Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy From Author
(Note: This book is the third book in Maria Grace’s The Queen of Rosings Park series. And while it is a stand alone novel, it is better to read this series in order because as fans of Maria Grace may already know, she has a penchant for altering situations and personalities!) 😉
What readers need to know before starting this story is that Mr. Bennet is a physician, the Bennet family lived in Kent while Mr. Bennet served as Lady Catherine’s physician, Anne de Bourgh recently passed away and bequeathed Rosings to Colonel Fitzwilliam in her will, and Rosings is in serious debt and practically near ruin.
In her third installment ofThe Queen of Rosings Park series, Maria Grace shines her spotlight on two secondary characters who, on the surface, seem like an unlikely pairing – the plain and priggish Mary Bennet and a sociable soldier from His Majesty’s Army, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. Colonel Fitzwilliam trying to save his crumbling and debt-ridden estate and Mary Bennet is currently living at Hunsford Parsonage while she waits to be married to Mr. Michaels, who serves as steward of Rosings. Since Lady Catherine’s disillusions and madness have grown steadily worse after her daughter’s passing, Colonel Fitzwilliam seeks out Mary’s help with her care. At first glance, all Colonel Fitzwilliam sees about Mary is that she is capable, efficient, and unremarkable. But he soon learns there is much more to Mary than he first surmised…
Mary may act staid, dull, and proper, but that is because she wears a mask. A mask she has had in place for years. A mask that hides her pain and disappointment from being overlooked, being forgotten, and feeling completely undesired in every way. What Mary keeps to herself is that she wants to be respected and desired, she wants someone to notice her for more than her usefulness, she wants to be loved passionately… But what if the man who starts to notice her is someone other than her fiancé?
How I loved this pairing of Mary Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam! Both are characters I have always admired and enjoyed, but in this story I especially loved seeing their interactions with one another and the development of their relationship. I love that Maria Grace drew attention to the similarities between these two characters and the common ground and situations they alone share. (I take back calling them an unlikely pairing!) It was lovely to see Mary’s strength, intelligence, and selflessness – she truly is an admirable heroine. And I love that Colonel Fitzwilliam came to see and appreciate the qualities of Mary’s character that no one else saw…swoon! I especially love that Colonel Fitzwilliam felt strong stirrings of attraction and admiration for Mary and that he did very little to hide them… swoon again!
This story was fast-paced with quite a number unexpected events unfolding. Poor Mary and Colonel Fitzwilliam have their hands full with managing/salvaging Rosings, appeasing/caring for Lady Catherine, Charlotte’s upcoming confinement, and Mr. Collins’ impending move to Longbourn. This story had me riveted and I thoroughly enjoyed all the surprising twists, mounting obstacles, and revealing exchanges. However, I did have some small quibbles about some timeline jumps, rules of propriety, and Charlotte’s character (but the latter may be explained in the first book of this series which I have not read yet!) And part of me wishes there was an epilogue to make the lovely ending even more satisfying.
But overall, I found A Less Agreeable Man to be a praiseworthy, thoughtful, and inventive tale of inner strength, unexpected feelings, and quiet passion. As I’ve said numerous times before, Ms. Grace has quite a talent for developing Jane Austen’s characters in unique and original ways, and I continue to love her skillfully crafted and compelling deviations and portrayals!
Are you a fan of Maria Grace? Make sure to check out her author visit from last Friday and learn about her new holiday releases!!