(This review first appeared on Indie Jane)
“Serafina, I know we have talked about a great deal, but I hope what we say to each other is kept in confidence.”
“Do not you worry, my loyalty is to you and you alone. Mr. Darcy knows nothing of what you have disclosed, but if I may be so bold, I think he should know how you feel. May I say one other thing?” She twisted the braid up high on Elizabeth’s head and pinned it.
“You deserve him. He is the best of men and he has given his heart to the best of women.”
(from Mr. Darcy’s Promise, page 195)
Jeanna Ellsworth’s retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice imagines what would happen if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy were forced to marry after the Netherfield Ball. The scoundrel Mr. Wickham, still upset about his failed attempts to marry Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, for her fortune, takes advantage of Mr. Darcy’s obvious interest in Elizabeth. However, his scheme is once again ruined, and it is Mr. Darcy who is forced to marry Elizabeth.
By the time they marry, Mr. Darcy has overcome his objections to Elizabeth’s family and succumbed to her teasing and impertinent remarks, and Elizabeth has witnessed Mr. Darcy’s tender interactions with his sister and realized he is not the proud man she thought he was. But Elizabeth is miserable because she thinks Mr. Darcy only married her because he had to, and Mr. Darcy hides his true feelings in the hopes that Elizabeth could grow to love him over time. As they spend more time together and truly get to know one another, the promise he made to her on their wedding day weighs heavily upon them — and the ever-scheming Wickham threatens their newly discovered happiness.
Mr. Darcy’s Promise is a sweet story about falling in love and how relationships can take unexpected turns. Ellsworth had me chuckling at Colonel Fitzwilliam’s corny jokes, and I enjoyed the playfulness between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, especially the scenes involving the chickens. Yes, the Master of Pemberley is persuaded to visit the chicken coop, and hilariousness ensues. I only wish that the pace of the story had been a bit quicker in terms of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy recognizing their feelings for one another and that Georgiana hadn’t been crying all the time. But I was never bored and was impressed by how Ellsworth, who raises chickens, according to the author bio, managed to incorporate them into the story in an endearing and humorous way.
Ellsworth throws Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together at a time when their perceptions of each other have only just started to change, and she portrays the early weeks of their marriage, with moments of hope mixed with moments of confusion and misunderstanding, in a realistic way. Best of all, Ellsworth shows their passion for one another without pages and pages of sex, which was refreshing, and introduces delightful original characters, like Elizabeth’s maid, Serafina, who encourages Elizabeth to be more direct when it comes to what she wants from her husband. Mr. Darcy’s Promise is a charming novel about a promise that is made to be broken and being patient when it comes to matters of the heart.
Disclosure: I received Mr. Darcy’s Promise from the author for review.
© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.