Click here to read reviewer Usha Reynolds' take on Jane Bites Back.
Jane Austen, one of England’s greatest novelists, would never have imagined she’d be running a bookstore in the picaresque town of Brakeston in upstate New York. Now known as Jane Fairfax, Jane spends much of her time working with Lucy, her loyal young assistant, and finding herself echoing the desires of her famous heroine Elizabeth Bennett - the hope of finding true love even when the current prospects appear so dim.
Both Jane and Lucy are keen to cash in on the current trends for Austen-mania, eager to sell all the Jane Austen paper dolls and Jane Austen cookbooks, even
if Jane is a little irritated that she hasn’t seen a royalty check in almost two hundred years. Jane is now a vampire, and the fact that
she is for all intents and purposes dead does little to ease her annoyance at the charlatans fervently making money off her good name.
Jane’s life was run awry by the machinations of the poet Lord Byron after she lost her innocence on a secret visit to his house on the shores of Lake Geneva nearly two centuries ago. Byron seduced her, “his eyes burning like stars,” just as she allowed him to lead her into the lake. This was Jane’s death and resurrection, and also her time of rebirth. Although
she has largely adjusted to life as a vampire, lately she’s been fuming over the numerous rejections of
Constance, her latest novel.
Forced to admit that perhaps she has written her last book, a surprise reprieve suddenly comes from Kelly Littlejohn, the dashing senior editor of Browder Publishing. Meanwhile, a potential boyfriend appears in the form
of handsome Walter Fletcher. His blue eyes sparkling merrily, Walter brings Jane the gift of cinnamon buns along with promises of love.
When Walter invites Jane to a New Year's Eve party, she meets enigmatic Brian George, so striking with his pale skin and a face that could only be described as beautiful. His dark eyes matched by the darkness of his hair stop Jane’s heart,
but like a dream plunged into reality, Jane becomes furious and distraught. Disdaining Brian’s seductions, she flees to New York, where Kelly waits.
From New York to Chicago and on to New Orleans, Jane’s romantic life is turned upside-down. Everything heats up when
she finds herself awash with threats of blackmail. There's also the discovery of a dead
Entertainment Weekly reporter and evidence that incriminates Jane. What follows is a terrible house fire, a disastrous book signing, a dog rescue, the appearance of yet another vicious literary villain,
and the fear that innocent Lucy and Walter will be exposed to Byron’s bloodthirsty needs.
Written with perfect pitch and a particular brand of ironic humor, it’s hard not to fall in love with this delightful jewel. Jane proves that love can be dangerous for everyone as she becomes torn between Mr. “nice guy” Walter and the “incredibly sexy but totally-bad-for-you” Lord Bryon, whom she can’t quite get out of her mind.
Ford’s plot races along as Jane is pulled from one race to another along with Walter, Byron, Lucy, and Jane’s memories of her beloved sister, Cassie. Of course, a sequel is on the way, romance always winning at the end of the day, but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyable playfulness of Ford’s book, a delightful merging of horror with the literary and a unique reinvention of the life of a much-loved author.