The Darcys, The Ruling Passion: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Linda Berdoll – A Review

The Darcy’s, The Ruling Passion: Pride & Prejudice Continues, by Linda BerdollGuest review by Christina Boyd

Best-selling author Linda Berdoll’s Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife and Darcy & Elizabeth have been hailed as “sexy, hilarious, poignant” and “wild, bawdy and utterly enjoyable (Booklist.)”  But also, “blasphemy, smut and trash,” are not uncommon adjectives used by her severest critics. Rarely has there been such a clear division of thought between two camps: those that fervently love her work and those that vehemently hate it. I for one am with Team Berdoll and at the risk of having my Janeite card revoked, boldly declare that Linda Berdoll sets the standard for this romance genre.  I will stride out even further by surmising that many “romance” writers of Pride and Prejudice re-imaginings and sequels strive to emulate not Jane Austen, but Linda Berdoll. Regardless of what side you defend or how you receive my pert opinions, having sold nearly 350,000 copies, one cannot deny Linda Berdoll is the reigning Pride and Prejudice romantic sequel writer to date.

The Ruling Passion, her highly anticipated sequel to the sequels, has finally come to fruition.  This self-published sequel opens in the year 1818, approximately two years after Darcy & Elizabeth: Days and Nights at Pemberley concludes; wherein Darcy had saved the family from scandal (again) and that scurrilous rat George Wickham has received his comeuppance — his “whennymegs” were shot off!

The Darcys still have an exceedingly loving marriage in this continuation of one of classic literatures most beloved couples.  “Despite their duties to hearth, park and children, they consoled each other’s enduring appetence with great enthusiasm.  Time and children had not mitigated their passion whatsoever.  If any consternation bedeviled them, it was finding privacy wherein to avail themselves of their desire, not want of it.” p. 8.

Albeit, what bedevils the Darcys is the re-introduction of Lady Howgrave, formerly Juliette Clisson, newcomer to the neighborhood, but as Darcy’s courtesan of his bachelor days, not new to this narrative.  As we discover that Juliette’s marriage contract was partially based on her presenting Sir Henry Howgrave with a son and heir, his own potency comes into question.  Although the beautiful Juliette could easily engage any number of competent studs, her own experiences with Darcy’s virile credentials and his now known accomplishment at fathering sons, she becomes well-nigh obsessed with getting him back into her bed.  Or carraige.  Or wherever she can entrap him.

Whilst Reactionaries and Civil Libertarians rally for political support, and as radicals and rabble rousers incite riots in London, sadness falls upon Pemberley: the Darcys lose an infant son to a putrid fever. Elizabeth slips into a deep depression and closes herself off to her husband and his comfort.  “Her love for her husband had not wavered.  But, imbedded in a muddle of fear and grief, she did not allow herself to take pleasure in their amorous inclinations.  She clasped his nightshirt and buried her face against his neck as he took her.” p. 172.  Therefore, as Elizabeth undertakes a circuitous quest for redemption from Pemberley to her childhood home of Longbourn and back, the Darcys too must find a way back to each other.

Berdoll weaves a rich cabal by her own coloring of classic Austen characters as well as those she thusly contrived.  Her style of recounting each character’s tale, entangling with all the others is mesmerizing and kept me turning pages as I puzzled out their fit.  I laughed heartily at the tongue in cheek (and other sensitive spots) euphemisms of the burlesque, smirked at her quirky yet exacting vernacular, smiled at the quick-witted teasing, and sighed at the tender exchanges between a man and woman who truly adore one another.  I might add, unlike the Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, when the Darcys were newly married and their conjugal proclivities numerous — and ubiquitous– this latest offering does not focus as much on those amorous seductions.  As much, but more on the vissitudes of Elizabeth & Darcy, Juliette’s scheming, and the intrigue of a Mr. Alistair R. Thomas.

If your sensibilities are offended by explicit, passionate love scenes with Jane Austen’s original namesakes, this is presumably NOT the book for you.  However, those who delight in reading about the Darcys beyond Pride and Prejudice, including all their complexities, and intimacies, (in and around the bedroom), and most particularly if you are a fan of Berdoll’s previous works, The Ruling Passion is not to be missed!  Yes, hold on to your bonnets as Linda Berdoll has quite done it again.

Note: For now, you can only purchase this through the author’s website www.lindaberdoll.us. eBooks and other outlets are in the works.

Christina Boyd lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two youngish children and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Bibi.  She studied Fine Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Salisbury University in Maryland. She has for the last nine years created and sold her own pottery line from her working studio. Albeit she read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked her interest in all things Austen.  A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

15 thoughts on “The Darcys, The Ruling Passion: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Linda Berdoll – A Review

  1. I have just picked up my copy of the first book in this series as I make my way through my Austen TBR list.

    I appreciate reading this review and look forward to book one knowing there is such a great plot in book three.

    Thanks for posting!

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  2. I love Linda’s work and can’t wait to read “The Ruling Passion”! I unfortunately have to wait for the E-book version to come out {hard for me to read small print}. I am jonesing for my Lizzy & Darcy fix!

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  3. >”I will stride out even further by surmising that many “romance” writers of Pride and Prejudice re-imaginings and sequels strive to emulate not Jane Austen, but Linda Berdoll.”

    Thank you for explaining why I dislike so much of the current Austen para-literature!

