I enjoy reading the fictional works by Jane Austen as well as fiction and nonfiction about Jane Austen, so I was intrigued when I received an ARC of Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany. Of course since that is the second book in the "Immortal Jane Austen" series by this author I purchased and read the first in this series Jane and the Damned. I had previously read and enjoyed the "Jane Fairfax" series by Michael Thomas Ford, but that series was set in modern times and Ms. Mullany's series is set during the lifetime of Jane Austen . . . big difference.
Jane and the Damned begins when Jane is 21 and home with her family in Steventon. It is strange that this is set in the late 18th century with strict societal rules and morals, yet vampires are supposedly known to and moderately well-received by society albeit known as “The Damned.” The initial problem I had was that there doesn't appear to be any reason for the vampire to "convert" Ms. Austen other than a case of boredom during a country party. Jane knows very little about vampires and vampire etiquette but realizes that she doesn't want to be one. She confides in her father and the family takes off to Bath for Jane to partake of the waters in effort to cure her of vampirism. What follows are a wild few weeks while Jane hesitates to accept the cure, is befriended by the local visiting vampire community and receives a new vampire master to teach her vampire etiquette and acceptable behavior. Jane discovers that her artistic talents for writing and enjoying music have dimmed. (Can you even imagine a world without Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibilities?)
Jane begins to live a double life, one where she mingles with the vampires at night and the other where she tries to be the genteel daughter and sister her family expects. When the French invade Bath, Jane and the other vampires fight alongside the English to overthrow the French. Of course the English prevail, but Jane has become enamored with her new vampire master. She loves her family and finds it difficult to decide whether or not she should stay a vampire or take the cure. Will she take the cure, return home with her family and writing or will she stay a vampire with her new love?
Again, I found the premise of Jane Austen as a vampire rather interesting. However, Jane and the Damned seemed to stretch credulity. Yes I know this is fiction but even paranormal-fantasy and science fiction make a certain amount of sense. The romance between Jane and her new master is the only part that made sense and rang true. The remainder of the story just didn't do it for me.
Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading
"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor
“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen
"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde
"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller