Can't Stop Reading P&P Variations…

The Good, the Bad, and the ?!??!?!?!?!

Practical Engagements // by Sophie Rae

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  3.7/5.0

Copyright:  2017

Pages: 285

Clean Rating: Clean (although there are some more serious thematic conversations)

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

This variation begins at Rosings, but veers off course when Elizabeth decides to accept Darcy’s Hunsford proposal, thanks in large part to the unwitting influence of Colonel Fitzwilliam. This story is as much about Elizabeth and Darcy’s torturous road to love, as it is about Colonel Fitzwilliam’s parallel, purgative journey. It is a tale about falling in love, falling out of love, and just falling.

Review:

So this version begins at Hunsford, right before Darcy proposes.  Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam are on a walk, and the Colonel reveals the story about Darcy splitting up Bingley and Jane.  At the same time, he also tells Elizabeth a story about Darcy rescuing a woman who was left widowed and penniless because the estate was entailed away from her when her husband died.  Elizabeth is having a lot of feelings, being both super aggravated with Darcy over the Jane/Bingley thing, but also thinking about how the scenario involving the penniless widow could well be the future for her and her sisters.  She stays home from dinner at Rosings because of all the feels, but of course is interrupted by Darcy coming to propose.  However, she hesitates before giving him a piece of her mind, as he so justly deserves, as a picture of her sisters all dressed in rags, begging for a living, flashes into her mind.  And in that moment, she says yes to Darcy’s proposal instead of no.

I think this version did a really good job making Elizabeth acceptance of Darcy’s proposal feel natural without making it feel like Elizabeth is only marrying him for his money.  Like she kind of is, but not for herself as much as her family, so it doesn’t feel like she’s just money-grubbing.  Of course, Darcy thinks that Elizabeth is actually in love with him, and ignores a lot of the little warning signs that she may not be quite as enthusiastic as he would prefer.

The problem with this version is that during that whole initial conversation that Elizabeth the Colonel were having, the Colonel also basically said that he would never be able to marry Elizabeth because he needs money.  But then after Elizabeth accepts Darcy’s proposal, the Colonel realizes that he made a mistake because he actually is in love with Elizabeth hardcore.

So while I enjoyed the journey between Elizabeth and Darcy and watching them work through their differences and find love and respect, I really could have done without the whole weird love triangle aspect with the Colonel pining away.  There was also this weird rich widow who is trying to ensnare the Colonel as well, and every time she appeared my enjoyment of the story plummeted.  She was SO obnoxious.

There were also a few weird differences between this variation and the original (I think).  For instance, I’m 100% positive that it’s Mrs. Younge in the original, yet here it was Mrs. Young.  I’m 80% positive that Charlotte Lucas’s sister’s name is Maria, but here it was Mariah.  And I’m not at all sure that Darcy’s home in London is called Darcy House (although I really think it is) but here it was Darcy Manor, which made no sense since it was in the middle of the city and thus not at all manor-like.  There were weird things like that throughout and I couldn’t tell if Rae was purposely trying to make little differences, or just was really lazy at editing.

A few spoilers below, although nothing too crazy this time.

Spoiler Review:  (complete with capital letters, exclamation points, and question marks)…

So yes the thing with the Colonel was super annoying!  I really like the Colonel a lot, so I get aggravated with versions that either severely change his character into a Bad Guy, or versions that make him just a catspaw to give Darcy and Elizabeth So Much Drama. Here he was very likable, but was also just basically there so Elizabeth could wish that Darcy was more like him until she falls in love with Darcy.  The rest of the time, the Colonel is pining for Elizabeth, almost-courting this annoying woman, and then rescue-marrying another character!  The whoooooollle story would have been significantly better if the Colonel had never been in love with Elizabeth, and instead had fallen in love with the person he ended up marrying.

Side note: I was also confused because basically the woman he ends up marrying he first recues from getting almost-raped by another character.  At that point she says that he didn’t actually rape her. Yet later she’s pregnant??????  There were continuity issues like that throughout this book that lowered my overall enjoyment of the story for sure.

