Well this book was a lot of fun! This was another very far fetched variation, but I have found those are the ones I enjoy the most, and it was the same with this story. It was a very fast paced, adventure filled story and I really rather enjoyed it! (I was asked to review this by the lovely Victoria Kincaid and this is my honest opinion.)
We join the story at a familiar place, when Elizabeth runs into Darcy, accidentally, many months after she has read that ever so important letter - the only difference is that this doesn't happen in the garden's at Pemberley, but at a ball... in France! And here the similarity plot wise ends - although the outcome as a result of this accidental meeting is the same, there is an extremely different route to get to that outcome in this variation!
"In this Pride and Prejudice variation, a despondent Darcy travels to Paris in the hopes of forgetting the disastrous proposal at Hunsford. Paris is teeming with English visitors during a brief moment of peace in the Napoleonic Wars, but Darcy’s spirits don’t lift until he attends a ball and unexpectedly encounters…Elizabeth Bennet! Darcy seizes the opportunity to correct misunderstandings and initiate a courtship.
Their moment of peace is interrupted by the news that England has again declared war on France, and hundreds of English travelers must flee Paris immediately. Circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to escape on their own, despite the risk to her reputation. Even as they face dangers from street gangs and French soldiers, romantic feelings blossom during their flight to the coast. But then Elizabeth falls ill, and the French are arresting all the English men they can find….
When Elizabeth and Darcy finally return to England, their relationship has changed, and they face new crises. However, they have secrets they must conceal—even from their own families."
Right, first things first, let's start with the writing style. On the whole, I thought it was very well written. The dialogue was great and the author was very good at description - particularly describing the inner feelings of both Darcy and Elizabeth throughout the story.
Lets get my small negative out the way; the little problem I had was with the americanisms I noticed (when I see a "couch" or a mention of the "fall" it does slightly irritate me - but not for long!) and there were a few editing issues and mistakes, but I know how hard it can be to catch them all, and as I got more and more drawn into the action filled story I found these little mistakes and typos didn't distract from the story at all! And that is my only criticism!
The writing flowed well and I was easily wrapped up in the story. I enjoyed the fast pace to the book as it was never dull and never dragged! We had everything from near death experiences to almost imprisonment, from kidnappings to elopements (and that's not just Lydia I am talking about here!)
So, onto the most important characters, Elizabeth and Darcy. As I mentioned above, the inner thoughts and feelings of these two were very well described throughout the story, and boy do these two go through a lot together! After meeting in France, things seem to be improving between the two, as we know it does, but then, most inconveniently, the Napoleonic War starts up again! (A little aside here - the bits of historical detail about the war I found very intriguing to read about.)
Things don't go smoothly for these two as they try to escape France, English visitors no longer being welcome! I found it really interesting to see how these to react to each other in the face of danger and in such unusual circumstances! As you can imagine, rules of property and proper manners all have to go out the window as the only thing which matters is escaping France, alive. The relationship between them really builds through this time and you really see a different side to Darcy as he is doing all he can to protect Elizabeth and get her safely back to England.
During their trouble filled escape attempt Elizabeth falls terribly ill and so doctor Darcy jumps into action! He was such a sweetheart while she was poorly, caring for her and doing all he possibly could for he. You really had to feel sorry for him as you could really tell how stricken with worry he was. Things had started to look better between him and Elizabeth and he had been given a second chance, but now it seems she to be taken from him forever! *pause for dramatic effect*
Ok *(slight) SPOILER ALERT* I never like to give away any spoilers but for what I want to say, I need to carry on past this point as it happens relatively early on in the plot! (And finding out will not ruin the story for you in my opinion - I think it would make you want to read it even more!) Anyway, you have been warned!
I don't think it would come as a surprise to know that although it gets rather close, of course Elizabeth pulls it back - well she couldn't die now could she! After this near death experience, Elizabeth sees her life in a new perspective and for various reasons of both a romantic and practical nature (of which I shall let you read for yourself!) Darcy and Elizabeth end up marrying before they leave France - how you wonder? A quick explanation... the house Darcy takes the ailing Elizabeth to is of an old school friend who moved to France and who just happens to be a clergyman! (You can't deny that marrying in France without anyone knowing has its advantages - no Mrs Bennet or Lady Catherine to contend with!)
