An Affectionate Heart

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll

I was given this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Are any of you Community fans? Community is about a former lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who faked his degree, and has to go back to community college in order to get a real one. He creates a fake Spanish Study Group to try and get with a girl, but ends up having all these others join them and eventually they all become friends and have a lot of crazy adventures together.

In one episode, two of the friends are having a housewarming party and when the pizza arrives Jeff, not wanting to fetch the pizza, has them throw a dice in the air to see who must go downstairs and retrieve it. This introduces multiple timelines with one of them being the darkest timeline.

So what does that have to do with this book? It starts off in the darkest timeline of Pride and Prejudice.

Our story begins sadly. Jane never met or married Mr. Bingley. Instead she married the gentleman who wrote her a few lines of poetry when she was 15.

“When she [Jane Bennet] was only fifteen, there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner’s in town so much in love with her, that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were.”

Pride and Prejudice

While this man, Mr. Cuthbert, isn’t horrible, he also doesn’t value his wife as much as Bingley did. The two live in London with four sons and an awful mother-in-law.

Mr. Bennet died of a heart attack two years prior, which caused Mr. Collins to never take orders (become a minister) and he inherited all of Longbourn. At the time he visited Elizabeth was supporting Jane during one of her pregnancies so Mr. Collins married Mary, leaving Charlotte unmarried and no prospect in sight.

Now that Mary is mistress of Longbourn she has become very self important, tyrannical, and uses her position to control her remaining family members: Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth, and Lydia (Kitty is married and lives in Portsmouth).

When Mary turns evil

Elizabeth is not as strong or as fierce as she used to be as grief and circumstances have caused her to fold in on herself. She also is having problems with her heart, and is secretly afraid that she has inherited her father’s heart condition. She also feels unsettled as she is forced to move from Longbourn to London, not really having her own home; along with having to kowtow to the Collinses.

Mr. Bingley has not rented Netherfield but its gatehouse is where Mr. Darcy and Georgiana reside. It turns out that when Georgiana was seduced by Mr. Wickham, she became pregnant. Mr. Darcy decided to lie to family and friends saying they are vacationing in the warmer climate of Spain, while planning to hide out in Meryton until after the baby was born. Unfortunately, Georgiana suffered from a miscarriage and is currently extremely ill with tuberculosis.

To make this even harder on the Darcy’s, with Georgiana hardly going out due to her poor health and Mr. Darcy keeping his true net worth hidden and also not partaking in society; horrible rumors about the two abound in the community.

But while the beginning is a tad grim, let me assure you it does contain a happy ending. I have to admit when I first started this novel I was unsure where it would go as this opening was most unexpected. However, at the same time I was also extremely intrigued as to see what all these threads would produce.

Elizabeth has just returned from visiting Jane when she hears about the latest news of Mr. Darcy moving to town and is warned by Mr. Collins and Mary to steer clear of them. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have a horrible interaction at the apothecary, when Mr. Darcy, eager for medicine to aid his sister, rudely interrupts Elizabeth’s conversation. While Elizabeth doesn’t believe all the stories circling Darcy, she has decided he is an extremely rude man she would like nothing to do with.

Later at a party thrown by Sir William Lucas, Elizabeth spots Mr. Darcy and it appears that he is listening to her stories of London, strangely seeming interested in topics that wouldn’t typically suit a man. She manages to question him later about his interest in her tales of London and he reveals he is picking up tidbits to share with his sister, who’s health keeps her from anything.

Mr. Darcy also witnesses Elizabeth in heart pain, but after her pleas he agrees to not to reveal her illness to anyone.

That evening Mr. Darcy sees his sickly sister pleased at the crumbs of conversation he managed to solicit and decides to join up with Colonel Fitzwilliam (the only one who knows of their ruse), to try and hunt Mr. Wickham down. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been thinking about Georgiana and how lonely she must be, just like Elizabeth. While Darcy comes to his decision to go after Wickham, Elizabeth is determined to befriend Georgiana.

The two immediately develop a friendship, with Georgiana revealing the true story of why they are in Longbourn. When Mr. Darcy returns (having not located Mr. Wickham), he at first clashes with Elizabeth; him not wanting charity, suspicious she might be hunting for information to ruin his sister’s reputation, and worried that these visits are doing more harm than good. Elizabeth returns somewhat to her old self as she sees him as controlling, rude, and is not afraid to speak her mind on it. Eventually, for the sake of Georgiana, the two make a truce and often enjoy debating or discussing issues.

