An innocent young lady with a secret past preparing for her first Season. Her guardian torn between chasing off suitors and becoming a suitor himself. His friends (who just so happen to be spies) preparing to do what they do best to fend off the rogues. All of this together with a dash of romance, a pinch of adventure, and a handful of espionage, and you have the Pride and Prejudice continuation, Loving Miss Darcy: The Brides of Pemberley.
Georgiana Darcy’s life is peaceful. Her new sister, Elizabeth Bennet Darcy has brought the family together as never before, and Georgiana has happily spent her days in the countryside doing what she loves best with those she loves best, particularly her older cousin and guardian, Col. Richard Fitzwilliam. Surrounded by her music and family, she quickly flourishes into a beautiful young woman of eighteen, with only one dark moment of her past to shade her happiness. But just as she finally manages to put her failed elopement with Mr. Wickham behind her, Georgie finds out that she must go to London for the Season to be thrown in amongst men who only desire her for her fortune, men who might turn out to be exactly like Wickham.
On the eve of Georgiana’s season, Richard rediscovers some old friends and his guardian problems are solved. After all, who better to watch Georgiana and chase off suitors who are not worthy of her (which oddly enough, happens to be all of them), than seasoned spies? And why is it that he seems so against her meeting, well, any eligible gentleman?
With her brother Fitzwilliam Darcy and cousin Richard Fitzwilliam to protect her, Georgiana feels she is safe from ever falling in love again, but what if love has been right in front of her all along? What can Richard and Georgie do when old secrets come to light, and specters from their past come back to haunt them? When her past and future collide, Georgiana must learn to rely on her family and trust the one who loves her, while Richard must begin a search to discover the traitor in their midst before it is too late.
I’ve always been wary about reading Jane Austen continuations, especially Pride and Prejudice ones. All of her characters are so special and beloved, that I’m afraid to come across one that distorts my own opinion and ideas of how they’d act or talk. So I am happy to say that Loving Miss Darcy is a refreshing continuation of Pride and Prejudice. I could easily imagine Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, Kitty, Georgiana, Mrs. Bennet, and Richard in the drawing room discussing art (or attempting to, in the case of Mrs. Bennet) and exchanging witty banter. Nancy Kelley treats the characters with respect and opens them up in a natural way that holds steady to the aspects of their personalities, yet adds some new surprises. For example, sisters Kitty and Mary Bennet are both mature, and soon become Georgiana’s friends. I was pleasantly surprised to see Kitty and Georgiana’s friendship develop, as I had never thought about how Georgiana would interact with Elizabeth’s family. I also loved the new characters that were added. Richard’s family did not appear in more than a few chapters, but when they did, their scenes were so very special. Every family member, no matter how small a role, was entertaining and unique: Elaine (his nagging sister), John and Sally (his cute nephew and niece), Simon (his foppish and irritating brother), and Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam (his wise and loving parents). It was wonderful to read a book that not only had action and adventure, but also tender family scenes. More new characters included the spies: perceptive Sebastian, lovelorn Ashford, and good-natured Colin. They were all well developed, and I just have to sigh a girlish sigh over Richard’s spy friends (gotta love a mysterious and crafty secret agent).
One of the interesting things I learned more about from Loving Miss Darcy was the importance of the coming out Season. I had never thought about the details, or how frightening it would seem in a society where that was the one and only chance at an advantageous marriage—and all of us Jane Austen fans know that an advantageous marriage during the Regency was the highest aspiration for a well-bred female. Georgiana was afraid that she wouldn’t find a worthy man to marry, and Nancy Kelley did a good job portraying this so that the reader could understand the weight of her (and any Regency female’s) decision. Imagine choosing your spouse after knowing them only a short time, and only making your decision based not on character, but on the well-known facts of his or her family property and wealth! As Georgie says, “Flowery speeches have not stood me in good stead. I would much prefer an honest man who speaks from his heart.”
My only problem with this book was the flip-flopping of names. Fitzwilliam Darcy is sometimes called William, but other times called Fitzwilliam. Richard is also Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam (Richard’s parents) also go by the names of Lord and Lady Matlock. This wasn’t a huge problem when reading, but it was confusing at first.
I love three things in a book—adventure, banter, and romance. This book had all of them, and I cannot wait to read more from this author (and hopefully more about the characters)!
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Loving Miss Darcy: The Brides of Pemberley (Volume 2), by Nancy Kelley
Trade paperback (244) pages
Cover image courtesy © 2013 Nancy Kelley; text © 2013 Katie Patchell