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Bespelling Jane Austin    by Mary Balogh & et al order for
Bespelling Jane Austin
by Mary Balogh
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Mash-ups of all things Jane Austen continue to be all the rage, as much as Austen purists might decry the very idea of having a growing number of authors superimpose vampires, zombies and other supernatural creatures onto the Austen characters they so love and identify with.

In Bespelling Jane Austin, Regency romance heavyweight Mary Balogh, popular Gardella series author Colleen Gleason, paranormal veteran Susan Krinard, and romantic comedy writer Janet Mullany each put a paranormal twist on their favourite Jane Austen novel.

Balogh's Almost Persuaded follows the reincarnated souls of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth as they try to find a way to finally connect after having lost each other through numerous lifetimes. In Gleason's Northanger Castle, the author turns the book's original cast into vampire hunters as intrepid Caroline Merrill zeroes in on a dark and dangerous man who may not be at all that he appears.

Krinard's modernized story, Blood and Prejudice, has Liz Bennett questioning the rich and pompous Mr. Darcy's motives as he enlists her family's pharmaceutical company to search for a vampire cure. And in Little to Hex Her (based on Austen's Emma), Mullany puts Washington on its ear by installing vampires on the Hill and elves in the Pentagon - and putting witch Emma Woodhouse on retainer at the White House (she also runs a dating service on the side).

While all the tales in Bespelling Jane Austin are nicely written and capture the tone or era in which they are set, none of them is a standout. Balogh's story is dry and meandering; Gleason's heroine is annoying in her quest to label everyone a suspect; Krinard overloads with too many story elements; and Mullany's tale is too out there (even for a paranormal) to wholly swallow. Even so, you might find this anthology an enjoyable light read on a chilly evening.

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