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Secrets in the Snow

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What if you had to choose between your family and true love?

Jane Austen’s family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels and finds every suitor lacking in one way or another. That is, until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives on the scene.

Much like the famous character Mr. Darcy, from one of the real-life Jane Austen’s famous novels, Mr. Lefroy initially seems arrogant and distasteful. But the more Jane gets to know him, the more she discovers his kind nature. Can it be that he’s the suitor for her? Before Jane can find out, her cousin is accused of aiding the French, England’s enemy, and Jane finds herself busy proving her family’s innocence, solving a murder, and facing a decision that might mean the sacrifice of her one true love.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2016

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About the author

Michaela MacColl

13 books204 followers
Prisoners in the Palace is my debut novel. I like to create historical fiction that has a modern appeal to teens and adults.

Regency romance blends enjoyably with historical fiction, with a plucky heroine for each mode. (Kirkus)

This novel is full of historical detail, vivid settings, and richly drawn characters, and themes of friendship and romance give the story teen appeal. (Booklist)

MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root
 for. (Publishers Weekly)

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5 stars
80 (18%)
4 stars
139 (32%)
3 stars
165 (38%)
2 stars
37 (8%)
1 star
11 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 119 reviews
Profile Image for MsArdychan.
529 reviews20 followers
August 7, 2016
Please Note: I received an ARC Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not change the opinions of my review in any way.

I wanted to love this book. I hate writing negative reviews. Since I adore Jane Austin (and most anything having to do with her), reading this "novel of intrigue and romance" was painful. I have argued with myself over whether or not to even write any review at all. But I feel part of my role as a reviewer is to help people steer clear of works that are a waste of time. This gives me no joy to do this, but here it goes.

The story starts out pleasant enough, with Jane Austin being the house guest of one of her brothers. Deep in reading, she is unobserved in the library when her brother gets news that their cousin, Eliza, is suspected of being a spy for the French. Jane is incredulous as she has just invited Eliza for a visit. Realizing the War Office has used Jane to lure Eliza into a trap, Jane sets out to warn her cousin. A tale of intrigue? That would have been fun. But when a murder is introduced into the story, the narrative goes from riveting to ridiculous. As an avid fan of Jane Austin and the Georgian era, I found the manners and actions of this book to be insulting.

One of the joys of reading a Jane Austin book is her keen observations on the manners of her time. There were strict rules of conduct between men and women that had consequences. Yet there are so many situations in Secrets In The Snow, by Michaela MacColl, that would never happen that I wonder if the author has researched the time period at all. At one point in the story, Jane discovers a body in the snow. She runs to get her brother (plausible) but then works with him and a male visitor to solve the crime.

Not in a million years would the males of a house let a female be involved in anything that serious. The moment she would have told them, the men would have promptly told Jane to leave it to the men to deal with and shoo her out the library door. It would not have occurred to a man of that time to think a woman was even capable of rational thought, let alone treat her as an equal! They would also have immediately felt it was their duty to shield Jane from any potential scandal that could taint her marriageability in the future.

The book would have been much better if Jane had been told not to interfere, and then solved the murder with the added impediment of needing to be stealthy. That would have been much more interesting and true to the era.

There are also several scenes between Jane and a character named Tom that would never happen. No woman would ever walk alone with a man, hold hands with a man, or drink alcohol alone with a man without ruining her reputation. And she would not allow a man to kiss her without, "Will you marry me?" escaping his lips first. These may seem like quibbles, but these action are so out of place, that they make the whole story seem comical.

I also feel the attempts at foreshadowing future novels such as Pride and Prejudice to be insulting. Heaven forbid that Jane could be creative on her own. No, she has to get "inspiration" from Tom. He just happens to have five sisters (P & P), suggests improvements for Sense and Sensibility, and even tells Jane one day she could make a living out of writing her little stories. Um, that would have been offensive to a woman of Jane's social class.

The resolution of this murder mystery is also a farce. Since it is not my policy to write reviews with spoilers, I will not say who did the deed. But, besides being painfully obvious, several people cover up for the murderer. With her strong religious beliefs (her father was a clergyman), Jane would never be tempted to help someone get away with murder.

