For everyone who loves Jane Austen . . . the second tantalizing mystery in a new series that transforms the beloved author into a dazzling sleuth!
Jane and her family are looking forward to a peaceful holiday in the seaside village of Lyme Regis. Yet on the outskirts of town an overturned carriage forces the shaken travelers to take refuge at a nearby manor house. And it is there that Jane meets the darkly forbidding yet strangely attractive Mr. Geoffrey Sidmouth. What murky secrets does the brooding Mr. Sidmouth seek to hide? Jane suspects the worst—but her attention is swiftly diverted when a man is discovered hanged from a makeshift gibbet by the sea. The worthies of Lyme are certain his death is the work of “the Reverend,” the ringleader of the midnight smuggling trade whose identity is the town's paramount mystery. Now, it falls to Jane to entrap and expose the notorious Reverend . . . even if the evidence points to the last person on earth she wants to suspect . . . a man who already may have won her heart.
Nearly as wry as Jane Austen herself, Barron delivers pleasure and amusement in her second delicious Jane Austen mystery . While headed to Lyme Regis for a seaside holiday in 1804, the Austen carriage overturns and Jane's sister Cassandra is injured. The family finds shelter at High Down Grange, home of sardonic Geoffrey Sidmouth and his beautiful cousin Seraphine LeFevre. The narrative is structured as a journal in which Barron's Jane notes her distress at finding herself attracted to the sensuous Sidmouth. The Austens' trip is historically accurate but sparsely enough documented to allow Barron great latitude in creating a tale that makes the most of the period when the Napoleonic Wars raged and the coast was rife with smugglers. At the local Assembly dance, Jane gathers gossip from the Crawfords, Barnewalls, Lucy Armstrong and Captain Percival Fielding, an injured naval officer, who hints that Sidmouth is the "Reverend," a notorious smuggler. When Fielding is murdered and Sidmouth arrested, a customs agent asks Jane to conduct an undercover investigation. She eagerly agrees. With indefatigable daring and intelligence, Jane discovers the true natures of her new acquaintances and the meaning of heroism. While Austen denied that her characters were based on real people, Barron cleverly turns to characters from Austen novels as models for her own: Mrs. Bennet for Mrs. Austen, Willoughby for Sidmouth, Elizabeth's relationship with Darcy for Jane's with Sidmouth. Worthy of its origins, this book is a delight.