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Timely advice, a trip into Cornwall, a rival, secret goings on, and unrequited love lead to a sweet romantic adventure in this Pride & Prejudice variation tale.
I had a good time with this story from first to last. It engaged all my emotions it seemed. I was amused by a series of blunders and mishaps, saddened by the unrequited love and heartbreak moments, and sighed with pleasure over the romantic scenes. The hero, Darcy, really blunders and struggles in the beginning. He's so cocksure and arrogant. I enjoyed how the author showed his flaws and strengths and gave him some good growth moments. The heroine, Elizabeth, has her own personal epiphany, too. Seeing them work through so much really had me rooting for them. The rival part was an interesting development. I think how this played out involved my only niggle about the story.
I enjoyed the bit of intrigue and adventure next to the romance part which suited the Cornwall setting where things are not what they seem. The big climax was built up to and worth it coming back to back with the turning point in the romance and other story threads. The denouement came down slowly which was good so things could be settled and understood. I was startled by a few of the minor characters' story lines, but not in a bad way. Elizabeth's little sister Lydia was a surprise. There is an interesting finish for her that I'm still not sure how I feel about it because it was a twist that I didn't see coming.
I experienced The Falmouth Connection in the audio format. Stevie Zimmerman was a fantastic match for this story. She caught the tone, pace, and the characters so well. The dialogue between characters was particularly well done.
All in all, this variation of a classic took things on a fun romantic suspense style adventure. I think those with some familiarity of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice will get the most out of the story since it assumes the reader knows a bit of what came before the beginning of this story. I enjoy each new outing with the author's works and will definitely be going back for more. I would recommend this to sweet historical romance fans and/or those who enjoy classical story retellings.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This flawless Pride and Prejudice variation spins a very different tale for our beloved Lizzy and Darcy! The day before Darcy makes his disastrous Hunsford proposal, he and Col Fitzwilliam visit the parsonage to find Lizzy has been summoned to Falmouth to meet a newly discovered great aunt. To Col Fitzwilliam's surprise, Darcy offers to convey Lizzy to join her family. Lizzy reluctantly agrees to travel with him, and Col Fitzwilliam joins them.
Confronted by Col Fitzwilliam about his intentions, Darcy reveals his plan to propose. He also reveals some of his speech, and Col Fitzwilliam is aghast at Darcy's litany of objections to Lizzy's family. Luckily, Col Fitzwilliam's censure causes Darcy to rethink some of his language. When the trip begins the next day, Darcy is desperate to find the perfect moment to propose, but he's foiled by weather, busy inns, and Lizzy's own unwillingness to spend time alone with him.
Lizzy is surprised to find Darcy a pleasant companion on the first part of the trip, joking, even flirting with her. For the first time she recognizes that he's handsome and desirable, and she can see why a man like Bingley would choose him for a friend. But when Darcy and Col Fitzwilliam deliver her to the inn where her family is staying, Col Fitzwilliam unwittingly reveals Darcy's role in separating Bingley from Jane. This revelation deeply wounds Jane. Lizzy is furious, and no amount of warm smiles will enable her to forgive Darcy. Desperate to right this wrong, Darcy sends for Bingley and sets out for Falmouth to find Lizzy and beg for forgiveness. It won't be that easy though, as Darcy first needs to locate the Bennets, after which he faces a new financial situation for the family, a titled rival for Lizzy's affections, and a villain from his past who appears to torment him again.
Joana Starnes is a master at pulling the reader right into the story and making them feel each emotion as the character feels it, joy, hope, affection, warmth, amusement, and fear, misery, rejection, or utter wretchedness. Darcy's passionate and all-consuming love for Lizzy is a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I rode those peaks and valleys with him. Starnes has the knack of showing the vulnerable side to Darcy, and while he may have said the word "ardently" in his canon proposal, Starnes makes the reader feel it. Lizzy's reaction is just as heartbreaking when she finally realizes the depth of Darcy's love for her, but knows she can't return it. My heart broke with hers, for him. Jane and Bingley's trials are just as emotional, and while many variations have their story as a pale shadow next to Darcy and Lizzy's, this variation shines a light on the intensity of their love.
When reading the original P&P, I always long for more interaction between the couples. The characters converse quietly off page so frequently, I just want the development of those moments. And that is what Starnes delivers. The dialogue and new scenes are so imaginative. The moment Lizzy and Darcy meet under cover of darkness in the garden, and share a passionate and magical interlude. Mrs. Bennet's designs to marry off her daughters, and Mr. Bennet's scheming to prevent it. And the moment when Lizzy realizes Darcy's feelings for her! Oh my goodness, indeed!
Stevie Zimmerman's narration is outstanding, her pleasant voice easily shifts between male and female voices and the narrative. Her male voices are believably male and her voice for Darcy is the perfect blend of intensity and vulnerability. I was provided a copy of the audiobook for an honest review, and audio with a British narrator is now my favorite way to experience P&P variations.
As I listened to this well-crafted story, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Jamaica Inn came to mind, and I finally realized that this book is set in the same location. The setting is beautiful, and the wild, untamed country and shoreline provide a perfect backdrop for the emotions roiling in each character. It beats staid Hertfordshire to pieces. Over time, most P&P variations tend to blur together for me, but this one will stand out. With a fresh location, original storyline, and lovingly crafted happily ever after for our dear Bennet girls, it will be a frequent reread.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful