J.L. Ashton knocked it out of the park with her second variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudiceReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
J.L. Ashton knocked it out of the park with her second variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her latest novel, Mendacity & Mourning, was so very different from other variations I’ve read. From the mysterious death of Anne de Bourgh that has Mr. Darcy known around Meryton as the “Grieving Groom,” to the odious (and odorous) Mr. Collins as a gossipmonger who causes all sorts of trouble for the Darcys, Fitzwilliams, and Bennets, to the bawdy humor of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and even a menagerie, I devoured this book every chance I could get.
In the midst of Darcy’s guilt and grief over his cousin, he plans to find himself a wife. He visits Netherfield for a bit of downtime, and there he meets the family of his friend Bingley’s beloved Jane. Darcy is instantly captivated by Elizabeth Bennet but believes her promised to another. Elizabeth is confused by Darcy’s attentions toward her, believing him to be mourning the cousin who was supposed to be his wife. This is just the beginning of a whirlwind of gossip, scandals, and misunderstandings that conspire to keep them apart.
Ashton really shakes things up with her portrayal of the de Bourghs and Mr. Collins, and I enjoyed watching it all unfold. Although a simple heart-to-heart conversation between our dear couple could have sped things up a bit, I was too busy laughing at everything else going on to care. The book blurb describes Mendacity & Mourning as a “slightly unhinged romantic comedy,” and it certainly is that and more! I don’t want to say too much because you really just need to read it and go with the flow, and half the fun is having no idea where the story will take you next. I can’t wait to read more from Ashton in the future....more
I really enjoyed this follow up to "A Vintage Valentine," in which Will Darcy and Charles Bingley visit the Memories of Old antique shop. In homage toI really enjoyed this follow up to "A Vintage Valentine," in which Will Darcy and Charles Bingley visit the Memories of Old antique shop. In homage to the fallen soldiers of WWII (this story was published for Memorial Day), Will and Charles are transported from the present day to the beach on D-Day, where Charles must do a whole lot of growing up if he is going to make it back to the present to marry Jane. Although a lot of the focus is on Charles and his need to grow a backbone and overcome his cold feet, Will also has much to learn from the adventure, namely how to express his feelings to the woman he loves. But first they need to make it back to the present alive! These short stories are so powerful, so entertaining, and enable readers to travel back to the past with their favorite characters. I can't wait for Cat to continue the series!...more
Courage Requires is the continuation of Courage Rises, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudiceReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
Courage Requires is the continuation of Courage Rises, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Melanie Rachel separates the Darcys early in their marriage, with Mr. Darcy on a mission with Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth back at Pemberley in the midst of an influenza outbreak. Courage Requires finds our beloved couple reunited at Pemberley and preparing for their first child.
Elizabeth is dealing with incapacitating morning sickness, which has her husband worried about whether she will survive the birth. But the prospect of inviting the Hawke sisters, Sophia and Evelyn, to Pemberley for Christmas, along with Colonel Fitzwilliam and his family, brightens her spirits. Elizabeth is immediately charmed by the elder sister, Sophia, who is a bit like Elizabeth in that she is strong and impertinent. But her past as a political pawn of sorts and the shadow on her reputation force her to carefully and uncertainly navigate society. Meanwhile, Evelyn has trouble controlling her tongue, as her sheltered upbringing, her frustration with her sister, and her curiosity about learning and medicine often spur inappropriate outbursts. While Darcy worries about Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam comes to terms with his feelings for Sophia, Elizabeth must contend with disloyalty among the servants and her influence as Mistress of Pemberley.
I enjoyed Courage Requires as much as, if not more than, Courage Rises. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a good Colonel Fitzwilliam story, and Rachel does a great job portraying him as a man scarred by battle but still hopeful of finding happiness. He accepts the reality of his position as a second son, but he’s willing to stand up to the earl regardless of the cost. I loved the teasing banter between Darcy and Richard, and of course, the colonel as a charming suitor. It was nice to see Darcy and Elizabeth happily married, with the best of their traits rubbing off on the other but still passionate in their disagreements. But where the novel shines is in its original characters, namely Sophia Hawke. I couldn’t help but admire her for her strength after all she’d been through, and her connections to the Fitzwilliam family were clever and seemed believable. There was so much going on in this book that I didn’t miss the absence of the rest of the Bennets at all, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more from Rachel....more
Linda Beutler’s latest novel, My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride aReview originally post on Diary of an Eccentric
Linda Beutler’s latest novel, My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is full of surprises from the start. The novel opens with Mr. Bingley realizing his sister, Caroline, and best friend, Mr. Darcy, have done him wrong by scheming to separate him from Jane Bennet following the Netherfield Ball. He becomes his own man and returns to Meryton with nary a word to them, with the intent of winning Jane’s hand in marriage. However, Beutler’s version of Jane is not all smiles and everything that is good; she is understandably angry at Mr. Bingley and will not simply accept his apology. In fact, this Jane is so unlike the original that even Mr. Bennet can understand Mrs. Bennet’s nerves!
Meanwhile, learning of Darcy’s role in her sister’s unhappiness means Elizabeth Bennet’s poor opinion of him has only worsened. Darcy acknowledges the need to make amends with Bingley and Jane, but he is not wanted or needed at Netherfield and instead must present himself to the the sisters’ relations in Cheapside. When Darcy and Elizabeth meet again in Kent, Elizabeth knows nothing of Darcy’s new friendship with the Gardiners; she is more exasperated at her sister’s actions than anything. Although Darcy is warned by his cousin, Colonel Alex Fitzwilliam, to check his pride and tread carefully where Elizabeth is concerned, Darcy plows onward, and confusion, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings abound.
