I am not what you would consider a huge Austen fan or a Janeite as some fans call themselves. I have even (gasp!) spelled her last name Austin before which I am sure would be considered a crime in some Jane Austen fan’s eyes. I do, however, love Pride and Prejudice. Really, who doesn’t? I love Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I love reading the book and picturing dreamy Colin Firth. I am like 99% of the women in this world. You can’t picture Mr. Darcy any other way.
I also know some Jane Austen fans do not like when her books are rewritten or the storyline is used to write another book. I, however, love that. So when I saw Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits I was intrigued. When I found out it was a faith-based romance and it was southern, I was very interested. Turns out, it wasn’t another adaption but a book loosely based on the characters from Pride and Prejudice. This book is part of a series called Austen Takes the South and I am already looking forward to book two.
We are first introduced to Shelby Roswell – a history professor from Flea Bite Creek, a small town in the South. Shelby is now teaching at Midland College and has recently published a book that received a scathing review by another history professor and published author, Ransom Fielding. Ransom is successful, famous, and extremely handsome. To Shelby’s dismay, he is now teaching a few classes at her small college and she will actually have to face the man who she feels has ruined her name with his bad review. As Shelby put it, “He mocked me in a magazine that has a circulation of over forty million!”
Shelby’s mother wants desperately to find a mate for her daughter who is considered a “spinster” at age 29 (nice nod to the Mrs. Bennett). But Shelby is fine living with her Austen loving roommate and fellow professor, Rebecca, and her cat Sirocco. Ransom on the other hand is a widower and angry with God. After Shelby comes to the defense of a student she thinks Ransom is unfairly harsh with, she apologizes (sort of) for butting in and he apologizes (sort of) for his review. They go their separate ways, but with them both teaching at such a small college, their paths are destined to cross again and again. Love may just find these two after all and do some much needed healing in the process
Narrator Gayle Ambrielle Loflin was enjoyable to listen to. She does an admirable job voicing a number of clearly differentiated characters. She’s particularly good performing the male characters such as Ransom which is very important to me. Her southern accent is spot on but I have to say that it was a bit hard to listen to her characterization of Shelby at first – her accent didn’t seem to match her profession. She is a college professor who says things like, “Haven’t seen hide nor hair…” I realize those are the authors words, but the accent was very southern. I soon realized that was my prejudice (see what I did there? :D) and as I acknowledged that, I found the accent no longer bothered me at all. It actually ended up fitting Shelby to a tee and I think is exactly what the author was going for.
I discovered that Ms. Loflin has only narrated two books (that I can see at Audible) but she sounds like a seasoned narrator. I have said it before, but it always bears saying again – a narrator can make or break a book.
This is your classic hate-to-love story that I am a sucker for every time. Ransom and Shelby are thrown together so many times; they don’t have any other choice but to become acquainted. And I loved both characters right away. Shelby is a friendly, likeable character, the kind you would like to have as a friend. Although she has a bit of a temper, she tries her best to keep it in check. Ransom, who at first seems all business, has been hurt to the point that it makes him strike out in some ways, but underneath he is a kind, caring man.
The main characters certainly possess characteristics much like Elizabeth and Darcy. I loved the storyline and found it very easy to listen to. The only thing I did not really care for was the use of a curse word – something we don’t expect to find in Inspirational Fiction.
Mary Jane Hathaway has written a book that kept me throughly entertained. Combined with Ms. Loflin’s narration, it’s a delight. I so enjoyed the characters and hope to see them in Book 2 of the series, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs. I just love her titles!
Book Content: A
Steam Factor: You can play it out loud
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Publisher: Gumbo Books