Full disclosure – I’m not a big Jane Austen fan (cue gasps of astonishment), so I went into reading this modern spin on Sense and Sensibility without much expectation. I had noticed it was reviewed here earlier this month, so when I spotted the copy at the library I was intrigued enough to pick it up. This book tells the tale of the Woodward sisters, who are left to fend for themselves after their father (convicted of embezzlement) skips the country to avoid jail time. Celia is the oldest, with Jane the middle child and Margot, a much younger baby of the family – after selling their family home they take up residence above the tea shop they opened and are doing quite well. Of course, then the elderly owner of the building dies and his son and bitchy wife take over and basically evict the Woodward siblings. This leads them to move to Austin, to live with some cousins while they get back on their feet.
This is where the story picks up some steam. They encounter some car trouble not far from their destination and a charming, handsome stranger stops to help them. Sean Willis is an upcoming musician, staying with his aunt not far from where Jane and her sisters will be staying. Jane is smitten, swept off her feet by Sean, and soon she and Celia are not getting along as well as they used to. Jane feels that Celia is hiding something from her, and life isn’t running as smoothly as it was before. The hunt for a new tea shop is slowing down, so the bright spot is Sean and his over the moon feelings for Jane.
There is another man in the picture, however; Callum Beckett, a retired Marine Captain who was injured in the line of duty. He’s lost part of a leg, and is struggling to deal with life outside the military. He and Jane’s cousin are long time friends, so Callum is spending some time visiting as well, while he deals with his father’s death among other things. Callum isn’t as flashy as Sean, but he’s kind and thoughtful, with a steady presence that Jane does notice eventually. If you’ve read the original Jane Austen book, you know where this is headed, and even if you haven’t, it’s soon clear that Sean is too good to be true.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The romance aspect is very low on sizzle, compared to what I usually read, but it fit with the story. (I discovered after the fact that this book was published by a Christian publisher – hence the lack of erotica. There’s no mention of church or anything like that, however.) I liked the relationship between the three sisters, as they struggled to make a new life for themselves. The book switches narrative between Jane’s POV and Callum’s, which was well done and it was good to get his perspective on things. Also, if you like to cook, there’s a few recipes added at the end of some chapters that sound scrumptious!