Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is our twelfth and final selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long blog event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are now closed but you can read the reviews and comment through 31 December 2013.

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

With a title like Undressing Mr. Darcy, author Karen Doornebos’ new release is sure to turn a few heads this holiday season. “Sex sells, even to smart, liberated women, and Mr. Darcy was the smart girl’s pinup boy.” p. 7 And like the novel’s heroine, a master PR rep who has turned tweeting into an #artform, Doornebos has carefully crafted another contemporary romance novel about an ambitious, highly energized, very modern woman who meets a charming Mr. Darcy re-enactor, sure to draw the attention of Janeites and romance readers alike.

When Vanessa Roberts, PR extraordinaire with the perpetually-present smartphone and ever-ready clever social media tweet or posting, takes on a pro-bono job as a favor for her elderly Jane Austen loving aunt, little does she expect promoting the English author of, My Year as Mr. Darcy, to turn her organized world topsy-turvy. When she finally meets Julian Chancellor, who has capitalized on his good looks “as he gives a little historical background on his Regency-era clothing as he proceeds to take it off –down to his drawers” at his book signings, she finds she too, like the throngs of Darcy fans in the audience, is caught by his artful allurements.

When she realizes his incentive for writing his book is to raise money to support the restoration of his ancestral home, coupled with his charm and gentlemen-like behavior, she can’t help herself but start to fantasize what a fling, nay relationship, with him might be like. As they all attend the Jane Austen Society North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Chicago, while surrounded by Austen lovers fully immersed in the hubbub, Vanessa is busy promoting her author, “Want to tie the knot with Mr. Darcy? He’s in Cravat Tying 101 right now.#JASNAagm #UndressingMrDarcy #OrDressingMrDarcy?” p. 71 Surprisingly amongst all the bonnets and lace, she discovers she might be open to the possibilities of something more to life than constantly being plugged in.

It felt as if some of his Austen quotes were speaking directly to her at times, and it occurred to her that it might be time that she gave the author another chance. Perhaps her aunt had been on to something all these years. Was there something beyond the happily ever after stories and the demure portrait of a woman in a white ruffled cap that popped in Vanessa’s head every time ‘Jane Austen’ was mentioned?” p. 36

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos (2013)As Julian’s clothes come off, the heat turns up. But it’s not just his fine person that captivates her; his endearing friendship with her beloved aunt coupled with his affection and knowledge of all things Austen soon bewitch her body and soul. “‘The conversion has begun. It’s in your blood. Resistance is futile.’ He looked into her eyes and took a step backward. ‘You’re becoming an Austen fan.‘” p. 9

But like in life, ever dry spell has its flood. And for the lonesome, loveless Vanessa, soon after meeting Julian she meets a handsome, amiable pirate! Turns out HeroCon is happening simultaneously at the same Chicago hotel. Is Chase MacClane a rogue of the highest order or is he the hero in disguise?

Two Austen events later, Vanessa finds herself in England for the celebrated ten day Jane Austen Festival in Bath. As soon as the plane lands, the consummate media maven posts, “‘Here I am once more in this Scene of Dissipation & vice, and I begin already to find my Morals corrupted.’ Could a girl ask for more? All sorts of sordid things happen in London.” p. 209 But all may not be how it appears. Later as she scampers about London and Bath on a wild, Austen-inspired scavenger hunt, she questions the authenticity of her relationship with Julian, her friendship with Chase, her aunt’s imminent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and what she is going to do about any of it. “She laughed at her own folly. Folly? Had she ever used that word before? Why did she palpably feel Jane Austen’s presence across the room, near the trio, with folded arms and laughing at her?” p. 214 Doornebos’s storytelling had me biting my bottom lip until the very last, guessing who, if anyone, our fair heroine might choose!

Karen Doornebos, the author of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, has certainly delivered me good tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season with this latest offering. Because of her concise research of Austen, in concert with the believable dialogue and madcap romantic antics, I am compelled to tweet: “@xtnaboyd Undressing Mr. Darcy is the #perfectstockingstuffer for Austen & Darcy lovers everywhere- regardless who are naughty or nice!”

5 out of 5 Stars 

Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos
Berkley Trade (2013)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-0425261392

Cover image courtesy of Berkley Trade © 2013; text Christina Boyd © 2013, Austenprose.com

38 thoughts on “Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos – A Review

  1. Christina, your review is not only very thoughtful and perceptive, but very well written and…fun! Thank you for a lovely review written in the spirit of the book! I’ll be quoting from this review often in my upcoming marketing & media opportunities!

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    • Karen, the review was easy to write as the story n characters inspired me. And #UNDRESSINGMRDARCY came at just around the time I myself was learning to tweet. So like your #heroine Vanessa, I have come to embrace the #hashtag. Best wishes! PS- I’ll read and review anything you write!

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  2. Pingback: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

  3. Oh yes! I’m glad to see its as good as I thought it might be when I read the blurb and excerpt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christina!

    Here are my links for the challenge: 1. Betrothed to Mr. Darcy by Violet Bedford https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/775917241 2. Almost Persuaded Miss Mary King by PO Dixon https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/738709538 3. Fall Into You by Cecila Gray https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/769976947

    That brings me to 22. This has been such a fun challenge.

