Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It is extremely fitting that I write up this review in the midst of "the great Blizzard of 2016". Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation is an excellent book to snuggle in front of the fire with, as the snow flakes flutter past your windows, enveloping your world in pure, crystalized white.
A little disclaimer here: I'm an avid Darcyfic/JAFF (Jane Austen FanFiction) fan. I have been reading variations on Miss Austen's works for decades. So I am very picky when it comes to what I like and don't like in an adapatation or variation.
That being said, I truly enjoyed my little romp with Elizabeth and Darcy in this book. I will try to avoid spoilers, but if you have yet to read the book - two words: DO IT. Leave my little silly review and go read. Then come back and see if you agree with me!
Any fan of Pride and Prejudice knows the story forwards and backwards. Elizabeth is quick to judge, Darcy is pompous and withdrawn. But from the beginning of this tale, you are already endeared to the charming, if torn, Mr. Darcy. He fights his feeling for Elizabeth, even as he believes that he cannot possibly deny them much longer. Then, in one of life's coincidences, he is thrown from his skittish mount, injured, and happened upon by the very embodiment of his angst, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
I believe I have read few variations of "Darcy and Lizzie are trapped together alone". But what sets this story apart is the warmth of the characters as they have to endure through a life-threatening, freak snow storm, and the added social disgrace of being single people alone together without chaperon. They manage to escape from the storm into a old cottage, abandoned by the owners in favor of a wedding celebration. We see glimpses of Darcy's humor, Elizabeth's weaknesses, and the attraction that both of them always try to fight (uselessly IMHO).
More delight filled me, as I found a personal touch from the author herself. Being a follower of hers for some time, I often read her Facebook updates, and get glimpses into her world. Imagine my surprise when her beloved miracle kitty Snowdrop appeared as a pivotal character in the story!
Snowdrop - photo from Abigail Reynolds website
After the snow subsides, our favorite couple manages to escape unscathed, except for tender feelings. The most heart-wrenching character of all in this story is poor Maria Lucas. While I agree she was a good character to show the seedier side of soldier life, I always feel so sorry for Maria. She's young, impressionable, and easily influenced. I was distressed by what happened to her, but it perfectly set up the foreshadowing of what happens to "fallen women".
My only gripe with this tale is the suddenness and neatness of the ending. While I loved how it ended (have no fear, HEA is there), I was really saddened that it seemed abrupt and contrived. I did enjoy the beach ramble, but everything seemed to tied in a bow.
My favorite supporting role had to go to Darcy's valet Crewe. I would have liked a little more of him to be honest - he is sarcastic, proper and brilliant. Just the type of servant I can see Fitzwilliam Darcy treasuring, especially if Mrs. Reynolds is anything to go by.
Overall, I believe this was my favorite of Abigail Reynolds' books I've read. I would highly recommend it to those JA fans who want a lot of romance, a little angst and a some giggles in their JAFF.
Next up - naughty Rock Stars...
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