The Austen Escape

The Austen Escape

by Katherine Reay

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Critically-acclaimed author Katherine Reay’s latest love letter to Jane Austen.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer, offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees 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 she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718077945
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 4,571
File size: 677 KB

About the Author

Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane, The Brontë Plot, A Portrait of Emily Price, The Austen Escape, and The Printed Letter Bookshop. All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and isa wife, mother, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL. You can meet her at; Facebook: KatherineReayBooks; Twitter: @katherine_reay; or Instagram: @katherinereay.

Read an Excerpt


How can I help?"

The world stilled. It wasn't the first time I wondered how one voice, one presence, could quicken the air and simultaneously stop all motion.


I offered a stiff and awkward smile as he propped himself against my desk. His knees bent and touched mine as he handed me a Starbucks cup.

"Thank you." I sipped and rolled my chair back a few inches to break contact. A clear head requires distance. "You can't. An engineer is only as good as what she designs and ... my project is a failure."

The technology and math worked. The science worked. The breakdown was in the design. In the subjective, not the objective — it was in me.

Nathan nodded — a long, slow motion. I knew that look. He was trying to think up a plan, and if this had been another time or place, or I'd been another girl, I'd have hugged him for the effort. But I was ready to pay the price.

"It has potential," he said, "but Karen has other goals for the company right now. Even so, I'll talk to her."

I shook my head to clear it of his optimism and my lingering illusions. "There's no talking to Karen. There's no working with her either."

"That won't do, Mary." Nathan stared at me. "You've got to try."

"Why don't you plead for it yourself?" Moira said.

We'd spent the last half hour leaning against her cubicle's outer wall and staring across twenty other cubicles to the closed conference room door. I wondered that the sheer force of our concentration didn't burst it open.

"Karen will do what she wants."

"So you expect Nathan to do all the heavy lifting?"

"That's insulting and vaguely sexist. I can take care of myself." My look dared her to laugh.

She kindly banked her smile. "Good to know, as I was thinking more of insanity than anything else. What's that definition again?"

"Very funny," I said, but she didn't smile. "Fine. Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result."

"And so we wait." She, too, kept her eyes on the door.

"Nathan's suggestions weren't going to work. First, he wanted me to ask Benson and Rodriguez for help, as if I couldn't solve the problems myself. Karen would've jumped all over that. She's itching for a reason to fire me. Besides, she never would have approved their hours. And then Nathan wanted —"

"Stop." Moira held a hand to my face. "It wasn't so much about solving a problem as it was letting them in. We're a team. At least that's what that poster over there says." She pointed across the floor to where Lucas, our head programmer with an affinity for inspirational quotes, had hung

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

"You help them all the time. What were you doing here last weekend?"

"Rodriguez needed a hand. It was no big deal." I waved away her comparison.

"For two full days ... And he'd do the same for you in a heartbeat. You know I'm right."

The door opened.

My heart skipped a beat as Nathan emerged. It always did when he appeared. But this time he was coming from a meeting that determined the fate of my project and possibly my job.

He looked around and paused when his gaze crashed into mine. One steady look, then he turned away to speak to Craig.

"That was not good," I whispered to Moira. I rounded into my cubicle and flopped into the chair. "Karen killed it. Nathan looked like the grim reaper."

Moira's chuckle followed me. "Nathan is just a consultant who will soon be gone. You should have been watching Craig, the CEO who makes the final decisions."

"Wrong. I should have been watching my new boss. Karen will be CEO any day now. But —"

Another voice cut in with a soft "Hey, Moira."

"Nathan." Her brusque acknowledgment silenced and prepared me.

Nathan stepped into my cubicle as Moira exited it. He leaned against my credenza. "We should talk."

I watched Moira drop from view into her own cubicle, but I knew she was still listening. Everyone was. In our open office plan, everyone heard everything.

The overt eavesdropping used to breed gentle teasing and foster camaraderie. Now there was an odd silence. We strained to hear one another. Sometime in the past year, we had shifted from a mind-set of abundance to one of scarcity — any information you gleaned might be that charged tidbit that saved your job.

"Good or bad?" I worked to keep my voice low and unemotional. Any added professionalism was lost as the bun I'd twisted my hair into fell over my eyes. The wire had pulled loose for the third time that day. I was losing my touch.

My hair dropped into a straight curtain of dark brown. I blew it out of my eyes and found Nathan reaching for the red twist of wire. I snatched for it as soon as he straightened.

"It's electrical wire. The plastic coating makes for good hair ties." I bent it back and forth as if to prove my point.

"So I've observed." Nathan smiled. His smile, so unlike mine, was never stiff and always reached his eyes. Now it spread across his face and dug one dimple into his right cheek. For a moment, I forgot We should talk.

He gazed over the divider walls at the expanse of cubicles, then looked back to me. "Walk with me?" He was already moving away before I answered.

I yanked my hair into a ponytail, secured it again with the red wire, and hurried after him. Halfway to the door, one of my ballet flats slipped off, and I skipped along while pulling it back on.

