(Review) Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks

Publisher and Publication Date: Shadow Mountain Publishing. January 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction. Proper Romance.
Pages: 320.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback/NetGalley e-book copy from Shadow Mountain. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction and proper romance stories.
Rating: Very good.

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Link @ Goodreads

Author Info:

Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the
Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures
and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in
history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn’t writing,
Arlem is baking her characters’ favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning
how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her
husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance
novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.

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Summary:

A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe
harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.
As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls,
and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future
under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join
her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication
to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a
new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the
captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it
and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic
deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s
secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent
and hides his growing affection for her.
Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is
convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life
on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her
chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable
husband are quickly slipping away.

My Thoughts:

I love the unique story of Georgana.
As a young girl, and beginning to mature and develop, she became another person in order to be near her father and safe. She is uncomfortable in this role. She is bullied and abused because of this role. She is always on guard hoping her true identity will not be discovered. Her impersonation is difficult but required.
I am reminded of how difficult it is to try and be someone else in order to please another. I am reminded of men and women who are in relationships who pretend to be someone they are not. It is a burden and taxing. These issues are never deeply explored, but Hawks touches on them in Georgana’s story.

I love the character Dominic.
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton is a good son, and he is an officer in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. He is not looking for a romantic relationship. He believes it will detour him from life and career at sea. After boarding the HMS Deborah, he notices a cabin boy who is in trouble. It is interesting Dominic makes time to be compassionate and kind. I feel this is an admirable trait in a man who seems to be singularly focused on his career. But he is also a good son and treats his mother well. This is often a predictor of how a man will be in a relationship. Further, I feel a part of him knows the truth about Georgana.

I’d like to have read more about Georgana’s father. I know enough about him to be curious for further character development.

Another character who is an intriguing secondary character, Etienne. He is the ship’s doctor.

I love reading about life at sea, encounters with the enemy, duties for the crew, medical procedures onboard ship, emergency situations, and the relationships between the males.

Men can be friends with men. Women can be friends with women. Men and women can be friends. And all these relationships can happen without sex. It is possible. Romance doesn’t happen to two people because they are in a platonic relationship. Romance is a result of a mix of other factors. It is possible for a reader to wonder is there could have been a sexual relationship between Dominic and Georgana—Dominic thinking Georgana was a boy. I don’t know, that’s a far reach. I still believe a part of him knew her identity.

(Review) The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Publisher and Publication Date: St Martin’s Press. May 26, 2020.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, General Fiction, Austenesque.
Pages: 320.
Source: NetGalley eBook copy. I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley, and through the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.

The Jane Austen Society is available in hardcover, Kindle, audio CD, and audiobook.

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The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014). The combination of Jenner’s marvelous prose and Armitage’s velvet voice is just sublime.

For another review and to listen to an excerpt: Austenprose.

AUTHOR BIO:
Natalie Jenner is the debut author of The Jane Austen Society, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.
Website for Natalie Jenner.

Summary:
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable. One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

My Thoughts:
I am a Jane Austen fan. I’ve enjoyed reading all her novels. My favorite is Sense and Sensibility. Many of her fans state Pride and Prejudice is their favorite. Not me. I love the story but it’s not my favorite.
Are you a Jane Austen fan? Is there a particular book of Austen’s that is a favorite?

In The Jane Austen Society, the cast of characters represent people from different walks of life: male and female, different ages, English and American, varying types of education and profession, modest income and wealthy. This is the first reason why I love this story. The Jane Austen Society is a group of different individuals who come together for a common goal.

Other reasons why I love this story:
*Descriptive story-telling.
*A male character who has an easy to dismiss role, but he is important to the story. His role is different than other male book characters I’ve read in other stories. He’s subtle and understated. His background story is touching and memorable. For me, he holds a balance for the story. He is neither profound because of star qualities and heroic abilities, nor is he insignificant and trifle. He is actually endearing. And, his person and life develops.
*I enjoyed reading how the characters felt about the history of Chawton (the town where Jane Austen lived.) How they felt about the fans that came often to “sight-see.” How they felt about the Knight family who dwell in Chawton House. How they feel about one another; and what they think they know.
*The majority of the story is post World War II. However, the story backs up to a behind the scenes story of World War I, the childhood of some of the characters, and the Great Depression years.
*I’ve read remarks from reviewers about the Hollywood starlet, Mimi Harrison. I feel she has a part to play in this story. She’s the American who adores Jane Austen. She has a part to play in how The Jane Austen Society is able to complete a goal. She represents the outer world. A world away from this small village, but she loves Jane Austen too.
*I have favorites in the story. One of my favorites is not Mimi, but Adam Berwick. I also like Adeline Lewis and Frances Knight.

Final Thoughts:
The Jane Austen Society is not a story with huge sweeping romantic stories. It is closer to everyday life. It is down-to-earth.
It’s possible that you are a reader who needs plenty of action and oomph! This is not that kind of book. However, I love this story. I enjoyed reading it.

Other links of interest:
Jane Austen’s House
Chawton House
JaneAusten.org
Jane Austen Centre
Britannica