Review: Darcy’s Hope: Beauty for Ashes by Ginger Monette

Review: Darcy’s Hope: Beauty for Ashes by Ginger MonetteDarcy’s Hope: Beauty for Ashes by Ginger Monette

Series: #1 Great War Romance
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Small Publisher on November 1, 2016
Pages: 279
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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four-half-stars      one-flame

The Great War years was such a momentous time in history.  That alone would be the captivating backdrop or conflict in a story, but to have it paired with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice left me salivating to read just such a story.  Pride, prejudice, and a desperate war full of battles, espionage, and those desperate souls caught up in it all made for riveting reading from cover to cover.

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes is not just a variation set in a different time period.  There are familiar moments that the Austen lover will recognize and adore, but it is not a close translation of characters and plot.  Beauty from Ashes is very much its own story and the reader needs to go in with this in mind.

The story begins at the Netherfield dance.  Elizabeth is disgruntled that she must dance with the man who requisitioned her beloved home for army use, the guy who slighted her looks, and also the one who ruined Lt. Wickham’s life.  Captain Darcy may be handsome, but Elizabeth can’t stand him.  Her attitude and accusations rile him.  Later her utter and vociferous rejection compounded with the horrific battle that lost him all his men determines him to seal himself off from care and love.

Later, Elizabeth suffers her own losses- a father’s death, a sister’s disappearance, a mother gone deranged and burning down their home, and her own dreams of becoming a doctor destroyed.  The only bright side is that inspite of interference, her sister Jane is back with Charles.  After accepting a surprising and unanticipated offer, Elizabeth goes to the front as a private nurse to the Frenchman who opens his home to become a field hospital.  Darcy and Elizabeth meet again.

Alright, this was a well-crafted story from the complexities of the story itself to the attention to authentic historical detail.  The characters are colorful and full of life.  The gritty quality needed in a war setting is there without getting too graphic.  I enjoyed the warfront suspense element paired along with the ongoing conflict between this pair who fight the sizzling attraction between them.

My only niggle and its a small one is that I did feel that I entered mid-story to a certain extent.  I’m not sure if this is largely because of expectation that it would follow the pattern of the original Pride & Prejudice story or if I would have felt that way in any case.  The story begins sometime after all the principle players are introduced to each other, the war is raging, and the early sparks of conflict have come and blazed up all off stage.  I imagine it was a way to summarize and keep the flow of the story moving forward as well as preserved some mystery to the suspense element, but I missed not getting things first hand.  Obviously there was enough that I got the idea and could imagine the scene just like later, there are explanations or memories of those scenes, but my curiosity would wish to experience them up close and personal.

The character of Colonel Fitzwilliam was a fantastic extra layer of goodness to the story for me as he is a favorite after the main characters.  I loved how the author portrayed the Colonel as true to the times and situation even having to make the tough decisions.  The tense relationship with Darcy, his cousin, but also junior officer and trusted friend was amazingly intuitive.  Oh, and the inclusion of a cameo by John Thornton of North and South fame along with a descendant of two other delightful Austen figures was a treat.

Darcy and Elizabeth share the narration and I enjoyed getting their separate observations on their work and on each other.  Darcy was bitter and Elizabeth was deeply angry, but both had their epiphany moments that eventually took them down the long road of understanding.  This is a slow build sweet romance set against the desperation of war so the romance is subtle rather than brazen.  I loved the promise of what was to come with the ending and the still looming ominous clouds of war and betrayal.

On a side note, I was delighted to flip through a supplemental virtual scrapbook.  The author compiled photos and memorabilia of the times and particularly that which pertained to this story.  Lizzy’s Scrapbook can be accessed by readers who sign up for the author’s newsletter here:  http://www.gingermonette.com/copy-of-lizzy-s-scrapbook

So all in all, this story hit home with its focus on a field hospital in France during WWI, a tempestuous love story and a cunning suspense plot.  This will definitely hold vast appeal for Austen lovers, but I think those who enjoy sweet historical romance and fiction should definitely give this one due consideration as well.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #14 HR
Literary Pickers #15 passport
Austenesque Lovers #3

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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.
  • Oh a unique set up. I think I would have wanted t see some of the earlier bits as well and not come in once things were set up. still sounds very interesting, though 🙂

    • I really loved that it was a WWI romance because I haven’t read many and there was a neat espionage mystery, too. Yeah, they were just so fiery and had good banter that I wanted to see those early moments because I loved it so much.

    • Ginger Monette

      Actually, I had a hard time finding a good place to start the novel and eventually decided not to go TOO far back or the story would have been like 600 pages : ) However, I’ve toyed with the idea of have a prequel–especially if my dream came true and the Darcy’s Hope saga were made into a TV mini-series. I even know exactly how it would start : )

  • Ginger Monette

    Thank you, Sophia! Wow, what a fantastic review–so articulate! So glad you enjoyed it, and I so appreciate all your support : )

    • You betcha! Happy to read your books and share my thoughts. 🙂