Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron

Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

For years, Stephanie Barron's Being Jane mysteries have been on my literary radar, but I took little interest in them, despite their Austenesque genre placement.  I'm not generally drawn to mysteries; in fact, the last few that I've read had almost put me off the subject matter entirely.  About a year ago I won a signed copy of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I decided that at some point I would at least give Ms. Barron's work a try.  If nothing else, the Twelve Days cover art was enticing me to give it a go.  Yes, I'm that type of reader.

Fast forward a year, and I still haven't read the book.  Yet here comes another title in the series, Jane and the Waterloo Map. I'm intrigued with the battle of Waterloo and pairing it with Austenesque fiction heightened my interest in a mystery novel once again.  I was thrilled when I received an invitation to be a part of the Waterloo Map blog tour and danced a little jig when the book arrived on my doorstep.

As I'm a complete neurotic when it comes to reading books in a series, I simply could not begin my experience with the Being Jane novels with Book 13.  I quickly procured a copy of Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor for perusal, and I was not disappointed! The novel was incredibly enjoyable, and I was thrilled that I'd begun with the first in the series.  Then I began to hear from other readers (including the author herself) that reading Book 2, Jane and the Man of the Cloth would also be a good idea, as many foundational lines are established in this title as well. I mentioned this to my husband, and he promptly found a copy in a used bookstore and brought it home for me. I had little time to get Man of the Cloth read, but once again Stephanie Barron wrote a thrilling tale that was easy to take in with speed and enjoyment.

Although I'd love to plow through Books 3-12, time was wasting away for this post's deadline, so I leaped forward to Jane and the Waterloo Map, which is set eleven years after the conclusion of Map of the Cloth. I found in short order that I needed to familiarize myself with one character in particular, who had been introduced in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas.  While I don't see it as completely necessary for all readers to do this, I quickly opened Twelve Days and got to know the character of Raphael West just a bit.  He plays a major role in Waterloo Map, and I'm glad I took the time to read a few of his opening scenes in Book 12.  Again, this isn't a requirement for other readers to enjoy this latest title. I just found it to be helpful in my understanding of his relationship to Jane.

As with Books 1 and 2, Jane and the Waterloo Map is a delightful mixture of fact (things we've learned from world history as well as Jane's actual letters), fiction (Jane Austen as sleuth!), intelligence, wit, and just a touch of chaste romance.  Barron's narratives rarely lag, and while I find the number of characters introduced into the story to be many, they always contribute to the plot and hold some significance, no matter how small.  As I do with many of the novels I read, I did a "Hollywood casting" in my head to keep the individuals organized.  At the conclusion of this review, I'll offer up some of the names of those who graced the "silver screen" in my mind.

I must say that near the end of Waterloo Map, Barron truly had me guessing as to what would be coming next in her plot choices, and she surprised me on multiple occasions.  My interest never ceased to be held, and I was particularly shocked at the revelation of one villainous character. I truly didn't see this twist coming at all. And just when I thought that the drama would be at its end, Barron threw in one more scene of peril and excitement, just for good measure. There is a bit of a bittersweet ending, and I closed the book with much satisfaction.  While I don't anticipate abandoning my primary interest in general Austenesque fiction, Stephanie Barron has restored my interest in mystery stories.  In her Being Jane series, she has captured the voice of Jane Austen as none I have read in some time, and has combined her ability to uniquely tell a quality story with a whodunit. I'm utterly surprised at how much I've enjoyed reading her these past weeks, and look forward to not only reading the remaining ten books in the collection but hope to see many more new works from her to come.

Hollywood Casting - Jane and the Waterloo Map

Olivia Williams as Jane Austen in
Miss Austen Regrets (2008 at age 40)

Keep in mind, this is my brain at work.  I try to choose as many Brits as I can, with the proper ages, hair color, etc., but as is the case in the real world, this isn't always possible.  It's just a helpful tool for me to keep characters organized as I traipse through the worlds that my authors create.

Jane Austen - Olivia Williams at age 40
Raphael West (age 46) - Joseph Fiennes
Henry Austen (age 44) -  Jude Law
Prince George (age 47) - Zach Galifianakis
Benjamin West - Christopher Plummer at 77
James Stanier Clarke - Toby Jones
Dr. Matthew Baillie - David Bamber
Charles Haden - Michael Socha
Fanny (Austen) Knight - Jessica Brown Findlay at 22
Duke of Wellington - Rupert Penry-Jones
Madame Gauthier - Lily James at 22
Major George Scovell - James D'Arcy


Jane and the Waterloo Map Prize Pack!

Amateur sleuth Jane Austen returns in Jane and the Waterloo Map,
the thirteenth novel in Stephanie Barron’s delightful Regency-era mystery series.

Award winning author Stephanie Barron tours the blogosphere February 2 through February 22, 2016 to share her latest release, Jane and the Waterloo Map (Being a Jane Austen Mystery). Twenty popular book bloggers specializing in Austenesque fiction, mystery and Regency history will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts and book reviews from this highly anticipated novel in the acclaimed Being a Jane Austen Mystery series. A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of Ms. Barron’s book and other Jane Austen-themed items, will be open to those who join the festivities.


