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on May 19, 2017
Book Review: Miss Bennet Blooms: Reina M. Williams: 4-stars

“No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.” Marilyn Monroe

‘Miss Bennet Blooms’ is book 3 in the 4-book bundle ‘Love at Pemberley’. I have reviewed each book separately under the individual titles.

Book 1: Most Truly: 4-stars: I already had this book as part of my collection.
Book 2: Miss Darcy Decides: 4-stars: see my review posted separately.
Book 3: Miss Bennet Blooms:

It is possible to read this as a stand-a-lone; however, I would suggest reading the rest of the series simply because there is so much going on that carries over in this book. They are short and worth it. I was so happy to see them all bundled together in one book.

In my opinion it’s hard business for authors to attempt to write about the secondary and tertiary characters from a familiar literary work. Once we start moving away from our main character couples Darcy/Elizabeth and Charles/Jane, we start getting into boggy ground. Georgiana is the next concentric circle around our primary characters and following her is Kitty, Lydia and Mary. In some respects, Mary is the hardest to write about because she walked such a hard line that there isn’t much excitement generated about her. Authors have to work really hard in order to create the perfect man for Mary to become his helpmate.

“Feelings aroused by the touch of someone’s hand, the sound of music, the smell of a flower, a beautiful sunset, a work of art, love, laughter, hope and faith – all work on both the unconscious and the conscious aspects of the self, and they have physiological consequences as well.” Bernie Siegel

Williams tailor made just such a man for Mary. He was the perfect choice for her. He was intelligent, a scientist/botanist, and he loved to listen to her play the pianoforte. They were so well suited and perfectly complemented each other. It was amazing to hear their individual thoughts and emotions in regard to life and their thoughts on love. Because it was so introspective, it dragged just a bit and I started to think it was all about to fall apart. Williams pulled a good one on the reader as she worked toward the HEA. Near the end of the story, we were given a glimpse of the next book that will complete the series.

“There are souls which fall from heaven like flowers, but ere they bloom are crushed under the foul tread of some brutal hoof.” Jean Paul

What I didn’t like… Mrs. Bennet… that woman and her nerves interrupted so many conversations and embarrassed the crap out of her daughters. I just wanted to shake her and yell… shut it. But she wouldn’t hear me and I don’t want to scare the neighbors.

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

This was very informative as we looked at what made Mary tick. I felt so sorry for her and I know she would not appreciate pity. However, I resented her parents so much in this story. I understand that some people are not demonstrative, but anything would be better than nothing.