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The Abominable Mr. Darcy // by J. Dawn King

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  4.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2016

Pages: 286

Clean Rating: Clean

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Mr. Darcy was an enigma… until he spoke. Then, he was the enemy.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes are instantly drawn towards a handsome, mysterious guest who arrives at the Meryton Assembly with the Bingley party. The gentleman destroys her illusions by delivering an insult that turns him from Mr. Divinely Attractive to the Abominable Mr. Darcy.

While Elizabeth sets in motion her strategy for retaliation, Darcy plans to win the campaign being waged in the genteel drawing rooms of Hertfordshire. As more players from Jane Austen’s beloved cast of characters enter the fray, complications arise–some with irreversible consequences. Can a truce be called before their hearts become casualties as well? How many times can two people go from enemies to friends and back again before it’s too late?

Review:

This was a rather lighthearted variation that was quite low on angst.  In this version, things basically start as normal, except Colonel Fitzwilliam is also a member of Bingley’s initial house party.  At the assembly, things are basically like the original (except for the Colonel also doing some dancing and socializing), including Darcy’s rude words about Elizabeth being barely tolerable.  We get a lot of Elizabeth’s thoughts – how she initially thinks Darcy is quite swoony, and then finds him quite abominable.

Still, as she and Jane are sharing confidences that night, she realizes that if she wants to make sure that Jane has a good chance to get to know Bingley, she (Elizabeth) will need to not be rude or snarky.  Instead, at the Lucas’s party the next day, she does her best to distract Darcy by encouraging him and Miss Bingley as a couple.  Little does she know, but it’s all quite ironic as Colonel Fitzwilliam took his cousin to task the evening before, and Darcy is determined to apologize – if he can ever detach himself from Miss Bingley!

Meanwhile, Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself drawn to the calm intelligence of Charlotte Lucas.  Even though he tells her that he would never get married because of being in the military, the two decide that they can still be friends – especially when they realize that their best friends would actually be perfect together… if they could ever stop being enemies!

So yes, things unwind about as you would expect them to with this setup.  There were times that Elizabeth seemed overly annoying to me – she would randomly get angry with Darcy about something that seemed rather arbitrary, and I also got quite tired of her being so self-satisfied with her ability to “manipulate” people into doing what she wanted them to.

But the love story between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Charlotte was enough to make up for this for me – they’re my favorite non-canon couple, and I always ship the two of them so hard.

Nothing too crazy in this one.  While it wasn’t the best variation I’ve ever read, it was perfectly pleasant for the most part, and perfectly clean, which is always a bonus.

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet // by Caitlin Williams

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  4.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2016

Pages: 477

Clean Rating: Clean

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.

But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events will conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.

The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty one. She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart?

Review:

I put all the P&P books I read under either the category of “variation” or “sequel,” but I feel like I may need another category that is something like “completely random story with P&P characters.”  This book definitely falls into that category, as the story begins – and changes – much earlier than the original book.  Despite the fact that this isn’t really a true variation because of that, I actually really liked this story for the most part.

This story starts years before the original.  We meet Elizabeth when she is only 15 years old, and Mr. Bennet has just died.  Before his death, he wrote to an old friend, Mr. George Darcy, and asked him to take in Elizabeth as his ward.  Jane is to go to London to live with the Gardiners, and Mrs. Bennet and the three youngest will be relegated to a cottage just outside of Meryton.  Elizabeth is full of grief over her father’s death and rage that she is to be sent so far away to live with strangers.  She cooks up a wild plan of dressing like a boy and running away on the day that the Darcys are to arrive to take her to Pemberley.

Blah blah blah Darcy ends up chasing her across the countryside and eventually catches up with her, but not until the next day, and through some circumstances she is seen in his room at the inn, and because of the rumors, they end up getting married.  The rest of the book chronicles the next five years of their marriage as they try to adjust to the circumstances life has foisted on them.

