Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But not just the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston; Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes;  Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams, & Fanny Price and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park in The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West and What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James And what have I thought of it so far?

This one is on Persuasion:

In Persuasion, Anne is the middle daughter of a Baron and is often ignored by her father who really only cares about himself. She becomes engaged to a naval soldier, but after speaking to her mother’s best friend, was persuaded it wasn’t the right decision.

Hmm…

Years pass, and another proposal, and Anne has grown older, wiser, and regretted turning her love down. With her father spending more than they have, they have to let the house, and the Admiral and Mrs. Croft rent it. Mrs. Croft’s brother, Captain Wentworth, comes to visit who happens to be the same soldier that she was engaged to! I don’t have to tell you that an interesting plot ensues!

I’ve only read a few adaptations of Persuasion and I’m excited to read this one. I like that there is a Mrs. Croft story.

An Unnatural Beginning by Elizabeth Adams

The story takes place before the events in Persuasion, starting when Charles Musgrove is trying to court Anne, but she is not interested, she still pines after Wentworth.

It’s not that Charles Musgrove is a bad man its just he isn’t the right man.

“He was a perfectly decent man. Kind, respectable, well-mannered. But alas, he possessed one fatal flaw that not even the best of manners could redeem.

He was not Frederick Wentworth.”

And being with Charles only makes her think even more when she met Commander Wentworth. He was visiting his brother in Monkford and Anne encounters him at a get-together and the two spend time together. She is completely struck by him.

With him

Back to the present, Charles continues to talk and court her, but she isn’t really present. The flame of her youth feels like it is dying.

Frederick proposes and Anne accepts, but then when she seeks advice-Lady Russell resoundly says no. I really enjoyed this part as all of Lady Russell’s arguments are extremely valid. I mean things could go wrong and she could become  poor widow-a poor widow who’s father isn’t going to help out (you’ve seen him). Or she could have ended up like Mrs. Price, Fanny’s mom.

“A large and still increasing family, an[sic] husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants…”

I really enjoyed how Adams makes Lady Russell not evil, cruel, or even a snob (just a touch snoby). And I liked how fear drove Anne’s decision to break it off with Wentworth, but it is an extremely relatable fear

I really liked that we got a view into both proposals, as I have always wanted to see how both went down. And raise your hand if you think Charles continued to pine after Anne even though he married her sister (that line about Sir Elliot moving Charles to take Mary off his hands was gold.)

Both hands are up!

But that ending though. It pierces the heart.

 

This story was so sad, absolutely heartbreaking, but in a god way. A real way. This was so relatable and I really loved the language used. One of my favorite parts is when she describes how she feels about her beauty and youth fading. I think we all feel that when we are disappointed, injured, or broken in love, that we used to be more fun, gregarious. etc. The whole thing was so good, so sad, so heartbreaking, and I think Jane would be proud. As for me:

I’m going to hide under the covers with my ice cream

Just kidding. It was a wonderful read, just get those tissues ready.

For more on Anne Elliot, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Where the Sky Touches the Sea by KaraLynne Mackrory

So this story picks up in the middle of Persuasion about chapter 8 before and after the dinner party. The Crofts are heading to out and their gig gets stuck in the mud, but they get through it together. This leads Mrs. Croft to think on their relationship and thier marriage.

This story was so cute and sad. But the good kind of sad. I don’t know how to review it without giving anything away. Just be prepared, if you are a crier-have tissues ready. It is just a sweet little story.

I’m so sad and happy!

I’ve always loved the Admiral and Mrs. Croft and it makes me love them more. One thing I love about Jane Austen is how she has these horrible marriages (like Charles and Mary Musgrove, Sir Walter, etc.) but then these amazing ones like he Crofts. I think Mackrory really got the heart of the characters and I loved her story.

So romantic! So cute!

For more by KaraLynne Mackrory “Clandestiny” from The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Mrs. Croft, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

The Art of Pleasing by Lona Manning

So Mrs. Clay has an interesting backstory in this. She was “married” to a corrupt merchant who juggled the book and raked in every extra but he could. When things got too heated he took off, leaving Mrs. Clay with her two boys and nothing.

She heads home hiding her disgrace under the guise of widowhood and then implements herself into the Elliot household. It wasn’t her idea, but her father’s, the Elliot’s solicitor, as he wants her to gather intel on the Elliot’s expenditures and hopefully influence them to spend less.

Mrs. Clay does so and better than ever. She becomes Elizabeth’s best friend, so much that Sir Walter and Elizabeth choose to take her with them to Bath and leave Anne behind.

Ouch

Mrs. Clay can’t really stand either of them, but is thrilled that about her new position. So thrilled at how Sir Walter trusts and leans on her. With this new possibility opening up, now Mrs. Clay starts using all her wit to try and snare him. She doesn’t like him, but does like becoming a lady, having a father for her sons, prestige, etc. And to rub Elizabeth, Anne, and Lady Russell’s faces in it would be great as well.

Sucks to be you

Everything was going well until Mr. Elliot came to town.

Smarming and plotting away.

Yes, Mr. Elliot plans on seducing both sisters and Mrs. Clay away from Sir Walter. Will she resist or succumb?

Hmmm

I really enjoyed this as I always thought Mrs. Clay (like Charlotte Lucas) was cunning, although much shrewder, and a bit more a mistress of her fate than they show in adaptations. I like how the author made her witty and shrewd even though she wasn’t “educated”. (That line about Paris was hilarious). This was great and spot on-that ending was perfect.

“A lady would have said, ‘Sir! What do you take me for?’

I whispered, ‘Yes.”

She and Mr. Elliot deserve each other.

Good job!

And this was perfect right after the two sadder stories.

For more by Lona Manning, go to “The Address of a Frenchwoman” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

Louisa by the Sea by Beau North

So we start this story after Louisa has had her fall. Louisa was very headstrong, stubborn, and always insisted on having her own way-

There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless! There was no wound, no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death. The horror of the moment to all who stood around!”

We start off with her recovering and North does a great job showing what it is like. My friend’s brother injured his head in a car accident and North was spot on with what they go through .

Louisa slowly recuperates, and who is by her side? Wentworth? No. Captain Benwick. Captain Benwick has a sad backstory, he fell in love with a woman who became sick and passed away. He hasn’t been able to do much since, but here he aids Louisa, by her side every moment, eating with her, reading to her, just all around supporting her.

So romantic! So cute!

The rest of her family feels awkward or unsettled or unsure what to do, but Benwick takes charge and helps.

Louisa has to relearn what to do, has violent headaches, a lot of trauma to noise, and seizures. Everyone thinks she is in love with Captain Wentworth, but Louisa has fallen head over heels (literally?) for Captain Benwick. Now how to convince him?

Hmmm….

Oh my gosh this story was so cute. I never really liked Louisa in Persuasion she just kind of annoyed me and of course we want Anne and Wentworth TOGETHER. But this gave a whole new spin and view on her. And I have always loved Captain Benwick, and I think this story just continued to show how wonderful a character and man he is. And they are so gosh darn cute together!!

“Are you certain?’…’Am I certain? No, my dear captain, it is far worse. I am determined.”

Aw! Squee!!

For more by Beau North, go to “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

These stories were just as great at the others, but be prepared-have tissues at the ready for those first two .

So far all have been amazing and we only have a few stories left?! Where did the time go? How are we almost at the end?

I guess all I can say is stay tuned for the final post.

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Persuasion, go to It Sucks to Be Lady Elliot

For more Austen book reviews, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

So two years I was contacted by the remarkable Christina Boyd to read and review The Darcy Monologues. It contained stories from Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams.

The stories were all told from Darcy’s point of view with half the book set in the Regency Era and the other half set in different time periods (from 1880s Western to modern times). I really loved it! It was just so refreshing to see a point of view that is often overlooked or not done well. Just like the movies, there are many different forms of Darcy, so you have your pick of Darcy-being sure to find one, two, or more to love.

After that project, Christina Boyd teamed up with Karen M. Cox: J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Katie Oliver, Sophia Ros, Joana Starnes, and Brooke West for a new book. This book is Dangerous to Know Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, on the rogues and rakes of the Austen books-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.

