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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.

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.

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)…

Read more…

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