There were a lot of things that I liked about this book, but the beginning wasn’t one of them.  I almost gave up on the entire story because Elizabeth was so obnoxious to start with.  The whole running away thing felt completely ridiculous, as though she was ten instead of fifteen, especially the way she acts towards Darcy when he catches up with her.  I just couldn’t believe that someone her age would behave the way she was behaving.

I think that the author was striving to make her young enough to do something foolhardy, but old enough that her/Darcy’s reputations really would suffer, but she honestly came through as just extremely childish, and it seemed like the whole being forced to marry thing could have been brought about in some other fashion.

Throughout the story, various other sections felt like they just went on for too long.  Things didn’t really start to pick up until about halfway.  The first half of the book is Elizabeth acting like a spoiled brat and Darcy acting like an arrogant tool, and that got a little old.  Things began to get more interesting when Mr. Darcy Sr. died, although this led to the most unbelievable part of the book – Darcy leaves Pemberley for over a year!  Once again, I think the author was striving to create distance between the two main characters because it would feel creepy if 23-year-old Darcy was too interested in his 16-year-old wife, so she first shipped him off to Scotland for almost two years, and then, after Mr. Darcy dies, sends him off to the West Indies (!?) for another year!  It worked to keep them apart until Elizabeth was of a better age for romance, but it didn’t seem at all natural that super-responsible Darcy would go off and leave behind the estate he had just inherited.  It also seemed like the author almost went the other direction – Elizabeth is almost 20 by the time Darcy comes back and romance gets going, and that seemed like an excessive amount of time that he spent completely ignoring her.

As usual, I’m doing more complaining than praising, but don’t let that fool you.  When Elizabeth stopped being a brat, she actually became an interesting and fun character.  I appreciated the way that she grew up and began to take responsibility for herself, and I liked how her aunt finally gave her a solid talking-to about Elizabeth’s need to stop feeling sorry for herself and to instead start to appreciate all the amazing parts of her life.  When Darcy finally came back, their romance was super sweet and happy and felt like it grew naturally.  I was so happy that there wasn’t a bunch of unnecessary drama or a scenario where one or the other of them turns into a raging jealous maniac.

Oh!  And I almost forgot, I really liked the no-sex part of this book!  Williams managed to make the consummation of their marriage something that was important and romantic WITHOUT going into all the details!  What a concept!

All in all, this was a fun version, although I would have enjoyed it a great deal more of the beginning had been much shorter and the part where Darcy and Elizabeth are actually getting to know/fall in love with each other was much longer.

Tempt You to Accept Me // by Cassandra B. Leigh

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  3.0/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 278

Clean Rating: Clean

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

What if Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy decided to ignore the voices warning him of the dangers presented by a certain young lady? Would he be able to accept her relations whose condition in life was so decidedly beneath his own?

Review:

If you’re looking for a variation where there are absolutely NO villains (except Miss Bingley, kinda), then this is the variation for you!

After the Netherfield Ball, Darcy and Bingley have returned to London, but Darcy can’t get Elizabeth off his mind.  He spontaneously decides to hop on his horse, ride back to Longbourn – and propose!  So basically the Hunsford proposal happens much earlier (and not at Hunsford).  Darcy is just as condescending as ever, and Elizabeth is just as sassy and then Darcy is just as devastated.  However, because they are in Elizabeth’s home, Darcy can hear Mrs. Bennet flipping out and trying to make Mr. Bennet make Elizabeth accept the proposal.  Mr. Bennet accompanies Darcy back to the Meryton Inn, where they have a nice cozy chat.  Darcy finds out that not only will Mr. Bennet never make Elizabeth accept a proposal from Darcy, he’s already allowed her to turn down Mr. Collins as well.  This means that Darcy sees the family in a slightly different light – Jane would never be forced to accept Bingley’s hand if she didn’t want to, Mr. Bennet may be lax but he isn’t completely disconnected from his family, and maybe Mrs. Bennet’s desperation to marry off her daughters isn’t totally misplaced.  Darcy takes the opportunity to talk with Mr. Bennet about Wickham, and Mr. Bennet in turn agrees to bring Elizabeth to the Inn the next day so that she can hear Darcy’s side of the Wickham story and they can go from there.