If you are a Jane Austin fan such as me, do not waste your energy on reading this book. I know the author must have worked hard and I respect anyone who has completed a book and gotten it published. But I truly wish she had stayed true to the time period.
Profile Image for Charlie.
101 reviews123 followers
October 16, 2017
3.5 stars

If you are like me, when I first stumbled upon this, and you expect a novel form of the movie, Becoming Jane, I am telling you now: THIS IS NOT THAT!

So. Good take aways... let's see. I want a Tom Lefroy:) The book starts off oh-so promising, and Jane is a pretty sufficient main character, all tho, everything kinda just goes down hill around the 3/4 marker (characters, plot, development etc.)

The ending, as heart-wrenching as it is, is so incredibly abrupt! ....then again, the whole last 80 pages are abrupt-_-
The beginning was pretty damn strong, and I couldn't wait to see how the rest of this "novel of intrigue and romance" played out. Sadly, the execution starts getting choppy, as well as speeds up therefore a lack of detail forms, and the characters get less unique. Merp:/
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books334 followers
November 16, 2016
I was taken with the fun of a mystery starring none other than Jane Austen as a nineteen year old sleuth. The author took some liberties, but in essentials allowed the reader to enter the world of a younger Jane Austen who is on the cusp of bigger things including writing her brilliant works.

Secrets in the Snow is set in the midst of Jane's daily life. There are family visits and local engagements. Jane already is touched by her family's situation and how that affects her. She is under some pressure to marry and to marry well even though she yearns to write her stories and if she marries to marry for less practical reasons than her livelihood.

So she is eager to be distracted by the suspicion of treason leveled on her flamboyant cousin, Eliza, and the mysterious man who trails her. Jane is intent on proving Eliza's innocence even while figuring out the mysterious happenings around her cousin. The mystery is not difficult to solve, but there are a few delightful twists.

In the meanwhile, her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Lefoy, insists Jane help entertain the lady's nephew from London, Mr. Tom Lefoy. Tom is Jane's match in wit and intellect and she starts to wonder what a future with such a man might be like, but then a murder has her setting thoughts of romance aside. I enjoyed the repartee between this pair. They are antagonistic at first and then seem a good pairing. But all along, I wondered if the author would stay true to the elemental facts of Jane's life in regard to Tom Lefoy or go into an alternative story that changes the known outcome. I'll leave that part a secret.

Now, I usually do not bring up editing concerns particularly when I am reading an advanced reader copy, but I feel that this one was more raw than most I read. There were editing issues that made it difficult going at times and I hope were cleaned up in the finally copy. Thoughts and sentences would end in the middle at times along with the usual grammar and spelling errors so maybe check some reviews of the finished copy to make sure if editing errors are a big issue for you.

The overall story is light and quickly read. It lightly touches historical authenticity, but there is enough so that the reader is not pushed beyond believeability. It was great getting Jane amongst her family and friends. I was particularly taken that the author included scenes with her brother George. This is touted as a young adult book and I would agree that it is suitable for that age group, but I didn't ever feel like I was reading a Young Adult book so I would recommend this to those who want a light cozy mystery involving the life of a young Jane Austen.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,637 reviews161 followers
February 28, 2017
You've given me the seed of a story. Who knows what it will grow into?"

What a fun story. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, so to read about her life - even fictionalized - is just a fun book all around. Add in espionage and a murder mystery and you have me hooked.

I loved Jane's sassy words, sharp judgement and fun humor. She was a force for sure from page 1 and I loved imaging her in this world. I also loved the slight nods at almost all her words as you see her glean ideas for her books from her adventures.

I also loved the small view into her brothers, sister, aunts and other country neighbors. Their parties and interactions were lovely to wonder about. I completely enjoyed this quick story.
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews243 followers
January 3, 2017

