. But when a mysterious journal lands in her hands and seems to be giving her life advice, Cate’s quest for a fairy tale ending takes twists and turns she never expected.
In Austensibly Ordinary, Alyssa Goodnight gives another young Austin lady a chance to find love with a little help from a magical journal that produces advice from Jane Austen herself. (The first is Austentacious.) This time, we have a Cate — a gal in her mid- to late-twenties who would rather throw back a beer and play Scrabble with her best friend/colleague, Ethan, than take part in the Austin nightlife.
Cate is also a total romantic and lover of all things Jane Austen. She believes in the ultimate of happily ever afters and dreams of the perfect guy. You know the type that probably doesn’t exist? Yep, that one. But on one particular Sunday night, she decides it’s time to make things happen in her life and embrace her wild side. She was going to say yes to every opportunity! She was going to look sexy! She was going to turn on the charm with the males!
Say hello to Cat Kennedy, Cate’s secret identity. That only makes one appearance really. But for Cate, that’s one appearance enough to make her feel like she’s fully tapped into all that is sassy and saucy about Cat. I, on the other hand, did not feel the same way. In fact this was the beginning of short-lived subplots that seemed to crash and burn in Austensibly Ordinary. And not because they weren’t interesting or intriguing. But there were just too many crammed into one book.
Add in the mysterious journal that Cate finds at a taco place, the ghost hunts, the matchmaking, and it’s all a little too much. (Although if I was chatting daily with a historic author I may have lost my head a little bit too?) Sluggish pacing due to dense passages and lack of dialogue made this a slower paced read and things didn’t start to pick up until halfway through the book when Ethan and Cate’s chemistry seemed to fire up.
And when I say fire, I mean like lots and lots of flames. Because Ethan was a catch. Despite the fact that he was pretty secretive about his life, he was funny, smart, sweet, and had some major biceps. I couldn’t read fast enough just to see what would happen between these two because the tension was unbelievable. In fact, I was silent yelling: CATE! PAY ATTENTION! SCRABBLE IS MORE FUN WHEN YOU ARE MAKING OUT WITH ETHAN.
Whew. See? I got caught up in the moment.
Truthfully, it’s been awhile since I had a little Jane Austen in my life and Cate’s great affection for the writer convinced me I need to pick up one of her works really soon. (I have a pretty copy of Emma burning a hole in my bookcase right now.) Even more wonderful was the utter love expressed for Austin. The author obviously has much affection for the city, and I loved how she worked one particular landmark into the ending — it was perfection.
So while Austensibly Ordinary was not the smoothest ride for me, I could see how Austen + Austin fans alike could get a kick out of it.