Published by Canelo Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction
Source: Guest Reviewer, Sophia Rose
The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad
by Jean Burnett
Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
E-Book Pages: 272
Format Read: eARC
Reviewer: Sophia Rose
Source: Net Galley
Sophia Roe received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Whatever happened next to Lydia Bennet? A rollicking romp that follows the fortunes of Pride and Prejudice ’s most badly-behaved Bennet sister Having controversially run off with George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Lydia is confronted with his untimely demise on the battlefield at Waterloo. Merry widow Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, is therefore in want of a rich husband. Failing to find one in Europe, she embarks on a voyage to Brazil accompanied by her trusty maid, Adelaide, to join the exiled Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro. She soon catches the eye of the heir, Dom Pedro. Staying out of trouble doesn’t come naturally to Lydia as she is captured by pirates, then makes a second disastrous marriage, and even finds ways to ruin the Darcys’ tranquil existence all over again. Will she return from the tropics with a cache of jewels? Could she ever succeed in her quest for ‘an agreeable husband with an estate and two matching footmen’, or must her taste for adventure lead her astray yet again? Charming, witty and altogether addictive, The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad makes for a delightfully exotic and thoroughly enjoyable summer read.
Much in the spirit of a Scarlet O’Hara or a Becky Sharp, author Jean Burnett decided to tell the tale of a young lady of spirit, but questionable virtue who got into one scrape after another sometimes with lesson learned and sometimes with a courageous and colorful defiance. I was intrigued to read about this particular vixen because the author decided to turn a minor character in Jane Austen’s most popular work into her heroine. I speak of Pride & Prejudice’s young and scandalous Mrs. Lydia Bennet Wickham. She’s wild and impulsive and afterwards shrugs with an ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ attitude. The gamble that the author would convince me that I might enjoy a sequel to Lydia’s story paid off in spades. I had a rousing good time and laughed through much of Lydia’s adventures abroad and I fervently hope that there are more to come.
I do want to pull back and say that I actually grabbed the sequel on the sequel so to speak so I ended up skipping part of Lydia’s story. I will have to go back and read The Bad Miss Bennet so I catch what came right before this book. Also, I noticed that both The Bad Miss Bennet and The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad have alternate titles (Who Needs Mr. Darcy? and The Brazilian Affair) by other publishers so watch for this and avoid snagging the same book twice.
So, Lydia got herself into difficulties with her time in Italy and now, through the help (aka machinations) of a British espionage officer, Lydia has been inserted into the court of the Portuguese crowned prince as a lady in waiting to his princess. The Portuguese court is in exile to Brazil so off to Brazil Lydia goes. Months at sea, a very foreign tropical country, a philandering prince, a rogue highwayman turned sailor turned fortune hunter, a pirate crew, and more keep her from boredom in Brazil. But that is only the beginning of her adventures abroad. Lydia takes in the Caribbean, a quick jaunt home, and then is off to further foreign adventures in her story. Each scrape is more a madcap adventure and each encounter with a man leads to disaster because as her faithful and long-suffering maid, Adelaide points out, Lydia has no luck with men.
Alright, this is a fun romp and winks with the reader at Lydia’s antics. It is told in the form of Lydia’s journal and letters between her and her best friend back home so the reader must accustom themselves to being inside Lydia’s head.
This is not as an insane a prospect as it may seem because Lydia is a fascinating lady. She sees things so differently and actually makes a vast deal of sense.
I thought it was hilarious that she seems to be one of the few women who does not envy her sister for having Mr. Darcy. Lydia and Darcy are like oil and water with a strong mutual loathing that left me laughing. I saw both sides of course which made it amusing.
Lydia is quite unapologetically scandalous, but she does make a great effort in being a lady and wants to make her parents and sisters proud. Alongside Lydia is her maid Adelaide who matches Lydia for an eye from the wrong men and her views on life. They were quite the pair.
The tone of the tale doesn’t get into the risqué even though Lydia is rather friendly with the menfolk. The reader knows what she is up to, but things don’t get descriptive. I liked how this kept the focus on Lydia herself. She’s full of life and quite engaging all on her own.
And though the focus is on Lydia and her adventures, the author took the time to insert lovely historical tidbits of life in Brazil under the Portuguese rule, England, and the other foreign climes to which Lydia ventured. The details of life abroad and the life of a traveler rang true even from Lydia’s sometimes wry or begrudging viewpoint.
In summary, this was an engaging romp with a heroine that has a bit of deviltry in her, but no real harm. I enjoyed being a part of her escapades and hope there are more to come. I would recommend this for the historical women’s fiction fan who enjoys a bit of madcap humor and also for those Austen lovers who wouldn’t mind catching up with one of her more colorful minor characters.
Author bio and picture: http://www.canelo.co/authors/jean-burnett/
AUTHOR ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Jean_Burnett
AUTHOR on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/JeanBurnett