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on August 24, 2012
This book is well-written and well worth the read, a stark contrast to the host of novels by self-published authors who must have fallen asleep during their elementary school grammar lessons. Darcy leaves during bad weather to propose, he doesn't realize that she's refused him and assumes she said yes, they have a fight when they discover the mistake, she rails against his behavior to Wickham, the bridge washes away and he can't get back, they're trapped together for days (and, in the eyes of society, are compromised), etc. Because the plot unfolds as it does, there is no letter in which Darcy explains himself (he does so in person, in a rather touching scene), and Elizabeth is almost forced to watch him act responsibly, compassionately, and even bravely, ultimately coming to appreciate his inner struggles and the depth of his feelings. You really do feel how much Darcy cares for her and, once she accepts the engagement and recognizes her emotions, how unfair it is that they're forced to delay their marriage as they are. There's an undercurrent to Darcy's relationship with the Colonel. Mr. Bennett is unyielding and unapproachable. Jane is a bit stronger than often portrayed, while Bingley is not as amiable. The Gardiners are absolutely wonderful.

Though there are passages pulled from P&P, Reynolds doesn't just drop them into her story as authors often do, as if they feel compelled to pay homage to Austen's language without fully understanding how to weave them into their own works. This book doesn't just talk about what the characters are and feel (as some modern versions do)--it demonstrates all that--so the characters have more depth and earned more of my sympathy.

I do wish, though, that there was a little more to the ending...a few paragraphs mentioning the family they have. We all know that Darcy and Elizabeth will go on to have a wonderful life with wonderful children and do wonderful things, but I would have liked Reynolds to say that a little more than she did. Still, the conclusion wasn't really abrupt and clearly didn't prevent me from giving five stars. Certainly in comparison to some other modern P&Ps, this one deserves the ranking.
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on August 24, 2012
This latest Pemberly Variation was simply delightful, rife with humor and drama. I alternated between laughing, sighing and tearing my hair out in exasperation.Poor Darcy and Elizabeth are trapped at the Hunsford parsonage when the river overflows after being interrupted in the midst of Darcy's dreadful proposal. Once the hullabaloo dies down a little, Darcy is under the misapprehension that Elizabeth had been on the verge of saying yes, which makes things a little awkward. When she sets him straight, things get a little tense...and that's before it gets really interesting.

I love how you see a great deal more of Col. Fitzwilliam in this story that usual. Caught between Elizabeth and Darcy, then Darcy and Mr. Bennet...as well as between some other people I won't mention for fear of spoilers, you feel rather sorry for the poor man. Other favorites of mine were Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, both of whom managed to be quite devious and lovable. You get to see a harsher side to Mr. Bennet and, surprisingly, to Mr. Bingley, which I found quite interesting.

My only very small complaint is that this book should have been longer. The beginning was just a trifle rushed, but mostly I just didn't want it to end so soon. I would have been very happy with another 200-300 pages so I could just wallow in the delicious romance.

Anyone who loves Austenesque re-tellings will love Mr. Darcy's Refuge. Sweet, funny, and absolutely lovely, I can foresee reading this again and again, just as I do most of Abigail Reynolds' books. This is not to be missed.

I received an advance e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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on November 20, 2012
I loved the book but judging it objectively half of the premise is unrealistic. The part where Darcy and Elizabeth are stuck together in the parsonage due to the floods is realistic OK. The fact that Elizabeth's father would put such huge objections to the marriage and almost imprison Elizabeth, well, is not so believable. As regards to the description of the sexual encounters (approaching soft porn), again not very realistic that a young woman who has never even been kissed until she meets Darcy, will respond and make love like an expert 20th century woman. However, besides its shortcomings, the book is indeed very enjoyable and I am glad I purchased it. . .
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on November 1, 2012
If you like to read about other people's sex in graphic detail then this book is for you. I, however, don't. The reason I like Jane Austen, Maud Montgomery, Shannon Hale, etc. is that I don't worry that I'll be let into the privacy of their character's bedrooms.

Ms. Reynolds has some good moments, especially in the end when Mr. Bennet and Col. Fitzwilliam are teasing and conspiring. Why, oh why, can't the whole book be like that? Elizabeth no longer has a sense of humor and Mr. Darcy is obsessed and can think only of her body. These are NOT the characters that Jane Austen wrote. I enjoy a good P&P take off as much as the next gal, but this was too much of a deviation from the characters I love.

The whole book is basically one sensual moment to the next sensual moment leading up to their wedding night. If you like to be turned on, then this book is for you.

Ms. Reynolds has talent and I wish she would have the courage to write her own book with her own characters in her own time-period. I'd read it with pleasure (as long as it left out the graphic sex, that is).
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on October 24, 2012
First I'd like to review the genre. I have read many P&P variations and alternatives lately and they fall into different categories. It's probably helpful to know what they are like going in so that you don't read something you are bound to hate in principle. The Abigail Reynolds P&P books are romance novels that borrow the Darcy and Elizabeth characters and the scenes we know and love, but turn them into adorable, sweet, fluffy bathtub reading. There's lots of smooching and puppy love passion. They are R-rated (explicit sex), as are other similar novels that are not about P&P. I don't think they are meant to be canonical but are fun little fantasy escapes into What-If Land. Don't read them if you are squeamish about love scenes or are 12 years old or have a need for Jane Austen's exact sensibilities to be expressed in the pages. Do read them if you, like me, love Darcy and Elizabeth and sometimes need to tuck your own husband and children into their beds at 10:00, pour yourself a glass of wine, and read until you finish the novel at 3:00. Think of it as a little mini-vacation. You already know something about the characters, you don't have to think that hard, and it's an entertaining escape.