After hearing Darcy’s perspective on what happened, Elizabeth magically decides that Darcy isn’t so bad after all and agrees to a courtship with him.  From there, the rest of the book is Darcy hanging out with the Bennets and EVERYONE getting along FABULOUSLY.

This wasn’t a bad variation, just kind of boring.  It’s completely from Darcy’s perspective (third person), so we never get to hear what Elizabeth is thinking at all, which definitely added to the uninteresting part, since we already know that Darcy thinks Elizabeth is a goddess.  Bingley and Jane are able to get engaged almost right away, everyone in Darcy’s family loves Elizabeth (except Lady Catherine, of course), and even Wickham is reformed.  (Actually, I rather liked the Wickham concept, but felt like it wasn’t done super well – since we never saw much him before his reformation, his character just felt rather flat.)

I appreciated the way that Darcy came to appreciate and love the boisterous, lively Bennet family, but in some ways it all just seemed too easy.  I think this book would have greatly benefited from hearing from Elizabeth as well, so that the reader could see how both of them were adjusting and changing their way of thinking.

This is definitely a clean version, which I greatly appreciated.  It was much more in true keeping with the time, where Darcy and Elizabeth were closely chaperoned and nothing happened before the wedding except for a few chaste kisses.

All in all, Tempt You to Accept Me was a perfectly nice but rather bland variation.

Going Home to Pemberley // by E. Bradshaw

Type: Sequel

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  2.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  2.5/5.0

Copyright:  2016

Pages: 274

Clean Rating: Mature

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

‘Going Home to Pemberley’ continues the story of what happened next to the beloved characters of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. This story follows on from ‘Engaged to Mr Darcy’, though it is possible to read the second story without having read the first.

The story picks up from the day after their wedding day and follows the twists and turns of their lives, through the early months of their marriage. It is the story of how two people who love each other very much can sometimes still misunderstand one another – and can inadvertently hurt one another.

The story follows the couple as they both adjust to one another – and as Elizabeth becomes accustomed to the intimacies of married life. And as the reader might expect from two personalities with such strong wills, there are also misunderstandings and conflicts between them as they gradually become more familiar with one another.

This version sees a return of the dastardly Mr Wickham, as he once again plots against his nemesis and plans an awful revenge upon Darcy – by means of Elizabeth. This continuation also tells the story of what became of Lydia following her hasty marriage to Wickham. There is more insight into Georgiana’s timid personality, as well as some alarming disclosures concerning her heartbreak in the aftermath of her near-elopement with Wickham.

There are also appearances by many of the other characters from ‘Pride and Prejudice’, including Colonel Fitzwilliam, Lord and Lady Matlock, Caroline Bingley, and others too.

Review:

Technically, this is a sequel to Engaged to Mr. Darcybut because that was a sequel to the original (rather than a variation), it would be easy to read this one as a standalone.  Except don’t do that, because this one got seriously weird.

The beginning is pretty regular.  Darcy and Elizabeth, newly married, head to Pemberley and settle into their new life.  There are little adventures and little squabbles, but all in all everything is fine.  People come to visit for Christmas and they host a spring ball.  All pretty regular.  My only real aggravation (besides the sex scenes, which are always an aggravation) was that every time Darcy and Elizabeth had a disagreement, Elizabeth was ALWAYS right.  Darcy was always the one who was being too proud, too stubborn, too overprotective, too whatever, while Elizabeth was always the voice of reason and balance.  This really annoyed me because, I mean, Darcy has been a very successful individual for a decade now, so I think he somehow managed to hobble along before she was there, and I didn’t like how basically he was this helpless, hopeless robot before she came along to show him how to deal with people.

But whatever, it was some eyerolling, but nothing too major, although I will say that Bradshaw also has a very annoying habit of using italics excessively, not just in conversation, but throughout her entire narrative, which gave the story a rather odd cadence.  