While Elizabeth enjoys her time with the Darcys, she continues to be unhappy in her life and her heart pains appear to be increasing. She finally comes to the decision to consult the apothecary Mr. Jones, but he is unfortunately called away to care for his sick son before he can give her a prognosis. He promises to write and when a letter does come to the apothecary shop Elizabeth, embarrassed to speak to the assistant, purloins the letter and discovers that she only has a few months to live.

At first distraught over the fact that her life is ending, she then decides she will do whatever she can to ensure her remaining days are how she wants to spend them. She approaches Mr. Darcy and asks for his hand in marriage, not out of love but so that she can care for Georgiana, have her own life, and be buried with dignity rather than pity.

Mr. Darcy is shocked at how brazen Elizabeth is but after she reveals her reasons, and he spends time with her family-he can’t help but feel sorry for her and agrees. For him; his sister will be happy for her remaining time, Elizabeth will have a much happier place to live, he only has to care for her a few months (and she is beautiful and enjoyable to be around), and can use his widower status to keep his Aunt Catherine or any other ladies at bay (“I cannot remarry as my heart is “broken”). The two enter one of my favorite tropes, a marriage of convenience, and of course they eventually fall for each other.

But this path is full of obstacles. As the two grow closer and fall for each other, will Elizabeth continue to feel the same way when she discovers Mr. Darcy is not a poor gentleman but has kept his lineage and estate hidden from her? Will the two be able to swallow their pride and compromise to create a true marriage? And will their love even matter when Elizabeth’s days are numbered?!

My thoughts on this book? I LOVED it.

I knew how it would end and figured out the reveal of a plot twist immediately when it was introduced, but honestly that doesn’t matter. From page one I was sucked in and stayed up all night finishing it.

I can’t put the book down

This book made me laugh, I cried, I went through every emotion and enjoyed every page.

I also think Moll touched really well on complicated grief and the guilt and blame that can come when a sadness of a death is mixed up in a hatred toward life’s circumstances. I used to work with grieving families and children and the scene when Mr. Darcy is trying to cope and work through his inner torment at the death of his sister and nephew is extremely well written.

I really enjoy the slow burn of a romance, and I savored watching the romance progress from civility to passion.

I also liked the way Moll wrote the supporting characters, especially the relationship between Lydia, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth. In this Lydia is still constantly thinking of getting married, clothes, and still a bit of a narcissist; but as being the only other unmarried sister and stuck under the care of Mr. Collins she and her sister have bonded closer together. We also see that while Lydia is concerned for her welfare first and foremost she loves her sister and wants to help her in the way she best can.

I highly recommend this for fans of Austen variations as I throughly enjoyed it and will definitely be reading it again.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Charlotte’s Story

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?

Pride and Prejudice: The Game

So last year I reviewed the card game Marrying Mr. Darcy, and decided that this December I will review another Jane Austen game, Pride and Prejudice: The Game.

Each player chooses two corresponding couples: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham, & Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. Each of your couple will start in a different location (for example Elizabeth at Longbourn and Mr. Darcy at Pemberley).

The object of the game is to collect all Regency Life tokens (nature, tea time, society, music & dance, and letters); along with The Novel tokens: Vol. I, Vol. II, and Vol. III. The areas to store the tokens are located on the back of your character sheets.

To gain Regency Life tokens you have to go around the board and enter different locations from the book and purchase the tokens. You need a token from each category to win. You can use both characters of your couple to collect them or just move one around the board.

To gain The Novel tokens, you have to answer trivia about Pride and Prejudice, needing to gain each volume (answer three questions correctly) to win.

Of course there are other squares on the board that will redirect you, cause you to lose money, gain money, and lose a turn.

If you run out of money, you can return home and gain two shillings, or you can sell tokens back to the bank for money as well.

Once you have all the tokens needed you must have both couples to enter the church, but you must enter by an exact roll of the dice.

Now this is the tricky part, I ended up losing the game as I had only one character in, and just could not roll the right number to send the other in.

I thought this game was fun, except I didn’t like the initial set up. It took forever as you had to punch out every card and token. I don’t mind doing some, but for the price you are paying for this game it would have been nice if the cards were already done and the tokens were the only ones you needed to punch out.

