Jane and the Year Without Summer by Stephanie Barron: Jane Austen, Murder, and Me Sobbing at 2 AM

Jane Austen Time!! (when is it not?!?!) If I knew there was a Jane Austen murder mystery series before I was asked to be on the blog tour, I would have been yelling about it nonstop.

But here we are and I’ve read the 14th book first. THE 14TH! But while Jane and the Year Without Summer can certainly be read on its own (and had me feeling all the feelings), I suspect it will be even better if you read the previous 13 books.

Let’s get to the review!

Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron

Series: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14)
Genre: Historical Mystery, Austenesque
Publisher: Soho Press (February 8, 2022)
Length: 336 pages

 May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.
Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own—some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.



Let’s start off this review with the most important part. This book had me sobbing at 2:30 AM. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, I don’t know what will.

As I said in the intro, this was the first book in the Jane Austen Mysteries series that I read and now I want to read all the books that came before.

The mystery. Jane’s skills of deduction. A level of shade that no one can meet (possibly my favorite part!). Jane Austen is nothing without her shade.

THE ROMANCE (AKA one of the reasons I sobbed at the end). I loved it. Rafael West (AKA the guy who would love to be Jane’s official suitor) and Jane are so utterly cute together!

I also loved the relationship between Jane and Cassandra. They are so wonderful together. Teasing each other and supporting one another. I always love reading a good relationship between sisters.

I do wish the disabled woman wasn’t portrayed the way she was. I wish it had been a little more nuanced. But overall, the whole storyline between the people at the inn was very enjoyable. They were fun, annoying, smart, devious, and everything in between.

The final pages had me sobbing for two reasons. One: the romance. And two: the fact that Jane finds out that her life will be shorter than she expected.

Like yes, I know when Jane Austen dies and I was paying special attention to the dates on each chapter, but THAT DOESN’T MEAN I WAS PREPARED.

Jane Austen always feels like a best friend when I’m reading her books and with her being the main character in this book, I felt that even more. So the thought of her…DYING…no. I don’t like that.

I’m giving Jane and the Year Without Summer 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommend!

Jane and the Year Without Summer by Stephanie Barron is out now!

Author Bio

Francine Mathews 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 twenty-five books, including five novels in the Merry Folger series (Death in the Off-Season, Death in Rough Water, Death in a Mood Indigo, Death in a Cold Hard Light, and Death on Nantucket) as well as the nationally bestselling Being a Jane Austen mystery series, which she writes under the penname, Stephanie Barron. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.


2 thoughts on “Jane and the Year Without Summer by Stephanie Barron: Jane Austen, Murder, and Me Sobbing at 2 AM

  1. I sobbed too. Who could help it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sarah. I am glad that you finally found the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series. You have a lot of reading to do before book 15 comes out. We will all need a box of Kleenex for that one!

    Liked by 1 person

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