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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
In Love, Savory and Sweet, Ronnda Eileen Henry beautifully demonstrates her avowed love for the writings of Jane Austen. Her crisp, breezy novella brilliantly follows all of Austen’s formulae for a literary romance: the heroine’s acceptance of and struggle against her society’s social standards and expectations, devotion to family, a villain’s intrusion, domestic complications, strict manners, a restrictive social ladder, and a triumphant ending. In an imaginary setting reminiscent of Austen’s actual world, our heroine, Lady Krysantha, respectful of society’s restraints but surprisingly able to take control when opportunity permits, marries a widowed military officer and enters a conflict with his former family for acceptance and official nobility. After fathering a son, her husband, Colonel William, dies in a horse fall. His former family sends a spy into the new widow’s world to steal her inheritance. The “spy” discovers Krysantha’s true nature, falls in love, and struggles to win her heart even during the official period of her mourning. The obstacles are formidable but so is the two lovers’ need to be together although remaining well within all societal norms. Hey ... Jane Austen reincarnated—and magnificently so!
In the present literary world of brutal conflict and unrelenting ambiguity, I was pleasantly rewarded by Ronnda Eileen Henry’s splendidly organized and superbly delivered old-fashioned romance. Never does she allow us to lose our place as we breeze along, first accepting her imaginary society (not unlike Austen’s real one), then meeting her starring cast of characters—and embracing them—then watching the barriers evolve, and finally rejoicing as the difficulties melt away. I never, for an instant, lost my place—Ms. Henry’s writing is flawlessly clear, allowing fast reading and igniting our emotions, our hopes for justice, and our eventual sense of a well-organized world, though one long gone by. I was swept into this lovely novella, especially by Ms. Henry’s confident rendering of its delights (apricot tarts and tea cakes included). I recommend Love, Savory and Sweet to anyone who longs for a brief respite from the never-ending and often overwhelming complications of our present world.