April 6, 2011

Book Review: ONLY MR. DARCY WILL DO by Kara Louise


BOOK DESCRIPTION:  In this fresh and original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet’s greatest fear comes to pass — Longbourn is entailed to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth finds work as a governess in London, widening the social divide between her and Mr. Darcy and making it more difficult than ever for them to find their way to each other...

Jane Austen retellings and sequels are a hot commodity but it's not easy to step into Ms. Austen's literary shoes.  Author Kara Louise does so seamlessly and with the beautiful and romantice Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, solidifies her position on my list of "Must Read" authors. 
Ms. Louise takes Jane Austen's familiar and beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice and transports the reader to the time after Mr. Darcy makes his first, failed proposal to Elizabeth and before she makes her trip to Pemberley with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner.  In this retelling, Mr. Bennet has unexpectedly died, leaving Mrs. Bennet and her daughters to the mercy of her family, as the Longbourne estate is now entailed to Mr. and Mrs. Collins.  Jane and Elizabeth are now governesses in London while Mrs. Bennet, Mary, Kitty and Lydia are living with Mrs. Bennet's sister and her family in Meryton. 
Despite her now reduced social standing, Ms. Louise's Elizabeth retains her sparkle, her wit and the wonderful verve that Ms. Austen originally bestowed upon her.  Jane, similarly, is as sweet and even tempered while silently pining away for Mr. Bingley.  Lizzy, too, is having her own pains as she regrets turning down Mr. Darcy's proposal and, worse, she is forced to confront her decision as her employer, the Willstone family, is acquainted with Mr. Darcy and invited to spend part of the summer as his guests at Pemberley.
The interactions between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are the very best sections of this lovely and lively book.  Their initial interaction in Mr. Darcy's private study at Pemberley is awkwardly sweet and leaves the reader aching for more.  Their veiled insinuations and witty interchanges during their chess match, in full view and hearing of other guests, is clever and great fun to read. 
While Miss Bingley is not present in this retelling, and only mentioned in passing, Ms. Louise brings on a new character as a rival for Mr. Darcy - - Mrs. Willstone's younger sister Rosalyn, who has the social standing to catch Mr. Darcy's eye and aims to do just that.  And unfortunately for Elizabeth, an unknowing Rosalyn solicits her help to win the supposedly aloof Mr. Darcy's heart.   
My own heart broke for Elizabeth, as Ms. Louise so adeptly made her hurt, sadness and longing radiate off each page, as each confessional session with Rosalyn made any chance of a future with Mr. Darcy seem more unlikely. 
I found myself completely engrossed in this story, which was incredibly romantic.  And while the conclusion was wonderfully rewarding and sure to satisfy any Jane Austen lover, I was sad to close the book and leave the story behind.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to any lover of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and/or heart-thumping romances.  You will not be disappointed.  Beware though, you will become a fan of Kara Louise and your wallet may suffer under the requirement of purchasing all of her books. 

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do is is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Kara Louise, please visit her website.  For a recent guest post by author Kara Louise at Psychotic State Book Reviews, please go here

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.



Meredith said...

Excellent review, Lori! I felt exactly the same way! I loved feeling Lizzy's sorrow and uncertainty, it was so palpable.

Brambling Editors said...

Sounds really good - will give this a try.

Lori Johnston said...

Thank you, Meredith! I read your review after I had posted my thoughts - - I try to not read others' reviews before I can formulate my own so I'm not influenced - - and I think your review was absolute perfection. What I really wanted to say in mine you articulated perfectly.

Thanks for stopping by Brambling Editors. I would definitely encourage you to try Kara's books. I have only read 2 so far but they are among my favorite P&P variations.