Unsurprisingly, his boots sank with a squelch into the mud. He grinned with delight at the thought that he was experiencing what Elizabeth had experienced, stepping into the very same mud that she did. Then he felt embarrassed and hastily rearranged his features into a more serious expression.
(from Mr. Darcy’s Challenge)
Quick summary: Mr. Darcy’s Challenge is Volume 2 of The Darcy Novels, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the sequel to Mr. Darcy’s Pledge. In this installment, Mr. Darcy, after his and Elizabeth Bennet’s paths cross again after an accident near Pemberley, is confident that her opinion of him has changed, and he sets off toward Longbourn like a knight on a white horse after Lydia goes missing from Brighton, sure that she will accept him this time. But Mr. Darcy still has much to learn and much soul-searching ahead of him. Monica Fairview’s imaginative retelling, told from the points of view of Mr. Darcy and his sister, Georgiana, takes readers on a journey with Mr. Darcy, from a night he is sure to regret at an inn on his way back to London to the seaside in search of answers in Lydia’s disappearance.
Why I wanted to read it: I really enjoyed Mr. Darcy’s Pledge, and I couldn’t wait to continue the series.
What I liked: Mr. Darcy’s Challenge introduces some intriguing original characters, particularly the widow Mrs. Fortin and the young street sweeper David, brings back Darcy’s delightful valet, Briggs, and puts an interesting twist on the Lydia/Mr. Wickham affair. Fairview sets a good portion of the novel in Brighton, and I loved getting to see the characters in a new environment. But I especially enjoyed seeing Darcy evolve even further, reflecting on his impulsive, disastrous, and shockingly mean second proposal and putting Elizabeth first without having any hope of ever receiving her love.
What I disliked: Fairview does a great job wrapping things up in each book while also making readers eager to find out what happens next. As with Mr. Darcy’s Pledge, there was nothing to dislike except having to wait for the next installment.
Final thoughts: Mr. Darcy’s Challenge is both a reflective and an exciting take on Pride and Prejudice, and I loved not knowing how things would play out. Fairview’s decision to tell the story through the eyes of Darcy and Georgiana works, allowing readers to see a different take on Darcy from the point of view of the younger sister he is determined to protect. Elizabeth makes numerous appearances throughout the novel, and Fairview skillfully allows readers to see her evolve even when Darcy cannot. I can’t wait to see where Fairview takes her version of these characters next!
Disclosure: I received Mr. Darcy’s Challenge from the author for review.
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