Arc Provided by Chronicle Books

I think I received an arc that was not quite ready for public reading: only that, would explain some mistakes regarding a character's age. Hope that got fixed in the final copy.
As for the plot itself, it never caught my interest. I am a huge Austen fan, and the Jane Austen in this book never shone. She was surly, reckless, and she did things who did not conform to the age she lived in. The author should have payed more attention to that. Calling strangers on a first name basis was a huge NO back then.
And that was when I DNF' ed this.
Better just watch "Becoming Jane".
Profile Image for Maddie.
111 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2022
This could’ve been a lot worse, but it was far far from good. Probably one of the most forgettable books I’ve ever read.
Profile Image for Karla.
435 reviews4 followers
June 21, 2016
A good read for hard-core Austen fans and an introduction for teens who haven't read her works. I love that it isn't just a rewrite but an original story set in a believable Jane Austen world. She incorporated all the elements of my favorite Austen heroines and created characters I'd like to know. The mystery was easily solveable, but the character's reactions were not. I hope she does more featuring Jane Austen as a character!
Profile Image for Bee.
466 reviews5 followers
March 15, 2022
I should know better. I’m disappointed in 98% of the books I’ve read that use Jane Austen as a character, or that are spin-offs of her books.

Stephanie Barron’s delightful, well-written mysteries starring Jane herself have also spoiled me for any other attempts at creating such a scenario. That Jane Austen is the Jane I picture. This one, sadly, is not. In fact, I can genuinely say that I didn’t enjoy the portrayals of any of the historical figures in this book, and the amount of artistic license taken is pretty huge. The mystery itself was implausible, easily solved, and just silly. Oh, and rushed. This felt like a novella rather than a full-length novel.

Bland and forgettable overall. The best parts were the quotes from Jane Austen’s novels at the beginning of each chapter. That’s harsh, I know. I hate to be that critical, but it’s true.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,309 reviews10 followers
November 27, 2018
Somewhere between "it was ok," and "I liked it."
As a light mystery, this was fun and a good in-between book. I don't really think it needed to be a "Jane Austen Mystery," however. It felt like Jane Austen was thrown in to try to drum up interest in the book. This would have been fine as just a Regency mystery.

That said, I am curious about Jane Austen's personal life so I ordered a biography to read soonish.
Profile Image for Melissa.
677 reviews9 followers
April 16, 2017
The plot moved a little slow in the beginning, but a good mystery suspense for older MS / younger HS fans of Jane Austen or her time period. Very impressed by the amount of biographical knowledge of Jane Austen (author's note at the end of the book) that went into the story and characters!
Profile Image for Miranda.
738 reviews111 followers
September 16, 2016
This was a quick and interesting read that I blew through. I found a majority of this book to be quite entertaining, even if it was a bit ridiculous at times.

I thought Jane was solid main character. I enjoyed her seeing her try and solve all of the craziness that occurred in this book. I wish there would have been a little more to Jane's character though. I feel like Jane Austen would have been quite a witty woman, and the Jane in this book was not very witty at all. I liked Jane, but it just wish she would have either been sassier or wittier.

There was some romance sprinkled through out this book, and there were so really tender moments because of that. The romance really reminded me of the romance in Becoming Jane , which makes sense since they are both about Jane Austen!

Tom was a dreamy at times but then very annoying at other times. I became very irritated with him numerous times and it was frustrating. I was hoping to love him as much as I loved his equivalent in Becoming Jane , but I sadly didn't. I didn't hate Tom, but I didn't love him either.

The plot of this book was definitely entertaining. I thought the mystery was enjoyable even if it was very predictable.

I would recommend that Jane Austen fans check this out and see if this is up their alley. This book isn't as romantic as books written by Jane Austen, but it was still fun nonetheless.

3 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for a honest review. *

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It
Profile Image for Hilary.
2,005 reviews49 followers
June 28, 2016
3.5 stars

Unlike Austen, whose books seem to center around England, MacColl's plot reaches from English shores to French nobility fleeing persecution, with love, murder and intrigue all around, but with the murder is kept low-key rather than being a primary feature, suitable for the time and place. It was a fun read, and I was disappointed to reach the end.

It was interesting to see how Austen took elements of her own family life and used them for her various books, from the characters to plot devices. I would have liked some sort of afterword explaining what was fictionalized and what really happened, maybe even with a "what happened next" summary. I gather the finished work would have some Further Reading, but this was not available in the ARC, so maybe my complaint will prove unjustified.

