Friday, May 31, 2013

Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise

A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas

In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley's Promise. She's prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr.Darcy turns her world upside down.
When Elizabeth falls ill, Darcy throws convention overboard in a plan that will bind them to each other more deeply than he ever could have imagined. But the perils of their ocean voyage pale in comparison to the harsh reality of society's rules that threaten their chance at happiness. When they return to the lavish halls of England, will their love survive?

What a delightful story! I absolutely loved it! I was wondering how realistic it would feel with Darcy and Lizzy making their way across to America on a ship... but it surprised me how it really did seem feasible. I was also worried about the length, it being quite a long story compared to the other variations I had read, but I didn’t need to worry as the story flowed so well and I didn’t want it to end! I think the story didn’t seem to drag at all because of the amount of ‘screen time’ Lizzy and Darcy had. There were not many scenes or large periods of time where Lizzy and Darcy were not together, which is good as the best scenes are always when they are together!

I loved the prologue; Darcy and Lizzy meet in a carriage 2 years prior to the meeting on the ship and they get off to a good start and have an interesting conversation.  However, neither finds out who the other is, so when they meet 2 years later, they both have that feeling of having met before but it takes a while for them to properly put two and two together.  I really liked this running theme through the story and the question of when the other was going to realise they had already met!

The first half of the book was wonderful.  All the scenes on the ship were full of detail and the relationship between Darcy and Lizzy and how it developed was fun to read. Darcy was the perfect gentleman and he was so considerate to Lizzy; what he did for her was an act of the utmost chivalry. We see their relationship flourish through morning walks up on deck and many incidents aboard the ship, Pemberley’s Promise.   Darcy and Lizzy are both portrayed very well and she captures the essences of their original characters really well.

I thought it was very clever and interesting seeing how a prior meeting between our heroine and hero would affect the events which we see happen in the original; the meeting at Netherfield, the Netherfield Ball, the visit to Pemberley, Lady Catherine’s ‘visit’ to Lizzy, Lydia’s elopement. I found it a lot of fun to see how some of the iconic conversations which take place in the original are affected because of this prior relationship as well, and seeing Caroline Bingley’s rising suspicions about the two of them!   

Georgiana was a fun character.  Her relationship with her brother was very sweet and I really enjoyed seeing her caring side towards her brother and also her detective nature coming out when trying to work out the reasons behind Darcy’s low spirits and who this mysterious Elizabeth from Longbourn is.

The romance in this story was wonderful.  Whilst being completely clean, it was still highly romantic; secret meetings and stolen kisses. I was very pleased with how the question of when the couple’s mutual love would be realised wasn’t drawn out for too long and (without giving too much away) that once it was realised, it was never doubted; it annoys me when a heroine keeping thinking ‘he loves me’, ‘he doesn’t love me’, ‘no wait he does!’ the entire story, or vice versa!   The ending was wonderful; it links in very cleverly to the beginning of the story which takes place on the ship and it is a very satisfying and pleasing end! There is also an epilogue showing what happens to each of the characters in the story, which I like to have at the end of a story.

So, I shall bring my thought about this wonderful book to a close. If you can’t get enough of Darcy and Lizzy and want to read a story where they are thrown into completely different circumstances then this is for you. The trip to America is a very different approach to the story and it is accomplished extremely well.  It was a highly enjoyable, witty, romantic and interesting story to read; I highly recommend it and I look forward to her other work!

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bluebells in the Mourning by KaraLynne Mackrory

Is it true that nothing can be lost that love cannot find? Jane Austen's beloved "Pride and Prejudice" is readapted in this Regency tale of love in the face of tragedy. Mr. Darcy is thwarted in his attempt to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford when he encounters her minutes after she receives the sad news from Longbourn of her sister's death. His gallantry and compassion as he escorts her back to Hertfordshire begins to unravel the many threads of her discontent with him. While her family heals from their loss, Darcy must search London for answers --- answers that might bring justice but also might just mark the end of his own hopes with Elizabeth.

I now have a new favourite Pride and Prejudice variation (and my favourite before I read this one was her previous variation anyway, Falling for Mr Darcy!)  It was absolutely wonderful.  I am going to try and write this review with some sort of structure but I don’t call my reviews of books ‘reviews’ as such, more a collection of my thoughts about the book.
I will begin with the storyline; when I read the blurb I was intrigued.  I thought it was an interesting way to take the story.  In variations which include a death, the death is normally of Mr Bennet so I was interested in having the death of one of her sisters, Lydia. Lydia was out for a walk when she slips and hits her head, which eventually causes a fever and her demise. When we learn that a certain gentleman was also present on the walk (I will give you three guesses!) it sets up the basis for a bit of a mystery, which Darcy vows to Mr Bennet he will get to the bottom of.    I thought it was a really good ‘what if’ variation.
One of my favourite things about Mackrory’s first variation were the parallels and similarities which she draws between her variation and the original novel.  This variation was again very clever in this area.  The story opens with Darcy coming upon Lizzy when she has just received the news of Lydia’s death, just like in the original when he happens upon Lizzy, after seeing her at Pemberley, when she has found out about Lydia’s elopement. There are many more examples of this throughout the novel; another of my favourites being when the explanation letter (which Darcy’s gives after the rejected proposal originally) is given and by whom (it is still a Darcy who sends it, but not MR Darcy). 
As well as events like I have mentioned being shifted around and placed in different contexts, there is also the clever use of quotes and conversations from the original which appear throughout the novel in different places, spoken by different people and mostly in different contexts.  Some of the best examples of this, I think, were the way in which many of the thoughts and feelings of Darcy and Lizzy were switched; Mr Darcy stating that ‘until this moment I never knew myself’ and Lizzy being asked the question of when she fell in love with Darcy.  I sometimes find that important quotes from the original appearing completely out of context can be annoying, but the way in which it is treated by Mackrory is in no way annoying and is instead rather charming, causing me to smile and even laugh out loud in some cases while I was reading!
Another one of my favourite things about her last variation was the little themes which were running through the book. Theme isn’t quite the right word... In the story, as Lizzy is in mourning, there is often the need for a handkerchief to dry her tears, a handkerchief with the letters FD embroidered on it.  Also, as you may guess from the title of the story, bluebells becomes a very important part of the story (and since reading this story I am planning on going for many more walks among the bluebells!)
Now for a little about some certain characters in the story, starting with Georgiana.   I always wish to have seen more of Georgiana in the original as there seems to be a lot of untapped potential in Georgiana as we only meet her late in the novel.  She comes in the story a lot earlier and we really see another side to her.  Seeing her relationship with her brother was very sweet as their strong bond, which we see some of in the original, is developed and explored a lot in this variation.  Georgiana really comes into her own and once she realises the particular interest her brother has in a certain Miss Bennet she turns into a little matchmaker, though a lot more subtly (and successfully) than Emma Woodhouse!
Moving onto another character that I always like in the variations which I read; Colonel Fitzwilliam. I think the colonel is a character which authors can have a lot of fun with.  We see a little of his teasing nature in his relationship with Darcy in the original, and Mackrory uses this to her advantage.  He is such a teasing and delightful character and is all affability. I love seeing more of Colonel Fitzwilliam and his relationship with Darcy and also his relationship with Georgiana.  I was always laughing when Fitzwilliam was around!
I will refrain from saying much about Wickham but be rest assured, Wickham pops up from time to time through the story...
I believe my favourite secondary story line was the one between Mr and Mrs Bennet.  Mackrory delves deeper into the past between the couple and the reasons for their indifference to each other for so long. Lydia’s death reignites past feelings between the two and they begin on the road to reconciliation.  It is wonderful to see how their relationship changes throughout the story, ending in a very satisfactory way! (I will say no more...)
One thing I loved about her first variation was the inclusion of an epilogue, showing what happens to each of the characters in the future.  And so I was very pleased to once again find an epilogue at the end, allowing us to see what happens to each of the characters in the future.
And so I reach the end of my ‘review’.... although I realise I haven’t really touched on the main two characters of the story; this will not do! Well, for anyone who wishes to read more about one of the most important couples in all of literature and to see a different route to bringing the two together, you will not be disappointed.   There were enough problems that arose to keep the story interesting but not too many that it felt as if it was dragging on and on! The scenes towards the beginning of the story were a lot of fun, as Lizzy began to discover the true man behind the facade that is Mr Darcy.  Any scenes between the two of them in the first half of the story brought a smile to my face.  I do not want to give anything away but be assured the scenes between the two of them from the middle onwards are equally as enjoyable and are even more touching! The last thing I shall say is that the ending is perfection itself, capturing the balance between humour and romance perfectly!
This is a truly wonderful variation of my favourite novel of all time and I shall be re-reading it in the near future.  It satisfied my highly romantic nature as well as my need for a good laugh, and with the added extra of a bit of mystery it all made for a delightful read. I hope Mackrory has another variation on the way!

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, May 06, 2013

Miss Truelove Beckons by Donna Simpson

The joyous celebrations held in honour of his return from the war are wasted on Wycliffe Prescott, Viscount Drake--as are his mother's gentle reminders that he must now set up his nursery. How can he think of marriage when the horrors of Waterloo haunt his sleep each night? Yet when company arrives for the summer, Drake finds himself drawn to one guest in particular--and charmed when he hears her name: Miss Truelove Beckons. An innocent mistake, of course, for her surname is Becket--but Drake can't help feeling that she may be his only hope of healing...

A vicar's daughter, True has come to Lea Park with her future vexingly undecided. A proposal of marriage from her father's curate might be the sensible course of action, but True can't resist the utterly impractical hours she spends with handsome, brooding Drake--especially when he seems soothed by her understanding words and gentle silences. By rights, a friendship is all she can hope for with a man so far above her station, yet as the warm summer days pass, True knows that she longs for something much sweeter...

This has become one of my favourite books. The story had its fun but there was a much more serious theme running through it. I found this book really hard to put down as I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen!

The hero of the story, Lord Drake, a wounded (in more ways than just physically) ex-solider, was a character I really felt and fell for. As you went through the story you could see how deeply he had been affected by his experiences during the war (with a recurring nightmare to remind him every night of such horrid memories).

Then along comes the heroine, Miss Becket, who is a calm and caring woman who seems to radiate peace. She is a willing listener to the horrid stories Drake has to tell of the war, too horrid that most other people will not hear them. As he talks more and more to Miss Becket about his experiences you can't help but feel sorry for him, but as he does talk more and more to Miss Becket she begins to help the internal wound from the war to heal, as well as fall in love with him (I don't know how she wouldn't, anyone with a heart would! I certainly did!)

There are some extremely annoying love-to-hate secondary characters in the story and a few other side plots, but they all link into the main story meaning it doesn't feel confused. There are quite a few point of view changes but never any in quick succession and never any out of place. (The main points of view we read from are the hero and heroine though.)

Overall, it is well written and flows brilliantly. A wonderful heart-wrenching and romantic tale, not without its humour, showing just how deeply affecting the experiences and memories of a war really go, beyond the physical injuries to the body, deep down to the wounds to the very soul.

I highly recommend this wonderful regency story.
Your affectionate friend,
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