Nathan didn't turn, didn't glance right or left; he just walked across the floor and out the side glass door. He stopped outside as if to let his body adjust to the Texas sun and heat. His blue oxford reflected the light. It matched the sky. It also made him look almost formal in WATT's uber-casual environment. I glanced into Lucas's cubicle as I hopped by — he wore what looked like pajamas.

My progress across the office had drawn all the glances Nathan had avoided. Walking outside always attracted attention, and gossip. I consoled myself with the thought that most folks would think Craig had tasked his consultant to kill his engineer's failing idea. Awful as that was, it was better than the truth: Craig's engineer had a hopeless crush on his consultant and now appeared to be racing after him. No one except Moira knew that one.

Nathan held the door open for me.

"Where are we going?" I straightened and smoothed my skirt.

He took a few steps from the door, closed his eyes, and drew a deep breath. "Don't you love it out here? You can smell that dry, crisp fall smell. You can smell the sun."

I stifled a smile. While running on the treadmill during my lunch breaks, I'd seen him out here doing this countless times. "To be honest, I haven't been out here much lately."

The whole office complex, ten high-rise buildings housing three times as many tech companies, was riddled with paths and ponds — a man-made oasis designed to promote creativity and relaxation. What had looked so clearly planned and artificial when WATT moved into the space four years ago had now grown in and filled out. It looked natural, beautiful even. I almost felt myself relax. Almost.

"Why not?" he asked.

"I've gotten into a bad habit of arriving early, staying late, and running on the treadmill at lunch."

Nathan looked straight at me.

"I'm getting fired, aren't I?"

"Despite your best efforts, no." He winked and resumed walking. "Let's circle the paths. Karen's voice is scraping my ears like those whiteboard markers you love. That high-pitched squeal can drive a person nuts."

"And it does ... every day." I stepped beside him.

Nathan was silent.

"You could at least warn me so I'm prepared to face her ... Do I need to dust off that Boston job offer?"

"Stop it." Nathan spun on me. "Unless you want to leave. I feel like you keep angling for an escape."

"With Karen in charge, I may not have a choice. So?"

"Do you ever feel like running away? Or is it just talk?" He offered me a sideways smile. It, too, felt like a question, but not the ones he'd asked. Can I be real with you?

He acknowledged my nod with his own and continued. "She got to me in there. Craig hired me to manage growth and reposition WATT. We've done that job well."


"You all know this. His goal was to stay independent, maybe go public someday. Karen is pushing for a sale, and soon. That's public too, if you haven't heard it. Finance is running numbers. That's a whole different ball game." He looked back to the building. "For everyone here."

"I see ..."

Craig, a brilliant physicist and engineer, thrived in the chaos of creativity. He had founded WATT, named for his childhood hero and the unit of power, on the principle that a few twenty-somethings with energy, smarts, and grit could make great stuff. Not glamorous or sexy stuff, but bold and innovative devices that people wanted or needed to make the sexy stuff run better. Craig loved innovation. Karen loved strong sales and healthy margins.

For the first time I saw clearly the power struggle pulling at us. I also saw that Karen's vision was gaining ground. And that my project was a tangible symbol of the conflict.

"Golightly" was my pet name for it — a pair of glasses I'd started dreaming of years before the technology caught up with my imagination. One Friday night, when I was about twelve, my mom introduced me to Breakfast at Tiffany's and Audrey Hepburn's iconic character, Holly Golightly. I watched that movie dozens of times, mesmerized. I'd never seen a woman more beautiful. And although I missed much of the story in those early years, I caught the drama, the ukulele, and the sunglasses. I'd made my own ukulele out of cardboard and string, and now I'd moved on to the sunglasses.

They weren't as glamorous as Hepburn's, but mine did more than shield the eyes from UV rays. My Golightly glasses were self-contained augmented virtual reality glasses that embedded interactive 3-D images. They rivaled Microsoft's and Apple's offerings in an even slimmer format — at least that was the goal. Every prototype had failed — one exploded — and each one took something within me with it.

I walked past Nathan — my version of running away. "Back to batteries for me."

Two strides and he caught up. "What's wrong with batteries?"

"Nothing, except I didn't think my world would be dominated by them. I've been dreaming of these glasses for years." I stopped. "You wouldn't understand."

"Then tell me."

"There's no point." I shook my head. "You know what drives me nuts? Out-of-the-box thinking used to be lauded around here. But now ... no more risks? No innovation? I needed this one, Nathan. I can do it."

"I know you can."

I studied his face. "But not anytime soon ... She cut funding, didn't she?"

He didn't reply, but one blink said it all.

"It'll be too late, you know," I said. "We can't circle back. The market will move on."

"I know that too, and I'm sorry."

We walked on in silence. I looked up in surprise when we reached the building again.

Nathan held the door's handle but did not pull it open. "Are you going to be okay?"

I pinched the bridge of my nose. "My allergies are horrible this fall." I lowered my hand and caught Nathan's expression-sympathy encasing pity. "Of course I'll be okay. Easy come, easy go, right?"

He narrowed his eyes. It felt like some offering, some connection, had fallen between us because I hadn't held it.

He accompanied me back to my desk and perched as he had before-as if we'd never taken a walk and he'd never delivered the blow to Golightly, and to me.

"Craig mentioned you had an advancement for the IR battery."

Back to batteries.

"I was playing around with Golightly ... Double insulate it and we can cut the space between components. Everyone wants smaller devices. See, Karen doesn't get that; we need some ideas to generate others. Without-" I pressed my lips together. "Never mind. The lab is testing the battery now."

Nathan picked up a small wire elephant sitting on my desk and handed it to me. "Please don't let this derail you, Mary." He stood. "I've got another meeting with Craig. Will you be around later?"

At my nod, he was gone ... and my afternoon was suddenly free.


Easy come. Easy go." One swipe of my hand and six months' worth of wire animals skidded across my desk and onto the floor.

Moira leaned over the wall. "Easy? There was nothing easy about all that work, and stop killing your animals. They're wonderful."

I bent to pick them up, and one by one repositioned them at the edge of my desk. Duck. Giraffe. Two horses. A tiger complete with contrasting stripes. "It's embarrassing there are so many. Shows you how stymied I've been."

I picked up the last one, an elephant made of black 18-gauge electrical wire, and crushed it in my palm. "I was so close to the answer. I can almost see it. But ..."

Moira snapped her fingers. "Then answer something else for me."

I pushed back from my desk to give her my full attention. "Shoot."

"Why haven't you grabbed that boy and kissed him already?"

I shot up and scanned the room, noting that most cubicles were empty. "You can't yell stuff like that. You can't even think stuff like that. What if someone hears you?"

"Then we'd all get somewhere."

"Now?" I sat back down. "You want to talk about my love life now?"

"Seems a more fruitful topic."

I could still smell the coffee at that morning meeting when Craig first introduced Nathan to the team.

"He's thirty-two, so most of you may feel the need to call him sir, but listen to him anyway. He got his MBA at Harvard and he's brilliant at running a business. So while you keep pushing the limits, he'll keep our lights on and get WATT running smoothly as we grow —'cause that's what we're doing around here. We're taking this whole thing to the next level. And as soon as I hire another CEO to manage this beast, I'll get back to playing with you lot."

Craig rubbed his hands together, then slapped Nathan on the back. Everyone gathered around, a few called him sir, and then most drifted back to work. I stood frozen — overcome by a simple, clear awareness that something about him spoke to something within me. And we hadn't yet exchanged two words.

In the eleven months that followed, that feeling had only grown.

Nathan was smart, patient, clever, quixotic, and kind. He was a completely analytical consultant, ready to tear your business apart, who also quoted romantic movies, remembered everyone's birthday, and crooned ballads to our sixty-five-year-old office manager. He was a mystery and infinitely intriguing.

Moira interrupted my reverie.

"You knew Golightly was dead the minute Karen became your boss. You've had three months to digest it."

"She's going to fire me." It was the first time it felt real.

"Karen won't fire you. I run the numbers; you're too valuable." Moira walked around the divider between our cubicles and I twisted in my chair to face her. "And let's get back to the subject. Everyone can see the way Nathan looks at you. Why do you give him the Heisman every day?" She thrust one arm straight in the famous football pose.

I had to laugh at her attempt to cheer me up. Moira, dressed in four-inch heels and a tight skirt, knew nothing about football.

"He doesn't look at me any differently than he does you. And I don't give him the Heisman."

"If he looked at me that way, I might break my engagement. You're either a liar or a fool."

"I'm pragmatic. Besides, one: he'll be gone soon, and two: he's dating someone."

"He told you that?"

"He's mentioned Jeffrey's and Sophia's. Those are date restaurants."

Arms crossed, Moira drummed the fingers of one hand against her skin. "Nice assumption, Sherlock, but this isn't the sixth grade. Talk to him. Ask him."

"It isn't the sixth grade, but it feels like it ... and I hated the sixth grade."

She pushed herself upright. "Invite him to Crow Bar tonight."

"Right. Look, it's already been a rough day and — wait. Tonight?" I scattered through the chaos on my desk to find my phone. "How'd it get so late? I'm meeting my dad at Guero's for dinner." I gathered my notes, my computer, and my second computer and shoved everything into my bag. "I'll never make it to South Congress on time. MoPac will be jammed."

"Nathan? Crow Bar? Call him and see if he'll meet you there after dinner."

I started to leave, then stopped. "Is it obvious, Moira? No one else knows, do they?"

Moira had every right to laugh. I did sound like a sixth grader. Instead her eyes softened at the corners with sympathy or pity. "You're safe. It's me, Mary. I doubt anyone else would pick up on it."

"Including him?"

"Definitely him. All shields are up and in perfect working order." The humor didn't reach her eyes or her voice.


Excerpted from "The Austen Escape"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Katherine Reay.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Austen Escape 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
CindyFW More than 1 year ago
3 1/2 stars. This author is not very consistent for me. I've read one of her books that I absolutely loved, another that was only so-so, and this one is I'm having trouble rating. I liked the setting and the premise (sign me up for an Austen immersive vacation!), so that was fun to read. I had a really hard time with Mary's relationship with Isabel, her "best friend". I won't say more, but it really irritated me. Isabel is a very annoying character, to say the least. Nathan was awesome. I really liked him, but I would have liked to read more scenes between him and Mary. I didn't feel like there was enough. Overall, I'd recommend this book to Austen and KR fans. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Jennybug52 More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars- I am a huge Jane Austen fan and have read pretty much everything she’s written. When I saw the synopsis for “The Austen Escape” I knew this was a book I really wanted to read. I own several of Katherine’s books that are ashamedly still on my TBR pile. This was a fun, lighthearted story with some deeper themes running underneath. The friendship between Isabel and Mary is complicated. I couldn’t quite decide what I thought of Isabel throughout the story but by the end I could at least understand her motivations. I enjoyed the numerous references to Austen and her characters. It was fun to follow along with the different book references and insights into beloved characters. I loved the part where Mary was just diving into Jane Austen’s stories and came to the startling conclusion that “Austen really had a thing against Marys.” I had never really considered that, but she had a good point. I really liked Nathan. He was a super likable guy and I was rooting for him throughout the story. I have to say Mary was a bit clueless at times and I sometimes wanted to smack her a bit with some of her thinking and choices. Since the story was told from Mary’s point of view we didn’t get the luxury of seeing into Nathan’s mind. Again, this was a fun story. I can’t say I agreed with all of Mary’s choices but that’s part of the evolution of a character. I look forward to reading more of Katherine’s books and again diving into the world of all things Austen. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
bookstoregal More than 1 year ago
OK, I admit, I love Katherine Reay's books!! :) She writes the kind of books that make you want to read them again! Characters that are complex, yet likeable, or unlikeable, everyday kind of people. Great plot. Allusions to Jane Austen quotes and characters. What more could you ask for? ;)
Faerytalemegan More than 1 year ago
Why have I not read any books by this author before?! Note to self: Read more of Katherine Reay’s work because it is amazing! “The Austen Escape” is the first book by Katherine Reay I’ve read and now I’m hooked! “The Austen Escape” is especially meaningful to me as Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and there are so many references to Austen and her work throughout the story. For those not familiar with Austen–not to worry; there’s a great character reference section in the front of the book. Ms. Reay has a certain style of writing that is witty and easy to read. Ms. Reay is a genius in the way she connects present day characters to Austen’s characters. I especially love Mary (our main character) and her complex personality. I love that she is an engineer, yet also a hopeless romantic and an Audrey Hepburn lover (I can relate to the last two characteristics). The relationships are also so well written and complex. Ms. Reay explores the themes of friendship, family and finding oneself. What a neat concept of going away and living like one is in a Jane Austen novel (sign me up!). I think this quote sums up the experience of the Austen Escape well: “In playing other characters, they find themselves.” This book is addicting! I took it everywhere with me and got upset when I had to stop reading and do “real life.” I highly recommend “The Austen Escape!” Content: This is a clean read. A few minor examples of content are: characters drink alcohol and a character struggles with a type of memory loss/disassociation disorder. Rating: I give this book 5 stars! Genre: Contemporary; Christian Fiction; Romance I want to thank the Fiction Guild, Katherine Reay and Thomas Nelson for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I received this book I wasn't sure I would enjoy it, but was I surprised, it's a good story. Mary Davies is an engineer and enjoys her job and colleagues. Mary's childhood friend, Isabel, offers her a 2-week stay in a manor house in England - so Mary reluctantly agrees to go. They are there in Jane Austen's Bath and Isabel loses her memory. Mary has to look after her. It's a cute story and I enjoyed it. Will Isabel get her memory back? Will Mary work thru some of her baggage and get her life straightened out? How will this affect her job? Who's Nathan? Read it an see!
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
I have heard a lot of good things about Katherine’s books but I haven’t read them yet so I thought I would give this one a shot. I was really looking forward to it because I do enjoy some Austen. I was disappointed. I didn’t really get into this for whatever reason. I really don’t know why exactly. I didn’t find the characters overly likable. I really struggled with the main characters best friend, Isabel. I didn’t like her much at all and couldn’t get a feel for what was going on with her. She was too moody for me. I also feel too much was told. There were times I didn’t know Isabel was in a bad mood except for Mary telling me she was, but I wanted to see it through facial express or the way Mary felt inside about it. I did like the setting and enjoy the picture it painted. But for me I just didn’t get into this book. A copy of this book was given to me through the BookLook Blogger program. All opinions are my own.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to read The Austen Escape because I loved Katherine Reay’s earlier Austen-related novels, but unfortunately this book did not live up to my expectations. It’s been a couple of months since I read this book (since I’ve been slacking on blogging), so rather than a traditional review, I am going to share the things I liked and disliked about this novel. What I liked about this book: - The Austen stuff, obviously. I enjoy Reay as an author because she writes Austen-spinoffs. That’s what attracted me to this book, and I really enjoyed Mary and Isabel’s foray into an Austen-like world. However, I did find the references in this book to be a little confusing since it they were mostly related to Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, which I am not as familiar with as some of Austen’s other novels. - The romance. Nathan is wonderful. And I really appreciated that the romance in this story was with a real life guy, not just someone from the fantasy world of the resort. Where I struggled with this book: - Exposition. Seriously half of this book was exposition. It’s very character-driven, and you all know I struggle (big time!) with character-driven stories. - Overly descriptive. Ugh. Sometimes I felt like I was slogging through. I know Mary went to a resort that was a recreation of the Austen era, but I just couldn’t handle all the descriptive prose. - Isabel’s break with reality. I understood it as a plot point, but it was kind of weird. It kind of brought me out of the story. It just didn’t work for me. - Writing Style. Many (many!) chapters would jump ahead in the timeline of the story, only to fill in the back story of the missed hours a couple of paragraphs later. This method was just distracting. It always is for me. I wish it had all just been told linearly. All in all, this book reminded me a lot of Shannon Hale’s Austenland, but I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much for the reasons mentioned above.
CiaraRaven More than 1 year ago
Sit down, grab some tea because it is cold outside and when anyone discusses Austen it is always better to have tea in hand. I read this book in about a day and a half. Katherine Reay's "The Austen Escape" is a charming romance novel set in modern times. Isabel and Mary have been friends since childhood, but things have been strained in their relationship as they've grown into adulthood. Mary took a job working in a flourishing tech job while Isabel is working on her doctoral thesis on Jane Austen. Isabel's father is angry that is taking her so long to finish her degree, so he pays for Mary and Isabel to go to a two week immersion into Jane Austen's world in an old manor house in England. There, the guests are fitted with the proper attire and encouraged to take on the roles of someone from Austen's novels. Unfortunately, Isabel suffers a relapse a sort of hysteria while there, and truly believes she is Emma from the novel. A kind, gentle war veteran named Grant takes a special care for Isabel while Mary contacts Isabel's old doctors to figure out what to do. As one would expect from any Jane Austen novel, Reay introduces confusion, miscommunication and more into her book. I liked it for its romance parts and the history, as Reay has done her work. My only complaint is that the book is sort of slow to start, and I almost put it down because of it. I'm glad I didn't, but the beginning wasn't a real attention grabber.
bookbloggerKB More than 1 year ago
The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay I don’t believe that I have ever read any of Jane Austen’s books, but that didn’t prohibit me from enjoying this book, set in Bath, England, in a regency manor. Two childhood best friends go on an Austen Escape to experience life as it would have been for an Austen character. While there exploring the past, they come to terms with their present lives and change their futures. Katherine Reay writes in a very readable style, and although I am more a fan of suspense than romance, I enjoyed this book. The characters had interesting quirks and well-written personalities. Mary was one of my favorites, although I did not understand why she put up with Isabel. As the story progressed, I grew to like and understand Isabel better. This experience turned out to be life-changing for both women. The book had themes of friendship, love, personal growth—but I did find a spiritual emphasis missing. It was a good, clean read, although I was surprised that part of it was set in a bar. If a reader is looking for an Austen-like novel heavy on relationships and personal growth, this is a great book! I received a free copy from the publisher for this, my honest review.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review. This was a great contemporary twist on a Jane Austin romance. Mary is a engineer working for a company in Austin, her best friend from the second grade Isabel is originally from England but has lived in the states since. She is working on her doctorate in Austin studies. When she has a chance to go to estate in Bath and spend 2 weeks in characters from the book. Isabel's father is paying for the whole trip, but things have been off with Isabel, and Mary's work has not been making her happy. But when they get to England, Isabel seems to loose herself again like when she was a young woman. And it doesn't help her father decides to remarry while she is gone. But will friendship be enough to bring Isabel back from the state she is in. And will Mary find love with a man from work. I have another one of Katherine's books and I found she draws you into the characters and makes you picture everything around you.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review. This was a great contemporary twist on a Jane Austin romance. Mary is a engineer working for a company in Austin, her best friend from the second grade Isabel is originally from England but has lived in the states since. She is working on her doctorate in Austin studies. When she has a chance to go to estate in Bath and spend 2 weeks in characters from the book. Isabel's father is paying for the whole trip, but things have been off with Isabel, and Mary's work has not been making her happy. But when they get to England, Isabel seems to loose herself again like when she was a young woman. And it doesn't help her father decides to remarry while she is gone. But will friendship be enough to bring Isabel back from the state she is in. And will Mary find love with a man from work. I have another one of Katherine's books and I found she draws you into the characters and makes you picture everything around you.
BethErin More than 1 year ago
Mary Davies is crazy intelligent and intensely focused yet endearingly insecure. Mary's patience and compassion are her greatest virtues and especially when it comes to spending an extended period of time with her friend Isabel (bless her heart). She has a bit of a workaholic streak so joining Isabel for a literary escape is just what she needs to step back, refresh, and reevaluate. Oh, the shenanigans! Y'all are going to love the variety of secondary characters in Mary's workplace and her fellow literary escapees. Readers don't need to be Austenites to enjoy this story (especially with the handy starter guide provided) but I would imagine those who are mega fans of Jane Austen will especially appreciate the many references. This book is going on my all-time favorites shelf. I highly recommend this story! I requested the opportunity to read this book through the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
Katherine Reay offers another delightful romantic tale with “The Austen Escape” — a modern day telling reminiscent of a Jane Austen tale. Mary Davies is a brilliant engineer in a bit of a conundrum — a new boss at her company doesn’t seem to care for Mary; the handsome consultant, Nathan, Mary has had a crush on doesn’t seem to even notice her more than on a friendly level; and her best friend Isabel, whom she’s not so close with, has invited Mary to a two-week Jane Austen immersion experience in Bath, England, and Mary would rather pluck each and every hair from her body than go. After being talked into the trip by her father as a just-in-the-knick-of-time getaway, Mary leaves the stress of work behind and jets off to Austenian England with Isabel, who comes off as manipulative, self-centered, rude and pouty. But as we delve into their stories and each of their difficult childhoods, we learn the reasoning behind Isabel’s behavior — a past full of abuse and neglect. Shortly after arrival, Isabel loses most of her memory and behaves as if she truly is living in Regency Era Bath. As Mary struggles to help Isabel regain her memories and her true self, she learns important lessons about herself and her friend. And when a man with unexpected ties to both women arrives in England, Mary must learn to trust and have faith in what life has to offer — both personally and professionally. “The Austen Escape” is a gentle romance that feels as if it stepped right off the pages of Jane Austen’s novels. Reay does a lovely job of developing some great and enjoyable characters, including staff member Gertrude who has a deeper past with the house than expected, and fellow houseguests — an adorable couple in their 80s and a fun couple with their charming daughter. One theme that is prevalent throughout the book is striving to be our best selves in everything we do, and do be true to ourselves, which is always a good lesson to be learned. Although published by Thomas Nelson, this story only contains very brief references to God, therefore containing very little religious themes or content. It also does feature some alcohol use. Otherwise, Reay’s latest novel is a very clean and enjoyable read. Fans of Shannon Hale’s adult novels, which are also Austen-themed, will enjoy “The Austen Escape.” Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What do an engineering geek, a handsome consultant, and a forever friend obsessed with Jane Austen do when they travel to Bath to have an Austen Escape? Katherine Reay spins a delightful tale to answer that question. In escaping, the characters find out more about themselves and what they truly want for their lives. If you are a Jane Austen fan, or even if you're not, this book is a wonderful read.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Mary Davies is an engineer and with her work life hitting a snag she decides to confirm the trip with her cousin that will take them deep into Austen land. When they land in England, her cousin has a medical mishap and Mary must call on an interesting person to help her with her cousin. I would say one of my big quips with this book was since I haven't read a Jane Austen book, I felt lost a lot. I would say this book should only be read if you have read a good majority of Austen's books. With characters and quotes and all of those things throughout this book, you could be lost like me if you are not an Austen aficionado.
HeidiMain More than 1 year ago
Sweet romance. Captivating characters. Page-turner. Unique I've read several other Katherine Reay novels, but something about The Austen Escape makes it my favorite! The tension and romance between Mary and Nathan is real-to-life and lengthy, which made the entire read much more of a page-turner. The characters were captivating and well thought-out. The Austen Escape is a sweet romance with a nice plot. Grab your copy today! Katherine Reay is becoming one of my favorite authors, love her work and especially The Austen Escape.
booksandbeverages More than 1 year ago
I’ve been a fan of Reay’s novels since her debut! I always look forward to what’s coming next and this did not disappoint. Like Austen’s heroines, Reay takes Mary and Isabel on their own journeys of self discovery. Full of mistakes, misunderstandings, romance and touching moments that remind you it’s never too late to find yourself. As a fan of Austen’s novels, I thoroughly enjoyed all the references and characters brought up throughout the novel. Reay did an excellent job of paying homage to Austen’s stories, characters and Austen’s incredible talent, but also made the story her own (sidenote: I loved that Mary was an engineer and how that played into the novel). It’s a story that grabs you, charms you and makes for an excellent read. And of course I loved the all the references of Austin. How could I not? If you enjoy contemporary women’s fiction, add this one to your list! Have you read Katherine Reay’s novels? If so, which one is your favorite? (Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.) Originally posted at
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Work can become life and Mary Davies is oblivious. Love, friendship and social interaction definitely don't hit the top of her list, but as her tech employer restructures the company an opportunity of a lifetime presents itself. Her best, albeit, dominant friend secures two spots at the acclaimed Austen experience. Mary takes a leap and finds out more than she bargained for at the Regency estate. Her fears and her reality collide as she is forced to make decisions that will drastically alter her future. Mary is a modern girl who has to travel into old customs to find her center. She is relatable in her focus and vulnerable in her naivete. This is a quick romantic read with a pinch of leveling adulthood. Contrary to the title, you will find that Austen is merely a catalyst for Mary's story, so don't be intimidated. This is a perfect story for fans of happy endings.
BBulow More than 1 year ago
I’m always impressed by how Katherine Reay’s stories begin. One moment, I’m wondering when I’m going to start feeling the story and the characters, then the next I’m completely into everything. She has this way of bringing a character, their unique qualities, and their circumstances to life. While I have read several of Jane Austen novels, I did wonder if I would be lost in some of the details about her characters and how they connected with this story. While The Austen Escape is permeated with Jane Austen in the best of ways, it doesn’t simply regurgitate one of her stories. Instead, Reay creates something entirely new and fresh, with a charm all its own. One of my favorite things about this story is the focus on Mary’s friendship with Isabel. Although I didn’t actually like Isabel very much, the complexity of their relationship and the development it undergoes throughout the story held my attention. Their shared history is explained in such a way that made me feel invested, despite my misgivings about Isabel. Mary herself is an endearing character, even when I wished she would stand up for herself. Her occupation, engineering, is something I know basically nothing about, but Reay makes it exciting and relatable, and dare I say, almost poetic. Engineering and Austen are two things that I would never put together, but leave Katherine Reay to do it with ease and style. I also must mention the fairytale-like quality of Mary’s time in Bath. The descriptions of the attire, the customs, the manor house, and Bath itself had me enthralled and add such an authentic feeling to the story. Just the whole idea of an immersive Austen experience is fascinating, and I loved experiencing it along with Mary. The romance is secondary, in my opinion, to Mary’s personal growth, although it certainly adds a sweet layer to the story, and I would have missed it had it not been included. The Austen Escape is another winning novel by Katherine Reay. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment reading it. Fans of her previous novels are sure to find another gem in this story. For those who haven’t read any of her books, start with this one or start with another – all of her novels have a unique twist, and there’s no wrong place to start. I received a complimentary copy of this novel, which I chose to review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
VJoyPalmer More than 1 year ago
The Austen Escape is one of Katherine Reay's best stories! Mary, a brilliant engineer, has hilarious quirks, including making little figurines out of electrical wire while she's thinking and using scraps of it to hold her ponytail in place. But Mary has lived a lot of life hiding in plain sight. As the precarious predicament she finds herself in comes to a climax, she walks the road of trust and vulnerability to a freeing type of clarity best seen with the heart. I love everything about this book - from the adorable cover to the delectable writing style to the whimsical story between the pages. The Austen Escape is an adorable mash-up of science nerd and Jane Austen. AND this novel will be a dream come true for many an Austenette! A gorgeous, regency styled house, clothes, games, and life! Um...YES, PLEASE!!! I loved the idea of roleplaying Austen's works and living a regency lifestyle. It all felt so real, making me downright giddy! While you will find similarities to some of Jane Austen's work, such as Mansfield Park, The Austen Escape is not a strict retelling or modern interpretation of the legendary author's novels. Rather, it's a probing look at some choice characters and Jane herself. These insights help magnify character development and revelations. Also, the spiritual content is light, making this an excellent crossover novel. Five Stars ~ If you are an Austen lover, then this is a story to add to your keeper shelf. Even if you are not an Austen lover *gasp*, this is still an enjoyable novel! The Austen Escape is a standalone novel, but be sure to check out Katherine Reay's other titles! I received a copy of The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay published by Thomas Nelson from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.
JustCommonly More than 1 year ago
"An escape . . . that holds a certain allure." ". . . I love books. The weight. The smell." The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay is simply delightful. A fan of Jane Austen's novels will love all the references, let alone the setting of this contemporary piece. A homage to Austen's novels, The Austen Escape isn't just about fun costume play, but finding solace in the past, in literature and in the joy of life. It's about friendships and relationships that endure the test of time as well as those that are seemingly indifferent or broken. "Jane Austen understood people, and she was funny. . . but you can't expect to understand them fully with one quick reading." Katherine Reay has a way of interweaving life into the make belief of her novels. In The Austen Escape, it's two-fold as one character dissociate with reality and in turn find comfort and truth as a character in a famous classic. The romance takes a back seat as we dive more into the friendship and relationships of these characters. However, when it's time, the romance goes into high gear. I enjoyed every bit of The Austen Escape and I'd highly recommend an escape into the land of Austen as well as a good story. This review first appeared on Just Commonly blog. Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion. Please note, quotes were taken from an ARC, and therefore an uncorrected proof copy. Please refrain from sharing these quotes unless first verified with release copy. Thank you.
Halee23417 More than 1 year ago
The best way I can describe Katherine’s writing is it’s like a dessert-it has layers of diverse textures. It’s sweet, with other complimentary flavors mixed in as well. There’s a lot of talent, hard work, and research poured into her books; that’s clear. But I did have a few personal problems with it. First off-Katherine’s style of genre IS New Adult, not YA. Books targeted to 20-30 year olds is not normally my range of interest, so I do understand that some of my negative opinions are really that. Personal opinions on genre. With that being said, I had two issues with this book. (Other than these two things, The Austen Escape was a very entertaining book and I enjoyed it! It was fun.) I didn’t quite appreciate the amount of physical affection portrayed in this book with the main character and her “interest”, and I don’t believe that just because I’m a fifteen year old reading about adult relationships. I believe that everyone should save physcial affection for their future spouse, no matter the age. So, the amount of kissing did take a couple stars off of my rating. :/ Lastly, I want to address the spiritual themes. Or rather, the lack of them. I am not one of those Christian readers who thinks that every book should be preachy and beat you over the head with the Bible, but I DO think that showing the Gosepl in the way we write is not only very important, but also very possible to accomplish in a subtle way. I recognize this may not be Katherine’s style to write much spirituality into her stories, but I think if you’re a Christian you should include themes to the storyline. Dear Mr. Knightley was a wonderful example of that! Katherine wove in faint threads of redemption; I loved that one. I don’t want to end this review on a negative note, because I didn’t hate it. I really didn’t. ^_^ It was very good, the character development was spot on, the setting was so beautifully well-written, and overall the plot was super interesting. I liked it! It just wasn’t my favoite Reay book. :) The Austen Escape was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thanks, Katherine Reay and Thomas Nelson Publishing! ~Halee Westbrook
Patricia_Beal More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! When I finished college I swore I would never read the classics again. But seeing Austen through Katherine's eyes and the eyes of her characters changed my mind. There's more to discover now that I'm older... The Austen Escape was such a unique experience. I think this is my new Katherine Reay favorite. Even the "slow opening" some pointed out works in the story's favor because when you escape to England the reading experience changes completely. It's elevated. The story becomes achingly beautiful. Full of music, beauty, dreams, depth, and surprises. Lots of surprises. So I wasn't merely reading about an escape. I participated. I felt it. I escaped too. Katherine's writing is absolutely splendid here - her best ever in my opinion - tremendous sensibility. When the trip ends, reality and escapism merge beautifully to create a new normal that's bright and full of hope for all involved. But something tells me they will always go back to Austen. Not because they need to--not anymore, but because they want to. I know I will :) I received a complimentary copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion, and I was not required to write a review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Katherine Reay. Her imagery and her characters are so well written. That being said, I didn't fall in love with her protagonist, Mary, at first. I think that is because Mary was lacking in her own identity (on purpose) as a person and it was hard for me to get to know her. But once she and her friend, Isabel, go on their Escape, I could not put the book down. I had a hard time getting normal daily tasks done because I wanted to sit and read! I love the mentioning of all the Austen characters throughout the story. Some of the characters don't know their Austen very well, so if you were a reader who didn't either, you would get a basic Austen education by reading this book! It makes you want to go run out and read, or reread, all of Jane Austen's books! I have romanticized the Regency Era for a long time. I always joke that I was born in the wrong time period. So for me, the idea of the escape, and what it teaches the characters about their real lives, sounds just like something that I would love. I could imagine everything in great detail, as Katherine is always so good about describing her story setting. The love story was precious. I love that Mary was a closet romantic, which made her thrive during the Escape. The idea that we can become our best selves in unusual situations really resonates with real life for me. Sometimes when we don't feel our best selves, we can miss what is right in front of us and Mary's story of self-discovery and happiness, kept me turning pages for hours at a time. I'm hoping there is a sequel because I need more!
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay, © 2017 Mary Davies, Nathan Hillam, and Isabel Dwyer may find Bath, England, more than a two-week getaway amid other Austen character wannabees. A fancy ball and social interaction may prove to be more than a contemporary replay for them. Join author Katherine Reay as she explores the excitement and period hideaways as these characters become enthralled beyond what they could have imagined. Somehow, it all points to their now and future by exploration of the past. I don't know how fair this is... Isabel's conversation with Mary: "... I owe you. I don't want you to be angry, but I did something. I..." Her eyes darted over my shoulder and she swallowed whatever she was about to say. "Oh. Your friend Moira is headed this way." --Austen Escape, 25 and, when will she get back to it ~ or will she expound on it further? I have read all of Katherine Reay's novels, and they get deeper. So be sure and join in! You will enJ*O*Y the adventure. Two best friends journey from Austin, TX to Bath, England. An unexpected twist in their vacation leaves them both imagining something new for their friendship and their lives. ~ author Katherine Reay Regency England ~ the town of Bath Arriving early with minimal sleep due to anticipation and excitement Mary and Isabel drew near. Before them stood Braithwaite House, their home for two weeks. The gallery was empty. I stood and absorbed the complete stillness. Here the silence felt right. I wondered if I'd ever truly heard it before. The realization of how much noise filled my world only became apparent in its absence. --Ibid., 109 The dawning of a new day; the absorption of a different world, a different time before us, if we would but breathe it into our beings. (Okay! Another character told what Isabel didn't. We'll see what develops...) Real or imagined, role-play within their new surroundings encapsulated them, easily drawn to an earlier time period they had only envisioned. Would the choice of their character reveal who they are, or as an observation placed upon them by another? Clarity became focused in returning to the Austin left behind. With absorption of the time away, the lens became clearer. I like the unexpected in Katherine Reay's writings. It all accumulates however, not in the way you might think is before them. My favorite character was Gertrude, an older lady who is able to see her own life through the new occupants of Braithwaite House. ***Thank you, author Katherine Reay, for inviting me to come along on the book launching of The Austen Escape, and to Thomas Nelson Publishing for sending me an Advanced Reader's Copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***