Darcy has returned to Pemberley to find Elizabeth expecting and growing increasingly ill. When she invites the enigmatic Hawke sisters and the Fitzwilliams to join them for the festive season, will the company provide the friendship and solace Darcy hopes for his wife? Or will the Earl's opposition to Richard's love interest destroy their holiday?
This full-length novel follows the events of Courage Rises. It is Book 2 of 2 in the Courage Series.
For readers of Courage Rises, there is an additional excerpt being added to the epilogue. For those who are interested, it is currently housed here: melanierachel.weebly.com/ (if you don't see it right away, just scroll down). It will be added to the e-book and print copies by the end of April. Enjoy!
Please note that my review is for the second and final book in Melanie Rachel’s Courage series, therefore it may contain spoilers for readers who haven’t read the first book in this series, Courage Rises.
Last year, I had the pleasure to read and review Melanie Rachel’s debut JAFF book, Courage Rises, which is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It also earned a 2016 Just Jane 1813 Reviewer’s Favorite Award for Favorite JAFF Historical Fiction Story. As I’ve stated before, I started reading JAFF because I wanted to read more about what happens after the wedding in regards to Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, so whenever an author can create a well-written sequel that has an engaging plot and still expands upon those delicious moments of romance between OCD, I am eager to share it with my readers.
In Courage Requires, Ms. Rachel picks the story up right where it left off in Courage Rises, as Elizabeth Darcy is suffering from the symptoms of her pregnancy, after being recently reunited with her husband. Both are trying to resume their normal routines, yet Elizabeth’s recurring sickness not only interferes with her role as the mistress of Pemberley, it also has Darcy persistently concerned for his wife. In an attempt to celebrate the festive season with family and friends, Elizabeth invites the Fitzwilliam family, as well as the Hawke sisters, to Pemberley. How will Richard and Sophia feel towards one another once they spend more time in each other’s company?
As the families reunite, I loved the way Melanie Rachel created parallel stories for Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, as each man faced unique challenges that caused them to support one another throughout this difficult time. Elizabeth also faces struggles as the new mistress of Pemberley, as she is now facing some of the consequences of her actions from when Darcy was away. Her friendship with Sophia Hawke helps Elizabeth strengthen her confidence, yet she can’t help wonder why the Hawke sisters appear to have a rather strained and reserved relationship. Is there a family secret that has driven a wedge between them?
The relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth is nicely done. As a newly married couple, we are able to still feel those heartwarming moments of romantic tension between them and watch their relationship evolve into one that is built even more solidly on trust and respect. The dialogues between them are skillfully constructed and retain that playful, yet caring tone. I am always delighted when an author can bring a fresh new storyline to a Pride and Prejudice sequel that depicts the earliest times in their marriage.
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s relationship with Sophia was also well done. I liked their brief, but sweet courtship period, and the way the storyline unfolded between Richard and his father, the Earl. Ms. Rachel’s portrayal of the Earl’s struggles was a first for me, and I thought she handled this situation in a realistic manner and with a sensitivity that was important to this storyline. I found the Fitzwilliam family likable, yet flawed, which made me connect with each of them throughout this story, especially Richard’s widowed, older brother, and his young son, Pembroke.
For readers who have previously read Courage Rises, Melanie Rachel did a good job adding some crucial pieces of information from the first book into this story to help readers refresh their memories about the storylines and she accomplished this without being too repetitive. Overall, the story was a lovely combination of romantic tension, good character development, and an engaging, well-paced plot. I felt that each storyline was well developed and added to the overall enjoyment of the entire book. I also loved that the book was very character-driven, but never at the expense of slowing down the plot.
I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy JAFF sequels, as well as to JAFF readers who are willing to give a new series a chance. With Courage Rises earning a 4.6 overall star rating on Amazon after nearly thirty reviews, I believe this is a story that JAFF readers will love spending time cuddled up with in a cozy chair as they spend time at Pemberley during the earliest times of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s marriage!
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 is offering a readers’ choice giveaway of Courage Requires to one Just Jane 1813 winner. To enter this giveaway, please comment on this blog post no later than April 30th. The winner will be announced on May 1, 2017, on this blog. One winner will choose an eBook or paperback copy of Courage Requires, but if the winner selects the paperback copy, this will be mailed to the winner when the paperback copy is released, which is in a few weeks.
I’d like to thank Melanie Rachel for providing me with an eARC of this story in exchange for a fair and honest review, as well as for her generous giveaway for my readers! You can also read my interview from last year with Melanie Rachel.
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