The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!
Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.
But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.
Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.
Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.
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For why else would so many books exist if not to impart different truths about life and all its complexities?
Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance is the standalone debut Historical Fiction novel from author Jennieke Cohen, and is a charming tale of family and duty, honor and loyalty, and the unbreakable bonds of true friendship. This is the story of Lady Victoria Aston and her responsibility to protect those she cares for, and the sacrifices that must be made in order to do so. It’s also a cautionary tale of the dangers of hearsay, as well as an account of the pain that results from surrendering one’s independence. A dire situation that changes the course of a young woman’s future, a mystery where lives hang in the balance, and a love triangle ruled by jealousy and misinformation, there are twists and turns to keep you both invested and guessing until the very end.
The most remarkable aspect of this novel is the pristine and alluring character development. Lady Victoria is the epitome of a strong female lead trapped in a time where women are basically viewed as property. She breaks the mold, and isn’t afraid to let it be known that she’s in no need of a knight in shining armor to protect her. While she tries to model her life after the many heroines featured in her favorite Jane Austen novels, she quickly learns of her own individuality and heroic courage. Cohen also does a wonderful job of presenting stoic and tragic characters haunted by the past. Tom and Althea, both fractured by abusive yesteryears, embark on journeys of healing while depending on others to guide their way. Despicable villains pepper the chapters, but, fortunately, not everything is at it seems.
Perhaps they were more alike than she’d thought after their last few encounters. She, too, was leaving contentment behind to attend to her familial duty.
This story is the perfect balance of romance and mystery, each strongly affecting the other. The relationship between Vicky and Tom is one that begins with friendship from childhood, only to be broken by the evils that lie in a man’s heart. Years go by without any sort of communication during Tom’s exile, but once he resurfaces, he always seems to be present when Vicky needs him most. While the frayed edges of this friendship begin to mend, they both discover something deeper and dazzling simmering beneath the surface. The mystery that dominates this book is defined right in chapter one during the aftermath of a brutal attack, and doesn’t conclude until almost the very end. We’re taken on an investigation for the truth, only to be misled at every turn by the actions of the characters, causing you to second guess every conclusion you come to.
This book also does a wonderful job of transporting us into another place and time, namely Regency England. The dialogue, the expected social behavior, the modes of transportation, the rules of courting, everything is executed in such a charming manner. Cohen vividly describes sprawling estates with gorgeous architecture and magnificent gardens, bustling parks overflowing with couple sauntering hand-in-hand and carriages languidly rolling along paths. Social events are beautifully painted in such a way that made me feel as though I was walking down grand staircases and enjoying classical musical entertainment alongside Vicky. Every page radiates immersion, and there wasn’t a single instance where I felt I was pulled from this historical narrative.
Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance is not necessarily a story I would normally pick up, but I’m forever grateful I did, as I absolutely adored this tale Cohen has weaved. Delicate love, threatening danger, perplexing mystery, resolute characters, brilliant settings, this book has it all. My journey through the quaint English countryside and the hum of busy London avenues was a journey that I thoroughly enjoyed, and one I won’t soon forget. I highly recommend for anyone on the hunt for an absorbing and captivating yarn of romance and finding one’s true self.
NOTE: A huge thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with a complementary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Jennieke Cohen writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.