Rating: 4 stars out of 5
What if Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy had returned to Netherfield for the Christmas season?
Source: I received an ARC of this book, from the author, in exchange for an honest review.
“Blame the Mistletoe” is a holiday tale that puts a sweet Christmas twist on “Pride and Prejudice.” The book begins by sharing a glimpse into the Darcy family tradition of journal writing. As Georgiana Darcy writes her journal entry, we learn about the holiday traditions shared at Pemberley and in London, throughout the past years. Searching for a new holiday tradition to add to their existing ones, Georgiana shares her final wish for the holidays; that her brother has a new wife next Christmas, to share her happiness, along with her own family holiday traditions with the Darcy family.
Approximately two weeks after the Netherfield Ball, Mr. Bingley joins Darcy and Georgiana at Darcy House in London, where Georgiana notices how forlorn and solemn both men appear in her company. As her mind works to find the source of their behavior, she finds a private moment to share with Darcy some carefully selected words from their own mother’s journal. Filled with a new sense of purpose and a task at hand, Darcy decides to find a way to return to Hertfordshire with Mr. Bingley.
After witnessing the initial surprise displayed due to their return by the residents of Meryton, Darcy, Bingley and Georgiana settle into joining the local holiday traditions. There are affairs to attend and acquaintances to rekindle, as the Bennet sisters remain uncertain regarding the reasons for the gentlemans’ return to their neighborhood. Sharing the opinion that both men are intended for other ladies, Jane and Elizabeth endeavor to enjoy the holiday season, as they keep a watchful eye on the new arrivals.
At Lucas Lodge, the locals reconvene for a lively night of cards, gossip and mistletoe. But when Wickham shows up and joins Darcy and Elizabeth’s card game, confusion reigns due to Georgiana and Darcy’s reactions to Wickham’s return. At the conclusion of the evening, Jane and Elizabeth remain uncertain about Bingley and Darcy’s intentions, and now that Elizabeth has witnessed the Georgiana and Darcy’s responses to Wickham, she continues to wonder about the characters of both men. Could she have been wrong to dislike one of them so much? What could she make of Mr. Darcy’s character? He was such an enigma. Would she ever really know the man behind the stoic mask? Yet, with all that mistletoe hanging all over, and family members encouraging all of those kisses under its greenery, how’s a lady to keep her thoughts and feelings neatly situated?
I loved the way Darcy and Elizabeth’s feelings developed for each other throughout this story, and how we were able to witness those sweet, and sometimes, awkward moments, under the mistletoe, where Elizabeth could feel herself developing an attraction to Darcy. I enjoyed the determination Darcy displayed, as he sought Elizabeth’s favor and good opinion. Who wouldn’t want to save a few berries from the mistletoe, if it meant there would be future opportunities for a kiss from Mr. Darcy?
I also thought the way Georgiana’s character was developed was well done, as she tries to find a way to help her brother find himself a wife, while also deferring to his desires and expectations. Their relationship had a caring, yet playful tone throughout the story. I also enjoyed the courtship between Jane and Bingley. Darcy has told Bingley that he does not believe Jane has feelings for him, yet Bingley is determined to discover the truth for himself. In his own way, Bingley takes to the task of determining whether or not his future happiness is with Jane Bennet. The only scene I didn’t care for was when Darcy and Elizabeth came upon Wickham and had an altercation with him, because I felt that Darcy and Elizabeth probably wouldn’t have reacted the way they did in this story.
This was the first book I’ve read by Sarah Johnson, and I am happy to state that I truly enjoyed this holiday story, as well as her writing style. Ms. Johnson’s story is simple, yet well-balanced, with a good mix of naughty and nice interactions amongst her characters, along with quite a happy dash of romance sprinkled in for good measure. In many ways, Ms. Johnson capture’s Austen’s tone within her own writing style, as she carefully blends her characters’ dialogues, actions and inner reflections throughout her story.
This book is a perfect addition to your growing holiday JAFF collection. The setting of Longbourn and Meryton during the holidays season added an intimate, familiar touch to the story. At a little over 200 pages, time spent reading this book can be easily tucked between your holiday errands and celebrations, as readers experience the delicious pleasures of falling in love, under the berries and greenery of the mistletoe at Christmas time.
To check out some beautiful mistletoe, and lots of other holiday inspirations, check out our Just Jane 1813 Pinterest Board titled, “The Twelve Days of Jane,” at the link below:
Sarah Johnson would like to offer two of our Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to win a copy of this holiday JAFF ebook. Please share in the comments box the title of any holiday story that has been a long-time favorite for you. Please have all comments submitted by December 15th. Our giveaway winner will be announced on this blog on December 16, 2015.
I’d like to thank Sarah Johnson for writing this endearing Christmas tale for our dear couple. It’s such a nice balance of naughty and nice! I’d also like to thank her for offering our Just Jane 1813 readers this generous giveaway opportunity!