I thought this game was a lot of fun, except unlike Marrying Mr. Darcy, it can only be played by people who like and know Pride and Prejudice. The trivia questions weren’t too difficult but you need at least a basic knowledge of the story to play.

The game moved a bit slow in the beginning, but once you have the tokens and are close to getting everything, it picks up.

I would recommend this for Pride and Prejudice fans who have friends or family that equally love it and are willing to play it with you.

This definitely would be great for a Jane Austen book club or to play at a Jane Austen tea party (although it is only for four people). I do wish they had two more couples you could play, I know the Gardiners, Hursts, and Bennets are already married but they could have included them; or Kitty, Mary, and Georgiana. But otherwise this was an interesting game and a great way to test your Pride and Prejudice trivia.

For more Pride and Prejudice games, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

For more Jane Austen games, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Jane Austen Trivia

For more Jane Austen products review, go to Jane Austen Runs My Life Spooky Collaboration with Madsen Creations!

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to You Ever Notice That Harry Potter is Kind of Like Elizabeth Bennet in the Way He Treats Snape and She Treats Mr. Darcy?

Dear William: Letters from Georgiana Darcy

Dear William: Letters from Georgiana Darcy (2020)

So back in July of 2020, I was celebrating my blogiversary, and on instagram I would ask Jane Austen questions and then post the responses the next day.

Hmm…?

One of the questions I asked was which Jane Austen supporting characters needed their own story? The answers were: John and Isabella Knightley (Emma), Miss Bates (Emma), Captain Benwick (Persuasion), the Admiral and Mrs. Croft (Persuasion), Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility), and William Price (Mansfield Park)Sarah.with.an.h commented on my post that she thinks Georgiana Darcy needs her own story and shared that she had made a short video from Georgiana Darcy’s point of view, letters to her brother.

Georgiana Darcy from Death Comes to Pemberley.

I thanked her for sharing and planned to watch it, but you know me. I have so many plans and ideas, but life gets in the way…

Oh well…

I had thankfully screenshoted the comment so I wouldn’t forget who commented on it, and found it when I was going through my photos the other day and decided it was time to give it a watch.

In Dear William: Letters from Georgiana Darcy the Jane Austen story of Pride and Prejudice is set in modern times with Georgiana being sent to a boarding school and calling her brother William (Fitzwilliam); along with George Wickham.

I really enjoyed the short video as I think Sarah captured Georgiana’s sweetness, naivety, her inexperience, and how she was manipulated into believing she loved Wickham.

From Death Comes to Pemberley.

This video also showed the closeness of the Darcy siblings, but also as Darcy is her only immediate family and much older than her-at times he is also a fathr figure and Georgiana, like any teen girl, is rebelling a bit, pushing her boundaries.

I think it is worth a watch and if interested, click on this link.

For more on Georgiana Darcy, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)

Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

Have you ever wished you could marry Mr. Darcy?

Well you can now in this game!

So I have been wanting to play this game for a while, I mean you know me and Jane Austen stuff:

I received it this year for my birthday in May and have been planing on reviewing it, but you know how things go.

This game was created by Erika Svanoe and Erik Evensen and it actually isn’t just about marrying Mr. Darcy, you have your choice of being all the single ladies in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Jane Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet, Mary Bennet, Kitty Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Caroline Bingley, and Georgiana Darcy.

Your goal in the game is to try and earn character traits (the more points you get at the end helps you win) along with making a good match. Depending on your character, you have an ideal man (the one who will give you the most points), but you still earn points for whichever man you marry. Your choices are: Mr. Wickham, Mr. Collins, Mr. Denny, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Bingley, and of course Mr. Darcy.

Although there are a couple guys in here I would rather NOT have.

The first thing you do is choose your character, and each one has a special ability. I started off with Elizabeth Bennet who has a Dowry of 1 and a Wit of 2. You have to have a Wit of 5 in order for Mr. Darcy to propose so you get an advantage over the other ladies; eat your heart out Caroline Bingley.

So the game begins with lining all the men out so that you can see what they all need. Each man is looking for different things before they will even consider proposing to you:

  • Mr Wickham: Dowry of 2 or Higher
  • Mr. Collins: Beauty of 2 & Reputation of 2 or Higher
  • Mr. Denny: Friendliness of 2 & Wit of 2 or Higher
  • Colonel Fitzwilliam: Dowry of 3 & Reputation of 2 or Higher OR a Reputation of 5 or higher
  • Mr. Bingley: Beauty of 5 or Friendliness of 5 or Higher
  • Mr. Darcy: Wit of 5 or Higher

For 2-3 Players they recommend using 1/2 the event cards, 4 players 2/3 event cards, and for 5-6 players all the cards.