He’s a bad boy-womanizer

The next one was Rational Creatures, with stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams. All on the women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay.

It sounded great and I planned to review it after a few things on my list, but then time just passed so quickly by.

I said to heck with it, and decided I’m reading it now and reviewing it!

So I decided to break the review up into six posts-going book by book. That way it isn’t one ginormous post.

We are starting with:

Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as their world is drastically changed when their father dies and they older half brother moves them out of the house and basically forgets they even exist. Elinor is the elder sister-logical, sensible, and in command of herself. Marianne is the middle daughter-passionate, outspoken, and emotional. Elinor falls for a man, but finds him promised to another. Marianne meets a man right out of her romantic dreams, but is he all that he seems to be? Each sister goes through a journey and discovers depths to them they never realized.

Sense and Sensibility, deals with the line between expression. I liked how there is the question of whether too much of either is bad and how much does one need? We have Marianne who expresses too much, while Elinor, expresses nothing. While both sisters are the best of friends; their extremes cause the other to never fully know their sister. Marianne can never see what Elinor is feeling and makes all these assumptions about a “frozen” heart. Elinor on the other hand, never imagines that Marianne has any sense as she assumes she is solely governed by feelings. I liked how the sisters were never privy to each others complete secrets as I feel this is realistic. I can see myself and my sister in these.

Or just sister in this case.

So in a lot of adaptions Elinor is stiff, cold, robotic, icy, or a control freak (looking at you Austentatious 2015), etc:

And Marianne is beautiful, fashionable, and 100% an airhead:

So I was eager to see how they did their adaptations, and hoping against hope that they wouldn’t fall into the same traps:

Self-Composed by Christina Morland

Elinor Dashwood

The story begins in Norland Sussex, 1797 as Mr. Dashwood has died, the house has been inherited by their half-brother John Dashwood, and Elinor, her sisters, and mother must prepare to move their items out. From there it takes them to Barton Cottage when Edward Ferrars visits, Elinor having to be nice to Lucy Steele (Edward’s intended), to the final conclusion of the story.

So first of all it is obvious that Ms. Morland is a fan of Jane Austen and has not only read the story but understands Jane Austen. Often, as I said before, when people do an adaptation they take sense to mean that Elinor is an icy, unfeeling person-made of stone.

But clearly Jane Austen doesn’t intend that as seen-

“Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment.”

Elinor could not help laughing. “Excuse me,” said she; “and be assured that I meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings. Believe them to be stronger than I have declared…”

What she means by sense is that Elinor controls her feelings and emotions-not that she is a control freak, just mistress of herself.

Ms. Morland captures that perfectly!!!-as she has Elinor in command of herself with a certain demeanor, all the while her emotions exploding on the inside.

I loved it! I thought it was perfect! I think that Ms. Morland captured the true spirit of Elinor.

I also loved how she used the drawing and painting as for how Elinor is feeling, describing the drawing as her trying to help her control her feelings-not so much repress (which most adaptions go with)-by releasing them on paper instead of verbally.

My favorite part is when she draws Lucy Steele, she is trying to be a good Christian woman and makes her as beautiful as she is in real life, but also makes her face look manipulative and cunning.

I LOVE it (sorry to keep using that same word over and over again. Here is one of the passages I loved:

“Elinor closed her eyes and envisioned blank paper, flat and crisp; she imagined lines and circles with no clear end or beginning; she thought of steady hands, of straight edges…”

As I have said, there are very few Sense and Sensibility adaptations I enjoy, but I LOVED THIS!

For more by Christina Morland, go to “One Fair Claim” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

For more on Elinor Dashwood, go to Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious (2015)

Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston

Marianne Dashwood

We start when Marianne awakens from being sick, having been caught in the rain (it’s not clear whether she was trying to commit suicide, thought she would make it back in time, maybe thought if she was “sick” Willoughby would be sorry and come after her, etc-a discussion for another day.) She begins to recuperate, and you know what, I can’t even get through the synopsis, I absolutely LOVED it!

Finally, finally, finally we have a Marianne Dashwood adaptation that doesn’t make her a ditz but a young, passionate woman.

“Your faults, as you claim them to be, are in equal measure virtues. Blind to them? I could never be. Nor could I admonish you to any degree for past mistakes, for they were the product of an earnest, passionate heart and youthful innocence.”

Finally someone gets it!

In Clarkson’s story Marianne begins to convalescence and starts to think about her behavior-seeing how she let emotion rule her and begins to really study herself, educate herself, and grow to be her better self.

I’m so happy!

I just LOOOOVVED IT! Now don’t get me wrong, I think Ms. Morland’s story was just as amazing, its just this has been driving me crazy!!! The fact that every adaptation seems to make Marianne dumb instead of young and inexperienced. I am so happy to finally see a writer who gets it!

So I really liked this story and how it shows the blooming relationship with Marianne and Colonel Brandon. It was so sweet and a great progression that just makes you squeal with the cuteness!

For more on Marianne Dashwood, go to Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Austentatious (2015)

So in conclusion, I have not read many Sense and Sensibility, mostly because the ones I have read the author’s just don’t get the characters. Elinor is always too cold and unfeeling and just frumpy. Marianne is always a dunce who just kind of lalalas her way through the story.

I’m not happy

But these two stories completely broke those cliches and are thus far the best, and I mean best adaptations/depictions of Elinor and Marianne that I have read.

Both these stories and writers!

With this just being the beginning, I am super pumped to keep reading.

For more Christina Boyd, go to Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Smart One and the Pretty One

For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

So today is Jane Austen’s birthday!

And what better gift than a review of:

 

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd

So it’s that time again, bring out the bad boys:

For those of you who missed post oneDangerous to Know, is compilation novel of the bad boys of Jane Austen-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.

Each story takes place before the Austen book, during the book, or after the book-giving us a look into these guys’ minds and from their point of view. One of the most interesting things about this subject is that we don’t know a lot about these bad boys in Austen’s work. Most of these men, besides Wickham, play a small role-but have a big impact. This allows the authors a ton of wiggle room and almost anything can happen.

The other thing about this book is that…well…this is about rakes and rogues, so you know…they aren’t the best of men or respectful…you know…so some of them are going to be more sexy.

Hmm…

And I just want to say thank you to Christina Boyd for including this little chart to help you:

Mature Content Guidelines:

  1. None: Possible kissing and affection.
  2. Mild: Kissing.
  3. Moderate: Some sexual references but not explicit.
  4. Mature: Some nudity and some provocative sex.
  5. Erotic: Explicit, abundance of sex.

Because not everyone is interested in books like this:

It’s nice giving us a head’s up so those that aren’t interested know to skip or skim, or those that are, can enjoy.

Something for everyone

So last time I reviewed the none posts, in which we had a stories on Captain Fredrick Tilney, General Tilney and John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; along with Sir Walter Elliot from Persuasion. I loved these stories as some of these men I love to hate and it made me hate them ever more:

And some men I have hated and actually began to like them:

I know, but true.

Let me say, that if you can get me-one of the most stubborn people in the world-to change their thinking…that is some fantastic writing.

So now onto the mild posts-just to refresh you memory, that means kissing.

The Address of a Frenchwoman by Lona Manning

So when I saw that this story was about Tom Bertram I was surprised and confused.

Huh?

I never really saw him as a rogue or rake-to be honest I have never really focused on him when reading the story- and with how awful Henry Crawford is in that story, his rogueness overshadowed all.

But after reading this I really started thinking about his character and Manning is right. Tom Bertram is the oldest son-a gambler, drinker, and partier. Because of him, they have to sell his brother, Edmund Bertram’s, living-parsonage-to strangers.

He’s a man born into a life of privilege, gambles, sleeps around, and never considers how his actions affect others, nor does he care-like F. Scott Fitzgerald says-

“They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

But unlike the other bad boys, he does change after a long illness. When he gets through it, he begins to think of his life differently.

In this story, Tom is telling his friends a story about how he met his dream girl, a French woman, Rose. It all started when he visited a racetrack to place a bet. He is interrupted when a beautiful French woman is being assaulted by two ruffians. Tom steps in to help her, and finds himself smitten.

