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holidays at pemberley

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

…suddenly this lady who had never valued the importance of love in a marriage could not bear to think of herself wed to anyone other than the only gentleman who had ever stirred her heart.

(from Holidays at Pemberley, page 73)

It’s been a delightful week reading Alexa Adams’ trilogy of Pride and Prejudice retellings that remove the pride and the prejudice, highlight the humor, make Lady Catherine likable (gasp!), turn Mr. Bennet into a matchmaker, and shine the spotlight on two minor characters from the original Jane Austen novel.  The trilogy began with the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice, where Mr. Darcy never slighted Elizabeth but still had to overcome the obstacle that was the rest of the Bennet family, and continued in Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Continues with the courtship of the more refined Kitty Bennet by the dashing and reckless Sir James Stratton.

In the final novel, Holidays at Pemberley, or Third Encounters: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Concludes, Adams turns her attention to Elizabeth’s best friend, Charlotte Lucas, who thankfully has been spared a lifetime of putting up with Mr. Collins but still longs for the independence and security afforded by marriage.  This novel goes back to where First Impressions leaves off and continues beyond the events in Second Glances, with a focus on Charlotte’s visits to Pemberley, where Elizabeth hopes she will hit it off with David Westover, the rector of Kympton and a man from Charlotte’s past.

Charlotte doesn’t expect to marry for love.  As she nears 30, she just hopes to get married.  But the more she sees the love between the Darcys, the more she laments the lack of it in her own life.  Her family has nearly lost all hope of Charlotte ever finding a husband, especially when she returns home without having secured Mr. Westover’s affections.  Mr. Westover has never entertained the idea of marriage, as he is too focused on his scientific research and his parish duties, but a misunderstanding involving Charlotte and some meddling by his sister may change his mind.

I loved spending Christmas with the Darcys and their family and friends in Holidays at Pemberley.  Adams’ story is told in the tone and spirit of Austen, and her original characters are so charming and seamlessly integrated, I had to remind myself that they weren’t Austen’s creations.  Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I feel bad that Charlotte thought Mr. Collins was the best she was going to get, so I like when these Austenesque novels reimagine a happier life for her.  I didn’t know what to think about Mr. Westover at first — he’s not a Mr. Darcy or a Sir James Stratton — but he grew on me in the end.

These were the perfect books to read during this busy time of year, as they were each under 200 pages and were impossible to put down.  Adams keeps the romance to a minimum, focusing instead on the misunderstandings, the humor, and the diversions so enjoyed by Mr. Bennet.  I read these books with a smile on my face (how could I not, when Mr. Bennet and Lady Catherine forge an odd friendship?), and as predicted, I was sad when they came to an end.  I’ve read too many Austen-inspired books to count, and Adams’ novels are among my favorites in the genre.  I  highly recommend this trilogy for Austen fans who prefer their reimaginings to be witty and charming, free of sex scenes, and reminiscent of Austen herself.

Book 17 for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge

Disclosure: I received Holidays at Pemberley 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.

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