Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Lost and Found Sisters

If you're a romance reader, you'll know Jill Shalvis. You may know her work even if romance isn't your go-to genre. I've read a few of her books before and always found them lovely so I was looking forward to her latest book, Lost and Found Sisters. While it wasn't a bad book, it didn't thrill me or live up to my expectations.

Here's the synopsis:
They say life can change in an instant…
After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?
The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.
On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.
As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.
I wish I could put my finger on why I didn't really like this one. Like I said, it's not bad. It's sweet but it's very two dimensional. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for really expanding on the story and building up the characters. This novel - and the series - is supposed to be more of a "women's fiction" story than a contemporary romance. And maybe that's the problem? Not to say that romances can't be deep, but there's usually more meat to a women's fiction than a romance. I'm saying this as a romance reader who loves that they follow a certain formula and don't mind as long as they have an interesting journey in the middle...but this one wasn't as interesting or well developed as it should have been. I could also really tell that Shalvis was setting this up to be a series (side note...are there really that many women's fiction series out there?). It seemed like the characters that would be showing up in the next books were plopped into Quinn and Mick's story simply because they had to be...and not necessarily because they added anything to the story.

I did really like Quinn. I wanted her to be more three dimensional, but she was sweet, funny, and an all around good person. She knows her flaws and is trying to work on them but it's hard for her. I can't blame her because I am sure the death of a sister would be an awful, terrible thing to go through and it would definitely screw you up for awhile.

I thought Mick was really right for Quinn. He had his own stuff to sort through (I totally get the not wanting to move back to his small hometown, though mine isn't nearly as teeny as Wildstone) but he and Quinn just seemed to fit. He supported her and tore down the walls she put up after her sister's death. And he didn't really push for more than what she was willing (or able) to give. He understood that creating a relationship with her new sister was the most important thing in her life and he helped her work on that relationship.

I love stories set in small towns so I enjoyed that aspect of this novel. There were many quirky (and nosy) characters in town. Wildstone was hit during the recession and hadn't quite found a way to bounce back, despite many townspeople trying their hardest to succeed. These issues actually play a part in Mick's backstory and I really wish the first hurdle - and a very big problem - hadn't been resolved between the end of the story and the epilogue. I felt a bit let down by not seeing how Mick succeeded. (Vague, I know, but I don't want to give anything away.)

Overall, Lost and Found Sisters is a cute read but Jill Shalvis' latest wasn't anything special. I wouldn't really consider it a women's fiction novel and really wonder why it's being pushed as such. Despite not being wowed, Shalvis did enough to keep me interested in Wildstone. I want to make sure everyone I met in this first story is going to be ok and get their own Happily Ever After.

*I received a copy of the novel from the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Blog Tour: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Like many avid readers, I love finding that book that grabs hold of you from the beginning and refuses to let you go. It's that story that you want to finish because you love it so much but know you're going to be devastated when you turn the last page. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest novel, was that kind of book for me. I. Loved. It.

Here's the synopsis, from Goodreads:
From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.
Reid's novels are always well written and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, while a bit different from her other stories, was no exception. Her characters jump off the page, the story flows, and you can perfectly picture yourself in the setting of the novel. Which, seeing as half of the book took place in the past, is quite impressive.

The entire book is told in first person - but that first person actually changes. The story starts with Monique (actually it starts with an "article" that gives just enough information about Evelyn Hugo so the reader fully understands her star power) but when Evelyn and Monique are working on the memoir, Evelyn's memories are told in first person as well. That sounds confusing but I didn't even notice it until I started working on this review. That's how seamless it was.

This novel has all of the best kind of drama that really helps the story grab you. There are family issues (Evelyn's upbringing left a lot to be desired and Monique's father died when she was young) and career struggles (Evelyn had to work to prove herself and Monique's journalism career isn't going the way she'd hoped). Relationship problems seem to be at the heart of the story (seven husbands, duh) but as Evelyn discusses her marriages you realize the husbands really aren't the point of the story, or her life.

I loved reading about Evelyn's career. Old Hollywood is so interesting (and always makes me wish I had taken more film courses in university). Reid balanced just enough historical details - what it would have been like when actors had contracts with studios, for example - without bogging down the overall storyline.