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sheena.
105 reviews12 followers
June 14, 2016
I love anything to do with Jane Austen. I find that no matter how many times I read her works its like its the first time. I was intrigued by the premise of this book and have read other works of fiction that have Austen as the main character. While I found this book to be a quick read, I felt that it lacked depth. First of all, the interaction between Austen and Tom Lefroy very similar to the interaction found in the movie Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway and James MacAvoy. There didn't seem to be anything original in the relationship. Secondly, the mystery aspect of the book was very predictable. There was really no development in the mystery and it was easy to figure out who the murder really was. For these reasons, I have to give the book 3 stars.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,292 reviews2,962 followers
October 7, 2016
Entertaining historical fiction about author Jane Austen. This book has a little bit of everything, mystery, romance, suspense, humor. It had a fun mix of facts we already know combined with some speculation and creative licence. Loved the quotes from Jane's books at the beginning of each chapter and the Author's note at the end of the book.

Overall, the mystery was somewhat weak, but I still had fun reading this book and am interested in checking out the author's other historical fiction novels. While this book might not appeal to every reader, at the end of the day I was looking for something that was entertaining and would hold my interest and this certainly fit the bill.

I won this book in a giveaway and that is my fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Kelley Rose.
109 reviews15 followers
May 7, 2016
"Secrets in the Snow" is a clever, humorous, and fast-paced mystery that will quickly win the attention of Jane Austen fans!

MacColl takes the life of renowned author Jane Austen and creates a fascinating tale involving romance and murder. The book is smoothly written and I loved how the author opened each chapter with quotes from Austen's novels. Ms. MacColl's writing was filled with humor and imagination. I look forward to reading more of her works.

I will be purchasing this book for our library.
Profile Image for Amy.
292 reviews5 followers
October 7, 2016
"Secrets in the Snow" is a witty, fast-paced mystery that takes the life of well-known author Jane Austen and creates a captivating story involving romance, deception, intrigue and murder. The book is a joy to read and each chapter begins with quotes from Austen's novels. Overall, this was a delightful book filled with the right balance of humor and pathos, fact and imagination.

This book was received as a digital ARC in return for a fair and honest review.
18 reviews1 follower
August 14, 2016
This was such an awesome book filled with "What if's" It is filled with truths about Jane Austen as well as fiction from the imagination of Michaela MacColl. Being an Austen fan myself and knowing the style Jane Austen wrote in I must say Michaela MacColl really honored her style. and the life of Ms. Austen mixed with the "What if's" of how Ms. Austen thought. Michaela MacColl did a spectacular job! I really look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
Profile Image for vvb.
557 reviews14 followers
November 11, 2016

Loved reading of a young Jane and her antics. Her vibrant and curious being grabbed my attention. Being a writer it makes sense that she would have good sleuthing skills.

The encounters with Mr. Lefroy were the right amount of fun and playful. He seems to be a great match for Jane. If only...

I would love to see more fictional stories like these with Jane as the main character in mini-adventures and dramas that could have fed into her imagination for her writings.
Profile Image for Marilag.
Author 9 books27 followers
July 10, 2018
Full review can be found at Story and Somnomancy.

Initial thoughts: Lack of editing and formatting aside (and there was a LOT of that), there was just too much nonsense in this story for me to actually like. Shame, I really wanted to. It was a fast read at least?
Profile Image for Celeste.
2,055 reviews
September 14, 2016
I love Jane Austen and I'm not opposed to reading a fictional book with her as the main character, but this character wasn't very likable. She was nosy and disagreeable and it wasn't charming. The ending was also unsatisfying and justified murder.
Profile Image for RivkaBelle.
873 reviews
October 18, 2016
Heeeeey, I like! Though wholly fictional, it has the feel of something "that might have been" -- and presents a new take on the idea of Jane and her ill-fated romance with Tom Lefroy. Among other things.
Profile Image for Tina at Mommynificent.
584 reviews9 followers
December 6, 2021
What a fascinating story! I enjoyed it very much. Imagining a young Jane Austen was fascinating, and doing it in the genre of a cozy mystery - but the kind she might have written - was so intriguing. The mystery itself was good, but the big plot twist that I didn't see coming wasn't actually part of the mystery, which I also found unique. While I enjoyed this book, I just kept finding myself wanting more, especially in terms of character development - everyone felt just a little like a caricature when I wanted real characters. But it was good and definitely thought-provoking. I didn't really like the direction the plot twist took the ending and the morality it communicates. Otherwise, I would heartily recommend this as a nice, clean YA mystery. I do have some reservations though so I would encourage parents to give it a read first to decide if it's appropriate for your teen or young adult and decide how you want to discuss the decision that leads to the ending. (Sorry for being vague, but I didn't want to spoil anything.)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jamille Parks.
487 reviews5 followers
January 9, 2022
I have mixed feelings. I want to say that I loved the book but I got distracted in the middle and stopped reading for almost a year. I only finished because I wanted to see it done and thought that with nothing to do in January (when I finished) I could do it. I’m not sure why I stopped reading; I must have got bored, but when I started again I couldn’t stop. So I want to say I liked it, but maybe it was the pacing or something that had me bored after a while.

