This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I found this Pride and Prejudice variation to offer something new and a bit different to the retelling niche. This one begs the question of what happens if a pair of lovers discovers that fate has been cruel enough that they are really brother and sister. Did your jaw hit the floor? Mine did. I just had to keep reading and discover how the author was going to untangle this one.
The story begins when Elizabeth is rejoicing at her sister’s engagement and hopeful of her own happy ending when she is visited by the aunt of the man she loves. Lady Catherine first tries to bully her into giving up any thought of engaging herself to Mr. Darcy and when Elizabeth makes no such promise, Lady Catherine delivers a bombshell. She ruthlessly informs Lizzy that she is not the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, but is in fact the natural child of George Darcy. She is Darcy’s illegitimate sister. Lady Catherine shows Elizabeth a letter from George Darcy to his solicitor as proof and leaves Elizabeth to pick up the pieces this revelation brings. She must accept that her parents deceived her into thinking she was theirs, that her real father committed adultery, and that she is the shameful result and most felling, she has to figure out how to think of the man she loves as her brother. This sets her on a quest for answers and also the need to adjust to her new circumstances.
Not that this is technically a gothic story, but it has commonality with that style. The dark secrets, the oppressive nature of the story, the forbidden romance, the quest to discover the truth, and the villains of the piece being pretty dastardly. Because I enjoy that sort of thing, there was much for me to love as I read this one. I figured out early on what the score was and it was just a matter of filling in all the details. This didn’t make the story boring. In fact, I found myself very emotionally engaged and even teared up at one point.
I really only had one issue and it didn’t ruin the story so that’s good. The story relies heavily on coincidence particularly as it drew close to the end which was a slight disappointment as a problem-solving device since it goes beyond believability to be honest.
I think my favorite part of this story is the fact that in the process of teasing out the secrets of Elizabeth’s history that the story of the previous generation of Darcys was told. In this story, Darcy has uncles and grandparents on the Darcy side that are explored. I enjoyed this whole new layer of family and background. I also liked that Georgiana got significant page time. Colonel Fitz did too, but he wasn’t his usual self in this one for me to act like Lydia over a man in uniform.
While I’m on the subject of characters, there are a few that are altered though not beyond recognition. Elizabeth herself has a different feel, but personally I would chalk that up to her crazy new circumstances. The Gardiners get larger roles. There are a few new original characters that were delightful too.
Near the end, spiritual beliefs and religion do take a stronger role and I just want to point that out in case that has a bearing on someone’s reading tastes.
All in all, I found this engaging from cover to cover and would recommend it to those who love exploring a variety of what-ifs to a classic story. This was a sweet romance with a nice mystery to keep one busy. I would definitely recommend this for the Austenesque crowd, but also lovers of sweet historical romance who like a blend with romantic suspense.
My thanks to Meryton Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #133 HR
Historical Romance #32
Cliché Klatch #60 ‘had not caught me out’
Jan Hahn is fascinated by Jane Austen, 19th Century England, and true love. A storyteller since childhood, she’s written skits and plays for local organizations and owned a business recording, writing and publishing oral histories. Jan is a member of JASNA and began writing novels based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 2002.
Jan’s first novel, An Arranged Marriage, won the award for Best Indie book of 2011 from Austen Prose. The Journey, published in 2012, was selected by Austenprose as one of the Top Five Austen Inspired Historical Novels of 2012, and it won the Favorite Pride and Prejudice Variation/Alternate Path of 2012 award from Austenesque. Her latest book, The Secret Betrothal, was published in 2014. Jan is currently working on Stolen Past.
Jan has five children, seven grandchildren, and is a native Texan. In her dream world, she lives in England in a place called Pemberley.