Can't Stop Reading P&P Variations…

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

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.

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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.

The Second Chance // by Joana Starnes

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2014

Pages: 372

Clean Rating: G – nothing objectionable

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Soon after the Netherfield ball, a troubled Mr. Darcy decides to walk away from a most unsuitable fascination. But heartache is in store for them all, and his misguided attempts to ensure the comfort of the woman he loves backfire in ways he had not expected…

Why is it that the worth of a true blessing is never felt as keenly as when it seems to have become quite out of reach? In this tale of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ meets ‘Sense & Sensibility’, Mr. Darcy is compelled to reflect on this very question, as he struggles to come to terms with the effects of his wrong choices, and fervently hope for a second chance at finding happiness.

Review:

Who doesn’t want a P&P and S&S mashup??  The concept of all these characters meeting and befriending one another sounded fantastic to me.  But, sadly, the execution just felt a little flat.

While Elizabeth and Jane are staying at Netherfield, Mr. Bennet falls ill.  When Darcy hears of this, he sends for his own doctor to come from London.  (Aside:  This doctor then proceeds to just hang around the countryside for days – possibly weeks!  I realize Darcy is super rich and whatnot, but does this doctor have no other patients??  It seemed weird.)  Elizabeth is touched by this, and begins to wonder if she was wrong about Darcy being a total jerk.

Meanwhile, the reader is treated to pages and pages of Darcy’s internal angst over the fact that he is way into Elizabeth but can’t resign himself to marrying so far beneath himself.  Darcy overhears a conversation that allows him to realize that the Bennets’s estate is entailed away, and that if Mr. Bennet dies instead of recovering from his illness, Elizabeth will be left virtually penniless.  Convinced that he cannot offer for her himself, Darcy comes up with a convoluted plan to anonymously bequeath an estate to Mr. Bennet, claiming that it has come to him from some long-lost friend or something.  The new estate, located wherever S&S is set (I can’t remember… Devonshire?  Let’s say Devonshire), won’t be included in the entail, so should the worst happen Elizabeth (and the rest of her sisters) will be safe.

Eventually blah blah blah Mr. Bennet dies and the ladies remove to Devonshire, arriving a few months before the S&S characters get there.  In the meantime, when Elizabeth met Wickham, she already had begun to think better of Darcy, so she didn’t believe his nonsense, and becomes virtually a non-player in the story.  When the S&S characters arrive, everyone gets along swimmingly.  However, Starnes has Colonel Brandon rescue Marianne when she sprains her ankle, rather than Willoughby, so she falls in love with Brandon right away, and Willoughby is also a non-player.

So there are basically no bad guys in this book, which is part of why it was so bland. Most of the story is Darcy wishing that he had proposed after all.  Eventually he decides that he should find Elizabeth and then starts wandering all over the countryside, always just missing her, which was annoying and also boring.  When they do finally catch up, it all seemed quite awkward that Elizabeth was so immediately into Darcy, because she hadn’t really spent that much time with him.

Starnes also had this annoying habit of telling what was going to happen in the future, and then going on to give us pages leading back up to what she just said was going to happen.  For instance, at one point something happens and Elizabeth is afraid that Elinor will be upset with Elizabeth and her family.  The author says something like, “There was no need for Elizabeth to worry, for once she and Elinor were able to discuss the matter, Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised to find that, far from being upset, Elinor was glad with the turn of events.”  Now to me this sounds like we no longer need to be reading about Elizabeth worrying about whether or not Elinor is angry, because Starnes JUST TOLD US that she isn’t.  But instead, Elizabeth and Elinor don’t actually *have that conversation* for several more pages, and in the meantime, Elizabeth continues to worry about it!  So even if there WAS a situation that could be a smidge suspenseful, Starnes would take away the suspense by telling the readers what was going to happen… and then write multiple pages of it actually happening.

In the end, it wasn’t exactly a terrible story, but it needed some ruthless editing.  The book was choppy and boring.  While I don’t need a non-stop angst-fest, there needs to be at least something going on to keep things interesting, and Darcy wandering around wringing his hands about his poor decisions wasn’t really cutting it.

No spoilers for this one, because it just wasn’t interesting enough to have any.

An Unwavering Trust // by L.L. Diamond

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0 (for the characters that survived…)

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 454

Clean Rating: Mature

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Two strangers with no one to turn to but each other…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is in a difficult situation. His father is pressing him to propose marriage to the last woman in the world he would wish to take as his wife. With a fortnight to announce his betrothal, he makes the acquaintance of Elizabeth Bennet, who is in a predicament of her own.

