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Liz always believed working as a librarian in Hertford, Idaho would give her opportunities to meet intelligent men. Lately, however, she is starting to think her theory was wrong. She finds herself hiding from Collin, that slimy blind date she wishes she could forget. Charlie is a nice fellow, but he is clearly taken with Jane. Then there is that Californian "aspiring writer" named Darcy. What a snob!
What are chances any man could answer the wishes of Liz's heart? Is being fond of reading the first step toward falling in love?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single librarian who spends most of her days working in a library, must be in want of meeting another book lover. This is certainly the case in Trudy Wallis’ debut modern JAFF story, Longbourn Library, where single librarian, Ms. Liz, works full time as a librarian at the Longbourn Library, surrounded by her other colleagues at the library, Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. The library is at the heart of their town named Hertford, which is located in Idaho. At home, Liz spends time with her finicky cat, cheekily named Mrs. Hill, who often thwarts Liz’s reading plans as she seeks to garner her attention through her mischievous actions.
Even though Liz loves her work, her plans for finding a soulmate at the library haven’t checked out in the manner she had hoped that they would, so she’s feeling a bit defeated when she meets Will Darcy, who is visiting Idaho from California, appears at the library one day with his friend, Charles. Apparently, there’s a bit of contention between Californians and Idahoans, which immediately raises Liz’s ire towards Darcy and leaves her wondering why he is even visiting the area.
Yet, when Darcy’s immediate actions turn Liz off to him, it appears that there’s little hope for any relationship between the librarian and the quiet gentleman who always appears in his formal attire as he checks out the maximum amount of books at each visit to the Longbourn Library. Even though Liz is not smitten, her colleague Jane certainly is with Charles, and the two become as thick as thieves throughout their interactions at the library. That is until Darcy has a certain conservation with Charles…
The library is surrounded by a cast of humorous characters, which felt right at home in this story. Of course, one of these characters is the officious Kate de Bourgh:
Kate de Bourgh is the city official that manages funding for Longbourn Library. She likes to approve outlandish details for the library such as antique lace curtains and elaborate woodwork. She forgets this is not an estate. It is a library. After all the “embellishments” are purchased, there is little money left for important things like books.
Naturally, Kate has her mind set on Darcy marrying her daughter, Anne!
There’s also Mary, who works at the library:
Mary hands the astonished mother a copy of Fordyce’s Sermons, a book on “all things moral” written 200 years ago for young women by a man who had probably never talked to a woman in his life. And, that is why Longbourn Library patrons avoid the reference desk.
And then there’s the suave and handsome, John Wickham, whose presence affects Liz from their very first meeting:
I walk away a bit dizzy, the magazine tucked under my arm and a fist around the bags of cat treats.
I am a different person the rest of the day. I am in a state of bliss. I hum my way through the drive home. I sing love songs as I put away the groceries. I recite exotic Nizar Qabbani poems as I shake cat food into the dish.
By the time Darcy reveals his preference for Liz, she does not reciprocate his feelings and she makes her feelings for him pretty clear. But just like a book whose cover may not have provided the most compelling initial reaction, events unfold to paint Darcy in a different light, and Liz begins to reread the man that she initially turned down and the more she reads him, the more she wants to know him better. But can such a man forgive and forget her initial prejudices towards him, especially in the face of her colleague’s careless actions with John Wickham?
At under 200 pages, this book is a quick read, especially since Wallis’ writing has an easy and engaging style. I really enjoyed the setting of this story, the main and supporting characters, and the humor laced throughout the story that will appeal to many book lovers. Ms. Wallis infuses her knowledge and love of literature throughout the story so that characters are perusing, checking out, and/or reading books that add subtle moments of levity to the story. She also uses literature to set the mood for a specific scene or to convey certain feelings between her characters. The connections she builds between readers of all kinds is just lovely and I believe this will resonate with JAFF readers, who I happen to believe are the most generous and gregarious readers!
Such as when Liz is more compelled to inaction, she channels the infamous Juliet from Romeo & Juliet, to inspire her to act on other possibilities:
As an ardent reader, I am often enamored by books that infuse the love of reading
Maybe she is correct. I cannot find love by sitting here. It is not as though Juliet met Romeo while reading at home in Verona.
Okay. I will get up.
I will get up.
I will get dressed.
I will find the love of my life.
Right after I finish this chapter.
Liz’s words echo my own sentiments perfectly, and I believe many book lovers will connect with her from the very beginning of the story. However, the story does move quickly and I found myself longing for a bit more plot and character development, as well as more of a romantic spark between the two main couples. The second half of the book does deliver more in the romance department, but I still thought the first half would have engaged my heart more if some more romantic tension would have been developed between the two couples, especially Darcy and Liz.
I am always happy to discover a new JAFF author, and Ms. Wallis is certainly one I look forward to reading more stories from in the future. Longbourn Library demonstrates her ability to weave together a modern JAFF story that cleverly offers bibliophiles a fresh, new setting and a happily-ever-after for our beloved Darcy and Liz that brings new meaning to Austen’s infamous fictional estate, Pemberley.
I am offering a giveaway of this ebook to one lucky Just Jane 1813 reader. To enter this giveaway, please name your favorite story, outside of Jane Austen’s books and JAFF, in the comments section below no later than February 6th and the winner of this ebook will be announced on this blog on February 7, 2017.
Thank you, Trudy Wallis, for writing a JAFF story that will speak not only to bibliophiles love of books but also to their love of Darcy and Liz!
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