Mysterious Mr. Darcy
by Monica Fairview
White Soup Press
Formats available: Paperback, Electronic
Pub Date: 3.7.18| 268 pages
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
eARC provided by author for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Three years after the original events of Pride & Prejudice, Darcy receives a visit in his isolated manor in Cornwall. It is Charles Bingley, and he has come to ask for a favour…
There is nothing Elizabeth Bennet likes more than a laugh – except for a mystery. From the moment she first encounters Mr. Darcy, she senses he is hiding something. But the more she tries to find out about who he is, the more evasive he becomes. However, Elizabeth soon turns her attention to someone else. As Mrs. Bennet points out, Mr. Darcy is a nobody, and Elizabeth needs to marry someone who can provide for her and her sisters.
Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy doesn’t want anyone to know about the scandal that haunts him from the past. He certainly doesn’t need someone like Miss Bennet, who asks him questions and tries to slip him up. Fortunately, he is more than equal to the task of putting her off. What he doesn’t expect is that before he knows it, he finds himself longing to tell her the truth.
Are Elizabeth and Darcy meant to come together in this variation, or is Elizabeth destined for somebody else?
Note: Mysterious Mr. Darcy is not a mystery. It is a ‘what-if’ in which Mr. Darcy has to deal with the consequences of his past, a past that will change the shape of his future. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39080319-mysterious-mr-darcy
What if Mr. Darcy must keep his true identity a secret or face being arrested? And, what if Netherfield Park is let by Mr. Bingley and the encounter with the Bennet family is three years later? Well now, wasn’t this an interesting set of variation circumstances…
The story read easily and swiftly, the writing was heartwarming and cozy, pacing gentle, and Mysterious Mr. Darcy was an overall delight to read.
I’ve seen variations where Darcy is in a different persona, but on the lamb and a former soldier in the Pennisular Campaign was not one of them. Pair that with a love triangle involving Darcy and Bingley for the fair Lizzy and I felt that while wide of canon, I had a good time with this new historical romance venture that didn’t lack for a few of my favorite Pride & Prejudice elements though they were tucked into unique places in the story.
This Darcy, in the disguise of undistinguished gentleman with a more traveled and eventful past yet still the Master of Pemberley and scion of the Darcys, was a more complex character. Though, thought by the residents of Hertfordshire to be barely more than a steward and the poor friend hanging on Bingley’s coattails, he is forced to contemplate what life is like for someone who is not Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. His treatment from others is different and he gets an eye-opener about the differences in how he is treated before when his status was known and now, when he is in disguise. He gets more honesty and it disturbs him just as he has to rely more on earning respect and proving his character rather than it being taken for granted.
At the same time, this Elizabeth gets a scare of nearly losing her father and the family home so she is forced to consider her former rigid stance about who she would marry and how she feels about what it would truly be like being unmarried and without the protection of her father. Now, her friend Charlotte’s decision isn’t so easily a fount of derision in her mind. She is now nearly a spinster and is in Charlotte’s shoes having to consider that she is no prize and yet she has to marry to secure financial safety for herself and her family. She doesn’t have the luxury of standing on principles, but must heed her mother’s pragmatism.
The romance is one of the elements of variation, but is background until near the end when it does become the main focus. This pair do have a smoldering antagonism, but not as acute as the original story. For one, they have a different viewpoint because of his secrets and pretense of who he is and because Elizabeth is the object of Bingley’s attraction. Elizabeth is better suited for a man of Darcy’s personality and character, which is discovered through fun series of interactions, but necessity forces her to take seriously the wealthy Bingley’s interest.
I liked the historical elements touched on- class differences, criminal law, women’s role, and duty to family.
In summary, Mysterious Mr. Darcy drifted a ways from canon in plot and characters, but had a flavor and strong nod back to the original. I found the new sources of conflict engaging and the gentle, historically accurate, sweet romance tale one I could relish and recommend to other fans of Austen variations.
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.