Each person gets three character cards to start with and you play the game. For each turn you pull out an event card, some affect only you-while others all the players. The event cards will allow you to “play” a character card-which  you put face up. The face up cards are the only ones who count for points at the end, allow you to be proposed to, etc. Its important to have them, but just because they are played they are not safe. They can be stolen.

Some event cards change the course of the game: Mr. Bingley goes to London (if you don’t get the card that brings him back he can’t be anyone’s suitor), Darcy’s surprise proposal (you get this you are instantly proposed to and don’t have to do the end roll to see who you get), and an Elopement with Mr. Wickham (you can only get rid of the elopement if you get enough reputation cards).

Just because you get enough of the character traits to get your dream man, that doesn’t mean you will get him. At the end you each have to roll the dice to see if he proposes, you toll too low-you become an old maid. But even the old maid has multiple options too, and you can still have a shot at winning as an old maid if you roll high enough or have a lot of character cards played. Your life as an old maid ranges from lonely bitter life, a companion to a cranky widow, governess to a wealthy family, your resentful uncle takes you in, or your kind and wealthy family takes you in and you become a celebrated author.

This game is really fun as you can play it multiple times-being different people and of course having different events, so no two game plays will be alike.

I tried every character because I wanted to be sure to give a thorough review before posting this:

Game 1: Elizabeth Bennet 20 points

As Elizabeth the best match you can make is Mr. Darcy (netting 15 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (7 points). With Elizabeth’s lack of dowry she can’t win a man with that unless you get an “inheritance” card-the other options being to try for men who are just looking for character.

I did not marry Mr. Darcy as my mom got the surprise proposal from him.

I did score Colonel Fitzwilliam and was only on point shy of winning.

PROS: Elizabeth’s special ability is a “Wit of 5”, higher than anyone else in the game.

CONS: Even though Elizabeth has higher wit than anyone else she still is at a disadvantage. I had enough for Mr. Darcy, but then my wit was stolen from me and I couldn’t get higher than a three. It really isn’t a strong advantage.

Game 2: Caroline Bingley 32 points

If you want to win the game, play as Caroline Bingley. She has the best chance of winning out of everyone. As Caroline the best match you can make is Colonel Fitzwilliam (netting 14 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (5 points). Caroline has a dowry of 3 and a special ability: Any time she draws a character card she can draw an extra card and decide which of them you want.

I won this game! I married Mr. Darcy as I got the surprise proposal from him and had 32 points altogether.

PROS: With Caroline’s dowry, if she does nothing she still can get with her highest guy, as Colonel Fitzwilliam needs a dowry of 3. Her ability is super awesome as getting to check out an extra card can really help you stack your deck, or discard cards that will be helpful to others.

CONS: As Caroline you have one less suitor (you can’t marry your brother, Mr. Bingley), but it doesn’t really affect you. Caroline can win the game every time very easily, the only way to fail is to roll bad in the proposal stage.

Game 3: Georgina Darcy 25 points

Georgiana Darcy is another way to win the game right away. The best match you can make as Georgiana is Colonel Fitzwilliam (13 points) and the worst match is Mr. Collins (6 points). Georgiana has a dowry of 4 and a special ability: Georgiana has a +1 to all proposal rolls.

I won, married Colonel Fitzwilliam, and had 25 points.

PROS: With Georgiana’s dowry, if she does nothing she still can get with her highest guy, as Colonel Fitzwilliam needs a dowry of 3. Her ability is very useful at the end of the game as if you screw up a roll you get that extra point to add.

CONS: Like Caroline, as Georgiana you have one less suitor (you can’t marry your brother, Mr. Darcy), but it doesn’t really affect you.

Game 4: Jane Bennet 22 points

As Jane the best match you can make is Mr. Bingley (netting 15 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (5 points). Jane has the same dowry problem as Elizabeth.

I won by marrying Mr. Darcy with the surprise proposal and had a total of 22 points.

PROS: Janes’s special ability is a “Beauty of 2”, higher than anyone else in the game.

