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Mr. Darcy's Noble Connections: A Pride & Prejudice Variations Kindle Edition
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Immediately after Darcy's disasterous proposal at Huntsford, Elizabeth receives an urgent message from her childhood friend, Lady Eleanor, begging for her to come to Bentham Park. Eleanor is being forced to marry a dull aristocrat instead of her true love, Paxton, whose fortune was made by trade. The lovers devise a plan to meet under the assumption that Paxton will be 'courting' Elizabeth. What will Paxton's friend and Bentham relative, Darcy think of this scheme when he sees his true love again at one of the most elite estates in England?
What makes this story different from the rest of the authors stories is that Darcy and Elizabeth are not necessarily the main characters in the novel. Equal time is given to learning about Lord Carlisle, his prodigal brother, Edward, their stepmother, Lady (MacBeth), and other members of the ton. I defy you to not see Maggie Smith when we meet the dowager marchioness. This does mean less screentime for our favorite couple. But, oh do those scenes pack a punch. This sudsy soap opera will leave you staring at the page saying...he/she did WHAT?!?
The long lost brother thing was also strange. He fled the country but was allowed to gain a respectable position in his majesties army? And all for nothing because no one else thought he cheated? then why did he think he had to flee the country?
Perhaps I simply did not pick up what Reynolds was putting down int his story. Either way I just did not enjoy it and was glad to be finished. Too many coincidences and "misunderstandings" which would have been avoided in a realistic world where we use sense.
TIME FRAME: A couple months after Darcy's proposal at Hundsford Parsonage
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Lady Eleanor Carlisle (original), Lord Charles Carlisle (original), George Paxton (original), Dowager Marchioness (original), and Lord and Lady Bentham (originals)
SYNOPSIS: What if Elizabeth didn't have a "very strong local attachment?" What if she wasn't "always at Longbourn?" What if Lizzy spent much of her childhood as a playmate and resident companion to the daughter of a Marquess. Now, six years after her last visit with dear Lady Eleanor, (and a couple months after Mr. Darcy's disastrous proposal at Hunsford Parsonage) Elizabeth returns to Bentham Park to find none other than the "last man in the world" she'd ever want to encounter again!
WHAT I LOVED:
- A Change of Cast/A Change of Scenery: No Bennets, Bingleys, Gardiners, or Wickhams. No Jane, Charles, Georgiana, or Colonel Fitzwilliam. No Longbourn, Pemberley, Rosings, or Netherfield. Abigail Reynolds takes her readers to a wholly new and original location - Bentham Park and introduces readers to a whole new cast of characters.
- Intriguing New Characters: Such dynamic and well-drawn original characters! The Carlisles - a noble, titled family - consists of a son in exile, another son whose rakish habits rival Henry Crawford, a rebellious daughter in love with an unsuitable man, an evil step mother, and a strong matriarch whos loves to give commands. I loved all these new characters, especially Lord Charles - I can't help but like the idea of a bad boy trying to turn good.
- Mr. Darcy - A True Gentleman: Fiercely loyal and protective of his friends and loved ones, honorable and noble even in the most difficult of predicaments, principled and respectful - Elizabeth Bennet can hardly find reason to accuse Mr. Darcy of being ungentlemanly in this novel! I just loved seeing him act so heroically and honorably! So many excellent traits to admire and love! He even shows some vulnerability in this novel - your heart doesn't stand a chance!
- A Variety of Influences and Inspirations: Henry Crawford, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Lady Bracknell, Downton Abbey - such a wonderful and intriguing array of influences and inspirations. I loved spotting the echoes and references to all these great works and characters whether they were intended or not.
- Ton Manners and Practices: In this novel there is talk of entrapments, extramarital affairs, duels, and gambling bets gone bad. We are no longer in the quiet country parlors of Jane Austen, but in the more worldly and scandal-ridden drawing rooms of the upperclass. It did in some ways feel very much like a Georgette Heyer novel.
WHAT I WASN'T TOO FOND OF:
Not. A. Thing. :D
This novel does not contain mautre sex scenes as many of Abigail Reynolds's other novels do. There is some passionate kissing and sensuality, but the only article of clothing being removed is...Lizzy's hairpins *sigh*
In my opinion, Mr. Darcy's Noble Connections is quite different from Ms. Reynolds's other splendid Pemberley Variations. But different in a good way! I thoroughly enjoyed her refreshing deperature from the Pride and Prejudice canon, inventive new characters, and exciting new plot twists! Well done, Abigail Reynolds!