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Arsenic with Austen

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When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn't expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life. Emily travels to the sleepy coastal village of Stony Beach, Oregon, to claim her inheritance, centered in a beautiful Victorian estate called W When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn't expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life. Emily travels to the sleepy coastal village of Stony Beach, Oregon, to claim her inheritance, centered in a beautiful Victorian estate called Windy Corner but also including a substantial portion of the real estate of the whole town. As she gets to know the town's eccentric inhabitants--including her own once-and-possibly-future love, Sheriff Luke Richards--she learns of a covert plan to develop Stony Beach into a major resort. She also hears hints that her aunt may have been murdered. Soon another suspicious death confirms this, and before long Emily herself experiences a near-fatal accident. Meanwhile, Emily reads Persuasion, hoping to find belated happiness with her first love as Anne Elliot did with Captain Wentworth. She notices a similarity between her not-quite-cousin Brock Runcible, heir to a smaller portion of her aunt's property, and Mr. Elliot in Persuasion, and her suspicions of Brock crystallize. But as she and Luke continue to investigate and events speed toward a climax, Emily realizes that underneath the innocent-looking rocks of Stony Beach lurk festering jealousies that would have shocked even the worst of Jane Austen's charming reprobates.


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When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn't expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life. Emily travels to the sleepy coastal village of Stony Beach, Oregon, to claim her inheritance, centered in a beautiful Victorian estate called W When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn't expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life. Emily travels to the sleepy coastal village of Stony Beach, Oregon, to claim her inheritance, centered in a beautiful Victorian estate called Windy Corner but also including a substantial portion of the real estate of the whole town. As she gets to know the town's eccentric inhabitants--including her own once-and-possibly-future love, Sheriff Luke Richards--she learns of a covert plan to develop Stony Beach into a major resort. She also hears hints that her aunt may have been murdered. Soon another suspicious death confirms this, and before long Emily herself experiences a near-fatal accident. Meanwhile, Emily reads Persuasion, hoping to find belated happiness with her first love as Anne Elliot did with Captain Wentworth. She notices a similarity between her not-quite-cousin Brock Runcible, heir to a smaller portion of her aunt's property, and Mr. Elliot in Persuasion, and her suspicions of Brock crystallize. But as she and Luke continue to investigate and events speed toward a climax, Emily realizes that underneath the innocent-looking rocks of Stony Beach lurk festering jealousies that would have shocked even the worst of Jane Austen's charming reprobates.

30 review for Arsenic with Austen

  1. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    The main character acted like a teenager rather than a fifty year old woman.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    I wish there had been some mention of the Christian undertones of this book in the description. It threw me off to be expecting a regular cozy and then to have religion tossed into the mix. It's an otherwise unremarkable book. A college English teacher inherits a fortune from her aunt who, though eighty-seven, appears to have been murdered. She returns to the seaside town where she once spent her summers and encounters her childhood love as well as more bodies. The book was a bit frenetic with a l I wish there had been some mention of the Christian undertones of this book in the description. It threw me off to be expecting a regular cozy and then to have religion tossed into the mix. It's an otherwise unremarkable book. A college English teacher inherits a fortune from her aunt who, though eighty-seven, appears to have been murdered. She returns to the seaside town where she once spent her summers and encounters her childhood love as well as more bodies. The book was a bit frenetic with a lot of storylines and characters and the ending was a little bit odd but it was an overall okay read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    I enjoyed the motif of classic literature running through this cozy mystery, and any person who loves books as much as I do feels like a friend. This was a good book and a well-plotted mystery, other than a bit of a pacing issue. The villain is a real nasty one (considering). I'd definitely continue to read this series. Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com. I enjoyed the motif of classic literature running through this cozy mystery, and any person who loves books as much as I do feels like a friend. This was a good book and a well-plotted mystery, other than a bit of a pacing issue. The villain is a real nasty one (considering). I'd definitely continue to read this series. Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This is a terrible book. FAR too simplistic, unrealistic and just unbelievable. And for all her talk about love and forgiveness -- way too preachy -- the author is insulting and downright cruel to the numerous characters she chooses to make overweight seemingly just to be snaky about them - no reason in the plot whatsoever. I'm giving one star only so that it scores low instead of the zero it deserves.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    DNF. I knew I was in trouble the moment the heroine "dimpled at" someone. Then almost passed out at seeing a man who dumped her 35 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) years ago. A "defender" of the language aka snob, she was constantly incapable of doing anything but standing there like a lump in shock at rudeness while the villains almost had mustaches to twirl. Maybe I am not familiar with Austen enough to have enjoyed this, but I was very disappointed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Evans

    Honestly, the biggest mystery in this book is how the main character presumably went 51 years of life without getting decked right in the face.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    I probably would have enjoyed this book a little more if the author hadn't made her characters so disgusted by overweight people. There are some pretty obviously biased descriptions of overweight characters; it just kind of killed it for me. Overall the story was decent; probably something that will be made into a Hallmark movie one day. Not sure if I'll read the sequel(s).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    1.5 stars, but there were enough things that annoyed me that I couldn't in good conscience round up to 2. I did like the literary references, if they did feel a little forced at times. Things I didn't care for: 1) The MC never seemed to find her voice. She was supposed to be around 50, but neither she nor her love interest "felt" that way to me - more like in their 30s. 2) (view spoiler)[The villains were almost cartoon figures - all obvious and right out of central casting. (hide spoiler)] 3) T 1.5 stars, but there were enough things that annoyed me that I couldn't in good conscience round up to 2. I did like the literary references, if they did feel a little forced at times. Things I didn't care for: 1) The MC never seemed to find her voice. She was supposed to be around 50, but neither she nor her love interest "felt" that way to me - more like in their 30s. 2) (view spoiler)[The villains were almost cartoon figures - all obvious and right out of central casting. (hide spoiler)] 3) This supposedly good Christian woman (more about that later) evidently has barely been in touch with her aunt for several years. She also tells the applicant for the position of housekeeper that she would essentially be required to be at her beck and call (even if not actually working) for 72(!) hours a week - 7am to 7pm, 6 days a week, and that's before they arrange for her to live in. 3) The religious stuff thrown in at the end just seemed totally out of place, as other people have remarked. While I'm not a Christian myself, I don't mind it in a novel as long as it's not too obtrusive, but to go without a mention for over 3/4 of the book and then have the MC desperately need to go to church just seemed too weird.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    College English professor, Emily Cavanaugh is about to start summer vacation when a packet is received with her pile of mail informing her of the death of her great-aunt and requesting her presence at the funeral. Given it came from a law firm, she assumes she is to receive some form of inheritance, hoping it to be the Library contents she so loved while visiting as a child. Once she arrives at the attorney’s office, she is informed that along with said Library, she gets the rest of the mansion, College English professor, Emily Cavanaugh is about to start summer vacation when a packet is received with her pile of mail informing her of the death of her great-aunt and requesting her presence at the funeral. Given it came from a law firm, she assumes she is to receive some form of inheritance, hoping it to be the Library contents she so loved while visiting as a child. Once she arrives at the attorney’s office, she is informed that along with said Library, she gets the rest of the mansion, the better part of the town’s buildings, more land and 6 million dollars. A few other buildings in town have been willed to Brock, the nephew of her aunt’s deceased husband. No relation to Emily and all too soon, no friendship... not without his trying. The mayor, along with a tarty real estate agent, waste no time working on Emily to sell out to big development, of which Brock is fully on board with. Non of which is Emily’s intention, nor was it Aunt Beatrice’s. Their insistence gives way to questioning Beatrice’s death, presumably from eating lobster, of which she was prone gastric distress. Emily leans towards poison, and in finding her suspects to have gleaned information on poisonings, she set to do some investigating of her own. Aided with the help of Luke, the local sheriff and the man who 30 years prior, stole and broke her 16 year old heart, they decide to do some deeper queries. But when Emily returns to her college home to retrieve more of her belongings, coming back to the mansion the next day hands her the death of the housekeeper who knew too much to leave be. Now Emily and Luke decide to dig even deeper and push to exhume the aunt’s body to check for poison. Problem is, the doctor who signed the original certificate seems to be in on the charade, ruling it accidental and reacting suspiciously when questioned by Emily. Romance blooms, sleuthing ensues, characters switch suspicion, secrets find release, and more attempts on lives are made. I enjoyed the book references and clean style of writing (once you get past that first, overwritten paragraph) and, as always, a main character that does not forget they are intelligent and do stupid, dangerous attempts to find the culprit when there are police on the trail. Don’t read below if you don’t like spoilers!!! I was really upset at the death of Agnes, the housekeeper. She was my favorite character from first introduction.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Professor Emily Cavanaugh is notified that she is to inherit from her late great-aunt Beatrice, she hopes it is her great-aunt Beatrice’s beautiful book collection. In Katherine Bolger Hyde’s Arsenic with Austen (Crime with the Classics #1) the widowed Professor Cavanaugh heads from Portland, Oregon and Reed University, to Stony Beach, Ore., a small coastal village, to discover her inheritance includes Aunt Beatrice’s Victorian mansion, a large amount of Stony Brook real estate, and millions of Professor Emily Cavanaugh is notified that she is to inherit from her late great-aunt Beatrice, she hopes it is her great-aunt Beatrice’s beautiful book collection. In Katherine Bolger Hyde’s Arsenic with Austen (Crime with the Classics #1) the widowed Professor Cavanaugh heads from Portland, Oregon and Reed University, to Stony Beach, Ore., a small coastal village, to discover her inheritance includes Aunt Beatrice’s Victorian mansion, a large amount of Stony Brook real estate, and millions of dollars. Also in Stony Brook is Luke Richards, now sheriff, the true love of her life, who abandoned her after declaring “to love her forever.” Emily is dreading seeing Luke because of the heartbreak he caused her a long time ago, but meet him she does. Then Luke and Emily investigate Aunt Beatrice’s sudden death. The author has an excerpt from some of Jane Austen’s book at the beginning of each chapter, and the excerpt relates to the coming chapter. Colorful characters, clever tie in with Austen’s classics, and a romantic ride. I liked it. 4.25 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Pearson