CONS: Even though Jane has higher beauty than anyone else she still is at an extreme disadvantage. Her beauty could be stolen by other players; along with Mr. Bingley going back to town-if he doesn’t come back she has to try for someone else.

Game 5: Lydia Bennet 9 points

With Lydia the best match you can make is Mr. Denny (netting 13 points) and the worst match is Mr. Collins (5 points).

I did not win this round. My sister took Mr. Denny and I didn’t have enough character for anyone else. I ended up becoming a companion to a cranky widow. I know just who I ended up with:

Mrs. Van Hopper in Rebecca (1940)

PROS: Lydia’s special ability is any time a Party card is drawn she gets to steal 1 random Character card from any player.

CONS: Lydia’s ability only works if you are playing with a large group when you are using the the whole deck. If you are only using half the deck you don’t pull out that many party cards and she doesn’t really get to use her ability.

Game 6: Mary Bennet 17 points

With Mary the best match you can make is Mr. Collins (netting 12 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (5 points). Mary has the same dowry issues as her other sisters

I gained my highest guy, but lost by one point. Sounds like Mary’s life.

You made me stop and let other girls have a turn.

PROS: Mary’s special ability is she can take the top discarded Character Card instead of drawing from the deck.

CONS: Even when Mary gets her ideal man and achieves the highest she can, it is lower than everyone else. I think it would have been better if Mary could get more equal points to Caroline, Jane, Elizabeth, etc.

Game 7: Kitty Bennet 12 points

Kitty’s best match is Mr. Denny (netting 12 points) and the worst match is Mr. Collins (6 points). Kitty has the same dowry issues as her other sisters

My sister stole Mr. Denny, the only man I could get, so I ended up an old maid. Luckily my resentful uncle took me in…I guess things turned out okay?

Not okay.

PROS: Kitty’s special ability is when it is her turn to pull an Event card she has a choice to use a discarded event card.

CONS: Like Lydia, her ability works best when you play with a full deck-but it still is great in any type of game.

Game 8: Charlotte Lucas 18 points

Charlotte Lucas’ best match is Mr. Collins (13 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (6 points). Charlotte has a dowry of 2 and a special ability: Charlotte has 3 cunning.

I barely won this round, I married Mr. Collins and won by 1 point. I also kept getting inheritances and increases in dowry. Now that I have my own money, I think I’ll take a vacation without Mr. Collins.

PROS: With Charlotte’s dowry you have a big advantage over the Bennet ladies. You also have cunning without additional cards, so if no one else has saved any you get to go first in the proposals stage.

CONS: Mr. Collins only gets you 13 points which puts you at a disadvantage with Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. Like Mary, I think the top person should be equal in all of them.

What Didn’t I Like:

There are only a few things I would have changed, one the point system-I think that all the ladies’ highest men should be equal. That way if you net him you have a better chance of winning the game.

I also wish that the two eldest Bennet sisters had more useful abilities than the extra wit and beauty. They do have an advantage, but it isn’t really that strong-the other women seem to have better ones.

Hmm…?

What I Did Like

I really enjoyed the whole game.

The game was really fun, the events interesting, and I loved the little references to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice. I loved it and could play it over and over again (and did!) and tried to get everyone I could to play with me.

If you are looking for a fun Regency game to play, you defintely should get this.

I highly recommend it and am eyeing the expansion pack…maybe after Christmas.

For more Jane Austen products review, go to Jane Austen-Inspired Magazine Cover Cards

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

 

The Colonel

So I promised to post this in February, but I didn’t end up doing it.

I really meant to post it on February 17th, after Valentine’s Day as

“this isn’t a love story but the end of one. The story of two ships forever passing in the night…

…this isn’t a love story.

But almost.”

But then I didn’t like my review, so I shuffled the posts around so I could rewrite it.

But then I didn’t like that review either-so this is my third time writing it.

I have been having such trouble with it as this story is a saga. It is an intense story spanning from the 1940s to the 2000s. It has drama, comedy, heartbreak, love, births, deaths, weddings, funerals, etc. The themes involve parenthood, family, trauma, biracial/bicultural romance, etc. This is a meaty book.

So this book is long, and I’m sorry if this review gets too long, as I want to reach a good point to pause at-discussing some but not revealing everything (you want some surprises when reading after all).

