The Second Chance // by Joana Starnes
Read Via: Kindle
Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0
Characters True-to-Original Rating: 4.0/5.0
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.
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.