Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues by Linda Berdoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A word about these Jane Austen spinoffs. They were free. I generally don't like spinoffs from classics, but as long as I can sort of separate them in my mind from the REAL Austen works, I can enjoy them. These are stories about characters with a Pride and Prejudice-like background. I can be OK with that.
So, the author notes, Jane Austen was a maiden lady and didn't write about sex so Berdoll had to go and fill this appalling lack. And fill it she did. This book should be titled, "Mr. Darcy takes his wife...on the bed...in the bathtub...on the Chippendale table...all over Pemberley" because we hear a lot about Darcy's passionate nature (matched, apparently, by Elizabeth's) and how large his "manly instrument" is--because, of course, Berdoll is trying for period voice (with mixed success), the sex scenes are kind of like Jane Austen cribbed the vocabulary from Fanny Hill. Which leads, eventually, to stuff like this, right before their first ball at Pemberley:
Further foreplay an irrelevance, he simply thrust into her with the considerable insistence and dedication of a pile driver...Then, he hoarsely bade her do the unlikely.
"Pray, do not bathe. Do not cleanse yourself."
She nodded. He held her close, his breath hot against her ear.
"Every time I look upon you tonight, I want not only to know my seed is in you," his lips grazed her hair as he whispered. "I want to know you feel it running down your legs."
Mr. Darcy making his wife dance in the wet spot and the like aside, though (and there are only a few of them), this book isn't actually bad as long as you keep reminding yourself that it isn't Austen. Berdoll's Darcy makes an appealing romance-hero type, the early trials of his and Elizabeth's marriage and the lives of their families and friends--with new characters appropriately introduced--are interesting (and historically realistic) enough. Besides a lot of sex, this book contains abduction, murder, natural deaths, and the battle of Waterloo--none of which were really Austen's oevre but fit well into Berdoll's story.
So, final conclusion? With a little shame I admit I could not put this book down. Compared to most historical romances, this is quality stuff (although it technically isn't historical romance--it's almost more akin to a family saga, although it covers only about 7 years). I bought the sequel. I just hope I don't become a Jane Austen spinoff junkie after this free Sourcebooks promotion.
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