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Jane Goes Batty    by Michael Thomas Ford order for
Jane Goes Batty
by Michael Thomas Ford
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Goes Batty is the sequel to Jane Bites Back, which introduced readers to a fanged (but otherwise benign) Jane Austen, who now calls herself Jane Fairfax. She runs Flyleaf Books in small town Brakeston, upstate New York, with the help of her best friend Lucy (who reminds Jane of her beloved sister Cassie and knows she's a vampire). Jane still writes, though her latest novel, Constance, received 116 rejections over two hundred years before finally being published to great acclaim.

As Jane Goes Batty opens, the novel's being made into a movie (that bears little resemblance to the original), and a romance fan, 'number-one-ranked reviewer' Beverly Shrop, is running tours that include Jane's home and that of Byron, the seductive vampire who turned her. Byron now writes very popular romance novels and calls himself Tavish Osborn. Since Jane was attacked by an undead Charlotte Bronte (who might still be in the neighborhood and whom they call Our Gloomy Friend) in Jane Bites Back, Byron has been teaching her to use her vampire powers, including glamoring and invisibility.

As Jane dodges Beverly, her lover (house restorer Walter Fletcher) shows up to tell her that his Jewish mother Miriam is visiting (with her one-legged dog Lilith) and believes that Jane is thinking of converting. This leads to Jane's meeting rabbi Ben Cohen - and introducing him to Lucy. Compounding her problems, she ends up with a new editor, Jessica Abernathy, who hounds her relentlessly to deliver chapters of a new novel - and she's totally blocked. Then Walter proposes, and Miriam, who has a big secret of her own, definitely does not see Jane as a suitable daughter-in-law.

It's quite a romp - when a new vampire (turned in error by Byron) almost drains a young actress in the movie, Jane is forced to turn flaky Chloe (something she's never done before). And there are vampire hunters in town. The murder, when it occurs, is almost an afterthought. But of course all's well that ends well, this time at least. And Jane makes a momentous decision, setting the scene for the next amusing episode in this funny fanged series, Jane Vows Vengeance.

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