Can Darcy and Elizabeth truly find happiness together as they join forces to fight as assassins for the British Crown?
This series contains seven novels and two novellas. Today I will review Books 1, 2 & 3 in the series. I’ll review the other four books later this week.
“Pride & Prejudice & Assassinations” Book 1
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
When I read the initial reviews about this book, I wasn’t too impressed and wondered if I should pick up this series. Yet, when I saw the later books in the series were receiving better reviews, I decided to give the series a try knowing I’d probably have to delay some of my gratification for a bit later into this series. Once I got into book three, I couldn’t put the series down and was glad I had found a very creative, suspenseful and intriguing “Pride and Prejudice” spy series set in the time of Regency England. The first two books closely follow the events of Austen’s book, with the first book focusing on Darcy’s story and the second book focusing on Elizabeth’s story.
In “Pride & Prejudice & Assassinations” we learn about how Darcy became an assassin for the British Crown and that he’s really spending time in Hertfordshire on business to complete a specific mission. His duty to the Crown is quite ingrained in his daily responsibilities, therefore, throughout the storylines we learn about his role in supporting England, his frequent work duties in London at Darcy House, along with when he is back at Pemberley, and how he is part of a line of Darcy men who have provided this same service for England. The details of this story are interesting and I felt they provided the background information for enjoying the future books in the series.
As a guest of Charles Bingley at Netherfield, Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet, and once he spends time in her company as she tends to her sick sister, he notices that she isn’t what she seems to be at first glance either. After spending time observing and interacting with Elizabeth, he also comes to realize that he has a physical attraction to her, which he tries to fight with himself.
Elizabeth is also suspicious of Darcy because she comes to believe that her sister Jane has become very ill at Netherfield due to his actions. But why would Darcy want to hurt Jane? Thankfully, she is able to help Jane through her illness and give her full attention to trying to solve the mystery of who Fitzwilliam Darcy really is and what he’s up to in Hertfordshire. Once she knows the facts, what will this information mean for both of them?
“Pride & Prejudice & Assassinations: Counterpointe” Book 2
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
During my reading experience, this second book was more interesting than the first book, because we learn quite a bit about Elizabeth Bennet’s rather unique life, along with her struggles regarding her special “training.” Here, this story strays a bit more from the events in Austen’s book, and we learn a lot about how Elizabeth also comes to view Darcy.
The story does give us a fresh new take on “Pride and Prejudice,” which is part of what I was looking for in this series. We come to realize what eventually draws together the mutual attraction between Darcy and Elizabeth, yet the romantic aspects found in other JAFF books don’t play as large of a role in this book. This book reads more like a spy story and sets readers up nicely for the rest of the series, which I appreciated once I was really into the series.
There’s also a very steamy triangle story in this series and because it involved two women who are both interested in Darcy, I loved reading the interactions between these three characters. Obviously, the one lady is Elizabeth, and the other is an agent who works very closely with Darcy, named Miss Marianne Dache, which is a nod to the beloved Marianne Dashwood character from Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” As a highly connected, beautiful young woman who wants nothing more than to have Darcy all for herself, she is bold in her attempts to obtain his love and makes no secrets about her desires to anyone who meets her. So one must ask why Darcy and Miss Dache aren’t an item already?
“Pride & Prejudice & Assassinations: A Darker Darcy” Book 3
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
This was the book that really made the series take off for me, as this story built upon the events and characters of the first two books and then it developed into its own exciting spy story. It felt like from here, that Mr. Taylor found his own writing voice, and demonstrated more of his own style of storytelling, rather than mainly sticking closely to Austen’s story. Now, the series really had my attention!
From the first pages, we know that Elizabeth and Darcy are married and living at Pemberley, and we get to enjoy a bit of marital bliss along with them. They are enjoying spending time with Mr. Bennet and Miss Dache, who are visiting them. Mr. Bennet is also trying to build a relationship with his new son-in-law. As he is unaware of Darcy’s (and therefore, Elizabeth’s) role in defending the Crown, the Darcys are careful around him and chose not to reveal too much information about their joint efforts.
As Elizabeth, Darcy and Marianne train and work together, it becomes evident that Elizabeth is quite a capable agent. Yet, how should Darcy truly feel about this when the more she trains and engages in this line of work, the more likely she is to be injured or fatally wounded through these efforts?
Eventually, the Darcys are summoned to London and they quickly find themselves involved in an assignment for the Crown. From here, we are taken through numerous plot twists and turns, where the events became much less predictable from the first two books. The new characters that are developed for this series who work alongside and at times, against the Darcys, are intriguing in their own rights and Leo keeps us guessing about who is truly a friend of the Darcys and who amongst them is a ruthless traitor to them, as well as to England.
This story truly tests Elizabeth’s resolve as a woman, as a wife and eventually as an agent working for the Crown. After suffering a tragic setback that has devastating consequences for her, Darcy and Elizabeth must come to terms with what the future holds for them in their new marriage. I agree with other readers who stated they never saw the ending of this story coming. What a surprise was in store for us here!
This is not a series where the Darcys are trying to start a family, or where their main concerns are centered around the tenants and events surrounding Pemberley. This is truly a Darcy and Elizabeth spy series. Some readers have complained that this isn’t Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” it’s really a spy series using their names. Regarding this point, I agree and I disagree. There are plenty of Darcy and Elizabeth’s character traits running through these characters’ veins. The setting also feels very similar to other JAFF books. Yet, similar to numerous other JAFF variations, there are also some large departures from the original storyline, characters, and settings and in my opinion, that’s what makes a variation a variation.
I enjoyed the inclusion of various historical information, which also offered readers new ideas about the ways that England fought against Napoleon on land, as well as on the seas. For readers who want a variation that closely resembles canon, this is probably not the series for them. Yet, for readers who are open to checking out what Darcy and Elizabeth would be like as a pair of British spies during the early 1800’s, I think they’ll be happy landing their parachutes here for a while.
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Enjoy the Just Jane 1813 Pinterest board made just for this blog event.
Leo Charles Taylor would like to offer two Just Jane 1813 readers the opportunity to win one of the three books reviewed in this post. The winners can select a paperback or an ebook, but paperback winners must have a U.S. mailing address. Please leave a comment on this post by midnight ET, on February 17. The winners will be announced on this blog on February 18, 2016.
I’d like to thank Mr. Taylor for his generous giveaways and for writing a spy series that I found engaging and that kept me guessing until the very last book in the series. I also hope readers enjoy my interview with Mr. Taylor, that was also posted today on Just Jane 1813.