With that out of the way I can review this specific book. I enjoyed it. The hardest thing for me was figuring out the actual necessity of Elizabeth and Darcy being shut up together at the beginning. It seemed that they could go into a village that was rather far away but not to Lady Catherine's house, which was quite nearby. Then other people seemed to be traveling about perfectly easily (Mr. Bennet all the way from Hertfordshire!) but Darcy still couldn't get back to his auntie's? Seemed odd. It would have been more believable that they were shut in without the trip into the village. And Darcy was such a frat boy here. His, um, preoccupations really reminded me of spoiled, rich boys I went to college with and Jenny and the villagers were sort of like his service projects. Eh. But I liked the Richard character, I liked the Bingly/Jane variation, loved the Gardiners. Didn't like Mr. Bennet because I had trouble seeing his character as being that unswerving about something that would cause him so much trouble, but I thought his story was well enough done. I thought the scene where Darcy fell asleep beside Elizabeth's bed was adorable, and I really really liked that Darcy and Elizabeth held out for their wedding night, which was just as romantic as other variations where they didn't, but just felt more believable.
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on January 30, 2014
It started out great - I love the flood idea, the fact that Darcy couldn't leave Elizabeth alone with the villagers, and Jenny's character helped bring the two main characters together. BUT. The problems start there...[spoilers]

Darcy disappears for a good while partway through the book, and since so many have claimed that as a flaw in P & P itself, why would the author use the same device here??? We need to see Lizzy and Darcy together most of the way, if not all the way, through!

Mr. Bennett acting like an arse because he doesn't want Lizzy to marry Darcy because of Darcy's uncle, who appears in the last third of the book?? For real? We can't come up with a better, less convoluted plot device than that? I found this totally unbelievable, even though the back story was well done (Bennett and Matlock knew each other in school....yada yada). I could not see Mr. Bennett behaving so uncharacteristically. And it was VERY uncharacteristic.

Continuing along the uncharacteristic vein...what was up with Colonel Fitzwilliam proposing to Lizzy, presumably to spite Darcy (sort of)? This particular turn was also mystifying to me. We know he needs to marry up, right? So why propose to Lizzy, no matter how honorable, or even in like with her as he may have been? I felt like there was some character development trying to happen there, but it didn't for me. And then he ends up with Jane? Wha...wha...what??? Just crazy.

Plus, maybe this is just me being really dense, and not reading carefully because I'm trying to escape other thoughts, but did I miss where Lizzy fell in love with Darcy???? I knew why they needed to marry, and could see she was starting to sort of develop feelings for him, but I really could not pinpoint a moment where she was like "I love him" except after her father drags her off, which then makes it seem more like teenage rebellion versus actually love and care on her part for him.

Overall, I've really enjoyed SOME of Reynold's previous P & P Variations - Mr. Darcy's Noble Connections is a good one, as is The Last Man in the World. But Mr. Darcy's Refuge will have to go into my "not to read again" pile, along with By Force of Instinct.
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on August 25, 2012
This is now one of my favorite P&P variations. As others noted I wish it had been longer, I didn't want it to end! Love the twist on Mr. Bennet, and although we didn't see much of him, Mr. Bingley also is a bit different than usually portrayed. ....this adaptation is definitely better than being hit in the head with a brick (once you read it you'll get it). Love, love love! Thank you Abigail!
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on August 25, 2012
I found the variation lovely, even romantic in the old-fashioned way. As an avid reader of both Jane Austen and romantic novels, the book delighted me.
This Darcy, although he is not 100% the one I picture in my mind while reading the original P&P, is certainly coherent enough with the one I find there. The Lizzie in my mind is a little bit less concerned about conventions, but the one the author offers fits too. She gives me absolutely new views on other characters, which I highly appreciate, since what I like most about reading variations, sequels, etc. is finding out new perspectives that make Austen's books new again.

I will not comment further, since all the other reviewers (who are probably native and therefore better writers than myself) have done it so nicely. I just wanted to point out that there are some typos in my Kindle edition. Nothing too serious, but one or two verbs repeated in the same sentence and things like that. Leaving that aside, the style is wonderful and respectful with Austen's, but at the same time personal enough to not think of it as a bad imitation.

