Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book review: Jane of Austin

In May, I signed up for Blogging for Books!  I get books in the mail for review purposes and give an online review in exchange.  For my first one, I signed up for "Jane of Austin" by Hillary Manson Lodge, a new-to-me author.

About the book:
“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience - or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.” ― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

2.5 stars
I read the first chapter online and expected to love it.  I'm nuts about hot teas, and loved the whole tea-shop aspect.  However, in the end, it fell flat.  It's published by a Christian publisher, but not billed as such in the summary; thus, the sole reference to faith is that one character wishes to go to seminary and start a church plant; the MC, Jane, doesn't even ask if the dashing man who comes to their rescue is a believer or not, which obviously should be one of the first things a Christian girl should ask a man who asks her out.

I liked the sister parts, though after the fun of the trip, the plot itself seemed to lose focus.  I expected it to be more concerned with the tea shop part, but it wasn't.  The recipes were also a fun part, though the tip about "not using boiling water" doesn't apply to black tea...for teas like Assam, you want to bring it just to the boil and then use the water.  Also, her "tea farm" of tea plants was unrealistic; she has enough plants to fill the back of a pickup truck bed, which might be enough to supply one tea drinker's moderate habit, but definitely nowhere near enough to support an online business or a tea shop.

What dropped it below three stars for me was two instances of potty humor and one gay reference ("their clientele in CA was women and gay men") a gal in a tea-shop-attending family with regular guys, it's quite insulting to think that the only guys who use tea rooms are gay.  I actually know a young military man who takes his buddies to tea shop outings because they discovered the best sweets are there.  I don't know if I was more offended by a gay reference by a Christian writer, or by the stereotype about men.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for my free review copy.