FICTION

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance

HarperTeen. Dec. 2019. 448p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062857309.
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Gr 8 Up–In pre–Victorian England, what is a wealthy, titled younger sister to do when her family needs her to save the family’s inheritance? Answer: find a suitable bachelor and get married before the end of the social season. When her older sister Althea flees her abusive husband, 17-year-old Lady Victoria Aston is called upon to do just that. Because of complicated and onerous early 19th-century divorce laws, Althea’s husband could still claim the Astons’ home as an heir. Promising to make a match to thwart this reality, Vicky meets eligible men but deems nearly all of them unsuitable. The one who appeals to her has character flaws, but they might be overlooked to make the match. What should she do? Vicky frequently compares her situations to those of characters in Jane Austen novels. She reads the contemporary authoress religiously and finds inspiration and consolation in Austen’s words. Those literary references can feel contrived and gimmicky at times. Throughout the novel, Vicky has interactions with her childhood friend and neighbor, Tom Halworth. They begin the story with an icy relationship but it slowly thaws as Tom helps Vicky solve mysterious attacks on the Aston family. As Vicky makes her choice to save her family home, she realizes her heart has already made it for her. This book contains heavier topics including domestic, child, and sexual abuse, as well as references to rape and murder, some as central plot components while others are incidental.
VERDICT This Austenian romance might find some readers in Downton Abbey fans, but most can pass.

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