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Rumours & Recklessness: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Kindle Edition
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Congratulations to Ms. Nicole Clarkston for her first published P&P variation! In 'Rumours & Recklessness' we find Darcy and Elizabeth suddenly engaged, although not by your typical compromise or wayward seduction. The main time frame for the events of this book begins on Wednesday, 27th of November, the morning after the Netherfield Ball, and continues in the days and weeks immediately following (I'm almost certain the main plot of the book occurs in the span of 2-3 weeks, give or take a few days).
In the wake of an accident that leaves Mr. Bennet comatose, Mr. Collins seizes an opportunity and attempts to publicly engage himself to Elizabeth. Mr. Collins believes the uncertainty of Mr. Bennet's health will aid him with his suit. Darcy (who is witness to this event along with Bingley and the rest of the Bennet ladies) cannot bear to think Elizabeth attached to such an odious man for the rest of her life. By this time we know that Darcy is in love with Elizabeth but he hasn't quite acknowledged it yet. So of course, to save Elizabeth from Mr. Collins and to secure her for himself, Darcy suddenly interjects and says that Elizabeth has already accepted his marriage proposal and is now engaged to him. We know that Lizzy has done nothing of the sort and she is most certainly not happy with Darcy's interference! And so our stage is set and the misunderstandings and drama ensues. It was very enjoyable to read this alternate way of how our dear characters come together, fall in love (on Elizabeth's part), and resolve their problems. While this book focuses mainly on Darcy and Elizabeth, several others get their own stories told.
The usual cast of supporting characters make their appearances. A more decisive Bingley (I quite liked this version of him) sends for Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana to come to Netherfield to help pull Darcy out of his funk after Elizabeth gives her "fiancé" the set down of his life (á la Hunsford). Colonel Fitzwilliam is a true friend and like an older brother to Darcy, a relationship I appreciate in adaptations. He is also one of the main sources of comic relief and I was often smirking when reading those scenes. Georgiana remains a constant once she's introduced, and I enjoyed her relationships and development with the other characters. I like how Mary Bennet subtly becomes one of Georgiana's supporters, a "dispassionate bodyguard." Wickham is true to form, causing mischief and spreading tales to the detriment of our hero characters. Caroline Bingley is her usual jealous and vindictive self but her actions aren't without consequences. Lady Catherine and her vitriol is an excellent (and surprising) source of comic relief and I'm glad that she gets a set down in the end. Anne de Bourgh is shown to have more gumption than she initially appears, although I'm on the fence about the twist concerning her.
Like others before it, this book contains some notable lines and phrases from the original P&P, although this didn't happen too often and I believe these instances were mostly effective. I appreciate that the first chapter focuses on Mr. Bennet and Darcy, especially since it's uncommon in most variations for these two to actually have a conversation without subtle teasing/jabs taking the fore. Mr. Bennet's accident renders him absent for most of the book so I really like the insight to his character/personality in that first chapter.
The pacing is mostly steady; it's slow-ish in the first act as there is a lot of introspection on the parts of Darcy and Elizabeth but I didn't mind too much as these insights were necessary for the development of their later relationship. I like that Darcy and Elizabeth come to an understanding somewhere in the middle of the book, allowing room for other plot lines and hijinks to occur as the story reaches its climax. And just because Darcy and Elizabeth have accepted each other, it doesn't mean that their path together is without its hardships; the drama continues! We know that they'll get their HEA but it's all about the journey in this novel.
There are no sexually explicit scenes, so no worries for those who could do without them. Once they've reached an understanding and Elizabeth has truly welcomed Darcy's marriage proposal our two lovebirds find time to steal kisses and make-out. In retrospect I don't know if Darcy or Elizabeth would risk to be found in as many compromising situations as they were in, but who can resist their tender moments together?
