Monday, July 3, 2023

Tour Review and Giveaway - - The Dane of My Existence

The Dane of My Existence
by Jessica Martin
A Bard's Rest Romance - Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 4, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Portia Barnes is the youngest managing partner in her law firm’s history, and she and her stilettos are poised to step into the role of her dreams—leading the firm’s new Boston office. But first she’s taking a summer sabbatical in her hometown of Bard’s Rest, New Hampshire, where she discovers something’s rotten in the midst of the town’s annual Shakespeare festival.

Hotshot commercial developer Benjamin Dane is sniffing around Bard’s, and while Portia isn’t necessarily a Shakespeare fanatic like the rest of her family, she’s not about to let him bulldoze the town’s beloved outdoor theater. Yet to Portia’s dismay, Ben proves as skilled as she is when it comes to outworking, outmaneuvering, and one-upping the competition. While she’s never hesitated to wage war against hyper-successful alpha males, Portia is caught off guard by Ben’s openness and lack of arrogance. As her own long-constructed walls start to come down, Portia begins to wonder if he might be more than an archnemesis.

With her heart on the line and the future of the town hanging in the balance, Portia faces an impossible decision—Ben or Bard’s?—unless she finds a way to broker the merger of her life, and ensures the curtain falls on a happy ending for everyone.

PJ's Thoughts:

Picture a hot-shot attorney climbing the corporate ladder with single-minded determination. Now picture her getting the promotion she wanted but being forced to take a three-month sabbatical before assuming her new role. Even worse, having to spend those months in the Shakespeare-obsessed New England hometown she couldn't wait to escape. It's a recipe for disaster but when a hot-shot commercial developer sets his sights on the island where the town performs its plays during the annual Shakespeare festival, that hot-shot attorney realizes her quirky hometown just may mean more to her than she thought. And so might the hot-shot developer. 

I love complex characters, ones who on the surface appear to have it all together while under the water are paddling as fast as they can.  That's Portia. It's satisfying to watch her story unfold, watch her learn to accept her vulnerabilities, own her mistakes, fight to right injustices, work to grow, and, yes, even fall in love. Ben is a wonderful counterpoint to her: open, supportive, and understanding. He has layers of his own which, maybe, allow him to understand hers a bit better than most. He sees her, not only the hard-driving, take-no-prisoners attorney she is but all the complicated, vulnerable, closet-do-gooder layers swirling within. I couldn't help but cheer for them to find their happy ending.

While there's plenty of emotional depth in this book (Portia's mother is battling cancer and Portia is coming to terns with that), it's balanced with hope, hilarity, and light, with mom leading the charge. I closed the final page fully convinced of mom's full recovery. 

The dialog in the book is crisp, with snappy banter and sly innuendo, and not only between Portia and Ben. The well-established animosity and ongoing point-counterpoint between Portia and the long-time town clerk (the person in small towns who runs everything) and how that all plays out is one of my favorite parts of the book. Other  favorites are the poignant mother-daughter moments, fun sibling dynamics, a lost dog, a hilarious petting zoo scene, and too many more to list. 

If you're looking for a few hours of laugh-out-loud fun cushioned with emotional depth and a happily ever after, all set within a quirky, Shakespeare-obsessed, New Hampshire town, pick up a copy of The Dane of My Existence. It has my enthusiastic recommendation.

This is the second book in Jessica Martin's A Bard's Rest series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by reading this book first. Having said that, after meeting book one lead characters author Miranda (Portia's sister) and hot veterinarian Adam in book two, I immediately downloaded their story, For the Love of the Bard

Have you ever attended a Shakespeare Festival?

Does your town or area host any type of annual festival?

Have you read any Jessica Martin books yet?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, July 5 will receive a print copy of The Dane of My Existence

*U.S. only
*Must be 18



  1. The Dane of My Existence sounds like terrific summer fun. It's been far too long since I attended a summer Shakespeare festival, so my memories are hazy but still positive. My kids participated in a few, and they loved the wonderful immersive experience. I've never read one of Jessica Martin's books, but this sounds like a good intro!

  2. Sounds like a fun read. I have never been to a festival but would love to go someday. A new me author.

  3. I live in Austin. Austin has South by Soutwest, the Austin City Limits Festival, shoot, Austin celebrates Eeyore's Birthday. Never been to a Shakespeare Festival, but I have the same birthdate - April 23rd. Ms Martin is a new to me author, but if she makes me laugh, I know I will like her books. Thanks for the review.

  4. Great review! I've not been to a Shakespeare festival, but there is an annual Scottish Games not to far from here. I try to go every year. Jessica Martin is new to me!

  5. Great review! Yes, I have and yes, we do have one at the independent playhouse here in Anchorage; "Cyrano's" . We also have a three day Renaissance festival, the Fur Rendezvous and more

  6. What a captivating story! I have attended A Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ont. several times which was extraordinary and unforgettable. Our city has the Balloon Fiesta every year which is world renowned. I haven't heard of this author but look forward to enjoying this novel.

  7. I loved the first book in this series so much, I cannot wait for this book. I will have to get a copy ASAP. I would love a Shakespeare faire! I wish we did have something similar, though we do have a local community theater who puts on a Shakespeare play every summer. It just isn't the Ren Faire like Shakespeare Faire that this one is....

  8. This book sounds like great fun, just the type of read I need to lighten my mood. (a 4 week trip to Europe to play Nanny Granny to our granddaughter while my daughter coordinates a conference and does some university visits got tubed due to a passport renewal mixup.).
    I've not attended a Shakespeare Festival, but our town hosts the annual International Story Telling Festival every first weekend of October. It is a great people watching opportunity and the tellers are good, even the amateurs who participate in the area set up for anyone who wants to try their hand at it.
    Jessica Martin is a new to me author but it certainly sounds like I am going to have to give her books a try.
    I hope all is going well for you and your family.

  9. Thanks for the review--this does sound like an entertaining read! I did go to a couple Shakespeare performances in Ashland, OR, one summer, decades ago. We don't really have a local one where we are, LOL!
    Jessica Martin is new to me; she sounds like an author I might like to try.

  10. This sounds like a lot of fun! I haven't read any of Jessica Martin's books yet. My town used to have summer Shakespeare in the Park where 2 plays were performed each year, but it stopped almost a decade ago.

  11. This sounds really fun! This is a new author for me, I can’t wait to check it out!