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  4. Literature Jane Austen challenge – E Aston

    Mr Darcy’s Christmas

    This felt like the wrong title for this short novel. To my mind it would be better titled Georgiana Darcy’s Christmas but maybe that did not feel so catchy or so saleable and maybe this is the cynic in me.
    As in any case I really enjoyed this last read of the challenge my 14th book this first comment is a bit of a blind alley. That this challenge is coming to an end is a great sadness and next month this challenge will be over for ever. I owe a huge thank you Laurel Ann for starting the ball rolling and giving me such an amazing reading year.
    Back to this book – It begins with Georgiana Darcy getting ready to go to Pemberley for Christmas with Mr Darcy. Maybe that is my clue to the title as it is definitely Georgiana Darcy at Pemberley with Mr Darcy the host si I should stop nit picking but of course there is also a houseful of other people.
    All sorts of questions buzz in Georgiana’s head including will she marry the safe Mr Francis Moresby and be speeding next year in a coach to Moresby Hall in Sussex the family seat for Mr Moresby instead of going off to Pemberley. The thought of joining the Moresby family does not seem to fill Georgiana with joy and anticipation at all so from the first page doubt is also sown in this readers mind about whether Georgiana will marry this correct safe good man.
    There is much to recommend Mr Moresby as he is highly regarded a clever man and the heir to a noble title but he also lives by a strict moral code and lacks humour.
    Will he be the right man for Georgiana? Will he set her heart a flutter as she gazes across the room to look for him and he in turn searches the room with his eyes for her only but will he even do this? Georgiana declares she wants a reliable husband someone very different from George Wickham. This is the infamous George Wickham from Pride and Prejudice about whom Jane Austen writes that he had tried to get Georgiana to elope with him while they were both in Ramsgate far from Mr Darcy and his steady brotherly influence. In the nick of time Darcy appears and Georgiana can pour her heart to him and explain what is about to happen with Wickham and be safe from this rogue. Will Mr Moresby prove to be the one for Georgiana?
    The world was waiting for the announcement of the betrothal but to whom would Georgiana give her hand. There are other suitors beside Moresby and I found myself enjoying the swings and roundabouts of the story as first one suitor and then another gains favour in Georgiana’s eyes. The final twist in the tale comes when another character from Jane Austen’s story of Pride and Prejudice appears. This is the seemingly friendly Caroline Bingley.
    I was surprised by the ending and I think it was a good read as I was kept guessing which way the story would go right to the end.
    As to Mr Darcy’s and the rest of the Pemberley household they are fully able at the close of the story to enjoy the Christmas festivities with Georgiana happily decided on whom she will marry.
    So what next for me – plenty to read as usual – I have a few Jane Austen related books on my to be read list and of course as I live in the UK I will have the adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley to watch in the Christmas television schedules.

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  5. Great review! I’ll be reviewing this one very soon. It would be a great gift for Austen fans.

    I’ve just posted reviews 15-17 for the challenge; I should have at least two more books before I call it quits.

    First Impressions by Alexa Adams:
    http://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/review-first-impressions-by-alexa-adams/

    Second Glances by Alexa Adams:
    http://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/review-second-glances-by-alexa-adams/

    Holidays at Pemberley by Alexa Adams:
    http://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/review-holidays-at-pemberley-by-alexa-adams/

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  6. Pingback: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Birthday! ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway: Undressing Mr. Darcy, with Karen Doornebos. | Jane Austen in Vermont

  7. Thank you, Christina! I loved your review! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. I’ve read Karen Doornebos’ first novel and I liked it, so I think I won’t be disappointed with this new one.
    This month I reviewed “The last man in the world” by Abigail Reynolds. Here is the link:
    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/600434725

    Finally, I’d love to thank Laurel Ann for this amazing year! I had so much fun and I hope there will be more challenges like this one. I started to write reviews thanks to this experience and I discovered I love it! Perhaps, we can do something for “Mansfield Park” bicentenary, can’t we?
    Happy Holidays to everyone :)

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  8. Pingback: Romance through the Ages (Cover Reveals & Giveaways) | My Life. One Story at a Time.

  9. Pingback: Austenprose’s Top Jane Austen-inspired Books of 2013 | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

  10. Happy Christmas!
    I would like to apologise as i did not manage to post my reviews for the last three months as I had lots of assignments. So I apologise for the long list of reviews that follow! These bring my total to 41 for the challenge.
    I’ve only put one link but as I only have reviews for the challenge on my blog they are all there in the same order as below and easy to get to.

    Laurel Ann as you can see the first blog at the top is a thank you blog to you!
    I would like to say a massive thank you to you for putting on the challenge it really has changed my life! And thank you to everyone who participated, it has been lovely reading your reviews.

    I wish you all a happy New Year!!! I’m getting ready now to watch the last episode of Death comes to Pemberley on BBC1 tonight.

    10 reason I am thankful for the Austenprose Pride …
    Pride and Prejudice BBC mini Series 1995
    Rainy Days by Lory Lilian
    A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange/ Sharon Lathan/…
    His Uncle’s Favorite by Lory Lillian
    Falling for Mr Darcy by Karalynne Mackroy
    A Fair Prospect Trilogy by Cassandra Grafton
    To Conquer Mr Darcy by Abigail Reynolds
    A Force of Instinct by Abigail Reynolds
    Mr Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds
    Mr Darcy’s Letter by Abigail Reynolds
    Remembrance of the Past by Lory Lilian
    Only a Heartbeat Away by P.O.Dixon
    Mr Darcy’s Refuge by Abigail Reynolds
    He Taught Me to Hope by P.O.Dixon
    Bluebells in the Morning By Karalynne Mackroy
    Bewitched,Body and Soul by P.O.Dixon
    The Confessions of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Stree…
    Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World b…
    The Journey by Jah Hahn
    A Most Civil Proposal by C.P.Odom
    Still a Young Man: Darcy is in love by P.O.Dixon
    To Have His Cake (and Eat it Too) – Mr Darcy’s Tal…
    What He Would Not Do – Mr Darcy’s Tale Continues B…
    A Matter of Trust By P.O.Dixon
    Mr Darcy’s Diary by Maya Slater

    http://tamaraausten77.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. Here are my entries for December, I really can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Of course, as a result of this challenge my ‘to-read’ list is longer than when I started! What I really want to say though is Thank You. I’ve really enjoyed taking part in this challenge and reading all your reviews, keeping us up-to-date with all things Austen.
    Happy New Year!

    This month I read:

    Darcy’s Tale, (Volume I: Into Hertfordshire) by Stanley Michael Hurd https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/793783673

    And I watched the 1980 adaptation too:

    “Where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.” Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

    Fay Weldon’s beautifully portrayed 1980 BBC Classic has long been my favourite adaptation of Jane Austen’s most famous novel. Everything about it from the costumes and sets to the music and the theatrical acting style add to the atmosphere and give it an air of refinement that is so lacking in later versions.

    One of the things I love is that the script is very close to the original book, it often uses Jane Austen’s own narrative text to fill in the gaps in conversation, and even the dialogue that cannot be traced back to the original seems to be in keeping with the time.

    Just as the book unfolds the characters by their words and deeds, so do the actors in this version convey all of the meaning with grace and subtlety. The lines sound natural, there is no doubt that they understand what they are staying and the added nuances, such as the shared looks between Mr and Mrs Gardner when in company with the Hurst’s add to the warmth and help convey the depth of the characters.

    Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul make the perfect Elizabeth and Darcy, with the right mix of dignity, pride and humour on both sides. Likewise this version’s Jane and Bingley come over as good natured but not at all stupid, the ideal companions. Lydia is the right mix of silliness and obliviousness without being hideously vulgar, Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh is a force to be reckoned with and the somewhat frog-like Mr Collin’s a pleasure to watch.

    As much as I love it this adaptation is, of course, not without its flaws. The Actors are older than their characters, though they are in proportion to each other so I do not think it stands out too badly. Mary is totally unable to play and sing, though she tries, rather than simply having no real taste or natural ability. Sir William and Maria Lucas don’t go to Hunsford with Elizabeth, but the far worse omission is that we do not see the conversation between Elizabeth and her father after Darcy’s successful proposal, and that I think is a shame.

    The one very wrong, and to my way of thinking, inexplicable change, is that when Elizabeth reads Jane’s letter about Lydia’s elopement she literally runs to Pemberley in search of the Gardners.

    Though I know that not everyone agrees with me, even with its faults, I truly believe this mini series has yet to be beaten as the definitive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

    I don’t keep a blog but I do haunt the Jane Austen forums on GoodReads.com and my Pride and Prejudice related book reviews can be found here (I still have a few more I picked up to read): https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/9298304-louise-sparrow?shelf=austen-challenge-2013

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  12. Ah! Just getting my last three reviews in under the wire, too:

    P&P 2005 (from November, strictly speaking): http://aem-physicsgirl.blogspot.ca/2013/11/every-body-hoped-that-he-would-never.html

    Dining with Mr. Darcy (yummy!): http://aem-physicsgirl.blogspot.ca/2013/12/even-mr-darcy-acknowledged-that.html

    And I ended the year where you started it, with the Emilia Fox reading of P&P: http://aem-physicsgirl.blogspot.ca/2013/12/a-bright-sparkling-end-to-challenge-p-29.html

    That brings me up to 29 altogether. Phew! Thanks so much for hosting this challenge. I got to read some fun books I never would have and have some others on my list for the future.

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  13. I grew behind on posting my reviews at the end of the year, but I finished the year up by celebrating Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen herself. My reviews are:

    Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne http://www.lauragerold.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-real-jane-austen-life-in-small.html

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (New Penguin Hardcover edition): http://www.lauragerold.blogspot.com/2014/01/pride-and-prejudice-by-jane-austen.html

    Project Darcy by Jane Odiwe: http://www.lauragerold.blogspot.com/2014/01/project-darcy-by-jane-odiwe.html

    Thank-you for hosting the challenge – I enjoyed it!!

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