Will Darcy and Elizabeth both disregard their duties to their families when they realize the depths of their feelings for one another?
Series Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I read this series as three separate books this past summer. Since they tell a collective story and they aren’t very long books, I am going to rate the series as one book, while breaking my review into three parts, so readers can avoid spoilers as they read this review, as well as the series. I was happy to place this series in my “The Twelve Days of Jane” holiday event, to offer a selection of JAFF that I really enjoyed, which also contained a Christmas vignette that focused for a short time on the holiday season.
“He Taught Me to Hope”
This book grabbed my attention immediately, as Darcy, while visiting Rosings Park and tending a sickly Anne de Bourgh, makes a dreadful decision. Realizing his mistake, he departs for Netherfield Park to obtain distance and time for himself. As he escapes his worries with a morning ride on horseback, he finds himself suffering from a bad fall. As he attempts to ready himself and continue along his way, he meets a precocious young lad named Ben, who demonstrates a quick wit and a great love of all things related to Camelot. After declaring himself to be King Arthur, Darcy promises to return soon to spend more time with this is impertinent little lad. From here, they are set on a path that allows them to develop an adorable friendship.
Events in Darcy’s life then take a turn in another direction, when he meets the young widow, Mrs. Carlton, at the Meryton Assembly. Finding himself drawn to her dark beauty and her fine eyes, he recognizes an immediate attraction to her. “Where have I seen this impertinence before?” he asks himself. Yet, she is betrothed to her cousin, Mr. Collins, as part of her efforts to allow her sister Jane to secure her own love match in life. Will this be the end for Darcy and Mrs. Carlton?
While enjoying several clandestine meetings, Darcy uncovers a connection between young Ben and Mrs. Carlton, and finds himself even more drawn to both of them. But the obstacles between them also seem even greater than ever to overcome. Does duty to family ultimately become the deciding factor in their lives, or can hope be found between the battlefields of Netherfield Park and Longbourn.
I also enjoyed Elizabeth’s background story, where we learn about the decision she made a fews year ago that separated her from her beloved father. The Carlton family are quite an intriguing group of people, filled with their own secrets and conflicts. How will their family legacy affect Ben’s own life in the long-term?
Fitzwilliam Darcy is such a romantic man in this book. His love for Ben and Mrs. Carlton are palpable throughout this story. Yet, he respects her independence and her commitment to her son, leaving Mrs. Carlton to come to terms with what’s best for her heart and her family’s future.
The interactions between Ben and Darcy are my favorite scenes in this book. Ben is witty and intelligent, which Darcy finds refreshing and admirable in this young lad. Usually in JAFF, Darcy has babies and/or very young children surrounding him in his stories. We don’t get to see him interact with a young man very much. Throughout this story, their relationship grows in way that is so genuine and loving. In many ways, young Ben steals the show here in this story!
“The Mission: A Christmas Vignette”
This book continues Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, and is a much shorter read than the other two books in this series. Now we are at Pemberley, where young Ben is planning a Christmas surprise for his parents. Wielding a pen and putting his a quick mind to work, Ben puts together a holiday surprise that captures the true meaning of the holidays for everyone at Pemberley. Once again, P.O. Dixon delivers a playful and charming young Ben, who really cements the love and happiness within his family.
“Hope and Sensibility”
This book was my favorite book in this series. Where the prior two books laid the groundwork for the characters and their relationships, this book allowed us to witness them all together as a family at Kent, Hertfordshire and back to Pemberley, amongst their extended family, friends and household staff. This book also continues Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, and focuses on the events surrounding their new marriage. Eager to start a family of their own, Darcy and Elizabeth set forth to make their dreams come true.
There are several storylines at work in this book. One pertains to Anne de Bourgh and the Darcys willingness to help Anne grow into her own person. I enjoyed how this story unfolded and allowed Darcy to serve as a source of support and love for his cousin. I also love when Elizabeth plays a role in helping Anne build a better future for herself.
The storyline involving Mrs. Reynold’s grandson, Samuel and young Ben, was reminiscent of course, of the Darcy/Wickham relationship. Here, we witness a Darcy, who unlike his own father, has been taught hard lessons involving a person’s station in life and his/her own character. Not one to take an answer without asking questions of his questions, Ben also learns what it means to be a person who demonstrates his/her worth through his/her own actions.
Darcy and Elizabeth have a passionate and warm relationship throughout this story. Darcy continues to show tremendous love and respect for his wife, while also being a man of great independence and strength. The rivalry between Darcy and Collins continues and is great fun to witness. Typically a man with a long memory, Darcy is easily infuriated with Collins and has difficulty maintaining his reserve around the man.
Altogether, I found these three books to be a great collective read, mixed together with some lovely Camelot mystique! The surprises Darcy plans for his young son and the way he shows Ben to be proud of his Carlton family heritage are so endearing. Darcy and Ben really come to adore and respect each other, as they develop such a close bond, which also serves to deepen their connections to Elizabeth.It’s also fun to watch someone else besides Elizabeth question Darcy’s wisdom and authority! The humour in this series is wonderful and the storylines for the supporting characters were very well done. This book does stray quite a bit from canon, yet it still captures the essence of “Pride and Prejudice.”
I would really enjoy a fourth book in this series, as I believe there are many places where Ms. Dixon could extend these storylines and give us more time to enjoy Ben and Darcy, as Ben continues to grow into a young man of significant consequence. P.O. Dixon has offered our Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to enter a giveaway where one winner to receive an ebook copy of each book in this entire series. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post by December 15th. series. The giveaway winner will be announced on this blog on December 16, 2015.
I want to thank P.O. Dixon for writing this JAFF variation that’s so sweet and engaging, with the addition of one of my favorite new characters, the young Ben Carlton. I also want to thank her for her generous giveaway for our readers!
To contact P.O. Dixon and to learn more about her books, clink on any of the links below:
Newsletter: Such Happy News
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/podixon