The Unexpected Miss Bennet by Patrice Sarath

The Unexpected Miss Bennet

Rating: *** – 3 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  The third of five daughters, Miss Mary Bennet is a rather unremarkable girl. With her countenance being somewhere between plain and pretty and in possession of no great accomplishments, few expect the third Bennet daughter to attract a respectable man. But although she is shy and would much prefer to keep her nose stuck in a book, Mary is uncertain she wants to meekly follow the path to spinsterhood set before her.

Determined that Mary should have a chance at happiness, the elder Bennet sisters concoct a plan. Lizzy invites Mary to visit at Pemberley, hoping to give her sister a place to grow and make new acquaintances. But it is only when Mary strikes out independently that she can attempt to become accomplished in her own right. And in a family renowned for its remarkable Misses, Mary Bennet may turn out to be the most wholly unexpected of them all.

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  A spin-off of Pride and Prejudice, focusing on Elisabeth Bennet’s shy and bookish sister, Mary. We are introduced to Mary in P&P as obsessed with piano playing and sermons, and a little out of touch with the reality of the time. In this novel, she blossoms into an independent young woman who develops likes and dislikes of her own and while still maintaining her love for books and her devotion to her faith, she opens up to new possibilities, friendships, and eventually a love interest. I very much enjoyed the narrative, which is very close to an original Jane Austen, and the author’s ability to develop Mary into a likable character. However, the romance component takes a backside, and much unloved characters are developed further here, which I did not enjoy. Why page after page of Mr. Collins and Catherine de Bourgh’s ridiculous rants, and Lydia and Wickham’s mishaps, instead of more Mary, P&P more beloved characters, and new interesting ones?

SEXUAL CONTENT: None

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion:  Overall, a clean and enjoyable regency fiction with a pinch of romance. I would still recommend this book!

Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections by Abigail Reynolds

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  There’s only one fact that notorious rake Lord Charles Carlisle and his cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, can agree upon: a house party given by the Marquess of Bentham is bound to be intolerably dull. To relieve his boredom, Lord Charles accepts a bet that he can seduce his sister’s pretty friend during their stay at Bentham Park. After all, it’s easy money for an experienced seducer. Why should he care if his staid cousin Darcy disapproves?
But when Darcy discovers that Lord Charles’ new target is none other than Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who refused Darcy’s offer of marriage, he cannot stand by and watch as the woman he still loves is callously ruined. What he doesn’t know is that Lord Charles has a dark secret, and that his attentions to Elizabeth may not be what they seem. After a midnight rescue, clandestine meetings, a long-lost son, conspiracies, blackmail, and an attempted elopement, everyone can agree that this house party is anything but dull.

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  Another “What if?” of Pride and Prejudice, starting when Elisabeth Bennet leaves Kent after Darcy’s proposal. She stays at the grandiose Bentham Park with an old friend, Eleanor, who is part of the “ton” and is thrown into her life’s drama. Elisabeth and Darcy meet by chance, as he is visiting a friend nearby and happens to be connected with the family at Bentham Park himself. The progressing of their relationship, therefore, takes a different turn from the original story. The romance component is strong and Reynolds is very descriptive of the inner feelings and struggles of them both. Darcy is more expressive of his feelings for Elisabeth and so is she. We find our heroes often passionately kissing and exchanging physical affections before there is an understanding between them. While I find this uncharacteristic of the way Austen would portray it, it is often the case in these types of fan fictions and I don’t mind it as long as it doesn’t cross certain boundaries. And this book doesn’t. The romance is sweet and believable, paced masterfully, and I cannot tire of reading Reynolds’ accounts of how my Darcy and Elisabeth came to be together.

SEXUAL CONTENT: A few passionate kisses and some sexual references

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion:  This was a page turner for me until about the last few chapters, when the focus switched from our two protagonists to other minor characters. However, I had no trouble finishing it and enjoying it throughout. A 4 star winner for me!

Darcy’s Voyage, by Kara Louise

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Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley’s Promise. She’s prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down.

When Elizabeth falls ill, Darcy throws convention overboard in a plan that will bind them to each other more deeply than he ever could have imagined. But the perils of their ocean voyage pale in comparison to the harsh reality of society’s rules that threaten their chance at happiness. When they return to the lavish halls of England, will their love survive?

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  Even though I have mixed feelings about this Pride and Prejudice fan fiction, it is still a 4 star for me. In this retelling, Darcy and Elisabeth meet on their way to America on Darcy’s ship, Pemberley’s Promise.  I did not mind this variation, but what I didn’t like and found most unbelievable (SPOILER ALERT**) was that Elisabeth would actually enter into a marriage with Darcy for the sole purpose of securing a place into a cabin on the ship.  And that Darcy would even make such offer. I am well aware that Fan Fictions take liberties with the original story, but when the new story is so far off that the characters become different people, and act in a way that is uncharacteristic of how the original author intended, then, I have a problem. However, I decided to continue and finish the book, and I am glad I did.  Darcy and Elisabeth’s feeling progress and are paced masterfully, and their love story is sweet and it hooked me up.  I overlooked the way their romance came about, and focused on the romance itself, which is a page turner.  Together with the fact that I love this author and I would read anything she writes, this book was still a win.