With that said, I love Jane Austen. I don’t know much about her life other than her dalliance with Tom LeFroy and that she’s one of the best British novelists of all time. I love her books. I loved that this story had parts of her novels woven into the story along with the intrigue of murder (I also love a good mystery). I wouldn’t say no to another book by this author.

Overall it was a good book and perhaps if I didn’t get bored in the middle I would like it more. This, though, I see as my problem because I tend to read about ten books at a time and I could of got distracted by another story.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
78 reviews2 followers
December 20, 2017
I found the book to be almost pointless. The mystery that fictionally comes into the Austens’ lives (the characters were real, but the circumstances were untrue) is based more on a soap opera reality than history; for example, a character who was guillotined (historical fact) returns due to a Sidney Carton-esque case of mistaken identity. They took the wrong guy’s head. The character is later murdered after causing a swooning scene and more drama with his wife. Jane, the widow, Jane’s brother, and Jane’s near-suitor all go to great lengths to solve the murder only to help the guilty escape justice, much to the dismay of the suitor who then dumps Jane immediately.

Historical fiction has its creative elements, but the subject of a respected historical figure’s life was taken too frivolously, in my opinion. That is more the pity because the author captures well the tone and the language of the time while still keeping to the needs of the target reading audience.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ellen.
878 reviews
January 10, 2018
This book ended up being part biographical, part mystery and romance, and all around fun. Michaela MacColl pulls back the curtain between fiction and reality and blends the two with a fictional look at the real Jane Austen's life. There are plenty of real-life details and certainly a flavor in the language that is satisfying to me as an Austen fan. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the books were the quotes from Austen's work that some how tied in and gave a clue to the progress of the book itself. It added to the sense that, if these details were true, it would shed light on how Jane Austen arrived at the classics we know and love today. Her own passing love interest with Tom Lefoy might mirror Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice in some ways. The murder mystery and political intrigue add a thrilling aspect. Will Jane's family be forever tainted by her cousin's possible betrayal spying for the enemy French? What of her growing fondness for Mr. Lefoy?
Profile Image for Libby Ames.
1,449 reviews41 followers
May 15, 2017
Really more of a 2.5 stars because of plot weakness.

Young Adult Mystery/Historical Fiction

This lighthearted mystery stars Jane Austen as the main character rather than the author. MacColl combines bits of Jane Austen’s actual life history with a story of her own imagining to give more life to the well-loved author. This is a fun story and an interesting perception of Jane’s life. Each chapter also starts with an Austen quote that ties the fictional story to Austen’s novels.

Secrets in the Snow is an entertaining read for Austen lovers. The mystery itself is a little weak, but the recreation of Austen’s world is well done and makes up for what the plot lacks. So if you love Jane Austen, try this author’s attempt to make her a character like she wrote about.

Recommended ages--12 and up.
Profile Image for Stormi .
514 reviews73 followers
December 9, 2016
Michaela MacColl has written an adorable story for Jane Austen fans, like me. Secrets in the Snow has a great combination factual details from Jane Autsten's life and fictional details from MacColl's imagination.

Secrets in the Snow is a short and quick read, but has the perfect amount of love and mystery and adventure. The murder mystery plot was somewhat predictable, but it was still entertaining.

Also, if you enjoy having physical books, the hardcover copy of this is absolutely GORGEOUS!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 119 reviews

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