Mar 292017

What If Elizabeth and Darcy Did Not Coincidentally Meet in Derbyshire?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Gift from Author

In her debut release, Caitlin Williams creates a Pride and Prejudice variation where Elizabeth and Darcy do not encounter each other again until four years after Darcy’s disastrous proposal in Hunsford Parsonage. Instead of touring the Peak District and visiting Lambton, Elizabeth and the Gardiners go to the Lake District as originally planned. And soon after her return from that trip, Elizabeth accepts an invitation to visit/semi-permanently live with Mr. Bennet’s sister, a Mrs. Mountford. Mrs. Mountford is a wealthy widow of good social standing who retains the ownership of her husband’s estate as they have no children or heirs. Mrs. Mountford becomes very fond of Elizabeth and the two travel to Bath together for an extended holiday.

Meanwhile, since Darcy doesn’t encounter Elizabeth at Pemberley, he never prompts Mr. Bingley to go back to Netherfield and never learns about Lydia’s attempted elopement. Instead, he eventually gives into his aunt’s pleadings and marries his cousin, Anne de Bourgh. But their married life together isn’t long as Darcy is a widower of one year at the start of this story.

What happens when Darcy and Elizabeth unexpectedly meet in Bath? Does Darcy still resent Elizabeth for her rejection of him? Does Elizabeth still think him proud and ill-mannered? Is there any attraction or admiration between them still? And what happens when there is another suitor who is intently pursuing Elizabeth?

A few months ago I read Caitlin Williams’s second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet and the story completely consumed me!  It was no surprise that I found her first book, Ardently, to be just as mesmerizing! I adored the unique premise of this story! Both Darcy and Elizabeth have changed a good deal in four years. Their situations are different and they have grown in wisdom and maturity. Ms. Williams has a wonderful talent for creating plausible yet wonderfully inventive variations and I loved the combination of Darcy marrying Anne, Elizabeth having a wealthy relation, and both characters not seeing each other for an extended period of time! These twists and Ms. Williams’s compelling and emotional prose had me so engaged, I could not stop myself from almost reading the whole book in one sitting!

My favorite part of this tale is Ms. Williams’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy. I loved her portrayal of Elizabeth and all the other Pride and Prejudice characters, but her Darcy was my favorite. 🙂 I love it when Darcy needs to fight for Elizabeth, and I love it when he tries so hard to forget her and move on, yet fails. Darcy is everything that is honorable and adorable in this story. I loved seeing Elizabeth seek him out and learn to appreciate his good qualities. He was a quiet and ardent suitor, not one to put himself forward and pursue Elizabeth aggressively and possessively (like Mr. Yorke!). I laughed at the bit where he questioned Colonel Fitzwilliam about military tactics! So cute!

Other aspects of the story I enjoyed were the intriguing new characters – Mrs. Mountford and Mr. Yorke, the subtle nods to Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the lovely trip to Bath, and seeing an alternative outcome for some of the Bennet sisters.  The only aspect of the story I ended up not being too fond of was Caroline Bingley’s story-line. In the end it just didn’t feel plausible to me and things changed a little too abruptly for my taste.

Regardless of that one small quibble, I found Ardently to be a beautifully-written Pride and Prejudice variation full of yearning, tender devotion, and second chances. Definitely not one to miss, my friends! Ms. Williams’s writing has a magnetic pull and I adore her creative style and introspective tone.

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  39 Responses to “Ardently – Caitlin Williams”


    Isn’t it fantastic?! I loved, loved, loved her “Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet” then discovered this debut book. And loved it even more–if that is even possible!
    Great review, as always.


    I have read this book twice and loved it both times. I did post a review.


      It was my FIRST EVER Review, Sheila. And a very lovely one for an inexperienced, wet-behind-the-ears writer to get. I hope you are keeping well.


      I’ll have to look for it! There are so many reviews for this book! It’s wonderful to see how well-loved it is!


    Sounds like a wonderful premise! I shall have to explore this author’s work.


    When it was published, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a book, where Darcy had been married. I read it on KU and purchased it while reading. It was amazing, and I’m planning to read it again soon.
    Thanks for the review, Meredith.


    I bought this one after reading and loving Coming of Age. I can’t wait to finally get a chance to read it.


    This is a beautiful, well written review Meredith! As usual I agree with you on most points, and you reminded me I need to re-read this book I love it when Mr.Darcy has a rival, and I also find appealing to read stories when they are older.
    Ardently is one of my favourite JAFF books ever!! I absolutely love It! If I were to do an all time top 10 list I believe this would be in it, so I was glad to see you loved it to :)))


      Talking of this book reminds me of day in London, Rita. It was so wonderful meeting you and I’m flattered you rate it so highly.


      Thank you, Rita! 🙂 I appreciate your kind words! Mr. Yorke was such a good rival! He was very likable and charming! It is very interesting change to see Darcy and Elizabeth a littler older, Elizabeth especially. So glad to hear your thoughts on this story, Rita!


    I loved Coming of Age then found this one and loved this too. I was a bit miffed that Darcy had married Anne but I understand why he felt he might as well as he had no hope of Elizabeth. Great review Meredith.


