Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Gift from Editor
Elizabeth Bennet prides herself on her robust constitution and ability to never succumb to illness. But while visiting her friend Charlotte, the unthinkable happens and Lizzy finds herself feeling most unwell. Instead of staying in bed and calling for the apothecary, Lizzy ventures downstairs and receives a visit from a concerned and solicitous Mr. Darcy who anxiously seizes the opportunity to propose marriage. Feeling feverish, foggy, and weak Lizzy doesn’t exactly have her wits together and her absent-minded nod to his query is taken as acceptance! Elizabeth knows she must find a way to undo this massive misunderstanding. But is it already too late…?
I loved the opening premise for this story! Lizzy was quite adamant about not being ill and she certainly paid the price for her stubbornness! Mr. Darcy was adorable with his elation and eagerness to proceed with his engagement. Before Lizzy breaks free from her forced bedrest he has already been to Longbourn, received consent from Mr. Bennet, and met Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in London. This Mr. Darcy is quick to banish his prejudice and easily welcomes encounters with Elizabeth’s family. And since Lizzy has no knowledge or Mr. Darcy’s interference between Jane and Bingley and did not receive an insulting and prideful proposal, her dislike for Mr. Darcy quickly dissipates as she resigns herself to this unexpected yet not completely intolerable situation.
With such a colossal misunderstanding and secret, I was expecting to see a turbulent relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth full of conflict. After all, Elizabeth was quite intense with her dislike, and Mr. Darcy’s officious nature and selfish manners were never brought to his attention. But this story surprisingly went in a different direction! Instead of angst and trials between Darcy and Elizabeth, this variation highlights several secondary characters and illustrates how their lives are changed by Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s engagement!
I really enjoyed the secondary characters in this tale and seeing the unique directions the author decided to take them. The characters that receive the most attention are Jane Bennet, Caroline Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, George Wickham, and one new character – Captain George Fitzwilliam of His Majesty’s navy, who is one of Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brothers. I thought Mr. Odom did a fantastic job of fleshing out these characters and inventing some unique twists to their stories. It will surprise many readers to see some characters so altered, but I found the alterations to be plausible and gratifying – even Wickham’s and Caroline’s! I was most intrigued by George Fitzwilliam and his unpolished manners and decisive actions. I wish we saw more of him and his bride in the latter half of the book like we did the other characters!
As you might guess from this review, this variation has quite a bit going on as we follow several characters’ and their storylines. In addition to the romantic and personal affairs of these characters, Mr. Odom seamlessly weaves in some action and details of the Peninsular War. Since many of the secondary characters were military men, I greatly appreciated seeing a bit of the military action through their eyes! With so many story-lines to switch back and forth from, I did occasionally find some narratives to be a little on lengthy side. And sometimes the internal monologues would slow down the pace just a little too much for my taste. I much preferred the action and dialogue sequences.
The big secret in Pride, Prejudice and Secrets is that this story is so much more than a Darcy-and-Elizabeth-centered misunderstanding! This all-encompassing tale includes several romances, surprising redemptions, engaging secondary characters, and stirring historical details. Well done, Mr. Odom, I hope we some more from you soon!
Note: Due to some references of intimate scenes, I’d recommend this book for PG-13 audiences.