The story is flips from present (2002) to flashbacks of the past and is told with multiple narrators. That’s not a bad thing, it just makes it harder for m to summarize as I don’t want to confuse anyone reading my review.

Hmm…

None of the other reviews I wrote seemed right. So here we go again-try three.

 

Now I wasn’t sure if I should do this review as I haven’t read the first book, Longbourn’s Songbird, but then decided to as this book isn’t exactly a sequel as events in the novel do take place before the other book, as well as after it. The Colonel,  follows Richard Fitzwilliam’s exploits (Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride and Prejudice) and his family’s.

So the story is set in America during, and post WWII. I loved the idea of setting them in a different timeline and setting as it made the book more…hmm, I guess…unknown.  North also focused on more of the supporting characters of Pride and Prejudice-Colonel Fitzwilliam, Charlotte Lucas, Anne de Bourgh, and Georgiana Darcy-with the main characters: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, etc-getting a back seat. With this focus on these characters and being set in a new timeline, it really allows the author to have the freedom to create their own story, while at the same time keeping the parts and the people we love in it.

So to make this easier for those reading, and myself (don’t want literary whiplash) I’m going to start with Bennet “Ben” Fitzwilliam’s story line [Richard’s son] in the present (2002), and then Richard Fitzwilliam [Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride and Prejudice] in the past and his family.

Bennet “Ben” Fitzwilliam

So the book starts off in 2002 NYC. Ben Fitzwilliam is the only son of Richard Fitzwilliam and life is not going well. He is suffering from trauma faced in 9/11, his girlfriend left him-and so he decides to quit his job and return to his father’s home, the Fitzwilliam House in Annapolis, MD.

As he goes through the house, he starts to wonder more about his father. His father was a complicated man, with a very complicated life. There is so much he doesn’t know about him and things he wish he could ask him. After much thought he decides to write a book about him:

Who better to write about a twice-decorated war hero who took two bullets in World War II and lost an eye in Korea? A man who spent his life making every damaged solider his brother, a man who never married but fathered a child out of kindness?

Who? Who is Ben’s mother?

Ben also meets and begins a relationship with African-American Police Officer Keisha Barnes. When Ben discovered a locked drawer in his fathers study, he invites Keisha along, and the two get caught up in trying to discover “who” Richard Fitzwilliam is. They find some correspondence, one being to a woman he loved who he referred to as “Slim.”

Slim? Ben knew he his father had a tattoo of “Slim” on him, but thought that was his war nickname. Who is this woman? What happened to her?

He later finds out from his cousin Maggie Darcy that his dad Richard dated her mom, yes Slim was his aunt, Elizabeth Bennet.

But his mother is Charlotte Lucas:

Okay, at this point of the book my interest was super piqued.

We have a mystery on our hands and I am utterly baffled what is going to happen next. Usually I have an idea of the direction the author will go in, but I have no clue with this story.

Will Ben be able to handle the truth about his father? Or will he be biting off more than he can chew? Will he learn from the mistakes and loves his father had-or will he fall victim to repeating the same choices as his father?

Hmm…

He also discovers a life changing secret that his father never knew. Will he be able to right this wrong and take on his father’s legacy, in the best way?

Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam

So let’s move to the Colonel’s story:

So we start off in 1941, the war has just begun for the US and Richard and his brother are shipping out. Richard is quite the ladies’ man and has been saying fond farewells with one and all, whilst older brother James, has been waiting with family. Darcy is visiting, he is not leaving for war as he owns factories that are producing War necessities.

James is loved by his father while Richard is not. Their mother was injured and had to be hospitalized after an accident involving Richard and both he and his father blame him for her state, even though it is no one’s fault.

Sad…traumatic…poor guy

James is sent to Australia, Richard to Florida and Darcy to an unknown location (which I’m guessing is Oak Ridge, Tennessee). War life is hard and the trauma made harder when Richard loses his brother. He feels the loss strongly and now there is no one to smooth out the rough edges in his father. After he is wounded in a battle his father has him discharged and sent home.

But Richard has a lot of trauma over the war, and he takes off, disappearing from Darcy and Georgiana’s lives. No matter how many detectives Darcy employs, they cannot find them.

A mystery, within a mystery…

Mystery, you say?

Richard decides he can’t stand it any longer-the memories, the loss, the pain-he decides to end his life. He’s about to jump and drown himself, but before he can he hears the pier snapping and rushes in to save a woman, Elizabeth Bennet. The two fall head over heels in love and spend all their free time together, as they only have a summer and then she will return home.

