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Mr. Darcy's Secret Paperback – February 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
What comes after "happily ever after" for Pride and Prejudice protagonists Lizzy and Darcy? Odiwe (Willoughby's Return) picks up right after the wedding as Lizzy moves to Pemberley and learns how to be mistress of a grand estate. While trying to reconcile Darcy with Lady Catherine and coax Georgiana out of her shell, Lizzy is bombarded with innuendo about Darcy's past indiscretions. Reluctant to discuss rumors with her husband, she tries to maintain a calm demeanor as various people, including the odious gossip Mrs. Eaton and still bitter Miss Bingley, hint about illegitimate children and secret affairs. It would be a charming romp through "what-if" if Lizzy didn't come across as a brainless young debutante, neither charming nor intelligent, while Darcy is erratic, going from extreme haughtiness to acting like a buffoon. Austen fans will barely recognize their beloved characters in these clumsy caricatures. (Feb.)
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Odiwe picks things up where Austen left off in Pride and Prejudice, in an impeccably crafted tale of Elizabeth and Darcy after the wedding. Elizabeth arrives at Pemberley with her beloved husband Fitzwilliam, certain that her life could not get any better, and at first, everything seems fairy-tale perfect. Even if a few people, most especially Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine de Bourge, still seem to have their noses out of joint about the marriage, almost everyone else wishes the new couple a long and happy life together. The honeymoon seems to be over, though, once Elizabeth discovers that not only can Darcy still be quite stubborn, especially when it comes to letting his younger sister Georgiana decide her own future, but also that her new husband has a secret past that threatens to wreck their marriage. --John Charles
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Happening upon some old love letters in the library, Elizabeth comes to the understanding that she may not be the only woman Darcy has ever loved. Caroline is hinting at a love child, but Elizabeth is unable to accept the venom of this viper. In time Elizabeth and Darcy come to know the truth about his past and the true deceitfulness of Wickham and even his unknown family.
I found the true story at the heart of this book was that of Georgiana. The secret of Darcy was not as nearly prominent as the love story between Mr. Butler and Georgiana. Mr. Darcy has arranged her marriage with another, Mr. Calladine. He has money and the right relations and so Georgiana is played the pawn in an age old game of marrying off daughters and sisters for alliances rather than love. Mr. Darcy claims to be hastily marrying off his sister in order to protect her, and refuses to listen to Elizabeth's opinion. It takes too long before Darcy realizes the error of his ways and that Georgiana is truly in love with another, just as he had fallen hopelessly in love with someone below his station, so to does Georgiana.
The whirlwind of a ending, has Elizabeth understanding Darcy's secret and Georgiana making the ultimate choice in order to get want she wants out of love. The dialogue at the beginning was a little raw and shaky, but that is my only critique. It picked up quickly and although Elizabeth and Darcy seemed to lack a strong love connection throughout the sequel, in its place was the continued drama of Elizabeth and Darcy conquering their own faults and becoming stronger as a couple, which I so love and miss from the original Austen Pride and Prejudice. The lack of lust and romantic encounters was refreshing, in that without them, Odiwe relies on the plot and characters to drive the story intellectually and emotionally rather than sexually. Their is not a lack of romance between Georgiana and Mr. Butler, but it comes across as the chaste, innocent courtship type that is so sought after by reader's from this genre.
His domineering ways when he tries to tell his sister who to marry causes trouble in many ways and no matter what Lizzy says he doesn't listen. That infuriates Lizzy to no end however she still loves him enough to work on him in a gentle way. Ms. Odiwe has a way with words that keeps you interested in the plot.
Lizzy continually watches Georgianna and her gloomy disposition and knows who she is in love with and not who her brother choses for her.
Naturally, there wouldn't be a novel of P & P variation if it didn't include some trouble from Lydia or Caroline Bingley. All is dealt with care by Lizzy.
Happiness comes to those who wait and Lizzy finds out that the secret she so worried about was false and who the culprit was that was causing all the trouble. Love conquers all in the end for Georgianna and her beau.
A heir is born to Darcy and Elizabeth. The Bennets are proud grandparents and everyone is happy.
Great story, excellent read and worthwhile. Trust is most important along with truth and communication in a marriage and it was learned by the Darcys!
I will say that at times I felt the chapter a little rushed but it never impacted the story nor my enjoyment.
For those who want to see into their lives a little more, I highly recommend this book!