Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this is the second volume in the Constant Love series. While it does stand alone, I think it would be a more enjoyable experience to read volume one, A Constant Love, first.)
What first arrested my attention about Sophie Turner’s newest installment of her Constant Love series was that the story focused on two major storylines – one following Darcy and Elizabeth and one that followed the newly married Georgiana and her husband, Matthew Stanton. I love dual storylines! Georgiana’s story takes us to Paris as she and her new husband adjust to being married and find their footing as a couple learning to compromise and communicate. Unlike the newlyweds, Elizabeth and Darcy remain at Pemberley for the majority of this tale as Elizabeth is expecting and the Bingleys are living with them temporarily while they wait for their new home to be built. The obstacles the Darcys face have to do with Elizabeth and the dangers of childbirth.
Besides the dual storylines and lovely character development for the Darcys, the Stantons, Mary Bennet, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, I think my favorite aspect of this story was the dream sequences. I don’t think it would be a spoiler for me to say that these dreams are sequential scenes that explore a variation of Pride and Prejudice. Yes, that’s right. There is a variation within a dream in this sequel. I loved the ‘what if’ question the dream sequence asked as it is one you don’t often see in Pride and Prejudice variations. The dreams are beautifully poignant and encompass sinister schemes, dangerous villains, harsh realities, and tender romances tinged with sorrow. I love how the dreams powerfully and emotionally effected me and the characters of the story. I also thought it was very clever how Ms. Turner tied the reason for the dreams to the present-day events. Very well done!
One of Ms. Turner’s strong points as a writer is her ability to paint vivid backdrops of the Regency period and infuse her story with actual historical events, people, and themes relevant to the era. While this story doesn’t consist of as many big battles and landmark events as A Constant Love did, this story centered more on the practices and realities of daily life such as childbirth, marriages, fox-hunting, entertaining neighbors, and planning for the next generation. The events of this story have such a strong feeling of authenticity to them and that feeling is compounded after reading the Author’s Notes at the end where Ms. Turner canvasses in detail her inspiration, her resources, and her decisions regarding this work of fiction. These notes and the amount of research and meticulous attention Ms. Turner puts into her stories is impressive and very much appreciated!
Like with A Constant Love, there were a couple of points in this story (mostly in the beginning) where I felt the pacing was a little slow. But other than that my only other quibbles would be that I thought it a little unlikely and inappropriate for Colonel Fitzwilliam to discuss mistresses with Georgiana and the very heavy focus on heirs. It sometimes didn’t sit right with me that there was so much immediate concern and discussion about heirs and inheritances (even before a couple was married or expecting!). But this may in fact have been the reality of life for this time period and maybe was something that truly never was far away from parents’ minds.
This sequel is truly all-encompassing! I greatly admire Ms. Turner’s style and applaud how she seamlessly can weave together a tale that includes so many characters, historical details, and underlying themes. The end result is a stimulating, compelling, and moving continuation that I will definitely read again and again! I cannot wait for more!