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VINE VOICEon September 6, 2011
Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is about divorced mother Chloe who goes to England thinking she will be participating in a documentary in the Regency times only to discover she's actually going to be a contestant on a Regency Reality Show. Chloe must woo the `bachelor' to win the $100,000 prize, which she needs to be able to afford her failing business and keep custody of her daughter.

The premise was attractive because not only is Bachelor Mr. Wrightman a hottie, his younger brother is thrown into the mix and he is a quite gallant chap himself! (ooh, that sounds like such a regal regency phrase, does it not? The book rubbed off on me!)

I loved learning about the quirkiness of the times, like how the women wore their gowns, how they didn't bathe but once a week, what they used for deodorant, what they DIDN'T use for underwear, how they tied up their busts, what fanology was, and the hobbies they did. It has all made me very thankful for the comforts of our times!

I loved the author's quick-witted writing, and her characters were charming and flawed, in the very best possible of ways! I enjoyed imagining what those times were like as well, and found myself longing to jump back into the book during the day when I had other things to do. You'll find that after you read Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, you'll look around at the men in your life and think, "Seriously, chivalry IS TOTALLY DEAD!"
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In "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy," by Karen Doornebos, thirty-nine year old Chloe Parker (who is divorced with an eight-year-old daughter) leaves Chicago to participate in a reality show set in England in 1812. First prize is $100,000. To win it, she will have to outperform the other lovely contestants and convince a hunky and wealthy landowner, Sebastian Wrightman, to propose. Think of it as "The Bachelorette" meets "Pride and Prejudice." On the set of the show that bears the cheesy title, "How to Date Mr. Darcy," everything appears authentic: no electricity, showers, deodorant, modern rest rooms, television, cell phones, or computers. Chloe and her British competitors all have maidservants to fix their hair, dress them, and tend to their every need. In addition, contestants are asked to demonstrate their skills at archery, needlework, and playing a musical instrument in order to earn "Accomplishment Points."

At first, Chloe is delighted and enthusiastic to be living her dream. After all, she is a walking encyclopedia on everything Jane Austen. Still, Chloe soon misses her daughter and longs for the pleasures of basic hygiene (even soap and hot water are considered luxuries) and electronic communication. Nor is she thrilled to have cameras following her around. Fortunately, Chloe is pleasantly diverted not only by the gorgeous Sebastian, but also by his devastatingly attractive brother, Henry.

Doornebos has a feel for the Regency period and she effectively captures the atmosphere of Austen's novels. There are stately dinners, formal balls, a mock fox hunt, and semi-chaste courtships. Readers will be amused by some nice comic touches: One of the contestants frequently has her way with dashing footmen, another suffers from chronic allergies, and Chloe is a klutz who is forever putting her foot in her mouth and messing up her fancy dresses.

"Definitely Not Mr. Darcy" is a light and frothy send-up of silly reality programs, but it does not have the mandatory romantic buzz. Most readers will be able to predict where the plot is headed, and the love scenes are as synthetic as the show itself. Chloe is a bit of a contradiction. On the one hand, she is needy and desperate for the prize money. Yet, in a few short weeks, she suddenly becomes independent and strong-minded. Although there are some entertaining moments in this humorous novel, "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy" is too long, drags towards the end, and does not fully deliver on its initial promise.
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on November 2, 2011
I wavered between 3 and 4 stars because while this book was entertaining, it didn't really have much depth...in fact it was pretty shallow, and highly predictable. That being said, it is still a fun little read. I finished it in a day, and it certainly kept me interested enough to see it through.

The story centers on Austen-aficionado Chole, who lands a spot on a Regency-era reality show...little does she know she is actually entering a dating contest to win the heart of the handsome (and very wealthy) Mr. Wrightman. Rife with cutthroat fellow contestants, tricky social situations, and not too dull humor, this tale has our heroine on her slipper clad toes the whole time.

One of the things that kept me intrigued throughout the book was the research done into real Regency life. Though the period is just the backdrop for the dating show, it reveals to the readers tons of little known facts about life for women at the time...and I must say, it doesn't sound as pleasant as Jane Austen makes it. In truth, life was a bit more difficult without the convenience of baths, the plethora of ridiculous undergarments, and the somewhat questionable food. It was details like this that made this story feel a bit more real and bit less Lifetime Movie.

In short, I enjoyed this book, simple as it was. I recommend it for a fast, fun read, but caution away those who are looking for something with a bit more profundity.

Caitlin Warnock
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on December 15, 2013
About a third of the way into the book, I could already see how the story was going to end and the rest was just tedious to get through. There was nothing consistent with the main character. She's supposed to be discerning, but she doesn't pay attention to any obvious details. She's supposed to be a deep thinker, but she's just as shallow as the other women in the book. She's supposed to be a Jane Austen/Regency England expert and yet most of her Jane Austen references come from the 1995 A&E film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I have nothing against that film, in fact, I love it, but even I, a non-expert, can talk about the character of Mr. Darcy in an intelligent way without referring to Colin Firth's portrayal of him. I did learn some new things about Regency life, but that's about all I got out of this book. I agree with another reviewer, if you want something to read that's all fluff and no substance then this is the book for you.
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on June 7, 2015
Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is definitely not worth wasting a minute reading. While the writing is good quality, the plot drags and drags. *Mild spoilers ahead.

It's nearly 25% through the book before the two male leads finally make an appearance. Then the middle of the book is spent detailing the daily tasks that makes a lady truly accomplished, all hidden in the guise as challenges for the dating show. And lots of whining (ad nauseam) about no toilets, deodorant, showers, baths, or soap. If the reader didn't already know that the nineteenth century was not the most aromatic era, the author certainly doesn't forget to mention it on almost every page. Very little "dating", modern, Regency, or otherwise, occurs even though the whole plot premise is the 1812 version of The Bachelor. Finally in the last quarter of the book, the shallow (both in depth and personality) actually interact with each other as the plot unwinds.

As for the characterizations, no one is likeable. There's plenty of potential if the author had actually bothered to redeem any of their blunders. Instead, most of the characters are blatant (and boring) stereotypes. The main heroine, Chloe, is inconstant (definitely not an Austen trait) and even goes as far as almost getting it on with the wrong Mr. Wrightman, manhood out in his hand, even though she's supposedly just realized how much she loves and blew it with the right Mr. Wrightman.

The final nail in this disaster's coffin was the ending. Without actually giving it away, it's a major screw job that leaves the reader completely unsatisfied. Get Austenland by Shannon Hale, which provides all the happy, fuzzy feelings a reader is looking for in a fun weekend read.
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For a semi-successful business woman Chloe is not at all attentive to details. For example she didn't read the film maker's contract thoroughly and ended up not on a documentary but on a reality TV show. It also didn't occur to her that she would have to give up her cell phone and for three weeks would be without contact with her daughter back home in the states. Quite a bit did not occur to Chloe and that made for a really delightful reading experience full of humor. Another plus was the plethora (love that word) of Regency England attitudes, rules and mores. I have read many Historical Romances set in the Regency period and often the social conventions are alluded to but not really explained fully. Not so in this book. We are treated to all those answers that may have been raising questions in our other reading experiences. The Regency period is eviscerated and we are shown the not so nice and not so convenient way of life.

Karen Doornebos has done her Regency homework. Her writing is good. Her side characters were fun to read. If it became a bit silly every now and then it was forgivable for all the pluses this novel delivered. If you like the Regency period then I'm sure you will enjoy this take on modern vs Regency life.
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on May 14, 2013
Chloe Parker, a divorced thirty-nine year old mother from Chicago signs up for a `immersion documentary' that is in fact just a reality dating show.... Her Regency Biopic has turned into "How to Date Mr. Darcy". How did this happen?

Chloe arrived hoping to win the $100,000 prize by spending three weeks in 1812 England and testing her Jane Austen knowledge, a prize that could save her failing business. It is too late to turn back so she decides to go all in and attempt to win the heart and hand of Sebastian Wrightman, the eldest son set to inherit Dartworth Hall. No 21st century allowed!! This includes: cell phones, deodorant, daily showers, toilets, hanky panky, etc. Can Chloe survive the `game' or is it too much for her to handle? Are the friends she made in the game really her friends?

Overall a fun read! A different take on an Austenland idea... figured out a bit of the plot early on and waited to see how it unfolded. As a huge JA fan I found it entertaining even though the end was not my favorite (no spoilers!)
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VINE VOICEon March 15, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I love reality TV shows and I love Jane Austen take offs, so this was perfect for me. This is the first take off I've read that really shows what a pain it would have been to live back then. Through the reality reinactments, we find out what women's underwear was like, how they brushed their teeth, how they had to use lemons as deodorant and strawberries for lipstick, etc. It kind of changed the romantic view I had of the Regency era, but not enough to stop me from wanting to read about it. I think this book must have been very well researched and I learned quite a bit from it while I was having fun reading the story.

The reality show part of the book was just like watching a real reality show. The contestants had to do tasks such as learn embroidery, archery, etc. in order to win time with the Mr. Darcy-like character. It was all lots of fun, as it is on TV. The ending was kind of what I expected, but still lots of fun getting there. The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5, is that for me parts of the story dragged on a bit and I ended up skimming through some of the details. Other than that, I really liked it.
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on October 24, 2013
I enjoy anything related to Jane Austen's wonderful novels and I found Karen's story fascinating, because the storyline is an eye opener. It was very entertaining because the main character Chloe could be any one of us Romantics thinking The Regency era was all so wonderful, when in reality it was far from it! I loved the storyline which keeps you riveted throughout.
A highly recommended read! I look forward to Karens new book 'Undressing Mr Darcy' due out in December 13.
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on August 25, 2012
I'm a P&P--related and variation book addict--though rarely any contemporary. But this book had such a different premise I couldn't resist. LOVED IT!!! Chloe was fun and spunky and imperfect. The heroes--especially THE hero--wow! And interesting to vicariously experience what it was really like in those days vs. our romantized, idealized picture of it. Was the book perfect? No, but it was fun, romantic, and interesting. I agree that the ending was a bit abrupt--would have been nice to see them together (kind of like the Colin Firth kiss in the carriage?). But to one reviewer's comment that it was "risque"--I don't think so at all. A nice, fun read--in fact, couldn't put it down! Looking forward to more from this author.
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