They have so much in common, they spend all their time together-except when Rose has to work, singing, to pay for all the aid she received in her escape from the Reign of Terror. Tom wishes to marry her, but she turns him down.

Disheartened, despondent, he returns home to put on a risqué play, but is thwarted by his father. From there he goes off again to the racetrack and runs into  horrifying truth that brings his undoing. Rose is not at all who she seems…

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was really good. I figured out the end of the tale in the beginning, but that didn’t take away from the story. I also liked how the author wrote the Rose character. I found it to be very enjoyable.

Fitzwilliam’s Folly by Beau North

Like the previous story when I saw that Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam was included as a rogue or rake I was confused.

I mean he seemed like a nice guy to me.

Hmm…

So I began to think about it.

Hmmm….

I have to say that I realize his behavior with Elizabeth was not okay. I mean if someone were to flirt with my friend the way he does with Elizabeth and then just flatly drops her with “we can never be together, you aren’t rich enough”-is a total jerkwad. And I would take that sucker down!

So Colonel Fitzwilliam is a second son, and we all know how that works. Second sons need a profession and to marry money…

So the story starts off with Colonel Fitzwilliam on his horse riding off in a hurry after someone…

We then cut to…

Six Months Earlier

Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy leave their aunt, Lady Catherine, to return to their homes. Darcy is heartbroken over Elizabeth’s refusal, while Fitzwilliam is also puzzled as to why she said no.

Fitzwilliam resumes life as normal, heading to Lady Snowley’s ball to oogle the women, but their attempts at him are in vain-as cupid’s arrows will never strike him…

This ball is different from all the others as Fitzwilliam receives a proposal.

Huh?

Calliope Campbell is the eldest of three girls. Her father is an American who has made a lot of money, nouveau riche, and the family is on the prowl for title gentlemen to wed their girls off to. Like in The Buccaneers or the marriage of Cora to the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley, in Downton Abbey. Needless to say, her parents are eager to get their girls settled.

However, Calliope is tired of being treated like a cow up for auction and has hatched a plan. She wishes to hire Colonel Fitzwilliam to “court” her-not compromise her, but turn away her other suitors (especially General Harrington yuck!)-so that she remains an old maid. In turn when she receives her majority and inheritance, she will give him £8000.

Fitzwilliam is horrified at this vulgar proposal and turns her down flat. However…Fitzwilliam goes to visit a very upset and sloshed Darcy. He joins him and later wakes up with a massive hangover in his family home. There he gets more news of his older brother’s profligate ways and that proposal is sounding better and better.

Hmmm….

Fitzwilliam agrees to Calliope’s terms and begins spending time with her…and starts falling for her. He finds her irresistible, her family loves him as he is from an important family…but there is one fly in the soup: the General. The General will not give up as he wants that fortune. He and Fitzwilliam compete-but then Calliope is kidnapped! Will Fitzwilliam save her in time?

Thoughts After Reading:

I LOVED this!!!!! Fitzwilliam is a character that could go in any direction, and I liked how North wrote him. I also loved the ending as…I can’t give it away, it was too good. You must read it yourself.

Some may say this story has been done before, but I don’t care what they say. I loved the characters and I had to keep flipping pages to find out what happened next. As I said before, you must read it!!!!!!

For more by Beau North, go to You Don’t Own Me in The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

So now that we have reviewed the stories let’s talk about the other question on people’s minds: How sexy was the sexy parts?

My conclusion is that it wasn’t that sexy. Mostly the narrator’s talk about the women’s curves, oogling their decolletage, kissing ( I think they might have mentioned tongue.) But nothing too crazy.

So I really enjoyed these two as well. I felt that the authors did a fantastic job of keeping Austen foundation, along with fleshing them out.  I LOOOOVED it! So hard to put down!

But will I continue to enjoy it?

Hmmm…

I guess we will find out in the next installment MODERATE.

For more reviews of Dangerous to Know, go to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues

For more Mansfield Park, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Mrs. Darcy Wants to Know the Truth!: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Three (2013)

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd

So last year I was contacted by the remarkable Christina Boyd to read and review The Darcy Monologues. It contained stories from Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams.

The stories were all told from Darcy’s point of view with half the book set in the Regency Era and the other half set in different time periods (from 1880s Western to modern times). I really loved it! It was just so refreshing to see a point of view that is often overlooked or not done well. Just like the movies, there are many different forms of Darcy, so you have your pick of Darcy-being sure to find one, two, or more to love.

After that project, Christina Boyd teamed up with Karen M. Cox: J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Katie Oliver, Sophia Ros, Joana Starnes, and Brooke West for a new book. Instead of Darcy, this one will be on the rogues and rakes of the Austen books-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.

I promised to read and review it but unfortunately life got in the way and I was unable to do it.

I hate breaking a promise, that is my number-one most hated thing of all time.

So now things are back on track. And this will be the first of a few posts as I am going to break them up. Why?

Hmm…

Well…this is about rakes and rogues, so you know…they aren’t the best of men or respectful…you know…so some of them are going to be more sexy.

Hmm…

And I just want to say thank you to Christina Boyd for including this little chart to help you:

Mature Content Guidelines:

  1. None: Possible kissing and affection.
  2. Mild: Kissing.
  3. Moderate: Some sexual references but not explicit.
  4. Mature: Some nudity and some provocative sex.
  5. Erotic: Explicit, abundance of sex.

Because not everyone is interested in books like this:

It’s nice giving us a head’s up so those that aren’t interested know to skip or skim, or those that do can enjoy.

Something for everyone

I will review them all, starting with the none in this post, the next will cover mild, then moderate, etc.

I am very excited as I loved The Darcy Monologues and I can’t wait to see what these authors are going to do with the bad boys of Jane Austen.

This idea really interested me as we don’t know much about these bad boys, except for Wickham. Some of them aren’t even main characters, only in the story for a bit, but all play crucial roles in the path the story takes. So there is a lot of wiggle room for these authors and all kinds of scenarios and directions they could take. And almost-the original story can’t be changed-anything could happen…

The Art of Sinking by J. Marie Croft

So this one is on John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey. Let’s get his stats:

  • Liar
  • Unscrupulous
  • Rude
  • Braggart
  • Only interested in horses, carriages, money and drinking
  • Manipulative
  • Narcissist
  • He lies to everyone about how wealthy Catherine is-as that is what he has made up in his head
  • He lies about the Tilneys to try and get Catherine away from them.

There is not enough hate in the world to give him what he deserves.

Ugh

Okay first let me say, I love that Croft uses the first quote from Northanger Abbey and tweaks it about Thorpe, showcasing his buffoonery. This is a ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) so I can put in the actual quote. But yeah-

In this we see where John gets his  lying streak from. He learns from his mother how to “stretch” the truth. He doesn’t get anywhere or do anything on his own, but manages to skirt through his life through his big mouth. He was never disciplined and basically believes he can do no wrong.

And I have to say that Croft is amazing at crafting all kinds of little jabs, puns, etc. This was such a pleasure to read.

I like it.

But John really crafts his skill when he goes to university. He doesn’t study, but tries to make “connections”, gambles, spends all his money on drink, women, gambling, etc. He and Isabella scheme to get rich wives and husbands, his plan to get his sister to hook his friend James Morland and he to get his sister.

But, before that scheme he has another. He bets that before the term ends he will bed a married woman. He stupidly believes Mrs. Waters, an elegant married woman, has the hots for him.

Uh no.

She learns of his scheme and both her husband and her unwittingly plan schemes of their own. Mr. Waters bets him to see of his wife will succumb, and Mrs. Waters plans a Shakespearean worthy scam. Mrs. Waters tricks him into the super smelly,stinky laundry and dump him in the river.

He tries again with Mrs. Fields, but that ends up with a dog attacking him, getting beat by the husband, and thrown again the river.

Isn’t nice to see people get what they so deserve.

He tries again with Mrs. North, but when he gets there he finds not just that woman but the previous two. They try to force him in the laundry, send the pug after him, and all three women dump him in the river in front of everyone.

What Did I Think: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha I LOVE it!!!

For more by J. Marie Croft, go to From the Ashes in The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For Mischief’s Sake by Amy D’Orazio

Fredrick Tilney…ugh…onw of the most awful men ever. Hate him! He makes me think of James Spader in Pretty in Pink

  • Handsome
  • Rich
  • Narcissist
  • Class A totally complete 100% jerkwad
  • Cares about nothing and nobody
  • Uses girls, takes what he wants and then dumps them-without caring a fig for their reputation, life, what will become of them.

I’d like to punch him in the face!

So this starts off with Captain Fredrick Tilney, brother to Henry Tilney, going to be in a duel after seducing his friends fiance. He stops the duel by telling his friend he did it “for his own good”. That he did it to prove his fiance was “unfaithful” and that he is “better off” without her.

HATE HIM!!! HATE HIM!!!! NO real friend would do that. Now I want to punch him in the face and the balls. Excuse my anger.

He learned this from his father, General Tilney, when he fell for a girl and his dad believed she was untrue. General Tilney seduced her, and Fredrick has “made it his mission” to do so for all his friends.

You know who else has creepy evil missions, serial killers! Yes, serial killers. He as evil as a serial killer.

A year later, General Tilney is furious that Henry has proposed to Catherine who has nothing in his estimation. Fredrick tries to reason with his brother:

No dice. The General sends Fredrick down to take her down.

He does and this is one of the best scenes ever! He sees that she is naive and thinks she’s just right for the kill. He throws down his classic seduction moves and Catherine…she cries. She weeps, she sobs, she is utterly heartbroken that Captain Tilney has been so hurt, so heartbroken, so betrayed that he has become this man in his grief. She laments over what happened to him, she is honored that he has shared this secret self as it is a mark of bonding as they are going to be siblings.

What?

When seduction doesn’t work, he tries logic. He spells out clearly that his father will never approve of the match, but Catherine ignores him believing love will find a way. Fredrick was proved wrong twice, as his father rescinds and they do marry. That conversation sticks with him…

At a ball one night he sees a vision of loveliness, wowed by her but then realizes it is Miss Rose Gibson, the woman he seduced in the beginning of the story.  She hates him with a passion, but Fredrick has been struck by cupid’s arrow (but doesn’t realize it yet). Miss Gibson is an amazing woman who has no fear-she throws herself in front of the wolves by going to balls, parties, etc even tough she is a fallen woman. Fredrick befriends her and realizes that there was a lot more too her. He never saw her as more than a body before.

Love, love love the conversations. Fredrick is all (I’m paraphasing and using my own words nothing is a direct quote, just fyi) a woman just wants the richest man they can get, women be gold diggers. And then Rose is all, so what a man just wants the richest woman they can get, but she also has to be drop-dead gorgeous, accomplished, baby-bearing, etc.-how’s that fair? Fredrick is all women are just after security-while Rose is like when a woman gets married they go from being controlled by father to husband. Boom Rose-you are one awesome lady. Suck on that Fredrick! You suck!

The best is this-“If the vows were what I awaited to gain his loyalty,’ she said, ‘then I suppose he should have expected likewise from me.” BOOM BOOM BOOM. Yeah! Why does the guy get to be going in all kinds of brothels and being with all kinds of ladies and no one bats an eye, but then she is seduced and life is over. Not fair, not cool. Although I will say, that Rose does take responsibility for her actions and the mistake that she made with Fredrick. She doesn’t solely blame him-I think she is awesome.

Fredrick realizes he loves her, but he tries and tries proposing and each time is rejected.

What can he do? He decides to turn to the biggest romantic and the only one who can help, his sister-in-law: Catherine Morland-Tilney.

I’ve got my popcorn ready, it’s going to be good.

What Did I Think:

I LOOOOOOVEEEEED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t think it was possible to like Fredrick Tilney, like I literally thought it was impossible. But I did. D’Orazio is a revolutionary, can perform a miracle-seriously.

Squee! I loved it!

One Fair Claim by Christina Morland

So this story is about Sir Walter Elliot:

I hate him. He’s a major jerk.

  • All he cares about is physical apperance
  • He is critical
  • Rude
  • Spendthrift
  • Doesn’t care about anyone but himself

Will I continue to hate him or see him in a new light?

The story starts in March of 1784, and Sir Walter…

Is being Sir Walter…

Ugh

Commenting on people’s looks, the fact that he is lucky that the arm band (meaning a relative has died) doesn’t ruin his outfit…

He has “fallen in love”- ultimately chosen-Miss Elizabeth Stevenson because she is sweet and naive-flattering and playing to his ego.  Also she has “perfect skin”-no freckles, lines, blemishes, moles, sags, etc…so of course she will be perfect to procreate.

But there is another man interested. There is a new vicar of Monkford Parish, who is “ugly”-he sweats, has a large nose, double chin, cares more about others than his personal appearance.

Sir Walter gets second thoughts when it appears that Elizabeth reads! The horror! An intellectual…and reading! We all know how he hates that.

We then move to July 1784 when they are to be married. Elizabeth has the blinders on and believes him to be better than he really is-seeing him as caring for others when he only cares about himself. Unfortunately, Elizabeth chains herself to that jerk. She gets a sad wake up call when his wedding gift is a copy of the Barontency-yes a book about him and his whole family. What a narcissistic jerkwad.

1790-They have been married and Elizabeth has been hit with the truth of her situation, trying to make the best of it. She spends most of her free time helping take care of the orphans and poor until she dies.

After her death, a letter for Anne from her mother was left, but Sir Walter burns it as he doesn’t want Anne’s eyes opened. Anne is the only one that received the personality of her mother, as Elizabeth and Mary are all Sir Walter.

What Did I Think?: I didn’t know it was possible to hate a character more than you already do. But Christina Morland changed that.

I will say that when Sir Walter doesn’t believe in “passion so strong” that you “get it on” in the grime, dirt, and dust-I actually agreed with him. I don’t get that either. I agreed with Sir Walter. I think my life just ended.

I loved it, I think Morland did a fantastic job, I loved it. I love hating people more that I already hate. 🙂

As Much as He Can by Sophia Rose

So I have to admit, when I saw Sophia Rose’s name I got SUPER excited!!! I loved her story in The Darcy Monologues-if you haven’t read it, you need to.

Anyways, this is about General Tilney:

  • Conniving
  • Mean
  • Controlling
  • Jerk
  • Uses children as pawns
  • Wants to make more money through children

He and Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians would be perfect for each other.

The story begins in 1799, with a party at Northanger Abbey. General Tilney is trying to maneuver a more suitable match for his daughter Eleanor and trying to get Henry Tilney to move his interest from  Catherine, but no dice so far.

He starts thinking back to when he met their mother-Genevieve. General Tilney is thought to be unfeeling or a villian-but is that how he really felt about her?

March 1768-General Tilney-Major then, is coming for his best friend’s, Longtown, wedding (wow another Crazy Rich Asians flashback). His other friend Courtenay is engaged and his fiance is hoping that Tilney can help them out. Her friend, Miss Genevieve Drummond needs attention and a partner for some of the dances. But Tilney isn’t interested as Miss Freethy is the woman he wants, having meet and spent time with her in Jamaica- he stationed her visiting.

Tilney and marriage is something that he and his father fought over-his dad parading “suitable” women of his choice in front of Tilney. He never wants to be like that and ran away to the army. Since then his father has given him no money-and Tilney has had to go it on his own.

Tilney spends the night with Miss Drummond and really enjoys it, but still has his eyes on Miss Freethy trying to sneak away to talk to her as soon as he can.

But Miss Freethy is not interested in Tilney anymore. He was just a flavor of the month for her. She set her eyes on Lord Stanbridge, an Earl with great land and money. Tilney is not heartbroken, but angry, embarrassed, and betrayed.

While Tilney is in sorrow, Miss Drummond proposes to him.

What?

Yes, Miss Drummond had a fortune-hunter after her and was greatly humiliated and talked about. That’s why her friends had to hunt up someone to give her “attention.” She does not want to return to her father’s or aunt’s household-where the humiliation and lecturing will continue. She knows that Tilney will face the same humiliation and wants to propose marriage to Mr. Tilney. The humiliation will stop as the ton will reverse and talk about the nuptials, how Tilney spurned Miss Freethy for Miss Drummond, and how Miss Drummond scooped up a winner.

Tilney turns him down as Miss Drummond is lower than him, and does not have the connections and wealth Miss Freethy had. He is a total jerk when he does too-awful.

So the friend’s wedding comes and goes, but the tongues are wagging about Tilney being Miss Freethy’s little toy soldier. Tilney thinks over the proposal more and more and meets up with her later. He sees her again and can’t believe that he didn’t see how beautiful she was before. He accepts her proposal and they are married-forget his father.

The two were married and became “partners” in their venture. Tilney did all he could to hold up his end of the deal, getting her the things she wanted.

This remembrance made him realize he does not want to be his father and he lets Eleanor and Henry marry the people of their dreams.

What Did I Think?: So adorable. I never thought I would ever like General Tilney, ever-even a little bit. He’s so rude and just-urgh, yuck. But in this I felt for him, I liked him! I thought it was absolutely adorable and just loved it. 

For more by Sophia Rose, go to Darcy Strikes Out in The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

So far what do I think? I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED It!!! This stories were great! Some people I absolutely hated, I found myself loving! And others I hated I found myself hating more! It was amazing and I found myself having a hard time putting it down as I wanted to read more and more.

But will I love the others? I don’t know, we will have to wait and see!

For more Christina Boyd, go to Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Crazy Rich Asians

For more on Persuasion, go to Right Away I Know I Won’t Like You

For more Austen book reviews, go to Just Jane

Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues

So every month  a different member in my book club chooses a book for us to read and discuss the following month; and it has worked out really well.

We only have four members in our club, so we have circled around them all and now it was my turn to pick a book again. I decided on:

The Darcy Monologues by various and edited by Christina Boyd

The Darcy Monologues is a collection of 15 short stories that retell the story of Pride and Prejudice but telling it from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Half the collection is set in the Regency period: taking place during the novel, tweaking a bit of the novel, or taking place where Jane Austen left off.

Hmm…

The second half of the collection tells the story, but isn’t restricted by having to be in Regency times. One story is set in the Wild West, another during WWII, the 1960s, and of course present times.

Hmm…

So we all know how I feel about Jane Austen:

And we all know that I spend a lot of time reading Jane Austen, watching Jane Austen, and reading and watching variations of Jane Austen. Pretty much my life is:

But the other members are not exactly at the same level as I am. One member, Jessica, has seen the 1940, 1995, and 2005 film versions of Pride & Prejudice and read the actual book, but isn’t a fangirl. She likes Jane Austen, but is not a fangirl.

Don’t know why she isn’t.

Another member, Stella, loves Jane Austen but has never read the books. She only watches the films, and has seen both the 1995 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice.

And our other member, Marissa, she has never read anything or watched anything Jane Austen.

So at first when we agreed to do this book I was excited:

But then I grew worried:

What if they didn’t get it, not being fangirls of the book? What if they didn’t like it? Maybe I should have had us read Pride & Prejudice first?

But I decided that we would just have to wait and see.

Hmmm….

So the day to meet came along and I decided to make the refreshments a regency-ish tea time. (Sadly I forgot to take pictures). I made some iced tea:

I had bough some chicken salad sandwiches and scones (I wanted to bake homemade ones but it has been too hot to turn on an oven) and then I made a berry salad, borriwing the recipe from my sister blog: Mysterious EatsIt is super tasty and perfect for a day of reading books or a tea time treat. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow, but you can also check it out here.

So everyone arrived and right away we had a problem. Stella didn’t get the right book. When she typed in The Darcy Monologues, the site sent her to a different book and she ended up buying The Darcy Connection. 

I’m going to lend my copy to her to read and then I will update this post with what she thought of it.

So first of all I just want to say that I have already posted what thought of the book (which if you want to read go to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency or The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Erasand I loved it!

So I am just going to focus on what Marissa and Jessica thought of it.

Part I: The Regency

Both ladies were able to follow the stories and the thoughts of the authors, even Marissa who knew very little about what the story was based on. They also liked how it was from Darcy’s point of view and enjoyed the way the authors portrayed him, feeling as if they all captured the character. Jessica thought they did well in what Jane Austen wanted, and Marissa enjoyed being introduced to an introspective look of the character.

What Didn’t They Like?

Both ladies felt they would have enjoyed the book better if there had more variations of the story: such as when Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy where older, stories with their children, or sights into areas not shown by the original novel-such as what Darcy does when he leaves Netherfield before he meets up with Elizabeth in Pemberley-things like that.

hmm…

They both did not care for the story Death of a Bachelor by Caitlin Williams and they also did not like The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Stanford as they thought it was too much Beauty and the Beast.

I KNOW?! How could they not like that one? I guess they just do not undestand how is Austenites find the works so similar. I mean:

To read more, follow this link.

Sorry for the tangent, moving forward.

What Did They Like?

Both loved From the Ashes by J. Marie Croft  as they found her portrayal of Darcy to not only be relatable but hilarious. In this story, Darcy has proposed to Elizabeth and been refused by her. He then goes home to write the letter against her objections to him, releasing his anger and frustrations out, until he has composed the best one to send her. We all thought she captured that the emotions of rejection and heartbreak perfectly.

They also enjoyed Clandestiny by KaraLynne Mackrory, espehially how she describes Darcy’s perfect order and way of life being completly thrown off kilter when Elizabeth enters his life. Both felt Mackrory was able to not only perfectly capture the character but describe what it is like when you aren’t expecting it, but meet the person who ends up changing your life.

In Terms of Perfect Composure by Susan Adriani, was another favorite of the two. Marissa enjoyed the recap as it gave her a stronger foundation into the story of Pride and Prejudice and what happened in the original novel. Jessica liked how this was something different from the other stories as it was a part that isn’t from Austen’s story, it is a part unseen of Mr. Darcy and shows his growth in character.

The Favorite?

Without Affection by Jan Hahn

Yes out of all the Regency stories, this one was both of the women’s favorite story. This story takes place when Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are much older, with Darcy having a flashback to when Elizabeth gave birth to their first child and almost died in the process. Darcy becomes afraid of losing her and reacts with a rule of no more sex for them, something Elizabeth does not agree with.

Both women liked how it showed Darcy and Elizabeth still in love years later, and just how they have had a great life together. They also loved how it captured the uncertainty of childbirth and Darcy as a father not knowing exactly what to do. One of them found it to be relatable to something they had gone through in their own life with their spouse. And we all agreed it was the perfect end to the first compilation.

Part II: Other Eras

Both women were intrigued with this part as they had never read any modern adaptions of classic literature before, let alone ones that took the material and placed it in other eras.

What Didn’t They Like?

Marissa would have liked more variety in the time periods, she was hoping they wouldn’t be as concentrated on present time.

Both did not care for the story Hot for Teacher by Sara Angelini. This one takes place in present times with Mr. Darcy as a principal, George Wickham as the literature teacher, and Elizabeth as the new art teacher. We all did not like how Angelini made the character of Darcy as he was too mean, temperamental, and dorky/awkward.

The Ride Home by Ruth Phillips Oakland was another one they did not like. In this Elizabeth is drunk after a disastrous date, so Darcy goes to give her a ride, the two talking during the drive home. Both ladies did not like how Oakland made Elizabeth drunk and they way she talked to Mr. Darcy. And we all agreed: How was she able to make him breakfast the next day? She should have had a massive hangover.

What Did They Like?

They enjoyed You Don’t Know Me by Beau North, which took place in the 1960s. In this Darcy is sent to Buffalo, New York to take control over the company’s new radio station. He and the top D.J Eliza Bennet clash in the beginning as neither understands the other.

They enjoyed how this story was not only talking about the novel Pride & Prejudice, but actually infused more of a social prejudice introducing a conflict of playing African American music on the radio, life as a Jewish American, and even the trials of having gone through the concentration camps (Eliza’s father). We all enjoyed how North coupled those threads of pride and prejudice with the original types of pride and prejudice in Austen’s work.