Elizabeth finds out she’s pregnant, and things are humming along in typical sequel-fashion, when, without much of a warning, things went completely off the rails.  The direction that this plot took was completely disagreeable to me because I felt like it severely misrepresented two main characters, one of whom was Darcy, who turned into this completely ridiculous angry, brooding, accusing, rage-filled maniac who jumped to conclusions and was borderline violent.  It was a complete 180 from his character prior to this particular event, so it just didn’t make any sense.  And he was SO rude and cruel that I found it also impossible to believe that Elizabeth would ever be able to forgive him!  I couldn’t help but race through the end, hoping that things would somehow make sense, but they honestly didn’t.  Something happens, Darcy blows the entire thing completely out of proportion and flips out, he says basically unforgivable things to Elizabeth and another character (spoilers below), acts like a raging lunatic, and then, after a week or so of quiet contemplation, Elizabeth forgives him and they go back to normal…????  It was bizarre.

So 2.5* because the story started fine, but based on the second half of the book alone, it would be more like 1*.

Some serious spoilers below if you want to know exactly what happens.

Spoiler Review:  (complete with capital letters, exclamation points, and question marks)…

Read more…

Engaged to Mr. Darcy // by E. Bradshaw

Type: Sequel

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  3.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 221

Clean Rating: Mature – mostly PG13 throughout, but there are a few sex scenes after the wedding towards the end of the book

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

‘Engaged to Mr Darcy’ continues the story of Jane Austen’s much loved novel, ‘Pride and Prejudice’. It tells the story of what happened next after Elizabeth Bennet finally agreed to marry the tall, silent and mysterious Mr Darcy. The stubborn pair of lovers have travelled a long and difficult path to finally reach a better understanding of one another, and are now engaged to be married in only a matter of weeks. However, this does not mean that all obstacles and misunderstandings between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are removed – far from it!

This ‘Pride and Prejudice’ continuation tells the story of their journey to a better understanding of one another, as well as the trials that they face on their way to the church altar. Not everyone is pleased to hear about their impending nuptials and there are various family members on both sides whom Elizabeth and Mr Darcy will need to win over. And naturally, there will still be disagreements between two such strong willed people as they become more familiar with one another and learn how to compromise. Up until now their conduct with one another has always been scrupulously proper, but now that Elizabeth and Mr Darcy have declared their love for one another, the friction between them ignites into passion when trouble stirs…

Review:

I would consider this to be a sequel to the original story rather than a variation, although it technically begins before the end of the original Pride and Prejudice, as Bradshaw explores the engagement period between our favorite couple.  I really enjoyed the interactions between the characters in this story, especially the way that Georgianna is accepted by the Bennet sisters.  For the most part, this version avoids dastardly actions of the villains, although there is a bit of melodrama towards the end, but it’s all in good fun.

One thing that bothered me in this version is that twice Darcy loses his temper and grabs Elizabeth.  I didn’t like the way that this was portrayed not exactly as a good thing, but kind of as a “normal” thing – like it wasn’t unreasonable for him to forget how much stronger/bigger he is than Elizabeth and to accidentally hurt her.  THIS IS NOT NORMAL.  The majority of men are bigger and stronger than their wives/girlfriends, but the majority of men do NOT hurt their wives/girlfriends, accidentally or not.  I didn’t like that Darcy grabbing and somewhat manhandling Elizabeth was shown as kind of a natural thing for him to do in these moments of extreme emotion.

There was also this weird thing with Elizabeth and Charlotte Lucas’s older brother.  Part of the drama is him claiming that he had an agreement with Mr. Bennet to marry Elizabeth, and it turns out that their backstory is him trying to kiss her when he was 15 and she was TWELVE and he was rough enough with her that he tore her dress?!  It felt really weird that this interaction would take place when Elizabeth was still just a little girl.

But those were fairly minor parts of the story.  For the most part, it hummed along in a regular and engaging fashion, and when I got to the end, I was pleased to see that there was a sequel.

While for the most part the book is focused on the story, the author did have annoying habit of making Darcy and Elizabeth both spend a lot of time thinking about having sex with each other, which got quite boring.  Like yes, attraction is a natural part of an engagement period, but it’s not the ONLY part, and there are only so many times that I need to hear Elizabeth being confused about all the feelings she is having.

Anyway, all in all a pretty regular sequel with nothing amazingly good or bad.

Darcy’s Ultimatum // by Jennifer Joy

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 264

Clean Rating: G – nothing objectionable

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s arranged life falls to pieces, his father, Mr. George Darcy, gives him an ultimatum: Marry by the end of the London Season or risk disinheritance. Can Darcy cast aside society’s frigid attitude toward marriage and find true love? Or will his desire to honor his deceased mother’s memory hold him back?

Elizabeth Bennet faces the greatest challenge of her life: Find a husband by the end of the London Season or be forced to marry the heir apparent of her family home, Mr. Collins. A romantic at heart, will Elizabeth find a gentleman to meet her high expectations?

After a disastrous meeting, Darcy and Elizabeth determine not to like each other.
But, the London Season has only begun…

Review:

In this version, Darcy’s father is still alive (although Mrs. Darcy is not) and is getting impatient with his son’s reluctance to marry.  Finally, he lays down the law and tells Darcy that he has to get married by the end of the Season, or face disinheritance.  Darcy trots off to Rosings to confirm his engagement to his cousin Anne, but is shocked when she actually turns him down.  Completely unsure what he should do next, Darcy meanders off to Hertfordshire with Bingley and runs into a completely unsuitable young woman with fine eyes.  Back in London, fate decrees that they should continue to cross paths.

Jane and Elizabeth are getting ready to spend the Season in London with the Gardiners, who are in trade but are nonetheless well-to-do.  Before the girls leave, however, Mr. Collins shows up, determined to land a wife.  Elizabeth manages to convince her mother to let the girls have their Season, but the deal is that if she doesn’t find a man in London, she has to come back and marry Mr. Collins after all.  The pressure of the hunt is on!

This version was fine, just rather boring.  I was kind of anticipating the whole “Darcy has to get married OR ELSE” to play into the story a lot more, but instead he only seems moderately bothered by it, rather than pressured.  Elizabeth is kind of the same way.  So while the synopsis acts like there is going to be more or less a marriage of convenience, they don’t really seem super fussed.

The majority of the book doesn’t follow the real story at all, so it’s really more of just an alternative story with some of the same character rather than a true variation.

I think part of the reason that this book felt a little disjointed is that it is the first in a trilogy.  The second book is about Anne, and the third about Colonel Fitzwilliam.  Consequently, there are times that the author is setting things up for the next book, but sometimes it feels a little abrupt, and leaves some things disconnected.

This was a perfectly harmless story, but overall just wasn’t terribly interesting.  I started the second book, but only read the first few chapters before realizing that I really didn’t care all that much.

No spoilers for this one – it’s a straightforward read.  Comfortable, but somewhat bland.

Sketching Mr. Darcy // by Lory Lilian

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 406

Clean Rating: Mature – fairly clean for the first 2/3 or so, then a few intimate scenes between the married couple

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

The morning after the Netherfield Ball, Fitzwilliam Darcy is ready to leave Hertfordshire, taking his friend Bingley away from the lady of his choice and distancing himself from her sister, who has disturbed his tranquility for weeks.

The path, meant to lead him away, unexpectedly brings him close to the person he most wants to avoid, and saving Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s life becomes not only his immediate goal but also a decision that affects his future.

A strong and powerful yet forgotten bond from their past—combined with startling events in the present—brings Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy into a marriage not planned but accepted by both, forcing them to break the barriers between them in order to build their future happiness.

Review:

This variation actually had a lot going for it for the first probably 80-85%.  Then, for some reason, the author decided to tack on this strange kidnapping sequence that made the whole story spiral out of control and brought my overall rating down from a 4* to 3.5*.

