A Ride with Mr. Darcy*
A Sweet, Low Angst P&P Variation
I have been a fan of Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) for several years, so I always love to find new stories and new-to-me authors of the subgenre. This novella is a lovely, sweet, low-angst addition to JAFF. The writer has a good sense of story structure, and her language is pleasant to read (even if some anachronistic words and phrases were used). In my inner ear, it almost sounded like she was attempting to mimic the speech patterns of ODC in the BBC’s version of P&P.
As you might guess from the title, a ride with Mr. Darcy provides several important moments in the story. Elizabeth and Darcy have a funny meet-cute when she visits Pemberley. She decides to wander its grounds more widely on her visit there with her aunt and uncle, happening upon the stable. This Elizabeth loves horses (unlike in many variations) and can’t resist seeing Mr. Darcy’s stables. Imagine her surprise when she finds a very disheveled and mucky Mr. Darcy cleaning a stall! Embarrassment and discomfort follow rapidly on both sides, but Darcy knows he’s being given a second chance with his ladylove.
That very afternoon, the first ride occurs, but unfortunately, Elizabeth gets thrown from her horse as she dismounts, the animal frightened because of small critters scurrying on the ground. Head and ankle injuries mean she must stay confined at Pemberley, which of course means that he has time to show Elizabeth a different side of himself.
Bingley comes into the picture about halfway in, and he is a more assertive, strong Bingley than usually portrayed; he is not just a puppet in Darcy’s schemes, which is how he is often portrayed. Jane, too, had a bit more strength and wisdom than she is usually given. I thought the book was going to be all about internal conflicts for the characters–no villain–but Wickham does show up eventually. That’s my only complaint about the book. We all know that Wickham is the charming villain of P&P, but each variation–if they are going to use him–must fully integrate him into the story. In this book, however, he is only mentioned in passing until near the very end when he finally shows up to try to spoil things. If Wickham was going to be the centerpiece of the final climax of the book; he should have been a part of the build-up. There is another important ride with Mr. Darcy near the end of the book that mirrors the first one nicely. The book did have some odd word usage and some grammar/punctuation errors, but it did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.
If you’ve been reading high-angst JAFF lately and need a sweet story to ease your Darcy-loving mind, this charming novella may fill the bill.
I received a free copy of this book, but this did not affect my review.