A little update for those who have missed my recent posts: I was contacted by the lovely Alexa Adams asking me if I would like to review her trilogy, Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice, and I was only too happy to oblige! If you wish to read more about the entire trilogy and the reasons and inspiration behind this trilogy then have a look at the Guest Post from Alexa Adams. I have just finished reading book number two, Second Glances, by this brilliant author and it was thoroughly enjoyable! I was provided with review copies however this is my honest, unbiased opinion.
“Yes, but he is Darcy, after all. Can you imagine the lady who would reject him?”
Sir James laughed. “I don't know; if he had made a muddle of a first impression upon his wife, as I have on Miss Bennet, then perhaps his gentlemanly status would have undergone similar attack.”
A year has passed since the conclusion of First Impressions, and the marriages made by the three eldest Bennet ladies are prospering. Expectations are high for the two youngest sisters to do equally well. Kitty, having excelled in school, receives an invitation to join Georgiana Darcy in her first London season, leaving Lydia to bear the burden of the classroom alone. Will the most forward Bennet tolerate such inequity?
Kitty arrives in London prepared to be happy, but her delight is marred when she finds a most unwelcome gentleman on intimate terms with her hosts. She has met the reckless Sir James Stratton before and would like nothing more than to never encounter him again, but his acquaintance she is forced to endure. Struggling for firm footing amidst the whirlwind of London society, will Kitty be allowed to follow her heart, or will her family force her hand? Join the reimagined cast of Pride and Prejudice as they pursue happiness amidst the ongoing obstacles of life, love, and interfering relations.
I really enjoyed the first story, First Impressions, and so I was excited for this second tale. From the blurb it seemed to suggest that the misunderstandings and miscommunications which were in fact missing from the first book (a very unique and interesting approach to the classic story, so loved for it's misunderstandings!) would instead be present in this second story. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing Kitty's journey to love and how she would deal with a story line similar to the journey we know Lizzy to have experienced with Darcy; a romance based on bad first impressions followed by lots of confusion!
I will begin with the characters, and most importantly the heroine and hero, Catherine Bennet and the new character, Sir James Stratton.
I loved the portrayal of Kitty in this story. She really was, I think, the Bennet sister the most ignored in the original; Jane was the beautiful one, Lizzy the clever and witty one, Mary the 'accomplished' one (in theory), Lydia the lively and sociable one and Kitty was... living in Lydia's shadow. Although Kitty thrives at the school she and Lydia are sent to, and her friendship blossoms with the refined Georgiana and shrivels with her less refined sister Lydia (who is not benefiting from her education, surprise surprise), as a result of her upbringing, I think her disbelief and lack of self confidence is understandable. It is an interesting journey she goes on, learning that she is her own person and should be proud of who she is. She is an intriguing and very untouched character to develop and she really comes into her own in this story, with the help of Sir James, who is an important factor in this growth of self belief!
Talking of Sir James, what a great character addition he is! He's funny and a charmingly teasing man! He has a very care free attitude as well as a very strong and determined nature. He is rather eccentric (which is all the more fun!) and so his actions and behaviour are often very forward. This eccentric and adventurous nature is clear from the first encounter between him and Kitty - let's just say things do not get off to a good start thanks to a near death experience with a carriage!
As I said, Sir James is forward. However, I love his open and artless manner and his frankness with Kitty from the off. The two of them have some wonderful sparring matches, reminiscent to those we remember between Lizzy and Darcy! I have already said how the course of love does not run smooth for these two, and as well as an awful first impression to be righted, there are a few other problems of trust to overcome and mistakes to be explained before they can reach their happy conclusion - which you can be assured they do (as we were informed in the epilogue of the first book of one Kitty Bennet becoming one Lady Stratton!)
As well as this central romance, there is a secondary romance between the blooming Georgiana and a very sweet addition in a Mr Brooks - it was nice to have two romances going on, one progressing a lot smoother than the other!
Of course in a story where Kitty is the guest of Georgiana who is living in the Darcy's town house, Mr and Mrs Darcy are bound to be part of the story! I loved seeing glimpses of their new lives as man and wife - and they are as happy as you would imagine them to be! One of my favourite quotes from this book was a description about the newly married Darcy; "I cannot imagine such a description as jovial being applied to Darcy" - clearly Lizzy is having a very positive effect on her new husband! I found it very interesting - and pleasing - to see both the Darcy's facing the trials and tribulations (and natural consequences!) which marriage brings and seeing them learn to cope with such difficulties. It was lovely seeing their relationship grow ever stronger - they are a perfect couple!
There are some interesting character developments and some unexpected relationships explored further in this story...
Mr and Mrs Bingley are around now and then and it was enjoyable to read about their married life. Lady Catherine too is all amiability, and is actually quite motherly! (I suppose those who have not read my review of book one will find this description of such a character shocking - a brief explanation would be that many characters are vastly different from how we know them to be, as that is exactly the point of this trilogy (particularly book one) 'Tales of LESS Pride and Prejudice' and of course Lady Catherine as we know her causes far too much trouble to fit with this series!)
Darcy and Kitty have grow closer and get on very well and Mr and Mrs Wickham (who is, incidentally, the former Caroline Bingley) end up having a rather happy marriage - actually their characters are much a like, I can see how they might suit one and other!
Mr Darcy and Mr Gardiner's familial relationship continues to grow as he becomes very much like a father to Darcy. Mr Bennet makes a welcome return and continues to tease his love-lorn prospective son-in-laws (just as he did with Darcy in First Impressions), making any meetings they may have as diverting as possible for him!
Another great addition was the wonderful Mrs Westingham, Sir James' aunt. She is a lot of fun and a very perceptive, motherly character who is responsible for some great scenes in the book! The most diverting relationship for me is the idea of Mr Bennet and Lady Catherine being very good friends!
And who could forget Lydia, who still manages to cause trouble for as many people as she can, have no fear! Her involvement in the story is all rather amusing. That's enough on characters I think.
I mentioned earlier about the links between Kitty and Sir James' relationship to the true story between Darcy and Lizzy - this was one of my favourite aspects to the story. There are many parallels between the two stories and a few clever comments which allude to the fact (for example Sir James states to Mr Brooks at one point how if Darcy had messed up his first impression on Lizzy, as he had managed to do with Kitty, it might not have been such a smooth journey for them - as was just the case. He even talks of "having to overcome a truly wretched first impression." Sound familiar?)
I love the authors style of writing - it was just as clever and witty as it was in the first story. The alternating between all the different characters points of view allows you to get to know each character better, and the transitions are carried out very smoothly thanks to the brilliant writing, meaning it did not annoy me one bit to jump so often between different characters and locations - I enjoyed it and I think it really adds to the story and works well for the style of story telling trying to be achieved (and being achieved very successfully!)
I have already mentioned how I really enjoyed seeing glimpses into Darcy and Lizzy's marriage, and so I am really looking forward to the final book in the trilogy, Third Encounters, to give me further insight into the first year of their marriage. As well as that, I will be very happy to read Charlotte Lucas' tale and to read a story where she will discover the joys of love (as in this series she has managed to escape marriage to the infamous Mr Collins!)
Although this tale is the second in a series, this would easily work as a stand alone story, but just be prepared for a few odd character alterations and unexpected story twists coming along, all which have taken place and are explained in book one.
Thanks again to Alexa for giving me the opportunity to review her stories - she really is a talented writer! Keep a look out for my review of her final story in the coming weeks!
Your affectionate friend,