I loved how Beutler twisted the story so Jane and Bingley were more complex characters, even if I couldn’t imagine Austen’s Jane acting like Jane does here — and not just in her dealings with Mr. Bingley. I also enjoyed the passionate arguments between Darcy and Elizabeth, their interactions with Caroline, and the chaos in Meryton involving Lady Catherine. There were many times that I laughed out loud, and I didn’t mind having to suspend disbelief here and there. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s involvement in the chaos and his own story were fun to read, and I must admit I fell in love with him over the course of the novel.
My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley was an overall delightful read, with plenty of changes in the plot and characters to keep me curious about what would happen next. There was the right balance of angst, romance, and humor, and plenty of steaminess toward the end. Beutler’s take on Pride and Prejudice is different and exciting, and it definitely makes you think about how drastically changing the personalities of a couple of characters can turn things upside down....more
The Darcy Monologues, edited by Christina Boyd, has been on my must-read list since I first heard thaReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
The Darcy Monologues, edited by Christina Boyd, has been on my must-read list since I first heard that it was being released. It is a collection of 15 stories inspired by Jane Austen’s beloved hero, Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, and it exceeded all of my expectations. I’m not going to profile each story, but I will say it is a collection that has a little something for every reader who has ever fancied Mr. Darcy.
The Darcy Monologues lets readers see things from Darcy’s point of view, and it is divided into two sections: The Regency and Other Eras. What I loved most about the collection, besides the fact that it gathers in a single volume some of the best authors of Austen-inspired fiction, was the sheer creativity within these pages. In addition to more traditional Darcy and Elizabeth tales, this collection features a fairy tale mash-up with Beauty and the Beast; takes Darcy to World War II, a radio station in the 1960s, and a stagecoach in 1860 California; and portrays him as a school principal and a baseball player, among other things.
I absolutely adored this collection and never wanted it to end. I skipped around while reading, mixing the Regency stories amongst the other eras, and I definitely can see myself reading these stories over and over again. I loved reading something new from some of my favorite authors, like Beau North, Joana Starnes, and Jenetta James, to name a few, and it was delightful to be introduced to authors I’d never read before and hope to read again. These authors see the depth of Darcy’s character and understand why readers love him so much, flaws and all. The entire collection will make readers weak in the knees with deliciously sweet and sexy renditions of their favorite Austen hero. The Darcy Monologues will definitely be on my Best of 2017 list! ...more
Maria Grace’s new novella, Snowbound at Hartfield, is a delightful mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride andReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
Maria Grace’s new novella, Snowbound at Hartfield, is a delightful mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma, told from the alternating points of view of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot.
A blizzard finds Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, and Mr. Bennet stranded in Highbury on their way to the colonel’s newly inherited estate, Listingbrook. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and her father, Sir Walter, are traveling to visit their Dalrymple cousins when they are caught in the storm. Fortunately, Darcy runs into an old friend, Mr. George Knightley, and he invites both groups to stay with him, his wife Emma, and her father at Hartfield.
It’s not long before Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Elliot, having briefly met a few months prior, begin a careful assessment of each other, as spending several days at Hartfield with happily married couples and irritating fathers take their toll. Both have been hurt — the colonel by the war, Elizabeth by her cousin and her best friend — and they begin to understand one another in a way that only people with their own baggage and their own ghosts can. But can they get past these obstacles and learn enough about each other to build a foundation for a lifetime of happiness before the snow melts and they go their separate ways?
I couldn’t wait to read Snowbound at Hartfield because I love Grace’s writing and was curious how she would combine the characters from my three favorite Austen novels, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. I love Austen-inspired tales that put the secondary characters front and center, and Grace’s take on Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot was spot on, in my opinion. A haunted, scarred Fitzwilliam embarking on a new life after his military career seemed authentic, as did an Elizabeth Elliot crushed by the betrayal of her friend, the marriage of her two younger sisters, and her diminishing prospects for marriage as she nears 30.
I also loved seeing a Mr. Bennet amused by Sir Walter and Mr. Woodhouse, and I laughed out loud several times as he baited the status-conscious baronet. It was also entertaining to see a friendship develop between Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Knightley and see them both happy in their marriages.
Snowbound at Hartfield is my favorite in Grace’s series of Sweet Tea novellas and short stories, with plenty of romance and humor to balance out the more serious aspects of the plot. It was fairly short but satisfying, and I savored it over a period of a few days because I didn’t want it to end....more
A Lie Universally Hidden is a beautifully written variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice thatReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
A Lie Universally Hidden is a beautifully written variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that forces Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles tied to their strong sense of duty to their families. Anngela Schroeder imagines a world where Mr. Darcy is committed to honoring his dead mother’s wishes, with plans to marry his cousin, Anne de Bourgh, in a few months’ time despite the fact that he loves another. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is expected to marry her childhood friend, James Hamilton, who has inherited his aunt’s estate, but she is captivated by Darcy and his love and devotion to his younger sister.
There is no insult at the Meryton Assembly in Schroeder’s variation, and it is easy for Darcy to overlook Elizabeth’s lack of connections because he is already betrothed to another. But Schroeder does a fantastic job altering the situations of the original novel, still finding ways for them to misunderstand one another, still making it uncertain how a happily ever after can be achieved, and developing their regard for one another in a believable way. There are so many tender scenes in this novel, so many beautiful passages as Schroeder lets readers into Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s minds as they try to come to terms with their feelings for one another, the expectations placed upon them, and their desire to live for themselves.
I enjoyed how Schroeder brought to the forefront many of the secondary characters, especially Georgiana Darcy, Kitty Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Anne de Bourgh. Her versions of Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Caroline Bingley were delightfully horrid as well. Mrs. Smith, Lady Anne Darcy’s maid, was a wonderful addition, and Schroeder did a great job portraying her illness and her connection to the secret at the core of the novel. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how it would all play out, and I was not disappointed.
A Lie Universally Hidden is a fantastic retelling of Pride and Prejudice that grabbed me from the very first page. I absolutely loved Schroeder’s portrayal of Darcy and Elizabeth. I know I’ve read dozens of Pride and Prejudice variations over the years and it’s hard to choose a favorite, but A Lie Universally Hidden would definitely be a contender if I were to compose a list. I can’t wait to read more of Schroeder’s work in the future....more
Joana Starnes’ latest novel, Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that takes readers on an emotional jouJoana Starnes’ latest novel, Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that takes readers on an emotional journey, imagining what might have happened had Mr. Darcy interrupted Elizabeth Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam’s stroll at Rosings Park before the colonel tells her about Mr. Darcy’s interference in her sister’s relationship with Mr. Bingley. In Starnes’ tale, Darcy brings Elizabeth news that her father has fallen ill, and he acknowledges that while his timing is bad, he loves her and wishes to marry her. Making this disclosure immediately is meant to bring a bit of calm to the chaos, with Mr. Collins seeking to swoop in and take over Longbourn before Mr. Bennet is even gone. Knowing that marrying Mr. Darcy will provide security for her mother and sisters in the event of Mr. Bennet’s death, Elizabeth agrees, taking some comfort in the fact that Mr. Darcy is indeed a much better man than she’d originally believed.
Elizabeth has a hard time coming to terms with the extent of Mr. Darcy’s feelings for her, but she doesn’t have the heart to tell him that she doesn’t return those feelings. Still, she approaches their marriage with courage and kindness, but eventually the reality of their situation — namely the differences in their backgrounds — can no longer be ignored. Her family’s impropriety and connections in trade and his family’s outrage over the rushed and ill-suited match put a damper on their relationship, and misunderstandings conspire to separate them for good, just when Elizabeth believes they have found real happiness.
Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is a beautifully written novel, with just the right amount of angst to move me to the brink of tears without making me put the book down in despair. Starnes has a knack for putting Elizabeth and Darcy in impossible situations, delving deep into their souls, and keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they wonder how a happily ever after will be achieved. I loved the pacing of the novel, and Starnes does a wonderful job evolving their relationship through many ups and downs as they navigate the challenges posed by their families and themselves.
I’ve loved all of the novels by Starnes I’ve read so far (The Subsequent Proposal, The Unthinkable Triangle, and Miss Darcy’s Companion — all 5-star reads!), and her stories and her writing get better with each book. Starnes has easily become one of my favorite authors, and I can’t wait to see what torturous situation she puts Darcy and Elizabeth into next!
The Honorable Mr. Darcy (A Meryton Mystery Book 1) was my first time reading a Pride and Prejudice variation by Jennifer Joy, and I was delighted fromThe Honorable Mr. Darcy (A Meryton Mystery Book 1) was my first time reading a Pride and Prejudice variation by Jennifer Joy, and I was delighted from start to finish. When Mr. Wickham is found dead in his tent during the Netherfield Ball, the inhabitants of Meryton are quick to point fingers at Mr. Darcy. They have a poor opinion of him since he insulted Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, and he was seen leaving Wickham’s tent in anger. Elizabeth isn’t Darcy’s biggest supporter, but she knows he couldn’t have committed murder. However, explaining how she knows would tether her to the man forever.
Darcy doesn’t help his cause by refusing to say where he was at the time of the murder and why he had argued with Wickham, and Elizabeth’s perception of him begins to change as she realizes he is a man of honor. However, Darcy must contend with the cantankerous Mr. Tanner, Meryton’s innkeeper and constable, and Mr. Stallard, the magistrate, as they make it difficult for Darcy to prove his innocence while hiding secrets of their own. As Darcy and Elizabeth navigate their changing feelings for one another, Elizabeth finds herself determined to solve the crime and help Darcy clear his name, while he worries that danger may befall her as a killer continues to roam free.
Joy does a great job creating a sense of mystery and danger, and she stays true to Austen’s characters while dramatically altering events. I enjoyed how Darcy and Elizabeth worked together to uncover the truth behind Wickham’s death and how Darcy embraced Elizabeth’s inquisitiveness and didn’t expect her to change even while wishing she would be careful in her sleuthing. Joy adds several original characters, including the Bennet daughters’ new companion, Mrs. Yates, and the magistrate’s daughter, Miss Stallard, who liven up the plot. What I loved most was the fast pace and how I was able to piece some things together but was still surprised in the end. And Colonel Fitzwilliam, oh how I loved his dramatic entrance and take-charge attitude!
The Honorable Mr. Darcy is a solid start to an exciting series, and I can’t wait to read more. In fact, as soon as I finished this book, I immediately started book 2, The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth (stay tuned for my review). I have a feeling that this is a series I won’t want to end!
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is the sequel to Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes, a novel inspired by JReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is the sequel to Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes, a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set during the Great War. While Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey can be read as a standalone book, I think it’s important to read them in order for a richer experience.
Picking up where the first novel ended, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have expressed their love for one another and are hopeful about being reunited in a matter of months. However, while waiting for Darcy at his home, Pemberley, Elizabeth receives some terrifying information that prompts her to flee without a trace. Meanwhile, Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, are working to solve a mystery involving a conspiracy when he learns that Elizabeth has disappeared, dealing him a crushing blow that is only the beginning of his pain.
Ginger Monette does a fantastic job painting a picture of wartime, from the trenches to battle to the hospitals, and crafting characters traumatized by their experiences but still open to finding love and happiness. There is plenty of action to keep readers’ attention from the very first page, but Monette also provides plenty of food for thought about the physical, mental, and emotional impact of war. My heart ached for Darcy and Elizabeth, but it rejoiced with them as well. I loved how Monette worked in characters from Emma, with Darcy’s connection to the Knightley family, Hartfield, and Donwell Abbey, as well as Sense and Sensibility, and I especially appreciated how she stayed true to Austen’s beloved couple even while putting them in a different time and more difficult circumstances....more
Suzan Lauder’s latest novel, Letter From Ramsgate, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that imagines what might have happened had ElizSuzan Lauder’s latest novel, Letter From Ramsgate, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that imagines what might have happened had Elizabeth Bennet been the one to interfere with Mr. Wickham’s attempt to elope with Georgiana Darcy to gain access to her fortune. Elizabeth and her aunt spend the summer in Ramsgate with her aunt’s childhood friend, Lady Edwina, and in the midst of enjoying the ladies’ tales of their mischievous adventures as girls and taking part in Lady Edwina’s ladies salon, Elizabeth befriends the shy Georgiana, who is on holiday with her companion, Isabel Younge.
Georgiana’s stories of her older brother and guardian, Fitzwilliam, make Elizabeth confident that he is the best of men and should be consulted when Georgiana, in her youthful whirlwind of romantic notions, confides in Elizabeth her plans to go to Scotland with Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth’s decision sets into motion a series of events that both save her dear friend and ruin her own chances at happiness.
I absolutely loved Letter From Ramsgate, from the way it deviates from the original novel to Lauder’s writing style (using only words in use during the Regency period) to her original characters and her expansion on Austen’s secondary characters. Lauder portrays Mrs. Younge in a sympathetic way, allowing readers to understand her motivations for scheming with Wickham, and she writes Georgiana as a girl stronger than she appears at first glance, who is fiercely loyal to the people she loves. Lady Edwina was a breath of fresh air, giving Elizabeth a connection to the highest circles (though through her aunt in trade), encouraging intelligent discussion, and providing a shoulder for Elizabeth to cry on. I truly enjoyed Lady Edwina’s backstory, how she understood Elizabeth and her pain, though I wish the resolution of her story had been shown. She was such a well-developed, interesting character that she could carry a novel on her own.
Lauder does a great job showing the evolution of Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship, though I had a hard time accepting Darcy’s swift about-face and then ended up being really angry at him for a time. However, Lauder takes care to highlight both Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s flaws and how they both contributed to the misunderstanding that tears them apart.
Letter From Ramsgate is a novel about loyalty, friendship, and the power of the written word. Lauder takes Elizabeth and Darcy on a journey from the sea to a menagerie, with plenty of passion and pain along the way. I had no idea how they would find their way back to each other, and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face while reading the last scene. After loving both Letter From Ramsgate and Lauder’s first novel, Alias Thomas Bennet, I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!
I really enjoyed Jennifer Robson’s trilogy set around the Great War (Somewhere in France, After the War Is Over, and Moonlight Over Paris), so when II really enjoyed Jennifer Robson’s trilogy set around the Great War (Somewhere in France, After the War Is Over, and Moonlight Over Paris), so when I saw that her next book was set during World War II, I knew I had to read it — and I was not disappointed! Goodnight from London is the story of American journalist Ruby Sutton, who arrives in London in 1940 to cover human interest stories for Picture Weekly. She left behind a lonely life in New York to pursue her career, and she soon comes into her own with the help of her new friends, editor Kaz, photographer Mary, and the secretive Captain Bennett.
Ruby believes she will bring an outsider’s perspective to her stories, which are being sent back to her New York weekly as “Dispatches from London,” but it’s not long before London feels like a real home to her. She endures the Blitz along with everyone else, finding comfort in Londoners’ ability to “keep on keeping on” even after they’ve lost everything but their lives. Robson follows Ruby over the course of the war as she finds love and friendship and matures as a writer and a person, forcing herself forward even as the war and her past catch up to her and threaten her newfound happiness.
I loved Goodnight from London, especially its plucky heroine, Ruby (who was inspired by Robson’s grandmother), and her determination to make something of herself no matter what. Robson has created a strong supporting cast of characters as well, especially in the sweet but mysterious Bennett and his charming godmother, Vanessa. Robson beautifully sets the scene of London during the Blitz, making readers feel like they are truly accompanying Ruby as she seeks out the good in the midst of so much destruction and is brave enough to move closer to the action in order to understand the importance of sacrifice, not only by the soldiers, doctors, and nurses but the everyday person as well.
Robson is a true storyteller, whose passion for her subject matter shines through in every page of the novel. If I hadn’t been so busy and distracted lately, I likely would’ve devoured this book in one sitting. Goodnight from London is an emotional tale for sure, and while I enjoyed the romantic aspects of the story, I’m glad Robson kept Ruby, her courage and determination, and her wartime experiences at the forefront. Definitely a contender for my Best of 2017 list!
Beau North and Brooke West’s latest novel, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, can best be described at Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice meets GrounBeau North and Brooke West’s latest novel, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, can best be described at Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice meets Groundhog Day. Try as he might, Mr. Darcy can’t overcome his feelings for Elizabeth Bennet, and he also can’t comprehend why she dislikes him so. For reasons he cannot fathom, Darcy is forced to live the same day over and over again — the day he proposed to Elizabeth at Hunsford and was rejected. While reliving the worst day of his life, vacillating between utter clarity and near madness and unable to escape the confines of Rosings Park, Darcy is forced to confront himself and his wrongdoings head on and accept some harsh truths.
