November 4, 2009

Review of "Willoughby's Return" by Jane Odiwe

Synopsis: A lost love returns, rekindling forgotten passions…

In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, when Marianne Dashwood marries Colonel Brandon, she puts her heartbreak over dashing scoundrel John Willoughby in the past.

Three years later, Willoughby's return throws Marianne into a tizzy of painful memories and exquisite feelings of uncertainty. Willoughby is as charming, as roguish, and as much in love with her as ever. And the timing couldn't be worse—with Colonel Brandon away and Willoughby determined to win her back, will Marianne find the strength to save her marriage, or will the temptation of a previous love be too powerful to resist?

If you’ve been to my blog before you know that I adore Jane Austen and I have a serious obsession with Austen fan fic. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this book not only due to my love of all things Jane Austen but also because I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Odiwe’s previous effort, opportunity to review this book not only due to my love of all things Jane Austen but also because I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Odiwe’s previous effort, Lydia Bennet’s Story.

Ms. Odiwe again took a secondary character from an Austen story - - this time Margaret Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility - - and shared with her readers a continuation of what happened after Austen’s novel ended. She also took what could have been an unfinished story - - Willoughby’s leaving and Marianne marrying Colonel Brandon - - and wove it intricately into the tale of a now of-age Margaret finding love.

Willoughby’s Return works so well because, as she did with Lydia Bennet’s Story, Ms. Odiwe stayed faithful to the characters Jane Austen originally created and by doing so, Willoughby’s Return reads virtually as a Sense and Sensibility sequel written by Austen herself. Marianne, while more mature due to Colonel Brandon’s love and the events that transpired in Sense and Sensibility, still has a romantic, and even flighty, streak. Colonel Brandon, while deeply enamored of his wife, is still serious about his responsibilities to his wards. Elinor is still mindful of appearances and decorum and Lucy Steele Ferrars and Anne Steele are still very much the busybodies they were. Even Mrs. Jennings still remains ever the fanciful matchmaker.

I could not wish for a more fluid, yet entertaining, story, nor a more satisfying ending. I raced through the book as I was anxious to find out what would happen, while at the same time dreading for the story to end because I was enjoying myself so much.  In my opinion, Ms. Odiwe surpassed herself with this effort and I enjoyed it even more so than I did Lydia Bennet’s Story.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen, of Regency romps and/or historical fiction, I cannot recommend Willoughby’s Return enough. A definite must-read!

Willoughby's Return is available now at major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Jane Odiwe's website is here.  My interview with Jane Odiwe about Willoughby's Return is here.  My earlier review of Lydia Bennet's Story is here

Many thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review!


Tales of Whimsy said...

Nice cover :)

Jane Odiwe said...

Thank you Lori for a truly gorgeous review! You've made my day!

Sarbear said...

I can't believe people liked the Exorcist in your poll... it's sooo not genius and is just creepy!!!

Lori Johnston said...

Juju -
I knew I forgot to mention something in my review! I know there are readers out there that take issue with the newer book covers that cut off the heads but I like them. And I think this cover is gorgeous!

Jane -
Thank you for your earlier interview and giving me the opportunity to read and review the book. I am impressed that you considered my review "gorgeous" - - if so, you earned it!

Sarbear -
The Exorcist is probably the only devil/possession movie that doesn't truly freak me out. I wouldn't even keep The Exorcism of Emily Rose in the house after we watched it. It seriously creeped me out.