cover image Sex, Lies, and Sensibility

Sex, Lies, and Sensibility

Nikki Payne. Berkley, $18 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-44096-4

Payne’s sparkling and sultry latest diverse Jane Austen adaptation (after Pride and Protest) puts a refreshing spin on Sense and Sensibility’s Dashwood sisters. Shenora “Nora” Dash’s world is thrown into chaos when her ex-boyfriend releases their sex tape without her consent, leading her to quit college and her beloved track team and to suffer from debilitating panic attacks. Then Nora’s father dies suddenly, and she and her sister, Maryanne (“Yanne”), learn they are his secret second family—and his “real” family isn’t about to let them have a penny of his estate. They’re left with only a dilapidated beachfront inn on Abenaki land in rural Maine, which Nora and Yanne must either transform to turn a profit or lose in foreclosure. Payne beautifully delineates the sisters’ contrasting personalities as Yanne’s free spirit and bohemian lifestyle leave Nora feeling alone and misunderstood, though she’s grateful that no one on the reservation seems to have seen her sex tape. Among these locals is Ennis “Bear” Freeman, who wants to honor his Abenaki ancestors’ values while carving out his own path. When he meets beautiful Nora, he sees an opportunity to help his tourist business by pitching in on the inn’s renovation. The ensuing romance is steamy and intense. Readers won’t have to be Janeites to appreciate Nora and Bear’s magnetic connection. (Feb.)