SEXUAL CONTENT: A few passionate kisses.

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion: A clean and and enjoyable regency romance. I would highly recommend this book for lovers of this genre!

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview

Product Details

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Regency Fiction

BOOK SUMMARY:  Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin’s wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it’s nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  Why would I want to read a novel where Caroline Bingley, one of the most hated characters in Pride and Prejudice, takes center stage? I have to confess that I decided to read this book only because it is the prequel to Fairview’s “The Darcy Cousins”, which I absolutely loved. I had no expectations of liking this book, but surprisingly, I did! I knew that Fairview’s regency writing style is superb, so there was no surprise there. But I also found myself liking the plot, which was so interesting from beginning to end, and the characters (Robert Darcy is funny, witty, and extremely attractive, and Fairview manages to develop Caroline into a likable person, which I though would be hard –if no impossible- to do). The dialogues were so masterfully written, that I could not put this book down.

SEXUAL CONTENT: None (only a couple of kisses)

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion: A clean and enjoyable Pride and Prejudice spin-off with a pinch of romance. I highly recommend this book for those who love Austen and regency novels!

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel

Rating: * –1.5 Stars

GENRE: Contemporary Romance/Fan-Fiction

BOOK SUMMARY: Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband’s mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine’s playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the impulsive sister is Miranda, a literary agent entangled in a series of scandals, and the more pragmatic sister is Annie, a library director, who feels compelled to move in and watch over her capricious mother and sister (Amazon Book Description).

REVIEWER COMMENTS: I had such high hopes for this book. A contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility, and the New York Times was raving about it, so, what could go wrong? Well, a lot. The characters are very unlikable, and I could not identify with any of them. The plot is not interesting and the romance, well, puzzling to say the least. A homage to Sense and Sensibility? Well, let’s see: the two sisters are nothing like Elinor and Marianne. One of them –SPOILER ALERT- becomes gay later on in the novel… what? The male characters are nothing like Willoughby and Edward. The end… well the end was hard to get to, for me.

SEXUAL CONTENT: References to sexual encounters but nothing described explicitly. A few kisses.

ADULT LANGUAGE: Mild

*Conclusion: I am never comfortable with “bashing” a novel. I have high respect for authors and the efforts they put into writing and publishing a book. And I usually find something positive to say about a book I read. But that was difficult here. Again, you might give it a try –it is a relatively clean book- and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Mr. Darcy’s Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Mr. Darcy's Bite

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Regency/Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  Darcy is acting rather oddly. After months of courting Elizabeth Bennet, no offer of marriage is forthcoming and Elizabeth is first impatient, then increasingly frightened. For there is no denying that the full moon seems to be affecting his behavior, and Elizabeth’s love is going to be tested in ways she never dreamed. Darcy has more than family pride to protect: others of his kind are being hunted all over England and a member of Darcy’s pack is facing a crisis in Scotland. It will take all of Elizabeth’s faith, courage, and ingenuity to overcome her prejudice and join Darcy in a Regency world she never knew existed.

REVIEWER COMMENTS: Mr. Darcy, our beloved Mr. Darcy, a werewolf? What? And how can that possibly be romantic? Well, I know what you must be thinking… but believe me, in this Pride and Prejudice retelling, Mr. Darcy is a werewolf, and yes, his love story with Elisabeth is romantic, enticing, and passionate. I cannot exactly explain it. You just have to read this book to believe it. Simonsen manages to make this idea which may appear “ludicrous” into a believable story of love, courage, and self-sacrifice.

SEXUAL CONTENT: Sensual situations, passionate kisses, a couple of bedroom scenes between a married couple which are short, and in my opinion, described tastefully.

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion: After the first few pages, I was hooked. The romance is powerful and the new story line, as well as the characters, are imaginative and well developed. And at the end… well, I cried. Of joy.

A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Simonsen

Product Details

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  When Mr. Darcy realizes he insulted Miss Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, he feels duty bound to seek her out and apologize. But instead of meekly accepting his apology, Elizabeth stands up to him, and Darcy realizes with a shock that she is a very different type of lady than he is used to. Darcy is more intrigued than he’s ever been by any young lady, but he’s already entangled in a courtship. It’s a brutal predicament for a man of honor who only longs to follow his heart…

REVIEWER COMMENTS: This novel begins to take an alternative plot from the original right after Elisabeth overhears Darcy’s insults toward her at the Meryton Assembly. From there on, Simonsen leads the reader into a creative new story that, while it does not stray too far from the original, it is imaginative and interesting. We are also introduced to a second lady who might hold Darcy’s interest, which I found fascinating. The passion between our beloved characters is described masterfully by Simonsen, and yet she manages to stay true to the “rules of propriety” of the time. And that was a win for me!

SEXUAL CONTENT: Some passionate kissing and sensual situations. Some sexual innuendo. A short bedroom scene toward the end between a married couple that, in my opinion, is described tastefully.

ADULT LANGUAGE: Some language of sexual nature, but nothing too explicit.

*Conclusion: A wonderful addition to my collection of Pride and Prejudice fan-fictions. One that I could read over and over again.

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds

Mr. Darcy's Obsession (Pride & Prejudice Continues)

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: Mr. Darcy is determined to find a more suitable bride. But then he learns that Elisabeth is living in London in reduced circumstances, after her father’s death robs her of her family home. He just wants to make sure she’s alright. But once he’s seen her, he feels compelled to talk to her, and from there he’s unable to fight the overwhelming desire to be near her, or the ever-growing mutual attraction that is between them…

REVIEWER COMMENTS: This is an alternative story to the original Pride and Prejudice, and we find new plot lines and even new characters but the same love story between Darcy and Elisabeth with the same happy ending. Darcy is more outgoing and more expressive of his feelings for Elisabeth –yes, as in the title, the reader is transported into his obsession for her- and so is she. Reynolds’ storytelling is compelling and in places, literally addicting, and if you are a fan of everything Austen, then you will find this creative take on the original novel imaginative, passionate, and a page turner.

SEXUAL CONTENT: A few chaste kisses. Reference to other characters’ sexual encounters but none described.

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion: This novel expresses in such details Darcy’s longing for Elisabeth, which I absolutely loved. It is a relatively clean romance but yet full of passion from beginning to end. Another treat from Reynolds!

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy

Rating: ** – 2.5 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  It’s obvious to Georgiana Darcy that the lovely Elisabeth Bennet is her brother’s perfect match, but Darcy’s pigheadedness and Elisabeth’s wounded pride are going to keep them both from the love of their lives. Georgiana can’t let that happen, so she readily agrees to help her accommodating cousin, Anne De Bourgh, do everything within their power to assure her beloved brother’s happiness. But the path of matchmaking never runs smoothly…

REVIEWER COMMENTS: This book is a little different from other Austen fan-fictions: instead of an alternative twist on Pride and Prejudice or a continuation of the story, in this book, the storyline is just about the same as the original, but some characters as well as some minor instances are expanded further in order to add to the story. Maybe that is why I did not enjoy this retelling as much as others. I liked Anne and Georgiana’s attempts at matchmaking, but there was still no element of surprise and the romance fell a little flat. However, Simonsen is  able to transport the reader to Regency England with her outstanding dialogues and vocabulary that are so typical of that era.

SEXUAL CONTENT: Only a few kisses and some reference to sexual encounters

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion: Not my favorite Pride and Prejudice fan fiction, but yet a different take on our favorite characters that is still enjoyable. A clean romance novel that is easy to read.

The Darcy Connection: A Novel by Elizabeth Aston

Product Details

Rating: *** – 3.5 Stars

GENRE: Regency Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  Mr. Collins of Pride and Prejudice is now the Bishop of Ripon, living with his wife, Charlotte, and their two daughters, who have reached marriageable age. The elder, another Charlotte, is extraordinarily beautiful, and her parents hope her looks and connections will ensure a brilliant marriage. Her sister, Eliza, while not as handsome, possesses a lively intelligence that, in Mr. Collins’s opinion, is too like her godmother, Mrs. Darcy.

In London, Charlotte’s beauty wins her many admirers, despite her small fortune. But Eliza’s wit and attempts to interfere in what she considers an unsuitable marriage for her sister infuriate her family and Charlotte’s suitor — until Eliza herself meets her match.

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  If you though that you did not want to hear or read about Mr. Collins ever again, then you may want to think again. Aston manages to build a story around his life and family some 20 years after Pride and Prejudice takes place, and actually make it interesting. This is the story of Eliza and Charlotte, Mr. Collins’ two very different daughters, but Eliza takes center stage with her witty personality – which reminds us of our beloved Elisabeth Bennet – and her struggles to learn and understand about love and society. While I found the romance component to be on the sidelines, this book was still interesting and clever, and I was greatly entertained.

SEXUAL CONTENT: None (some kissing scenes)

ADULT LANGUAGE: None

*Conclusion:  I wish the romance between the main characters would have been more predominant. However, I still enjoyed this witty regency story and would highly recommend it!