Title: Jane and the Damned
Author: Janet Mullany
Author’s Site: www.janetmullany.com
Series: Immortal Jane Austen
Publisher: Avon; Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Paranormal, Historic
Have you ever wondered to yourself where Jane Austen got the inspiration for the beloved stories that have in turn become the inspiration for generations of romance novels?
“You write a few books that entertain your family and you win a little fame, perhaps even some money, while you live. And after, what then? Your books languish forgotten on dusty book shelves and you are but a name on a binding that disappears with decay and time. You think your books offer you a chance at immortality?”
Luke, Ch 21, pg 290, para 3
Within the Leaves of Jane and the Damned
As a wonderful treat, I was kindly given permission by Janet Mullany to include the following book trailer. Please enjoy!
Isn’t that awesome! Here’s the link to find the book trailer: Jane and the Damned
After the bitter disappointment of having her first novel returned – unopened – by a Publisher, Jane and her beloved sister Cassandra rally their spirits by attending an assembly in Basinstoke with their dear friend Catherine Biggs.
Upon arrival at the assembly the ladies notice a group of handsome, polished and refined Damned. An odd occurrence, as the Damned tend to keep to themselves and not associate with the ‘common people’.
While getting refreshments, Jane finds herself unattended with Mr. Smith, one of the handsome Damned she noticed earlier. He helps himself to a wristful of Jane and then abandons her to her fate.
Several hours pass and Jane wakes feeling strange only to realize she, herself, is now one of the Damned.
Confiding only in her father, the Revend Mr. Austen, he breaks the news to the rest of the family and determines they will go to Bath so that Jane can drink the waters, the only known cure for Vampirism.
“You may be one of the Damned, but you are still my daughter.”
Reverend Austen, Ch 4, pg 44, para 3
With a combination of love for her family and immense will power, Jane does not give in to the overwhelming urge to feed. Arriving to her Aunt and Uncle Leigh’s home in an extremely weakened state, her Father urges her to the Pump Room to partake of the foul, smelly waters.
There Jane meets Luke Venning, a Damned who, with his friend’s sad tale, convinces her to feed from him and fortify her strength before taking the waters.
“ She has been with us for some time, so the turning back is of necessity painful and dangerous. She may not survive. She turned down immortality – and myself – for twenty acres of grazing land and respectability. And children.”
Luke Ch 4, pg 49, para 3
Before Jane has a chance to take the cure, the Abbey bell tolls a warning of Napoleon’s troupes on their way to Bath to claim it as a part of the Republic of France.
After French officers move in to share the home of her Aunt and Uncle, Jane moves into the home of Luke and his ‘sister’. Being ever loyal to England, Jane joins the Damned in their quest to help the English defeat the French.
Even a cultured, gently raised daughter of a clergyman can grossly breech etiquette, so Luke takes Jane under his protection as her adopted Bearleader and teaches her the ways of the Damned.
She learns useful skills such as how to politely drink anothers blood, communicate mindfully, move in the shadows and kill with a knife and fangs.
“Good God, you females need no encouragement whatsoever not to fight like gentleman.” Luke twisted a leg around hers in an attempt to dislodge her. “Fangs Jane.”
Luke, Ch 11, pg 133, para 17 and pg 134 para 1
As Jane spends more time with the Damned in their campaign against the French, she learns that they are not all selfish, wicked, unfeeling debauchers and begins to find it easier to be around those who understand her than to be around her own beloved family.
She begins to find a new purpose, friendship and even love.
Will Jane choose a calling with an immortal love, or will she choose to grow old surrounded by the love of her family?
Sweet-Tea Rating for Jane and the Damned:
I was originally pulled towards the book by the cover art, I did a scrapbook page of my Great Grandmother years ago with a similar profile. Minus the white triangle of course!
It was the cover byline: “It’s more than her wit that’s biting” that had me laughing in the store and adding it to my basket.
Jane Austen is an intelligent, (un)lively, loving and courageous young woman, who not only feels strongly for others, but is prompted to risk herself in the fight against the French on behalf of her fellow English.
Her quick and at times acerbic witticisms create issues in the matter of Damned etiquette.
Jane meets and befriends a fellow fledgling who is somewhat a royal pain in the a.. neck. Together they work through the intricacies of their new lifestyle and commiserate together as they discover they each are losing passion for their beloved art forms, he his music and she her writing.
The Austen family are an excellent touchstone for Jane throughout her transition between who she was and who she is – Cassanda (Jane’s heart), Mother (Jane’s mind) and Father (Jane’s spirit). Each time Jane goes back to Paragon Place we can gauge how far her transition has progressed through her interaction with her family.
Within the Damned there are the seeds of many potential spin off novels found amongst this fascinating and diverse group of characters. Most of the Damned we meet are well fleshed out with history and mystery of their own.
The French Officers are what you would expect in an enemy nation. Though the ones we meet the most exude charm and all that is mannered, they are also quick to call on the hangmans noose or Madame Guillotine.
Character I would most like to share a Cuppa with:
Good ol’ George, loves his tea and is always hungry. I would love to share a cuppa with him because of his willingness to take a broader view of what is going on in the lives of the common folk. More so than the other aristocratic Damned. I also admire his ability to laugh at himself.
“He burst into easy laughter and slapped his flat abdomen. “I’ll never have to hear a doctor or my tailor complain about my girth while I’m one of the Damned. And to be honest, Jane, I’m not really the cleverest of fellows, and those devilish caricaturists have no mercy for my expanding waist or mishaps. But I think I could be a pretty good vampire and prove myself against the French.”
George, Ch 9, pg 105, para 1
Element Ratings for Jane and the Damned
*** Spoiler Alert *** If you prefer a spoiler-free read, skip past the HEA rating.
There is a lot going on in Jane and the Damned. It is one very busy story. There is:
- The war and all a war entails – Seizure and occupation, starvation and rebellion, treachery and heroism, its all here in a richly detailed plausible setting.
- The history of the Vampiric culture – the social protocols and hierarchy are deeply constructed and feasible with the time.
- The struggles of becoming a new vampire – Getting into a new way of living and lifestyle as well as the physical and emotional changes.
Love, jealousy, heroism and a Father who is fighting to keep his daughter close to the family fold.
So much is packed into 292 pages and not once did I feel confused or that I was lost in one sub-plot while the story had switched into another. Though fast paced the segues and progression of the story felt like a cohesive symbiotic dance.
*** A Bit Of Fun *** Keep your eyes open. Jane and the Damned is a bit like playing the game of Where’s Waldo?. (in the UK it’s Where’s Wally?) There are snippets and pieces of not only what is known of Jane Austen and her family, but also quick nods into her published novels.
Watch for nods to Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Emma, the Crawfords from Mansfield Park, a tip of the hat to Northanger Abbey and a wee touch of Lady Susan. – That’s pretty much all of them. Janet Mullany really knows her Jane Austen!
Jane fell in love:
“She surprised herself with a delighted giggle. “And so I am your Consort!”
Jane Ch 17, pg 231, para 9
Luke fell in love:
“And I yours.” He knelt on the pillows and extended his hand to draw her down to him.”
Luke, Ch 17, pg 231, para 10
But there is so much working against them in taking their love to the next level:
- As Jane’s Bearleader, but not her creator, he needs permission to take Jane on as his consort.
- Luke’s consort Margaret is a very jealous and possessive sort and will not easily give Luke up.
- Jane is torn between her love for Luke and her love for family.
- Jane’s concern about just not being that into her writing.
- The invasion of Bath by the French comes at a highly inconvenient time for any blossoming love.
When looked at individually there doesn’t seem any reason at all Jane and Luke couldn’t come together. Collectively it is an awful lot!
But really, it’s Jane Austen, and they are both immortal, surely they have a better than snowballs chance in Hades. Don’t they?
True to the real mystery that is Jane Austen’s romantic life, there is no happily ever after. However I thought these two could do very well together for an eternity. I am choosing to hold on to optimism that these two will get together again later on in the Series.
OK. Here is the biggest issue I have with Luke Venning – Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightly? I can’t decide which the two fellows he resembles the most.
Either way – – – SWOON
The more his past is hinted at, the more intriguing I find him.
Perhaps the whole mind reading thing would have to go (that’s just creepy), but I would gladly keep the rest!
For all that Jane is a vampire, her internal struggle with the compulsion and revulsion of the need to feed is a constant theme throughout the story. Janet Mullany cleverly evolves this struggle throughout in such a way that as the reader, I felt I was empathetically along for the ride.
The indignities the French troupes subject the population of Bath to and their good cop / bad cop tactics brought out disgust that these tactics are grounded in truth. And great joy each time a hunt against them was successful.
It is Reverend Austen for whom my heart felt most heavy. Torn between losing his favorite daughter and accepting who she is becoming, is almost a heart breaking sub-plot.
As a man of God, he sees Jane’s turning as a sin and we watch him struggle to keep alive the hope Jane will be cured.
There are also so many funny little tidbits that just seem to sneak up at you it’s wonderful.
I emotionally enjoyed this story, through all the ups and downs and loop to loops, everything was in here and not too much of any one emotion.
Hot-Tea Rating for Jane and the Damned:
The physical intimacy between Jane and Luke is implied, but the implications are toasty.
This is most certainly not your typical bordering on the erotica type of Vampire romance story. I like it all the better for it.
What I Learned About the Real World
The Use of a Vinaigrette by a Regency Period Lady
“I do not wish to even think of it!” Mrs. Austen groped among the bedclothes. “Where is my vinaigrette?”
“Jane handed her a small silver box.”
Mrs. Austen, Ch 10, pg 126, para 3 and 4
I really had no idea what a vinaigrette was. I was aware of the use of smelling salts for ladies who are feeling poorly and it turns out that these are used in a similar way.
The little silver box (the most common type used then) held a small sponge that has been soaked in a perfume and ammonia solution.
This aromatic vinegar was used as an inhalant to treat several maladies such as headaches, sinus infections, stomach aches, fainting and shortness of breath.
It was also used in certain cases (like when visiting London during the warmer months) to help alleviate the sense of smell from offensive orders.
The Last Drop:
An action packed, entertaining, page turner infused with the charm and vivacity that is Jane Austen and all wrapped up in 292 cleverly written pages.
It’s one I will sink my teeth into again and again.
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