Title: Courting Miss Lancaster
Author: Sarah M. Eden
It's been 200 years since Jane Austen wrote her Regency romances, and although many have imitated her subject and her style, few have been able to capture the conventions and the spirit of the age like Austen did. Sarah Eden's Courting Miss Lancaster is an attempt at emulating the spirit of Austen. When impoverished Harry Windover's best friend, the scary Duke of Kielder, gives him the task of overseeing the social season of his sister-in-law Athena, Windover presents Athena with a suit of unsuitable suitors because he can't bear to see Athena fall in love with anyone but him.
When Emily and I talked about Courting Miss Lancaster, we both decided that it's very readable. It's probably even more readable for a modern audience than Austen. And I think that's the book's main problem. It feels too crisp and clear, the diction a little too modern, the attitudes of the characters a little too twenty-first century. That's not to say Eden doesn't have her details right (at least not as far as I can tell), but there's something that feels a little off. In fact, it reminds me a little bit of Shannon Hale's Austenland, with modern characters playing at the Regency period. I can't put my finger on what it is, though.
One thing I thought was unique and refreshing was that the book was told from Harry Windover's point of view. Virtually all of the romances I've ever read have female protagonists, and in Austen's most famous works, it's the penniless girl who's pining after a rich guy. In this case we have a poor guy lamenting that he'll be seen as a money grubber if he chases after the woman he loves.