Evelyn fought for pretty much everything in her life. She's strong. She's unapologetic about using whatever tools she has at her disposal to get what she wants. She's not entirely likeable but she's captivating and a character I still haven't been able to get out of my head.

Monique was sort of a secondary character in the novel but I think Reid did a great job of showing her growth throughout the novel. Monique started out in a supporting role - in her life and against Evelyn - but as the story went on, and as she learned more about and from Evelyn, she began to turn into the leading actress of her own life. (Yeah, that's a bit cheesy but, come on. The story is about a famous actress. I couldn't not make those comparisons :) ) Evelyn changed Monique's life, and not just because of certain stories that come to light, but also by knowing and learning from this strong, formidable woman

I really wasn't sure how the whole story was going to play out. Reid kept me guessing and I actually gasped in a few places, and I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped too. The twists added a whole new, and wonderful, dimension to the story.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the first book in a long time that gave me an immediate book hangover. I didn't know what to do with myself after I finished Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest novel. I wanted to reread it and also thrust it upon every other reader (and non-reader) I knew because it's just that good. This is a novel you are definitely going to want with you this summer and it's one that just might be my favourite of 2017.

Make sure you check out the other reviews that have already been posted as part of this blog tour. We were all in love with Evelyn and this novel!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for a review for the purposes of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: New York, Actually

It's been just over a year since Sarah Morgan published the first book in her series, From Manhattan With Love. I read (devoured) the first three books and thought that was that. They each followed a different friend and the trio was complete. Or so I thought. I was so happy when I realized there would be another book in the series, even if it wouldn't really feature the three women I had come to love in the first three books. New York, Actually may focus on new characters but it still has the sweet, sexy, and funny feel I had come to love in the first few books. (You can read all my reviews on the first books here.)

Here's the synopsis:
Meet Molly
New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.
Meet Daniel
A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…
Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…
As I said, New York, Actually introduces some new characters into the series. Daniel is the brother of the twins who own a dog walking company that Urban Genie (the company run by the three women featured in the first three books) uses regularly for their clients. Follow that? Basically, as is typical with these types of romances, there's a link between the sets of characters but not a very strong one. It was a little weird to be in the same series and barely see the other characters from past books (and it was only Eva, the heroine in Miracle on 5th Avenue). But, at the same time, I was really happy to get back into this world and see where Morgan is going to take the next few romances. I figure the next book will focus on Fliss, one of the twins, and then the next will be Harriet, the other twin. But that's just my guess! 

*checks Goodreads* Would you look at that. I'm right! Holiday in the Hamptons will release later this month and Moonlight Over Manhattan is being published in October. Yay! More books!

But back to the story! Some people don't like to read romances because they think they're too predictable. I always say that's exactly why I love romances. Yes, I know the two main characters will get together in the end and there will be several bumps in the road before they can finally commit, but it's that journey to the Happily Ever After that is always different. Not every author or story offers a good journey but Morgan always writes an extremely satisfying romance with a swoonworthy HEA. 

Molly was an interesting character. The reader learns pretty early on that she writes a relationship advice blog under a pseudonym and she hides her identity because of something that happened in the past. That something isn't revealed in its entirety until much later in the book and it's one of the reasons I kept turning the pages. I sometimes find with romances that it's really easy to see what the main characters should or shouldn't do. In the case of New York, Actually, I couldn't understand why Molly was so hung up on the past and was so scared of letting anyone know what had happened. Of course, it's easy for me to say when I haven't been in those (kind of ridiculously insane) situations. If romance novels have taught me anything, it's to just be honest and talk to the person you're dating.  

Daniel seemed to be a perfect fit for Molly, even if Molly didn't realize it at first (she actually fought against it pretty hard). He's a nice guy and very successful, plus being good looking didn't hurt. But he wasn't quite as swoonworthy as some of the other heroes I've read in romances, and in Morgan's in particular. I think it's partly because I just saw this story as Molly's. She was a much more interesting and dominate character and Daniel was there to finally allow her to let go of the past and break down her (many) emotional walls. 

I'm so happy Sarah Morgan continued on with her From Manhattan with Love series and wrote New York, Actually. If you're a romance readers, I definitely encourage you to pick these ones up! It doesn't really matter if you read them in order and New York, Actually is a great place to start the series if you want to keep up with the latest books since they're sort of all new characters. Enjoy!

*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Once and for All

It is a happy, happy summer when Sarah Dessen has a new book out in the world. I've been reading her novels for about half my life now (!!!) and I will continue to read them as long as she continues to write. I love her storytelling, how her stories focus on a life-changing moment for a teenage girl, and how so many of her novels are set during the summer. Once and for All, Dessen's thirteenth novel, is out today and it is absolutely lovely.

Here's the synopsis:
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.
Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.
Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
I'm always thrilled when Dessen's novels return to Colby, a little beach town that makes frequent appearances in her books. It might just be because I grew up in a town surrounded by beaches but I just adore the feel of Colby. The town is where Louna meets Ethan, her first love that ends so tragically. Even though we don't really see much of the town - they only spend one night together - I think it was a perfect place for them to fall in love. Plus, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Along for the Ride that I absolutely adored.

Speaking of Ethan...the reason their relationship ended is completely heartbreaking. I don't want to give it away because Dessen reveals the details of the relationship in stages and I thought that was really well done.

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older but I liked that Louna had just finished high school and was going to be going away to college in the fall. That summer is such an interesting one...with all sorts of changes coming and opportunities for the future.

Like any author of numerous books, Dessen has had her ups and downs. I've enjoyed some books more than others but I've loved every single one. I thought Saint Anything (which came out in 2015) was a return to some of her best work (think The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby). I was hoping this new one would be as spectacular as the others - and it is - but it's not going to take over the top spot in my ranking of Dessen novels. Don't get me wrong though...this is still a really, really good book.

And just as an aside...I did receive an ARC of this one but I always buy a copy of Sarah Dessen's books. I can't not. I have all of them, plus a UK edition of Keeping the Moon that I found in an indie bookstore in Australia. The one benefit of having an ARC was being able to read a new Sarah Dessen novel, before it even came out. Now that is a great way to spend a birthday. 

Finally - can I make a plea to Penguin Random House Canada to try and get Sarah to Canada for a tour stop? It's been almost six years since she's done a public event here and I'd love to see her again!

Reading a Sarah Dessen novel is one of my all time favourite things. I know I'm going to get a wonderful story with a teenage girl heroine who is really struggling with something, whether it's her parents' divorce, a past love gone wrong, or something more serious, like sexual assault. These girls are real and they're flawed and such a delight to read about. Dessen's books are often categorized as romances but they are so, so much more. Once and for All is another really well done novel and I'm already sad that I've finished it. OK, if we're being honest, I'm sad the second I read the last word. Dessen's books are never going to be long enough for me. If you want a really great read (and who doesn't?) Once and for All should definitely be on your summer reading list.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Review: Just Like Family

I first met Kate Hilton back in 2013 at BookBuzz Toronto, an event I helped run. She was one of ten authors taking part in the event and, this is the embarrassing part, the only author I hadn't read. *cringe* I've been following her writing career since then though so when I got the chance to review Just Like Family as part of HarperCollins Canada's First Look program, I was thrilled. I had this book done in two days and it was such a great read. Take a look at this link to see what others thought of this novel.

Here's the synopsis:
From the nationally bestselling author of The Hole in the Middle, a witty, insightful new novel about juggling the demands of three husbands—a work husband, an almost husband and an ex-husband—and figuring out the true meaning of family.
Avery Graham has built a life that anyone would admire. She has a brilliant career as chief of staff to Peter Haines, the charismatic mayor of Toronto. She has a devoted partner in Matt, her live-in boyfriend of 14 years. And she has a loving family and deep friendships that stretch back to childhood summers at the cottage.
But when Matt proposes, Avery’s past threatens to engulf her present. Can she contemplate a lifetime commitment to Matt after her disastrous first marriage to Hugh? And is Matt really the love of her life, when she has spent so much of it by Peter’s side? Avery could use some good advice from the women who know her best, but her closest friends, Jenny and Tara, have drifted away over the years.
When a scandal erupts at city hall, Avery must overcome her deepest fears about love and loss, and discover what it means to be a family.
One of the things that really drew me to this story was where it took place. The novel is set in Toronto and too often Canadian authors don't place their novels (especially contemporary/women's fiction ones) in Canada. Part of that is, I think, because for some reason readers in other countries (cough America cough) don't want to read any books set in Canada. Which is, in my humble opinion, stupid. I want to read stories that take place in my own country and set in my own time. While I don't live in Toronto, I'm close enough that I visit quite often and I even interned in the city for four months a few years ago. Because of this, I could picture City Hall - Avery's workplace - quite clearly. I also loved that there was a secondary setting of a cottage in, I'm assuming, Muskoka. I grew up in southern cottage country so I have a soft spot for any cottage set books. 

