Saturday, June 21, 2014

Title:       Once Upon a Kiss [Book Club Belles Society, book 1]
Author:   Jayne Fresina
Rating:   ★★★1/2

I didn't realize I haven't posted anything for almost two weeks. Sorry! With my new responsibilities and sort-of job and location, I haven't been able to take a breather. But I haven't stopped reading books, although reading takes me longer nowadays since I'm usually too tired at the end of the day to read.

These Book Club Belles are ready to put down their novels and find some real-life leading men!

In the sleepy village of Hawcombe Prior, five young ladies of the local book society are reading a salacious romance called Pride and Prejudice. Upon finishing the book, the ladies race to find their own Mr. Darcy, and the handsome, mysterious Darius Wainwright is the perfect mark.

Justina Penny can't understand why her fellow Belles are starry-eyed in the newcomer's arrogant presence. But if the town's only eligible bachelor marries anyone, it should be her sweet, beautiful sister. And it's up to Justina to make it happen. How could this plan possibly go wrong?

Once Upon a Kiss was a typical historical regency romance to me. There was not much witty banter going on, but the thought processes of the characters were entertaining to read. Off the bat, I knew it was going to be like Pride and Prejudice, but I didn't realize it was sort of a retelling, albeit with naughtier ideas and events.

To my surprise, I enjoyed reading it and I finished it until the end. I have come to realize that my reading habit has changed over the years of blogging, and that if I don't like a book from the start, I don't persuade myself to finish it anymore and just move on to the next book. Once Upon a Kiss was predictable and held little surprise to me. Still, maybe it's simply Fresina's style of writing, but I didn't think of putting down the book.

I'm really not a fan of retellings but I like Jayne Fresina, and the plot just suckered me in. I knew, going in, that it was going to be like Pride and Prejudice, but I felt like the book had an identity crisis. There were times that it felt like what happened to the characters was what the readers wanted to happen (like, spoiler alert, the handsome captain being honorable instead of dastardly). And this is where the confusion started. I know a retelling brings new elements to the story, but it felt like the story was being pulled into sticking to the truth of P&P or deviating from the story and adding the author's own flair or ideas. And while Once Upon a Kiss was fun to read, it's not something I could actually recommend, especially to fans of Pride & Prejudice.

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