Can Elizabeth faithfully sketch Mr. Darcy’s true character after an accident forces them into a marriage of “convenience?”
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When I started reading JAFF last year, one of the very first authors that I was fortunate to discover was Lory Lilian. After enjoying nearly all of her books, I was looking forward to reading her latest novel, “Sketching Mr. Darcy.” It’s my pleasure to say that this latest book will not disappoint her fans! Here, Ms. Lilian once again delivers for us her signature style, which includes a long and winding story filled with wonderful misunderstandings and challenging obstacles for her characters, with plenty of steamy romance, some new and intriguing characters, all contained within a plot that keeps us gladly reading until the very end of this book.
Ms. Lilian begins her story during the summer of 1801, where we meet a young Elizabeth Bennett, who is vacationing in Brighton with her aunt and uncle Gardiner, and her sister, Jane. The Darcy family also happens to be vacationing in Brighton and a chance meeting occurs between these two parties. During this vacation, Elizabeth, and her puppy, become involved in an accident and as she frantically tries to save her dog, a mysterious gentleman saves them. Since Elizabeth is unable to uncover the identity of the man, she recalls her memories of him in her journal. These memories stay within her heart and mind for a very long time…
As we flash forward to 1811, we meet Elizabeth and her family in Meryton, along with Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, who are also in Meryton, visiting Bingley’s estate, Netherfield. After an unfortunate incident occurs involving Elizabeth, and she is rescued by Mr. Darcy, they both start to worry that rumors will circulate around Meryton about this “compromising” rescue. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, rumors do begin to circulate around London and they are about Darcy and Elizabeth, which eventually causes them to enter into a “forced” marriage. As Mr. Darcy has already formed an “attachment” of his own to an unsuspecting Elizabeth, he is not as “forced” into this arrangement as Elizabeth believes he has been through these circumstances.
I typically love forced marriage scenario stories because we have the pleasure of watching Darcy and Elizabeth spend a lot of time together, up close and personal, in lots of awkward, and sometimes intimate moments, mentally and physically exploring each other as they decide whether or not they can reach the long-awaited achievement of allowing their relationship to evolve into a trusting and loving marriage. I can confidently state that Ms. Lilian scores on each of these levels within this arrangement.
Back in London, and now that they are newly married, Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves spending time with their family and friends. Elizabeth becomes well-acquainted with her new staff at their townhouse and Darcy learns to allow her to grow into this role as she exercises her confidence and her intelligence to handle various household matters. Through interactions such as these, Elizabeth comes to sketch a more accurate picture of Darcy’s character, as she comes to realize that she likes what she see in him. Being around Darcy also allows him to demonstrate his more worthy, and sometimes his not-so-worthy qualities; yet, it is this mixture of complexities that allow Elizabeth to understand the extent of his duties and responsibilities, which have shaped her husband into the man he is today.
As the eldest cousin to a young man named James Darcy, Mr. Darcy spends quite a bit of time helping his cousin manage his holdings and his estate; however, James is an immature and irresponsible young man who only has his own interests in mind, so he takes advantage of Darcy’s generosity to the detriment of both gentlemen. He also finds himself tangled in a situation that he regrets, as he learns the hard way to come to know the value of his cousin’s truest nature.
I loved that Ms. Lilian included a storyline where Darcy had a past lover. It’s not a storyline we revel in often, and yet, I always believed that Darcy never came to his marriage as an “innocent” man. It makes sense that as a man of his social standing and wealth, that his closet would have a few skeletons hanging alongside his waistcoats. I hate to admit this, but I did enjoy witnessing Elizabeth’s jealousy as she had to grapple with the trouble this other woman was attempting to cause in their present lives, and how affected Elizabeth found herself when she learned about Darcy’s past with this woman. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Elizabeth suffer any significant long-term unhappiness from these dealings; sometimes it’s just good to watch her realize that she’s not the only fish in the sea when it comes to Darcy’s attentions.
Ms. Lilian does a lovely job executing her sketch of the Darcys’ new marriage, as she allows us to experience the trials and tribulations that occur when two head-strong and attractive people find themselves in a situation that can either draw them together or pull them even further apart from each other. She allows us to experience the emotions, the conversations and the very intimate mature adult moments where the line in crossed from a marriage of convenience into one between two intelligent and caring people who find their places within the lovingly rendered portrait of their very own lives.
The only part of the story that felt a bit “forced” for me were the connections between Darcy and Elizabeth from ten years ago in Brighton to their present day lives. I know other readers didn’t seem to mind this connection, but I often have difficulty connecting with storylines that bring Darcy and Elizabeth together before the Meryton Assembly. However, this didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the overall story, as it’s one that I know many readers, including myself, will happily read again!
Ms. Lilian would like to offer two Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to win an ebook of “Sketching Mr. Darcy.” Please leave a comment below this post by February 3rd, and share with us your favorite Lory Lilian book, or the name of a Lory Lilian book that you’d like to read in the future. The winners of this giveaway will be announced on this blog on February 4, 2016.
I’d like to thank Ms. Lilian for this generous giveaway offer, which I know my readers always appreciate. I also want to thank her for writing such a compelling, steamy romance for us to enjoy between Darcy and Elizabeth. This is one that’s sure to provide many hours of glorious reading enjoyment! I also can’t wait to have her visit Just Jane 1813 very soon when she releases her latest book, which will be a sequel to her very popular JAFF story, “Rainy Days.”