Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson

Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri WilsonUnleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Harlequin on January 1, 2014
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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four-stars  

What can I say? Cute cover, modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice, Darcy and Lizzy as show dog aficionados? Cuteness and curiosity won out so I grabbed this one up looking for a light, entertaining romantic read. And it was that. If Elizabeth was a bit more prejudiced and some of the parallel scenes and dialogue to the original story felt forced, it was not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the story. I would go bail that for someone who hasn’t read Pride & Prejudice; some of the dialogue that is nearly a direct quote will read as an oddity in this modern story version because no matter how formal people are; they do not talk that way now. I chuckled each time it happened and enjoyed it in turn because though it was odd I loved seeing those very familiar quotes.

So about the story…
Elizabeth Scott is spending her thirtieth birthday away from home and family celebration to take her beloved dog to her first dog show. She is joined by her sweet older sister, Jenna, who has no interest in dogs, but doesn’t want Lizzy to be alone on her birthday. They meet a very nice British couple who are there to show their dogs, but then she bumps into a not so nice Brit, Donovan Darcy, who just so happens to be the guest judge and also one of those rich snobs she hates.

Elizabeth has been put on leave because as a teacher in an exclusive private school for the privileged she dared give the star lacrosse player a failing grade only to have his dad first try to bribe her and then come on to her to change her mind. Not only did the school quietly not back her up because of who holds their purse strings, she was now under investigation for trying to blackmail the dad into the money. Yeah, rich people aren’t high on her list right now and the austere and brooding Donovan Darcy with the too young beautiful girl on his arm gets the full blast of it.

Donovan can’t believe the nerve of the sassy female who challenges him while he’s judging at a show that he really didn’t want to be at anyway. She looks on him with near disgust so why does he want to know her better? His little sister wanted a fun trip to go shopping in NYC so here they are and all he can think about is Elizabeth Scott the woman he has run into a few times and each time she bristles up and treats him like a diseased pariah. But he could at least pity her after getting a front row seat at the restaurant when her family descended on her to celebrate her birthday. Embarrassing didn’t even cover their loud behavior.

With her job up in the air, Lizzy accepts Sue Barrow’s offer to return to London with them and help her get her terriers ready for several shows that will last through the month. It’s a lovely opportunity and she jumps at it bringing her own sweet King Charles along and the promise of Jenna joining her later. Too bad she didn’t know that the Barrows were across the street neighbors with none other than Donovan Darcy. She starts to realize that he has other sides to his character than that at which first appeared and she did totally misjudge the situation about his sister so she loosens up a little to spend some time around him just like Jenna is spending time with his best friend. They get caught in pictures for the tabloids a couple of times when they give in to the physical attraction they share and Darcy has a deluded and determined female out to land him for a husband. Lizzy won’t forget for a moment that he’s one of those rich people who are impervious to the stuff that affect the rest of the people like what was happening to her through her job.

Donovan is both enchanted and terrified of what is developing between him and Lizzy Scott, but he can’t help pursuing her. It’s not until the moment he recognizes his full feelings that Lizzy’s secret and her fears rise up to destroy his chances with her.

The dog show backdrop to this one had me interested not because I’m a particular fan of dog breeding and showing (I’ve only ever owned mutts from the shelter or strays), but because it was something different. I did find the dogs cute and loved the way all the owners interacted with them.

I enjoyed meeting and getting to know all the characters in the story. I found Donovan Darcy swoonworthy even though he had his moments when I just wanted to pop him in the back of the head. He really didn’t get how his silences and frowns would be misinterpreted. There was a sensitivity in him that allowed him to see others though. He might not get why Lizzy was angry with him, but he did see the anger and tried to assuage it. He was pretty patient with her all things considered and saw potential where most people would have just seen Too. Much. Bother.

Lizzy was a mixed bag for me. I liked and was proud of her for having the guts to stand up to the pressure at the school where she taught and do the right thing. I enjoyed her feistiness in the first scene with Donovan when she gives him some snark for his grumpiness. Her adventuresome spirit that led her to accept Sue Barrow’s invitation met with my approval, but…
The whole ‘I hate you and your nothing because you are rich and you all treat non-rich people like peons’ attitude toward Donovan just didn’t settle with me. If anyone was ashamed by her origins, it was Lizzy. Donovan didn’t care that her family was from New Jersey and ran a bridal shop business. An otherwise intelligent and warm woman who gets accosted by a true slimeball is a bad thing in my books and I get her dislike of that man and men like him, but the thing is- he’s a slimeball because of his character not his money. Normal people get that. Lizzy didn’t. Donovan was cranky with her when they first meet, but then that all changed and she even saw the changes and many other wonderful things about him, but every little thing he did and said was now being filtered through a truly skewed lens so that she attributed really out there interpretations on everything. Her sister and her friend tried to tell her she had it wrong, but she swept their words aside. She was rude and obnoxious making her extremely unattractive to me so I couldn’t buy the love angle. The man gets down on his knee in the mud and tells her he loves her and she declares that he doesn’t when there’s nothing in it for him to lie. Yeesh! Denial, much?
Sorry, had to vent! It’s very possible that I had a stronger reaction to her than others will.

In the end, no matter how annoyed I was with Madame Obtuseness, I thought this story very delightful. It was good stuff and I look forward to more like it from this author. If you enjoy the idea of a slightly spicy retelling of a classic romance in a contemporary setting or are a dog lover who loves the world of dog breeding and shows, then you’ll not want to pass this one up.

My thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review thoughts.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.