February 02        My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 03        Laura's Reviews (Excerpt)          
February 04        A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
February 05        The Calico Critic (Review)
February 06        So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)      
February 07        Reflections of a Book Addict (Spotlight)      
February 08        Mimi Matthews Blog (Guest Blog)      
February 09        Jane Austen’s World (Interview)           
February 10        Just Jane 1813 (Review)          
February 11        Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)      
February 12        History of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Guest Blog)  
February 13        My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)      
February 14        Living Read Girl (Review)      
February 14        Austenprose (Review)
February 15        Mystery Fanfare (Guest Blog)      
February 16        Laura's Reviews (Review)          
February 17        Jane Austen in Vermont (Excerpt)          
February 18        From Pemberley to Milton (Interview)          
February 19        More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
February 20        Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)          
February 21        A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life (Guest Blog)
February 22        Diary of an Eccentric (Review)


Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016.  (Comment idea:  When reading a book series, do you feel strongly compelled to begin with book one, or do you feel free to jump in wherever??)  Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016. Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!

About the Author 

Stephanie Barron was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.


Book 1 Kindle


  1. Laura, thank you for the fantastic review! I am excited to have discovered this series!

    1. Thanks Caryl! I'm excited, too-- and I'm glad there are 10 more for me to read! :)

  2. Excellent cast! Yes, this series should be a television series. I'm befuddled why someone hasn't optioned it yet.

    1. You are so spot on! We need a great JAFF series, BBC style and why not this one?

  3. Great review! Love your insights about the series. Your cast is great too! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great review and casting Laura. Toby Jones as James Stanier Clarke! Perfect. I love how Barron's vivid writing illicits great casting. The twists throughout, and especially at the end, were very rewarding. I didn't see them coming. The series as a whole is fabulous and cries to be made into a series. Keeping my fingers crossed on that. Thanks again.

  5. So I have 13 books to read... not a bad problem to have!

  6. I'm a traditional kinda a girl, always start at the beginning. As I have with this wonderful series, so excited to read this next installment.

  7. i love the list you added at the end with the actors' names .

  8. I have enjoyed this series for years. I'm so glad you gave them a chance and this book restored your enjoyment of mysteries! Can't wait to read this latest.

  9. This sounds like a fun series. I enjoy Jane Austen themed things and a mystery book too what could be better. Thank you for the chance to win. bookaunt at outlook dot com

  10. Great review and awesome cast! You make it sound like sooooo much fun! I look forward to this book! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. I am also someone who likes to read from the first book of a series. I love Stephanie Barrows' books and am always eager to learn when a new one is published, especially since I love mysteries. Thank you for the giveaway.

  12. "When reading a book series, do you feel strongly compelled to begin with book one, or do you feel free to jump in wherever?" Most of the time, I prefer to start at the beginning of the series. However, if the books are truly stand-alones, I'm okay with picking up any of the books at random.

  13. Loved the idea of "Hollywood casting" the book. I wish someone would make movies of these books.

  14. Looking forward to reading this in its entirety!

  15. I do prefer to read the first book in a series,
    as that usually "sets up" the most important
    premises of the story, but then I can dabble
    among the various books. I know I have read
    each of these in order of publication, because I was so enchanted by the idea of
    Jane Austen as "detective."

  16. I'm anxiously waiting to get this book in my hands, thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  17. I'm that type of reader too. Cover Art really needs to draw me in or the Title needs to be interesting to me. Fortunately a lot of Austenesque books tend to have a beautiful dress or cameo or some such...which of course I love :)

  18. Loved this book!! Such a great series. Thanks for the giveaway!!

  19. I just bought a set of all of Austen's books! I'm now excited for this one too!

  20. I tend to have a problem reading most Austenesque books as I feel they don't quite get the "voice" of Jane Austen right. I don't feel that way with the Being Jane series. I've been hooked since the the first book and can't wait to read the latest installment. You definitely should read the rest of the series. It is absolutely worth it!

  21. Love the casting notes! Looking forward to the book.

  22. I so enjoyed Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, I've been looking forward to this one to!

  23. I got a kick out of your casting of the "movie." So looking forward to reading this latest in the mystery series.

    1. "Casting" really is a big help for me. Otherwise I'd get totally confused in my head with all the characters. But it's fun to share my internal vision with others, too.

  24. Love your cast choices, especially Rupert Penry-Jones and James D'Arcy. Such great actors.

  25. I want to read the other ones as well now too. :D

  26. Oh I am totally like you and feel like I need to start at the beginning. I am like that with TV shows too. This series looks like one I'd love. Thanks for the post and the giveaway! I'm going to have to search and find her first book too. Thanks!

  27. This story sounds exciting. Would love to read and I need to start from the beginning also.

    Maureen M.



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