Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Mr. Darcy’s Undoing (originally self-published as Without Reserve in 2007) is one of Abigail Reynolds’ earliest novels from her incomparable Pemberley Variation Series, and just happens to be the first one I ever read! If you are unfamiliar with these riveting and romantic variations, they are retellings of Pride and Prejudice that take our beloved hero and heroine down a slightly altered path. Abigail Reynolds, one of my favorite Austenesque authors, is a skilled-story teller, an ardent admirer of Jane Austen, and quite proficient at infusing a lot of emotion, tension, and passion into her stories!
In this variation, Ms. Reynolds takes up her pen and asks: What if, after refusing Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal in Hunsford, Elizabeth accepts the marriage proposal of a childhood friend?
I love the uniqueness of this premise! Not many authors have penned Austenesque novels where Lizzy is involved with another man. It definitely throws a wrench into the original plot! I loved witnessing Darcy’s divided emotions in this variation; he doesn’t know if he should feel hopeful because Lizzy seems to enjoy his company, or hopeless because she isn’t available. In addition, it was interesting to see Elizabeth causing some scandals of her own and being somewhat of a social outcast. As you might imagine with conflicts such as these, this variation has a bit more tension, drama, and emotion!
While I deeply enjoy reading about a passionate and sensual Darcy and Elizabeth, I must admit to not loving the fact that they anticipated their vows in this variation. When I read this novel four years ago, I had no problem with their premarital intercourse. But strangely this time, I did. I know this is a very accurate representation of how engaged couples behaved, but I just wasn’t too fond of seeing Darcy and Elizabeth forced to advance their marriage because of their nightly rendezvouses. I guess I felt like it added a somewhat negative connotation to what should be a joyous occasion.
Regardless of my one quibble, I greatly enjoyed my time rereading this beautiful and engaging Pride and Prejudice variation. I don’t think I will ever tire of reading and rereading novels by Abigail Reynolds! She truly is a gem!
Note: Due to several intimate and romantic scenes in this novel, I’d recommend this book for Mature Audiences only.
*Also: Does anyone else think that the lady on this cover bears a striking resemblance to the lady on the cover for Mr. Darcy’s Obsession?