Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation, Christian/Inspirational Romance
SERIES: Hope Series Trilogy #1
TIME FRAME: The day after Darcy’s Hunsford proposal
MAIN CHARACTERS: Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Charlotte Collins
SYNOPSIS: After reading Darcy’s letter Elizabeth gets caught in the rain and falls ill with a bad fever. Charlotte calls upon the gentlemen from Rosings to help her friend whose frightful illness does not seem to be abating. Even though he has just been soundly rejected by the woman he loves, Darcy comes to her while she is sick and shows the tenderest love and concern. Is he just setting up his heart for more disappointment or does Elizabeth’s comfort in his company mean there is cause to hope?
WHAT I LOVED:
- The Premise: I immediately fell in love with this premise! I love that in her delirium Lizzy inadvertently exposed her private thoughts – especially her changing feelings and emotional turbulence regarding Darcy’s letter. I liked seeing Lizzy immediately feel remorse and recognize Darcy’s pain, and I was curious to see how her feelings towards Darcy would change once her fever had passed.
- Colonel Fitzwilliam: I’m already falling in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam in this series! I love how Colonel Fitzwilliam is there for everyone in this book – he aids the Bennet family in countless ways, convinces Darcy to have hope, and lends support and friendship to Mrs. Collins. I also really enjoyed the close I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself relationship between Fitzwilliam and Darcy. Fitzwilliam has shrewd observational skills that he adeptly utilizes to figure out his cousin’s heart. And Darcy is not far behind, he easily picks up on Fitzwilliam’s changed manner and quickly deduces the cause.
- A Mysterious Ledger: This little bit of intrigue added a lovely new element to the story! I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but this ledger alludes to a secret business operation. Who does the ledger belong to and what does it mean? We learn the answer to first in this book, but the second question remains unanswered. I’m guessing this mystery will continue in the next installment.
- Charlotte Collins: I love when Charlotte is in the spotlight! She was so adorable in this story, blaming her heightened romanticism and anxiety on her pregnancy. And I admired her strength and grace while dealing with the reality of her horribly unhappy marriage. I look forward to seeing her character in the spotlight even more in the next installment of the Hope Series, Hope for Fitzwilliam.
- Anne and Lydia: I loved the new developments and different twists for each of these characters! Their actions were surprising in this variation and definitely deserve some applause! 🙂
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Overt Instead of Subtle: I did sometimes find the themes of hope and faith to be a little too overt for my tastes in this story. I love these themes and I’m fond of stories that have inspirational messages and faith journeys. In To Refine Like Silver and Inspired by Grace I thought Ms. Ellsworth’s inspirational messages to be beautiful, subtle, and seamlessly woven into the story. But in this story sometimes the inclusion of these themes felt disjointed and a little too obvious.
- Familiarity: I don’t mind suspending my disbelief and allowing for some impropriety (holding hands, sneaking kisses), but I felt that in some parts of this story there started to be a bit too much bending of the rules of propriety. Such as Darcy and Lizzy kissing in front of others, Lizzy teasing one of Darcy’s servants after she just met him, and Georgiana referring to Mr. Bingley as ‘Bingley.’
I greatly enjoyed this first installment of the Hope Series Trilogy and the new and inventive direction Ms. Ellsworth steered these characters in. Even though there were some aspects I wasn’t too fond of, I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Ellsworth’s signature creativity, humor, and heart – elements I always find in all her works. I cannot wait to read what happens next!