From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:
A twisted ankle, a sudden rainstorm, and an unmarried man and woman forced to take shelter in a nearby unoccupied cottage. These reputation-ruining tragic turn of events lead to a reimaging of Pride and Prejudice that is full of settee-gripping adventure. Elaine Jeremiah’s newest book, Elizabeth and Darcy Beginning Again, takes Jane Austen fans on a Regency route of possible ruination and ruthless wickedness.
When I saw that this was a Pride and Prejudice variation that involved a “marry or face ruination situation”, my interest was immediately piqued. Could Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s story be just as fulfilling if they had no choice in marrying? I was determined to read and find out.
The story sets out with the ever-familiar walk Lizzy Bennet takes to go visit her dear sister Jane who is sick at Netherfield. While out on her walk, she happens to be startled by a fast-riding Mr. Darcy. Shocked at the closeness, she stumbles and twists her ankle and becomes unable to continue her walk. Suddenly, the sky opens up with rain and the two are left with little choice but to seek shelter together to escape the elements. Elizabeth detests the thought of being in the debt of Mr. Darcy but she has little choice in her current condition.
“Perhaps we shall be alone together a while longer,” she said. “The rain appears to be unabating. I should imagine the roads will be flooded soon.”
“I am not sorry for it”
His reply and direct look caught her unawares.” (279)
Thrust into this uncomfortable situation, Mr. Darcy must carry the injured Miss Elizabeth Bennet to the cottage he has found nearby. Carrying her in his arms feels so… normal. The one problem, once they reach the cottage, is that there is no one else there. Being alone and unmarried throws them into a precariously dangerous situation of almost certain ruination. And Elizabeth still hasn’t forgotten those horrid comments Mr. Darcy made about her at the assembly.
“He shook his head at his jumbled thoughts. “What is wrong with you, man” he asked himself. “What is it to you if the lady likes you or not? Even if she did and you liked her in return, there would be nothing to be done about it. She is unsuited to you in every way. She is…” (418)
As the hours tick by, they decide to start anew with their acquaintance. They quickly find a mutual love for literature that gives Darcy hope that he might redeem himself in the view of a pair of “fine brown eyes”. Stilted conversations later, the awkward interactions of the past of forgiven, the glimmer of mutual blossoming esteem is beginning to take root.
“What is wrong with you Elizabeth?’ She asked herself. ‘The gentleman is barely tolerable…” (371)
Forced to make choices they would have never dreamed at sunrise that they would be making by the end of the day, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet must decide if they will become bitter at the cards life has dealt them or create their own path to happiness.
Meanwhile, not one to be pushed aside, George Wickham has been quietly waiting for the perfect opportunity to once and for all take from Darcy what should be his. He might not have been successful in his initial plan, but he will find another way to ruin that arrogant man. But he will discover along the way that although blood is thicker than water, true love will always win.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was fast-paced, well-written, and has a fantastic plot. The beginning of the book really lets you know quickly that the story is far off canon yet is no less delightful. The characters really hold true to their original identities and although placed in foreign situations act with the moral values we associate with them. Elizabeth Bennet really shines in her impulsive, knee-jerk reactions throughout the book. Mr. Darcy is faced with new and scandalous situations that allow his unwavering steadfastness to be highlighted.
The action scenes were some of the highlights that really made me love this story. There is a highway robbery, an impromptu stay at an inn, and a nearly successful wedding crash. Elaine Jeremiah does a fantastic job of playing puppet master to Austen’s characters. She pulls the strings, and they dance across the pages in new and exciting ways that never cease to delight.
5 out of 5 Stars
ADDITIONAL NOVELS BY ELAINE JEREMIAH
- Elizabeth and Darcy Beginning Again: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Elaine Jeremiah
- Independently published (February 2, 2021)
- ASIN: B08SL8H3RC
We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose.com is an Amazon.com affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Elaine Jeremiah © 2021; text Melissa Makarewicz © 2021, Austenprose.com