Description (from cover): “May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript–about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain–cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.
Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own–some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.”
Jane Austen has always fascinated me and having found a series focused on murder mysteries being solved by her, is just the icing on the cake. While it has been some five years since I have picked up a book in this series, I knew that I would enjoy reading about Jane’s adventures again. It did take me a little while to remember what happened in past books and try to figure out who the characters were (mainly Jane’s family members and their backstories). I feel that had there not been such a long gap in between reading the books, that it might have been a little easier to follow along. I did struggle initially with this book trying to keep everything straight. The plot was a little slow and it took me some time to really get into this book.
Jane and her sister, Cassandra, have left home for some rest in Cheltenham Spa where they plan on taking the curative waters to help with their many health ailments. Life has been a little chaotic for the family lately and the sisters hope that getting away for a little bit will provide respite for them. Upon arriving in Cheltenham Spa, they find that their housemates aren’t quite what they appear to be and intrigue is afoot with mysterious happenings. Jane cannot help but find herself in the middle of everything and her inquisitive mind leaves her searching for answers. When other houseguests end up being murdered in strange circumstances, Jane uses her wits and her friends to help solve the murders before someone else is harmed or worse.
As I stated previously, it did take some time for me to really start enjoying this book. The plot started out very slowly, but then as the book progressed, it started to get better. While I wouldn’t say that this was my favorite book in the series, it was nice to read about Jane and her life again. I love how the author uses real details about Austen’s life in the books and incorporates them into her stories to make them seem more realistic. While we all know Jane Austen wasn’t known for solving murders, I really enjoy the thought of Jane being a detective and solving murders in Regency England. This series has long been one of my favorites and it was nice to read this newest installment, which will be released in February 2022. If you are a Jane Austen fanatic like me, I would recommend this series for a different spin on her life and adventures.
Overall Rating: 3 stars
Author: Stephanie Barron
Series: Jane Austen Mystery #14
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: February 8, 2022
Genre: Historical Mystery
Get It: Amazon
Disclaimer: An advanced reader copy of this book was provided to me by the Publisher through NetGalley. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.