Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Mr Darcy’s Challenge by Monica Fairview

Book Cover - Mr Darcy's Challenge by Monica Fairview
Earlier this year I read ‘Mr Darcy’s Pledge’ by Monica Fairview, which is book 1 of this story. If you haven’t read that book, then don’t start ‘Mr Darcy’s Challenge’, as it follows on directly from book 1, and don’t read on, as there are spoilers for ‘Mr Darcy’s Pledge’!

This book picks right up from where book 1 finished. Darcy had given up writing lists of what he wanted from a wife and was reaching the point where he was ready to propose again to Elizabeth Bennet, when unfortunately all his plans are derailed by tiresome Lydia eloping. Mr Darcy’s Pledge was to locate Lydia for the sake of her sister and then do some wooing.  He tears up his list of suitable qualities in a wife and romantically tosses them to the wind as he rides away, and then.... he realises that strewing the rare commodity of fine paper across the countryside his lady love is in the habit of walking through is by no means a good idea. He turns back, but it’s too late, Elizabeth is already in possession of some interesting bits of paper:
“I am afraid I am guilty of being wickedly inquisitive. However, I cannot repent because I am too excessively diverted,” she said. “This person has itemized his requirements for a wife. Can you conceive of such a thing? Quite as if he meant to prepare a plum pudding or a blancmange!” She laughed. “I cannot conceive what kind of person would do such a thing!” 
Any moment now, she would put two and two together and produce Fitzwilliam Darcy. If she did, all would be lost.
Things then go from bad to worse, and I could happily have given Darcy a good shake to hopefully get some sense into him! He sets off for London, having insulted Elizabeth again, discarding his pledge and potentially getting into an entanglement with a young widow. Mr Darcy’s Challenge will be to overcome his despair, act the part of an honourable gentleman and fulfil his pledge.

In the first book, one of the things I particularly enjoyed was the development of the character of Georgiana, who was struggling to overcome the damage to her self-esteem that the mistakes in judgement she made at Ramsgate had inflicted. Georgiana was really blossoming into adulthood and this continues here in book 2. We are privy to some of her thoughts, which I particularly enjoyed, as she is just as amusing as Darcy was in the first book:
 ‘If she did not hold herself in check, she mused, she would soon be in danger of becoming very much like her aunt Catherine.  
It was a sobering thought.’
Book Cover - Mr Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview
Darcy wasn't quite what I expected. In ‘Mr Darcy’s Pledge’ I was very fond of him. Although to me he didn’t quite seem like Austen’s Darcy he was very amusing, sometimes bordering on the eccentric, but here I liked him less, he was often overly despondent and sometimes petulant. He was also so impatient, and he would decide one thing and then immediately change his mind. We didn’t see much of Elizabeth in book 1 but I think she would have learned caution with her knowledge that she was so misled in her initial judgements of both Darcy and Wickham, however she doesn’t seem to have learned anything, and I was a little surprised at her family’s behaviour when they to look for Lydia in Brighton, as you would have expected them to be extremely worried and keep a low profile but instead it seemed like they were just looking for her while on holiday.

There were other characters I particularly enjoyed; Mrs Bennet showed some depth of character in her search for her daughter. Mr Bennet refused to take things seriously, which I found very tiresome. I felt the dynamic between the Bingleys and the Darcys was slightly different to ‘Pride & Prejudice’. Here, the families have been close for many years and seem on a familiar footing so you see Bingley and Darcy as more equal friends than in some variations. I very much enjoyed Mr Bingley’s character, he’s often very amusing:
“Did anyone ever tell you that your jovial pig-headedness is really quite annoying?” 
“Yes,” said Bingley, cheerfully. “Many times. I take it you want to go home and sulk.” 
“Something like that,” said Darcy. 
“Then you will not mind if I join you. A good long sulk will do me a world of good. You do not have a monopoly on sulking, you know. I have plenty to sulk about as well.”
Although I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as ‘Mr Darcy’s Pledge’, it was still very satisfying to see the story come to its conclusion and find out what happened with Lydia. I enjoyed the development of Georgiana’s character too. All in all, this is a fun, light-hearted read and I’d rate it as 3½ stars. I understand that there is another book in this series currently being written which is planned for release in the middle of next year, which I'll definitely plan to read. Although the story that began in 'Mr Darcy's Pledge' concluded in 'Mr Darcy's Challenge' I'd like to see what happens next.

3.5 star read

* I received an e-ARC from the author for my honest review.

12 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this story too and am looking forward to the 3rd.

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    1. Me too Debbie! I noticed you had a namesake in this book, congratulations! I have no hope of a namesake in any Regency book with a name like mine :)

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    2. Unless they have a Welsh servant perhaps, called Ceridwen, LOL!

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    3. Great review, Ceri, thanks for that! Great to know there's a follow-up and looking forward to read about your namesake Debbie :)

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    4. Thanks, Joana! Hehe -- I'm open to any names suggestions. Debbie was kind enough to donate to Chawton House in return for a cameo in one of our books, and I was honored she chose me.

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  2. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on it, Ceri! I didn't realize there was another book in the series until after I read it. I hope it has more of Monica's version of Georgiana in it.

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    1. I didn't realise either Sophia, but it was welcome news, as although the main story arc was concluded, I would like to read about what happened next to these characters.

      I agree with you, I'd definitely like to see more of Georgiana, as she is so loveable. I was surprised to be so fond of Mr Bingley too, as usually I am pretty neutral towards him, but he's just so funny here. I'd like to see him again as well!

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    2. There will be more of Georgiana, but I'll be showing Elizabeth's thoughts too, in the next one. Ceri, very glad you liked Mr Bingley.

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  3. After the first couple of sentences I had to stop! I have both books but haven't read them yet, I'll be back :) can't wait.

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    1. Haha, thank you for commenting anyway Tamara. I hope you get to read these books soon, I think you'll like them :)

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    2. Looking forward to hearing your reactions, Tamara!

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