- Title: Blame it on the Brontes
- Author: Annie Sereno
- Publisher: Forever
- Release Date: 5/3/22
- Genre: Contemporary Romance
- Age Range: Adult
- Rating: ★★★
- Content Warnings: Infidelity, death of a parent, mental illness (paranoid schizophrenia)
- Publisher’s Summary: She’s going to write her own happy ending. English professor Athena Murphy is an authority on the novels of the Brontë sisters. But as they say in academia, publish or perish. To save her job, Athena decides to write a biography of C.L. Garland, the author heating up bestseller lists with spicy retellings of classic literature. Tracking down the reclusive writer and uncovering her secret identity, though, means Athena must return to her small midwestern hometown where Garland—and her ex-boyfriend, Thorne Kent—live. Seeing Thorne again reminds Athena that real life never lives up to fiction. He was the Heathcliff to her Catherine, the Mr. Rochester to her Jane. Not only did their college breakup shatter that illusion, but they also broke each other’s hearts again a second time. Now she has to see him nearly every…single…day. The only solution is to find C.L. Garland as quickly as possible, write the book, and get the heck out of town. As her deadline looms and the list of potential C.L. Garlands dwindles, Athena and Thorne bicker and banter their way back to friendship. Could it really be true that the third time’s a charm? Athena and Thorne have a love story only a Brontë could write, and the chance for their own happily-ever-after, but first, they’ll need to forgive the mistakes of the past.
I was very intrigued by the premise of Blame it on the Brontes, but it didn’t quite live up to what I was hoping for.
The hardest thing for me to get past in Blame it on the Brontes is that I didn’t like Athena. The way she treats her sometimes lover, Sergei, is especially disappointing. When he travels from California to Illinois to see her, the first thing she says to him is “you’ve gained weight.” She also lies to him and pretends to be a felon to get him to run away from the cafe where she works. While Sergei might not have been her soul mate, he certainly deserved to be treated with more kindness.
The title “Blame it on the Brontes” does feel appropriate as Athena doesn’t seem to take responsibility for her actions. She gets herself into professional hotwater by behaving badly towards one of her colleagues, but she doesn’t seem to understand that she got herself into a situation where she is likely to lose her job. While Thorne seems to see Athena as a magical waitress who connects with her customers, it’s hard to overlook how badly she treats certain people around her.
Thorne seems to be much more thoughtful and caring than Athena. He goes out of his way to take care of his paranoid schizophrenic half-brother and even works to build a mental health facility in Laurel. He makes Athena a frittata for breakfast when he spents the night with her, which is a sweet gesture. He has his (forgive the pun) “thorny” moments, but he certainly doesn’t play nasty pranks on his former co-workers like Athena does.
I do appreciate romance novels where the story alternates between the perspectives of the two love interests. I did enjoy the dramatic irony created by learning about the secrets Thorne was keeping from Athena (however, his narration didn’t even reveal all of them). It did raise some concern for me though that Thorne felt the need to keep so much from someone who he’d identified as the love of his life.
I wanted to be enagaged in the mystery of C.L. Garland’s idenity and genuinely was rooting for Athena to uncover it. However, I figured it out pretty quickly, and I am generally pretty bad at that sort of thing. By the end, I was hoping that Garland’s identiy would not be revealed at all and that Athena would realize she didn’t need to know who was behind those novellas.
I wanted to be invested in Blame it on the Brontes, but it left me feeling a little disappointed. Athena and Thorne’s passion for the work of the Bronte sisters does have me thinking about picking up Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights again though.