Suspense and Sensibility or, First Impressions Revisited: A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery, by Carrie Bebris – A Review

Suspense and Sensibility, by Carrie Bebris (2007)Inspired by characters from Jane Austen’s novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, the second in the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries series begins four months after the marriage of Austen’s famous romantic duo, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Family obligations take them from Pemberley, their country estate in Derbyshire, to Town to help the couple’s younger sisters, Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy, participate in the London social season.  Being an heiress, Georgiana commands the respect and admiration of many who would like to connect with the Darcy family and its large fortune. Kitty, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. In contrast, her small dowry and lack of social accomplishments leave only her family connections and natural charms to entice an eligible suitor for her hand. He comes in the form of a rich dandy, Harry Dashwood, son of John and Fanny Dashwood of Norland Park, who when first introduced to Miss Catherine Bennet, thinks she is the highly accomplished and very rich Georgiana Darcy. A moment of realization and embarrassment for all is smoothed over by Harry’s continued attentions to Kitty. Elizabeth and Darcy are also relieved that he has other motives than those of his social climbing mother Fanny Dashwood in choosing a wife. He is quite taken with Kitty and invites her and the Darcys to Norland for his twenty-first birthday fete.

Revisiting Norland Park again, we are re-introduced to more characters from Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility: Robert and Lucy Ferrars & Edward and Elinor Ferrars – but twenty years has transpired since the conclusion of Austen’s novel – and the next generation takes center stage. Harry’s mother Fanny Dashwood, officious and manipulative as ever, disapproves of Catherine Bennet intensely. Wanting her son to marry for money and connections, she fosters a match between Robert & Lucy Ferrars’ unappealing daughter Regina. Harry will have none of it and proves he is his own man and asks for Kitty’s hand and is accepted.

After some doubts about Harry, Elizabeth and Darcy and now very supportive of the engagement. Returning to Town to shop for Kitty’s trousseau, everyone thinks that she has made an excellent match for herself until their first impressions of Harry are sorely tested. His extended absence from his fiancé gives rise to speculation and doubt, coupled with damaging gossip about him being seen about Town engaging in late night carousing with disreputable characters. When he finally reappears at the Darcy’s townhouse to visit his fiancé, he explains that he has been away from London for two weeks visiting relatives. How could that be when he has been seen by so many in Town, including Mr. Darcy himself?

After leisurely starting off quite sedately as a continuation of Pride and Prejudice interlaced with characters from Sense and Sensibility, the plot takes a right hand turn into the realm of the supernatural. A mysterious ancient mirror and an infamous Dashwood relation from the past bring Gothic elements into this mystery that were quite unexpected, but intriguing. Bebris has a wonderful command of Regency history and a complete understanding of Austen’s characters. Even though I solved the mystery that Elizabeth and Darcy must investigate and deduce before the protagonists did, it mattered not. What is most delightful about Bebris’ Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries is the couple themselves. I found myself laughing out loud several times at their witty banter.

“That is precisely why foxhunting is an inappropriate pastime for ladies,” Darcy said. “Blood sport runs counter to their gentle natures.”

Elizabeth thought about many well-bred women who occupied society’s highest ranks, and chuckled softy. “Ladies are quite capable of blood sport, darling. Their field is the drawing room.” Page 54

Suspense and Sensibility is a delightful read, albeit a bit slow to start, it eventually churns and always tickles the funny bone in all the right places.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eight selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Suspense and Sensibility by leaving a comment by midnight PT Wednesday, September 7, 2011 stating what intrigues you about reading a Jane Austen-inspired mystery, or who your favorite character was in either of the original novels. Winners will be announced on Thursday, September 8, 2011. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only.

Suspense and Sensibility or, First Impressions Revisited: A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery, by Carrie Bebris
Forge Books (2007)
Trade paperback (304) pages
ISBN: 9780765318442

© 2007 – 2011, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

22 thoughts on “Suspense and Sensibility or, First Impressions Revisited: A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery, by Carrie Bebris – A Review

Add yours

  1. I believe Emma is my favorite original character. More than most of the time, she is worrying about other peoples lives, instructing them what to do, when she is blind to her own feelings and mistakes. It takes Mr. John Knightley to make her realize who and what she is. I love her for her humor, yet she can be snippy.

    Anyway she overcomes her flaws.
    To me, she has a vivid personality.


  2. i read this along with you knowing you’d be reviewing it and i had the same pleasure of Carrie’s well written characters and excellent dialogue. unfortunately for me, i’d read a couple reviews on goodreads that spoiled the mystery , but didn’t spoil my enjoyment of Darcy & Elizabeth’s banter! Carrie has a wonderful sense of humour that always adds to their development as a couple. my 3rd mystery now and ea is a satisfying read. thanks for the review and gvwy, LaurelAnn! i’m happy to add this to my S&S challenge list of completions “)


  3. I think the mystery aspect of the story might be a good way to see more of the Darcy and Elizabeth character traits we loved in the orginal.


  4. I loved the first book by Carrie. A Jane Austen mystery got me to pick it up; how could I resist. The characters are faithful to their “original” story. And I love that Elizabeth and Darcy get to interact with all the other characters in true “Nick & Nora Charles” fashion. So book #2 will only continue the fun. Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite JA books. I can’t wait to delve into the next mystery.


  5. like Lynn said above, I like that Lizzy and Darcy can act like Nick and Nora Charles in solving mysteries. Carrie does such a lovely job in keeping them in character while engaging the reader in their story and keeping us interested in more. I devoured each book of hers that’s come out. Between her and Stephanie Barron, I hope more writers will turn to JA-inspired mysteries!


  6. What I like about the reading these mysteries in particular is how true they are to the Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth that Austen created and the way Bebris portrays the growth of their relationship. I like that Darcy struggles to accept Elizabeth’s affinity for the supernatural that he doesn’t want to believe in, and to respect Elizabeth’s ideas and wishes when his instinct is to protect her.


  7. Hmmmmm…. I think the idea of a mystery set in S & S is intriguing because usually the mysteries are about P & P, and I wonder where the author will go with this… It looks great!!!


  8. I am intrigued by this crossover book where characters from P&P interact with characters from S&S. It would be interesting to read about Elinor and Edward after 20 years of marriage.


  9. This book sounds so interesting! P&P, S&S, mystery all in one book? How great! I find it interesting to incorporate mysteries with Jane. It blending my two favorite genres- Regency and mystery!!


  10. My favorite Austen character is Elizabeth Bennet. I’ve just started reading Austen fan fiction recently and would love a chance to win a copy of Suspense and Sensibility!


  11. I like how the Darcys meet up and interact with the characters from Jane Austen’s other novels. Plus, we get some intrigue, as well as a little more background about the time period. I really enjoy these books, and I have gotten my mother interested in them. She hasn’t read all Jane Austen’s books, but she’s read all Carrie Bebris’ books.


  12. am reading this book but i really can not identify the conflict in the story ..can any one that read this novel before tell me the conflict


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