Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at The Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother and their aging antebellum home. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’s misgivings and throws herself into the project.
Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?
Featuring a colorful cast of southern belles, Civil War re-enactors, and good Christian women with spunk to spare, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs brings the modern American South to light in a way only a contemporary Jane Austen could have imagined.
Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs is a contemporary re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Emma. It is not a strict re-interpretation, but takes the basic story and sets it in the Deep South amid the insular society of a small town. This actually works. I can think of no better contemporary setting for Highbridge than a nosy, everyone-knows-your-business, stuck-in-the-past small Southern town. Although it is a quick read with romance front and center, I don’t think this will be a perfect fit for strict Jane Austen fans. There are too many deviations from the original. But it should appeal to those who like a good contemporary romance and who enjoy the movie adaptations of Jane Austen. And while this was not my favorite Jane Austen knock-off, I will probably read the other books in the series.
(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)