Genre: Contemporary Romance

Carrie Goes off the Map, by Phillipa Ashley (Book Review)

Posted November 16, 2011 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Carrie Goes off the Map, by Phillipa Ashley (Book Review)Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley
Published by Sourcebooks on December 1, 2001
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 376
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Carrie Brownhill lets her best friend talk her into a scenic European road trip as the perfect getaway from a nasty breakup with her fiancé. Unexpectedly along for the ride is the gorgeous and intriguing Matt Landor, MD, who sorely tests Carrie’s determination to give up men altogether. Careening through the English countryside in a VW camper van, these two mismatched but perfectly attuned lonely hearts find themselves in hot pursuit of adventure and in uncharted territory altogether…

This book was lovely for several uncommon reasons: 1. The characters are my age! I’m so used to reading about tweens, teenagers, and middle-aged adults. I rarely read about characters who are mid-to-late twenties. It was refreshing. 2. This book is an amazing book to help you feel better after a nasty break-up. I wish I’d had this book a few years ago when I went through one of those. 3. Traveling!!!!! I love books where people travel, and what’s better than driving through England in a camper van named Dolly?

So, Carrie is engaged to her business partner: a farmer guy named Huw. One night he comes home from a stag party and tells her he can’t marry her anymore. Of course, she’s heartbroken. Who wouldn’t be? THEN… just 4 months later, Huw is getting married to the woman he cheated on her with! She finds out on the day of his wedding, and runs to the church to crash the ceremony and call him out. She chickens out, though, and just ruins a very expensive flower arrangement outside the church. At this point, her best friend Rowena is pretty worried about Carrie, and decides the two of them need to go on a roadtrip to Italy and beyond. Things are all set and ready to go, when Rowena gets a job on a soap opera and has to back out of the trip the morning of. She mischievously calls on Dr. Matt Landor, an old friend from college to go with Carrie instead. Matt’s currently home from a small island where he works as a doctor for a charitable organization, and has absolutely nothing to do. His passport is also expired, and so they can’t leave England. Carrie is mortified at this change in plans, but Matt finally talks her into going on a trip with him. They spend just over a month traveling around the English countryside meeting new people, and getting to know each other far better than they expected. Love blossoms among several different sets of characters. There’s even a bit of a scary twist that makes you worry for the characters! Mix all of this together with a lot of British slang that I had a hard time understanding at first, and you have a very cute romantic comedy on your hands.

Carrie is hilarious. She destroyed a flower arrangement with a hose! I hope that if my fiance dumps me for a skank named Fanella, I will have the guts to do something like this. I like her sense of adventure, and her determination. Not only does she get over Huw, but she has fun doing it. Matt is the brooding sexy type. Carrie compares him to Mr. Darcy, and I have to agree. He’s tall, dark, handsome, troubled, and covers up his love for Carrie with witty banter and silly arguments. He and Carrie have great chemistry. Some of their conversations and flirtatious moments had me laughing. I enjoyed the supporting characters, which included some pretty funny hippie surfer dudes who end up lying on the beach stoned more than they actually surf, and a stuck up gaggle of socialites who add the word “darling” to the end of every sentence.

While you pretty much know how everything will turn out, you don’t know how everything will be wrapped up. There were twists, turns, misunderstandings, and some lovely character development. The timeline of the book covers more time than I’m used to (over a year), which was nice. I loved the setting of the book. Carrie and Matt spent a lot of time along the water, and the author wrote some lovely descriptions.

Overall, this was a great read! I really enjoyed the plot line and the writing, although I would have appreciated fewer f-words. I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy travel, England, quirky characters, and romance. I’ll definitely be pursuing more Phillipa Ashley books.The release date is December 1st of this year, so you don’t have to wait too long to get your hands on it! It’s definitely a nice, happy read that will warm your heart during these chilly, wintery months. Happy reading!


Austenland by Shannon Hale (Book Review)

Posted November 12, 2011 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Austenland by Shannon Hale (Book Review)Austenland by Shannon Hale
Series: Austenland #1
Also in this series: Midnight in Austenland
Published by Bloomsbury on May 29, 2007
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 197
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

In honor of the February 2012 release of Austenland’s companion novel, Midnight in Austenland (which I’ve already read the Netgalley for!!!), I decided to post this review. My review of Midnight in Austenland will be posted here in January, so keep your eye out for it!

Austenland is like Disneyland for women who secretly wish they had a Mr. Darcy of their own. I think BBC’s version of Pride and Prejudice instilled a little bit of that longing in all of us.  This problem is exactly what Jane Hayes suffers with. After dating a ton of losers, this single, 33-year-old, New Yorker has come to the conclusion that no man can compare to the sexy, debonair, and utterly romantic Mr. Darcy. She has given up on the male gender completely. One day when her mother and great-aunt Carolyn come over for a visit, they inadvertently discover her copy of the movie as it shifts and falls from its hiding place in Jane’s potted plant. Jane, of course, was mortified—as if they had discovered her drawer of scandalous underwear.

Six months later, Great-Aunt Carolyn passes away and leaves one thing for Jane in her will: a non-refundable, all-inclusive, three-week vacation to Pembrook Park in England where she will strip herself of modern conveniences and live just as Elizabeth Bennett did. After some panicked girl talk with her friend, she decides to humor her late aunt and go on the trip as one last fling before giving up on ever finding her Mr. Darcy. She’ll play out her fantasy and then throw her DVDs away.

She arrives at Pembrook Park and is given a new name, a new age (in Regency times, a woman her age would be considered a spinster and unmarriageable), a pamphlet on how to speak and act, a regency wardrobe (even her purple bra is confiscated and replaced with Regency undies), and is scurried off to teatime with her cell phone hidden illegally in the bottom of her trunk. She feels a little silly at first, but soon embraces this new way of life. She even enjoys it a little! Even though it’s all a game, her confidence improves and she’s convinced she can finally kick this Mr. Darcy obsession to the curb. However, these dreams or hers seem to be more attainable than she thought. With all the humor, charm, and sweet romance you could expect from a Jane Austen novel, Jane Hayes is well on her way to finding everything she hoped for.

This book had me before it even started when I read the dedication page: “For Colin Firth: You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.” I knew I was in for a fun read. I think part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because I identify so much with Jane Hayes. I’ve had my share of frogs in the proverbial dating pond, and understand her frustrations. However… I don’t hide my Pride and Prejudice DVD in a flowerpot. Hahaha. This was a fun, light-hearted read. It was very clean, obviously (since it’s modeled after a clean book), and I enjoyed watching the romance unfold. Jane got herself into some funny situations and was a bit rebellious at times—sneaking out to enjoy modern technology (sounds like something I’d do). I also love that each chapter started out with a story of one of Jane’s romances-gone-bad. They were very humorous and made me feel a little better about my experiences! I enjoyed the characters, the detailed descriptions, and the storyline. I laughed, I got annoyed, I chewed characters out when they were being dumb, I turned the pages in anticipation, and I closed the book with a smile on my face. Most importantly, this book helped me remember that sometimes what you need is much different than what you want or what you’re looking for.

Happy reading! I’m off to pop some popcorn and watch Pride and Prejudice! (Colin, feel free to join me. I’m not married.)

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