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Review by Suze
Mary is great at her job, she's an engineer and loves working on her inventions. She likes going to work every day, especially since Nathan became a consultant for the company she works for. However, things aren't as fun anymore since the new CEO-to-be has started pressuring everyone to perform and is trying to pull the plug on Mary's project, something she's worked very hard for for a long time. Mary needs a break and when her dominant and persistent childhood best friend Isabel wants to go to Bath together Mary reluctantly agrees to accompany her.
Isabel is in Bath for research. She is a Jane Austen specialist and is working on an important project. She and Mary are staying in an old fashioned manor, a house that's dedicated to Jane Austen regency reenactment. Beautiful dresses are waiting for the female guests and Mary starts to enjoy the time she spends there. However, soon Isabel loses herself in her new world and can't tell the difference between pretending to be a character from one of Jane Austen's stories and reality any longer. This is followed by a shocking discovery for Mary about her best friend's personal life. Will their stay be a complete disaster or will Mary still be able to rescue her heart, Isabel's sanity and her job?
The Austen Escape is a fabulous entertaining story. Mary is incredibly smart, sweet and a little bit naive. It was fun to see the world through her eyes. Katherine Reay effortlessly combines science and literature and I loved that combination. Isabel knows everything about Jane Austen and her stories as it's her profession, but for Mary they have a special meaning as well and that made their adventure in Bath really interesting to read about. There's a lot of tension between the two friends and I was curious to discover where that would lead. Isabel doesn't have the easiest personality and Mary is a patient friend, but she isn't a doormat. I loved that she learns to stand up for herself and share her feelings. For me her personal growth was the best part of the book.
The Austen Escape has two completely different main settings. One is a company where technology is at the highest level and the other is an old fashioned romantic house in Bath. I liked that contrast, especially since the two settings each represent a part of Mary's personality. I'm a big fan of stories about intelligent women and The Austen Escape is definitely a good one. I enjoyed the Jane Austen references a lot. Katherine Reay cleverly combines the beautiful novels of the past with a story that's set very much in the present. The Austen Escape is a wonderful romantic book with a fabulous fitting ending. I highly recommend this enchanting and dynamic story.
If you like Jane Austen and enjoy reading romantic stories with a modern twist combined with regency love you should definitely read The Austen Escape.