Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
What if Lydia and Wickham’s “elopement” took place a couple weeks later? What if Darcy and Georgiana invited Elizabeth, Jane, and Mrs. Gardiner to spend the month of August with them at Pemberley?
In this beautifully rendered Pride and Prejudice variation, Linda Beutler plays with the timeline of Jane Austen’s beloved novel and allows the seeds of love to germinate and bloom in the natural splendor that is Pemberley. With Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine out of sight and Elizabeth and Jane at Pemberley, you might think that a tender love would easily thrive under such favorable conditions. But alas, doubts, insecurities, and misguided notions keep this love blossom from fully opening its petals…
As you might have already surmised, I greatly enjoyed all the floral allusions, analogies, communications, and connotations in this novel. It was fascinating to learn all the different meanings of flowers and how one could reveal and proclaim feelings with the right bouquet. How I wish the language of flowers was something that was still practiced today!
Besides witnessing the burgeoning sweet romance between Darcy and Elizabeth, some of my favorite scenes in this novel include: Darcy’s tortuous full disclosure to Charles Bingley and Georgiana, Mr. Bingley’s assertive dispatch of his conniving sisters to their family in Scarborough, the touching and tearful goodbye between Mrs. Reynolds and Elizabeth, and Wickham receiving some of the physical retribution he so rightly deserves!
While I found many aspects of this variation to be well-written, thoughtful, and creative, there were a couple of instances that caused me to raise my eyebrow some. Seeing Darcy so open about his feelings and expectations felt a little uncharacteristic because he was open with so many people – Georgiana, Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, the Gardiners, and Mrs. Reynolds were all aware of his heart and his intentions. I guess I felt he would be a little more private and guarded with his personal affairs. Also, after awhile, it seemed a little perplexing that Darcy and Elizabeth would still doubt or question each others’ love – even after they heard confirmation of it from other people.
This book does have some mature intimate scenes after Darcy and Elizabeth wed, but none before that. Readers not wanting to trespass into the Darcys’ bedroom can safely read up to 85% of this novel. The last sixty pages can be described as a slow seduction of escalating intimacy – building passions, delayed gratification, and intense self-control. I enjoyed these leisurely paced and passion-filled scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was all the talk of Elizabeth acting as a “mistress” and learning how to be a “courtesan.”
Despite my quibbles, I immensely enjoyed reading this debut Austenesque release from Linda Beutler. I think many Austenesque fans will delight in the sweet romance, well-drawn characters, and felicitous unions!
Michele and the lovely people at Meryton Press have kindly donated 1 paperback and 1 digital copy of The Red Chrysanthemum for me to giveaway to 2 lucky winners! Woot Woot!
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- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Meryton Press!
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