First Impressions is another work of fiction that sucked me in through promises of Oxford and Jane Austen. It’s a literary mystery and perfectly readable but not great. (It is certainly no Possession, although it’s better than Pioneer Girl.)
One very annoying thing is that Sophie, the librarian/researcher/bibliophile main character, is a thief. Another one! (The main character of Pioneer Girl is also a researcher and thief.) You can’t solve a literary mystery without stealing? Without stealing from an Oxford library? I hope she loses her Oxford library card in perpetuity!
(The declaration new readers must agree to before being granted access to Oxford’s Bodleian Library, which I had to declare in 2005 when I took a continuing education course at Oxford, reads as follows: “I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”)
When the hot stud Wilson (who is after the same book Sophie is seeking) takes her to The Randolph (a fancy and expensive Oxford hotel), he admits she’s not the first women he’d brought there and “Somehow the fact that he had been here with other girls only made her want him more.” (p. 236). Ugh, really? Not a very good judge of character, our Sophie.
Also this happens, when Sophie hears some shocking news (p. 140):
“He rang off, but Sophie didn’t know it. She had fallen to the floor in a faint.”
Seriously? People do faint, I realize that, but how often do people really faint when they hear bad news, especially plucky and daring heroines like Sophie? I didn’t buy it.
The mystery is actually a fairly interesting one, and I enjoyed the made-up parts about Jane Austen as well as the factual information, but on the whole this was only an okay read for me because Sophie is not very likeable. Also, there is a romance (*SPOILER*) but the heroine spends way too little time with the good guy and too much time with the bad guy.
For die-heard Austen fans who also love literary mysteries and don’t mind heroines who need rescuing from their own foolish behavior. First Impressions can be found in the adult fiction section under the author's last name.