I absolutely adored this novel from the very first page. North and West make a great team, with a fascinating and clever premise and a Darcy who is at turns hilarious in how he navigates the monotony and endearing when he takes the time to observe those around him. I loved the scenes between Darcy and Anne (who was such a lovely character here), Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam (ever the charmer), and even Darcy and Lady Catherine (with a surprisingly tender moment between the two).
The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy is unique and exciting. It made me laugh, and it left me in tears, so much so that my husband kept asking if I was okay and I worried I would short out my Kindle! It’s been a while since I’ve been so emotionally affected by a Pride and Prejudice variation. It’s absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year, possibly one of my all-time favorites, and definitely one I won’t forget!
Courage Rises, a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is set about four months after the marriage of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. AuCourage Rises, a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is set about four months after the marriage of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. Author Melanie Rachel separates our beloved couple early on; Mr. Darcy is headed to London for several weeks on business. But unbeknownst to Elizabeth, her husband has been asked by his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, to help him pay a debt of honor. While Darcy, Bingley, and the colonel are searching for the sister of a fallen soldier, Elizabeth is back at Pemberley dealing with some troubles of her own. Uncertain of herself in her new role as mistress of a large estate, Elizabeth is forced to make some tough decisions as an influenza outbreak hits the tenant farmers — and Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, is one of the many who have fallen ill.
Although Darcy and Elizabeth are apart for much of the novel, they are always on each other’s minds, and their bond is strengthened. While I typically enjoy watching the newlyweds navigate life’s challenges together, I applaud Rachel for portraying their marriage realistically in that they can’t be together every moment of every day, and for showing that they can stand strong on their own — and that their love for one another is so strong that they contemplate what the other would do were they there in person. I really enjoyed seeing Elizabeth become the true mistress of Pemberley, making decisions she believes are right while knowing even her husband would question them. Meanwhile, Darcy has become a family man, wanting nothing but to finish his work quickly and get back home. But he can refuse his cousin Richard nothing, and they set off on an adventure with many unanswered questions. There was plenty of excitement and intrigue as the men uncover the trials and tribulations of the Hawke sisters.
Courage Rises was a real page-turner! As a Pride and Prejudice sequel, I had no idea what was going to happen, and that had me up way past my bedtime trying to find out. I enjoyed the numerous original characters, from the feisty Miss Hawke to John, Pemberley’s groom, and Mr. Waters, the apothecary who works side by side with Elizabeth during the outbreak. Most of all, I liked how the ending wasn’t a cliffhanger, though it gives readers plenty to look forward to in the sequel, Courage Requires.
Ginger Monette’s latest novel, Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set during World War I. ElizabethGinger Monette’s latest novel, Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set during World War I. Elizabeth Bennet wants to be a doctor and does not want to depend on any man, especially not Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy, who requisitioned part of her family’s property for the war effort, insulted her upon their first meeting, and then expected her to accept his proposal of marriage. With her family torn apart and no home to return to, Elizabeth finds herself at a French chateaux turned field hospital serving as a nursemaid for an elderly man.
Darcy, meanwhile, has shut off his feelings following Elizabeth’s painful rejection and massive losses at the Somme. When he arrives at the field hospital as part of an investigation to weed out enemy operatives, he never expects to find Elizabeth there. As they each get to know the other’s true nature, uncertainties regarding their past history threaten to keep them from revealing their true feelings. The danger of Darcy’s mission looms large, threatening what little happiness they have managed to find amidst the carnage of war.
In Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, Monette does a fantastic job weaving the history of the Great War, the horrors of the trenches, and the excitement of a covert operation into the basic plot of Austen’s novel. A lot is changed in Monette’s variation, and those changes kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Much of the attention is on Darcy and Elizabeth, of course, with small appearances made by Jane Bennet and Charles and Caroline Bingley. There is a darker mystery surrounding Lieutenant Wickham and Elizabeth’s sister, Lydia, and there are several intriguing original characters, from an American doctor to a Mr. Collins-esque French officer.
The evolution of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship unfolds realistically, as does the portrayal of their scars inflicted by the war. Readers should be aware that the action of the novel builds up toward the end, and while some ends are tied up between the pair, they will have to wait for the upcoming sequel, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey, to see how their tale concludes. Overall, I was satisfied with the ending of Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, but I really wish I could have immediately delved into the next book!
After her husband and best friend are executed for their roles in the attempted assassination of AdolReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
After her husband and best friend are executed for their roles in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944, Marianne von Lingenfels acts on her promise to protect the wives and children of their fellow resisters. In 1945, Germany is in shambles, and the Nazi atrocities are being brought to light, forcing ordinary Germans to acknowledge their nation’s defeat and guilt. Amid the ruins, Marianne is able to find her best friend Connie’s family — his wife, Benita, a victim of the Red Army’s occupation of Berlin, and six-year-old son, Martin, who was sent to a Nazi re-education home after the failed plot. She eventually finds Ania and her two sons at a displaced persons camp, and along with her own children, Marianne establishes a new family with these women in the crumbing Bavarian castle that belonged to her aristocratic husband’s family.
Marianne is the leader, focused on honoring the memory of her husband and his co-conspirators and ensuring that the women and children understand exactly what their husbands and fathers died for. Benita, naive peasant girl, was sheltered from her husband’s work in the resistance, which makes her more determined to break free from the past and try to find happiness in the years after the war — a desire that puts her at odds with Marianne’s need to record the history of the German resistance. Ania is quiet and capable, becoming the caretaker of the women in terms of food and necessities, but her secrets eventually catch up to her.
The Women in the Castle is among the best World War II novels I’ve read and definitely will have a place on my Best of 2017 list. Jessica Shattuck uses these women, with their different upbringings and experiences before, during, and immediately after the war, to explore what it means to resist, how to rebuild their country and their lives amid a sense of hopelessness and guilt, and how to balance the need to remember the past and be held accountable for their actions with the need to live again. Shattuck paints a complex portrait of women with admirable strengths and deplorable weaknesses.
