From the publisher: When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn't expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life.
Emily travels to the sleepy coastal village of Stony Beach, Oregon, to claim her inheritance, centered in a beautiful Victorian estate called Windy Corner but also including a substantial portion of the real estate of the whole town. As she gets to know the town's eccentric inhabitants--including her own once-and-possibly-future love, Sheriff Luke Richards--she learns of a covert plan to develop Stony Beach into a major resort. She also hears hints that her aunt may have been murdered. Soon another suspicious death confirms this, and before long Emily herself experiences a near-fatal accident.
Meanwhile, Emily reads Persuasion, hoping to find belated happiness with her first love as Anne Elliot did with Captain Wentworth. She notices a similarity between her not-quite-cousin Brock Runcible, heir to a smaller portion of her aunt's property, and Mr. Elliot in Persuasion, and her suspicions of Brock crystallize. But as she and Luke continue to investigate and events speed toward a climax, Emily realizes that underneath the innocent-looking rocks of Stony Beach lurk festering jealousies that would have shocked even the worst of Jane Austen's charming reprobates.
The first Crime with the Classics mystery introduces us to widowed literature professor Emily Cavanaugh, bored with her life and looking for a change. When her great aunt Beatrice passes away she returns home to Windy Corner to claim her inheritance. She hasn't been back in 35 years and doesn't look forward to running into her lost love Sheriff Luke Richards. Having had very little contact with her aunt since leaving Emily is stunned to learn that she's inherited the vast majority of a *very* large estate, much to the chagrin of her cousin who was hoping to inherit more in order to buy into a huge development plan. It's not long before Emily starts to suspect that Beatrice was actually murdered, especially when another suspicious death takes place in the house. Teaming up with the Sheriff to get to the bottom of things, they begin to fall in love again, even as Emily is hiding a tragic secret dating back to their brief time together.
I loved the almost gothic atmosphere of Arsenic with Austen, with much of the action taking place in an amazing old Victorian complete with a library to die for. The cover kitty is the curmudgeonly Bustopher Jones who is silently suffering the loss of his beloved mistress. Other secondary characters include cat whisperer/Emily's BFF Marguerite, and the mayor's niece Katie who moves into the Victorian with her newborn, rounding out a very strong debut. The references to Jane Austen will delight Austenophiles everywhere.
I can't wait to see what comes next for Emily, Luke, Katie, and the plans that are being made for the charming Victorian's future.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.