Also, a fictional story about a mayor of Toronto involved in something that is not more scandalous than the situations the actual former mayor of Toronto found himself in a few years ago? You can't help but laugh. (Just Google Rob Ford if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Speaking of which, Hilton managed to find a great balance of absolute ridiculous scenarios (an older councillor bounces, quite literally, off another, much larger councillor and flies through the air) and realistic dramatic scenes. If she wasn't such a masterful writer, this could have been a completely different novel (I'm thinking Sophie Kinsella...a favourite author of mine but who is known for more outlandish storylines.)

And the drama! I was so invested in Avery and finding out why she was the way she was. She went through a lot at a younger age and hadn't quite dealt with everything appropriately. And let's be real - who actually deals with problems well in your early twenties? Avery was a really interesting, multi-layered character and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story.

The story takes place in 2017 with flashbacks throughout. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the flashbacks. I was sometimes annoyed to go back to 1989 or 1999 when I just wanted to see how present day Avery was faring. I eventually realized there was no other way to tell this story. Hilton uses the flashbacks to reveal more about Avery, her life, and the people she lost along the way. Those revelations made the present make so much more sense (like realizing why Jenny isn't in Avery's life much and what really happened with her ex-husband).

I have to note my favourite scenes, and probably the most powerful ones in the whole novel. I knew as soon as I saw the subheading of September 2001 for one of the flashbacks that we were going to head into some intense moments. Hilton wrote the scenes about 9/11 so well and it had such an impact. It was one of those times where I had no idea what else was happening around me because I was so completely drawn into the story. (And this is saying something because I was reading this part in my office on my lunch break.) Gah. Just...amazing scenes. Heartbreaking but so well done.

Rereading the synopsis as I wrote this post made me realize that Just Like Family is about so much more than what the synopsis suggests. It's not just about the scandal at City Hall or Matt proposing or even about her friendships. Kate Hilton's novel is about a strong, modern woman whose life is going completely off the rails, as it has done in the past. Through Just Like Family and Avery's story, we learn (or are reminded) that your past shapes your present but it does not have to define your future. Kate Hilton's new book is definitely one you're going to want to add to your To Be Read list!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins Canada, in exchange for a review for their First Looks program. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: In This Moment

If you haven't read Karma Brown's books before you are missing out on some seriously good stories. In This Moment is her latest and it is a powerful read and oh so good. But, just a warning, it'll probably rip your heart out. 

Here's the synopsis:
Bestselling author Karma Brown is back with a morally infused and emotionally riveting exploration of one woman's guilt over an unexpected—yet avoidable—tragedy.
Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she's able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.
After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him.
Meg can't help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster. Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy's family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family—and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy's father, Andrew.
Soon Meg's picture-perfect life is unravelling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she's been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart?
I know people are going to say Meg isn't the most likeable character. (Which I didn't know they'd say about Tegan, the main character in Brown's first book, Come Away With Me. I loved the book and really liked Tegan. Turns out I'm one of the few who do and many in my book club weren't a fan, as we learned when Karma came to our club a few months ago.) But, I don't think that should matter. Are you always likeable? Are your friends? No. No one is. No one is perfect and you don't really want to only read books where the characters are always good and perfect and likeable.

Meg is a good person. She's just carrying around a lot of baggage that she hasn't dealt with appropriately. She's tucked everything away and In This Moment is where it all comes spilling (exploding, really) out. At the start of the novel we've caught Meg on the second worst day of her entire life. It took a really long time to finally find out what happened on the worst day of her life. There were hints but the full story didn't come out for awhile (almost too long but not quite). As an outsider, it's so easy to see what could have gone differently had Meg only shared the full extent of her past with her husband (or, you know, anyone). But, you can also see why Meg made the decisions she did. Most of them, anyway.