I will say that the book would've benefited from additional editing/proofreading as I came across some errors that I've highlighted while reading on Kindle. One of my pet peeves is that when Elizabeth is addressed so, it is "Lizzy" and not "Lizzie," as Lizzy with a Y is used in Jane Austen's original text. However, I will concede to what each author/writer decides to use, as long as they remain consistent in their address throughout the entire story. On several occasions, I've found both "Lizzy" and "Lizzie" being used by the characters, sometimes these two spellings appearing on the same page. Lieutenant Denny of the militia regiment is also referred to as "Denney" with only a paragraph in between. Darcy and Elizabeth encounter Sir Lucas on one of their rambles, but then Elizabeth suddenly met "Sir Lewis' eye." Miss Anne de Bourgh has been elevated to Lady Anne de Bourgh. Sir Lucas is incorrectly referred to as a peer. There are a few scattered grammar mistakes (using I versus Me, among others) and a couple of occasions where certain titles/addresses should be capitalized but are not. There are also a few anachronisms in word use (gold digger, mail-order bride, and some others). I am a nitpick when reading but overall these errors weren't so bad in terms of understanding the story. I just hope that authors will continue to research and proofread a story several times so that less/none of these mistakes are found in publication.
Some plot points could've been handled better, used more details, or had a more defined resolution. Darcy writes a letter to Elizabeth early in this story but The Letter here is reduced a MacGuffin, a bit disappointing considering the importance of The Letter in the original P&P. Also, what exactly happened with Mary King? I feel like the explanation for her circumstances was rushed and a bit confusing. Charlotte Lucas' storyline could've been handled with more care. She is later paired off but even this seems a bit forced, just so that she wouldn't remain a spinster daughter. I'm not too fond of the twist concerning Anne; it seemed a bit tacked on as a last suspense element. If the backstory/buildup to this twist was somehow integrated into earlier chapters, I may have been more accepting of it. Even if supplemented with additional buildup, the twist is so different from canon that it may be especially hard for some people to accept. There's also a scene where Wickham mistakes Anne for Georgiana; it takes him a while to realize his mistake, such are the ladies' supposed similarity in appearance. This detail bothers me in relation to (SPOILERS) Colonel Fitzwilliam confessing to having a tendré/attraction toward Georgiana. He does acknowledge that his feelings for Georgiana aren't right (in relation to her being his ward and that he is twice her age). Later in the epilogue we find out he is engaged to Anne. For some reason, the inclusion of Wickham mistaking Anne for Georgiana made it seem to me that Fitzwilliam just transferred his attraction from Georgiana to Anne. There wasn't much interaction between Fitzwilliam and Anne, even though it's implied (I guess) in the epilogue, and that leaves me feeling like their pairing together is a bit too contrived in this instance. Does this nitpicking make sense?
Overall, I did enjoy reading this alternate path to HEA between Darcy and Elizabeth. I read the entirety of the book over the course of one day. I was compelled to turn the page and didn't gloss over paragraphs or sections (which I've had a tendency of doing lately with a few P&P/JAFF stories). For some this book may seem a bit long but I usually prefer them this way. Despite some mistakes that could've been caught by another proofreader and my own nitpicking at certain story lines, I do recommend everyone to take a chance on this author's first foray into published P&P fiction. Good job, Ms. Nicole Clarkston!
Mr Bennet is out on an early morning ride when he encounter Mr Darcy traversing the fields in break-neck speed. Unfortunately, Mr Bennet is unseated after they part and are found by Elizabeth. The apothecary is sent for and he desides to ask their Netherfield neighbours for help until their uncle are able to come from town because of the questionable behaviour of Mr Collins. Bingley and Darcy are received in the Longbourne drawing room when Mr Collins announces his bethrotal to Elizabeth. An incensed Elizabeth is trying to make the parson understand her refusal when Darcy steps up, announcing that Elizabeth is already engage to him. Elizabeth does not look kindly on his interference and gives him a hard time on changing her perception of him. Add the interference of Caroline, Wickham and lady Catherine, their road to happiness will have some obstacles... Fortunately the colonel are at hand to help, along with Georgiana, whose both helpful and unhelpful...
The story has a new twist to the Lydia/Wickham debacle, a new HEA for Charlotte and a twist to Anne de Borough . The colonels HEA seemed a bit rushed though.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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A must have book.