The novel moves back and forth in time, adding layer upon layer to each of the women’s stories, unraveling their secrets and surprising readers along the way. I grew attached to these women and found at least some small way to connect to them, which made it easier to understand their reasoning for — but not condone — the choices they made in a tumultuous period in history.
The Women in the Castle is a novel that makes you really stop and think. How does one live with the choices they made during wartime, whether to follow orders and commit atrocities, resist, or ignore the evidence of their nation’s crimes? Is it possible, should it even be possible, to move forward without the weight of these crimes, or their failure to do what was right, hanging over them? When is it okay to say it’s time to stop living in the past and move on?
Shattuck follows these women over decades as they forge new bonds and new lives, are forced to acknowledge their actions and inaction, and realize the war follows them in everything they do. It’s a fascinating study of human nature and the will to survive, both the war and its repercussions. If you plan to read at least one World War II novel this year, I highly recommend The Women in the Castle....more
In The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, Ada Bright and Cass Grafton ponder what the world, and one woman’s life in particular, would be like if JIn The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, Ada Bright and Cass Grafton ponder what the world, and one woman’s life in particular, would be like if Jane Austen never existed. The novel is set in Bath during the annual Jane Austen Festival and centers on Rose Wallace, who lives in a basement apartment in the building the Austen family occupied in Bath. Rose is happy with her job at a company that rents out luxury apartments in the city for people on holiday, and she is ecstatic that her online friend, Morgan, is coming from California to meet her in person and attend the festival.
Rose and Morgan’s friendship is a testament to the welcoming online community that has been created around a mutual love for Jane Austen’s novels. Rose is quiet and reserved, especially around her crush, Dr. Aidan Trevellyan, who she sees only once a year during the festival. Morgan’s outgoing personality, and her ability to make friends everywhere and anywhere she goes, takes Rose out of her comfort zone but complements her perfectly. And it is this friendship, as well as the novels of Jane Austen, that could be lost forever when Rose meets a mysterious, intriguing stranger.
If I hadn’t been so busy the last couple of weeks, I would’ve devoured this book in a day! Bright and Grafton give readers a little of everything: friendship, romance, time travel, and plenty of humor to keep the sense of despair from weighing down the story. The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is an endearing tale that had me pondering how my life would be different without the influence of Jane Austen — from the novels I love so much that I read them over and over again to the fan fiction that means I never have to say goodbye to my favorite characters, from the friends I’ve made in the JAFF community to the novel I’m working on right now.
I loved everything about this book: the characters, the relationships, the setting, the writing. I especially enjoyed how Bright and Grafton opened the door for a sequel, and I am dying to see what happens next! Definitely a contender for my list of favorite books read this year.
Quick summary: The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that significantly departs from canon. CaitliQuick summary: The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that significantly departs from canon. Caitlin Williams tells the story of a 15-year-old Elizabeth Bennet who makes some foolish decisions after the death of her father that result in her having to marry 23-year-old Fitzwilliam Darcy, the son of her new guardian. Mr. Bennet’s death sees the Bennet sisters split up, and Elizabeth is whisked off to Pemberley, where she is isolated from her beloved sister, Jane, and married to a man who acts like she doesn’t exist. With Darcy away for the first few years of her marriage and under the watchful eye of Colonel Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth grows into a charming young woman, a true mistress of Pemberley. But just because Darcy sees her in a new light doesn’t mean she sees him differently.
Why I wanted to read it: It sounded unique in terms of Pride and Prejudice variations. I’m still amazed that authors continue to find fresh ways to retell a single novel!
What I liked: Williams certainly took time to develop her characters. Darcy and Elizabeth were not very likeable at the beginning of the novel, and Darcy continued to be unlikeable for much of the first half of the novel. While disliking these beloved characters could turn some readers off, I thought it worked in that you see how their circumstances change them over time and how they grow into a mature couple. It’s hard to imagine that anyone forced to marry under such circumstances would find happiness together right away, so it was a realistic portrayal in my opinion.
I also loved how Williams worked in various aspects of Austen’s novel but using different characters and situations, and I enjoyed the original characters, namely the governess Miss Temple and Elizabeth’s maid Rose. Mr. Wickham and Caroline Bingley still manage to be delightfully horrid, and it was nice getting to know the elder Mr. Darcy as well. Colonel Fitzwilliam was a very likeable character, and his relationship with Elizabeth was sweet and his playing middleman between Darcy and Elizabeth was entertaining.
What I disliked: I admit that it was hard to dislike Elizabeth and Darcy for some of the book, but making them disagreeable definitely furthered the story in terms of character development and evolution. But other than that, I enjoyed the story from start to finish.
Final thoughts: The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet is a thoughtful portrayal of Darcy and Elizabeth in less than ideal circumstances. Williams does a fantastic job transforming them into the characters we know and love. I can’t wait to read more of her work in the future!
The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is so vReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is so very delightfully different from the original novel but maintains the traits of the characters we know and love. In this variation, Elizabeth Bennet is Lady Courtenay, widow of Henry Warren, Earl of Courtenay. The conspiracy surrounding her husband’s death force her to be separated from her young son, and after two years of hiding and mourning, Lord and Lady Matlock impress upon her the importance of finding a second husband, one who can protect her son and his inheritance. She returns to her family’s home in Hertfordshire, where she seeks refuge for a few months before the London season, coming to terms with the reality of her new life and finding comfort in simply being Elizabeth Bennet once again.