Could Darcy be willing to consider Elizabeth as a solution to his problem and to hers? And can Elizabeth ascertain enough of Darcy’s character to trust him upon nothing but a first impression?

Review:

In this version, Darcy’s father didn’t die.  Still alive, but rather embittered after the death of his wife several years earlier, Darcy Sr. and Darcy Jr. tend to have some collisions concerning Darcy Jr.’s future.  At the beginning of the story, Darcy Sr. lays down an ultimatum to force Jr. to go propose to his cousin Anne.  As he leaves Pemberley, Darcy stops to talk with his sister, who encourages him to follow his heart rather than their father’s dictates.  A few days later, Darcy stops at an inn in Hertfordshire for a meal.  There, he overhears a dastardly plot between two men – he gathers that they are co-guardians of an innocent young woman, and one of them wants to sell her off in order to pay some debts!  The other fellow is definitely against this, but doesn’t know what to do.  Darcy determines that he should step in and see if he can help, so he finds the nice guy and offers his assistance.  Once Darcy meets the niece and hears more about her situation, he does something entirely crazy – he proposes!  After all, if he’s already married, his father can’t force him to marry someone else!

Readers will be unsurprised to learn that the niece is a Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  Her entire family died in a tragic carriage accident several months earlier (really, the Bennets shouldn’t travel en masse, apparently) and Elizabeth has been left to the guardianship of her uncles Phillips and Gardiner.  Sadly, in this version Gardiner is the villain (he went off the rails after the death of his fiancee several years earlier) and she has been living with the Phillipses since the accident.  With virtually no options, Elizabeth agrees to the marriage, and Darcy takes her away to stay with his grandmama in London.

I actually really did enjoy this version a lot.  It was kind of pointless to make it a P&P variation in  many ways since the majority of the original characters had already been killed off.  But to make up for it, Diamond gives us lots of very friendly and entertaining Fitzwilliam relatives instead.  Overall I also liked Darcy’s grandma, although she did get a little bossy sometimes and kind of reminded me of that annoying Cassandra in another variation I read recently.  But in this case, having a bossy and interfering female in Darcy’s life made sense, because this one was a relative and much older than him.

It was also really fun to have Darcy’s father still be alive.  This meant that there was a lot more closure with different aspects of the Darcys lives, including getting everything ironed out with that dreadful Wickham.

There were definitely a few things that didn’t work for me, mostly things that got a little bit too melodramatic/angsty.  In some ways, the story was a boring in places because Elizabeth and Darcy, after some initial complications, live in almost perfect harmony from there forward.  There is also this weird side plot concerning the guy who was going to buy Elizabeth from Gardiner… like I really had no idea why we were even reading about him, because he had nothing to do with the rest of the story at all, so that felt awkward and strange.

Overall, this was a mostly enjoyable read, although readers beware of several intimate scenes.

No spoilers for this one as it was pretty free of completely ridiculousness!

Mr. Darcy’s Letter // by Abigail Reynolds

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2011

Pages: 255

Clean Rating: Mature, mostly due to one very descriptive scene

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

A lady’s reputation is a fragile thing. If anyone discovered Miss Elizabeth Bennet had received a letter from a single gentleman, she could be ruined… or forced to marry a man she detests. In this “Pride & Prejudice” variation, Elizabeth chooses the safe course and refuses to read Mr. Darcy’s letter of explanation. Returning home unaware of Wickham’s true nature, Elizabeth confesses everything to him, putting both Mr. Darcy and herself in grave danger from Wickham’s schemes.

Review:

In this version, Elizabeth is even more set against Darcy than in the original.  When he gives her his letter, she is determined not to read it, believing that he is just trying to use this as an opportunity to force her into a marriage with him.  Because Elizabeth doesn’t gain the critical information within the letter, she continues to be prejudiced against Darcy – and to believe that Wickham is telling the truth.

There were a lot of things about this version that I liked, the main one being the way that Lydia’s story played out.  I also enjoyed the concept of an Elizabeth still vulnerable to Wickham’s schemes.  When Darcy and Elizabeth eventually overcome their confusion, I liked them as a couple.  Most of the characters from the original felt true to themselves throughout the story.

However, there were a lot of places where the story felt rough.  Sometimes characters were kind of forgotten (at one point, Georgiana is abandoned by everyone at Netherfield… and would she even have been staying there without her brother in the first place??).  Bingley was sooo annoying, waffling even more than ever (if I had been Jane, I would have sent him off with a flea in his ear!).  Elizabeth is far too prone to listen to what other people are saying instead of listening to Darcy (hello?  He is standing right in front of you trying to explain and you’re just blowing him off??).

Still, on the whole the story came together pleasantly enough.  I could have done without the passionate anticipation of vows, which seemed unlikely, but most of the rest of the story was pretty G-rated.  Good for a one-time read, and maybe even one I’ll pick up again in a few years when I’ve forgotten exactly how it went.

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

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Alone With Mr. Darcy // by Abigail Reynolds

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  3.0/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 370

Clean Rating:  PG13 – cuddling, snogging, dreamily yearning, but nothing super graphic

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Elizabeth Bennet can’t imagine anything worse than being stranded by a blizzard in a tiny cottage with proud and unpleasant Mr. Darcy. But being trapped there for days – and nights – with an injured and confused Mr. Darcy who keeps saying the oddest things about her is even worse. At least he possesses the useful ability of lighting a fire to keep them from freezing to death. But when he puts his arms around her, she discovers the hearth isn’t the only place he knows how to build a fire. And the little half-frozen kitten he finds in a woodpile isn’t proving to be much of a chaperone.

She doesn’t really believe his promises to marry her if anyone finds out they spent two nights alone together, especially after learning he was betrayed by another woman in the past. When her worst fears are realized and her reputation is in tatters, she isn’t surprised to discover Mr. Darcy has vanished into thin air, leaving her no choice but to find a husband as soon as possible before her whole family is ruined. Any husband will have to do, no matter how much she dislikes him. Even if she can’t stop thinking of Mr. Darcy….

Review:

After Charlotte’s wedding, Elizabeth decides to take the long way home to clear her mind – she still can’t believe that Charlotte would willingly marry Mr. Collins!  Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy, after struggling for a few weeks in London, has decided to ride back to Longborn and tell Mr. Bennet the truth about Wickham so that Elizabeth – and other young women of Meryton – will be safe from his wiles.  Still determined to not give in to his desire to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy feels that he should do at least this much to protect her.

When his horse shies and throws him, Darcy is knocked unconscious.  Meanwhile, the weather is turning as Elizabeth hurries for home – only to stumble across a barely-conscious Darcy.  They manage to make it to a small cottage before the storm hits full-force, where they are trapped for two nights.  During that time, they are able to talk about some of their differences.  When the leave, Darcy wants to marry Elizabeth right away, but she convinces him that that isn’t necessary.  He makes her promise to let him know if rumors begin about her because he will be glad to marry her.

Of course, rumors DO get out, but that’s when things get complicated.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad variation, but it was a bit boring.  The main drama centered around Mr. Bennet being a pain in the backside under the guise of “protecting” Elizabeth.  The constant miscommunications between Darcy and Elizabeth, aided and abetted by Mr. Bennet being purposely obnoxious (and straight-up lying), started to get old after a while.  Also, while I could buy that their time together could help Elizabeth start to view Darcy with  new eyes, I wasn’t convinced that that time could suddenly make her desperately in love with him as it did in this story.

While this was fine for a one-off read, it wasn’t one that I would want to read again and again.  There was a lot of potential here, but Mr. Bennet annoyed me so much that I just couldn’t deal with it.  There were also some other weird side things below that lowered my enjoyment of the story.

The secondary story is about how Darcy had a stepmother who apparently tried to kill him when he was a kid (????) so Darcy’s father sent her away and Georgiana just found out that her mother is actually alive and now Darcy doesn’t know what to do, etc.  This whole plot felt completely unnecessary and awkward.  Like I never figured out why it was even part of the story as it just made things extra complicated.

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

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Mr. Darcy & Mr. Collins’s Widow // by Timothy Underwood

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  2.5/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages: 299

Clean Rating:  G, other than flashbacks to Mr. Collins being abusive (nothing explicit)

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Elizabeth was only fifteen when Mr. Bennet died. His heir, Mr. Collins was an awful, ugly man who mistreated the servants. Elizabeth would never let her dear Jane marry him. Never. Jane was beautiful, kind, and good. She deserved to marry someone she loved.

Elizabeth convinced Mr. Collins to choose her instead. His character was far worse than she had imagined it could be, and her marriage seemed an unending nightmare. Elizabeth only felt joy when he died.

Years later Mr. Bingley took Netherfield, and Elizabeth met his haughty and handsome friend, Mr. Darcy. Even though he saw himself as superior to most of the local gentry, Elizabeth and Darcy quickly became fast friends. But as they grew closer Elizabeth’s terrifying memories of Mr. Collins began to return…

Review:

Mr. Collins dies in the first chapter, leaving the young Elizabeth (Bennet) Collins a widow at the age of 16.  By the time Bingley and Darcy show up five years later, Elizabeth is settled in as one of the largest land-owners in the area, and is disinterested in marrying and putting herself back under the authority of any man, since Collins was manipulative and abusive.

Darcy is immediately attracted to this intelligent, clever, beautiful woman, and instead of slighting her at the assembly, he talks with her.  From there, their friendship develops naturally, although both of them are fighting against falling in love.

The main problem with this story was that it was boring.  Because Elizabeth already likes Darcy, she isn’t manipulated by Wickham’s lies.  Because Lydia was also abused by Collins, she and Elizabeth bonded and Lydia isn’t the bratty character like she is in the original – but it doesn’t really matter, because Kitty becomes Lydia instead.  While Darcy doesn’t want to marry into the family, he doesn’t find them as objectionable as before, and so he doesn’t try to separate Jane and Bingley.  There is some mild drama, but it’s mostly due to Elizabeth’s terror of being married again.

There is also a long and rambling epilogue that goes into great detail about how every single character’s life plays out – including characters that belong in the original, but weren’t even in this version!  All in all, while this wasn’t terrible for a one-time read, it just wasn’t interesting enough to be worth picking up a second time.

No spoilers today… this book is that boring.

Remembrance of the Past // by Lory Lilian

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  2.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  3.0/5.0

Copyright:  2011

Pages: 456

Clean Rating:  Mature.  An absurd amount of shagging.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet unexpectedly met Mr. Darcy while visiting Pemberley. In this ‘what if’ story, Elizabeth Bennet and her relatives – Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner – are in London, ready to start their tour to the Lakes in June. During this time, Elizabeth’s path crosses with Mr. Darcy’s again. However, Mr. Darcy is not alone in London: besides his close family – Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam – an old and dear friend has returned and claimed a well-deserved place in their lives. This is a story about hopes and desires, about losses and fears, about second chances and happiness.

Review:

Have you ever wished that you could read Pride and Prejudice, except there would be this other random character who was super, super obnoxious and interfered in everyone’s lives but was viewed as a paragon by all who met her?  Then this is the variation for you!

So, as stated in the synopsis, instead of not running into Darcy until at Pemberley, in this variation Elizabeth is staying with the Gardiners in London before their trip, and they run into Darcy, Georgianna, and the Colonel in a park.  Much to Elizabeth’s surprise, instead of ignoring/hating her, Darcy seems anxious to renew their acquaintance.  Of course, they are both very tentative and uncertain, since their last meeting was a bit of an explosion and, since then, they have both readjusted their views so much.

This is all well and good, but then we meet another character:  Cassandra.  Cassandra is an old friend of the Darcy family and grew up on the estate next to Pemberley.  She’s an enigma, recently returned from the Continent after she fled there several years ago in the wake of a mysterious scandal.  But now she’s back and just as buddy-buddy with the Darcys as ever.

The problem was, I couldn’t stand Cassandra.  She was SO obnoxious and interfering.  SHE always knew what was best for everyone, and basically went around rearranging everyone’s lives and giving them stern talking-tos so that they would do the right thing.  She tells Darcy to snap out of it, she tells Bingley to snap out of it, she tells Elizabeth to snap out of it, she tells the Colonel to snap out of it – legit everyone.  If it wasn’t for Cassandra, everyone’s lives would be a total failure and they would all be doomed to loneliness and misunderstanding FOREVER.  She’s supposed to be this “straight talking” kind of character who isn’t afraid to tell people like it is, but instead she just came through as overbearing and annoying.  Lilian also gave her several of Darcy’s scenes, which felt weird – for instance, when Elizabeth receives the letter about Lydia’s elopement, it’s Cassandra who is there to comfort, encourage, and direct.  ????  It just honestly felt like this book was about Cassandra more than anyone.

There was way too much snogging/shagging in this book, and I skimmed long passages.  The amount of times that Darcy and Elizabeth managed to slip into each other’s bedrooms for some “cuddling” was frankly ridiculous.

Finally, there was this weird other plot involving a peer that just literally made no sense and I had no idea why it was part of the story.  It always felt tacked on and not at all natural to everything else that was happening.  So basically this book consists of:

First 25%:  Cassandra being obnoxious and bossy, and then being confused about why Elizabeth would think Darcy was courting Cassandra
2nd 25%:  Cassandra is still bossy and obnoxious; Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love and start cuddling every chance they get
3rd 25%:  Darcy and Elizabeth get married and shag a LOT
4th 25%:  Bizarre side story with this other guy that makes no sense + more shagging

This wasn’t a horrible story – it still had an actual plot and the editing was good.  But I just couldn’t get past Cassandra.  She seems to be almost universally liked on Goodreads, though, so maybe it’s just  me.

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

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Bluebells in the Mourning // by KaraLynne Mackaroy

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  4.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.25/5.0

Copyright:  2013

Pages: 238

Clean Rating:  G.  Nothing objectionable.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Is it true that. . . …nothing can be lost that love cannot find? Jane Austen’s beloved “Pride and Prejudice” is readapted in this Regency tale of love in the face of tragedy. Mr. Darcy is thwarted in his attempt to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford when he encounters her minutes after she receives the sad news from Longbourn of her sister’s death. His gallantry and compassion as he escorts her back to Hertfordshire begins to unravel the many threads of her discontent with him. While her family heals from their loss, Darcy must search London for answers — answers that might bring justice but also might just mark the end of his own hopes with Elizabeth.

Review:

So you find this out within the first chapter anyway:  Lydia dies.  When Darcy arrives at the parsonage to propose to Elizabeth, he finds her distraught,  having just received two letters from Jane (“she wrote the direction on this one very ill”), the first one saying that Lydia fell down a little cliffside during a walk and injured herself; the second saying that she died from her injuries.  Instead of proposing, Darcy makes arrangements to get Elizabeth back to London so she can travel with the Gardiners to Longbourn.  Elizabeth, of course, has many conflicting feelings about Darcy because she hates him because he’s horrible… except he’s actually being super nice.

This was actually a really enjoyable variation, one of my favorite that I’ve read recently.  The characters are done very well, and I really liked the way that everyone grew/matured/changed from the experience of Lydia’s death.  Without the big clash at the parsonage, Darcy, of course, is ignorant of Elizabeth’s true feelings about him, so instead these issues are worked through with more mature conversation.  Georgianna was one of my favorite characters in this one as well.

There’s a bit too much angst-that-could-be-solved-with-one-conversation, but overall a very enjoyable little story.

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

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Rain & Retribution // by L.L. Diamond

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.0/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  2.75/5.0

Copyright:  2013

Pages: 410

Clean Rating:  Definitely mature.  Multiple sex scenes.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

When Elizabeth Bennet’s parents attempt to force her into a marriage of convenience for the sake of her family, she flees to make her own future. Will circumstances and their families conspire to keep Darcy and Elizabeth apart or will they unite to take them on together?

Review:

In this version, when Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, Mr. Bennet doesn’t back Elizabeth up when she refuses.  Instead, he agrees that Elizabeth will marry Collins despite all of her protests.  Desperate, Elizabeth decides to run away from home, hoping that if she can make it to London, her aunt and uncle will help her.  The servants help her sneak out of the house and head towards the next town, where she intends to catch the post to London.  However, a sudden storm comes up and the carriage slides off the road and breaks something important, leaving Elizabeth a bit stranded as if she walks back to Meryton, her fate is sealed.

Just when all seems lost, Mr. Darcy appears on the horizon, on his way back to London as well in his own comfy carriage.  He ends up stopping and giving Elizabeth a lift.  She doesn’t really want to get stuck with Mr. Grumpy-pants, but feels she has no choice.  Unfortunately for Elizabeth, the rains continue and they are forced to take shelter in an inn.  Of course, the inn is stuffed full of people, so they have to share a room.  Stranded for three days together, they slowly are able to learn more about each other and correct misunderstandings.  When Elizabeth confesses her dilemma, Mr. Darcy offers to marry her, and does so as soon as they arrive in London.

There was actually a lot to like about this story.  It was an interesting twist, and I really liked both Darcy and Elizabeth.  However, the story did drag in places, and there were way too many scenes with Mature Content.  There were also a few characters who are nice people in the original (and most variations), who were not particularly nice in this story, and I didn’t really care for that.  I was especially sad that Elizabeth is never reconciled with her parents.  As I’m thinking about it, part of the reason this story was kind of boring was that there wasn’t any character development at all.  Things happen to people but no one really changes because of it.

Overall, decent for a one-time read, but not one that I want to return to again.

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