Review of A Very Austen Valentine

About the Book

Book: A Very Austen Valentine

Author: Robin Helm

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency), Religious and Inspirational

Release Date: December 29, 2018

Six beloved authors deliver romantic Valentine novellas set in Jane Austen’s Regency world. Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, together with Susan Kaye and Mandy Cook, share variations of Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, featuring your favorite characters in sequels, adaptations, and spinoffs of Austen’s adored novels.

Experience uplifting romance, laugh-out-loud humor, and poignant regret as these authors deftly tug on your heartstrings this Valentine’s Day.

I Dream of You by Robin Helm

Newly-married Elizabeth Darcy has a plan: to charm her too-busy husband into desiring her company as much as he did when he was courting her. A series of romantic dreams gives her just the push she needs to put that plan into action.

Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile

Faced with a lonely future and finding himself strapped for cash, Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot manfully decides to marry again. But his careful plans go sadly awry! A lighthearted Valentine mash-up featuring two of Jane Austen’s worst snobs.

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis

Jane and Charles Bingley have married, even though Miss Elizabeth Bennet remains certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy gave his best effort to keep them apart. After Mr. Darcy refused to stand up with Bingley and did not attend the wedding, she despises the gentleman more than ever and finds his company intolerable. How will she endure her visit to Kent if Mr. Darcy turns up everywhere she goes?

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite

A chance encounter with a handsome stranger forces Elizabeth to resort to subterfuge in order to discover his true intentions.

My Valentine by Mandy H. Cook

Little Charlotte was always determined and independent, traits which served her well as she battled a serious childhood illness and later as she took on Polite Society. Will those traits now deprive her of true love? Or would her lifelong Valentine win her heart?

The Lovers’ Ruse by Susan Kaye

In this Persuasion alteration, Anne is so altered by Wentworth’s love in the summer of 1806, she refuses to give him up when both her godmother and father try to persuade her. “The Lovers’ Ruse”follows Frederick and Anne through their whirlwind courtship and their secret engagement. When Wentworth returns for his Annie girl, the cat comes out of the bag.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Robin Helm, author

Robin Helm, author

Robin Helm’s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.

Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: GuardianSoulFire, and Legacy(a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency sweet romance).

She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017, and A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2 which was released on December 29, 2018.

New releases for 2019 include More to Love, a standalone historical sweet romance dealing with body image; Lawfully Innocent, a historical U.S. Marshal romance book in the Lawkeepers series; Maestro, a historical sweet romance featuring a brilliant musician and his student; and A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3.

She lives in sunny South Carolina where she teaches piano and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.

More from Robin

Do you love Historical romance, but avoid “those” covers like the plague?

Would you enjoy an anthology featuring six Valentine-themed novellas set in the Regency period written by Christian authors?

In A Very Austen Valentine, stories range from a young wife searching for a way to bring her marriage back to the way it was, to a laugh-out-loud courtship between Jane Austen’s worst snobs.

Misunderstandings, concealed identities, and romance abound.

There is even a sequel featuring the children of the Darcys and the Brandons.

Every reader will find something to love in this wonderful collection.

A Very Austen Valentine blog tour with Celebrate Lit

Visit all the stops for extra entries in the giveaway!

Blog Stops

Blossoms and Blessings, March 25

Christian Bookaholic, March 25

Blogging With Carol, March 26

Britt Reads Fiction, March 26

Reflections from My Bookshelves, March 27

For Him and My Family, March 27

Godly Book Reviews, March 28

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 28

Emily Yager, March 29

Connect in Fiction, March 29

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 30

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 30

Moments, March 31

Mary Hake, March 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 1

Pause for Tales, April 1

Creating Romance, April 2

Book by Book, April 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, April 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 3

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 4

Texas Book-aholic, April 4

janicesbookreviews, April 5

A Reader’s Brain, April 5

Just the Write Escape, April 6

Inklings and notions, April 7

The Becca Files, April 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Robin is giving away

Grand Prize: a $50 Amazon gift card
1st Place: An autographed paperback of A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 1
2nd Place: An autographed paperback of A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 2
3rd Place: A set of three ebooks – Reader’s Choice of any three of my books and
4th Place: a $5 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. 

$50 Amazon gift card in the giveaway! click the pic or the button below to enter!

$50 Amazon gift card in the giveaway! click the pic or the button below to enter!

Lila’s Opinions:

I took the average of all 6 novellas and rated it a 4-star. On the whole, I enjoyed them, though I did find it a little confusing to go back and forth between timelines in the same Austen world.

  • The first novella was about Elizabeth & Darcy after they had been married for a year.

  • The second, though the main story is not about them, takes us back to the days of Pemberly before Darcy proposed to Elizabeth.

  • The third is when Elizabeth again goes into Kent to visit the Collins, but with an alternative timeline of Bingley already married to Jane.

  • The fourth is yet another alternative timeline that happens before Bingley even rented Netherfield, but somehow Darcy and Elizabeth meet anyway.

  • The fifth is years later, focusing on the Elizabeth's children.

I wish that either the authors had conversed with each other and chosen different Jane Austen worlds, or that perhaps there was some common sci-fi thread weaving these together as alternate universes or something.

Now I will give my thoughts on each individual story. Though I tried not to spoil anything major, there may a few minor spoilers, so be warned if you don’t want any idea what each one is about. ;)

I Dream of You by Robin Helm 2/17/19 *****

A very fun and interesting take on what the married life of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy may have been like. It's slightly steamy but beautiful in the confines of marriage and not graphic at all.

I thought it was very bold of the author to show us how one of the most complex and beloved heroines of all times thinks. I was a little skeptical at first, especially since I don't think Lizzy would be pouty; at least, I don't think she herself would acknowledge she sounds pouty. But for the most part, she won me over.

The dream sequences were quite interesting, but I'm still unsure whether I like them or dislike them more. Dreams are important to me, and I write my most vivid ones down, too, so that was relateable and helpful to understand Lizzy's deepest desires. But I think I might have enjoyed the dreams not as they happened but later as Darcy read them, so I wouldn't have to remember them and wonder which one he was reading that time. Observing the dreams was confusing before we saw much of the real interaction between the couple. I liked how the story ended with another dream but we also get to see Darcy's reaction; however, I didn't like the negativity in what should have been a sweet dream.

Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile 2/20/19 ****

This was a creative take on Jane Austen's worlds of both Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice melded together. Anne Elliott's father, Sir Walter, from Persuasion meets Elizabeth Bennett, the Collinses, Darcy, Col. Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh from P&P.

I thought it was interesting to have the story told from the perspectives of Sir Walter and Lady Catherine, two characters we don't like. I'm not sure it needed to be told that way, but it was definitely different, and I will remember it for that reason. I thought it funny that we get the two different perspectives of the “hero” and the “heroine,” like in contemporary romances. But the actions were far from romantic. Courting and marriage were mentioned, yes, but there was an ironic lack of romantic feelings and hilariously misunderstood intentions.

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis 2/23/19 *****

This was my favorite. It took me a few chapters to really get into it, figuring out how it differed from the original. I loved that we got to meet Miss de Bourgh, Anne, again and that her character was much deeper and friendlier than Austen ever portrayed her. I also loved getting into Darcy's head and getting his perspective more. The continuity of the valentine plot was very clever, too.

The only two things I didn't particularly care for were 1) that Bingley and Jane were already married at the beginning of the first chapter, and we really didn't get to see any of it; and 2) the last line about being “forever valentines” was a little too cheesy and felt like it was just plopped in at the end to validate the already existing title. (I know nobody cares, but I would have preferred a title more along the lines of “The Austen Valentine Plot” or something.) ;)

But this was the first one to make me giggle with giddiness, prompting my husband to ask why and rolling his eyes when he heard that it was yet another Pride & Prejudice thing. ;)

Pretense and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite 2/24/19 ****

I was pleasantly surprised with this one. After the first two sections (there were no chapter markings), I thought it was going to be a little cozy mystery spoof on Austen. But no, there were no murders or biting-the-nail suspense moments, fortunately for me, as I am not a mystery fan. In fact, it was a rather clever mixture of misunderstandings for the characters and humor for the readers. I love that we the readers know the whole truth, but neither of the main characters figured it all out until the very last scene.

I did feel that the last scene in which all the truth came out was a bit unrealistic. I felt that there would have been at least a little more conflict on both sides when they confessed their dishonesty. I didn't think they both would have gone straight to … well, I won't spoil it. ;)

My Valentine by Mandy Cook 2/24/19 ***

My least favorite novella of the collection, for four reasons (although, notice that it's still 3-stars, not bad):

  1. Unlike the previous story, where the reader was in the know from the beginning, here the characters knew the connections before the reader did. It's not revealed how Charlotte fits into the Austen universe for several chapters. Then it's not revealed who the hero is for a few more chapters.

  2. On the other end of the spectrum was the one thing the reader knew well before the heroine. My respect for the supposedly witty Charlotte decreased when she couldn't figure out who was sending her valentines. Come on, really? Had she never read a novel before? ;)

  3. The last page was too cheesy to do more than groan inwardly. Out of all the interesting people and ideas by this author, she had to choose that one to end on?

  4. I didn't like that the last mentions of our favorite Austen heroines, Elizabeth Bennett and Marianne Brandon, were of both of them pining away for their deceased husbands. This is how we're to remember them? How very sad and un-heroine-like.

I did, however, enjoy a couple of things about it.

It was fascinating to learn about the process of a young lady being presented at court, a tradition mentioned but never elaborated on by Austen herself.

Bringing together two Austen worlds must be tricky, but this author also did a great job marrying the Sense & Sensibility world with the Pride & Prejudice world. I would have liked to have heard a little more of the S&S world, but it was still a very clever pairing and seamlessly woven together.

The Lovers' Ruse by Susan Kaye 2/27/19 ****

This was a refreshing foray into a different Austen universe, the Persuasion path. I didn't think the quality of the writing was quite up to the rest of the novellas, but it was neat learning about the first courtship between Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth. I thought a few of the moments were a little unrealistic, contrived, such as the actual proposal and the reactions of Edward and Fanny. Maybe it's just we didn't get as deep and detailed as I would have wanted. I think it could have been expanded just a little more. I enjoyed the ending, which is, of course, different from what really happened in Austen's original.

(I received this book for free. The decision to write a review, as well as the opinions expressed in it, are all my own. I was not compensated for this review.)