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Courage Requires: A Pride and Prejudice Continuation (Courage Series) Paperback – June 3, 2017
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Most of the setting is Pemberley, and the action picks up right where the previous book ended. As we begin, the Hawke sisters are safe at the estate of Lord Matlock and Elizabeth Darcy is pregnant. Colonel Fitzwilliam relates the end of his adventures (from the previous book) to Darcy, who in turn tells Elizabeth, which motivates her to invite the two ladies to Pemberley for the Christmas holidays. Darcy is reluctant at first because Elizabeth is having such a hard time with her pregnancy, but he relents because she's so eager. Her nausea and lack of sleep over several months have become worrisome to everyone at Pemberley, especially her husband. Mr. Waters, the apothecary introduced in the previous book, is at the estate frequently, both for Mrs. Darcy and for other medical emergencies that pop up.
Miss Sophia Hawke and her younger sister Miss Evelyn quickly establish a friendship with Elizabeth and Georgiana. Sophia is an intuitive, strong-willed, active woman who's a perfect match for the energetic Colonel, as Elizabeth quickly perceives. Meanwhile, Sophia's sister Evelyn is book-smart but not exactly politically correct. She is spoiled and self-absorbed, and she generally speaks her mind thoughtlessly without considering how her words might be perceived. Because she doesn't know her sister's full history while they were separated, she often demeans Sophia.
Colonel Fitzwilliam and Sophia are mutually attracted to each other, but they know her relationship to her traitorous Uncle Archibald Hawke makes her an inappropriate choice as far as Lord Matlock is concerned. Fitzwilliam is expected to marry with an eye at enhancing the Fitzwilliam family's political strength rather than diminishing it. Lord and Lady Matlock, their eldest son Philip (a widower), and Philip's pampered young son Pembroke arrive at Pemberley for Christmas.
All of the above sets up some very interesting dynamics.
A very unusual storyline emerges where some of the servants are not as accommodating to a guest as they should be, especially at a particularly critical time. One of the book's best scenes is where Elizabeth transforms from the servants' warm, kindhearted advocate to the imperious Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mistress of Pemberley in order to address the staff.
Just like the first book, the weaving of this intricate storyline is very well done. You really get to understand all these characters, and each have scenes that are significant to the overall plot. In fact, there's no wasted conversation, event or detail here; it all works together purposefully. The majority of the story centers around Colonel Fitzwilliam and Sophia, but Darcy and Elizabeth are certainly not kept in the background. It's a fabulous ending to this two-part series by a very talented author.
Good psychological insight into most of the characters. The Bennett and Bingley family members are missing but we have an abundance of Fitzwilliam members
Last year, I had the pleasure to read and review Melanie Rachel’s debut JAFF book, Courage Rises, which is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It also earned a 2016 Just Jane 1813 Reviewer’s Favorite Award for Favorite JAFF Historical Fiction Story. As I’ve stated before, I started reading JAFF because I wanted to read more about what happens after the wedding in regards to Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, so whenever an author can create a well-written sequel that has an engaging plot and still expands upon those delicious moments of romance between OCD, I am eager to share it with my readers.
In Courage Requires, Ms. Rachel picks the story up right where it left off in Courage Rises, as Elizabeth Darcy is suffering from the symptoms of her pregnancy, after being recently reunited with her husband. Both are trying to resume their normal routines, yet Elizabeth’s recurring sickness not only interferes with her role as the mistress of Pemberley, it also has Darcy persistently concerned for his wife. In an attempt to celebrate the festive season with family and friends, Elizabeth invites the Fitzwilliam family, as well as the Hawke sisters, to Pemberley. How will Richard and Sophia feel towards one another once they spend more time in each other’s company?
As the families reunite, I loved the way Melanie Rachel created parallel stories for Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, as each man faced unique challenges that caused them to support one another throughout this difficult time. Elizabeth also faces struggles as the new mistress of Pemberley, as she is now facing some of the consequences of her actions from when Darcy was away. Her friendship with Sophia Hawke helps Elizabeth strengthen her confidence, yet she can’t help wonder why the Hawke sisters appear to have a rather strained and reserved relationship. Is there a family secret that has driven a wedge between them?
The relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth is nicely done. As a newly married couple, we are able to still feel those heartwarming moments of romantic tension between them and watch their relationship evolve into one that is built even more solidly on trust and respect. The dialogues between them are skillfully constructed and retain that playful, yet caring tone. I am always delighted when an author can bring a fresh new storyline to a Pride and Prejudice sequel that depicts the earliest times in their marriage.
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s relationship with Sophia was also well done. I liked their brief, but sweet courtship period, and the way the storyline unfolded between Richard and his father, the Earl. Ms. Rachel’s portrayal of the Earl’s struggles was a first for me, and I thought she handled this situation in a realistic manner and with a sensitivity that was important to this storyline. I found the Fitzwilliam family likable, yet flawed, which made me connect with each of them throughout this story, especially Richard’s widowed, older brother, and his young son, Pembroke.
For readers who have previously read Courage Rises, Melanie Rachel did a good job adding some crucial pieces of information from the first book into this story to help readers refresh their memories about the storylines and she accomplished this without being too repetitive. Overall, the story was a lovely combination of romantic tension, good character development, and an engaging, well-paced plot. I felt that each storyline was well developed and added to the overall enjoyment of the entire book. I also loved that the book was very character-driven, but never at the expense of slowing down the plot.
I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy JAFF sequels, as well as to JAFF readers who are willing to give a new series a chance. With Courage Rises earning a 4.6 overall star rating on Amazon after nearly thirty reviews, I believe this is a story that JAFF readers will love spending time cuddled up with in a cozy chair as they spend time at Pemberley during the earliest times of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s marriage!
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TIME FRAME: About 1-2 months after the close of Courage Rises
MAIN CHARACTERS: Mr.Read more
After the fast pace and tension filled Book 1 "Courage Rises", Book 2 picks up shortly after Colonel...Read more