      I know some readers don’t enjoy stories where Mr Darcy and Elizabeth have had past relationships, so I’m grateful you took a chance on this one and liked it. Thanks Glynis.


      Thanks, Glynis! Yeah, I thought the situation for Darcy and Anne was pretty believable. I could definitely understand his actions. Glad to hear you love both works!


    Meredith, I’m so glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for a lovely review, which you completely surprised me with. LOL. It seems like such a long time ago that I wrote Ardently, and I was so clueless about publishing and writing. Such amazing things have happened to me since, including getting to know such wonderful readers and fellow JAFF writers. I’m so glad I stumbled on this lovely community. Thanks again.


      Thank YOU, Caitlin! I’m so happy I FINALLY got to read this book! I’ve been admiring it and watching it on amazon for ages!! LOL I read it in less then 12 hours so it definitely was such a quick read for me that I didn’t post any pics of it on social media or even plug it in on Goodreads! 😉 Couldn’t tear myself away!

      Yes, this community is wonderful and we are so thankful that you are a part of it and gifting us these beautiful and original stories! Thank you for everything!


    Thanks for your review, Meredith, it gives me a clear idea of what to expect about this story. In fact, it seems a very plausible plot to think about Mr Darcy ending up with Anne de Bourgh when he doesn´t come across Elizabeth (although he hasn´t any love feelings for Anne). For a landlord it was very important to secure his inheritance so marrying a wealthy lady like his cousin was the common way and, in the other hand, four years is time enough to change things completely and I think it´s a good twist to have Elizabeth sheltered by wealthy Mrs Mountford because it´s like a way of saying: “Ok, Darcy, don´t think I want your money because I don´t need it” and this new starting point is free of suspicions about Elizabeth´s intentions (or Mrs Bennet´s!).
    I think this variation must be the only one where Lady Catherine sees the fulfillment of her dream: her daughter married Mr. Darcy and, when Anne passes away, no one can blame Mr Darcy for looking for another wife. Even Lady Catherine should have her tongue quiet! LOL 😉


      Hi Teresa! Yes, very true about Darcy needing to provide an heir and deciding to marry his cousin. You may be surprised to learn the circumstances of their marriage in this book (which are also plausible!)

      LOL! Very true! Can you imagine how happy Lady C would be that she finally got her way! Oh my! It would be funny to read a scene or two about that! 😉


    I have read this book twice and own both the e-book and paperback! Love, love, love it! Wonderful review Meredith!


      Thanks, Carole! Caitlin’s writing is wonderful, isn’t it? I was rereading many passages as I was writing my review!


    Plausible, but unique variations does sound fantastic. I still need to read this one and Coming of Age. Great review!


    I read this book and loved it!
    Reading all the comments reminds me that I need to experience the pleasure of reading it again!! Sigh!


    I have Sheila to thank for an email alerting me of this book’s release. As soon as I finished, I had to “meet” this talented author who took my love of JAFF and blended in some of Austen’s other stories so seamlessly… and that’s a huge part of why I ardently love and admire everything Caitlin Williams writes… I am glad you loved this story too!

    Meredith, I hope you and your readers enjoy, “Even More Ardently,” which is a lovely follow-up piece to this story. IMO, Caitlin understands Austen’s stories in ways that allow her own writing to stand out from a crowd!


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Claudine! LOL! I went to your site and was all excited to read this new follow-up to Ardently only to begin reading it and discover it was included as the Epilogue of the story! 😉 It was such a lovely Epilogue though!


    Oh Meredith! What a lovely review. I love it when the story is a little different. When you’ve read a lot of P&P variations you see some premises crop up a lot so it’s good to see a new setting for the story.


      Thank you so much, Ceri! 🙂 I agree with you! It is very refreshing to have something a little out of the norm! 😉 Especially when it is well-written and plausible!


    What a fantastic review Meredith. Your enthusiasm for this book certainly shines through in every word. The Coming of Age is on my TBR list and I’ve just put Ardently on my Wish List for a future purchase. I think I’ve only come across one other variation where Darcy has indeed married Anne and then been widowed (Remember the Past by Maria Grace – one to read if you haven’t already).

    Ardently sounds so wonderful. Variations exploring the “what if” Darcy and Elizabeth don’t meet again at Pemberley can be fascinating reads (the first half of Consequences by C. P. Odom) and this book by Caitlin Williams sounds to be no exception. I wonder how it affects the outcome for Lydia – no, don’t tell me!


      Thanks, Anji! I appreciate it! 🙂 I really do love both stories a lot! Yes, having Darcy married to Anne is rare! It was so interesting to see how much changed without that second encounter at Pemberley. I wouldn’t dare spoil it for you, my friend! Hope you get the chance to read it soon!


    What an amazing story! I know the feeling, Meredith, about *having* to read it in one sitting. I couldn’t put either of them down, ‘Ardently’ and ‘The Coming of Age of Miss Elizabeth Bennet’, Caitlin is such a wonderful storyteller! Looking forward to your 3rd, Caitlin!


      Aww thanks, Joana. You know I feel the same way about your stories. I’m hoping you have something new on the way too

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