Then Mr. Darcy accompanies the Bingley party to Netherfield, and unaware of Elizabeth’s true identity, he immediately falls in love with her. However, his seemingly endless ability to insult her at every turn and his duty to marry someone of a higher social standing pose major obstacles to his happiness, and things aren’t made any easier when he learns she is Lady Courtenay, someone worthy of his notice. Darcy embarks on a mission to improve her opinion of him and become a better man, one worthy of her notice. Meanwhile, Elizabeth must learn how to move on with her life and understand the nuances of love. But soon the truth about Elizabeth’s marriage is revealed, and their newfound happiness is shattered.
Oh, how I loved this book! It is an emotional journey, and D’Orazio makes sure readers accompany Darcy and Elizabeth through all of the ups and downs. I teared up several times while reading this book, both tears of happiness and tears of sorrow. I felt like I was there as Darcy evolved into the best of men, accepting Elizabeth’s feelings for Henry and not expecting her to forget him — and when the truth left him tortured and alone. Elizabeth’s transformation from grief to sheer joy to despair was equally well done. D’Orazio also cleverly twists the characters to account for Elizabeth’s changed circumstances, with Mrs. Bennet looking down on Mr. Bingley due to his connections to trade and wanting Jane to make a better match, Jane storming off to Netherfield in the rain to follow her heart, and Darcy being accused of setting his sights on Lady Courtenay’s fortune.
The Best Part of Love hooked me from the very first page, and there was so much scandal, danger, romance, passion, and agony that it was hard to put down. D’Orazio takes her time developing Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, especially given his bad first impression and Elizabeth’s need to process her loss, but the novel is perfectly paced. Some readers may have a hard time with Elizabeth having been married to another man and having his child, but I urge them to put those feelings aside and dive into the book head first. The Best of Love is among the best of variations, and I expect it will have a place on my Best of 2017 list!...more
Laura Hile’s Darcy By Any Other Name is among the most unique variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I’ve thus far had the pleasure to rLaura Hile’s Darcy By Any Other Name is among the most unique variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I’ve thus far had the pleasure to read. In a Freaky Friday sort of scenario, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins switch bodies after being struck by lightning at the Netherfield Ball. When Darcy wakes up as Mr. Collins, he is thrust into life in the Bennet household at a time when Mr. Bennet has fallen ill. He is given a chance to understand the Bennet women, get to know Elizabeth in particular, and view life through the eyes of someone who can enter a room without being noticed. Elizabeth sees a change in Mr. Collins, realizing he is no longer pompous and has stopped sermonizing and praising Lady Catherine at every turn.
Meanwhile, Collins turns Darcy into a bumbling idiot and a bit of a slob. He is initially excited to be elevated to Darcy’s wealth and social standing but soon learns that he does not have the intelligence or common sense to fill Darcy’s boots, no matter how good he looks in them. With no idea how the body swap occurred and no way to reverse it, the men are forced to come to terms with the reality of their new lives and position in society as chaos erupts around them and life-altering decisions must be made.
Darcy By Any Other Name was the perfect way to start off my 2017 reading. It’s a laugh (and even gasp) out loud kind of novel, one that actually makes you worried that there isn’t any possible path to happily ever after. There were plenty of humorous moments, such as Collins flirting with Caroline Bingley and admiring himself in Darcy’s upscale wardrobe, but there are plenty of deeper moments as well, especially as Darcy contemplates why he became Collins at this particular moment in time and is humbled by his experiences.
This is a fairly long novel at more than 600 pages, but don’t let that stop you. The book reads quickly and is difficult to put down. I was literally on the edge of my seat during the last several chapters. I had no idea how it all would play out, and it was a roller coaster ride until the end. Hile takes time to develop Elizabeth’s relationship with Darcy (as Collins), and she does so in a way that feels completely natural and never forced. She also gives the men sufficient time to learn from their changed circumstances, and there are many lessons at the core of the novel, mainly that a person’s true self is more important than their outward appearance. The differences in how Darcy and Collins approach their new selves and the opportunities presented to them feel true to character and provide both many laughs and much food for thought. Moreover, Hile takes on the issues of pride, faith, and duty in way that I will not soon forget.
Miss Darcy’s Companion is a Pride and Prejudice variation by Joana Starnes, and it imagines Elizabeth Bennet as a temporary governess for Colonel FitzMiss Darcy’s Companion is a Pride and Prejudice variation by Joana Starnes, and it imagines Elizabeth Bennet as a temporary governess for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s nieces and nephew, which is how she meets Mr. Darcy. The Darcys and Richard feel bad for how Lady Stretton treats Elizabeth, and Darcy thinks about how he would feel if his sister, Georgiana, were in her shoes: the daughter of a gentleman thrown out of her home upon the death of her father.
Convinced by Richard that Georgiana needs a companion closer to her age and that, despite her lack of experience, Elizabeth’s liveliness will do her a world of good, Darcy agrees to hire Elizabeth as Georgiana’s companion — and the three settle into a comfortable friendship at Pemberley. That is until Elizabeth becomes withdrawn, and Darcy realizes he wants the love and passion he witnesses between his friend Bingley and his new wife, Elizabeth’s sister Jane. Forced to distance himself from Pemberley to get his feelings under control and make a life-changing decision, Darcy must rush back to Pemberley when a ghost from his past arrives and destroys his hopes for happiness.
In Miss Darcy’s Companion, Starnes puts Darcy and Elizabeth in entirely new situations with entirely different misunderstandings but stays true to Jane Austen’s characters, namely Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s impertinence. She also portrays a Darcy whose true character is known almost immediately by Elizabeth, and a more solemn Elizabeth who is more difficult for Darcy to figure out. I really enjoyed seeing Georgiana blossom under Elizabeth’s watchful eye and Richard relentlessly tease his cousin. There also were plenty of original characters to liven the plot, from the obnoxiously arrogant Lady Stretton to the vicar’s sweet sister, Miss Bradden, to Fitzwilliam’s charming nieces Margaret and Hetty.
Miss Darcy’s Companion is the third Pride and Prejudice variation I’ve read by Starnes, and it’s another winner. (Check out my reviews of The Subsequent Proposal and The Unthinkable Triangle.) Starnes has quickly become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. She never lets me down with her beautiful writing style, tenderly drawn characters, and imaginative plots.
A Moment Forever is a beautifully crafted novel by Cat Gardiner about a wartime romance that was so mReview originally posted on Diary of an Eccentric
A Moment Forever is a beautifully crafted novel by Cat Gardiner about a wartime romance that was so much more and a young woman determined to solve the mystery behind a handful of photos and letters that threaten to dig up long-buried secrets. In 1992, 24-year-old Juliana Martel inherits Primrose Cottage in Brooklyn, New York, from her great uncle Will, who simply walked out of the home in 1950 and never returned. Upon entering the home, dusty and unchanged from the past 50 years, Juliana finds a burned letter in the fireplace and a shrine to a beautiful, vivacious young woman named Lizzy, who obviously stole her uncle’s heart and appears to be connected to his reasons for disappearing.
Still struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father and the fact that she was abandoned by her mother when she was a child, Juliana has lost faith in true love. But when she stumbles upon the World War II-era letters and photos in her uncle’s footlocker, she is sure that Will and Lizzy’s romance is a love story for the ages and proof that a deep, abiding love is possible. A writer for Allure magazine, Juliana sets out to tell Will and Lizzy’s story and soon uncovers a tale of all-consuming passion, unimaginable evils, and overwhelming loss. Juliana’s investigation leads her to Jack Robertson of Newsday, whose connections could help her piece together the puzzle but whose determination to let sleeping dogs lie could stand in her way.
A Moment Forever is a breathtaking novel that takes readers on an emotional roller coaster as it shifts between the 1940s romance of debutante Lizzy Renner and her flyboy, Will Martel, and Juliana’s journey 50 years later that opens up old wounds while healing the holes in her own life. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller, and this novel is perfectly paced. She reveals bits and pieces of information throughout, so you think you know what’s going to happen, and then there’s another twist and turn. I had a hard time putting the book down. I laughed, I cried, I simply loved it. The characters are all endearingly flawed and skillfully developed, and there is so much to ponder about secrets, betrayals, and forgiveness. And I love how Gardiner plays homage to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and not just in the names of her characters. It was fun to see a little something Austenesque here and there.
A Moment Forever is not a book you merely read; Gardiner ensures you actually live the story — from the overindulgence of Long Island’s Gold Coast to the wartime excitement in the Big Apple, from the airfields and USO dances and the fashions of the ’40s to the solemnity of Paris 50 years after the roundup of its Jewish residents for deportation. There are so many layers to this story, and I never wanted it to end. It definitely will make my Best of 2016 list and ranks among my all-time favorite WWII romances....more
Quick summary: In 1944 Virginia, Cassie Wyndham is 16 years old and wants to matter to someone. The only one who seems to appreciate her is Lucy, herQuick summary: In 1944 Virginia, Cassie Wyndham is 16 years old and wants to matter to someone. The only one who seems to appreciate her is Lucy, her 2-year-old sister. Her father is always away from home running the family business, and her mother is constantly berating her. Her brother, Amos, the apple of her mother’s eye, was the only one who could redirect her mother’s bullying, but he’s gone off to fight, leaving Cassie to fend for herself. Between taking care of her sister and avoiding her mother, Cassie volunteers for a ministry program at a nearby POW camp, where she meets Friedrich Naumann. Despite their obvious differences in both beliefs and circumstances, the two are drawn to one another. Tensions run high amidst the losses of war and a fractured family, and Cassie and Friedrich must keep their relationship secret. But secrets in the wrong hands tend to be revealed, with dramatic consequences.
Why I wanted to read it: I’ve been a fan of Baumgartner’s writing since I started reading her Sophia’s War series. Her obvious love of World War II history and detailed research shine through in her novels.
What I liked: I loved how Baumgartner told the story in the first person through Cassie’s eyes. I really got to know Cassie, and I hadn’t read far before I’d grown to love her. She felt real to me, from the tumultuous emotions of adolescence to her desire to find a purpose. And given that she’s my daughter’s age, I had a hard time with how her mother treated her, and I just wanted to give her a hug. Baumgartner did a great job developing Cassie and Freidrich’s relationship, making it believable, and even though I didn’t like Cassie’s parents very much, Baumgartner skillfully crafted them into complicated and even sympathetic characters. I haven’t read much about the POW camps in the United States, so I found it fascinating that programs were established to talk to the German POWs about Christianity. (For more about Baumgartner’s research on this and the inspiration for Love Song (Liebeslied), check out her guest post here.) Cassie’s faith is important to her and the plot, but Baumgartner doesn’t make the Bible study meetings sound too preachy. In fact, the questions that Cassie and Friedrich are expected to discuss reveal a lot about their characters and further their friendship.
What I disliked: Although Love Song (Liebeslied) is the first book in the Captive Hearts Trilogy, the ending is satisfying. However, I wish I could immediately dive into the next installment!
Final thoughts: Love Song (Liebeslied)is a story about a young girl’s efforts to break free from the oppression of her family, to find herself and her purpose in life, and the love that helps her accomplish this. The impossible relationship at the core of the novel is one that readers can’t help but root for. Baumgartner has created a novel with many layers and complexities, and it is so much more than a romance. Love Song (Liebeslied) is Baumgartner’s best novel yet (and I’ve really enjoyed all of her novels so far), and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.