Engineer Mary Davies fears she's going to be fired, and she finds herself closing off from those around her. Even Nathan, the nice consultant guy who keeps offering his friendship no matter how many times she awkwardly fails to communicate her own interest. In the middle of feeling stuck and disappointed, Isabel - her best friend since childhood - manages to convince Mary to take a trip to England. More specifically, the getaway is to a lavish estate near Bath where they can dress up as Austen characters and step back into time.
Isabel and Mary have had a rocky relationship. Isabel has often steered their friendship, and she tends to lead with emotion, lashing out when she is feeling pain, anger, or frustration. Mary suggests that her friend take on the persona of Isabella Thorpe while on their vacation, and Isabel goes into a pout. Eventually Isabel decides to be Emma Woodhouse, and Mary chooses Catherine Morland.
Everything is exciting and wonderful as the women arrive at Braithwaite House. The grounds are breathtaking and the costumes beyond imagination. There is a small group of people who have come to share this holiday, and Mary and Isabel enjoy getting to know them that first night.
But when Mary wakes up the next morning, everything changes. Something is wrong with Isabel, and Mary is all alone in a strange country trying to care for her friend. A phone call further shatters everything Mary has believed about their relationship. Will the help Mary is offered be enough to sustain her through this time? Can she grasp that she is worthy of love and attention not just as Isabel's sidekick but as a woman in her own right?
I definitely enjoyed this one more than any other of Reay's releases since Dear Mr. Knightley. As a fan of Austenland, I appreciated all the nods to that story. This made for a fine and engaging Austenesque read, even if I didn't like all the characters all the time. Mary made for a different heroine and I appreciated the complex way she was written. I can see myself reading this one again in the future!
I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.