Can't Stop Reading P&P Variations…

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

Archive for the month “June, 2016”

The Elizabeth Papers // by Jenetta James

29011518Type: Sequel to original story / variation with different characters

Setting:  Regency / Modern

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  4.4/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2016

Pages: 224

Clean Rating:  Mature, but mildly.  I actually thought the whole book was going to be fine, with just a bit of innuendo here and there, but towards the end there is a hasty lead-in that cuts off before the final act (barely).

Synopsis (via Amazon): 

“It is settled between us already, that we are to  be the happiest couple in the world,” said Elizabeth Bennet at the conclusion of Pride & Prejudice – but was it true?

Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune – on his own terms.  Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy.  But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred fifty-year-old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.

Together they become entwined in a Regency tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy.  As if traveling back in time, another story unfolds within theirs.  All was not as it seemed in the private lives of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but how can they ever uncover the whole truth?

How could they know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal?  What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease.  Was the Darcy marriage perfect, or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?

Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley?  What are the elusive “Elizabeth papers,” and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?

The Elizabeth Papers is a tale of romance and intrigue, spanning the Regency and modern eras, reminding us how the passions of the past may inspire those in the present.

Review:

First off, what even is the deal with the ridiculously long synopsis??

The Elizabeth Papers was a surprisingly enjoyable read.  The premise is excellent.  We have three methods of forwarding the story: letters from a very elderly Darcy to his solicitor, entries by Elizabeth in a private journal in the middle years of her marriage, and a straight third-person narrative of the story of Charlie and Evie, unfolding in the present.

I quite enjoyed Elizabeth’s voice.  The idea that she was writing this all in a diary honestly did feel like a stretch some of the time – I don’t remember ever recording word-for-word conversations in my journal, but, you know.  On the whole, I really liked both Elizabeth and Darcy in this version (especially Darcy, of course), although I had a minor beef with Elizabeth that belongs in the spoiler section.

Overall, the Regency story unfolded basically exactly like I expected it to.  I was not surprised by a single “twist” in that section.  However, it was still decently written, and I enjoyed the little snippets from the lives of others in the Bennet-Darcy clan.

The modern story was also really good.  I quite liked both Charlie and Evie, and the whole set up for them meeting felt completely natural.  The synopsis misrepresented a few salient points, one of the most important being that Evie never hired Charlie – someone else hired Charlie because both the client and Evie are recipients of a generations-old trust, funded by Fitzwilliam Darcy to benefit all of his female descendants, and the client believes that the ancestor who ties Evie to the trust was actually an illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Darcy, thus meaning Evie shouldn’t be getting the money.

This is important, because that’s part of the fun of this modern retelling – James very gently gives us parallels between Darcy/Elizabeth and Charlie/Evie, with the idea of him being well-off and snobby and making a poor first impression on Evie.  Charlie also has a friendly, happy cousin who inadvertently spills the beans on Charlie, and there are a few other little things, just enough but not too much.

For me, the ending of the book was the weak bit.  While I really liked the way the book ended, I felt like those endings came really abruptly.  I would have liked a little more of a gentle incline to the conclusion, as the jump felt rather jarring.  I rarely say this, but I think this book definitely could have been longer, or perhaps just needed a little more balancing – I think there could have been a lot more of the modern story.  A lot of Elizabeth’s entries felt kind of like padding just to give us something to read against the modern bits.

On the whole, though, I was quite impressed with this story.  It was enjoyable and entertaining, and the shifts between past and present stories was done quite well.  Recommended.

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

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The Rainbow Promise // by Lory Lilian

30303278Type: Variation Sequel (follows Rainy Days)

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  2.3/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2016

Pages: 303

Clean Rating:  Mature.  Lots of lovering, especially in the beginning.

Synopsis (via Amazon):  

For more than ten years, “Rainy Days” has been one of the most widely read and best loved of the Pride and Prejudice variations.  Many readers have asked for a sequel, and finally, ten years later, here it is: “The Rainbow Promise”.  The story continues Elizabeth and Darcy’s passionate journey from a humble cottage to the galmour of a London season before reaching its destination at the incomparable Pemberley.  The road is filled with love, passion, angst, humour, twists – and more love.

Review:

In short, a very disappointing sequel, as there was basically no story.  The first third of the book is just random scenes of Darcy and Elizabeth lovemaking or wishing they were lovemaking.  The middle is a super random thing where they meet this young servant girl who is alone in the park on a wintry evening.  They bring her home and then she gets sick, and then it turns out that she is pregnant, and then there is some drama.  However, the whole thing with the maid made virtually no sense, but apparently that was the main story for the whole book.  The last bit of the book is Darcy and Elizabeth finally making it to Pemberley and being really happy and everyone comes and visits and is like, “Wow, you’re really happy!” And then there is an epilogue where everyone goes on about how happy they are.

I mean, it was an okay book, but on the whole it was just really, really boring, mainly because there wasn’t a plot.  Instead of being a better read than Rainy Days, it was definitely weaker, and since Rainy Days isn’t my favorite, going backwards from there is kind of a bad thing.

As always, more ranting and ??!?!?! below the break if you’re interested…

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

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Rainy Days // by Lory Lilian

RD cover-red.inddType:  Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Paperback

Overall Rating:  3.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.2/5.0

Copyright:  2012

Pages: 389

Clean Rating:  Mature.  There are several scenes of intense making out, and the final chapter is a detailed wedding night.

Synopsis (via back cover):  

In Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s first impression and hasty judgment of Mr. Darcy and that gentleman’s pride and aloofness toward her loved ones took them on a long and difficult road to happiness.

In Rainy Days, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are caught in a rainstorm two days  before the Netherfield ball, and they are forced to spend a few hours alone together where they talk, listen, and better understand each other’s feelings.  However, even when original pride and prejudices are overcome, new obstacles arise.  The road to true love is never smooth, and surprises along the way enhance the passion of the journey.

Review:  

Back in the day before I caved and bought a Kindle, I used to save up my allowance money (yes, I’m in my 30’s and get allowance money haha … don’t worry, it’s a team thing, not an overbearing-husband thing :-p) and buy hard copies of random P&P variations (I told you I have an addiction).  Recently, Lilian came out with a sequel to this one, so I decided to reread Rainy Days.  

I ended up giving it a completely middle-road rating.  It is a decent story, but not one that I love.  The characters are done well, and I appreciated that there were no crazy evil people running around.  There are some good conversations, but a few too many lovery scenes for me, especially because the plot throughout the second half of the book feels quite thin, like they are just excuses to link together more making-out opportunities.

The initial premise, wherein Elizabeth and Darcy have to take refuge in a small cottage for a few hours during a sudden rainstorm, didn’t feel horribly contrived.  However, it really felt like Darcy should have explained more clearly his past dealings with Wickham.  All he really says is, “Feel free to ask me anything you want and I’ll tell you the truth.”  Elizabeth doesn’t really ask him anything, and he doesn’t volunteer any more.  Yet for some reason, Elizabeth is more or less won over and doesn’t like Wickham any more … except she does keep believing him when he says mean things about Darcy, which also makes no sense.

Anyway, the overall story moves along just fine.  There is a really weird subplot later in the book that legit felt like filler so that the six weeks between engagement and wedding night could move along.  The book ends abruptly with a lovemaking-filled wedding night.  There were some nice moments in between, and overall I enjoyed the story enough to be interested in reading the sequel (hopefully there will be more with Georgiana… she’s my favorite, let’s be real), but on the whole it was a so-so variation.

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

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On Oakham Mount // by Sophia Meredith

OOM1Type:  Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle Unlimited

Overall Rating:  3.9/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.8/5.0

Copyright:  2015

Pages:  279 (per Kindle)

Clean Rating:  G.  Totally clean except for a few “he found himself yearning for her” moment.

Synopsis (via Amazon):  

When Mr. Bennet insists that Elizabeth marry the odious Mr. Collins, she dashes off in tears to seek refuge on Oakham Mount.  There, she encounters Mr. Darcy seeking distraction from his own concerns.  In a moment of emotional turmoil they turn to each other, and Mr. Darcy is moved to offer a solution to Elizabeth’s dilemma: A marriage of convenience.  But when this engagement is broken almost before it has begun, why do the two feel so bereft?  Could there be more between them than a simple arrangement?  Can these two proud, strong-willed individuals overcome all the obstacles that keep them apart?  More importantly, can they open their hearts to each other and to love?

Review:

This was a straightforward and pleasant P&P variation.  When Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s father tells her that she must wed him, rather than supporting Elizabeth’s decision to refuse Mr. Collins as he does in the original.  Elizabeth is devastated by this betrayal from her favorite parent, and horrified at the prospect of marriage to Mr. Collins.  She runs off to the woods to cry her heart out.  While she is there, Darcy rides by and sees her.  He’s feeling a bit annoyed himself, having just receive another letter from Lady Catherine, hounding him about marrying Anne.  As Darcy and Elizabeth converse, he feels moved to offer for her.

On the whole, I’m not sure why I didn’t feel like rating this book higher.  I think it was just because it was rather boring.  Everyone was super nice, except for Lady Catherine (and Wickham, but he doesn’t really come into things much until he absconds with Lydia), so it was basically just Darcy and Elizabeth misunderstanding each other that was keeping them apart, and I’m always annoyed when the only thing standing in the way of true love is a straightforward conversation.

The whole proposal thing felt a little weird, but on the whole seemed not unreasonable.  However, I think the whole story would have been better if the marriage had gone through and we had worked from there.

I’m not even bothering with a spoilers section for this one since there really aren’t any.  A placid tale with characters very true to Austen’s original, but somehow without their engaging manners.

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