“Nana, you’ve spoiled me for any other woman. There are no Elizabeths in this century. You’re the last of the breed.”
“You haven’t tried to find one,” she answered, a little sharply.
“I have. You know that I’ve dated quite a bit. I just don’t see the point in a second date when I know a girl isn’t right for me from the very beginning. It’s not fair to either of us to continue building a relationship that I’m already sure won’t work,” he replied firmly.
“Elizabeth is fictional, Will, and even she wasn’t perfect, you know,” Nana said, resting her hand on his.
(from Accidentally Yours)
Quick summary: Accidentally Yours is the first book in Robin M. Helm’s Yours by Design trilogy, in which Will Darcy from 2013 Atlanta swaps places with Fitzwilliam Darcy in 1795 England after each suffer an accident. Will and his grandmother shared a love for Pride and Prejudice, both the book and the BBC miniseries, so waking up in the body of Mr. Darcy gives him a chance to make up for that man’s wrongs and win over Elizabeth Bennet, the not-so-fictional woman he has loved for so long. Meanwhile, the last thing Fitzwilliam remembers is giving Elizabeth the letter explaining the faults she’d found in his disastrous proposal, then riding his horse into a tree, so waking up in a barely there hospital gown in the present day is a big shock, to say the least. Both men must learn to live in their new bodies and new worlds and figure out God’s plan for their lives, Will with the help of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Fitzwilliam with the help of Will’s housekeeper, Mrs. Thomas.
Why I wanted to read it: I’ve read and enjoyed several Pride and Prejudice retellings with a time travel element but never one where Mr. Darcy swaps bodies with one of his descendants.
What I liked: Will’s character is endearing, a man who loves Pride and Prejudice and wants to find his own Elizabeth, a man who truly loved his Nana Rose and shared her love of all things Austen. He is the Mr. Darcy who is good enough for Elizabeth, a man not too proud to do business with a tradesman or flout the style of the time to suit his own tastes. He uses his knowledge of Regency England and Austen’s novel to take charge of Fitzwilliam’s affairs, even if it means being too quick to believe people he has only just met in the days since waking up in Fitzwilliam’s body. But what was most entertaining was Fitzwilliam’s struggles to come to terms with modern society, from female nurses to dental hygiene to Southern BBQ. The scenes where he watched the BBC miniseries with Mrs. Thomas and commented on the difference between himself and “Firth” were hilarious!
What I disliked: It took some time before the story really started going somewhere, but in a way that was good because I felt like I really got to know Will and Fitzwilliam. However, it seemed like Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy’s valet Austen, and Mrs. Thomas, for instance, were too easily accepting of their claims of being a Darcy from another time. Moreover (and this didn’t affect my feelings about the novel itself), I really disliked Fitzwilliam, the real Mr. Darcy, whose arrogance goes above and beyond any portrayal I’ve read so far. Some of the things he thought about Elizabeth were actually horrifying! While I understand that he is supposed to be the polar opposite of Will, it was still difficult for me to imagine a different Darcy winning over Elizabeth, even if Will is the better Darcy at the moment. It certainly makes me wonder what Helm has planned for them in the next installment.
Final thoughts: Accidentally Yours incorporates both time travel and Christian elements into a story about recognizing your flaws, actively trying to change them, and being open to God’s plan for your life. Although Fitzwilliam seems to be the Darcy most in need of change, there is plenty of room for growth in Will’s character as well. Helm’s take on Pride and Prejudice is creative and humorous, with some deeper moments of grief and despair to round things out. With the accident and Mr. Darcy’s abrupt and significant personality change altering the course of events, I am dying to know which Darcy will ultimately earn Elizabeth’s love…and Mr. Bingley even has some competition when it comes to Jane! I can’t fathom how this will all be ironed out in the end, so I can’t wait to read more.
Disclosure: I received Accidentally Yours from Indie Jane for review.
© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.