May 092014

The Secret BetrothalSo This Is What Jane Fairfax Felt Like…

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: From Publisher for Review

In her latest and much anticipated Pride and Prejudice variation, author Jan Hahn has boldly and daringly done the unthinkable…she has engaged Elizabeth Bennet to George Wickham! And she’s not just engaged – but secretly engaged! *gasp* Can you believe it? What on earth is Elizabeth thinking!?! πŸ˜‰

I must admit I didn’t find Elizabeth’s behavior all that unfathomable. This is partly because Jan Hahn did an excellent job creating a believable sequence of events that gradually lead Lizzy into such a predicament. Lizzy doesn’t immediately accept Wickham’s proposals or request for secrecy, but she does eventually consent due to her compassion for Wickham and her inexperience with men (master manipulators like Wickham are definitely beyond her ken!). I think Elizabeth’s sympathetic nature, sense of justice (Lizzy champions the wronged!) and her belief that she may one day have a love match like her aunt and uncle (who she just discovered weren’t in love when they wed) also steer Lizzy on this unlikely path. Keeping secrets from her sister and engaging in a deception is definitely not a part of Lizzy’s character…but women everywhere often make mistakes for the men in their lives.

Another reason I found Elizabeth’s actions so believable is because it strongly reminded me of another intelligent and sensible Jane Austen character – Jane Fairfax from Emma. Jane had the advantage of growing up around β€œright-minded and well-informed people,” yet she was dishonest to her loved ones and kept secrets from them for months! And like Elizabeth, Jane too receives a lot of pain and discomfort from her secret, not to mention the torture and humiliation of seeing her betrothed flirt with and pursue other women. Poor Lizzy! And poor Jane! After witnessing what Lizzy went through with Wickham and Mary King I have much more sympathy for Jane Fairfax!

There were several elements I enjoyed about this variation…besides its inventive and daring premise. πŸ˜‰ I loved witnessing all of Darcy’s emotions and reactions to Elizabeth’s betrothal – he definitely has a lot of conflict to work through! I loved the scenes where he shows his ardent admiration for and constant protection of Elizabeth. I thought the episode with the spring tonic was brilliant. (Way to go, Lady Catherine. High five.)Β I enjoyed seeing Darcy, Elizabeth, and Colonel Fitzwilliam work together to take care of all the invalids. In addition, I delighted in our sojourn to Brighton! The ocean, the sand, the rocks – what a gorgeous backdrop! I loved how the diverse and dynamic scenery reflected the turbulent emotions experienced by both Darcy and Elizabeth while staying there. And those walks on the beach…loved the vivid descriptions of Elizabeth’s rambles on the sand!

The one main aspect of this variation that I wasn’t too fond of and the reason I can’t give this story a higher rating is George Wickham. I felt that as a character, George was a little inconsistent. I don’t mind it when characters are complex or hard to figure out, but by the end of the novel I want to understand them. I didn’t feel that with Wickham. Like Lizzy, I tried making out Wickham’s character but felt I did not β€œget on at all” and the differing accounts I witnessed did β€œpuzzle me exceedingly.” In addition, I wasn’t too fond of how prominent Wickham was towards the end of the novel – what he did and what happened to him stole focus from the beautiful and long-awaited happily-ever-after the author skillfully constructed.

Despite some quibbles, I was quite enraptured by Jan Hahn’s emotive and evocative storytelling! Definitely not an easy book to put down! If you are curious to read a unique Pride and Prejudice variation or gain new sympathy for Jane Fairfax, you might want to give The Secret Betrothal a try!

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31 Comments on "The Secret Betrothal – Jan Hahn"

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Michelle Hall

mmmmmm fantastic review Meredith but like Consequences I do not know if I could read this – Elizabeth and George Wickham!!! I know I should broaden my reading and have more of an open mind but I cannot read anything which puts Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy with other people – too traumatic!! Just about to read Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections and have read your review on that which you gave 5 out of 5 stars so can’t wait to get started at the weekend.

Sheila L. M.

Noble Connections is great – you will enjoy it. I, also, gave it 5 stars. BUT in considering this book…I read the reviews and I read the sample and don’t want to read a story of Lizzy and Wickham together. Jan Hahn is a great author and I loved the other two books of hers that I read and will read them over and over again. In fact, I already did read the one twice. But this theme is not to my taste.

Vesper Meikle

I have this book on my pile of waiting to read – can’t wait

Monica P

This one’s definitely on my tbr list already! πŸ™‚ Both of Jan’s previous books were #buttgluedtothecouch reads for me – devoured in one sitting.

Sophia Rose

I thought this sounded like an interesting variation too with such a drastic change in the story. The Jane Fairfax parallel sounds apt. Enjoyed your review.

Catherine Commons

Meredith, again I believe your review is right on the mark. I wanted to shake Lizzy when she became secretly betrothed to Wickham, but true to all manipulators, Wickham gradually worked around to the “secret” part. Having been a victim to this type of behavior by selfish, self-centered people, it is true to real life. I loved that Darcy is so honorable, and protected Lizzy as much as possible. Ahh! How can anyone we not love Mr Darcy???? I, too, wanted more of Darcy and Elizabeth!


Wow, this is a tough one. It sounds like a challenge to adjust to the Wickham and Lizzie togetherness issue. I’m not sure I could get thru all the angst as a couple others mentioned. However, different paths are always interesting. It would shed some light on Jane Fairfax also. I was always a bit puzzled by that whole situation.


I will add this to my shelf. Jan’s An Arranged Marriage is one of my all time favorites!

Carole in Canada

Thanks for the great review Meredith! I have yet to read one of Jan’s books but have a few on my wishlist. I too am concerned with premise but I am willing to try. Your review has helped!


This variation is on my TBR as it sounds intriguing. Looking forward to reading it.

Candy @ So little time...
Candy @ So little time...

Hi Meredith! I also thought Wickham’s behavior reminded me of Frank Churchill. I wrote that down in my notes, but didn’t add it to my review. I also wondered about Wickham’s puzzling behavior. Wonderful review! πŸ™‚


Great review Meredith! I hadn’t considered the Jane Fairfax similarities. I plan to read this next month, and I hope I enjoy it as much as you did πŸ™‚

Joana Starnes

Great review for a great story! I really enjoyed your review, and it made me want to go back and re-read the book πŸ™‚ The parallel with Jane Fairfax was very much a DUH! moment for me – how didn’t I see it before?!?

Jan Hahn

Thank you for the great review, Meredith. You did a super job! And I’ve really enjoyed the various comments, too. I appreciate all of you who are willing to read my books and tell me what you think.

Sheila L. M.

Bought and read Subsequent Proposal today – will post review tomorrow – loved it!


Great review I think you summed it up well, the tonic had me laughing and I agree Darcy agony was heart wrenching. I would have liked to have heard more of Wickham’s inner thoughts!

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