Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Yours by Design, Robin Helm’s new and inventive trilogy, takes place in a “Freaky Friday” world where the phenomena of exchanging bodies is a possibility and the characters of Pride and Prejudice were real people. After a terrible car/pedestrian accident, twenty-first century Will Darcy (a name that may be more than a little coincidental) swaps bodies with the hero of Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy, who after delivering his infamous letter to Elizabeth, is unexpectedly thrown from his horse and slammed against a tree. For Will Darcy, this may be an answer to his prayers – for years he has searched for an Elizabeth Bennet of his own, but has yet to find her. For Fitzwilliam Darcy, this is also an answer to a prayer (albeit an unintentional one) – he wished never to see Elizabeth Bennet again, be careful what you wish for, Darce!
What a fun premise! Kind of reminds me of Laurie Viera Rigler’s time travel novels (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict), except this time the main characters are males and not females! One thing loved was how we got to see the story from both Darcys’ perspectives and how each chapter alternated in point-of-view. It was satisfying to see both sides of the coin and flip back and forth between the two worlds.
Another aspect of the story that was a lot of fun to witness was how each Darcy handled their new bodies and surrounding environments. While Will Darcy might miss modern conveniences such as hot-water heaters, sweat pants, and proper toothpaste, he is thrilled at the opportunity to meet his dream-girl and tackle the mess Fitzwilliam Darcy made during the Hunsford Parsonage proposal. And even though Fitzwilliam Darcy finds the fashions, manners, and customs of 2013 to be very off-putting, he is immensely entertained with the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice and re-runs of Fraiser. (I loved seeing his reactions to“that Firth fellow” and his approval of David Bamber’s portrayal of Mr. Collins! Hilarious!)
One element of the story that didn’t sit well with me is the fact that this Fitzwilliam Darcy isn’t very likable. Perhaps it is Ms. Helm’s intent to portray Jane Austen’s Darcy a little unfavorably? Or perhaps he will become more likable later on? So far though, he hasn’t done much to win my regard…his thoughts about Elizabeth during the proposal scene were a little surprising and dismaying:
Your father should have taken a sterner hand with you. Women and horses require breaking, and had you accepted me, I could have done it handily. (page 62)
The harridan! he thought. I am well out of this. Elizabeth, you are no lady. Caroline Bingley is a paragon of virtue and a bastion of gentility compared to you. Birth will always show. You have proven your inferiority in every conceivable manner. (page 64)
It also perplexed me a little that Darcy would go about his proposal in the same way, or expect a positive reaction when he overheard two conversations (including the one where Colonel Fitzwilliam mentioned Darcy saving a friend from an “imprudent marriage”) in which Elizabeth reveals her dislike and unfavorable opinion of him. After hearing that, wouldn’t Darcy expect her anger? Wouldn’t he feel the need to explain his actions before plunging ahead with a proposal? I’m curious to see how Ms. Helm develops Fitzwilliam Darcy further, he definitely seems to be more irresponsible and disdainful than I expected.
My other minor quibbles were with the fact that it took quite a bit of time to set up the story (at seventy-plus pages, the exposition felt a little long) and that a lot of characters seemed to easily accept the phenomena of swapping bodies. While I know that some degree of “accepting the unexplained” or “suspending disbelief” is needed with time travel or time slip novels, it did surprise me that characters in the Regency world didn’t declare Darcy mad and consign him to the attics of Rosings Park! (Mr. Darcy is treating his inferiors as equals, standing up to Lady C, and flouting customs and fashions??? The man has surely lost his marbles!! Call the apothecary!)
Despite some misgivings, I am very eager to see how the rest of this series pans out! Will each Darcy find love and happiness in their counterpart’s world? Or will they return to their own world and eventually find it there? Looking forward to seeing what happens next!
Because she is awesome, Robin Helm has offered two lovely copies of her newly released novel, Accidentally Yours: Yours By Design, Book 1 (1 paperback and 1 ebook), for me to giveaway to TWO lucky winners!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review.
- The giveaway of the ebook is open worldwide, the giveaway of the paperback is open to US residents. Thank you, Robin!
- This giveaway ends March 28th!