Austensibly Ordinary

Austensibly Ordinary - Alyssa Goodnight 4+ starsThis book surprised me in more ways than one. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first... it doesn't easily fit into a single genre, and the storyline is very creative, mixing Jane Austen, ghosts, Emma, Clueless, Hitchcock, big secrets, secret identities, and 3-letter government acronyms all in one story! It isn't boring, that's for sure!Cate is a likeable high school English teacher who lives in a converted garage in her mom's backyard. She's a huge Austen fan, and like many, pines for her own Darcy - a man's man who can sweep her off her feet into a lifelong romance. Problem is, as many of us have found out (either personally or from other books), Mr. Darcys aren't around every corner just waiting for us to stumble into them.One of Cate's best friends is Ethan. They have a standing Sunday Scrabble night + dinner. She tells him about every guy and every date, and he always finds something wrong with all of them. Cate feels as if she's become too predictable. So when she gets an invite to her friend's Halloween party (sort of a themed culinary rave for yuppies), she decides to go. The theme is Hitchcock, and Cate decides to take on a persona - Cat Kennedy, modeled after Eve Kendall in North by Northwest. But Cate doesn't want to tell her mom, Ethan, or even Courtney, her other bestie. She wants to try it on first. Besides, neither of them is going to the same party.BTW, this Pop-Up Culture party thing sounds fab! Wish there was something like it that I could go to - what fun!Of course, we find ourselves in a new-fangled Emma/Clueless plot... with a twist. See, Cate stumbled across a mysterious journal at a favorite eatery - it was just hidden underneath the parking lot picnic table. Turns out, this journal belonged to Jane Austen! Right? This is where the serious suspension of disbelief comes in... and it's where the book almost gets weird. Except it's still very entertaining. So go with it, like I did. See, when Cate decides to use it as her own journal and writes about her feelings and the party and Ethan, well... later the journal seems to erase all but a few word, leaving cryptic messages like "at times the answer is hidden in plain sight". Cate goes with it all, not asking too many questions; sure, she investigates a bit. But mostly, she decides that Jane Austen is speaking to her through the journal, dispensing advice. At first, Cate takes this to mean that she should become a matchmaker, like Emma. And she tries several matches, like her mom and a history teacher and Courtney and Ethan.But somehow, the messages always seem to come back to Ethan. On a ghost-hunting trek with Courtney at a local hotel (don't ask), Cate seems to encounter Jane Austen's ghost! Yep, while asking questions and writing down the answers, Cate notices that once again, a cryptic message is left behind - one that points to Ethan.During the course of this story, Cate also realizes that she doesn't know that much about Ethan. In the 2 years she's known him, she's never been to his house until now? Huh? And she's never noticed that he simply doesn't talk about himself? It's not until he tells her that he'll be away for an entire week and won't give an explanation that Cate gets curious. And tries to pin him down, still only getting cryptic answers. Yeah, I got a little tired of all the cryptic saying and answers, too. Poor Cate!But... you have to keep reading to figure out the happy ending, even if you know Emma and Clueless, it'll surprise you.And it's clean - while there are "encounters", they're always alluded to without details. Not prudishly, but simply private. It's up to your imagination.Fun, fluffy, fantasy, romance... with Jane Austen thrown in for good measure. What could possibly be back about that?Apparently, there's a "first" book, [b:Austentatious|11492228|Austentatious|Alyssa Goodnight||16427655] that tells about the previous journal's owner. And that gal's more like me - she approaches the journal more scientifically... I'm going to check it out.