Sep 282011

What if Elizabeth Bennet was Already Engaged?

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?

An interesting scenario, isn’t it? Mr. Darcy has a rival – and the rival’s already won! Or has he? Mr. Covington (a. k. a. Darcy’s rival/Elizabeth’s fiancée) is an amiable young gentleman who owns a small but well-established neighboring estate. He’s affable, kind-hearted, generous, honorable, and has never insulted Elizabeth Bennet! He may have Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, but does he have her heart?

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?

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  9 Responses to “Mr. Darcy’s Undoing – Abigail Reynolds”


    I skimmed your review because I will be reading this one soon!! I’m excited about your high rating!


    Love this novel! I have the original version. Did you notice any differences between this one and the original?


    Thank you for the lovely review, Meredith! Nicole, there aren’t any significant differences between this and Without Reserve.


    Nice review, Meredith! I love Abigail”s stories! Elizabeth being involved with another man is interesting twist in the version of P&P.


    I love all of Abigail’s books. If I’m not mistaken, the lady on the cover is also on Kara Louise’s “Darcy’s Voyage”. She’s quite popular! A Regency supermodel Lol Actually I think she is one of the prettier cover-Lizzys I have seen.


    This sounds like a really good novel. I’ll have to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!


    Monica, I agree. She is one of the prettier Elizabeths and I think she really fits the part! I am half-tempted to look for other covers she is on now too!
    Great review Meredith! I enjoyed this book when it was titled Without Reserve (well, I enjoy all of Abigail’s books) and I am looking forward to reading it again!


    Great review Meredith. The cover is gorgeous, and yes, the lady does look similar – even the artist’s style. The clothing looks French Empire style.


    I also skimmed your review as I’ll be reading this book in a couple of days. I can’t wait! 🙂 I need to come back and read this review at that point!

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