However, the summer ends when Richard purchases Elizabeth an expensive gift and the bill goes to Pemberley, bringing Darcy to his door.

Richard wants to stay and marry Elizabeth, but Darcy opens his eyes to the mess he is. He desperately needs some help, he’s living in rathole, he’s lost a lot of weight, he’d be making Elizabeth give up college, and his father had a stroke. Darcy is right on the fact that he needs help but I didn’t get the other arguments as Richard has money. He and Elizabeth could marry and she could still go to school, I mean Richard’s G.I. bill could pay for that if he doesn’t want to use his money. But Richard doesn’t stay, he recognizes that he is not in a good place and doesn’t want to tie Elizabeth to all his pain and sorrow. He then leaves (which is good because Elizabeth needs to end up with Darcy.)

Richard writes letters to Slim (Elizabeth) but doesn’t send them. This saga then takes on a new twist with the introduction of a completely new character, Miss Evelyn Ross, James’ former fiancé.

Evelyn writes to Richard and the two continue correspondence throughout the whole book. She marries another man and has girls, the two continuing to write through all the ups and downs of life. They ask each other advice, share their hopes and sorrows, love each other unconditionally and platonically. I loved their characters together, their friendship, and the whole character of Evelyn Ross. I have to admit I think it was letter 3 or 4 and I wanted Richard and Evelyn to marry (unfortunately she already is married [Darn])

OMGosh, these letters. They are just so cute and sweet together.

So Richard returns to Pemberley, and helps with the Georgiana and the Wickham issue. A year goes by and Darcy has been out to Bingley’s home he rented and is excited and relaxed, so Richard concludes there is only one thing to make him fell that way-it must be a girl. And when Richard goes to celebrate Charles’ Bingley’s birthday, he discovers that it isn’t any girl his cousin is going ape over, but Slim-Elizabeth Bennet.

Richard is struck…

Very awkward. 

So there are some fights, drama, and Richard ends up leaving to New York to live with Anne de Bourgh and Charlotte Lucas-where he causes more fights and drama. He then decides to date a girl who looks about 60% like Elizabeth-yes you can see he’s making stellar decisions.

As you can imagine, it crashes and burns when Darcy and Elizabeth come to visit for New Year’s Eve.

There is a big blow up between him and Darcy, although they tenuously mend it. Things take a turn when Richard reenlists for the Korean war and stops at the Pemberley house to say goodbye.

He leaves for Korea and gets damaged a bit more, physically and emotionally. He gets severely wounded and Darcy comes to stay with him and help him. The cousins repair their relationship, although their mutual love for Elizabeth will always stand between them and cause them to be insecure and lash out at each other.

Time passes, and Richard goes with Charlotte (who has escaped her horrible husband-see her section below) to help with her husband’s funeral and they grow even closer. So close, that Charlotte asks him to be the father of her child when she is in a relationship with Anne de Bourgh.

This is like the worst idea ever. This is going to cause so many issues with the little family the three have made…but Richard says yes and the two are just sooo adorable together! When he tells her he respects her and it is an honor to be with her, and wants to treat her right-oh my heart!!! Having been in an abusive relationship, words cannot express how sweet that was to read. Now I want them together!

After little Ben is born. They are just so cute…but it doesn’t last-Richard hasn’t finished his ramblin’. He has more paths to take, old acquaintances to run back into, and maybe even a chance at falling in love again?

Georgiana Darcy

Georgiana is a young girl who stays and studies at home. She’s never seen anything of the world, nor ever really wanted to. She’s grown up not lonely, but has wished for more family. Especially now: with their father and cousin James dead, Richard lost in the wind, Anne sequestered on her mother’s mansion, and Darcy upset and running through the rings of grief. Georgiana wishes there was more for her to do to help, but there isn’t. She thinks about leaving for boarding school, but if she leaves her brother-who will he have? Who will she have?

A George Wickham returns to the estate and lifts Georgiana’s young heart-she begins dream, hope, and even starts digging through her mother’s belongings to take her luggage and clothes with her as she plans to run off with Wickham. Luckily she is stopped and saved, with Wickham getting sent into the military as punishment, (but not the kind of punishment I would give him.)

Is this too far?

Years go by and one day Georgiana runs into one of her brother’s furniture factory workers, Ari Penska, a Jewish Polish refugee. The two begin a friendship-she teaching him English along with falling head over heels in love with him. But is this love? Georgiana has been fooled before…should she open her heart or will this be a big mistake?

Anne de Bourgh

In this version Anne is a lesbian who falls in love with Charlotte Lucas-Collins. She grew up imprisoned in her mother’s home, controlled by her, and when she left to New York she began a new life as a painter with Charlotte.

Richard goes to stay with her and Charlotte but does cause a few problems with his drinking, roughhousing, etc. His disorderly contact gets him arrested more often than not, bringing Police Sergeant Kelly into their lives. Ann likes the man and decides she wants to paint him, the two becoming friends-with Kelly pining over her. Now, I know North wrote it a certain way but I loved how much Sergeant Kelly cared for Ann and then I wanted them together.

Things go well until Charlotte wants to have a child. Anne wants to support her but will she be able to handle Charlotte and Richard having a bond she can never be a part of?

Charlotte Lucas

Charlotte Lucas grew up with the Bennets and married their cousin. It appears the match was urged on by her parents, and it quickly became an unhappy one as he was an abusive monster.

She ends up falling for Anne de Bourgh, and after a truly horrible fight with Mr. Collins, the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys help her leave him. She then journeys to New York with Anne. There she starts to undue the damage from her abusive relationship-the parts with Charlotte finding herself I really enjoyed as North really nailed the emotions and feelings of coming out of an abusive relationship. Charlotte later starts working as a seamstress.

Charlotte and Richard become very close, he wanting to protect her and Charlotte enjoying the friendship of a good man who won’t hurt her.

Charlotte receives news that Leland Collins, her husband, is dead and she, Anne, and Richard head off to Florida to see for themselves. Mr. Collins was a traveling minster who would pull snakes out for his act. Usually they were milked of venom, but one was missed and he died.

Suspicious

Charlotte goes to see his “wife”, a girl really, that he used and abused. I really like the interactions between Charlotte and this woman, and I think North did a great job capturing it.

Charlotte wants to be a mother, she has always wanted to be a mother, and she asks Richard to be the father of her baby. But is that a wise decision? How will that affect the family they have created in New York?

This story was compelling, my attention was captured from page one and I wanted to finish reading it and discover what the conclusion of the book would be.

I liked that North focused on other characters that aren’t usually written about and ones that we don’t know that much about-I mean in the original Pride and Prejudice we have Colonel Fitzwilliam, Charlotte Lucas-Collins, Georgiana Darcy, and Anne de Bourgh for only a few scenes and that gives a lot of room for an author to create.

I for one, never saw Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth as lovers-I always thought of them as mutually attracted to each other but never serious. But this is North’s story and I don’t mind that she took the story in this direction as it was done well, added to the characters, and that in the end she didn’t decide to ignore Jane Austen’s work and change Darcy and Elizabeth getting together (I’m looking at you Beth Patillo).

Darcy always!

But even if you don’t agree with all the decisions that the author made, (clearly you can see I wanted the romance to go in different directions [I couldn’t help myself]) or have a different viewpoint there is much to enjoy in North’s take on a loved story.

There were some sex scenes, but they were tasteful and progressed the story line, rather than feeling like it was just sex to be sex. Like with Dangerous to Know, they don’t overwhelm the story so if you like reading them you get what you want-and if it isn’t for you you can just skip over it.

And let me say-I LOVE how the story is peppered with characters from other Jane Austen novels. While Richard is in boot camp he meets a Teo Bertram (Tom Bertram from Mansfield Park); Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) is leading the troops in Korea, and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) is the military doctor who operates on him. We finally have a Marvel Cinematic Universe-I think we need a Jane Austen Universe where all the characters show up in a book together (and something better than Austentatious)

One thing I also just love about North is that in her work she tends to do include multiracial romances. As being biracial and growing up with only I Love Lucy, it is great to have something to read that has that-like I can not express enough with words how it felt growing up and feeling so different and alone, with no one like you. This feeling of inbetween as you don’t belong to one or the other. North, I wish you were writing stuff like this like 15 years ago.

North is a talented writer, really knows how to craft a story, and has an incredibly command with words and phrases. I look forward to reading the first book.

For more Beau North, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more Colonel Fitzwilliam, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

For more Georgiana Darcy, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

For more on Charlotte Lucas, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas