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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★★☆

Suddenly Kay got very excited at the thought of being able to watch some of the scenes being filmed.  She had a front-row view of the Cobb for a start, and she wondered if Teresa would let her get even closer whilst they were filming.  Maybe she’d be asked to be an extra!  Or maybe nasty Beth would twist her ankle during the scene on the Cobb steps, and Kay would stand in for her, doing such an amazing piece of acting that Teresa would be completely bowled over and recast Kay as Louisa Musgrove.  During the wonderful scene where she jumps down the steps into Captain Wentworth’s arms, she’d look deep into the blue eyes of Oli Wade Owen, and he’d fall madly in love with her.

(from Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, page 53 in the uncorrected advance copy; final version may be different)

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy is the second in Victoria Connelly’s series about Jane Austen addicts, following on the heels of A Weekend With Mr. Darcy.  The heroine this time around is Kay Ashton, a young woman stuck in a dead-end job who inherits some money and decides to make her dreams come true.  She buys and remodels a bed and breakfast in Lyme Regis, a seaside town that plays an important role in Kay’s favorite book, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and she plans to spend her time finishing her book, The Illustrated Darcy.

Kay is all alone in the world; she’s unlucky in love, her father left when she was a child, and she’s still grieving the deaths of her mother and a close friend.  But her quiet days walking along the Cobb and enjoying the views of the sea are turned upside down when the cast of the new big-screen adaptation of Persuasion rent rooms at her B&B.  She befriends the shy and insecure actress, Gemma, who’s living in her mother’s shadow, and the equally shy and unlucky-in-love screenwriter, Adam, who encourages Kay to have her work published.

Kay is too busy falling in love with the dashing actor, Oli Wade Owen, who plays Captain Wentworth, to notice that her efforts at matchmaking Gemma and Adam are failing as badly as those of Austen’s beloved heroine, Emma Woodhouse.  The minute Oli winks at her, Kay imagines herself as his wife, ignoring everyone’s warnings not to get involved with him.  Kay is a daydreamer, and she lets her fantasies about fictional heroes interfere with real life.

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy is a fun novel, one that makes me think my obsession with Austen-inspired novels is actually not that bad.  I loved how Connelly worked in the Austen references and especially the focus on my favorite Austen novel, Persuasion.  Her characters were likable, aside from the obnoxiously self-centered actress, Beth, who flirts endlessly with Oli, and Gemma’s mom, Kim, who is desperately clinging to the fame that has followed her since her one successful part years ago.  Kay was charming, even though I wanted to smack some sense into her.  I could see how her daydreams kept her from feeling so lonely, but she was so blind to the potential for happiness that was standing right in front of her.  Adam’s grandmother, Nana Craig, was a treat; I love feisty old ladies and their eccentricities.  Nana only wants the best for the grandson she raised, and her penchant for bright colors even if they clash was hilarious.  Gemma coming into her own and Adam learning to fight for what he wants were perfect complements to the main story.

There are lots of romantic mishaps and misunderstandings in Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, certainly reminiscent of Austen’s books.  Connelly is fast becoming one of my favorite authors of modern-day Austen-inspired novels.  I definitely recommend this one if you love all things Austen as much as I do.  If you’ve been shying away from the Austen sequels and retellings because you’re wary of authors tinkering with Austen’s characters, then you should give this one a try.  Connelly uses original characters and plenty of humor to create lively new stories, and her love and respect for Austen’s novels shines through.

Book 1 for Explore the Many Genres of Jane Austen Challenge (Modern Adaptation)

Disclosure: I received Dreaming of Mr. Darcy from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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