Can Lady Bridget find love and acceptance amongst the haute ton after she arrives with her family in England to establish new roots?
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Here comes Lady Bridget, fresh from America, with a newly inherited title and the hope that she’ll make a splash amongst the haute ton!
After her brother, the Duke of Durham, who runs a successful horse farm in Maryland, learns that he has inherited his family’s influential British title, he travels to England to put his new influence to good use amongst the upper echelons of high society. Not one to travel lightly, he also brings along with him his three sisters, who will help him decide if they will stay in England to settle down and reclaim their deceased father’s title and wealth. With the guidance of their pretentious aunt, Lady Josephine, they spend a great deal of time and energy learning how to navigate the rules and expectations of the ton in their attempts to become well-bred, and somewhat accomplished young ladies.
At Lady Tunbridge’s ball, the new Duke of Durham makes his debut appearance amongst the ton, where he arrives with his dark-haired sisters. As the curious members of the ton crane their necks to get a glimpse of the Cavendish family, three gentlemen watch them from afar and immediately notice their attractive appearances. As the gentleman discuss the merits of becoming acquainted with the new family, it’s Lord Darcy who throws down the first barb when he states,
“Don’t get any ideas. I won’t welcome any recalcitrant colonists into the family.”
I had to chuckle at this clever line inserted into the mouth of Austen’s beloved hero, who has been reimagined here as a member of Parliament, where he takes his role as Lord Darcy quite seriously! As his deceased father’s heir, the manager of his family’s estates and the older brother to the carefree and amiable Rupert, Lord Darcy is quite perturbed at the arrival of these newcomers, who he views as inferior due to their American upbringing. It’s a good thing Darcy is planning to propose marriage any day now to the beautiful and sophisticated Lady Francesca!
However, one of the Duke’s sisters, a less-than-perfectly-polished young woman named Lady Bridget, immediately captures the attention of Darcy and his brother Rupert, in a most unladylike fashion when an accident causes her to land on the ballroom floor in a most unflattering manner. After some awkward introductions, Rupert and Lady Bridget feel an immediate attraction for each other that causes them to seek each other out at future social engagements. Yet, Darcy and Bridget find themselves feeling uncomfortable and irritated within each other’s presence. Can an American heiress be accepted by the members of one of England’s oldest and most influential families? As one of the mean girls of the ton, Lady Francesca instantly senses that Lady Bridget is an opponent in the game of love and courtship and she sets out to derail her at every twist and turn.
Maya Rodale’s novel reads as a mash-up between “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” As we read each chapter, which begins with a cheeky excerpt from Bridget’s diary, readers become part of her intimate circle, as she confides her fears, her hopes and her struggles within her new life across the pond. Will this “chubby” girl on a reducing diet, who struggles to learn French, and dance a graceful quadrille ever make an eligible match?
Yet, at the same time that Bridget is struggling to fit within her new social circle, Lord Darcy and his brother are also experiencing their own personal battles. As Darcy observes a shift in Rupert’s behaviors, he attempts to piece together his brother’s puzzling actions. What can his brother be concealing from him and when will Rupert decide to offer Bridget a marriage proposal? These questions lead Darcy to wonder about his own intentions with Lady Francesca, as he finds himself confused about his own ideas regarding love, duty, and desire.
As I started reading this book, I had to ask myself, “Can I love a JAFF variation where Darcy’s love interest isn’t Elizabeth Bennet?” In a rather short amount of time, I found my answer to be a resounding “Yes!” Bridget Cavendish is every bit the adorable, neurotic and lovable heroine that Bridget Jones was in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” While Elizabeth Bennet will always be the heroine of my heart, I felt that Darcy and Bridget’s relationship displayed a good deal of clever bantering, humorous moments, and plenty of steamy, romantic scenes.
Did it read as a Regency-era romance in the style of Jane Austen? Not exactly. It definitely displayed more risque language and some very amorous displays of affection, especially for an unwed couple. Yet, the inner musings shared throughout the characters’ internal struggles described the insecurities and the struggles we typically read about in many JAFF books. The language was also quite modern and did not represent the tone or the style of Austen’s work. Yet, I found myself enjoying the story, which moved along at a steady pace, along with its likable characters and its new takes on these well-known stories. When the second book in this series is published this summer, which is based on a different Cavendish sister, I will gladly indulge in a few more hours of pleasurable reading!
I’d like to offer my Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to win an ebook copy of this story. Please leave a comment on this post and tell me the name of another JAFF story you’ve enjoyed where Darcy or Elizabeth have a different love interest. Please leave your comment by midnight ET on March 28th. The winner of this giveaway will be announced on this blog on March 29, 2016.
I’d also like to thank romance novelist, Maya Rodale, for writing a JAFF novel that gives us a new angle on these two stories. My thanks also go to JAFF author Beau North for recommending this story on her recent JAFF podcast.
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