From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Rider:
I’ve reviewed three of Kara Louise’s works now (Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, Darcy’s Voyage, and Pirates and Prejudice), and I can confidently say that she’s been gaining popularity as one of my favorite Jane Austen fan fiction authors. One of her strongest points is her imaginative ability to create such great variations on the traditional Pride and Prejudice storyline. It was with this in mind that I was eager to start a new installment in this great line of variations, Mr. Darcy’s Rival, which I knew was sure to intrigue me from the beginning.
Mr. Darcy, as always, is dreading his annual visit to his aunt Lady Catherine, as he knows that he will face the usual barrage of questions from the officious woman regarding his marrying her daughter. Accompanied as usual by his cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam, Darcy finds that there are two additional guests at Rosings Park this time: a Mr. Rickland and Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Although Darcy knew Miss Bennet during his time in Meryton and left in order to mask his feelings for her, he cannot deny that his affections have grown even greater since their time apart. There are many obstacles to his ultimate goal of winning her hand, none more formidable than Mr. Rickland. Will he be able to secure Elizabeth’s love against all odds and be able to make his feelings known in the face of Lady Catherine’s alternate plans?
Initially the book was slightly slow for my taste, but about 60 pages in the story became vivid and lively, and really took off. I like how Louise was able to take pieces of the original work and reinvent them, such as the scenes with Darcy’s famous, “be not alarmed, Madame,” letter. In Pride and Prejudice this letter acts as the catalyst of Elizabeth’s epiphany, making her realize that first impressions aren’t always accurate (i.e. Wickham and falsehoods regarding Darcy.) In Mr. Darcy’s Rival, although the circumstances and text of the letter are different (she isn’t even meant to receive it,) it still performs the same action, making her reevaluate her behavior and thoughts towards Darcy. Therefore, although Louise is using the same plot device, she is changing it and making the story her own.
I also liked the storyline that was built around Anne de Bourgh. In the original we don’t know much about her, except that she is sickly and expected to marry Darcy. She is essentially a blank slate (as is Georgiana) and I like seeing what stories the authors create for these characters. In this instance, Louise gives Anne an opportunity to write her own story by making her a writer! This was an interesting choice considering Anne was a lady of wealth and stature living in Regency England, which definitely puts this career choice (or having a career in general) at odds with society at the time. Additionally, I also enjoyed reading her characters’ commentary on the role of women writers of the time, and the prejudices they faced due to their sex.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the extreme highs and lows on which Louise took my heart. It was no surprise that I was going to become entranced by the creativity that Louise exhibits, and she didn’t disappoint at all. Quirky, imaginative, and compelling, Mr. Darcy’s Rival is sure to be a home run for your summer reads list.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mr. Darcy’s Rival: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Kara Louise
Heartworks Pulication (2015)
Trade paperback & eBook (362) pages
Cover image courtesy of Heartworks Pulblication © 2015; Text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2015, Austenprose.com
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