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The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

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Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company’s ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she’s cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy’s newest work, she believes she’s one step closer to realizing her dream—until she meets him.

William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist’s block—until he meets Elizabeth Bennet.

Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he’s irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?

298 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 10, 2014

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About the author

Jessica Evans

2 books47 followers
Jessica Evans cut her writer’s teeth in various fan fiction forums starting at fifteen. Although she discovered Jane Austen’s novels as a college sophomore, she didn’t begin writing Austenesque until several years later. The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation is her debut novel.

Jessica teaches sixth grade English in a New York City public school. In her spare time, she reads a lot of romance, fantasy, and Young Adult literature, enjoys walks in Prospect Park, and cooks and eats as healthily as possible. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for Nissa | Of Pens and Pages Book Blog.
337 reviews997 followers
January 4, 2018
This review was originally posted on Of Pens and Pages.

The Muse, one of the first ever modern P&P stories I've ever read, paved the way for my obsession with modern P&P retellings. You don't have to read P&P to appreciate this gem. It works perfectly as a stand-alone contemporary romance.

A story of pride and prejudice in the world of ballet, The Muse stars Elizabeth Bennet, a corps de ballet dancer at the New York Ballet theater, and William Darcy, a blue-blooded, renowned ballet prodigy turned choreographer. The theater is abuzz as William Darcy returns to the prestigious theater after being cast as the choreographer of the latest performance. Elizabeth, having only recently joined the company, greatly admires Darcy and hopes to be part of his latest work.

Although Elizabeth gets cast-albeit a minor role-in Darcy's work, she overhears him saying something unpleasant about her, cementing her bad impression of the man. He is aloof, indifferent to the corps de ballet dancers, and to make things worse for Elizabeth, he seems to be picking on her more than the others.

We meet Elizabeth and Darcy at a particularly trying moment of their careers; Elizabeth struggling to rise to the ranks of ballet hierarchy, and Darcy trying to get out of his uninspired funk. This opportunity-the ballet theater's latest project-gives the two the opportunity to get over their funk. Elizabeth gets cast in the project, and Darcy finds a muse in Elizabeth.

The story screams grace and sensuality, with the elegance of the dancers' movements and the sizzling chemistry between the artist and his muse. It stayed true to the important aspects of Pride and Prejudice-the essential characters and their roles adapted in the modern setting, the difference of classes seen in the ballet hierarchy, the misunderstanding between Elizabeth and Darcy-but still managed to be its own story.

Caroline Bingley was still catty, Greg Wickham charming and deceitful, and Jane and Bingley all that is good. William's sister, Georgiana, is not as reticent as the one in Pride and Prejudice. She's a charming young lady who moved on from a trying past. Reynalda (Mrs. Reynolds) and Pepe are very important to Will and Georgiana, and they show Elizabeth Darcy's more human and kind side.

I agree with Erika that the book should have included an index for the ballet lingo. I'm not ballet literate, so it would have been nice if the book had a glossary (he talks about the basics of ballet on her blog though here and here.

It's one of the books I've read more than once, and one I'm going to read over and over again.

Due to implied sexual content, I recommend this to more mature readers.
Profile Image for SueBee★bring me an alpha!★.
2,417 reviews14k followers
Want to read
October 8, 2016

A modern day Pride and Prejudice in the world of ballet!

Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company’s ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she’s cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy’s newest work, she believes she’s one step closer to realizing her dream—until she meets him.

William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist’s block—until he meets Elizabeth Bennet.

Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he’s irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?
Profile Image for Ceri.
284 reviews91 followers
February 9, 2015
This review was first published on Babblings of a Bookworm: http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot....

Having seen wonderful reviews for this book I was really excited to read it. It’s an updated version of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ set in the world of ballet. Here, William Darcy is the former principal dancer of the New York Ballet Theater who has come back to the company as a choreographer. He is talented, of New York ‘aristocracy’, rich, gorgeous, and breathtakingly arrogant. Elizabeth Bennet is an insignificant member of the corps de ballet. Her sister, Jane, is a more established member of the corps. Elizabeth has never been as good as Jane – shorter, curvier (neither of which are good for ballet dancers), less beautiful and less of a classic ballerina. She overhears Darcy saying pretty much exactly that to Charles Bingley, artistic director of the ballet company and the boyfriend of Jane. Darcy’s comments flicked on a deeply held feeling, that she’s not as good as Jane, and Elizabeth is very hurt and angry.

Darcy however, has no idea of Elizabeth’s negative feelings towards him. He notices the feeling she infuses into her dance, the expression in her eyes and arm movements. He feels inspired to choreograph by her dancing. Rather than feel appreciation for working with such a talent Elizabeth feeds her resentment towards Darcy, focusing on his arrogance, and constant corrections of her movements. She also resents him for the depth of passion she feels towards him.

‘The dark timbre in Darcy’s voice sent her flesh tingling. She hated herself for it. She hated the way she reacted to him. She hated that Darcy, despicable man though he was, made her quiver in fear, fury and fervor.’

I thought this was an extremely successful update. One thing I thought worked really well was the depth of Darcy’s arrogance, which is quite often reduced significantly in modern updates to help build sympathy for his character – here Elizabeth doesn’t get to see just how arrogant he is, but the reader does as we are privy to his thoughts.

One difference from canon was the change in Elizabeth’s philosophical attitude. It is something that resonated with me as I read ‘Pride & Prejudice’ because I am quite like that myself – there are many things that make me angry but I deal with things by tucking them away or laughing myself out of it, which is very much canon Lizzy’s philosophy too. This Elizabeth, on the other hand is a pretty angry young woman and she nurses her bitter feelings in a way that canon Elizabeth has the sense to laugh off. This makes her a tad less likeable than ‘Pride & Prejudice’s heroine, especially when she takes things out on Jane (who is just as nice as canon Jane, so being mean to her is akin to kicking a puppy!).

However, other things were very close to canon such as the strata of levels of importance in the ballet company mirroring the levels in society that existed in P&P. I loved some of the nods back to Austen’s work too – the Lady Catherine de Bourgh character is a patron of the arts, which is how the character saw herself in P&P, and the Sir William Lucas character is the artistic director, directing the dance as he did in P&P.

This is a very readable and engaging work. Although William and Elizabeth are both very flawed individuals you are rooting for both of them from the first and can see what each of them inspires in the other. They have wonderful passion, whether it is used for loving or hating, and they both spend a lot of effort improving themselves in the light of what they learn from their interactions. There are sex scenes but they are in flashback and not very detailed though they retain their steaminess. There is some swearing but it’s not excessive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’d really recommend it. It’s a five star read in my book.
Profile Image for Ahnya.
361 reviews6 followers
October 24, 2019
Elizabeth and her older sister Jane are corps de ballet dancers at Ballet Theater NY. They have been cast in the former dancer now turned choreographer Mr. Darcy's new show. Elizabeth is not a typical looking ballet dancer, but Mr. Darcy sees something in her dancing that he is looking for, and uses her for his choreography even though she is not a soloist. The principal dancer and sister to the director Caroline Bingley really doesn't like that.

This book is like the movie Center Stage meets Pride and Prejudice. I think it would make a better movie than a book. It is more enjoyable to watch dancing rather than read about it. The author used all the technical terms for the dance moves, and since I don't know what they are my brain just inserted "and they danced." Other than that it was good. The characters were pretty much true to the originals, however, I did think Georgiana was a little juvenile. The plot changes to incorporate modern times and the dancing worked really well. Overall a pleasant read.
Profile Image for Katrin.
65 reviews24 followers
June 19, 2015
What a wonderful book. Full of sparks, emotions, fun.
Such fun to search for all the P&P-characters and how the author has translated them into modern - very well done, in my opinion!
This is going on my favourites list!
Profile Image for Sara.
408 reviews28 followers
May 4, 2017
There is a lot to love in this modern tale. I enjoy dance romances and this did not disappoint. The angst and chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth is great. Even if you don't know anything about the ballet moves you still feel the tension and the angst oozing off the pages. Fellow reviewers have done a good job explaining the plot so i will not do so here. I will just say that I was transported into this world and loved it. I never wanted it to end.

In fact, the reason this is not rated higher for me was the ending. It felt abrupt. I wanted more. I wanted to see more into the future, what happened with G? What about Darcy and Elizabeth? What occurs in William's career? These and many more questions were not answered and I felt like so much was missing. I think maybe a longer epilogue a bit into the future would have been perfect.

But, if you like modern retellings and love dancing, this is the book for you! Well written and highly enjoyable!
Profile Image for J. W. Garrett.
1,451 reviews91 followers
June 20, 2017
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” Martha Graham

I checked Amazon’s reviews to see how readers were responding to the story. There were 42 reviews, 67% were 5-stars, and 26% were given 4-stars. That’s pretty darned good. I just want to say, I love the cover it is most excellent. I can just see her as Elizabeth Bennet. Good choice.

This was an Austenesque type of story. It was a Pride and Prejudice variation and it was placed in the world of dance. There were names similar to the P&P names, the number of characters were trimmed down a bit and we were placed in a modern setting. Elizabeth and her sister Jane were principal dancers in a dancing troupe located in New York City. Lizzy’s friends were Lydia and Charlotte. There is even a Wickham character [rat bastard], that caused trouble with his lies along with a jealous green-eyed Caroline and a Louise that were simply horrid. A Lady Catherine type gave grief to all within her sphere, and her daughter Anne was a disappointment to her. We also have a toady character named Collins who practically worshiped her and clung to her every word. Darcy, and a much older and wiser Georgiana, round out our list of characters. Her story was a bit sad.

I was surprised that this worked. I was hesitant about reading this. It has been a long time since I’d read a ballet/dance story. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this work. The basic Austen outline was in place. The insult, the misunderstanding between Darcy and Lizzy, her thinking his looking at her was to find fault, him fighting his feelings, and then finding out that her feelings had been tainted by Wickham. Darcy sends her a letter explaining his feelings, what he did to and for Jane, what happened between Georgiana and Wickham and his thoughts regarding her performance in the dance. Then we have their arguments, fighting sexual attraction, yielding to sexual attraction, dance performances, dancer jealously, gossip and accusations, deceit and sabotage. All the elements of P&P were there.

As I was reading, I found myself going…OK, we’ve done that problem, so we should be approaching this action, this reaction and then the resolution. The author did a really good job keeping the reader engaged. There were a few places where I think it took too long to get from one place to another. However, the tension needed to play out so we could resolve the difference between the principal characters. There was a really nice Epilogue. Those who do not like the dance theme may struggle with the terminology, techniques and nuances of the dance environment. I really liked how the author pulled us right into the practice sessions.

The writing was well done; I was too engaged to notice any editing problems. There was a bit of language [the ‘f’ word, and a few others], and scenes of mild sexual activity; however, not graphic, but a lot of sexual tension that built throughout the story between our dear couple.

**** SPOILER **** **** End Spoiler ****
Profile Image for Erika.
397 reviews17 followers
April 3, 2016
An exciting modern P&P

Jessica Evans is a new author to me. I had seen this being posted on a fanfiction site, but never got to read it until now. This is just another modern P&P that keeps knocking away at my dislike of modern P&Ps. Oh, I still love my Regency P&Ps better, though more authors are writing more tolerable moderns lately.

In The Muse, Elizabeth is the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York. She has idolized William Darcy since she was younger, and has been cast in his latest work. With excitement coursing through her during rehearsals, she works hard to advance herself in the company. Though as we know all good things come to a halt, she overhears things she weren't meant for her ears thus turning her against Mr Darcy.

William Darcy is the dance legend turned choreographer because of an injury. He is a perfectionist who is both feared and admired. He has a particular method of working with his dancers to bring the best out of them, only this method seems to bring on Elizabeth's resentment even more all the while he is more and more intrigued by her. He singles Elizabeth out to sort through his ideas of the pas de deux in his piece. But when he singles her out in class the jealousies that run amok in the ballet world take a toll on Elizabeth and her dislike grows.

The Muse takes us through the lives of dancers. You do not have to be familiar with ballet terminology, though it would be helpful. My biggest negative for this book is that I believe Ms Evans should have included an index for the ballet lingo. I gave up quickly googling what the terms meant because it was detracting from my enjoyment of reading the book.

Ms Evans wrote a wonderful story that captivated me and had smiling with the banter or yelling at the characters for being such fools!! I loved how the characters were well written and developed, to see their growth as the book went on showing passage of time was flawless. I enjoyed the secondary characters new and old, though still hated Caroline and Wickham for their horrible antics at deception and separation of ODC.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Muse and look forward to any new books from Ms Evans in the future. I would recommend this to any P&P enthusiast, though you don't have to have read P&P to enjoy it.
Profile Image for Candy.
260 reviews
December 10, 2014
Wow! I loved The Muse! This modern Pride and Prejudice variation is set in New York City, where Elizabeth is a dancer at the Ballet Theater of New York, and Darcy is a choreographer for the ballet.

Darcy is harsh and curt as he corrects his dancers. He wasn't there to make friends, and the dancers should appreciate his attention. Elizabeth has caught his eye, and he is quick to instruct her. She awakes his creative juices, and soon, unknown to her, she becomes his muse. Of course, this doesn't sit well with Elizabeth!

Elizabeth takes offense to his attention. After overhearing a conversation between Darcy and Charles Bingley on the first day of rehearsals, where Darcy remarks that Elizabeth doesn’t have the right body type, saying she is too short and curvy for a ballerina. Now every correction Darcy gives, Liz only sees as criticism and his disdain for her.

Darcy was intense, brooding and self-absorbed at the beginning of the story, but he is also a loyal friend and good brother. Georgiana wasn’t my favorite here; she was a bit too valley girl and immature.

Elizabeth is hard working and determined to be a great dancer, but at the same time she struggles with self-doubt. She is also a bit jealous of Jane, who is beautiful and an excellent dancer. Jane also has an amazing boyfriend, Charles Bingley. It bothers Liz that she didn't have either; she wasn't a great dancer nor did she have a boyfriend, but for now, she would work on her dancing.

I have to admit I didn’t think I would like Darcy as a dancer, but it worked really well! I was hooked right from the beginning. The story flowed well and kept me engaged, which I’ve been having trouble with lately.

The choreography in this story is beautiful and at times sensual. I'm not a dancer, but it seems Ms. Evans really did her homework or is a dancer herself!

For those who care to know, I would say, there are some mild sex scenes, and course language.

The Muse is an excellent read! I would highly recommend it!

FTC Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of the story from the publisher for my honest review.
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 17 books312 followers
February 18, 2017
Loved loved loved! Fabulous modern reimagining. Hot. Clever. Likeable.
Profile Image for Marie.
1,046 reviews62 followers
August 24, 2021
Great Modern Pride and Prejudice Variation
I loved this story despite not being familiar with ballet moves. The story kept me drawn throughout. The modern versions of Elizabeth and Darcy were believable as were the secondary characters nicely woven into the story in a credible way. I thought it was well written and the dance rehearsals described in a way my imagination could capture. Highly recommend this read. Well done. Mature content.
Profile Image for Monique V.
550 reviews67 followers
October 28, 2017
This book is perfect for all pride and prejudice fans!

I am a big pride and prejudice fan, so when I see anything that says pride and prejudice retelling I read it! This book was so cute and i love that o could tell how both books corelate. I loved this modern take on it and respect it showed towards the original!
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books334 followers
April 7, 2015
I was excited to read this book for two reasons- new to me author and new to me setting. I was curious about a contemporary ballet setting.

Now before I dive right in with my thoughts on the book, I will say that a reader doesn't have to already have read Pride and Prejudice even though this is a retelling. If you read contemporary romance, then this would be a good possibility read. I should also say that you can be fairly ignorant about dance (like moi) and get along just fine as the book mentions the technical names for the ballet dance moves.

Alrighty so the story begins when Elizabeth Bennet, a member of the NYC's Ballet Theater dance troupe start preparing for the new season with a new dance choreographer. Elizabeth was in awe at first that the great and nearly legendary William Darcy would be working with them, but the dazzle soon fizzles when she encounters an arrogant, cold man who snaps off a negative remark about her and only opens his mouth to criticize. He seems to single her out and gets her to help him work on a difficult piece much to her chagrin when the prima dona dancer, Caroline, and the other dancers glare at her. She doesn't want to work with Darcy, but her dancing comes alive under his instruction. She starts to soften only to learn news that blackens his character for good.

William Darcy has felt hollow for a long time. He has been going through the motions. Then he meets the eyes of one of the dance group. Elizabeth Bennet dances with great expression even if she is still a bit lacking in the technical aspects. His attempts to mentor her are met with irritation and her reluctance to help him choreograph the duet piece really makes him wonder. She holds him with contempt even as his respect for her grows. He thinks they have come to an understanding. Theater politics force decisions that make matters worse between them and he only learns her real opinion and its painful in the face of his own. He wants to dismiss her from his thoughts, but its not easy. What if there is a second chance?

This one was full of character development, tension and some drama. I was engaged from the beginning. The author spun out a solid story and set it against a well-drawn backdrop. I found the dancing world amazing and fascinating. The competitive nature of it all made for a strong amount of tension and add to that the volatile nature of Darcy and Elizabeth's romance, it kept things going at a goodly pace.

Darcy and Liz are well-drawn and the story remains strongly focused on them as well as the dance. I liked seeing the character's flaws and then their subsequent growth. The device of misunderstanding is a huge part of this story and the heroine's prejudice is extreme by the point of the big blow up. She's much younger so her attitude and behavior make sense. I felt the big moment was when she realized just how wrong she was. This is an age-gap romance, but I really liked how the pace of the romance after the resolve reflected this and addressed it. They were in two different places in their careers and lives, but the solution took this into account well. The romance was spicy passion and has a tough road before it gets better as a result of major misunderstandings.

The secondary characters added to the story, but they weren't as deeply teased out. I actually found the prima donna moments humorous and fun. Caroline was just so conniving and spoilt-childish. Darcy's younger sister was cute. I found the sister relationship dynamic between Elizabeth and Jane intriguing. Jane is a beautiful, talented, and genuinely good person. Elizabeth, nothing like her sister, has to follow in her footsteps as a ballet dancer and figure out what to do with her jealousy toward Jane.

All in all, I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to those who want a Contemporary Romance set in the ballet world and to those Austenesque lovers who wouldn't mind reading a modern retelling.
Profile Image for Maria.
186 reviews50 followers
September 13, 2015
William Darcy is a dance legend. Despite his career ended abruptly after a knee injury, he is still considered a great artist, and also earned respect and admiration thanks to his work as a choreographer. However, he feels he cannot show all of his emotions through the dancers that work with him, as if something held him back. Until he meets Elizabeth Bennet. If on one hand she entices him with her strong personality and alluring traits, on the other they seem to have no chance at having any relationship without fighting every time they meet. Will Elizabeth be the muse William needs to keep doing his job?

What a compelling book! I finished it some days ago and I am still thinking about it! I truly enjoyed reading “The Muse”, it was a passionate and overwhelming journey that I somehow expected but I was not sure that it would live up to my expectations. I confess I thought that this version of Darcy as a dancer would not win me over, but I was totally mistaken!! And I am glad I did not let my prejudice win. William Darcy was just perfect! He was surly, haughty and maddening as he had to be, but he was also sexy, sweet and caring. He had every good quality that the original character has, like his tenderness towards his sister and it was a pure joy to witness his nature changing to make Elizabeth love him. So wonderful!

