From the Desk of Christina Boyd
If we are to trust our first impressions, then one glance at the cover of Seducing Mr. Darcy will tell you that it is a bodice ripper of the highest caliber. Can that bronzed god with the ripped chest be Mr. Darcy? Hello! I always wondered what was under that noble mien, and now in this new Pride and Prejudice inspired time travel fantasy author Gwyn Cready reveals all, but only if you’re willing to extend your fancy way beyond anything what dear Jane Austen ever envisioned and just let go, and just enjoy the ride.
Seducing Mr. Darcy is about a divorced woman, Philippa ‘Flip’ Allison, who hasn’t had any action since her cheating husband left her over two years prior, and (okay, here is where you must take a fantastical leap of faith — just go with it) gets this therapeutic massage that supposedly transports her imagination into her favorite book. Yet, instead of transporting Flip into her current racy, bodice ripping romance novel she finds herself in Regency England in the company of Mr. Darcy, pre-Pride & Prejudice. After waking from what she believes to have been a dream-inducing, mind-blowing massage (and an explicit liaison with Mr. Darcy in a Grecian folly) she discovers later in spotting a 1st edition of Pride and Prejudice on display at her university library, that certain important passages have mutated — like the scene in the Hunsford parlour when Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth turned into an argument over her, Philippa! At first believing this must be some kind of hoax, she checks various printings of Pride and Prejudice only to discover to her utter dismay that each is in some stage of change depending on the year of its printing. Horrified, she discovers that the only way to correct the chain of events she has unwittingly altered is to return to the mysterious masseuse and imagine herself back in the novel. Fortunately, the arrogant yet broodingly handsome Darcy-like Magnus Knightley, a visiting Jane Austen expert in residence at her university, is persuaded to help her correct the disastrous consequences resulting from her rapturous encounter with Mr. Darcy.
Reminiscent of the recent British Lost in Austen television mini-series, Seducing Mr. Darcy is filled with quick, cheeky conversations and twists and turns far flung from Jane Austen’s original. Surprisingly amusing, the parody play with characters was all done in good humour and very tongue-in-cheek. My Austenite sensibilities were not in anyway offended by this blatant and artfully contrived story. It is deliciously sensual, and Cready’s Mr. Darcy is all any red-blooded woman with a pulse would desire him to be; not at all what Jane Austen would have ever dreamed or wanted, obviously. A line by Amanda Price from Lost in Austen screams to my mind: “Hear that George? Drrrrrrr. That’s the sound of Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer.” But who’s to say this Darcy isn’t a bit more fitting as the secret fantasy than some may have transformed this iconic hero into? Could this book have been as entertaining without the steamy love scenes and occasional f-bomb? Indeed. But I don’t believe that is the audience this author was gunning for. To enjoy this book, you must readily accept the time travel notion, much like in the Lost in Austen mini-series, especially when several other characters take it upon themselves to follow Flip back into Pride and Prejudice to aid or impede her in reversing the changes she has caused in the original novel. But that is all part of fun of this twisted, mad-cap parody.
Surely, this isn’t the great literary work of Jane Austen (just look at the cover!), but for pure grins and giggles, most acceptable. Perfect choice for those upcoming spring vacations while you are lounging by the pool. If the cover embarrasses you too much to read in company, well fold it back and tell those that have their sensibilities easily offended to kindly “Avert your eyes.”
4 out of 5 Stars
Seducing Mr. Darcy, by Gwen Cready
Pocket Books, New York (2008)
Mass market paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978- 1416541165
Cover image courtesy of Pocket Book © 2008; text Christina Boyd © 2009, Austenprose.com