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  4. While I defend the right of reviewers to air their opinions of the books they review, it does not entitle them to make sweeping statements about other writers with whom they are clearly unfamilar. Note- Christina Boyd’s declaration that most writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels “strive to emulate NOT Austen, but Berdoll”. If this were the case then websites like Austenprose would be looking for a swift name change!! Berdollprose?
    As a writer, who has consistently done exactly the opposite, and who was writing well before Ms Berdoll – I beg to differ. Some of us have read and studied the original classic before we dared to write a “sequel” and many of us have a respect and an attachment to the work of Jane Austen, that does not depend upon the number of explicit bedroom scenes and bizarre relationships one can cram into a single novel.
    Ms Berdoll is entitled to her success in the genre she has chosen to use and no doubt her innumerable readers , when they have gotten through the malapropisms and anachronisms, will find enjoyment in plenty in her new book.

    However, I agree with LynnS and point out simply that Jane Austen is not judged by the number of copies she sold, but by her masterful use of the English Language to bring us a brilliant and witty picture of society as she saw it in Regency England.

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      • Maybe not, Laurel Ann, and I do not mean to take issue for myself alone. There are many other writers of sequels, some of whom may well be “romance writers”- who are not “emulating the Berdoll style” and are entitled to be assessed on their merits.
        It is the kind of sweeping generalisation that does reviewers no credit. RAC.

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  5. Dear Laurel Ann, I hope not to importune you long, but “Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me…” therefore, I will be BOLD… “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can.” I do appreciate that Rebecca Ann Collins (RAC) read my review and took such pains to respond. Twice. I find in cases like this, it is best to be silent. Unfortunately, I fear her censure of my comment may over-shadow my review of Linda Berdoll’s most excellent novel and feel it incumbent upon me to defend. Thank you for recognizing that I was not referring to her books but the many writers of the romance sub-genre with throbbing, pulsing Darcys. Malapropisms and anachronisms, indeed: two words never more true in comparing her “Pemberley Chronicles” or “The Women of Pemberley” and that of ROMANCE para-literature. “What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!” I feel as though this resembles the incident in P&P when Mr.Collins gives near offense to Mrs. Phillips when comparing her apartments to the summer breakfast parlour at Rosings. But then again, the summer breakfast parlour would probably rank more than 2-3 stars. As a great reader of Jane Austen, taking pleasure in many things, including Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) from a diverse, talented on-line community –of which I have recently heard referred to as that ugly step-child, and a fan of Berdoll’s well-written, wickedly fun novels, my statement “surmising that many ‘romance’ writers of Pride and Prejudice re-imaginings and sequels strive to emulate not Jane Austen, but Linda Berdoll,” was NEVER intended to be an insult. I could easily imagine many of those writers to be fans of Berdoll as well. Sweeping comment? Fiddle, I didn’t say “everyone.” Maybe if RAC was at all familiar with Berdoll’s work and other JAFF romance authors, she might recognize some of the similarities in style and form– and concede the point. I only hope others recognized my humour and not get side-tracked by the aforementioned comment; it was kindly meant. As a guest reviewer of many books in a wide variety of prose, I regard it a privilege, of which I thank you; and flatter myself that I do assess every book on individual merit, whether it be high or low, to the delight or chagrine of its author. “On this subject I have nothing more to say, and no other apology to offer.” I am, dear madam, etc., etc. (Christina Boyd)

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  6. I guess we all have our own taste. I won’t do sex for the sake of titilation in my Jane Austen reading but I do like seeing a healthy display, to some degree or other, of marital fidelity and felicity. I read Linda Berdoll a little hesitantly, though I think I’m going to enjoy this one more than the others.

    I’ll throw this thought into the ring: I can’t bear anything paranormal to be associated with Jane Austen. That’s where my tolerance ends.

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  7. I’m a novice book reviewer but….. isn’t it true that one reader’s drivel is another’s masterpiece? There are no absolutes in this art form. However, I already have formed my own peculiar artistic expectations in reviewing fiction, especially with Jane Austen prequels, sequels, and spin-offs. My own “prejudices” (pun intended) also tend to steer me away from the paranormal and graphic sexuality. Therefore, I’ll probably pass on this one.
    That we can passionately disagree on this art-form right here in a civil manner is a healthy learning experience, especially for me! Ding! There’s the bell signalling the start of round two!

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    • Graphic sexuality? Linda Berdoll peppers her prose with euphemisms. Other authors, ex. Sharon Lathan, I think are far more explicit. Give it a try Jeffrey, you’ll be surprised!

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  8. Jeffrey,I know you enjoy Abigail Reynolds’ work.As a fan of Reynolds myself, I am confident that Linda Berdoll’s work is no more graphic. Honestly, I think you would gobble this series. Do add it to your ever growing list to be read.Seriously. I wager you will be delightfully surprised. I would be very interested to hear back how your prejudices change! Thanks for reading the review and chiming in.

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    • Linda Berdoll gets such a bad rap because of what people have heard, and not what they have read. It’s a shame for a writer of Jane Austen fiction to get on here and rip her apart. After all, it’s tough out there!

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  9. In case you were interested, I just saw that this is now available thru Kindle but Amazon is having trouble keeping the hardback in stock. Then I saw someone else post on facebook that they were able to order a copy via her website (above.)

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