Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs cover

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs

Author: Mary Jane Hathaway

Series: Austen Takes the South #2


Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at the Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’ misgivings and throws herself into the project.

Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?


Anytime I open a book that has a Jane Austen character/title in the title, I immediately know that I want to read it. I also know that it is most likely going to follow the plot of the original Jane Austen novel or else they wouldn't have packed the references so heavy. With books like this, the writer is letting you know what is going to happen from page one. In this case, I liked it. Not having to worry about how the novel was going to end, I was able to focus on the way the author got the story to the end and I was thoroughly satisfied.

Caroline is the epitome of a Southern bell. As soon as her mother needed her, she gave up everything she was doing to come home and take care of her. She soon took over helping her mother host bridge parties, entertaining her mother's gossiping friends, and dealing with a life that just isn't turning out the way that she always thought it would. The one thing that makes her days better are her best friend Brooks, his golden retriever Absalom, and the chili-slaw dogs Brooks brings her when he knows she's had a bad day.Their relationship was my favorite part of the story. Every girl secretly or not so secretly wants that one guy friend who will be there for you no matter what.

There were some grammatical and formatting errors along with one other little error, but other than that, the book was well put together. I did feel, however, that it was a little rushed at the end. It felt like the author knew where she wanted it to end, so she pushed it too quickly to get to that point. The big reveal of the novel was more like a tiny puff of smoke - no major blow ups. To me, there should have been a bigger event. There was also a few unresolved issues that I thought needed some kind of ending.

Otherwise, it was a pretty good read. I would suggest it to any of my friends or readers who enjoy Jane Austen, the Old South, and romance.


3 and a half stars

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