Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
For years Lizzy Bennet was the daughter of two harsh and disapproving parents, but at the age of twenty-one she opted to become Lizzy Wickham and settle for a loveless marriage to earn her parents approval and support. After nearly six years of misery, abuse, and abandonment, Lizzy, in order to protect herself and unborn child from further mistreatment and harm, left her husband, Greg Wickham. Now she goes by Lizzy Gardiner (a name she chose to honor her beloved great aunt) and has divorced her husband, severed ties with her parents, and is happy in her roles as single-mother, part-time artist, college professor, and devoted sister.
When William Darcy, a successful, handsome, and wealthy CEO, meets Lizzy, he is instantly attracted to her. But he purposely avoids Lizzy because he prejudges her to be a un-wed mother that his family would not accept. (Sounds like an out-dated, arrogant snob, right?) I thought so too at first, but I can understand that even though we are in the 21st century some people still may have prejudices against single parents or hang-ups about someone having a child from a previous relationship. When Darcy finally realizes it is futile to resist his attraction and tries to ask Lizzy out, guess what happens… (She gives it to him good! Hunsford-style!) But instead of nursing his broken-heart and battered-ego elsewhere, William sticks around and tries again.
As with many modern-day adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, there are some considerable changes made to various characters and the course of events. (i.e. Lizzy marrying Wickham, Charles and Jane already married, Lizzy’s adorable two-year old daughter named Melanie). I love seeing these diverse and inventive interpretations of Pride and Prejudice, it would be boring if all the characters and sequence of events were the same. This modern-adaptation reminded me a little of Perfect Fit by Linda Wells and The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice (Pemberley by the Sea) in that Lizzy was such a fiercely independent character who experienced some adversity or abuse in her past. While it was heartrending to hear of Lizzy’s horrible marriage and unsupportive family, I was glad the author gave her such realistic obstacles to face.
What I loved most about this story was the admirable, strong characters and their sweet relationships with each other. I loved witnessing the relationships between Jane, Charles, and Lizzy. (Yay for Charles being more assertive!). And I, of course, loved seeing how Darcy was so supportive and protective of Lizzy and Melanie. When Darcy starts having a exchanges with Melanie it melted my heart. (I quite agree with what is said in the book, there is something very sexy about a man taking care of or holding a child!) *swoon*
In addition, another aspect of this novel I enjoyed was the beautiful visuals and detailed descriptions. I loved learning about Lizzy’s historical home, watercolor paintings, crafts at the artisan fair, and experiences teaching art at the local university. Meryton sounds like a beautiful place to live or visit and I’d just love to see some of Lizzy’s work! (Similar to Lizzy, L. L. Diamond, is also an artist, and I just love the fact that she did painted the watercolors that appear on her front and back cover! Aren’t they gorgeous?)
What I wasn’t too fond of with this story was how quickly Lizzy changed her mind about Darcy and how easy and conflict-free their relationship became. The very next time Lizzy sees Darcy after proclaiming him “the last man on earth” she’d want to go out with, they are cordial, flirty, and slow dance together. After experiencing such a traumatic and emotionally abusive relationship I would have expected it to take a bit longer for Darcy to tear down the walls around Lizzy’s heart and earn her acceptance. In addition, once Darcy and Lizzy finally do become a couple, their life is idyllic and blissful. And while I loved seeing their sweet domestic scenes of happiness, I felt an absence of conflict. However, this may be a personal preference; I tend to like stories where there is conflict, tension, or obstacles between the principles characters rather than have their conflicts be from outside sources or ghosts of the past.
Despite my quibbles, I greatly enjoyed reading this charming and creative modern-day retelling with its loveable characters, beautiful backdrops, and captivating art. I recommend this novel for fans of modern-day retellings that are low-angst, sweet, and romantic.
Warning: Some tasteful and infrequent intimate scenes. Recommended for Mature Audiences.