Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict
The happily-ever-after at Pemberley takes a sharp left in The Trouble with Mr. Darcy, the fifth book in Sharon Lathan’s lush, romantic Darcy Saga. Darker and more complex than the preceding novels in the series, Lathan tackles deeper elements in Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s marriage. Gone are the days of the happy honeymoon period, as Elizabeth struggles to recover from her second pregnancy, creating tension in the Darcy household.
Lathan’s latest work definitively shows her growth as an author, chronicling a marriage that has its roots in real-life marital problems that we all face. Because of this, I was drawn into the story and interested where it would lead. I really connected with Lizzy, being a married woman myself, and I happily dove into the pages not knowing what to expect, but excited all the same.
After returning from their six month trip to the continent, Lizzy gives birth to their second child, Michael. Days of happiness should be ahead, but unfortunately aren’t, due to Michael being born more than a month early. Lizzy becomes desperate in her care for him and begins neglecting Darcy and their first child Alexander. Darcy becomes angry and depressed due to what he sees as his failing in properly taking care of his family. Lizzy and Darcy soon stop speaking to one another and sleep in separate rooms, causing major issues in their relationship. Luckily Dr. Darcy, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s uncle, begins noticing what’s going on and sees that Lizzy is suffering from what we would call today as post-partum depression. He begins Elizabeth on an herbal treatment to help calm her hormone imbalance and get her back to normal.
Lizzy and Darcy begin to mend their relationship and about a month later all is back to normal. By the time Lizzy is feeling herself again they rush off to Meryton for her youngest sister Kitty’s wedding. In the days leading up the impending nuptials, they discover that Lydia and Wickham will be attending the event, making it the first time that the Darcy’s have been in his company since “discovering them” living together in London before they were married. When the Wickham’s arrive, Lizzy is surprised to see that Lydia is dressed in the latest fashions and that neither she nor Wickham look like they are at a loss for money. This begins the cogs working in Elizabeth and Darcy’s minds as to where their money is coming from, and what the Wickham’s are really doing in Meryton….
This is, without a doubt, Lathan’s best book in the saga so far, as Darcy and Lizzy evolve into a more mature couple. Gone are the overtly gushy scenes where they obsessively call each other pet names and tell each other how much they are in love with each other. The Lizzy and Darcy of TTwMD are more secure in their love and affection for each other, and it’s obvious in the change of their manner of speech. The love scenes were the one thing that bothered me about the former books in the series. It became tedious to read them book after book; with TTwMD the love scenes are more sensual and seductive (definitely for mature audiences). The notion of a perfect marriage is also gone, replaced by a marriage that is marred with the occasional conflict and misunderstanding. Watching them struggle with Lizzy’s post-partum, which is a real conflict in many marriages today, turned the book into a truer look into their marriage. Their relationship is therefore much more believable because of these points, making the book more enjoyable for me.
The best part about Lathan’s writing is that she’s unafraid to delve into the minds of Austen’s supporting characters. In the first four books we see Jane, Bingley, Caroline Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Kitty, and Mary all get their own story lines. I was beginning to wonder when we would see more Georgiana Darcy! The Trouble with Mr. Darcy FINALLY takes us deeper into her story and gives her a “happy ending”. Lathan has a great way of introducing characters in small way in her prior books and then expands on their story lines in her later works. It’s a great tactic that ties all the novels in the series closer together, making the story more seamless and streamlined.
While The Trouble with Mr. Darcy takes us down a darker road in the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy, it is in turn very enjoyable to see them work through struggles and evolve. Because she makes us truly care about the outcome of these beloved characters, it’s easy to see why Lathan’s Darcy Saga is so successful. Just as romantic and engaging as ever, this is one sequel you won’t want to miss.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
The Trouble with Mr. Darcy, by Sharon Lathan
Trade paperback (368) pages
© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose