Welcome to the Casual Dread stop of the Only With You Blog Tour!
This is my first book blog tour, and I'm very excited that it was for a book I really enjoyed! Please read my review below and enter the awesome giveaway! You can find the rest of the tour stops here.
Title: Only With You
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: YA, Jane Austen-paralit, romance
Published: May 2014
Rating: 9 / 10
Synopsis: "Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph…
Emma has it all – looks, money, and luck. It’s not like she keeps it all to herself – she’s totally committed to helping those less fortunate. AKA, everyone. She invites her heartbroken friend to help with a weekend charity event with an eye to matchmake, but when that friend turns her eye toward the guy Emma wants for herself, how will she choose between friendship and her own feelings?
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The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is hot guys to flirt with. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And it’s about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…
The Jane Austen Academy series are modern retellings of Jane Austen classics set at a beachside California boarding school."
Cecilia Gray lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she reads, writes and breaks for food. She also pens her biographies in the third person. Like this. As if to trick you into thinking someone else wrote it because she is important. Alas, this is not the case.
She’s rather enamored of being contacted by readers and hopes you’ll oblige.
My Review: This was the Jane Austen Academy story I was looking forward to more than any other. Emma is my favorite Austen heroine. I love her because she's flawed, and also because she reminds me of myself. I, too, have played matchmaker for my friends - one couple even got married on my birthday! - and I've also put my foot in my mouth more times than I can count. I may not be as rich nor as perfect as Austen's Miss Woodhouse, but I admire her earnestness and lively spirit. Thankfully, Cecilia Gray's Emma is just as lively (and as flawed, even if she doesn't want to admit it). This novella is a quick, breezy read that kept me entertained and eager to see what would happen next. Or rather, to see how it would play out - the happily-ever-after-with-the-guy-of-her-dreams is a foregone conclusion, but getting there is a lot of fun. Emma invites steadfast Anne, male BFF Knight, and playboy/actor Josh to her parents' house for a weekend. The goal: hookup Anne and Josh, both of whom are nursing broken hearts. The reality turns out to be a bit more complicated, as Anne's ex, Rick, also shows up. The kids spend time volunteering at an animal shelter (complete with a vet named Frank Churchill!) and Emma learns a thing or two about love - namely, that she can (and does!) feel it.
One thing I love about Gray's adaptations is seeing how the characters fit into the minor roles in each new book. Josh, ever the playboy, takes on both Mr. Elton and Frank Churchill. Anne makes a much more interesting Harriet Smith than OG Harriet ever did, and Rick is pretty much spot-on as Robert Martin. There are a few characters absent, of course (understandable, given how short the book is). I love Jane Fairfax as a foil to Emma in the original and would've loved to have seen Lucy in that role. That would've paired her with Josh, too, but I get the feeling that's being saved for the Louisa-Benwick-Wentworth triangle in the last book. Another interesting change from the source material is Emma's relationship with her elderly widowed father. Here, Emma's mother is living and Emma constantly tries to live up to her. It bothered me a bit at first (that father/daughter dynamic is central to Emma's characterization, I feel), but it makes a lot of sense. Both Emmas are trying hard to live up to expectations, and I love the idea of modern Emma being a insecure "mean girl" who isn't actually mean.
I received a review copy of Only With You, but you can purchase one at B&N or Amazon. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!
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If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.