Sunday, June 22, 2014

Aloha to Jayne Fresina and ONCE UPON A KISS - Book Review


Earlier in the month, I hosted Jayne Fresina during her blog tour for ONCE UPON A KISS.  Check out her guest post about the sleep village of Hawcombe Prior at this link.  Today I share my book review of ONCE UPON A KISS:

In the sleepy village of Hawcombe Prior, the five young ladies of the Book Club Belles Society are looking for their own leading men.

The Perfect Hero

When handsome, mysterious Darius Wainwright strolls into town, the Book Club Belles are instantly smitten with this brooding good looks and prideful demeanor. It's as if he walked out of the pages of their favorite new novel, a scandalous romance called Pride and Prejudice. But Justina Penny can't understand why her fellow Belles are starry-eyed in the newcomer's arrogant presence—surely a wicked Wickham would be infinitely more fun...

An Unlikely Leading Lady

Justina is the opposite of Darius's ideal woman—not that he's looking for romance. But when he discovers her stealing apples from his uncle's orchard, he can't resist his own thieving impulse. A stolen kiss from the mischievous Miss Penny leaves Darius wanting much, much more. If it's a dashing villain she desires, Darius is more than willing to play the part...

Hawcombe Prior reminds me of Widecombe-in-the-Moor,
a beloved village where my English granny treated me to picnics.
Image by Jon Constant; released to Public Domain (link).

Now a soft kiss.  Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss. - John Keats.

British author Jayne Fresina has already delighted Regency fans with her Sydney Dovedale series of "beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines".  She comes roaring back with a bold new series, the Book Club Belles Society, featuring her trademark humor and healtfelt storytelling that would impresss Jane Austen.  In fact, the Book Club Belles Society - five refined ladies tucked away in the country - are reading Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.   Four readers are swooning over Mr. Darcy while Justina Penny thinks Mr. Wickham is more exciting.  Adding fuel to the club's fire is the arrival of Mr. Darius Wainwright, heir to a crumbling estate outside the village (and where Justina is hiding a pet pig).  His appearance mirrors the plot of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE as the townfolk scramble to impress him  ... except for Justina.   She is simply a woman ahead of her time.  Justina would rather keep her independence by becoming a writer.   Fate has other plans for Justina, Darius, and the other villagers folded into drama.

Fresina delivers an ingenious way to pay tribute to the beloved Jane Austen while still crafting her own unique story, characters, and setting.  Everyday is an adventure with Justina flaunting convention, to a point, while trying to keep her heart under control every time she encounters Darius.   Fresina keeps readers' attention with Justina's over-the-top behavior and Darius' quick witted dialogue.  ONCE UPON A KISS is a must read for Regency fans ... and an intoxicating start to a new series that is sure to please with future installments.

ONCE UPON A KISS is easily one of the top 14 memorable books from 2014.   I received an ARC from Sourcebooks for an honest review.

Kenn Church
Church of St. Andrew in Kennford, Devon
My English family hails from Kennford.
Image from

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash, stocked with other books from Sourcebooks, to one randomly selected commenter.   To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Jane Austen's work - do you have a favorite?   Mine is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, both book and BBC production with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, June 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, June 29.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Jayne and her books from her blog at

The prequel, BEFORE THE KISS, is now available for free on Amazon (link). 



  1. I remember really enjoying Emma when in school. It's been a while since I've read one of her books - I should reread them but I never seem to get to rereading with all the great books out there.

  2. I read several books at uni and I really should re-read them, because I enjoyed her writing

  3. Thanks for the lovely review! I've enjoyed all Austen's books and my favourite TV production has to be the 1980's BBC P&P. Although I love Colin Firth as Darcy in the later version, I always felt Elizabeth Garvie made a wonderful Elizabeth!

  4. "Persuasion" is my favorite. I also love the film adaptation with Ciaran Hinds.

  5. For me it's also Pride with Colin Firth.

  6. pride and prejudice any version

  7. My favorite Jane Austin story is Pride and Prejudice too. :D

  8. Pride and Prejudice was always my favorite as well.

  9. I love her books and mine is Pride and Prejudice!
    Great blog, thanks

  10. I do like, I like Emma, and the movies

  11. I love Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. I love the BBC version of Emma and Pride & Prejudice. I wish they would make a version of Northanger Abbey.

  12. I ,like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE & PERSUASION & EMMA. P&P wins out because of Colin Firth.

  13. Emma :) But P&P is a very close second. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite too.

  15. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, and I love the Colin Firth version.

  16. I love Pride and Prejudice.

    Marcy Shuler

  17. I like Pride & Prejudice, both in book form and movie.

  18. I'm with you for Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth really sold it for me!

  19. I love P&P too - I'll always tune into any of the versions of that or other Austen stories.

  20. Oh, gosh! Pride and Prejudice is my ultimate comfort! Book, movie, retelling, web series... I love it all! *siiiigh*

  21. Count me in for "Pride and Prejudice". Looks like I'm not the only one! :-)