    I was kind of excited for this one - a mystery that takes place on the Oregon coast and involves books and a nice (though kind of prissy) professor lady becoming extremely wealthy overnight. And the story was pretty interesting. I just thought the fat people were described weirdly. They weren't all villains, which I appreciated, but the "Whale Lady" rude reporter was unfortunate, and I felt uncomfy with how Billy the groundskeeper was described as "rolling instead of walking" and being like a bi I was kind of excited for this one - a mystery that takes place on the Oregon coast and involves books and a nice (though kind of prissy) professor lady becoming extremely wealthy overnight. And the story was pretty interesting. I just thought the fat people were described weirdly. They weren't all villains, which I appreciated, but the "Whale Lady" rude reporter was unfortunate, and I felt uncomfy with how Billy the groundskeeper was described as "rolling instead of walking" and being like a big marshmallow. It seemed like anyone whose body was described was fat, either "square" or "round" or "as wide as he is tall." It made me feel on-edge the whole time, like when is THIS fat person going to be the butt of your joke? It just seemed like a lot of story was taken up with watching with fascination while Billy's fat squished around. Maybe it's just my defensiveness from living in a fat-hating society.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lesr Kew

    .... could.... not.... finish.... reading.... (yawn)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marci

    There were many things going for this book, but there were too many problems for me to give it a higher rating or a recommendation that is other than lukewarm with warnings. I loved the Oregon coast setting (as I am very familiar with that state and the particular area); the plot structure of a cozy mystery in a small town with odd characters everywhere; the heroine's initial description and position as a professor of language and literature at Reed College in Portland; and many of the minor cha There were many things going for this book, but there were too many problems for me to give it a higher rating or a recommendation that is other than lukewarm with warnings. I loved the Oregon coast setting (as I am very familiar with that state and the particular area); the plot structure of a cozy mystery in a small town with odd characters everywhere; the heroine's initial description and position as a professor of language and literature at Reed College in Portland; and many of the minor characters, especially the two housekeepers, the cats, the French colleague from Reed College, and the acerbic sweet-shop owner (deliciously punny). But the romance didn't work for me, given the heroine's age and position. For one thing, it began to sound like a typical Harlequin-style romance, with annoying teenage-type reactions on the part of the heroine to nothing more than a look. Then it took a lot of suspension of disbelief when I found how far in the past the romance had its beginnings. A 16-year-old very rarely is mature enough to have a romance withstand five years, let alone 35, and since they had had no contact since that one summer, I couldn't buy the lasting quality. A lot about that romance just felt all wrong and kept making me feel that the main character needed rewriting to stay realistic. The piece about the heroine's late husband having a voice inside her head initially was intriguing, but then it just simply dropped out of the story without having been developed in psychological or paranormal or any other ways. It really didn't fit after all and should have been cut. The addition of religion late in the book came out of left field and felt out of place. Had it been introduced early on, it might have worked, but it would have changed the entire feel of the book. As it stands, it's supposed to be a major component of the heroine's inner self, but since she exhibits no religious thoughts or feelings all along, the whole thing should have been cut by any decent editor and the author should have been made to rewrite that part. Yet these quirks could have made a very interesting heroine: a sort of religious person (make it privately sincere and not preachy in any way), who talks to and hears the voice of her late husband, and who apparently was precocious enough to form an attachment at the age of 16 that she never grew out of though she supposedly married happily. (view spoiler)[A little more about the romance though--if it's going to be believable that it lasted, it would be better for them to have at least a year-long and maybe a bit longer romance before they are parted. Let her turn 17 and be almost 18 by the time he leaves. Have the sexual part of their relationship start at the very end when they know they have to part, and that way the pregnancy is a definite surprise to her. If they have been having unprotected sex all along, why was she so surprised to find out she was pregnant? If she's somewhat religious, she might have a few scruples about the premarital sex, unless they are together for a year and talking about getting married some day and she considers herself consecrated in the eyes of God to this boy. Something like that would work. Then the day after the boy leaves, before she knows where he'll be, have her dad throw some kind of alcoholic raging fit that threatens to kill the younger sibling or mother or something--anything to make her believably leave with no fixed destination to help her mother and brother stay alive. There are lots of ways to make this all work better. (hide spoiler)] Together with her position as a language and literature professor and love for 19th-century British novels, and her apparent cleverness at putting together clues and exhibiting great courage, she should have been a complex enough character that I could have happily followed her in a series. I wish she hadn't been so unevenly developed. The mystery itself was set up all right, but having the heroine make giant leaps of logic to draw a parallel between the situation she finds and the Jane Austen novel Persuasion is hard on us mystery readers who already saw that clue very early on pointing to a Dorothy Sayers novel as the actual parallel. Persuasion is a red herring when it comes to the mystery, although its relationship to the romance is too obvious. The villain in Persuasion is hardly a model of the villain in this novel, but the author insists on creating a syllogism along the lines of "All villains are evil. Since X in Persuasion is the villain and since Y in this novel might be the villain, it follows that they are both evil and therefore alike." Ack. The author has definite skill in writing, but she needs a lot more work to make things work really well. As I said at first, the setting is where she really shone. The atmosphere, the character of a small town such as the real town that Stony Beach is modeled on, the types of people who are drawn to inhabit and provide color to such a town, how these old Victorian houses look and feel, even the weather changes are all perfectly realistic and perfectly charming. Some of the dialog is witty, a lot of it is clever, informed, and revealing of character. But sometimes it is jarring, especially when the heroine, who is supposed to be such a master of the English language, uses it wrongly without an explanation. She has an excuse--she says she grew up in poor circumstances most of the time, so with an additional line somewhere that she had to overcome a less-than-adequate early education in order to achieve her professional dreams, we could have forgiven her any slips or lapses in grammar or usage. But I can't forgive her mushy words or descriptions, especially the ice cream one, which was horrible and embarrassing. All in all I was entertained but also disappointed that it could have been so much better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Kotar