Many studies have shown that fiction readers are more empathetic and I kept thinking about that as I read this book. I was so twisted up while reading In This Moment. I felt for pretty much every character we meet in this novel (except Andrew's wife, whose name is escaping me, she was under a great deal of stress, of course, but it was really hard to see her side of things...I guess I was Team Meg...). There's a lot of really heavy stuff happening in this novel and that's why I think you'll feel your heart breaking time and time again. It's a good thing because it means Brown has written a story that you can't help but be sucked into completely. It hurts like hell but you'll be better for it when you're done.

And speaking of being done, I absolutely flew through this book and had it finished in two days. I just didn't want to put it down!

I was really happy with Karma Brown's latest book and I think you will be too. In This Moment is such a great read and one that will keep you thinking well after you're done. Lots of "what ifs" and wondering what you would do yourself in certain situations. I'm already waiting for her next novel!

*An egalley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Park Row Books/Harlequin, via NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: The Darcy Monologues

I'm a Jane Austen fan so a short story collection told from Darcy's perspective was a pretty interesting idea. The Darcy Monologues was edited by Christina Boyd and includes 15 stories all told from the point of view of one of literature's favourite heroes, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

Here's the description of the collection:
“You must allow me to tell you...”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Melanie Stanford * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams
There have been countless Pride and Prejudice adaptations over the years and it's always cool to see what authors/directors/etc. will do with Austen's novel. The authors in this collection had the task of imagining how Darcy was feeling during the novel. Some of them wrote Regency era stories so they had the feel of an Austen story, and others wrote their stories set in different time periods. There was one during World War II, another during the sixties, and a few present day stories as well. Some of the Regency stories took place during Pride and Prejudice - some wrote what Darcy was going through after the rejected proposal - and others wrote stories that took place after Austen's novel ended. One even created a mash up of Pride and Prejudice and Beauty and the Beast (I'm still not sure how I felt about that one...). I loved that each other had a twist all their own and it was neat to see how they approached their own Mr. Darcy.

I did struggle with some of the stories and it's been really hard to put my finger on why. Part of it hasd to do with the way they were written. Some just didn't flow well as short stories. It was hard to notice that since I know the source material, Pride and Prejudice, fairly well so I was able to fill in gaps or smooth over awkward timing. I also think that some of the Regency era stories were too similar and I may have gotten a bit bored reading the same thing over and over again. I also found that the Darcy the author wrote sometimes didn't quite fit with the original Darcy. For example, one of the contemporary authors had her Darcy describe himself as a wuss which doesn't work with how I see Darcy and even how he was written in the rest of the story. I know each author can - and should - create her own story but changing Darcy's personality so much feels weird.

I especially liked seeing how the other era and contemporary authors approached their stories. What professions would the characters have? Darcy was a principal in one story and a captain in the war in another. Elizabeth was a radio DJ in the 60s and a sports journalist in present day. Would all of the characters be included? What storyline would they focus on? Sometimes the story took place between the proposals and sometimes it focused on Wickham and Lydia. Each one was very different and I loved that.

My favourite stories were two of the contemporary ones. I loved "Darcy Strikes Out" by Sophia Rose - and not just because it featured Darcy as a professional baseball player (give me a romance involving ball players and I'm a happy girl). I found this one to be well written and struck an excellent balance of staying true to the original story while also being so very unique. I did find myself picking apart the baseball storyline a bit though but I'm a bit particular when it comes to my sports stories! :) The other one wasn't exactly from "Darcy's" perspective as it was a modern day couple who met in a similar way to Darcy and Elizabeth. In "I, Darcy" by Karen M. Cox, the hero is actually named after Fitzwilliam Darcy (his mom was an English major) but goes by Liam because he hates being named after a character who he doesn't understand. I think I enjoyed this one because it focused on the two couples (Darcy/Lynley and Corbin (Charles Bingley)/Jane (Lynley's step-sister whose mother was also an English major). Again, it was well written and it was the perfect story to end the collection with.

Even though I had some issues with The Darcy Monologues, I think this is a neat read for anyone who appreciates fan fiction and Jane Austen. There's a reason we're all still obsessed with Mr. Darcy all these years later (200 years since Austen died, in fact) and it was really fun to see so many authors pay homage to Jane and her most enduring (and endearing?) hero.

*A copy of this collection was provided by the editor, Christina Boyd, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*