Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In her most recent Pride and Prejudice variation, An Unwavering Trust, author L.L. Diamond introduced readers to Darcy’s grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Matlock, Rebecca Fitzwilliam. I’m sure I am not the only reader who found the Dowager Countess – with her no-nonsense manner, compassionate heart, and sharp wit – a wonderfully fascinating addition to the story. She is the type of character that must be universally adored and admired. I’m so glad that Ms. Diamond created a prequel to An Unwavering Trust that illustrates more of Rebecca’s character and her marriage to her husband.
This sweet novella begins with Elizabeth on the brink of giving birth to their second child. The midwife has been called for and Elizabeth is looking to distract herself from the labor pains. In comes grandmamma (Rebecca Fitzwilliam) and Elizabeth begs her to tell the story she has yet to hear – the story of how she came to marry Gerald Fitzwilliam, Earl of Matlock…
While I was already a fan of Rebecca, I adored meeting this younger version of her – she is a praiseworthy heroine that immediately arrested my attention and sympathy due to her open and genuine personality and challenging family situation. I was able to see all the qualities I admired in her in An Unwavering Trust developing in this tale – her candor, humor, selflessness, and *ahem* disregard for propriety. Our hero in this tale, Gerald Fitzwilliam, is also an easy character to fall in love with. He is a widower and an eligible bachelor, but due to his unhappy first marriage, presently has no thoughts of remarrying… that is until he encounters Rebecca Fairchild and she harshly upbraids him for making her slip in some mud! Gerald was an admirable hero with his impulsiveness, perseverance, and devotion. I loved seeing these two characters together – their moments of playful banter, companionship, and strong regard were so pleasing to witness.
One of the elements I love most about L.L. Diamond’s writing is her character development. She isn’t afraid to alter Jane Austen’s characters, augment their personalities, and provide a detailed past for them. Sometimes her character changes are very daring and a little dark, but I have always found them to make sense and work well within the confines of the story. However, I feel that in a setting like this where most of the characters are original creations of the author, Ms. Diamond’s skill with characterization and development was able to shine in the spotlight and become fully realized. All the characters in this tale were well-defined, strong, and memorable. Whenever I put this book down, my head would remain full of them for long periods after.
Now there may be some of you who might opt to pass on reading this work because it doesn’t highlight a Darcy and Elizabeth romance and is about characters with whom you are not very familiar. If that is so, I would entreat you to change your mind! This romance may be in a different era and generation, but there are many nods and winks to Pride and Prejudice for the reader to discover. While Rebecca and Gerald possess their own unique and individual traits, the reader will be pleased to see some similarities between them and Darcy and Elizabeth. In addition, Darcy and Elizabeth do make some small appearances throughout this novella and their exchanges are everything that is touching and delightful. (Trust me on this!)
I really couldn’t be any more satisfied with this exquisite prequel novella by L.L. Diamond! The story was well thought-out, skillfully executed, and the action and intriguing characters had me captivated! I sincerely hope Ms. Diamond will continue to create original characters and tell more stories like this in the future! I highly recommend!
NOTE: It is not necessary to read An Unwavering Trust first before reading The Earl’s Conquest. But I do recommend reading both stories!