The book is certainly worth the money.
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on January 14, 2016
Another great story from Abigail. Rain and more rain fell on Kent's countryside. The Hunsford Church and home was on high ground so many of the villagers came there for shelter. Darcy had just finished his not so elegant proposal. While waiting for Elizabeth to answer, calling adults and crying children banged on the parish front door. Darcy could not get back to Rosings because the bridge was destroyed, but after the first meal had been served, he knew they would need more provisions. Having to ride miles to the next bridge to get provisions, Darcy insisted that Elizabeth went with him. Unfortunately, Collins' sway back mare was clumsy. On the way back after the horse slid in the mud more than once, Elizabeth slid off and said she'd walk. Darcy was having none of that so she road back to parish. Even though she refused Darcy, he had put the engagement announcement in the London newspaper to prevent her from ruin. That's when *hit hit the fan! Mr. Bennet, Lord Matlock, and Lady Catherine converged at the same time on the parish door. The Earl was worse than Lady Catherine, and Mr. Bennet was the angriest of all. No one in the family liked the Earl. He and his wife were living separate lives and in different homes. When Darcy returns from the barn, he is still mad from the night before when Colonel Fitzwilliam suggested that he would marry Elizabeth so that Darcy could marry advantageously to a titled and rich lady of the Ton. From Richard's interference, Darcy was not in the mood for any of his relatives including his cousin. But Elizabeth's father was in a fury that Elizabeth had never seen. Forbids her to have contact with Darcy. They couldn't see each other, nor write letters, and Darcy could not step anywhere on Longbourn's property. Her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner did not agree with Mr. Bennet so when they traveled to Derbyshire they made sure Darcy was at Pemberley. Of course while there in Lambton, the infamous letter comes from Colonel Forster. Elizabeth is mad about everything connected with her father, mother, and dumb sister. Mrs. Bennet and Kitty were with Lydia in Brighton. Yells at her father that his way ward daughter had to be forced to marry a fake, gambler, a complete weasel while she could not marry the man she loved. Heated words for sure. Colonel Fitzwilliam falls in love with Jane. Bingley is out of her life because he didn't have a backbone to stand up for her. Mr. Bennet has an attack after his argument with Elizabeth that puts him in bed. He wants to see and talk to Darcy. When they meet, Mr. Bennet wants Darcy to marry Elizabeth now. Thinking he means after reading the banns for three weeks, Mr. Bennet says no, he means tomorrow preferably. How's that for a change of tune. The Gardiners think he faked his attack rather than admit he was wrong about he and Elizabeth. The next morning he is up, dressed, and rather chipper. Before this talk, Elizabeth finds out from her Uncle why he wanted nothing to do with the family. Darcy tells him that nobody in the family likes him either. The Colonel's mother is a gem, and she will undertake the Bennet girls and introduce them to the Ton. Happily ever after except Mr. Bennet still has his wife's nerves to deal with.
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on April 3, 2015
The darker-than-usual plot depends on the malevolence of Mr. Bennet. During an encounter that would horrify any responsible father of the time, Mr. Bennet turns into a tyrant to protect (as he sees it) his daughter Elizabeth. Doing this, he risks her respectability and happiness; he refuses to listen to her, to Darcy, or others who might explain the situation. He cuts off her contact with others both by reading and withholding letters that mention forbidden subjects and by making her promise not to attempt to contact Mr. Darcy or to acknowledge their engagement (which is widely known). He expects his treatment will result in Elizabeth giving up the engagement before she turns 21 (when she would be free to marry without his consent).

Well, make that his malevolence and his caprice. When Elizabeth gives makes the required promise, she is allowed to return to Longbourn, but only after Mrs. Bennet, Kitty and Lydia had been bustled off to Brighton where the militia is now encamped. (After all, Elizabeth can’t be expected to lie to her mother, so Mrs. Bennett must be gotten out of the way even if this puts the younger daughters at risk.) Longbourn is visited by Colonel Fitzwilliam (who was part of the horrifying scene); he comes to apologize and explain—and stays to admire Jane. There is nothing to explain why Mr. Bennet allows these visits from the son of a man he detests when the primary objection to Darcy is that he is the nephew of this same man. Elizabeth is allowed to attend assemblies and otherwise participate in Meryton society (although she rarely does). She is also allowed to go with Gardiners on the trip planned “to the Lake District,” but they are deliberately misleading him (and Elizabeth--so she wouldn’t be breaking her promise to her father) because they are now going to Derbyshire and to see Darcy at Pemberley. The Gardiners had initially agreed that Elizabeth needed to accede to her father’s demands even if they thought that he was overreacting. Now, they actively work against him to bring Elizabeth and Darcy together. No matter how good their motives, it’s an underhanded action (that relies on specious reasoning for its justification) that risks their relationship with the Bennet family. And, of course, Mr. Bennet had the legal right to control Elizabeth.

Mr. Bennet’s ill-judged decisions and behaviors were clearly inconsistent and frequently ineffective. While the original Mr. Bennet does show a lack of sustained application to anything involving his family, this variation shows an on-going persecution of Elizabeth (and Darcy). Minute enforcement (reading letters from Mrs. Collins that might mention Darcy or contain a message from him) is crosscut with allowing visits from Colonel Fitzwilliam (who should have been at least as taboo as Darcy—and who Mr. Bennet suspected was bringing messages from Darcy to Elizabeth). It all comes down to: It just doesn’t make sense to me.
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