Mistaken by Karen Barnett

Friday, May 9, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Karen Barnett
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publisher: Abington Press
Publication Date: 2013
Find the Review Elsewhere:
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
Thanks to a conversation with Amber (@SeasonsHumility), this book went on my at-the-time next Amazon order. In my house, it stayed on my bookshelf unhappily gathering dust thanks to my busy review schedule until finally the 2014 Inspy Awards gave me all the reason in the world to read Karen Barnett’s debut novel. It tells the story of Laurie Burke, who is barely able to keep her head above water in the prohibition era. Her brother is squarely in the middle of the booze running trade and her father is too busy wasting his life at the bottle leaving Laurie to hold together their fragile family. When she meets a newcomer to their small town and runs across a face from her brother’s past, Laurie immediately assumes that her brother's childhood friend, Daniel Shepherd is up to no good leading her to carefully guard her heart against these two men, and fight all the harder to protect those she loves.

Given how enchanting I find this era, it’s no wonder I took to this book so quickly. It was one of the few historical novels I was pulled into fully and one of the few books that kept me eager to find out what came next. Not only is the historical detail in fabulous fashion – there is a great balance to it, nothing overpowers the story (sometimes historical prose can easily slip into monotone description which for me is a turnoff) by dropping needless words or abuse of descriptors yet there is always the flavor of the era – the novel has a small familiarity of Jane Austen. Particularly Pride & Prejudice. It certainly isn’t the settings or numerous secondary characters (Laurie lacks a passel of sisters) that tie them together rather the mistaken “first impressions” that bring to mind the classic tale. Laurie has sassy sparks with the man who sets out to win her heart only to find what she thinks is safety in the arms of another. Sound familiar?  

We’ve already established that Barnett does a smashing job of keeping the reader in mind of the 1920-setting (everything from the conversational language to the clothing). Beyond that, this book has an excellent moral compass, and slows down to teach us that what we perceive of a person at first glance isn’t always what their character is. The author explores this in a smart reminder of this rule, which endears the plot and characters all the more. I honestly cannot think of anything I didn't like in the book. Definitely one of my favorite period novels, if you like this era, minus all the splashiness of the speakeasy’s or “wild” behavior, Mistaken is a definite must-read. It sweeps you into a romantic journey that’s about more than just the romance and is more than just some sleuthing. No doubt, Barnett’s debut has nary a whisper of any mistakes.  

Synopsis: Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother s rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Daniel has mixed feelings about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage his grandfather s drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie pushes him away--for none other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown--Daniel wonders if Laurie really is the upstanding woman he thought her to be. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off the beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous water for reckless rum-runners and the agents who tried to catch them. So when she realizes her brother is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie's mind. Yet the people she believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after all. – Goodreads

Coming Next from Karen Barnett: While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?
- Goodreads


  1. Love this! Thank you for reviewing Mistaken. This book was such fun to write. It's funny how many people mention the Pride & Prejudice connection. I never planned that, but it may have been in the back of my mind because I've watched the movie so many times (Colin Firth version, of course). What's even more bizarre is that my working title of the book was First Impressions. I discovered later that First Impressions was the original title for Pride & Prejudice, as well. Strange!

    1. Thank *you* for visiting, Karen. It was my pleasure to review Mistaken and I'm super excited to read your next novel. :)

      Aw, how fun! Love getting a little behind-the-scenes idea of this book. That's cool about the Pride & Prejudice connections even if they weren't intentional. While writing this, I was thinking back to reading Mistaken and couldn't deny the similarities - which were awesome by the way. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Awesome! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it! (Thanks for the S/O, by the way!) Great review - and I completely concur with the wonderful handling of the historical details. :)


    1. Thanks for "insisting" I read it, Amber. :) It was a beautiful book and I cannot wait to see what Karen's next novel is like - promises to be a good one.

      When the historical details are right, they're brilliant and Karen hit everything just right.

  3. This is one that's on my list and I'll be reading and reviewing hopefully sometime this summer. Your review makes me want to read it even sooner. :)

    1. It's a delight, Tressa. Makes me excited to read Karen's new series next month - she's a talented author. :) Hope you enjoy.


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