Another Place in Time: A Pride and Prejudice Time-Travel Romance, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Another Place in Time Mary Lydon Simonsen (2014 )From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

Mary Lydon Simonsen is one of the most versatile Austen fan fiction writers out there. She’s given us contemporary Pride and Prejudice retellings that take place in WWII England, what-ifs that pose Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh as matchmakers, stories where Mr. Darcy is a werewolf and one particular tale with a widowed Darcy in Italy getting a second chance at love with Elizabeth Bennet. This is just a small sampling of the imagination present in Simonsen’s stories. And now with the publication of her latest novel, Another Place in Time, time-travel gets added to that list!

In an exciting take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we find Mr. Darcy approached by Hannah and Jacob Caswell, time-travelers from the modern era, who inform him of the existence of Elizabeth Bennet. After he is saddened by her rejection at the Parsonage, he is counseled by them to travel to the future (2012) to seek out the assistance of Ms. Christine O’Malley, an expert on both Jane Austen and the Regency era. Upon his arrival Darcy finds Christine engaged in a panel discussion about Austen in Baltimore. Although his arrival excites many at the conference, Christine is reluctant to assist him as she feels he is an actor and an imposter. Finally, after much coercion, Darcy is able to convince Christine to travel back in time with him in order to help him win Elizabeth back. During their time in Regency England Christine soon finds herself falling for Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Will she be able to consolidate her rational, modern-day attitude with her heart’s yearning for a man from the past?

Simonsen’s books are always such a pleasure to read, mainly because of her ability to weave humor, history, and romance into her novels. Her wit truly shines in Another Place in Time. Envisioning Darcy in modern-day America trying fast food, learning how to use a smartphone, looking up the definition of “Googling”, and so many other instances added a perfect undertone of levity to the writing.

Her infusion of history added another element often missing from Romance novels. Right from the beginning we’re treated to tidbits of information about the history of Baltimore and Maryland, forward-thinking scientists of the Regency era, English monarchs, social structures of the early 1800s, and so much more. This information sprinkled throughout the novel changed it from just another love story to a novel with weight, value, and depth. Her character development is superb as always, and her portrayal of Darcy from an arrogant, proud man of wealth—to a despondent, scorned lover—to finally a content man in love, was a wonderful journey. I liked Chris and Col Fitzwilliam’s paths of development as well, as they both started out completely skeptical towards time-travel, and eventually their respect for another character (in Chris’s case, Darcy; in Fitzwilliam’s case, Chris) allowed them to see the truth and possibility that it would work. In short, this is another fantastic job by Simonsen. Smart, quick and chock full of fun, Simonsen has another hit on her hands that will be sure to please. This is definitely one to add to your shelves ASAP.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Another Place in Time: A Pride and Prejudice Time Travel Romance, by Mary Lydon Sinonsen
Quail Creek Publishing, LLC (2014)
Digital eBook (253) pages
ASIN: B00HZR3TFO

Cover image courtesy of Quail Creek Publishing © 2014; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2014, Austenprose.com

Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Darcy Goes to War, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd

Author Mary Lydon Simonsen is making quite a name for herself as a writer who successfully uses Jane Austen’s characters and themes in other historical times and settings.  Her latest Pride and Prejudice re-imagining is set in WWII England with the Bennet girls conscripted into the work force to support the war effort.  This tale begins when Elizabeth Bennet, a pants wearing, lorry driver, encounters the handsome but rude Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot, Fitzwilliam Darcy.  And like in Austen’s masterpiece, Darcy once again unwittingly slights Elizabeth when she over hears him discouraging a fellow officer from attending a local RAF dance.  “I shall warn you there is little beauty in the girls who attend these dances, and they aren’t exactly light on their feet.  If you do go to the dance, my advice is to wear your jump boots.”  But upon seeing Elizabeth, Darcy is certain he has met her previously, but where?  A befuddling thought indeed until they are later formally introduced through another pilot, Charles Bingley.

The original characters are as they ever were with Lydia getting caught dallying with Wickham and with real consequences; and Jane falling for the estimable, Mr. Bingley.  What was most pleasing was to read familiar Austen lines, tweeked of course, to fit this 1944 story… “Because their mother was so eager for her daughters to marry, even in the midst of a war, Jane decided it was best not to mention meeting Mr. Bingley to her mother because she would have jumped from having a cup of coffee at a canteen to a courtship and, from there, to a walk down the aisle in the blink of an eye.”

Missing in action from this story is the domineering Lady Catherine de Bourgh and any real development of Mr. Collins, Georgianna Darcy, Mary Bennet or the Gardiners.  But the inclusion of the very much alive Mrs. Anne Darcy, Darcy’s mother who is recently separated from his father, was a welcome twist.   And THAT story line more then made up for any misgivings for not following the original story verbatim! Although the story arc is not about social class prejudices keeping our two heroes apart, rather the decisions they struggle with because of the war.  It was all too gratifying to compare both works for similarities and was gladdened as well that this touching love story was in essence fresh and a story unto its own.  A favorite passage was when Elizabeth and Will spent a poignant evening together under a dining room table during a rather harrowing London bombing.  I felt as if I was right there with them, finishing the eBook in almost one go—and well past midnight!

It would be all to easy to label this as yet another Pride and Prejudice love story… but author Simonsen has really done her research.  Her skill for drawing us in is masterfully depicted as we see the war ravaged landscape of London as well as the English country side in grim tales of rationing, death and gloom.  I must say that Mary Lydon Simonsen has another hit on her hands.  And if I might suggest, “Keep calm and read Darcy Goes to War.”  You won’t be disappointed.

5 out of 5 Stars

Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing (2012)
Trade paperback (258) pages
ISBN: 978-0615689487

© 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Mr. Darcy's Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

What do you get when you cross Pride and Prejudice with werewolves?  You get a dark and adventurous tale that follows Lizzy and Darcy as they grapple with a definite twist that has arisen in their relationship.  This time, Mary Lydon Simonsen takes us on a journey where we follow our beloved couple as they encounter something that Jane could never have imagined when she originally put pen to paper.

Elizabeth Bennet is distraught.  Fitzwilliam Darcy has been courting her for months and there is still no marriage proposal.  Her mother, father, and even sister Jane keep pressuring her about what’s taking so long.  Ready to give up on ever receiving a proposal, Darcy shows up begging Elizabeth to travel to Pemberley with him so that he can reveal a secret to her.  If she doesn’t run away from him upon hearing this secret, then he’ll have a question for her.  Nervous about what his secret is, Elizabeth agrees to the trip and makes the trek to Pemberley with him.  Her first night at Pemberley, Darcy reveals that years earlier he was bitten by a werewolf and that for two days every month he turns into one himself.  Elizabeth is shocked and cannot fathom all that she’s being told, yet promises to wait for him to return from his transformation before making a decision about their relationship.  What will Elizabeth do when she sees Darcy in his wolf form?  Will she stand by his side and marry him, or will she cut ties and end their relationship?

Having read Mr. Darcy Vampyre, by Amanda Grange and come away with a less than stellar opinion, I was super nervous at reading another Pride and Prejudice fan fiction novel that infused some type of supernatural beings within the plot.  Fortunately, Simonsen has made this idea work with Mr. Darcy’s Bite, which seriously impressed me.  Unlike another popular vampire work, Twilight, where werewolves appear because of vampires, Simonsen provides an actual realistic explanation for it.  The novel is written with fabulous Gothic undertones, creating a dark and spooky reading atmosphere that grips you from cover to cover.   The ending was my favorite part!  So much so, that I immediately emailed Mary and asked her to write a sequel!

I really enjoyed the changes that Simonsen made to Darcy’s character.  Shortly after his transformation we get to see a more playful Darcy that speaks his mind and teases Elizabeth about the things he can “sense” as a werewolf.  In turn we see a different Elizabeth that isn’t so proud, and is willing to listen to the advice of those around her. Specifically, the advice of Darcy’s cousin Anne de Bourgh and his little sister Georgiana who are given larger parts, allowing the reader a new opportunity to get to know them!

For those of you who are nervous about dipping your toes into the paranormal fan fiction world, may I highly suggest that you start your journey with Mr. Darcy’s Bite?  Not only does it top my JAFF list, but it’s pretty high up on my paranormal reading list as well.  You won’t be disappointed!

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy’s Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1402250774

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberley Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for A Wife for Mr. Darcy

A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Simonsen (2011)70 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Simonsen. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Julie who left a comment on 02 July 2011
  • Lynnae who left a comment on 01 July 2011
  • Jeffrey who left a comment on 01 July 2011

Congratulations ladies and gentleman! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by July 20th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and to author Mary Simonsen for her insightful blog on her inspiration for her new novel!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of Searching for Pemberley and The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, is back with yet another opportunity for us to wander down that “what if” path with our favorite Pride and Prejudice characters: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  This time, our variation begs the question: what if, after Mr. Darcy made that terrible “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me” comment, he goes to apologize to Elizabeth and beg her forgiveness instead of never addressing it?  We find out in A Wife for Mr. Darcy, Simonsen’s third P&P fan fiction novel.

Our story opens with Mr. Darcy heading to Longbourn to make his apologies for the dreadful comment he made about Elizabeth at the previous night’s assembly.  It is here in the Longbourn sitting room that Darcy gets to truly meet lively, witty, beautiful Elizabeth Bennet.  Completely shocked by how she is able to draw him out of his taciturn nature, Darcy begins to realize that she is unlike any female he has ever met.  As Jane and Bingley spend more time together, so do Elizabeth and Darcy.  The two flourish in each other’s company, and they quickly realize that they have feelings for each other.  Darcy, however, finds that he cannot voice his true feelings for Elizabeth due to the duty he feels he owes his family to marry and have a male heir.  Due to an entailment upon Pemberley, it’s impossible for Georgiana to be given the estate.  Therefore Darcy must have a male heir.  As such, he begins showing a favor for Miss Morton prior to his trip to Netherfield.  Now upon meeting and falling in love with Elizabeth, he is struck with following his heart or following what he knows to be his duty.  Even though his courting of Miss Morton had not been going on long, he felt that ending the relationship abruptly would hurt Georgiana’s chances at a proper marriage.  Will he be able to untangle himself from the loveless courtship he’s begun with Miss Morton and take his rightful place at Elizabeth’s side as he dreams?

Simonsen is a master at getting her readers to feel the emotions that her characters are feeling.  For most of the book, I felt the angst that Darcy was feeling when trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.  I felt Elizabeth’s depression, as she realized she loved Darcy, and also realized that he could never marry her due to her low social standing and lack of wealth.  Simonsen’s descriptive prose flows from page to page, as you become engulfed in the emotions of her storytelling.  It’s a fantastic reading experience, one I get from reading every one of book of hers.

It always amazes me how variation authors are able to create such completely different storylines just by changing one small piece of the plot.  You would think that with the drastically changing plot you would get dramatically altered characters.  Surprise!  You don’t.  I think if Austen were able to read Simonsen’s work, she would definitely approve of the new directions that her beloved characters are taking.  While Austen purists might not enjoy the new plot, I think even they would be satisfied with the characterizations of the characters.

You’re definitely going to want to add this emotional rollercoaster of a book to your “to read” pile.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-1402246166

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose