What is in store for Elizabeth and Darcy when they find themselves unexpectedly faced with a longer than anticipated separation during the early months of their marriage?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the first year of marriage can also be the most difficult year for a newly married couple. Yet, when you’re as happily in love as Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are, what can possibly stand to threaten your happiness? Charlotte Lucas would claim that “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance,” and in Melanie Rachel’s debut “Pride and Prejudice” sequel, “Courage Rises,” the Darcys are about to find out how unanticipated events beyond their control will lead them both to separately face new challenges that may threaten their long-term happiness.
As I have said here before, I love “Pride and Prejudice” sequels, and when one can offer me a bit of intrigue, romance and a great storyline for my favorite characters, including Colonel Fitzwilliam, I know I’m on to something other JAFF readers will want to enjoy too! Her debut story strikes the right balance of combining historical details within a story that strives to weave the elements of a mystery, a personal narrative, and a romance, all within one JAFF story.
I also love when the Darcys face a compelling crisis early in their marriage. What makes Ms. Rachel’s book a bit more unique is that Darcy and Elizabeth each face a different crisis while they are separated from each other; therefore, they are thrown into the challenges of resolving their separate situations and contending with the emotional challenges of being apart from each other during this difficult time. Add Ms.Rachel’s fluid writing style and her ability to recreate Austen’s characters in an authentic manner, and you have a sequel that left me quite eager to read the next book in this series.
Happily married and becoming very well-acquainted with one other, Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage closely resembles my own visions for their happily-ever-after. As the couple faces their first separation due to Darcy’s business plans in London, they each have concerns that they do not want to confide in each other. Elizabeth worries whether or not she will be able to manage the entire estate while Darcy is away, especially since some of the servants haven’t exactly warmed up to her presence as the mistress of Pemberley, while Darcy wonders if he should share with Elizabeth that Colonel Fitzwilliam has recently written to him to request his help while he is in London. What neither of them knows is that their best-laid plans are about to take them both down a very different path!
Colonel Fitzwilliam is home from the war after narrowly escaping his own death. Yet, he finds himself repaying a debt of honor, as he seeks to deliver a mysterious letter to a young heiress. It soon becomes apparent that the lady is question will be more difficult to locate than he ever imagined, so he soon finds himself seeking out Darcy to help him locate this young woman. What is he willing to risk to deliver this letter to a woman who may not really want to be discovered?
Back at Pemberley, concerns begin to arise when illness strikes the young and old alike. As Elizabeth seeks to bring solace and relief to those afflicted by this illness, she realizes that her expertise alone isn’t going to bring the relief her tenants and their children require to get well. But when the local apothecary can’t be located, Elizabeth must determine what she herself is willing to do to rise to the challenges facing her as the new mistress of Pemberley.
“Courage Rises,” whose title comes from one of my favorite lines from “Pride and Prejudice,” is a sequel that seamlessly shifts from one storyline to the other, while keeping the reader most agreeably engaged in both character’s struggles and eventual resolutions. Ms. Rachel has a nice manner of adding intrigue to her story without including any artificial angst, while also finding ways to demonstrate the strength of Darcy and Elizabeth’s love and commitment to each other while they are apart from one other.
I also loved being able to delve a bit deeper into the Fitzwilliam family’s story and learn more about the interactions between Colonel Fitzwilliam and his father. As the second son, Richard has never received the kind of attention his older brother has received from his father, leaving readers to determine whether or not his father is eager to be viewed as a good father, or if his intentions here are more politically motivated. What will propel readers even further into this story is the desire to learn how Richard’s father may be involved in this business that Richard has now taken up with Darcy.
By the end of the story, I was satisfied on all fronts; Ms. Rachel does a great job tying up the ends in her two main storylines and then circling her story back to my favorite relationship in JAFF; the one between Fitzwilliam Darcy and his lovely new bride, Elizabeth Darcy. Now it’s time to enjoy imagining the possibilities ahead for the Darcys in Ms. Rachel’s next book, “Courage Requires,” and by the statements she has made regarding her commitment to this series, I believe it will be ready for an early 2017 release! This book does not end in a cliffhanger, and for readers wanting a glimpse into the next story, Ms. Rachel includes an excerpt from “Courage Requires” at the end of this story.
Finding a new JAFF author, such as Melanie Rachel, to ardently admire is always a pleasure and sharing her debut novel here with my readers is an absolute pleasure. I can’t wait to read and review “Courage Requires” as soon as it’s published for my readers!
Melanie Rachel is a long time Jane Austen fan and university professor. She was born in Southern California, but has lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, and Arizona, where she now resides with her family and their freakishly athletic Jack Russell terrier. Courage Rises is her first novel, and she is currently at work on her second P&P continuation, “Courage Requires.”
Melanie Rachel would like to offer my Just Jane 1813 readers a chance to win an ebook of “Courage Rises.” Please leave a comment on this blog by midnight ET on August 13th. The winner of the ebook will be announced on this blog on August 14, 2016.
Thank you to Ms. Rachel for writing a “Pride and Prejudice” sequel that offered new opportunities for our favorite characters and for stopping by this week for a Just Jane 1813 interview . I certainly look forward to the next (and last?) book in this series!
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