Guest Review: The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

Today I am super happy to be hosting a guest review from my awesome friend, Holly. We met via a Nora Roberts messageboard years ago and well, I’ve just been lucky to stay friends with her! So, I hope you enjoy this review. I’m off to request this book at my library.


I asked for this ARC after reading an excerpt in the Buzz Books 2017: Romance preview. Katherine Reay is a new to me author, so I’m pleased to see she has a backlist to explore.
The Austen Escape is about Mary Davies, an engineer in Austin, Texas, who decides to go on a trip with her childhood friend Isabel after a major work project was halted. Mary is kind of in a holding pattern in life- cautious about change, particularly when it comes to potential change with Nathan, a consultant at work. They’re blind to each others’ feelings even though her colleague Moira points it out. As a reader it is so easy to see the little clues that give them away but also easy to see how the characters keep missing making the connection.

Mary goes off to the UK with Isabel for the Austen experience and there are some surprising discoveries. First of all, Isabel’s been dating a man on and off for several months and it turns out to be none other than Nathan. And it was deliberate on Isabel’s part. She’s dealing with some mental health issues and immerses herself into the Austen experience, becoming someone Mary doesn’t recognize, though she recognizes her behavior (this has happened with Isabel before). Then Nathan comes to help Mary, and it goes from there.

The character growth – for the main characters, and for the characters who partake in the Austen experience – was excellent, except for Nathan. Part of it is that he doesn’t want to put himself out there until Mary does but he’s not clearing up misconceptions, either.

If you’re looking for a heroine in STEM, Mary is an engineer at a start-up that has become a larger corporation. It’s really interesting to hear about her work in batteries (yes, batteries) and the virtual reality glasses that she’s working on. She’s also close to her electrician father, particularly after her mother’s death a few years earlier.

There is a lot of discussion of Jane Austen’s novels and characters in this book. I chose not to draw parallels between her work and characters, though you’ll definitely see them throughout the book. It was a great introduction to Reay’s work for me and I will happily read more of her books.



After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation. (Synopsis via Goodreads)

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