They also loved I, Darcy by Karen M. Cox. In this story, Darcy hates that his mother named him “Will” Darcy as everyone mentions Austen’s book. He meets two women who challenges his ideas on the book, surprisingly running into them later when he is starting up his farm to food restaurant.

We all loved how Cox had Elizabeth school him in the literature, causing him to be interested in rereading the book and falling in love with it. We all agreed that incorporating the novel in that way was really cute.

The Favorite?

Darcy Strikes Out by Sophia Rose

From beginning to end this story was just loved. Every part, every character, every single piece of the storytelling was beloved by us. Dandy Darcy? We all wanted him. Turning this into a full novel? We were all down for it. If this was sold separately from the others? All willing to pay.

For all of us Rose really knocked it out of the park!

Couldn’t resist

So what did they think of the whole thing?

They loved it!

Yay!

Yes, they may not have liked every story or every interpretation of Darcy, but that is why they and I loved it. Each author tried to capture the spirit of the character and succeeded in creating their own versions of Darcy that have everything we love about him, yet at the same time not making any exactly the same. By doing this you have many different Darcys to choose from, insuring that you will find the one best suited for you.

We all thought they did a fantastic job in presenting “their” Darcy and highly recommend you read this book.

For more on The Darcy Monologues, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

For more on these authors and Christina Boyd, go to I Have Been Remiss, My Deepest Apologies to The Darcy Monologues

For more on my book club, go to Book Club Picks: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

For more on The Darcy Monologuesgo to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance

And I just want to thank Christina Boyd for sending us these cute charms, we all loved them. I put mine on my bracelet right away and have been telling people about the book whenever they ask me about the charm.

The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

The Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd and written by Various

So first of all, I’m so sorry to have taken so long to post this. I first planned to have it up by the 20th, but then I got busy and I pushed it back to the 21st. Then other things occurred which took me away from home all day so I had to push it back to the 22nd. And then I am sure you can guess that once again my attention was diverted.

After all you know my motto:

But never fear, my other motto has this covered.

The Darcy Monologues was brought to my attention when Christina Boyd gave me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I readily agreed and began reading:

What the novel consists of is several monologues, or short stories, retelling Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.

Some stories take place during the novel, some change things, some ask questions of “what if this happened…?”, etc.

Hmm…

The first half of the novel’s collection all take place in the Regency Era; and I loved it!

To read more about those stories, click on this link. The second half involves different decades.

Now let me clear one thing up. It was said anywhere, but for some reason I assumed that every story would take place in a different decade and involve Darcy and Elizabeth throughout time.

However, that assumption was false. When they say “Other Eras”, they mean “not Regency”. Yes, there is no great time traveling like I thought.

And let me be clear that this assumption wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine. The writers and marketing team did not lead me astray. made the mistake.

So I’m going to do things a little different then in the previous review. Last time I went through the stories by the way they are set out in the novel. This time I am going to review the stories by their times-starting with the ones in the past and ending with those that are set in modern times.

Pemberley By Stage by Natalie Richards

Circa 1860

Thoughts Before Reading:

When I heard that there was going to be a Western version of Pride and Prejudice I couldn’t wait to read it.

If you have been following me, then you know how much I was obsessed with the Old West, cowboys, and Clint Eastwood as a child.

ME!!!

So will this story be all I dreamed it to be?

Hmm…

Plot Synopsis:

After having his name sullied by his associate, George Wickham, lawyer Darcy has been convinced by his friend, Charles Bingley, to move to San Francisco and start over. He is journeying with Bingley and Bingley’s sister Louisa; no Caroline as she “would not leave civilization.” Darcy brought his sister Georgiana with him, but is worried that maybe it would have been best to leave her in the East. Also in their stagecoach is a Mr. Hurst, a man Louisa has become interested in.

As they are journeying, the stage is overtaken by bandits. Darcy is knocked out and when he comes to he discovers that the thieves not only stole everything of value, but kidnapped Georgiana as well, and will only release her for $10,000.

Darcy wants to travel after her, but many are wounded and need assistance. Luckily, two siblings-Jane Bennet and her brother Elias, arrive on the scene. They have been after the gang and the leader, George “Smiling George” Wickham” (the same ex-partner of Darcy), ever since he convinced their sister Lydia to run off with him. The two know of a healer, so Darcy and Elias head off to fetch her while Jane and Louisa tend to the wounded.

As the two travel they talk about their families and instantly form a friendship. After bringing back the healer, who is also a prostitute favored by Wickham, Darcy pays not only for her to aid his friends but for the information of Wickham’s hideout. Elias wants to join him, as Darcy needs an extra hand, and Elias is an excellent shot.

However, it turns out that Jane does not want Elias to help, as she can’t stand to lose another sister.

Yes, Elizabeth had been traveling as “Elias” to protect herself and her sister. Darcy is at first upset at Elizabeth, as he shared personal information but Elizabeth withheld hers. As they ride, the two patch up, as each understands the other hurt.

When they arrive at the camp they find Georgiana tied up, Lydia pregnant, and a camp of thieves bickering between themselves as what to do next. As this gang begins to turn on each other, Darcy and Elizabeth must think fast and bold in order to save their siblings.

Things I Pondered: How awesome this was.

Things I Liked: How amazing this was!

The action was fantastic, the pacing was great, and once I got started I just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

I think it was absolutely one of the best in this section. Just amazing from beginning to end and with every character. I know this will be one I will read over and over.

For more Westerns, go to People Have to Snatch at Happiness When They Can in This World. It is Always Easier to Lose Than to Find: O Pioneers!

Reason to Hope by Jenetta James

Circa 1939-1941

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love history and had just finished reading The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, so I was primed for a World War II-themed Pride and Prejudice.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy and Bingley are soldiers in the British army. They knew each other back in school and have struck up their friendship again. Bingley’s sister Caroline is after Darcy, but he has been free from her clutches as she has evacuated London and went to a country estate, Netherfield

Yep!

One night when Darcy has time off, he comes across a light shining during a mandatory blackout. When he drives up to yell at the person with the torch (flashlight), he finds his words being thrown back as Elizabeth Bennet will not take any of his gruff, especially as he is on her land.

In this tale there are only three Bennet sister- Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary. However, the household is harboring two girls from the city, Lydia and Kitty Potter.

Darcy tries to talk to Elizabeth at a USO dance but she is angry for the things Caroline said about her family previously, the Potter girls, mother, etc.; and that Darcy listened to it all in agreement.

Jerk

When Lydia and Kitty return to London to visit their parents, a bombing is done by the Nazis. Darcy goes with Elizabeth to track down the missing girls and try to make amends for his earlier behavior. But will he succeed or fail in both ventures?

Hmm…

Things I Pondered: I didn’t really see where this level of anger was coming from in Elizabeth as there is a difference between voicing an opinion and listening/agreeing to one. I felt that she released her anger at Caroline at Darcy, instead of being given a reason to dislike him.

It also felt weird without Mr. Wickham. As much as we hate him, he does play a very important role in the story.

What I Like: I liked the introspection Darcy goes through as he realizes not saying anything can be just as bad as being the one saying it; when you give the impression that you agree with the speaker instead of being polite. I think it was paired very well with the fact that this was a war in which some citizens didn’t agree with what the Nazi party believed, but also didn’t say anything about what they were doing.

I liked the second part of the story when they search for the girls as it just grabs you and makes you read faster to see if they discover them alive…or dead.

The secondary characters were also fun as I like what the author did with Kitty, Lydia, Denny, and the like. 

You Don’t Know Me by Beau North

Circa 1961-64

Thoughts Before Reading:

This whole time I have been reading this title as You Don’t Own Me, thinking it was named after the Lesley Gore song.

Having it in the sixties intrigued me as I wondered if the author was going to go in the direction of Mad Men or Do Not Disturb with marketing or fashion (as that is how I saw Darcy) or the overused “hippie” route.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this to be about music and a radio station.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy inherited half his father’s company when he passed, the rest being controlled by his aunt Catherine. He doesn’t really care for it, as the company always held all of his father’s attention, but does like the money he gets from it. After he is caught with a client’s wife, as he did not know she was married, his aunt banishes him from Manhattan to Buffalo for a year.

If he does well with the newly acquired station, WPNP, then he can come back after the year. Otherwise he stuck there.

The interim station manager and sales manager is Charles Bingley, who later becomes a good friend, and his secretary is Jane [Bennet]. One of the radio shows is run by an Eliza Bennet, who has the top stats with her music. The only problem, she is playing African-American music which is not what Aunt Catherine or Regina Caroline Bliss, leader of the Mother’s Morality League, want. Finding himself pressured from all sides he tries to strike a compromise which doesn’t work well with Eliza, them often going head to head.

After a heated argument, Darcy goes to speak to Eliza at home and meets her father, Tomas Benowitz. It turns out that Elizabeth Bennet is actually Benowitz and that she is Jewish. There are more discoveries to be made as Tomas was the star violinist of the Royal Orchestra of Prague, before the war changed everything and he came to America. Darcy also meets Eliza’s aunt and uncle; and enjoys everyone’s company.

In fact, he starts falling for Eliza but she refuses him as she doesn’t want to be seen as securing her job by sleeping with the boss; plus Darcy is only staying for a year. Darcy doesn’t like, but agrees to just be her friend.

Not what I want, but what can I do?

Darcy leaves, with Bingley in charge (he is also now dating Jane). He returns to Manhattan and repairs the relationship with his aunt. When Eliza’s father dies, he returns, but she still refuses him. There is nothing he can do but return home.

His Aunt Catherine discovers that he is in love and encourages Darcy to go back and try again. Will he fight for the woman he loves? Or will he give in and marry some high society girl from Vassar?

Things I Pondered: I didn’t care for this story as much as I didn’t like the depiction of Elizabeth. She always seems to be just rude and yelling at Darcy. I understand her wanting to be sassy and standing up for the rights of others, but still Darcy is her boss. I don’t care how good you are, I think most bosses would fire you for screaming at them and saying the things she says about their character.

I don’t know the background of North but I thought the Jewish ancestry wasn’t dealt with as well at it should have been. Yes Eliza talks about the fact that she had to change her name to not offend people, but they characters act as if it isn’t a big deal when many Jewish people still faced racism and scrutiny. It also seems to not impact their lives or anything as it is introduced and never featured in the story again. True, it is not about her but Darcy, but I felt like it could have been fleshed out (maybe in a future novel?). I also thought they were too cavalier with Darcy converting. I mean changing religions is a big deal, it isn’t like changing a shirt. There are lots of steps he has to go through and it is taking everything he has known and celebrated and throwing it out, having to adjust to new life.

Things I Liked: really like that North decides to make this a bicultural relationship. This is something not really seen, other than  the film Bride & Prejudice. I liked the idea of having Pride and Prejudice with people of different cultures or races as you aren’t as separated as one was in Regency England. I would definitely read an interpretation of Pride and Prejudice that went along those lines.

I also like how the author tied in Eliza’s background to her musical choices. Being a person who is discriminated against as to her gender and religion, it made sense that she would campaign so hard for others who face prejudices. 

Plus *SPOILER ALERT* I love how he tells her on air, not caring who hears him, that he loves her and wants to marry her.

Hot for Teacher by Sara Angelini

Circa 1999-2005

Thoughts Before Reading:

So at first I thought this was set in the 1980s as the title comes from the Van Halen song, Hot for Teacher (1984) and they name a section after AC/DC‘s Back in Black.  But then they reference  Creep by Radiohead (1992), Dazed and Confused (1993), She’s So High by Tai Bachman (1999), and then Paradise which I am not sure is referring to the ’80s film or the Coldplay song that came out in 2011.

Hmm…

There are no cellphones really in use, but then Darcy does mention Google. I think the author set it in modern times, but it still has an older vibe to it. I may be wrong, but I’m going with early 21st century.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy’s parents were the CEOs of the FitzCo company, his father having passed on, but instead of being a part of the corporation Darcy has chosen a career in education.

Yes, Darcy is the principal of the prestigious Pemberley Academy. A new year is about to start, but Darcy is less then pleased with Vice-Principal Charles Bingley’s choices in two new teachers. For art we have Ms. Elizabeth Bennet, who dresses in eccentric clothes and does not carry the look Darcy expects his staff to project.

That sweater and hairstyle?

But Ms. Brunhilda (his nickname for Elizabeth) is nowhere near as disastrous as the new English teacher, a Mr. George Wickham.

George Wickham is the half-brother of Darcy, having been born from a liaison between Darcy’s father and his secretary, George’s mother. The two have never gotten along and Darcy dislikes him with every fiber of his being. George has never done anything to warrant this dislike but Darcy just has a “feeling”.

One night when Darcy is attending the FitzCo art benefit, he makes a disparaging comment about one of the artists, Frances Gardiner, to his cousin Anne (mix of Anne and sister Georgiana). Elizabeth overhears it and is extremely displeased as that is her mother.

Darcy soon grows to like Elizabeth but finds himself challenged in that arena with his half brother. However, after a few conversations and flirting, he believes Elizabeth is in to him, and goes for it at a the Homecoming dance.

Elizabeth turns him down and yells at him. She finds his behavior with George and the other teachers to just be atrocious. She dresses him down for all kinds of things he was unaware that were occurring in the school, and with a few lies that George has told her.

After that embarrassing moment,

Darcy decides that he will try and improve himself and the relationships at school. Will it work? Or will George and Elizabeth have the happily ever after?

Things I Pondered: I didn’t care for this depiction as much as I felt there were quite a lot missing. First Darcy’s relationships are horrible, I mean he had friends in the original book. And he wasn’t as mean or temperamental as depicted here as all his servants loved him and could only speak kindly of him. I mean that is something that validates the Darcy in the letter, when Elizabeth visits his home and hears what the people who work for him say.

Having George Wickham not be evil, also didn’t work. In fact, you rooted more for him as he missed out on all kinds of things Darcy had, while Darcy hates him for being born. I mean it isn’t his fault your dad cheated on your mom. They should have made him far more nefarious than stealing money at the end of the book.

Elizabeth is really mean to Darcy and he is her boss. I don’t mind her being sassy, but the way she talks to him, I’m surprised she didn’t get fired. If I yelled at any boss I’ve ever had this way, I don’t think I would have stayed on. They would have let me go. 

Darcy was a bit of a dork in this. I thought he had more in common with the original Mr. Collins. The way he acts around others, his flirting, his assumptions, etc.

Elizabeth yells at Darcy for being cruel and insensitive, but while in the original novel she had a valid concern, the others being misinformation supplied by Wickham; in this she has no justification. Mrs. Crane has been late multiple times and isn’t keeping up with her work so the rules say she has to receive a warning. Elizabeth yells at him that the only reason she has ben doing that is because her husband was in a car accident and is going through physical therapy, meaning she has become the sole caregiver for her husband and boys. Darcy didn’t know as Mrs. Crane never told him. It isn’t his fault, she should have talked to him, after all she could have received emergency family leave. The same goes for the other teachers, they never give a reason why they can’t do something, so what is Darcy supposed to think?

What I Liked: I actually liked that Darcy wasn’t carrying on the family business but doing his own thing. In today’s world you don’t have families being forced to carry on the professions their ancestors did but have the freedom to do what they want. I thought that was a very new twist in the story, and something no other Austen retelling that I have read has ever tried doing.

Also Angelini finally does the one thing Austen fans have been BEGGING someone to do. 

Yes we finally have Darcy do that. Thank you very much Angelini.

And something even more surprising, Angelini does something I never thought possible-she makes Mr. Collins likable.

Yes I know, I never, ever imagined finding myself liking Mr. Collins. Angelini you must be a magician or something.

Or something…

I, Darcy by Karen M. Cox

William Darcy has hated his name for as long as he could remember. His mother choose it after the hero in one of her favorite novels, but he just can’t wrap his head around why woman like him so. Ten years ago he read the book and hated it-

I know-

So the worst place for him to be would be a convention center full of Austenites.

Yes, he is bemoaning this to his friend and business colleague, Charles Bingley, when he is interrupted by two lovely ladies who defend Austen. Jane and Lynley Bennet walk in and out of his life, but remain memorable as the two gentlemen head on to discuss opening a chain of locally sourced restaurants with their board of directors. It passes and Charles it out to start up the trial place-with Darcy joining him later.

When Darcy comes driving up to the house Bingley rented in the country, he has car trouble but manages to get help-from Lynley. Not only is that a coincidence, but Charles is dating her sister Jane.

Darcy waits for Charles as he is out on a date and starts reading a copy of Pride and Prejudice he finds on the table (probably given to Bingley from Jane), surprising himself with falling in love with the book.

Later the two men discuss the farms they want to use for the restaurant, seeing the Bennet farm as the perfect place to get their supplies from. Darcy makes them a generous offer, one they need as if they don’t get a good contract they may lose it; but Lynley refuses, angry at Darcy. What could he have done to upset her? I smell a nefarious plot, but who would want to ruin Darcy’s name?

Things I Pondered: I liked it. I thought it was funny how she went with this theme of “real” Mr. Darcy as I was just talking about that earlier this year.

Things I LikedI thought the characters were very well written and easy to connect to. I liked how the story flowed and enjoyed it from start to finish.

The Ride Home by Ruth Phillips Oakland

Circa: Present

Plot Synopsis:

This story takes place after Darcy proposed to Elizabeth and was rejected. Darcy is owner of the company, Pemberley Media, and is in the States to launch PM’s channel here, then planning on returning to England. His best friend got his happy ending when Jane said yes to his proposal.

Soon to be!

The happy couple have been celebrating with champagne when they receive a call from Elizabeth asking for a ride. Neither can take her, so they wake Darcy and ask him to do it.

Darcy picks Elizabeth up from her disastrous date (with Mr. Collins) and she really lets herself go- drunkenly praising Darcy’s personality to body- ranging in too much information to nonsensical. She does apologize for being upset over Lydia, saying Darcy was right to be angry at Lydia spilling secrets to rival George Wickham. The two patch things up and everything looks great for Darcy, that is if Elizabeth remembers the conversation tomorrow. Will this drunken release be the beginning of something new, or the last shred of the old?

Hmm…

Things I Pondered: I didn’t care for this as much as I missed Elizabeth’s witty repartee with Darcy-something drunken speech can’t really do. 

I also found myself distracted with trying to figure out if she would be well enough to talk. I mean she was average height, thin and consumed a gin and tonic along with four or five martinis (she lost count) but hardly ate anything as her date said no butter, salt, carbohydrates, meat, etc. I’m not a drinker but gin, dry vermouth, and more gin with no butter or carbs to counteract it seems to be like she would be passed out. I mean I calculated it and she has an estimated BAL of 0.235-that’s nausea, vomiting, blackouts, etc. How was she able to make him breakfast the next day? She should have a massive hangover.

Things I LikedI liked having Darcy be introspective as he drives into town. Something about him just thinking over everything and himself as he drives resonated with me. 

Darcy Strikes Out by Sophia Rose

Circa: Present Time

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love puns, jokes, and when authors are smart enough to use language that implies two meanings that fit perfect with the situation. In this case Darcy strikes out in the game of love and:

I’m also a big baseball fan so I was very interested in reading this.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy is a top baseball player, known as “Dandy Darcy” after he and his father posed in top hats and tails with the bats as canes for a photo shoot. After his father passed away, and his sister was in her horrible accident that left her in a wheelchair; he pulled away from life and others. The only one who he remained close to (besides his teammates) was his good friend and old roommate, Charles Bingley, who he saved from a gold digger.

He meets Elizabeth Bennet, sports reporter, and starts to fall for her.

But when he asks her out, he strikes out. Yep, it turns out that he really dropped the ball as that “gold digger” was Elizabeth’s sister; she thinks he is a snob for being camera shy and refusing interviews (especially with that horrible nosy Collins), and sees him as a giant jerk for blackballing fellow baseball player George Wickham.

Darcy is still thinking over the refusal as he visits his sister. Yes, Elizabeth was right about Jane; but after checking her out Darcy did discover he was wrong about her and encouraged Bingley to try again. However, being camera shy and Wickham all have to do with Georgiana as he tries to protect her.

When he gets to his sister’s apartment, he discovers her hanging out with a friend who participates in the Paralympics, and their new friend; Elizabeth Bennet.

Elizabeth meet the girls when she was writing a story on upcoming athletes, and she has realized that she was prejudiced against Darcy. They later meet for breakfast, and Darcy reveals what happened to Georgiana. Wickham was trying to use Darcy to get ahead, but was lacking in discipline and focus; being cut from the team. Later at a high school party, Wickham being over eighteen, roofied Georgiana’s beer with the intent to rape her. However, she left early and ended up crashing the car not from drinking (which she did) but from being drugged. They knew it was him, but couldn’t prove enough to put him away. The famous Darcy name, underage drinking, a beautiful girl with a tragic story all made for excellent newspaper fodder, especially for a TMZ like reporter (Collins).

Things are going well, until Elizabeth hears from Jane that their sister Lydia is missing! It appears this underage girl was last seen with baseball player George Wickham.

Darcy calls in his private detective, Jack Austen, who has been keeping an eye on Wickham. Will they be able to find Lydia and Wickham in time? Or will this be another strike out for Darcy?

Things I Pondered: Wow this was awesome!

Things I Liked: First of all if there was a “Dandy” baseball player I would totally be out there cheering for him whether or not he was on my team (the As, Cali all the way). I also would purchase a “Dandy Darcy” clothing line for my friends and relatives if such a thing existed. 

I thought this book was amazingly well done in taking the story and setting it in modern times. I loved what Rose did with all the characters, and I really enjoyed how she set us in the middle of the story with flashbacks as to what came before. 

I also applaud you for doing something I haven’t really seen anyone else do- show how Wickham was not only a jerk but a child predator. Yes, contrary to popular belief, most people weren’t married until they were 21-24 during the Regency period. Most modern updates keep Wickham close in age the other characters and make him seem like just a fiend. In this we realize just how evil Wickham is, in the orginal and this version, as Rose unveils him as the pedophile he is.

Jack Austen, P.I.- I like the sound of that. I don’t know if there are any film-noir, 1940s, Humphrey Bogart-ish Austen retellings, but now you make me wish for one. Can’t you just see Darcy?

Or what if Elizabeth was the detective and Darcy the client?

So Rose names a few of Darcy’s teammates and their wives, I’m not sure but I believe they stand for other characters from Austen novels. There is a Cathy and Hank Denny, maybe Catherine and Henry “Hank” Tilney from Northanger Abbey?

And then there is an Esme and Jose Carreaga. Could it be Emma and Mr. Knightley?

I think it would be wonderful if Rose would develop this into a full novel with all the Austen characters. 

But seriously, I thought this was just as fantastic as To Pemberley By Stage and just as hard to put down.

So what did I think of it as a whole?

Well, I….

I really loved it, even the stories I didn’t like as much. It was just so refreshing to see a point of view that is often overlooked or not done well.  I enjoyed every version of Darcy as each had the things we loved most about him but at the same time were all so different.

I thought that was fantastic as it made a Darcy for everyone. I mean some might be into a baseball playing Darcy or Western Darcy, while others want something different-such as a teacher or man born with a silver spoon who needs to see how others live.

Just like the movies you have your pick of Darcy, being sure to find one, two, or more to love/

In conclusion I think The Darcy Monologues, Part I and II, are just fantastic.

Amazing!

If you are an Austen, Pride and Prejudice, or Mr. Darcy fan you need to check this book out TODAY!

In fact, not only is this something I know I will read over and over again:

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

But I can already think of several people who will be receiving it as a birthday or Christmas present.

Thank you authors. You all did a wonderful job.

For more on The Darcy Monologues, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more Mr. Darcy, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Prom & Prejudice

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Brought Shame and Scandal to Pemberley: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Two (2013)

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited