“She seemed fairly happy a moment ago,” Richard observed.
“Yes, but that could be because she was happy to see you,” Darcy said with a note of despair in his voice. “I am certain I remain the last man in the world she would marry.”
“Maybe you have moved up the ladder a few rungs. Perhaps she would now consider marrying you before, say, the butcher.” Richard grinned broadly.
“Darcy grimaced. “Great encouragement indeed. I thank you.”
(from The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth)
In The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, Victoria Kincaid brings Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Paris at a time when England and France are at peace, and no one knows how long it will last. Mr. Darcy spends much of his time drowning his sorrows in drink and contemplating the harsh but true comments Elizabeth Bennet made in rejecting his insulting proposal at Hunsford. His cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, convinces him that a trip to Paris is just the thing to cure his broken heart — except that almost immediately, he bumps into Elizabeth, who is traveling with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner.
Having read Mr. Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth has softened toward him, and Mr. Darcy realizes he has been given a second chance to prove himself worthy of her love. But just as the pair begin to put their past misunderstandings behind them, war breaks out once more, and it won’t be long before Napoleon orders the arrest of any Englishman found on French soil. English tourists must quickly evacuate Paris and get to the coast.
With Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle elsewhere in the country on business, Mr. Darcy just can’t leave her to fend for herself as chaos and danger erupt around them. All the carriages have been rented, so they have no choice but to overlook the rules of propriety and flee Paris in a curricle, which seats only two — meaning that Elizabeth’s chaperone must be left behind. Being alone with Mr. Darcy, even in a time of war when she had little choice, could be disastrous to Elizabeth’s reputation, but when she falls deathly ill before they reach the coast, Mr. Darcy gives no thought to their compromising position — only that she must get well.
Kincaid throws many obstacles in their path. Getting to England is no easy feat, but having to conceal a secret from their time in France from their family and closest friends proves to be even harder. With Mr. Darcy pitted against another aunt who gives Lady Catherine a run for her money and Elizabeth trying to evade the attentions of a suitor even more persistent and ridiculous than Mr. Collins, it seems that a happily ever after may be too far out of their grasp.
The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth is an exciting, humorous, and sweet tale. Dropping Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in Paris in such a tumultuous time in history is a unique touch, as I had no idea how that aspect of the story would play out. It also highlights the customs of the time, especially when it came to proper behavior among unmarried couples. Just being alone together was enough to tarnish a woman’s reputation, never mind being caught in an embrace. Meanwhile, Kincaid injects a lot of humor into the novel, from the clueless Mr. Fenton and the playful banter between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth to the difficulty the couple has in keeping their secret. The romance is front and center here, but Kincaid, thankfully, leaves much to the imagination.
Although some of the situations Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth encountered, along with their behavior, were a bit over the top, The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was thoroughly entertaining. Our hero and heroine were completely likeable, and the villains were even more deliciously villainous. It was nice to see Mr. Bennet all riled up and Caroline Bingley left speechless. I spent a couple of delightful afternoons with this novel, and I can’t wait to see what Kincaid writes next.
Disclosure: I received The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth from the author for review.
© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.