“There I was sitting down for our annual, calorie-laden, typically traditional, turkey dinner when all of a sudden, it hit me – once again, I was the unlucky number 13. It was the story of my birth and now my life. I was the odd person out. The only single at the table.”Liz doesn’t envy her sisters their boyfriends – supermodel Jane is due to marry sweet millionaire Charlie Bingley on New Year’s Eve, Mary has settled for the unfortunate Billy Collins, Kitty has just become engaged to penniless Ashton and Lydia’s boyfriend is the lecherous George Wickham, who gropes her sisters under the table when given half a chance. However, she is sick of being singled out by her mother for being the only single Bennet daughter:
“I decided I would no longer sit idly by waiting for a good man to find me. I would have to go out and find him myself.”Liz isn’t looking for Mr Right, just somebody she can bring as her date to the next Bennet family gathering, Christmas dinner and perhaps to Jane’s wedding. She sets about finding a date, trying personal ads (with unexpectedly amusing results!), speed dating, considers a blind date and even pays for the service of a Jewish matchmaker, despite not being of the Jewish faith herself.
Liz’s search is hampered by a few things. Firstly she doesn’t really believe that a decent man exists, judging from her unlucky dating history, and she’s had a real number pulled on her in the past, being manipulated and having her heart broken by her best friend Charlotte’s brother, John Lucas. She is scared to let anybody close to her.
“Unfortunately, now she’s become this self-fulfilling prophecy – dating and continually faultfinding, pessimistic about every man, and looking for a reason not to find love. She hides it well, but she’s immobilized by the fear of rejection and hurt.”So if she meets somebody she’s very attracted to she’s likely to find excuses to fight it...
Enter Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, President of Pem Tech, founder of the charitable FD Burns Foundation, part time fire-fighter and generally gorgeous hunky man. Darcy’s parents died a few years ago, not long before Christmas, in a house fire while he was out being a party boy and since then he’s been carrying a huge burden of guilt around with him that he wasn’t there. He assuages the guilt through his fire-fighting work but the period in the run-up to Christmas is very hard for him and he works too hard, drinks too much, and is generally a real grump.
Liz’s ad company has been hired to spearhead the FD Burns fundraising campaign by the Chairman of the foundation, Darcy’s cousin Richard Fitzwilliam. He wants Liz’s company to create a fundraising calendar featuring semi-clad firemen and he is determined that his cousin the Grinch will feature as Mr December. Between a grouch and a girl with a chip on her shoulder, what could possibly go wrong?! Luckily for Liz and Will there are plenty of potential matchmakers in each of their corners helping them direct the spark between them towards something more constructive than fighting, if only they will let it happen.
I really enjoyed this romance. The chemistry between Liz and Darcy was fantastic, and I loved the humour, there are a few laugh out loud moments, including a very amusing rendition of Caroline Bingley, as a pooch matchmaker with a very unfortunately misnamed designer dog. This isn’t a modern re-telling of Pride & Prejudice, but there were some nods back to the original, such as some of the wording:
“It’s important to emphasize that a single woman, living alone in Manhattan, who is somewhat in want of a man, need to protect herself.”Though the central theme of the story is the same as Pride & Prejudice, first impressions can’t always be relied on, there were other themes that I liked, such as overcoming the labels that have been applied to you. Mrs Bennet had spent years putting Lizzy down and this lack of self-worth she felt was exploited by a manipulative ex-boyfriend, ‘John the Jerk’ who was there for Lizzy just enough to make her rely on him while simultaneously using her and holding her back. I’m sure we all know people who have settled for a partner who doesn’t treat them as they deserve because they don’t believe anybody else would want them. Seeing her overcome her hurdles and realise that her attitude and prejudices were causing some of her own bad luck was wonderful. Darcy grows too, from a man who is scared to commit to a relationship because of his fear of loss to somebody who is willing to take a chance on love.
Mrs Bennet in this story is a character you can simultaneously love and hate, which is an impressive achievement! On the one hand, the way she treats her daughter is deeply unkind, but on the other hand she has some wonderful, funny lines that I couldn’t help but giggle at. She is convinced, incorrectly, that Charlotte is a lesbian and is trying to make Lizzy gay! I also loved the characters of Charlotte and Rick, a.k.a. Punky and Preppy, who were wonderful friends to Liz and Darcy.
The story is told mostly in the third person, but Liz has set up a blog 'All I want for Christmas...' to document her progress in finding a date for Christmas which has extra information from her perspective, with guest posts from Charlotte. There are links at the end of most of the chapters to the blog posts. The blog adds not only differing perspectives on events but also progresses the story and I would strongly recommend reading the blog posts along with the story. I would have preferred the blog post text and comments within the book because they are such an integral part of the story that it would be a shame to miss them if you’re reading outside a wifi zone. My kindle also couldn’t cope with accessing the website but it’s worth the extra effort to access them on another device as you’re reading. The blog also has posts that give an insight into what happens to Liz and Darcy after the book finishes. I’d recommend this book in the run up to Christmas, it has a lovely slice of Christmas feel-good to it!
For those who seek/avoid such things there are no sex scenes in this book, though there are some flashbacks!
*I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for my honest review
You can see the book trailer for Lucky 13 here, and there's a chance to win an ebook copy of the book below!
Cat Gardiner loves to take you around the world in her novels, places you may never have been with music you’ve never heard. A member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter Tampa Area Romance Authors, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. From her debut novel - the comedic, chick-lit “Lucky 13” set to release on October 31st to bad boy, biker Darcy in the upcoming “Denial of Conscience,” contemporary genres will appeal to many of her readers. Her greatest love, however, is penning 20th Century historical fiction – taking our dear couple to World War II in novels that will be forthcoming: “The Very Thought of You” and “My Dearest Darling.” Where else can we find the greatest examples of both Pride and Prejudice?
“I love to take the reader on a multi-tiered adventure using the sights and sounds not only within the novel but with the use of Spotify playlist, information blogs, and image Pinterest. Books should be an escape to a time, place, or world where you can become immersed.”
She found Pride and Prejudice by accident through Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South and after reading and re-reading almost everything out there in the JAFF world, decided to try her own hand and imagination. Now, she can stop.
Married 21 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world – their orange tabby, Ollie. They live in Tampa Florida, but will always be native New Yorkers no matter how far away they are.
Please note that the giveaway has now closed and winners have been chosen!