Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice variation
TIME FRAME: Begins 2 years before the events of Pride and Prejudice and takes a widely different course
SYNOPSIS: What if a twice-widowed earl (who is twice her age) found in Elizabeth a true companion that would bring him the marital happiness he has been searching for his whole life? What if at the time she first meets Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth has been the Countess of Asheland for two years, happily marred to her beloved husband and mother to two adorable children? Elizabeth Bennet is no longer “a young woman without family, connections, or fortune,” in fact, her connections and fortune far exceed Mr. Darcy’s! In her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Elizabeth Adams explores what happens when Darcy and Elizabeth are on more equal ground… 😉
WHAT I LOVED:
- Turns the Tables: I do love it when authors implement a drastic twist to Pride and Prejudice! And this one is especially fun to explore as it reverses the dynamic between Elizabeth and Darcy. She is more worldly, more wealthy, and more connected than he is! Mr. Darcy can have none of his hang-ups about her inferiority, and yet…the relationship does not proceed smoothly for them. Mostly because, as you may have guessed, he still insults her! Ack, poor Mr. Darcy is always putting his foot in his mouth!
- Robert Talbot, Earl of Asheland: Oh, it feels like sacrilege to admit it, but I lost a little of my heart to Robert in this novel! In other variations, Elizabeth’s first husband has turned out to be deceitful, unfaithful or even tyrannical! But in this variation, he is completely kind and he absolutely adores Elizabeth. I love how Asheland followed his happiness, even if it broke with convention; and I love how he always did everything in his power to ensure Elizabeth’s happiness, even if it meant giving a strong nudge to her father. He truly is everything that is admirable, honorable, and swoon-worthy!
- Emotionally Invested: With the first half of this story illustrating the tender and budding romance between Elizabeth and Robert and their sweet felicitous union together, I found myself completely gut-wrenched when the inevitable happened. Like, seriously devastated. I can’t remember the last time I sobbed like that over a fictional character! And it is even more surprising because these tears were for Robert, a brand new character – how could I be so heartbrokenly wretched over him when I knew Darcy will soon come into the picture? That just goes to show you the power and poignancy of Elizabeth Adams’s writing. Big applause to Ms. Adams for creating a character that challenges readers’ devotion for Mr. Darcy and her exquisitely expressed and emotionally-charged prose!
- Admiring Elizabeth: There is so much to admire about Elizabeth in this story – how she met the challenges of being a countess head-on with courage, how she chose her own way with raising her children and always put their needs before her own, how she was a most devoted wife who cherished her husband with her whole heart. I loved admiring Elizabeth and I loved seeing Mr. Darcy admire her in new ways too.
- Patient Darcy: It is always amusing to see Mr. Darcy given some challenges! In this variation, one of his biggest obstacles to overcome is waiting. I loved witnessing how patient and understanding Darcy can be. He didn’t pressure Elizabeth or get frustrated at her hesitation, yet he made sure she was aware of his interest and devotion and that they would remain constant. I loved seeing Darcy’s reaction during those precious moments where Elizabeth would take a step closer to opening her heart and self to him. How he would light up like fireworks!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Slightly Overshadowed: Robert was a tough act to follow, and even though Darcy is as wonderful as he is, it was difficult to not compare him against Elizabeth’s beloved husband. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Darcy win over those who strayed (ahem...me!) just a little more in the second half of the book.
On Equal Ground is a beautiful and heartrending journey that presents our dear Darcy and Elizabeth with a unique set of experiences and challenges. I was entranced by this daring premise, delighted by the beautifully developed relationships between characters, and completely enthralled by the emotions this compelling story evoked. I highly recommend!