Eventually the now married couple escape from France, and this is where the matter of their marriage becomes rather interesting to the story and events which take place, but also difficult at times and often amusing at others! As I said, this is a very fast moving story which is full of drama and many problems! What was really different and nice to see was that because they had married in France, all the problems they face upon returning home - Lydia's elopement, family problems for Darcy etc - they face together, as a married couple. It is a real test for their relationship and marriage, but it also shows the strength of attachment between the two of them. It was lovely to see them being so much more open with each other during all these problems - well, they were married after all.
More and more problems arise which result in more and more delays before they can announce their marriage. Now aside from physical problems to test their marriage thanks to their 'friends' and relations, they also face emotional struggles; they are a newly married couple, passionately in love, after all, who had a very unusual courtship where none of the usual restraints between men and woman applied, and now they have to revert back to acting as mere acquaintances when really they know each other much more intimately! I really felt for them, trying to steal private moments together when no one was looking! Or they thought no one was looking; a few people had to be let in on their secret if they weren't to accuse Darcy of some rather scandalous and ungentlemanly behaviour towards Elizabeth! Of course, a happy ending is eventually reached and the secret can be revealed, meaning they can finally live and act as the married couple that they are, and have been for many months!
Darcy and Elizabeth really go through a lot, and the moments of intimacy and romance between the two are very sweet and highly romantic (while the story remains clean.) I enjoyed these parts of the book and it was nice for them to reach an understanding and marry so much earlier in the book, as it meant that rather than the ups and downs and problems in the story keeping them from marrying (as is the case in many variations), the problems merely kept them from announcing their marriage. It was an interesting and enjoyable change.
I mustn't forget all the other characters, but this review will never end if I talk of them all so I shall pick my favourites!
We get to see more of Colonel Fitzwilliam (who is just as teasing, but caring, of Darcy as we would expect!) which I always love and we also get to know Georgiana more which is always nice, especially when we see her relationship with her new sister Elizabeth grow, even though she doesn't know she's got a new sister!
I felt sorry for Mr Bennet who had a lot to deal with through this story, and it was interesting to see his feelings more and the pain caused by Lydia's elopement. Hearing of his favourite daughters very dangerous - and unchaperoned - escape from France with Darcy doesn't help matters for the poor man either!
Lord and Lady Matlock come into the story which was nice as it is always interesting to see more of Darcy's family - although due to certain circumstances they add to the delay and continued concealment of the marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth. As does Lady Catherine, surprise surprise. The famous confrontation between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth was fun to read as Darcy is also present when it takes place in this story! Lady Catherine goes to extraordinary lengths to cause the couple problems - I think you would be surprised at how far! You see a different and determined side to Lady Catherine - but I shall say no more on this matter!
Fear not, the scoundrel Wickham still makes his appearance and causes his own problems for poor Darcy and Elizabeth, and not just because of his actions with Lydia. But again, you must read it yourself to see what other mischief he gets up to!
And good old Caroline pops up every now and then and causes great amusement. I suppose you could pity her a little as she continually flirts with and flatters Darcy - shame she doesn't know he's married! She even warns Elizabeth that even though Darcy seems to be paying Elizabeth special attention to not to get her hopes up for he would never marry her - too bad Caroline, for he already has! Seeing Elizabeth hold her own against these attacks was great.
And finally, thanks to two new characters, we get to see a jealous side to Darcy! Responsible for this is, first, a dashing Lord Lennox who rather takes a fancy to Lizzy in France, and secondly, a Mr Fenton - or as I like to call him, Mr Collins mark 2! Mr Fenton really was such a comedy character. He needs to marry. Jane is almost taken, or so Mrs Bennet believes due to Bingley's recent return to Netherfield, and so Elizabeth it is. If possible, his proposal of marriage is even worse than Mr Collins was! And just like Mr Collins, Mr Fenton will not take no for an answer - it would have silenced him, I should think, had Lizzy been able to refuse him due to the rather problematic fact that she was already married and would not become a bigamist!
I will wrap things up here, but one last thing... Let me assure you that although the story is full of drama and can be quite serious, it is not without it's humour thanks to characters such as Caroline and this Mr Fenton. I laughed many times while I was reading this!
If you like a fast moving story, full to the brim of drama and adventure, with some brilliant humour and beautiful romance thrown in then this is the story for you!
I am very lucky to be able to offer a giveaway of 3 ebook copies (any format) of this story!
To enter please leave a comment below and include your email address so that I can contact the randomly selected winners and which format (Kindle, nook) you would like if you are a winner.
The giveaway will end on the 1st of May.
I wish Victoria all the best with this story as well as any other stories in the future!
Your affectionate friend,