    Arsenic with Austen is the first mystery in a projected series called "Crime with the Classics." The concept is wonderful--a cozy mystery series where the amateur sleuth solves murders thanks to her extensive knowledge of the classics of English literature. The protagonist--a mild-mannered, middle-aged professor of literature on the verge of an impending midlife crisis--suddenly inherits a mansion on the Oregon coast, along with a whole lot of money and real estate. This introvert professor, nam Arsenic with Austen is the first mystery in a projected series called "Crime with the Classics." The concept is wonderful--a cozy mystery series where the amateur sleuth solves murders thanks to her extensive knowledge of the classics of English literature. The protagonist--a mild-mannered, middle-aged professor of literature on the verge of an impending midlife crisis--suddenly inherits a mansion on the Oregon coast, along with a whole lot of money and real estate. This introvert professor, named Emily Cavanaugh, must first navigate all the difficulties of being a newly rich and powerful person in a community small enough where everyone knows (and gossips about) everyone else. Add to that an old boyfriend who still nurtures a flame for her, and the considerable shadow of her aunt, who left her much more than a house and money. And then the bodies begin to pile up. The mystery is nothing spectacular. It's a cozy, after all, and it's hard to be terribly original in such a well-worn genre. What sets this book apart from the rest is the writing. Katherine Hyde is bold enough to think that her readers might actually understand literary allusions without using a sledgehammer. The result is a new Dorothy L. Sayers-style mystery. Though Emily Cavanaugh is very straightforward and not one to put on any sort of silly display, she is certainly as educated and as appreciative of a good literary allusion as Lord Peter Wimsey. The parallels with Austen's novels are subtle and effective, and the quotes from Austen that begin every chapter are like little literary candies, but with more nutritional content. I was also pleased that my knowledge of Austen's works did not give away the killer at the end (though I did guess who it was, at least partially). Something this genre generally lacks is a sense of real menace. Sherlock Holmes can't even die. Poirot is undamageable. Lord Peter Wimsey has Bunter to save him. Emily Cavanaugh is remarkably vulnerable, and the danger she finds herself in at the end is chillingly real. I was pleasantly surprised at how worried I got at the end in a cozy mystery. Kudos to the author for surprising me. I'm thrilled to have received an early review copy of the book, and I can't wait for the rest of the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Read it in one day. Set on the Oregon coast, it's a contemporary cozy mystery. Very cozy, with the pretty-pretty setting and all the food descriptions and the kissy budding romance. I don't care for books that are this cozy anyway, and it's tough to accept a main character, Emily Cavanaugh, who describes herself as receiving a legacy of "defender of the English language" and who then goes on to say things such as "like I said." Shudder. Hyde never seems to quite hit on Emily's voice; sometimes s Read it in one day. Set on the Oregon coast, it's a contemporary cozy mystery. Very cozy, with the pretty-pretty setting and all the food descriptions and the kissy budding romance. I don't care for books that are this cozy anyway, and it's tough to accept a main character, Emily Cavanaugh, who describes herself as receiving a legacy of "defender of the English language" and who then goes on to say things such as "like I said." Shudder. Hyde never seems to quite hit on Emily's voice; sometimes she sounds like a Miss Marple-ish spinster, and sometimes she interjects casual colloquialisms that jar against the earlier prim tone. Some of the prose is unforgivable, the prime example being, "They made love to each other without ever touching, just by eating ice cream." Ick. I am just not going to like a book in which literary is diluted with cozy. In my world, those two just don't go together. Finally, as soon as there were references to Dorothy L. Sayers as well as to Turkish Delight, the murder method was completely obvious, which happened much too early in the story. I don't think I'll continue with this series.

  16. 5 out of 5

    CatBookMom

    Picked this off the New Books shelf yesterday and found myself rather charmed by it. I'm currently doing a Pride & Predjudic RAL, and the fact that the epigrams for each chapter are quotations from Austen may have helped me decide to try it. If this is a first book, this author may have a good future. Didn't find typos or major grammar issues, some awkward sentences, but overall it seems pretty well written. Same plot as many other cozy mysteries: surprising inheritance, murders ensue, old flame Picked this off the New Books shelf yesterday and found myself rather charmed by it. I'm currently doing a Pride & Predjudic RAL, and the fact that the epigrams for each chapter are quotations from Austen may have helped me decide to try it. If this is a first book, this author may have a good future. Didn't find typos or major grammar issues, some awkward sentences, but overall it seems pretty well written. Same plot as many other cozy mysteries: surprising inheritance, murders ensue, old flames return, yada. There are some surprising bits of Christian references along the way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teisha

    Devoured this during the flights to and from San Diego. Quite the engaging page turner, and it wasn't until I was about 80% through that I began to predict things. The ending is a bit quick and tidy, but overall very good!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a classic, time old plot--heiress inherits a house and then solves the murder of the person who left it to her. Plus, she comes home and instantly falls in love with a man she'd had a relationship with thirty-plus years ago as if nothing happened. In this case, I was happy at first, because the heroine was over fifty, so I felt like I could relate to her. But the more I read of this book the more it dropped in my esteem. I figured out whodunit in the first third of the book, which meant th This is a classic, time old plot--heiress inherits a house and then solves the murder of the person who left it to her. Plus, she comes home and instantly falls in love with a man she'd had a relationship with thirty-plus years ago as if nothing happened. In this case, I was happy at first, because the heroine was over fifty, so I felt like I could relate to her. But the more I read of this book the more it dropped in my esteem. I figured out whodunit in the first third of the book, which meant there were no twists and turns to change my mind. It was obvious who the culprit was. Two other things really disappointed me. One was the overly done description of two minor, overweight characters. Using words like marshmallow and memory foam to describe them really ticked me off. Plus, at the end, a baby was put in peril. That turned me off the book, and if I hadn't put so much into it I would have put it down right there. Will I read other books in the series? Probably not.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I read this book after reading Book #3 (Cyanide With Christie). I enjoyed both books and will continue with the series. There were only a few problems with some of the characters, unfortunately the main ones. Emily Cavanaugh, a widow and college professor, has inherited much of her great aunt's estate, including a Victorian mansion and several rental properties. On checking out the mansion, she returns to her hometown and finds that the sheriff is her high-school sweetheart and the love of her l I read this book after reading Book #3 (Cyanide With Christie). I enjoyed both books and will continue with the series. There were only a few problems with some of the characters, unfortunately the main ones. Emily Cavanaugh, a widow and college professor, has inherited much of her great aunt's estate, including a Victorian mansion and several rental properties. On checking out the mansion, she returns to her hometown and finds that the sheriff is her high-school sweetheart and the love of her life, who disappeared from her life after high school. More than 30 years have gone by, but after explanations of their separation, they have rekindled their romance. I think my main problem with these two characters is that I don't really think they are compatible. Emily is a well-read, well-educated woman, and seems to sometimes condescend to the sheriff when he doesn't know who an author is, or the definition of a word she uses. The character Marguerite is also annoying, mostly because she speaks French so often, with few translations given, even though the reader is told that she can speak perfect English. All that said, I do enjoy the stories, and I will continue reading the series.

  20. 4 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    2.5 stars rounded up Fifty-one-year-old Emily Cavanaugh is becoming more and more discontent with her life as a tenured English professor at Reed College in Oregon. Ever since her husband Philip died, Emily has been stuck in a rut. Maybe someday she'll take that sabbatical and travel but it's too late for next year. Emily is shocked to receive a lawyer's letter stating her beloved Aunt Beatrice has died and Emily is the beneficiary of Aunt Beatrice's estate. Emily is shocked. She hasn't seen Aunt 2.5 stars rounded up Fifty-one-year-old Emily Cavanaugh is becoming more and more discontent with her life as a tenured English professor at Reed College in Oregon. Ever since her husband Philip died, Emily has been stuck in a rut. Maybe someday she'll take that sabbatical and travel but it's too late for next year. Emily is shocked to receive a lawyer's letter stating her beloved Aunt Beatrice has died and Emily is the beneficiary of Aunt Beatrice's estate. Emily is shocked. She hasn't seen Aunt Beatrice in years even though the woman was a big influence in Emily's life during her teen years. Emily must return to the quiet seaside town of Stony Beach to attend the funeral and see to her inheritance. For Emily, this also means confronting the past. 35 years ago she fell madly in love with a local boy, Luke Richards, only to have him disappear from her life after a summer of love. When Emily arrives in Stony Beach she finds a town divided over developing into a bustling resort town or staying as is. Aunt Beatrice was firmly in the stay as is camp but the mayor, the relator, and Aunt Beatrice's nephew by marriage are all firmly in the develop camp. When Luke, now the sheriff, reveals to Emily he believes Aunt Beatrice was murdered, it confirms what the housekeeper, Agnes, believes. Emily is eager to discover the truth. Her search brings her closer to Luke and makes her some enemies. When someone else turns up dead, Emily fears it may be personal. It's up to Luke to find out whodunit, with some help from Emily and her favorite classic novels. I wanted to love this book because of the Victorian house with a library filled with rare books. I was hooked in by the Austen connection but quickly realized the story has little to do with Jane Austen. The plot seems to be a murder mystery adaptation of Persuasion but only nominally. Like Persuasion, there's a second chance at love romance that happens to be cross-class but that doesn't mean the same thing it did in 1815. The mystery plot appealed to me. It was a difficult puzzle to figure out. All the suspects seemed TOO obvious. I did eventually pick up on the clues as to who and how. Ultimately, the motive seemed weak and implausible to me. I really did NOT like the romance or the secondary romance. I don't believe in teenage love and I don't believe in love at first sight. I found the love story moved WAAAYY too fast. In 1815, Anne was an adult at 19. In the 1970s, Emily was 16 and Luke 18. That's too young to marry even in the 1970s. Emily and Luke need to get to know each other as adults before they become a couple. Plus I was creeped out by the fact they could be my parents. I don't want to read about people old enough to be my parents. I didn't realize this was going to turn into a Christian novel. Emily belongs to a Russian Orthodox church in Portland near the college. It seems very random and super restricting for a modern, professional woman. Aunt Beatrice was "high church" as well. The message at the end is heavy-handed and not one I agree with for most of the characters. I really didn't like Emily. I wanted to because we share a love of classic literature but I found her snobby and standoffish. Emily's tastes in literature run to Jane Austen and the Golden Age mystery authors. While I like those writers/genres too, I also read some modern books. She's missing out on a lot and being snooty. Her literary references are sometimes really obscure, even for me and I majored in Literature! No one else can possibly follow her train of thought all the time, especially Luke, who is street smart more than book smart. She's also a grammar snob and frowns when the CPA cowboy says "What can I do for you?" because it's a colloquialism!!!! I also didn't believe for a minute that she could be a tenured track professor and have zero knowledge of technology. What the heck? How does she get in touch with her students? How does she grade them? Who hasn't heard of Netflix? Doesn't she assign movies or does she only teach grammar? I believe she enjoys being stuck in the past because her happiest memories were in Stony Beach in her teens back in the late 1970s when she was drunk on love and had the stabilizing influence of Aunt Beatrice. Her father sounds responsible for destroying his family. I wondered what happened to Emily's mother all the way until the end. Emily's life is very sad. Her entire family is dead and they're probably dead because her father wasn't responsible enough to hold a steady job that would give them health care. I don't know what happened to Emily's husband to cause him to die. Was he much older? We're never told. At first it seems she loved him and can't let go. I was confused thinking this might end up a paranormal novel with the ghost of Philip speaking to Emily, but once she reconnected with Luke, she never thought about Philip. Her revelations about her marriage are rather sad. She's motivated by the memory of her teenage hormones and Luke's smile to rekindle their relationship. I guessed pretty quickly the secret she was hiding from Luke. It was rather obvious and she was right not to tell him right away. She needed to find a quiet moment when they weren't trying to solve a murder. I wasn't fond of Luke either. He moves WAAAYY too quickly, wanting to pick up right where they left off. Did the author not remember Captain Wentworth's hurt pride and anger? Did she not notice the little things he did for Anne that showed he still cared? He didn't waltz back into her life and propose again. Yes manners have changed since 1815 but not human nature. Luke's eager to go to bed with Emily again. That seems to be all their relationship consisted of, that and him telling her she was beautiful. I wanted to say "Woah dude! She's not 16 anymore and there are certain changes that happen to women's bodies and hormones." Sheesh. He's eager to prove he can solve a murder but he still needs her help. I do appreciate that he's a stickler for the law but in cozy mysteries, the law can sometimes slide a bit for the sake of an entertaining story. I do believe Luke is a good guy and he truly cares about Emily. I just didn't like either of them or them as a couple. Aunt Beatrice sounds difficult but remarkable. She was a woman of a different generation with different standards. She managed to make money on her own after her husband died and she gave Emily the support she needed. Beatrice was fair enough to her housekeeper, Agnes, for Agnes to be devoted to her and didn't seem to mind a cat in her library. I don't think Beatrice deserved to die. Aunt Beatrice's nephew by marriage, Brock, is a real piece of work. Emily thinks of him as an Austen villain. He's slimy, creepy and confusing at the same time. He can't decide if he's a slick wannabe lover, a creepy stalker or a nasty villain. Perhaps all three. I don't understand what he thought he would accomplish (view spoiler)[by marrying Emily. She would still have the money and property unless he killed her and she died without a will. (hide spoiler)] I had a tiny bit of compassion for him at the end. No one likes to be bullied, especially when they are a child. What Geoff and Emily did to him was rather mean even if he was an annoying little kid. It reminded me of James Potter and Severus Snape but Brock is no Snape! Brock is quite probably a murderer but something tells me he isn't smart enough or cunning enough to plot a murder in advance but the clues seem to lead to him. Who is his lady friend? Does she have anything to do with it. Another chief suspect is Everett Trimble, the town mayor. He's a sleazy, slimy guy too. He was Beatrice's biggest foe. She kept his terrible plans in check. I don't think she handled it well, leading to her death. What about a compromise? Turn the house into a B&B or inn, have an activity planner on staff and let the town remain slower than their neighbors. I don't think the mayor is innocent of murder though. He's chummy with Vicki Landau, the realtor who wants to buy Beatrice's house. Vicki is just as awful as the mayor. She's also the scary, mean girl type and I have a feeling Emily has made an enemy. Which one of the unholy trio killed Aunt Beatrice, or was it all three? That's just too obvious. How about Rita Spenser, the Rita Skeeter scoop-seeking journalist? She's not much of a journalist. She makes up a lot as she goes along, she's pushy and rude. She's a long shot for murderer but I don't like her so I hope it is her. Another good suspect is Dr. Sam Griffiths. She seems to be hiding something from Emily and is eager to get at Aunt Beatrice's money to fund a clinic. The cause is worthy but is it legitimate? I hope it's not her because she's a doctor and sworn to "first do no harm." She's covering up Aunt Beatrice's cause of death at the very minimum, if not embezzling funds or even murder. Beulah Sweet, the elderly candy shop owner, is a tyrannical old lady. She's rude and nasty and even though she is snippy, Emily was rude and disrespectful to an older woman she only just met. Even though Emily is the sweet shop's landlady, she could have gotten to know the situation better before she opened her snippy mouth. Mrs. Sweet's grandson, Matthew, seems kind and his father is a good enough businessman not to turn away their best customer because of a personal grudge. The secondary characters are more appealing than the main. Jamie, the young lawyer, is cute in an "aw shucks" kind of way. I had some misgivings about him late in the story though. Agnes is funny. She's dour and sour at first but soon reveals her kind and caring heart. She adds some comic relief to the story. I adore Billy, the Dickensian/hobbit gardener. I like the way he talks and acts like he's out of a 19th-century novel. He must have appealed to Beatrice for that reason. However, I fear he may be involved in the murder mystery! Katie is very nice and I feel sorry for her but I hate babies and was so unhappy so much of the story was dedicated to Lizzie. I really didn't need to read numerous scenes about Katie stopping to nurse Lizzie and really, really didn't need the boring passage of Emily making a mull of it trying to make a bottle for a baby. Even I know how to do that! Times have changed since the author reared children though and some of the stuff she wrote seems unlikely. You can't, just can't, put a baby in an antique crib. It's not safe. You call the nearest Babies 'R Us (it's 2013 so they're still in business) and have the latest model sent to your house, especially if you have money, or if you're not a Luddite, order it from Amazon. (I bet Emily has no idea Amazon sells anything but books, if she even knows what Amazon is). I also found it implausible for Katie to immediately pick up on Emily's literary references and Lizzie is a common name so "like Lizzie Bennet" is a comment likely to earn blank looks or "yeah but I just like the name." Katie is smart, obviously and I don't like the idea of her wasting her life as a housekeeper. I like her idea of a B&B but still, she needs better opportunities. I also really liked "Beanie" Spenser at the knitting shop. (Princess Diana Spenser after Lady Diana Spencer [that's with a c, spelled wrong in the novel). She's fun and full of energy and life. I don't knit but that yarn sounds gorgeous! I like to touch it. The secondary characters I did not like were the cats. Bustopher Jones (presumably from [book:Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats|402128], since I recognized the reference from the musical Cats), is spoiled and mean. He needs a diet and exercise plan pronto! Emily has two cats as well. They're more normal but I'm not a fan of cats and I'd never, ever, ever allow them in that library and I KNOW Beatrice wouldn't have either if she valued those books. Cats are destructive and they shed. Emily doesn't have human children so what if whoever she passes the estate on to is allergic to cats?! I also didn't like Marguerite. Her affectation and femme fatale personality rubbed me the wrong way. I don't approve of how she tried to help with the investigation. While it did help, it could have been dangerous! I don't have any interest in reading any more of this series. I will stick to my no cats and no older sleuths rules even if it involves Austen! Content: One church scene with a strong Christian theme at the end. the present day romance is clean/kisses only but Luke really wants to sleep with Emily. There's one scene where they "make love" to each other without touching just by eating ice cream. Their past romance was hot and heavy. There are a couple of times when Emily remises about having sex with Luke back in the day as teens and (view spoiler)[she ended up pregnant and miscarried the baby unbeknownst to Luke. (hide spoiler)]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    For the most part, Arsenic With Austen is a very enjoyable read. The author has created main characters that are both likeable and interesting. Emily in particular shows that she is not the usual inheritor of a fortune by the way she goes about dealing with the money and property she now has at her disposal. Much of her character is revealed in how she treats the other residents of Stony Beach. The identity of the killer is rather obvious here, but it's the motivations that are at the heart of t For the most part, Arsenic With Austen is a very enjoyable read. The author has created main characters that are both likeable and interesting. Emily in particular shows that she is not the usual inheritor of a fortune by the way she goes about dealing with the money and property she now has at her disposal. Much of her character is revealed in how she treats the other residents of Stony Beach. The identity of the killer is rather obvious here, but it's the motivations that are at the heart of the mystery. One thing that did startle me however was the sudden religious piety that appeared at the end of the book. Yes, Emily behaved as a true Christian would throughout the book, but to start talking a great deal about God and concepts like divine pity when nothing like this had ever been spoken of before was jarring. It made me wonder if too much editing (or not enough) had been done. Be that as it may, I did enjoy Arsenic With Austen, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next Crime With the Classics mystery.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kwoomac

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A fun little cozy mystery with references to works by Jane Austen. I enjoyed the main character, an English literature professor. Her love of books was apparent throughout, as was the author's as she referenced not only Austen's novels but also others, including Harry Potter. There may have been others that I missed. The description of the library made me swoon. While I enjoyed the story well enough, I felt like the characters and their relationships were underdeveloped. The romance fell flat, t A fun little cozy mystery with references to works by Jane Austen. I enjoyed the main character, an English literature professor. Her love of books was apparent throughout, as was the author's as she referenced not only Austen's novels but also others, including Harry Potter. There may have been others that I missed. The description of the library made me swoon. While I enjoyed the story well enough, I felt like the characters and their relationships were underdeveloped. The romance fell flat, the couple ends up together but there's no tension, no build up. This after comparing them to Anne and Captain Wentworth! Still, it hit the spot. Next up, author does a Bronte mystery. I'm in. P.S. The night I finished this book, I dreamt I murdered two people by putting arsenic in their tuna fish sandwiches. Oops.

  23. 5 out of 5

    VickiLee

    This is one of those novels where someone gets rich after some distant relative dies (suspiciously,) and there are greedy folks coming out of the woodwork trying to get into the action. There is also a rekindled adolescent love affair and the couple are in their fifties. No problems with that but the female character acts more like a 16 year old cherishing her purity than someone who has lived a full life, including a marriage. A bit of a “meh” book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jess!

    This book is all over the place. Part murder, part "romance", and a big blob of Christianity at the end. The only redeeming characters were the housekeeper Agnes and the cats. Also, no one drinks that much sherry.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    I got this from the library when I was on a mystery kick, but didn't know quite what I wanted to read (and I was trying not to read Val McDermid books back to back, because that would be a bit much for me). It looked like a fun cozy mystery with, well look at the cover - books and cats. It was kinda, sorta. But it just wasn't what I was in the book for, so I put it down. Yesterday, having finished a very long book, I was taking a look at what I was still officially currently reading, to see what I I got this from the library when I was on a mystery kick, but didn't know quite what I wanted to read (and I was trying not to read Val McDermid books back to back, because that would be a bit much for me). It looked like a fun cozy mystery with, well look at the cover - books and cats. It was kinda, sorta. But it just wasn't what I was in the book for, so I put it down. Yesterday, having finished a very long book, I was taking a look at what I was still officially currently reading, to see what I might be able to finish by the end of the year and what I was going to DNF. This one almost because a DNF, but I was still kind of interested in how it might turn out. So I sat down in the afternoon sun and skim-read my way to the end. It was okay. If you're in the mood for what it offers in the blurb, I think it's a good example of the genre. It just isn't what I'm wanting to read right now. (Although there will still be more McDermid in my future.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I loved the setting, since I knew all the places described and have been to all the real ones. (It takes more than 90 minutes to get from Woodstock/Reed to Tillamook, though!) The characters at times seemed more like caricatures, however, and the decades-old romance between Emily & the sheriff picked back up way too easily. Emily belatedly put on the brakes, but by then that seemed off kilter too. Still, the series has potential, and I'm curious to read the next installment. For readers' advisors I loved the setting, since I knew all the places described and have been to all the real ones. (It takes more than 90 minutes to get from Woodstock/Reed to Tillamook, though!) The characters at times seemed more like caricatures, however, and the decades-old romance between Emily & the sheriff picked back up way too easily. Emily belatedly put on the brakes, but by then that seemed off kilter too. Still, the series has potential, and I'm curious to read the next installment. For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, setting is secondary (stronger for those familiar with the area). The main character is Catholic, and faith does play a role in the story. No sex or swearing, and minimal onscreen violence.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Tate

    College professor Emily Cavanaugh finds her life turned upside-down when she receives an unexpected inheritance from a beloved aunt and then comes face to face with her first love who she'd lost decades before. This is an enjoyable read with engaging characters, a heart-warming romance and a mystery that threatens Emily and everyone she has come to hold dear.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    This was such a pleasant read. An entertaining and easy read to get yourself lost in. I overheard someone described what this book was for me perfectly, she said "this book was sugar candy." I think that summed it up for me. Onward to her next installment, Bloodstains with Bronte. I do hope the author will proceed with her series "crimes with the classics" I am looking forward to it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A cozy mystery set on the Oregon coast. A 50+ widow is reunited with the love of her life after she inherits a creaky mysterious house in a small town. What's not to like? Ordered the next two books in the series...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Things I don't like in fiction that appear in this book: Jane Austen Cats Devout religiosity And yet...I couldn't stop listening! I gasped and sighed and 'awwwwed'. I was surprised by the ending.

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