Special Feature and Excerpt: Jane and the Year Without a Summer (Jane Austen Mysteries #14) by Stephanie Barron

I am so happy to see how well this series is doing! Fourteen books into the mystery series and it’s still going strong! This is a series that has floated around my radar for a while now and it’s been so fun to watch it grow and mature over the years since the first book was published in 1996! That to me shows this series has staying power!

I am so thrilled to bring you guys a sample of the latest book in the series, Jane and the Year Without a Summer. I mean what could be better than Jane Austen with a murder mystery?! Some times I am wary of books with big name characters reimagined like Jane Austen, however with this series, I think it’s been proven to be a popular and well done series that fans of Austen will devour.

I loved this little excerpt so much and am excited to check out not only this one but the other books in the series too! I am hoping this is a series where each book can be read as a standalone. For those of you who have read the books what do you think? Please tell me in the comments and keep reading to check out the excerpt of this witty murder mystery!


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.


“Outstanding…Barron fans will hope Jane, who died in 1817, will be back for one more mystery.”— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“No one conjures Austen’s voice like Stephanie Barron, and Jane and the Year Without a Summer is utterly pitch-perfect.”— Deanna Raybourn, bestselling author of the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries

“…a page-turning story, imbued with fascinating historical detail, a cast of beautifully realized characters, a pitch-perfect Jane Austen, and an intriguing mystery. Highly recommended.”— Syrie James, bestselling author of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen 

Jane and the Year Without a Summer is absolute perfection. Stephanie Barron expertly weaves fact and fiction, crafting a story that is authentically Austen in its elegance, charm, and wit. The characters and setting will enchant you, and the mystery will keep you guessing to the last page. This Regency-set gem is truly a diamond of the first water.”— Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author of The Siren of Sussex




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.




Jane and the Year Without a Summer Excerpt 1

“I suppose you have any amount of funds to waste,” 

my brother’s voice said drily from the doorway, “now that

your shocking novels have gained the notice of the Prince


I turned and smiled at him. He could only be referring to

my spoiled child Emma, which had been published so recently

as January and dedicated, much against my wishes, to the

odious Prince. “James! You are looking very well!”

He crossed the room and kissed Cassandra’s cheek, but only

inclined his head to me. “That any female of my acquaintance

should find her name bandied about among the Carlton House

Set! And for a work of such sustained frivolity as Emma! This

is the result of too much indulgence, Jane. Too much licence,

indeed, long accorded to a feverish imagination. I blame my

father—may he rest in peace, poor soul. He ought never to

have encouraged your writing; the female mind is too weak

to support the rigors of composition, and must necessarily

fall into vice.”

“I apprehend you have been composing your sermon,

James.” I beamed at him with unruffled serenity. “How

unfortunate that we shall not be with you this Sunday to

hear it! We might have benefited so much; I am sure you are

everything that is earnest and forthright on the subject of

women’s weakness.”

My brother looked startled. “Are you quitting us so soon?

And leaving the child completely to our care?”

“Only the deepest anxiety for Jane’s welfare would drive

us from the door,” Cassandra attempted. “She has been most

unwell of late, James, and Mr. Curtis is insistent on the benefits

of Cheltenham.”

“I had thought it solely a pleasure-party.” A pucker of

disapproval on my brother’s brow was swiftly smoothed away.

“You will wish to consult with Jenner. There is no trained

physician—no natural philosopher, indeed—whom I regard

more highly. I allowed him to try his methods on my own

dear child, when last we were in Cheltenham.”

“Do you speak of Edward Jenner? The smallpox man?”

I asked. The physician is of such dubious brilliance that

some regard him as the Devil, and others as a god. He is

an advocate for what he calls vaccination—a word he coined

years since, from the Latin vacca, or cow. Observing that

dairy maids, being exposed to cowpox in the course of their

work, rarely contracted the far deadlier disease of smallpox,

Jenner theorized that the one illness might offer protection

against the other. He tested his notion on a serving boy in

his household, and happily for the child, was proved correct.

By cutting the skin of a healthy person, and smearing the

blood of the resultant wound with pus taken from cowpox,

Jenner preserves his healthy patients from ever contracting

the kindred disease of smallpox.

“Whatever the cause of my present indisposition, James, it

is hardly the pox. Recollect that I, too, was vaccinated—some

fifteen years ago, by my dear Madame Lefroy.”….

At that moment, the maid appeared, all the essentials of a

hearty fire clutched in her arms.

“Drusilla!” James cried, instantly diverted. “What are you


“You may blame me,” I interposed smoothly. “There is no

end to the luxuries an authoress celebrated by the Carlton

House Set may require.”

I untied the strings of my reticule and drew forth a pound

note, pressing it into my brother’s hand. A fraction of the

sum should have sufficed, but I confess my pride encouraged

a flaunting of wealth. “Pray accept this trifling gift against

coals, James. And kindling. And Cassie’s dinners for the next

fortnight. While you are about it, Drusilla—be so good as to

lay a fire in our bedroom, and Mistress Cassie’s as well. Be

sure to cosset her until we return to retrieve her.”

“The children’s room!” James sputtered. “You shall be giving

them ideas dangerously far above their station!”

I patted his sleeve, my temper unstirred. “Resign yourself,

my dear. I daresay if you are very saving, a pound may run

to a fire for your own chamber. Only consider! A warm

wife beneath the bedclothes! What a change that shall be,


Chapter 3, pages 19-23

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