Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Prequel, Secondary Character
TIME FRAME: Begins around 11 years before Pride and Prejudice
SYNOPSIS: A young Mr. Gardiner comes across an injured boy (named Matthew) in the woods in Derby in need of some aid. After spending some time with the boy and learning his circumstances and remarkable gift with numbers, Mr. Gardiner decides to bring on the young man as his assistant. However, Matthew has some odd quirks about him and offers very little information regarding his past. But what puts Mr. Gardiner perhaps more at ease is when Matthew’s friend Miss Grant sends Mr. Gardiner a letter…and that letter progresses into a relationships of sorts. One that embroils Edward in an unexpected and dangerous adventure!
WHAT I LOVED:
- Featuring the Gardiners!: I love when authors turn to secondary characters and tell readers what happens next, but it is equally as enthralling when they tell readers what happened before. Which I am sure it is a little more challenging because the author doesn’t have full freedom and there is a bit of a spoiled ending (since readers probably know what happens in the future). I read The Courtship of Edward Gardiner just a few months back (and loved it) and I am happy to read another tale that spotlights this dear couple!
- An Admirable Hero: Oh yes, we know he is a doting husband, an intelligent businessman, and affable company, but here is where readers can see Mr. Gardiner as a hero. His kind concern towards others, his selflessness and sympathy, and his honorable integrity are all traits readers see Mr. Gardiner employ in this tale. Edward Gardiner is indeed worthy of our admiration and I very much approved of both his sterling character and his very human reactions to the situations he in which he was placed.
- More to Mrs. Gardiner: In P&P we learn that Mrs. Gardiner is amiable, beloved by her nieces, and a reliable informant about current fashions. But in this story readers encounter someone who is so much more…I loved that Mrs. Gardiner’s character was so unorthodox and spirited! She shares some impertinent and outspoken habits with her niece, but also has some surprising proclivities and abilities of her own. This version of Mrs. Gardiner (before she was Mrs. Gardiner) was an unexpected delight and I think readers will marvel at her unknown history and character.
- An Exhilarating Adventure: I greatly enjoyed all the riveting action in this story! Aside from young Matthew being rescued and the mystery surrounding him, there is a masquerade ball, clandestine meetings between lovers, sinister attacks, and travels overseas to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I greatly appreciate the engaging blend of elements and events. And I was thrilled to take a trip to a new place and learn about its history.
- Senior Mr. Darcy: Those Darcy men cannot help but earn our devotion… Mr. George Darcy is featured quite excellently in this tale. While he isn’t a key player, he takes an active role in investigating some mysterious activity at a nearby estate. Showing us with his determination, just sense of right, and indefatigable attention to duty that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- The only thing I can comment on is that one or two circumstances/relationships in this story are not reflected/don’t tie in to Pride and Prejudice, but that really cannot be helped as I wouldn’t have wanted this story to go any differently.
The Assistant is a fantastic and enthralling Pride and Prejudice prequel that features Jane Austen’s beloved characters, some Heyer-esque and Shakespearean plot twists, and exquisitely detailed backdrops of Georgian England and Nova Scotia. A perfect choice for readers who adore Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner!