Guest review by Christina Boyd
In this latest self-published offering from the Pride & Prejudice variation author, Abigail Reynolds’s, Mr. Darcy’s Letter responds to the query: What might have happened had Elizabeth Bennet never accepted Mr. Darcy’s letter that defended his actions in separating his friend from her sister and acquitted him of any cruelty toward Mr. Wickham? Reynolds’s poses a plausible scenario wherein Miss Elizabeth, conscious of society’s mores, refuses the risk of accepting this letter from a man, thus avoids the risk of being discovered and possibly forced to marry the last man in the world she could ever be prevailed upon. Consequently, she returns to Longbourn yet ignorant of Wickham’s debauchery and continues a dangerous acquaintance with that very scheming lothario and prevaricator. As in Jane Austen’s masterpiece, how could her former prejudices against Darcy ever be removed so that she would eventually comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her?
Of course, her revelation of Darcy’s goodness takes further discovery but by the time she realizes her blunder – Wickham elopes with Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia. And then, Darcy arrives too late in Lambton to learn of the Bennet family’s disgrace! In an assembly of plot devices, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations, Reynolds artfully increases our suspense by illustrating the Bennets decline and how it taints Charles Bingley’s manners with Miss Jane Bennet. “‘Too many people know that her sister was seduced and abandoned, even if a marriage was eventually patched up somehow. It would never have been an equal match between Jane and me. She is a gentleman’s daughter, but her mother is not and now the family name is tainted.’” Oh, how Darcy’s own words from the previous autumn seem to have come back to bite him in the arse!
As much as I enjoyed the overall romance of another Darcy and Elizabeth re-imagining, I was rather disconcerted by Elizabeth. First she refuses his letter under the premise that a lady would never accept a letter from a gentleman she was neither related to nor betrothed. And yet, soon after Darcy and Elizabeth become engaged, they anticipate their vows? On a fainting couch in the corner of Darcy’s dressing room serving as his study while at Netherfield! “‘I want nothing more than to be your wife. I wish I were yours this very moment, and nothing would ever separate us again.’ She tightened her arms around his neck, pressing herself closer to him, as if trying to make herself part of his very essence.” Reynolds creates such a riot of emotions that this modern-day reader, I suppose, must forgive Elizabeth’s lascivious zeal – it is Mr. Darcy after all!
In classic Abigail Reynolds style, her latest steamy and sensual romance novel is agog with machinations to drive the story to its final happy conclusion. If reading about Elizabeth and Darcy sharing amorous favors before marriage is unsupportable, by all means, avert your eyes. However should it take more to get your knickers in a knot, Mr. Darcy’s Letter should not be cast aside! Enjoy!
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mr. Darcy’s Letter: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
Intertidal Press (2011)
Trade paperback (262) pages
Kindle: ASIN: B006G2E4XK
Nook: Not available
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. For the last nine years she has 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.
© 2007 – 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose