Review: “First Impressions” by Debra White Smith

If you put “Jane Austen retelling” in a sentence, and you have my attention. Add the “inspirational” genre to that description, and I’m even more interested!

About the Book

First ImpressionsLawyer Eddi Boswick tries out for a production of Pride and Prejudice in her small Texas town. When she’s cast as the lead, Elizabeth Bennet, her romantic co-star is none other than the town’s most eligible–and arrogant–bachelor.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

First Impressions accomplishes what any good retelling does: a fresh take on the classic with its own unique elements and wonderful nods to the original text. In this case, the tropes are all present with a new setting, time period, and extra quirks to familiar typecast characters.

This story is likable overall, BUT, some situations and behaviors felt contrived because of the expected underlying storyline. I would have liked a little more emotional depth in a grab-your-heart and relate way. A large amount of the characters’ time is spent preparing and practicing for an actual play production of Pride and Prejudice. This made story-inception and personality parallels fun, but I feel like it dragged down the pace of the story.

It was refreshing how characters one might dislike/love from the classic are more fully fleshed out and challenging their own stereotypes with their behavior — especially “Aunt Maddy”. I loved her! And, I did enjoy seeing the personalities of “Elizabeth and Darcy” playing out in a modern day comedy.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Advertisements

Review: “The Beautiful Pretender” by Melanie Dickerson

Today’s book review is of Melanie Dickerson’s recent release, The Beautiful Pretender. This was my first experience with a story from Melanie, but from other reviews, I knew she was praised for her retellings and twists on fairy tales. After reading, I can say they were well deserved!The Beautiful Pretender

About the BookWhat happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

ReviewFrom the beginning, the reader is drawn in to a medieval world and sympathetic of the heroine, Avelina (don’t you love that name?!). Random side thought: Melanie was very creative with inventing names in this novel, both of places and people. Geitbart, Plimmwald, Fronicka, and more! These added to the atmosphere established with candlelight, a mysterious stone castle, and preying wolves to convey the old-world, chivalrous feel of the story.

There were allusions to both the princess and the pea and beauty and the beast. At times, the plot had an Esther-like feeling. These stories combined with Avelina’s disguised identity and a possible plot to thwart Reinhart’s rule very well. I thought the latter half of book more entertaining, with a little more action and movement to the story.

My favorite part of this story was the relationship dynamic between Avelina and Reinhart. I loved how she complimented and encouraged him, sometimes through critique, but always out of true concern and care. She was brave and loyal (and not a ninny). And, he learned to embrace her willingness to help him while fiercely protecting her at the same time. ❤ Through all of it, they both learned lessons of how God can work and reveal His love in even the most unexpected or forced circumstances.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.