I loved how the author managed to create an engrossing and convincing plot that I could not stop reading. It was very difficult to put this book down and go on with my life! Ms. Evans did a fantastic job with all of the characters. I enjoyed reading about their love and friendship relationships and the way they were depicted. Even though they were modern dancers and lived a totally different life from those ones from the Regency era, they were perfectly connected to them. All of their significant traits, their flaws and their nature were described in a faithful, impressive way and I loved how the author imagined a modern life for everybody. I also liked the fact that this story was set between a noisy and crowded New York City and a sunny and relaxing Miami. That was certainly a pleasant surprise. Besides, seeing this modern Darcy act like a gentleman directly from the nineteenth century (especially in the second part of the book) was wonderful. It makes me hope that even today real gentlemen exist.

Passionate, enthralling and definitely sexy, “The Muse” is a page-turner that I would recommend to readers who enjoy to see Pride and Prejudice characters in new, modern adaptations that have the power of leave them breathless and extremely satisfied!

Note: For those who mind, there are some descriptions of intimate scenes included in this book, and some swearing.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Susan.
Author 8 books24 followers
February 15, 2015
Excellent modern adaptation of P&P. I loved every minute of it. I don't know much about the world of ballet, but I've heard from several people who do and they loved the book, too. Fresh, original, compelling.
Profile Image for Elin Eriksen.
Author 18 books93 followers
May 24, 2019
A fabulously well adapted variation of Pride and Prejudice into the modern era, situated in the professional ballet environment in New York.

The story held my attention in an iron grip, it was plausible, entertaining and engaging. A couple of well written steamy sequences but the mush did not hold the centre of attention, love did.
I have no knowledge of ballet but it did not deduct from my enjoyment of the book. The tension oozed through the pages as they were fighting each other and their place in the ballet company.

Heartily recommend this book!

PS:I have a penchant for a good "insult" and it was fantastic.
Profile Image for Abigail Bok.
Author 4 books191 followers
April 25, 2015
Ballet is not my thing. In fact, my sweetie once asked if he could get me tickets to the ballet for my birthday, and I told him that ballet tickets would be a gift to himself; if he wanted to give me a present, he should buy me tickets to a Lakers game! That’s my notion of ballet.

So it’s not surprising that some aspects of The Muse went right over my head. I can’t picture the different moves, or even really understand the emotions they are supposed to evoke. What I was able to understand was the electric reaction our hero and heroine (Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, for anyone not yet clued in) felt the first time they touched, when Darcy used Elizabeth to help him choreograph a pas de deux. The vivid yet tasteful description of that scene certainly twisted my knickers!

Back up. In this variation on Pride and Prejudice set in the present day, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are dancers in the Ballet Theater of New York, and William Darcy is a former dancer turned freelance choreographer who is invited in to create a new dance for the current season. Many of the familiar character names from Pride and Prejudice turn up, some names more or less modified, though their characters don’t always match the original (Georgiana in particular is completely different) and the plot is not closely followed. The emphasis here is on the romance, which to my mind is a different genre from what Jane Austen wrote, so the focus and the arc of the story diverge considerably. In fact, I’m not sure using the character names from Pride and Prejudice was even necessary; a story about, say, Ashley Smith and Shane Matthews would still have had echoes of P&P without raising expectations that certain situations and conversations would be found. Though such a novel would have been harder to sell to Meryton Press, no doubt.

So why five stars? Because this novel works perfectly well on its own terms, leaving aside the Pride and Prejudice parallels. I enjoyed the setting in the professional dance world, and that world was described in ways that allowed an uninitiated person like myself to understand enough to become emotionally involved in the dramas and conflicts that arose. I’m not personally a fan of sex scenes, but the few that appeared were handled very well (not so explicit that I was squirming), and the many more scenes involving frustrated attraction were handled even better. Considering that this is modern romance and not a period piece, it seemed entirely appropriate that the details of how William and Elizabeth worked out their relationship should have been elaborated in more detail at the end. It made them more credible and well rounded. Other changes served to make the story work well on its own terms.

Because this is a modern novel and not a pale imitation of Jane Austen, Jessica Evans felt free to use techniques not found in Georgian fiction. I particularly liked one scene, which took place before William and Elizabeth came to see eye to eye, in which the point of view switched back and forth between the two characters during an uncomfortable dinner date. Seeing their thoughts allowed us to grasp vividly just how wide was the gulf between them. Also perhaps because this is a modern novel, the characters in general expressed themselves more freely, were ruder to one another, and behaved in more extreme ways (e.g., in the original, Caroline Bingley might contemplate sabotage of Elizabeth, but here she gets to act it out, in a scene that allows echoes of Cinderella to creep in). There is a tendency among modern adaptors to make Jane Austen’s comedy broader; this sometimes bothers me, but didn’t in the case of The Muse because the story wasn’t slavishly following the original.

There were moments, especially early in the book before the story took on its own momentum, when I felt the presence of a writer who was a little constrained by the “Austen variation” genre. I hope that writer comes to the fore in future books. One such moment came when Elizabeth has changed into street clothes and gone back to the rehearsal room, where she hears some criticism that she shouldn’t have heard: “As she spun around, her sneakers shrieked against the floor.” The shrieking of the rubber soles on a wood floor is a sharply observed detail that also works to express Elizabeth’s inwardly screaming thoughts, thoughts she is not in a position to express. I also recall a wonderful reference to “the noisy privacy of Columbus Avenue.”

When I wrote my first novel, I used Pride and Prejudice as a crutch; diving deep into that novel and adapting it allowed me to learn a great deal about writing fiction. Perhaps it served the same purpose for Jessica Evans, and I hope that, going forward, she’ll let go of the crutch and give free rein to that original, perceptive writer inside.
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 17 books312 followers
December 4, 2015
I've read Darcy as a pirate. A lawyer. A vampire. A werewolf. But a ballet dancer? I wasn't sure when I first read about this online years ago but soon bought into the premise. Easily. And "The Muse"The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation has since become one of my favorite modern adaptations of "Pride & Prejudice".

This story, based on Jane Austen's masterpiece, is sensual, thoughtful and fresh. Evans thoroughly fleshes out the Austen characters we love and makes them work for this adaptation. The life in the professional ballet world feels authentic while the "Pride & Prejudice" story unfolds. The love scenes are sexy, the tension bittersweet and the story kept me turning pages until 3 a.m.

This publication of "The Muse" has been totally edited, original scenes tightened and new scenes added. The story themes remain the same as Jessica Evans's original but has been updated as far as pop culture and technological advancements.
Totally enjoyable read to warm you up over a cold winter!
Profile Image for Stacy.
57 reviews2 followers
July 23, 2017
Loved this one! The ending felt a little rushed, but that might also be because I didn't want it to end.
Profile Image for Nicole Lynn.
173 reviews9 followers
January 8, 2015
*This review was previously published on my blog: PopCrunchBoom Books*

Need to Know
1. Modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen focused on a aspiring soloist for the Ballet Theater of New York, Elizabeth Bennet, and a former dance legend turned choreographer, William Darcy.

2. Both Elizabeth and Darcy are fresh takes on the classical characters with a great look into backstage ballet companies. Darcy shows more aspirations and insecurities through his POV narration–making him more Evans character than Austen’s. Elizabeth still has the same growth to accomplish, but Evans again allows this modern Lizzy to shine through.


4. Evans masterly combines her own story with the Austen-inspired story arc.

5 STARS! Will definitely be rereading this one and more than likely will be purchasing the physical copy as I bought the ebook.

My Review
The Muse by Jessica Evans follows Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York in NYC. Along with her sister Jane, Elizabeth loves to dance and dreams of rising through the ranks of the company. Shortly into the new season, Elizabeth is cast in the newest work of famous choreographer William Darcy. This is her chance to work hard and gain one more step up the ladder to fulfilling her dreams–then she meets him. Things couldn’t be worse as she constantly butts heads with the arrogant former dance legend. Soon he’s constantly calling her out in each class and then he takes over her time as he insists she stay after class to help him choreograph the pas de deux. Elizabeth can’t stand him, even if he’s slightly more than attractive and makes her feel things when they dance together. She’d never like him though–he’s condescending, arrogant and just plain horrible. Right?

Let’s just say first off that I will definitely be rereading this in the future. From previous reviews, I’ve mentioned how much of a dance/music freak I am and I love watching and reading stories revolving around these topics. Add in one of my favorite classics and you’ve got gold for me!

Jessica Evans does a great job making this story her own. While the overall story follows the same arc, Evans brings out the modern personalities of each character and takes her readers into the world of dance. Not only was I drawn to the Austen storyline, I was drawn into the backstage look of a ballet company. Seeing how Elizabeth’s character handled the competitive world and her reactions were great. I connected with her for the first time and all over again as both Austen’s character and Evan’s character collided. Seeing Lizzy as a ballerina and then later on as a passionate dancer wasn’t hard to believe as someone whose read the original work. I believe Evans did a suburb job with writing her version of Elizabeth.

Where Elizabeth was great, Darcy was even better. What I loved about The Muse, was reading from Darcy’s point of view. Evans brought out more of Darcy’s insecurities and softer emotions that were not always shown in the original work. Darcy was at a road block in his choreography and still struggling with a career set back. Evans’ Darcy was more than a standoffish character with a protective and loyal inside; he had goals and dreams. Seeing Darcy’s growth in this novel was a lot more enjoyable. I truly applaud Evans for her William Darcy character. For while he shared the characteristics of Austen’s Darcy, William in The Muse was definitely Evans’ own character.

When Darcy and Lizzy interacted it was like ‘hurry grab the popcorn, fireworks are about to start!’ Evans definitely had the chemistry going in this one. Both characters were giving off sparks like a down electric wire on the road. While the sparring scenes were nearly my favorite, I have to say that I fell in love with when they danced together. Those scenes were my top favorite.

I could go own about this novel and in more depth about the comparisons, but I’ll keep it short ;) I do want to mention that I liked the secondary characters: Jane, Charles, Greg (aka George) etc. They were not as in the forefront as Lizzy and Darcy, but they held their own and had a bit of a freshness to them as well.

Overall, Evans masterly crafted a novel of Austen inspiration combined with her own writing brilliance. This has been one of my favorite variation/modern retellings of the novel so far. Evans really brought new life and modern personalities to Lizzy and Darcy. Add in the backstage world of ballet and I’m hooked for life. If you’re a Austenite enthusiast or just in the mood for contemporary romance, I’d suggest you pick up this book for a quick read. It won’t leave you disappointed!
Profile Image for Warmisunqu Austen.
130 reviews5 followers
December 19, 2014

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Chassés, pliés, tendus, battement, jetés, frappes... son parte del lenguaje usado en esta adaptación moderna, con un sinnúmero de movimientos de piernas y brazos en una coreografía. De todas las adaptaciones modernas que llevo leyendo, que no son muchas, es la que más me ha gustado, de momento. Siento debilidad por la música clásica y por las actuaciones de ballet, aunque soy una simple aficionada, ha sido un deleite esta historia, como un transcurrir a ritmo de coreografías.

La autora utiliza los nombres de la historia original dejando de lado a Maria y Katherine Bennet y el coronel Fitzwilliam. El resto de personajes están en la historia aunque no con los mismos roles, pero sí ha mantenido la esencia de sus personalidades.

Os traigo un trozo que explica cómo un coreógrafo a partir de momentos de su vida puede ser inspirador para transformarlos en movimientos de ballet. Todo un desafío. Hay emotividad, emoción y si lo lees escuchando música clásica resulta hasta envolvente:

«Jane’s solo arrived. Fierce and cat-like, she stretched and turned in a way that was unlike the way Jane usually danced. Had William teased that out of her? She reached her hand and radiated strength, put it down and communicated vulnerability. Elizabeth tore her eyes from the stage to stare at the back in the first wing that belonged to William Darcy. This piece was so radically unlike him. Where had all of this come from?
This is interesting and new, Elizabeth had told him that night. You could do so much with rhythm and syncopation with this music.
She knew, then. The music, the dancing, the inspiration—it had come from her. The muse was...»

La historia nos deja sentir la calidez a través de las descripciones de los melódicos movimientos de brazos, piernas y el cuerpo al ritmo de la música clásica, así las interacciones de los principales personajes, con gran dosis de intimidad, emotividad y sobriedad es transmitido con evidencia. Hay escenas de sexo que solo se mencionan sin ser nada explícito, lo cual se agradece porque no era necesario.

Hay una parte de la historia que pierde esa esencia de combinación de la danza y la música, al intentar ajustar la visita a Netherfield en esta adaptación con un fin de semana en un sitio con el mismo nombre, resulta forzado. Por suerte fue corto y con algunos matices divertidos aunque banales. También eché en falta un mayor repertorio de música clásica, ya sea a modo de recomendación o que ejemplarice algunas de las coreografías, para hacernos una imagen mental de la historia.

No es difícil en cualquier adaptación ubicar los puntos claves que marca la historia original de Orgullo y prejuicio, lo difícil es que la adaptación lo haga con verosimilitud y no forzándolo por incluir cada punto clave. The Muse cumple con el cometido, es verosímil en cada punto clave y le da cierta profundidad sobre los caracteres de los personajes principales para entender sus temores y de dónde provienen sus prejuicios e inseguridades, me resultó bastante innovador esta correlación. Además, mantiene la incógnita de la resolución de esta historia hasta el último capítulo, lo cual se agradece para una adaptación que sabemos cómo termina.

Los términos técnicos usados para profundizar sobre estos elegantes movimientos de brazos y piernas de la danza de ballet me invitaron a saber más de este arte y busqué imágenes y más información del tema para definir mejor la imagen mental que me hacía de ellos al ir leyendo. La historia también nos acerca a los entresijos del poder, dinero y sexo que se mueven en ese mundillo de la danza.

Seguir esta adaptación fue como estar frente a la actuación de una coreografía puesta en escena, vivirla con picos de intensidad, algunas partes más suaves, otras más emotivas y unas más vehementes, trasmitiendo muchas sensaciones llenas de sensibilidad.

La portada está muy a tono con la historia. Una bailarina de ballet en una de las preciosas formas de la posición arabesque que se usa en un Pas de Deux (baile para dos), que resalta la sensualidad y belleza de la historia. Hubiera preferido el título del libro mejor acoplado al espacio sin restar protagonismo a la imagen, quizá más pequeño, aún así, el juego de colores refuerza la idea de elegancia e intimidad del baile.

Profile Image for Natalie.
Author 3 books11 followers
December 8, 2014
I loved this book. It is one of the best P&P stories I have read this year. It is a flawless blend of brilliant new ideas and everything I loved from the original Jane Austen. It made me laugh out loud with shocked, horrified humor more than once, but also made me sigh at some lovely moments of pure sweetness.

This is a very modern, no-holds-barred take on Darcy and Elizabeth, to warn those who prefer the more traditional adaptations. Elizabeth gets drunk and does stupid things, Darcy appears to briefly go through a midlife crisis, and yet...They are still completely lovable despite, or perhaps because of, these imperfections.

I was very impressed by the way the author channeled Darcy's intensity into art. Every scene where he was working on his dance was positively fraught with passion (and frequently sexual frustration). When he and Elizabeth worked together, the chemistry was sizzling despite the effort both of them put into ignoring their attraction.

There were many times over the course of the novel that I wanted to strangle Elizabeth, which, to me, is always a sign of excellent character development. There was never a moment when I did not care about what happened to her, what she chose to do next. She could be a little bit petty, a little bit jealous, but always striving to be better. I alternated between cringing for her or cheering her on.

One cannot review this book without making a point to mention the dancing. Oh. My. Goodness. The. Dancing. I have never been particularly interested in ballet, but this book made me want to go take lessons. Of course, I would also want Darcy to be teaching said lessons so we could have passionate glaring contests. Sigh.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dancing, romance and dazzling displays of temper.

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review, courtesy of Jakki Leatherberry.
Profile Image for Sheila Majczan.
2,295 reviews140 followers
May 4, 2015
I read that this book was being read by Anji on Meredith's blog about Austen Admirers so decided to buy and read it. I purchased it late yesterday and could barely put it down at 1 AM today. Finished it today and loved it.

I am not a dancer and so did not have the ability to interpret the moves/steps described in the various performances in this story, but even with this deficit I was able to understand the competitiveness, the politics, the funding, etc. in this world of ballet. And I found it fascinating.

And I loved the creativity with which the author brought all our favorite P&P characters and events into a modern American setting and the world of ballet. Truly - it was heartwarming to see the connections used in this new and imaginative way.

Yes, this Elizabeth Bennet does have some characteristics which add more angst than the original: her eavesdropping leads to anger and is not treated with the wit and humor we read about in JA's story. And even her jealously of Jane is written with more insight from a modern reader's knowledge of psychology adding to our understanding of from where this is coming. The complexity of her struggles in her relationship with Darcy and her sister as well as her role in the dance world and her peers there are intriguing. William's feedback as to her dancing ability and moves and his accusation that she is self sabotaging are, like in canon, burned in her psyche. She does not take it lightly. And, as in canon, William struggles with his attraction to Elizabeth and completely misunderstands her motives, her words and even why she has a one-night stand with him.

There is plenty of sexual chemistry and angst. Familiar characters take on new roles and relationships but not so as to be completely divorced from their original place in the tale. I loved being in both William's and Elizabeth's heads. This is a story I recommend to all and I will definitely re-read this in the future.
Profile Image for E Brookhouse.
168 reviews5 followers
October 22, 2017
Loved this! But there better be a damn sequel!

The ending really didn’t satisfy me. That’s a good thing though! I loved this so much, I needed to see what would happen!! I mean, they’re Lizzy and Darcy! I need some solid, no angry Lizzy stomping out on the relationship commitment. The ballet was beautiful and had me watching male ballet dancers on YouTube, much to my husband’s chagrin. (You should too when you read this, because the strength of those men paired with elegance is just jaw-dropping!)

I thought this was a really wonderful modernization, and the ballet world transfers perfectly from the society world of 1800s England, actually. The writer obviously did her ballet research, and I was really enthralled the entire time, by that almost as much as the romance. Things are a little different, because hey, same situations roughly, but modern, but always in a way that felt true.

I will definitely read this again! And will hopefully get my sequel...
Profile Image for Noémy.
430 reviews
July 4, 2017

Dude, I love finding out little gems such as this book completely by accident; I'm relatively easy when it comes to P&P fanfiction and/or modern retellings : I buy them all. But sometimes if I'm lucky i'll find ones that will stay with me for a long while; ones that I go back to from time to time with barely hidden pleasure (which, let's be honest, is quite often. When i'm in a funk, a good dose of old Darcy will do the trick). The Muse for me, was such a book. And I'm so very glad I discovered it amongst the pile of recommandations from Amazon I get in my inbox every week.

A thousand thumbs-up!
Profile Image for Beau North.
Author 13 books98 followers
June 23, 2015
Absolutely could not put this book down! I read until I was late for work, and it was all I thought about all day. Funny, sexy, charming, evocative, and so real! I know nothing about ballet but by the end of this book I could feel my calves aching and blisters on my toes. Jessica Evans plunks the reader down right in the middle of this world of dance and yet the reader, even an uninitiated one like me, never falters. Wonderfully updated variation from a truly gifted voice.
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