What will happen to Elizabeth when she unwillingly enters into an agreement with Mr. Bennet and Mr. Darcy?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Source: I received an ARC of this book from the author for a fair and honest review.
Poor Mr. Bennet! Several days after the Netherfield ball, he learns that his heart is weakening and his early demise is eminent. Determined to improve his family’s situation, he sets into motion a plan to enhance his five daughters’ circumstances through weekly academic lessons, along with art and music lessons provided by a cadre of masters. At the same time, he sets new ground rules for their behaviors, while also promising Mrs. Bennet a family vacation to the seaside. As he executes his plans, no one else is aware of his failing health. After a few bumps in the road, the family settles into these new routines.
With the hopes that Jane and Elizabeth can make somewhat advantageous marriages, both girls travel to visit with family and friends. As Jane enjoys a brief season in London and Elizabeth visits Charlotte in Kent, both ladies find themselves pondering the possibilities for their own futures. While Jane finds herself in the company of a few possible suitors, including an ambivalent Charles Bingley, Elizabeth finds herself unexpectedly spending time in the company of Mr. Darcy.
When Elizabeth’s family arrives to Kent to pick her up for their seaside vacation in Margate, Mr. Darcy approaches Mr. Bennet with a rather surprising request. Before she even understands the full extent of this situation, Mr. Bennet convinces Elizabeth to agree to an arrangement with Mr. Darcy. His bewildering request leaves her asking herself why her own father would insist on such a future for her with such an insupportable man?
As Darcy and Elizabeth begin to communicate with each other through written correspondences, they both come to learn that perhaps there’s a lot more to each other than they initially realized. Can they both find the kind of happiness that they desire through this sort of an agreement?
While Darcy and Elizabeth are trying to untangle their own hearts and minds, Jane is also at a crossroads regarding her affections for Charles Bingley and another suitor who has expressed an interest in furthering his connection with Jane. How can Jane decide if Charles Bingley, with his distasteful sisters, is the man she can count on for a lifetime of love and respect, when another gentleman appears to be better suited for this role?
As both sisters explore their own expectations regarding marriage, they face their own issues surrounding trust, security and love. Can Elizabeth reciprocate Darcy’s intense feelings for her, or will his deep sense of pride serve as a barrier that keeps them from developing an intimate and respectful relationship?
The manner in which Ms. Adams gradually developed Darcy and Elizabeth’s feelings towards one another, and eventually expressed their emotional vulnerabilities with each other, made me feel like I was experiencing this intimate relationship in a very up close and personal manner. The bantering between Darcy and Elizabeth was clever and filled with great tension that allowed them to demonstrate their strong, independent natures while establishing both of them as equals in their relationship. I also felt that Ms. Adams did a wonderful job maintaining the focus of this story as she explored the development of Darcy and Elizabeth’s physical and emotional connections in a tender and amorous way. I enjoyed how her writing zoomed into their lives, allowing us to experience the most important parts of their new relationship without distracting subplots.
I found Darcy to be that dark and mysterious enigma; he’s quite confident and authoritative, while at the same time, he’s somewhat emotionally fragile. It was a mixture that I found attractive and sensual in a subtle and endearing way. I also admired Elizabeth’s determination to remain true to herself, while at the same time trying to trust her father’s assertions about her future with Darcy.
It was refreshing to see how Mr. Bennet’s actions helped shape Jane into a more “realistic” and less naive lady. Now that Jane has expanded her ideas about human nature through the tutelage of her father, will she be able to overcome her doubts about Charles’ character? Through facing these concerns, Charles and Jane also have to think about Caroline’s future and how her life may affect their future happiness.
For me, the beauty of this variation lies in the gradual and natural way that Ms. Adams developed Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, while also creating an original story about the Bennet family that demonstrates the evolution of this family, as a result of Mr. Bennet’s actions, and how they came together to support one another through this uncertain time in their lives. The epilogue was also very satisfying because readers are able to glean a lovely peek into the future for our characters that also included some surprising developments in our characters’ lives. This is certainly a JAFF story that I hope many readers will be willing to read!
From the pages of “Unwilling”
Elizabeth felt unsettled. Guilt and anger fought equally for her attention and she took a deep breath to calm herself. How dare he make her feel guilty for wanting only what every other woman she knew required? Well, not every woman. Charlotte had gone directly to Kent following her wedding breakfast with no one to accompany her to her new home. And when Miss Goulding wed two years prior, she had not taken a companion on their trip to Ireland. Her own Aunt and Uncle Gardiner had travelled alone following their wedding, but they had been deeply in love. As Mr. Darcy is in love with you, she told herself.
Oh, dear! Why could she not be selfish and mercenary, caring for no one but herself? If she were, she would be happy to marry a rich man and not care that he was made unhappy by her decision to bring a companion on their journey. But no, by some perverse fate, she had to be unhappy she was marrying a man she did not love, and yet still be troubled by the idea of injuring him with her decisions. She was sure it was a curious error in her own nature that caused her to feel such disparate emotions. What kind of woman cares for the feelings of a man she is unhappy to be marrying? A Bennet woman, that’s who.
Perhaps she could talk to him. Mayhap they could work something out that would suit them both. Much to her chagrin, she felt a sick feeling in her stomach at the thought of his expression when she had told him she essentially did not want to be alone with him. The way he had sighed and squared his shoulders, as if she were thrusting burdens upon him that he must bear alone. No, she could not live with this uneasiness. She must speak with him.
I’m so happy to tell you that this story was released today and that I am able to offer my readers a giveaway of this ebook from Ms. Adams, for one of my Just Jane 1813 readers. Please leave a comment on this post by midnight, ET on April 10. The winner of this giveaway will be announced on April 11, 2016.
I want to thank my readers for all of their wonderful responses this week. It’s been a great pleasure to share so many lovely new JAFF releases! I also want to extend my gratitude to Elizabeth Adams for writing this lovely variation and for offering this giveaway to my readers!
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