By Alyssa Goodnight
Available now from Kensington
AUSTENTATIOUS was not what I expected. I somehow got the impression that protagonist Nicola James was in college when I first noticed the book. Instead, she's an engineer, several years out of college, and looking to be promoted. The book starts when Nic buys a journal in a SoCo (South Congress) shop for a present, but accidentally spills her drink on it. She then uses the journal for herself and finds that words in her entries disappear to display messages from a mysterious person. She decides the advice sounds like it comes from Jane Austen, but we'll have to agree to disagree. As much as I love Austen, I think I could have done without the Austen connection. (There is plenty of Austin, TX, which I did expect.)
Anyway, Nic is very straitlaced. She Planned out her life and doesn't like to deviate from the Plan. And honestly, it isn't a terrible plan. She wants to make money now so that she's free to travel and see the world. However, it keeps her from noticing current opportunities. But the journal shakes her out of her rut and makes her think about those possibilities.
One of those possibilities is Sean MacInnes, a Scottish rocker in town for South by (SXSW). He's charming, he cleans up well, he sings, he dances, he has an accent. It's not hard to see why Nic is attracted to him. Nor is it hard to see why he likes Nic, even though she's initially skittish about starting a relationship. She's smart, she's pretty, she can engage in witty banter. The love story was very well done. Nic and Sean date and they talk to each other on those dates. It's so simple, but sometimes romances rely too much on the wacky hijinks to focus on the basics.
There's a silly misunderstanding at the end, but it didn't mar my enjoyment of AUSTENTATIOUS too much. Alyssa Goodnight definitely has a flair for romance and I look forward to seeing what she does next. AUSTENTATIOUS might not be what Jane Austen fans are expecting, but I think they can still find something to like in the story.