Source: Meredith [Austenesque Reviews] hosted Reina M. Williams’ blog tour and I won a copy of ‘Love at Pemberley’ [Four Novellas of Pride and Prejudice] in her generous give-a-way with no expectation of a review. This is my honest review/opinion... I could not do otherwise.
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on April 29, 2017
A very short novella but well written and plotted. I just loved this emerging Mary. I've always been drawn to Austen's middle Bennett sister.
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on March 24, 2017
So far, the ones I 'be read have been entertaining and sweet. I really will be reading the rest of this collection.
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on December 7, 2016
5 stars
This is by far my favorite book of this series (;I have already read book #4;) I have always had a soft spot for Mary. The middle child, without a bff sister, or really any friends at all.
This Mary is more mature, self aware and even more empathetic, trying to improve both herself and her life. This is a Mary that thinks before she speaks and trys to see things from other peoples point of view. This is a Mary I could see myself beings friends with.
I won't go into how well the book is written or how easy it is to connect with the characters because I wouldn't give 5 stars to a book that was not written well or had characters I couldn't connect to. Instead I will just say that even though this is only the 3rd book I've read by Ms. Williams with "Miss Bennet Blooms (Love at Pemberley, #3)" she is now a member of my favorite authors. I look forward to spending many more years reading her books.
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on July 14, 2016
This was well written in that the author is a pretty, descriptive writer and I don't recall seeing any typos (which sadly is to be expected with all JAFF sold online). I also appreciate this is a Mary-centric story... and that's about it. Overall it was a boring story. The author focused too much on describing Nathaniel Bingley's inner turmoil which was longwindedly repeated in every single chapter. There was little in character development and no angst or major struggle to carry the story along other than Nathaniel's moping.
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on January 22, 2016
I quite enjoyed this story. I like that Mary has matured and mellowed. She realized that in her earlier years she was unhappy and smug instead of pious. Her relationship with Nathaniel is fortunate for both of them. I would have liked to see a scene or two where Nat realizes just how helpful Mary will be to his work. Lovely and well written.
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on February 28, 2015
It is nice to find someone who wants to write about poor Mary Bennett and present her as a sensible young woman who finds she has more to give that believed possible. But Mary would not be happy with just any man, he would need to be loving, kind and intelligent. Maybe a scientist would be just what Miss Mary needs to bring her the fulfillment that Jane, Lizzy, Kitty and Georgiana had found. It is a cute story and a refreshing read about the "forgotten" Bennett sister. Thanks Reina.
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on October 26, 2014
I liked Mary in this book. Nathaniel and Mary shared a similar interest, making them a perfect couple. I am a Richard and Mary fan. Richard was in this book, but it was obvious Mary and Nathaniel was a better match.
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on July 7, 2014
I must admit I find Mary Bennet the least interesting Bennet sister and (even possibly) character in all of Jane Austen’s fiction. Boring, pedantic, and virtually invisible, she is a backdrop to any action in the story. And I have always believed that she should have been the one to marry the insipid Mr. Collins; as a matter of fact, in the opening scene, we find her reading Fordyce’s Sermons, a book that Mr. Collins read aloud for the Bennets during his momentous visit to Longbourn.
Nevertheless, this sweet and light romance is really more of a Christian/inspirational romance than an historical one. I’d say the only historical aspects are that it is based on Pride and Prejudice (which was first published in 1813), white soup is consumed at dinner, and it painstakingly observes the proprieties and societal strictures that Mary Bennet always observed and favored.
The Christian/inspiration religious overtones are sometimes distracting and, at times, I felt that there were almost three people in the relationship: Mary, Nathaniel, and “the Maker.” I find it intrusive but, later, I felt perhaps, apt, given Mary’s (and Nathaniel’s) strong religious devotion; it is fortunate they find each other.
Mary is the last unwed Bennet daughter. She’s also an introvert and prays and thinks a lot. She expects to remain with her parents and remain the spinster aunt. Ignored by her parents and sisters, she has always withdrawn into herself but, ever since her sisters’ marriages, her invitations to visit have opened up a wider social world, one she finds she likes. Part of this involves listening with rapt attention to Mr. Bingley’s cousin Nathaniel’s fascinating letters from the Indies and his botanical research. His passion mirrors her own for her books and her music while opening her mind to a different world. She also finds, to her surprise, that she is tiring of those very tight strictures she feels compelled to live by.
Everyone is gathered at Pemberley for the christening of Darcy and Elizabeth’s son, Edward. There Mary meets Nathaniel Bingley, who sees her beauty, both inside and out.
“Like a delicate flower deep in the forest, her true beauty could be best seen when in full bloom, only found by the the ardent searcher.” (p16)
Mary hadn’t planned to ever marry but finds she has changed her mind and dares to hope.
“Mary had often wondered if the security of the institution was worth the risk inherent in its confines.” (p31)
There are lovely descriptions in this story of the interiors and lovely landscapes of Pemberley.
“The drawing room door opened. No more were there scents of port and cigar, no more the deep tones of mahogany and forest green. Here was the delicate aroma of tea, roses, lavender, and the pale colors to match, from mauves and blue, to pale yellows and pinks of the ladies’ dresses and the furnishings. (p15)
Mary realizes that both Nathaniel and Georgiana (both fellow introverts), understand her. They are kindred spirits and, to Nathaniel, her “heart-friend.” (p29)
“What a pleasure to have found someone who understood that silence would be a form of communication just as words were.” (p20)
The play on the word “bloom” in the title troubles me somewhat. Though a common expression in Austen’s time, a woman’s bloom is her most valuable asset, next to her grace and ladylike qualities and accomplishments. That Nathaniel is a botanist makes the title’s connection a bit too twee.
Nathaniel is a rather serious and depressed hero, much like Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, the heroes from Sense and Sensibility. He’s shy and reserved and battles daily with the grief he still feels from his parents’ deaths. There is also mention of his feeling claustrophobic in crowds and his panic-attack-like symptoms resemble those of the hero in Tessa Dare’s One Dance with a Duke, but this is not fully explored. He also has “nothing to offer. No home, no steady income, no position in society.” (p40)
“But the secrets of plants were simpler to discern than those of people.” (p25)
He becomes friendly with Mr. Bennet, who finds his research and drawings fascinating. Nathaniel finds Mr. Bennet is as melancholy as himself but Mr. Bennet has a wife who inspires it. And dear Mrs. Bennet is still humorously lacking in the refinements as ever.
“The others were inside tending to the babies, or, in Mama’s case, her nerves.” (p37)
There is a lovely analogy toward the end of a rainstorm and childhood tears that makes Nathaniel realize he only fears what he doesn’t understand. As a child, once he understood rainstorms, he no longer feared them. So when he understands his love for Mary, he becomes unafraid. This revelation reminded me of that wonderful moment at the end of the film, When Harry Met Sally, when Harry realizes he cannot wait to start the rest of his life with Sally and he wants it to begin right now.
“Then he would wait no more. The heart, when full, beat faster, impatient to share its bounty.” (p53)
The ending is a bit too tidy when secondary characters in the novel make it possible for him to marry. Though the description of former rake Sir Camden is quite delicious:
“He was a handsome man, if one liked Adonises…” (p54)
This is the third book in Reina M. Williams’ Love at Pemberley, a spin-off series of sweet novellas based on Jane Austen’s most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice. There is a zen-like tone to the novella, like the first two in the series, and is a very well-written and pleasing love story.
Note: A modified version of this review first appeared on the Romantic Historical Reviews blog.
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on June 27, 2014
It was really well written.
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