This version separates from the original the morning after the Netherfield ball.  In the original, Bingley and Darcy head back to London first thing in the morning.  Here, Bingley isn’t ready to leave first thing (which actually does seem to fit his character!) and Darcy goes for a ride to kill time.  Meanwhile, Mr. Collins has proposed to Elizabeth, who has turned him down and escaped out of the house for a walk to clear her mind.  While out, she slips and falls into a pond, leaving her cold and muddy, which is when Darcy finds her.  Concerned for her health, as it is getting colder outside, he escorts her home on his horse, talks with Mr. Bennet for a few minutes, and then heads on his way, as determined as ever that Elizabeth is an ineligible match, although he does send his personal doctor to check on her when he gets back to Town.

In London, a younger cousin of Darcy’s, James, is still friends with Wickham.  Through Wickham and James, who is a notorious gossip, rumors begin to spread about Darcy ruining a country girl, and sending his doctor to take care of a much more personal issue than a mere cold.  As is usual with rumors, things swiftly spiral out of control, and when Elizabeth’s name gets out, Darcy decides that the best way to resolve the situation is to marry her.  To his surprise, his aunt and uncle (Colonel Fitzwilliam’s parents) are actually on board with the whole idea, so Darcy heads back to Hertfordshire to propose.

Darcy is, of course, due for another surprise when Elizabeth initially turns him down.  He has to talk her into marrying him!  Shocked to realize that Elizabeth not only isn’t in love with him, but doesn’t even really like him, Darcy doesn’t reveal his feelings – instead, he emphasizes the importance of quelling rumors, etc. and reassures her that he believes they will make a good match.

What I really liked about the majority of this book was that it wasn’t full of ridiculous drama.  Instead, it’s just Darcy and Elizabeth getting to know each other.  They have some arguments and misunderstandings, but – here’s a concept – they actually talk things through and it was honestly fantastic to read about a couple who have conversations instead of just wondering what the other person is thinking.  So even though there were a couple of times where one or the other blew the other one off instead of listening, it never took them very long to come back, apologize, and then listen.  Throughout the story, I really felt like Darcy and Elizabeth were building a healthy relationship by learning both to share and to listen.  Of course, in this version the Hunsford proposal, and its subsequent letter, never happened, so the issues raised there now are left to unfold through natural conversation and interaction.

I was honestly set to give this book a 4* rating based on the excellent communication between the couple, but the ending of this book kind of went off the rails.  Elizabeth gets kidnapped and rescued, Darcy gets all wound up about it, they go chasing about the countryside, the villain makes basically no sense – then when that finally got wrapped up, Lilian proceeds to meander around for another couple of chapters in a sort of elongated epilogue that wasn’t particularly interesting.

There are a few sex scenes, although the first probably 2/3 of the book is basically clean, other than meaningful touches and kisses and the like as Darcy and Elizabeth slowly get to know each other.  It’s definitely not a version that is all about the shagging.

The other weird thing that happened in this book is in the prologue, a young Elizabeth is rescued from drowning in the sea by a mysterious and unknown young man who, no surprise here, turns out to be Darcy.  At one point, Elizabeth is telling this story (they had never found out who the rescuer was) and Darcy realizes it was himself, but doesn’t tell Elizabeth until later.  When he does tell her, she acts super weird about it??  It seemed like a very strange and unnatural reaction to me.  Like I can understand thinking it’s super weird and coincidental, but I couldn’t figure out why she was acting all miffed that he hadn’t told her before.  It was a weird scene.

All in all, a fun read, especially if you’re into versions where Darcy and Elizabeth actually believe in talking with each other.  The last 20% of this book could have been cut to make a much more concise and well-written read, but it was still enjoyable.

If you’re interested in some exclamation points + spoilers concerning the end of the book, look below the cut…

Spoiler Review:  (complete with capital letters, exclamation points, and question marks)…

Read more…

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet // by Paula Mingle

Type: Sequel

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2013

Pages: 302

Clean Rating: G – nothing objectionable

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Growing up with four extraordinary sisters—beautiful and confident Jane and Elizabeth, and flirtatious and lighthearted Lydia and Kitty—wasn’t easy for an awkward bookworm like Mary Bennet. But with nearly all of her sisters married and gone from the household, the unrefined Mary has transformed into an attractive and eligible young woman in her own right.

When another scandal involving Lydia and Wickham threatens the Bennet house, Mary and Kitty are packed off to visit Jane and her husband, Charles Bingley, where they meet the dashing Henry Walsh. Eager and naïve, Mary is confused by Henry’s attentions, even as she finds herself drawing closer to him. Could this really be love—or the notions of a foolish girl unschooled in the art of romance and flirtation?

Review:

Yet another book that I really wanted to like more than I did.  While this was a perfectly pleasant sequel focusing on Mary, it was just rather unexciting.  Lydia shows up with a new scandal trailing behind her, but somehow the story just didn’t quite click together.  Many of the characters seemed rather stagnant, and I felt like Henry, in particular, was inconsistent.  I did like Mary and it wasn’t a terrible story, but not one that I particularly see myself returning to.

Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception // by Regina Jeffers

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  DNF

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  1.5/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 282

Clean Rating: Not sure…  didn’t finish.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

What if Fitzwilliam Darcy refused to approach Elizabeth Bennet when he observes her upon the grounds of Pemberley? What if Elizabeth permits Mr. Darcy to think her the one ruined by Mr. Wickham? What if love is not enough to bring two souls together?

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s pride makes the natural leap to Elizabeth Bennet’s ruination when the lady appears, without notice, upon Pemberley’s threshold, to plead for Darcy’s assistance in locating his long-time enemy, George Wickham. Initially, Darcy cannot look beyond the pain of lost hopes, but when Charles Bingley demands that Darcy act with honor, Darcy assumes the task. Even so, the idea of delivering Miss Elizabeth into the hand of Mr. Wickham leaves Darcy raw with anguish. Yet, Darcy loves Elizabeth Bennet too much to see her brought low. He sets his heartbreak aside to save the woman he loves, but it is not long before Darcy realizes Elizabeth practices a deception, one Darcy permits so he might remain at her side long enough to convince the lady only in each other can they find happiness.

Their adventure takes more twists and turns than does the original “Pride and Prejudice,” but the reader will enjoy the devotion displayed by Darcy and Elizabeth as they bring Wickham to the line in Lydia Bennnet’s defense, as well as their working their way through multiple misconstructions and vulnerabilities. Darcy’s final wooing of Elizabeth brings two very private individuals to a very public declaration of their love.

Review:

Now we all know that I am willing to read pretty terrible P&P variations.  I’ve accepted all manner of absurd premises and followed them through to the end.  But there are times when the combination of awful storytelling is combined with unlikable and unrealistic characters, and I just get fed up and move on with my life.  That’s what happened here.  I stuck it out for about a third of the book, and it was so genuinely stupid that I just couldn’t go on.

I thought the idea of Darcy thinking that Wickham had seduced/ruined Elizabeth could have been interesting.  However, Darcy only thinks this for about three hours before he realizes that Elizabeth is lying (Elizabeth thinks Darcy won’t help her if he knows Lydia is the one in trouble).  So literally everyone knows the actual true story, but various people are pretending that they believe the not-true version for various reasons that make basically no sense.

Elizabeth consistently annoyed me.  She just came across as kind of stupid and impulsive.  She kept doing things that didn’t make sense.  Lying to Darcy (and continuing to lie to him) was just the beginning.  She travels alone with him to a bad part of London to see Lydia.  She lies to his entire household in London in order to find out more information about his health (everyone gets stricken with some terrible disease).  She lies to the Colonel and then travels ALL ALONE with him from London to DERBYSHIRE and no one seems to think there is any problem with this??  She arrives at Pemberley and lies about why she is there and then gets mad at Darcy about an incredibly stupid thing that made no sense.  I just couldn’t stand Elizabeth and her stupid lying about everything and acting like a crazy woman.

This book was not only stupid, it was also boring.  I was over the whole thing and decided to give the rest of this book a miss.

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