William Darcy counts down the last few months to his 30th birthday with dread. Orphaned as a child, his parents’ will includes a bizarre clause: Darcy must get married by his 30th birthday in order to inherit the family fortune. To make matters worse, the press knows about this deadline, as do the hordes of women chasing him in the hopes of becoming Mrs. Darcy. His family legacy hangs in the balance, but Darcy has little faith in the fairer sex. Will he find a woman he wants to marry, and quickly?
Elizabeth Bennet is determined to pursue her education and career without letting a man get in the way. When her traveling companion drops out, her planned hike on the Appalachian Trial is jeopardized. She meets the spoiled, snobby William Darcy just when he is desperate to escape the spotlight. No one will suspect that the Prince of Manhattan has gone backpacking! Darcy and Elizabeth form a tenuous partnership and begin a 300-mile journey that will transform them both.
In classic romantic comedy tradition, Boots & Backpacks follows our reluctant partners as they build trust, friendship, and even more. Six weeks together on America’s most famous hiking trail may turn out to be just what these two need!
Escaping the pressure and hounding of the paparazzi just before the odd terms of his parents will force him to marry by his thirtieth birthday to keep his legacy sends playboy and womanizer, William Darcy, onto an incredible journey backpacking down the Appalachian Trail with a hostile female partner and the result is life changing. Whooboy! This one was on rolling boil before the story even opened and it just got more volatile from there in this enemies to lovers plot.
William Darcy is the fourth generation son of a prestigious NYC family and the only Darcy left after his parents are killed in a car crash. He is an orphan, but his parents thought ahead so he had his nanny, Mrs. Reynolds and his dad’s law partner, Cat DeBourgh, as co-guardians with them splitting responsibility for him. Mrs. R was his daily caregiver and the domineering Cat took care of his education and other needs pushing him into law and pushing him toward her daughter. Will got a bit of attention as the pitiful orphan rich child, but it wasn’t until his early twenties when an inside source at the law office leaked the exact contents of his parent’s odd will that he became an overnight celebrity. The will stipulated that he must marry by thirty and maintain certain things in the marriage or he’ll lose the Darcy fortune. In retaliation, Will turns into a proliferate playboy and keeps the gossip and entertainment newshounds busy with fodder. One in particular has made him her particular target and turned his life into a frenzy.
Just a few months before the dreaded thirtieth birthday when the hounding and pressure increase, he is jolted out of his shallow, meaningless life when he encounters the feisty, assertive sister of his best friend’s girlfriend. Lizzy Bennett challenges him as nobody has before starting with a strong set down when he propositions her for a hook-up. Not only did she say no in the most emphatic way, but she challenges to really see what he has become in the process. Through a series of circumstances, he ends up on Lizzy’s doorstep needing her help to hide from the paparazzi even if its just for a little while. Lo and behold, his arrival is fortuitous for Lizzy too because her backpacking partner has backed out on her. She hatches the scheme of him replacing the partner because who would look for a NYC playboy roughing it on the Appalachian Trail.
Though they are partners in this, things start out hostile at best. But the journey through the back country and their adventure together forces them to know each other in ways no one else ever has. Lizzy’s man hatred and Will’s shallowness don’t come from very different reasons they discover. They bicker, tease, and talk their way into a true friendship where the truth forces them to really look at their lives. Misunderstandings, misplaced jealousy and defensive anger do its best to shake things up and does deliver the final blow to any possibilities as the deadline for the will approaches. Will thought he had an alternative to settling for Anne deBourgh, but that dream is in ashes now so he returns to NYC to face his fate.
Alrighty, I read this one on my e-reader without actual page numbers, but the last location logged at a hefty 8945 so it was a boomer in more ways than one. Fortunately, length was not a detractor as I was totally into the story from the moment I learned about Will Darcy’s situation and his less appealing personality up against the antagonistic female who was his match. Shake hands and come out fighting. Ding, ding!
The story gives a strong nod toward Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and to a lesser extent Northanger Abbey, but it is truly its own story in many ways. The arrogant, bitter, lonely, rich man and the equally arrogant, disillusioned, driven working class woman go head to head and its a battle of wills almost the whole way through though the outward antagonism waned toward the end. It’s more than a romance, but also a long journey of two people being remade into something more. Will is the narrator for the whole story which was an interesting choice, but it worked.
The oddity of the will as the device that acted as the causal agent was really out there for me. I struggled to figure out how two loving, sensible parents would do that to their child. But I ended up just going with it since it gave an excuse for Will’s anger, his desperation, and his reason to be pushed toward Elizabeth.
At first, it seems that its Will Darcy that has to do a lot of changing, but then through more subtler storytelling Elizabeth turns out to be possibly more broken than Will. I confess that I really didn’t care for either of them in the beginning particularly the abrasive Elizabeth. Part of it is because I have a real aversion toward snarking and sniping when it is done to deflect or cover up what the real problem is.
For instance, Elizabeth really rubs Will’s promiscuous lifestyle in his face every chance she gets in the beginning and later when she wants to really hurt him. Does she have her facts wrong? No, he did behave that way, but the problem is her motives. Their first meeting, I get it, he was a class A jerk and deserved everything she threw at him, but after that, no. I found it pretty obvious that she is attracted to him and she’s sniping at him out of jealousy. She, herself is known to family and friends, as the girl who is a man-hater, never does relationships and only does friends with benefits, ending the friendship as soon as the guy gets serious. She hasn’t lived her life in front of cameras and gossip newswriters which is the only reason she isn’t as famous for her behavior as Will.
But once the story progressed, they grew on me. Oh, they still snarled, but it changed to arguing made out of caring. Will challenges Elizabeth and she challenges him. They were also fun too together and their are lighter moments to blend with the willful stuff. I laughed so much reading the part when Lizzy gets drunk and feeds the jukebox so that it repeatedly plays these songs that really irritate the rest of the bar inhabitants and Will has to throw her over his shoulder- with her cackling away about what she did- and get out of there before they beat him up because he’s the guy. Their passion built so by the time they did something with it the tension was strung tightly. The first time was euphoric and meant to be coming before what it did. I loved how the author plotted that part of the romance out so it wasn’t just a throwaway during a less meaningful time. Eventually, it comes down to a willingness to change, to really know what’s the most important thing, and courage to go for their happiness. They were a truly exhausting couple a lot of times, but in the end, I was happy to have gone along on their story.
I found it absolutely fascinating when they were equipping and actually out on the trails backpacking and camping. I’ve always loved to camp, but I’ve never done a distance hike so seeing what it was like through the story just captivated me. This backdrop was so colorful, authentic and written so deftly that it was like it was another main character of the story. I felt I was there enjoying the experiences and the views with them.
Speaking of characters, aside from Will and Elizabeth, there was a large cast of minor characters that had lots of scene time. They weren’t just background for Will and Elizabeth, but had their own developed characters and stories in their own right. I really loved pursuing these side stories too though after Caroline’s stunt I would have loved for an actual on-scene bit of pay back.
So all in all, the characters grew on me so that I learned to like them as much as the story as a whole. It’s unique backdrop and its scope that allowed it to develop well was very attractive. Seeing the Jane Austen tales mashed together was an added pleasure and very creative. But most of all, watching two lonely broken people find love and happiness was the big pay off. I would recommend this toward Contemporary Romance fans who enjoy long developing stories and some sass and heat to their romance.
My thanks to Meryton Press for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.
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