Many Pride and Prejudice fans often have “what if” moments. What if Elizabeth accepted Darcy the first time? What if they had met previously and were kind to each other? What if Elizabeth was forced to accept Darcy, knowing he was still very proud? Author Kara Louise has answered some of these questions and more in her six Pride and Prejudice variation novels. Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, originally tiled Something Like Regret, is the second of author Kara Louise’s self-published novels to be re-issued by Sourcebooks. Her first novel Darcy’s Voyage quickly gained her notoriety in the Austen fan fiction world as an incredibly creative variation author.
A year after his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy is returning to Rosings Park for his annual sojourn to his aunt’s grand estate. During his journey he reflects upon his last visit and wonders what Elizabeth Bennet is doing now. He has no idea that she is now working as a governess in London for the Willstone Family. Mrs. Bennet’s worst fears about the entail have come true. Mr. Bennet has died the previous spring and the Collins’ have taken possession of Longbourn, displacing the Bennet ladies and forcing Elizabeth to find work. Her sister Jane now lives with their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in London, and Lydia, Mary, Kitty and Mrs. Bennet are residing on the good graces of the Phillips’ in Meryton.
In London Elizabeth often reflects on how different her life would have been had she accepted the proposals of Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy, acknowledging in her heart that she did the right thing in rejecting them. She does recall the proposal from Mr. Darcy with sadness, recognizing he might not have been as horrible of a man as she thought. Her feelings for him soften as she re-reads the “Be not alarmed, Madame,” letter he wrote to her following the proposal. One evening the Willstones throw a dinner party at which Mr. Bingley and Georgiana Darcy are guests. Mr. Bingley is shocked to see Elizabeth there as a governess and comes to learn the of Mr. Bennet’s death. When the party is over Mrs. Willstone’s sister Rosalyn comes to Elizabeth’s room because she is surprised that Elizabeth is acquainted with the Darcy family. Rosalyn opens up to Elizabeth, telling her that she has been in love with Mr. Darcy her entire life, that from their first meeting she knew he was the man she wanted to marry. Elizabeth must curb her jealousy and hide her previous dealings with Darcy from Rosalyn for fear that she might lose her job.
Elizabeth soon finds herself thrown into Darcy’s social circle due to his acquaintance with the Willstone’s, which soon results in an invitation for all to Pemberley. Elizabeth, thinking that Darcy is falling for Rosalyn, tries to tell the family that the invitation is not meant to include her. They tell her that he specifically invited her as well, thus beginning their journey to Pemberley. The more time that Elizabeth spends in Darcy’s acquaintance the harder she beings to fall for him. Her behavior however is checked by Mrs. Willstone as she tells Elizabeth that she is not to join them after dinner, she is after all just a governess. Will Darcy save her from her dreary life as a governess or is it too late for there to ever be a future between them?
I have to start out first by giving those of you who want to read this novel a quick warning. You WILL read this book from start to finish in one sitting, so don’t be like me and start it as you’re going to bed. I didn’t go to sleep until 3:15am, I was that hooked.
I was introduced to Kara Louise with her first novel Darcy’s Voyage and have been anxiously awaiting her next novel. It couldn’t have come any sooner. Her writing style is completely captivating. You become so engrossed in the novel that it’s impossible to put down. The storyline is so original and so creative. It’s amazing how asking “what if” to one small section of the story changes the plot entirely.
Even though the plot line is changed, Kara stays true to the characterizations that Austen created. Elizabeth is still strong willed and quick witted while Darcy has checked his pride at the door and just wants to win Elizabeth’s heart. Bingley and Jane are just as generous and kind as ever, while Lydia is still throwing her virtue all over the place. Kara introduces many strong and multi-layered new characters that could have been straight from the pages of Austen’s original works, only enhancing the story further.
Creative, engaging and reverent to Austen’s characters, I cannot recommend Only Mr. Darcy Will Do enough. If you’ve never read anything by this author, then I highly suggest you jump on the bandwagon and read everything she’s written. There is a rumor going around that Sourcebooks might pick up another of her self-published books, and let me tell you, it would be an incredibly smart move on their part if they did.
5 out of 5 Stars
Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, by Kara Louise
Trade paperback (368) pages
Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2011, Austenprose.com