What if Mr. Darcy Was Already Promised in Marriage?
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
With four Pride and Prejudice related novels published in the last two years, it is unmistakably clear that Enid Wilson is an ardent fan of Jane Austen’s beloved masterpiece. For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Wilson’s novels, they take Pride and Prejudice on an alternate course and are sometimes infused with paranormal elements or steamy rendezvouses. Whether battling demons, thwarting diabolical schemes, or escaping evil spells, Ms. Wilson always takes her readers on an engrossing, stimulating, and slightly twisted adventure with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.
In Fire and Cross the story opens with Darcy’s father promising his son (who is eight years old at the time) in marriage to an unknown baby girl in possession a garnet cross. At his father’s deathbed many years later, Fitzwilliam Darcy learns that his father’s final wish is for him to find the now young woman in possession of a garnet cross and honor the promise made by marrying her. His father’s promise of marriage is a source of irritation and resentment for the fastidious and particular Fitzwilliam Darcy. Especially when he discovers that there are two women of his acquaintance in possession of a garnet cross and that neither of them a desirable match! Which woman owns the real cross and which one owns an imitation?
Mr. Darcy betrothal to mysterious woman makes for a very unique and amusing premise! I greatly enjoyed this twist in the Pride and Prejudice plot and I loved the alterations it made in the lives of many characters. I took pleasure in Mr. Bennet and Mr. Darcy having a much closer relationship and I delighted in their witty interchanges and the father/son familiarity they had with each other. I wasn’t too fond of Caroline Bingley’s character in this variation; while she is one of my favorite “Austen Bad Girls,” I found this representation of her to be a little too malicious and her actions a little too appalling.
In this novel readers should expect to depart on an altered course of Pride and Prejudice that does not follow Jane Austen’s original canon and in some instances, suspends disbelief a little. From drastic improvements in the Bennet women to Caroline Bingley’s unlikely alliance with a minor character, this tale is imaginative and diverting Austenesque escapism. Although she does not write in Austenesque style or language, Ms. Wilson’s writing easily draws in her readers with her adventurous plots and exhilarating conflicts. Moreover, the amorous and sometimes electrifying scenes between Elizabeth and Darcy are sure to gratify any romantic.
Overall, I find Ms. Wilson’s novels, and Fire and Cross in particular, to be lively and lighthearted entertainments. While these novels might not be every Austenesque reader’s cup of tea, I would definitely recommend them to readers who enjoy steamy Pride and Prejudice variations…with a twist!