Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Modern-day Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice
SETTING: Pemberley Ohio, almost Christmas
- Darcy Fitzwilliam: An independent, wealthy, but lonely hedge fund investor who left her hometown and didn’t look back eight years ago.
- Bingley Charles: Her best friend from high school who moved to LA to be an actor.
- Luke Bennet: Darcy’s childhood arch-rival who works in Pemberley as a carpenter.
- Carl Donovan: Darcy’s on-again-off-again boyfriend that Darcy’s father wanted her to marry.
In this gender-swap retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Darcy Fitzwilliam has spent the last eight years estranged from her father and with little contact with anyone from her hometown. But her mother’s heart attack scare has her rushing home. Even though Darcy’s mother’s health improves, Darcy stays in Pemberley for a few days because a part of her is tired of the loneliness and emptiness of her life. While there, she encounters many classmates from her past, comes to terms with some hard realizations about her life, and makes some decisions about her future.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Successful Gender Swap: Sometimes P&P gender-swap stories aren’t my favorite because they portray such an unlikable and insufferable female Darcy. And I find it challenging to admire a book when I can’t admire the heroine. That wasn’t the case in this story. This Darcy isn’t too proud or arrogant, she is driven and respects herself. I loved how we saw this Darcy’s softer and more vulnerable side and her romantic ideals that she keeps to herself. Plus it’s easy to love a heroine who finds comfort in rewatching Gilmore Girls episodes! 😉 In addition, I loved that Bingley Charles was Darcy’s gay best friend!
- Engaging Premise and Conflict: I enjoyed how Ms. de la Cruz centered her story from Darcy’s perspective and how she introduced some conflict within Darcy’s family. There is still some pride, prejudice, and bad history between characters, but this story follows a refreshingly different path. Luke Bennet is not someone she just met, but a classmate who has always pushed her buttons. And even though there is some intense chemistry between the two, there are one or two roadblocks that prevent them from pursuing each other.
- Festive Holiday Spirit: With lots of eggnog, mistletoe, and caroling this holiday read is sure to get you into the festive spirit! I love stories with a holiday backdrop. But I also I thought setting this story during the holiday season served the author’s purpose well of bringing all these families and classmates together.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Abrupt and Sometimes Unbelievable: While I am fine with occasionally suspending my disbelief, some events in this story started to feel a little far-fetched. The quickly decided engagements, the abrupt jump from making out to declaring love, and Luke’s total 180 (although it is later explained) – all contributed to me feeling that some plot points weren’t well developed. In addition, some aspects of the story just didn’t feel plausible, such as a school principal and secretary working in their offices on Christmas Day (that isn’t a thing!) and Darcy’s lack of a relationship with her brothers all these years (Darcy was estranged from her father, did all 3 of her brothers excommunicate her too? If so, why?)
- Backtracking: (Spoiler Alert!) In a different turn of events, after Darcy and Luke get together Darcy starts to dwell on how Luke misjudged her and thought she was snobby and selfish. And then, she passive aggressively picks a fight instead of maturely bringing up her concerns. I wasn’t a fan of this development, or how Luke was so easily manipulated by his ex. The ending would have been better without this flare up.
Regardless of my complaints, I found myself enjoying this festive and fun holiday read! In the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, taking an afternoon to curl up under a blanket and read about finding love, repairing relationships, and coming together at Christmas is just the thing to get you into the holiday spirit!