Darcy Bomb 2: The Darcy Strikes Back

It’s 2011 and even though Austen-mania has receded, I’m still finding Pride and Prejudice spin-offs. And I am still unable to not pick them up if I see them in the library. So here’s another round of Mr Darcy goodness.

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds

In the previous Darcy Bomb I reviewed “Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World” by Abigail Reynolds and wasn’t ecstatic about it. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up this new P&P variation by Abigail Reynolds. But I’m really glad I did.

In this version (Reynolds has done several “what if?” plots revolving around P&P) Mr. Bennet dies while Elizabeth is at Rosings but before Mr. Darcy can propose. Now she is even more unsuitable a match for Darcy then before as her family falls into poverty. Darcy should stay away from her more than ever but he finds himself drawn into her life.

I liked the Darcy in this one. He has the same pride, the same sense of dignity and honor. But over the course of the book he grapples with issues of class and money, realizing that having a title shouldn’t make you entitled. In this way he becomes the right man for Elizabeth.

Man Grade: A-

Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell

I think this is the first P&P variation I’ve read by a male author. Which shouldn’t be such a huge deal but I think I’ve been conditioned to think of Austenmania as a girl thing. No more Ally, no more.

Caldwell’s Bennet family moves from Ohio to Texas after the Civil War. The wounds are still fresh: Beth Darcy lost a brother to the war and still holds a grudge against the South for it. Her anger finds a target in rancher and former Confederate officer Will Darcy.

I liked how Caldwell turned English gentleman Mr. Darcy into Southern gentleman of Hispanic descent who is a practicing Catholic. (So very different from Northern Yankee Beth.) While still being the proud, often offended Darcy we know he’s also got a saucy side to him. Shown especially when he spies on Beth while she’s bathing in the river. (This could have been creepy. It was not.)

What I enjoyed most was that the author paid attention to all the other characters from the original. My favorite was that instead of Charlotte going off with Collins (who’s a bad seed in this book), she starts a sweet little romance with Fitzwilliam.

Overall it was a good book and Caldwell made it his own and I liked the Darcy quite a bit.

Man Grade: A

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulbrg

At Longbourn Academy, the crowning moment of every girl’s academic career in the prom. Except for Lizzie Bennet, a scholarship student shunned by her shallow and materialistic classmates. Besides her roommate Jane, Lizzie wants nothing to do with her school except to pass on her music scholarship. She’s tired of putting up with their hate and is at her limit when she meets Will Darcy who has had a bad past with another scholarship student.

The story follows the original plot with its modern twists and was an entertaining read. I don’t think it had the depth I’ve seen in other re-tellings and I couldn’t say it reinvented the characters in a monumental way. Still, I enjoyed reading it and seeing the characters as teenagers.

Man Grade: B-

Twenty Months by Dee12

Twenty Months is not a published re-telling of P&P. It is on fanfiction.net but I think it could be published if the author ever wanted to pursue that. The premise is that Will Darcy and Lizzie Bennet meet at a club one evening. Several drinks and a night of passion later, Lizzie is pregnant. To prevent scandal ruining his family business, Darcy gets Lizzie to agree to fake a relationship with him for the press. He will provide for her and their child. But certainly they will never get along enough to have a relationship.

Ha.

Dee12 brings the cast into modern times quite well. Her Darcy is stiff and proud but is also a music lover and not above getting drunk with Mr. Bennet or trading jabs with Fitzwilliam. Lizzie is as stubborn as the original but has the addition of a potty mouth and a kick ass attitude. (There’s a lot of foul language in this, if that’s something that bothers you). The author did enough to make this her own story while remaining true to Austen’s spirit.

My favorite part? When we meet Mrs. Bennet, she’s wearing sweatpants that say “Juicy” on the backside. I agree that if Mrs. Bennet were in modern times, that is what she would be wearing.

Man Grade: A.

Do I have other Darcy Bombs planned? I certainly do. As long as the publishers keep producing Austen spin-offs, I’ll be reading them.

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