Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
You can easily imagine what she would do, right? Yep, the hysterics and accusations would fly, and too many people would know and talk. Leaving Darcy and Elizabeth no other recourse but to marry! Can you imagine?!?
In a heated debate about Wickham Darcy and Elizabeth are caught along together in a dimly lit salon at Netherfield Park. Havoc ensues, Mr. Bennet becomes involved, and the Bennets quietly depart from the ball early. Elizabeth is hopeful to convince her parents that this is all a mistake, but when Mr. Darcy does not make any such claims and is willing to do what is honorable, there isn’t much Elizabeth can do to get herself out of this situation…
And so Elizabeth leaves her home and travels to Pemberley married to a man she hardly knows and who for most of their acquaintance despised. Since the story is told from Elizabeth’s point-of-view, we only know her thoughts and feelings about this situation. While at the beginning she has many misgivings about being in a loveless marriage to a disagreeable man, she soon finds that with some effort on both their parts there is some amicability and compatibility between them. In their private and tender moments together at night Elizabeth can feel her regard for her husband start to grow. While not much is being said, it was lovely to see our dear couple express their affection through other means.
I love it when an author finds a clever way to put Darcy and Elizabeth in a forced situation! And a forced marriage, so early in the course of Pride and Prejudice? I was eagerly looking forward to how this forced marriage would play out. How would Darcy and Elizabeth resolve their issues? How would they overcome their differences and prejudices? With this story, I especially enjoyed witnessing Elizabeth’s developing feelings for Darcy. This version of Darcy is very reserved (talk about a closed book!) He speaks no words of love, offers no explanations for any of his actions, and very begrudgingly reveals anything to Elizabeth. I loved seeing her gradually peel away the layers of his complex character and learn to understand and love him. (And Mr. Darcy does very well as the strong and extremely silent type!)
Other parts of the story that I enjoyed were Elizabeth’s interactions with the tenant farmers, her relationship with both Georgiana and her lady’s maid, Hannah, and her watchfulness when it comes to Mr. Darcy and his secrets. After overhearing some comments, being told a rumor, and witnessing some emotionally-charged encounters, Elizabeth has a lot of questions about her puzzling husband and what he doesn’t want her to know. It was thrilling to have Mr. Darcy have such a secret and for the reader and Elizabeth to be in the dark for so long about it! I thought it was a very interesting and satisfying plot twist!
My one quibble for this story would be with Elizabeth’s complacency. She accepted her fate, forced future, and new life with little complaint or commotion. And it can be argued that perhaps in this situation Elizabeth felt resistance to be futile, and her fate sealed. But Elizabeth was also very complacent in her marriage – she very rarely spoke against Darcy when he was being insufferably proud and giving her pain over her family and situation. It seemed like a little of Lizzy’s fire and brave outspokenness were missing in this variation.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed this story for its discerning premise, inventive intrigue, and beautifully developed romance! Ms. James is a skilled story-teller with a compelling voice and satisfying respect for Jane Austen’s charactesr. I sincerely hope we see more from Jenetta James in the near future!
Note: While Darcy and Elizabeth share many intimate embraces, none of them are explicit or much detailed. I’d recommend this book for PG-13 audiences.