Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
What if Elizabeth was a young widow with a five-year-old boy? What if Mr. Collins had an older brother? What if Anne de Bourgh feigned her illness to repeatedly bring Darcy to her side?
In this Pride and Prejudice alternate path, Darcy doesn't have such a miserable time in Hertfordshire. In fact, he makes the acquaintances of two people that spark his interest and touch his heart. One, is the bewitching Mrs. Carlton with her exquisitely fine eyes, and the other is an adventurous, young lad who insists on being called Sir Lancelot. Even though he feels an instant attraction for Elizabeth Carlton (née Bennet), and perhaps falls in love-at-first-sight with her, Darcy still departs from Hertfordshire after the Netherfield Ball. Why doesn't he stay and try to win Elizabeth's heart? Because he believes she is engaged to that ridiculous, preening fool, Mr. Collins!
When Darcy arrives in Kent for his annual visit he makes two startling discoveries: Elizabeth isn't married to his aunt's obsequious parson, and the endearing young lad Darcy indulged with Arthurian fantasy in Hertfordshire just happens to be Elizabeth's son, Ben. But it turns out Darcy still isn't free to follow his heart. With Lady Catherine demanding satisfaction, Anne using her health as manipulation, and Mr. Collin's older brother, Geoffrey, claiming Elizabeth as his betrothed, Darcy has many new obstacles to contend with in this novel.
Seeing Darcy interact with Elizabeth's precocious little boy just has to be the most adorable thing ever! Darcy and Ben are so precious together, and it made my heart melt to witness their conversations, growing friendship, and fanciful imaginations. I was completely endeared watching Darcy fall in love with Lizzy's fatherless son, just look at this darling exchange:
“No, no, no! Do not go!” young Ben cried as he desperately clung to Darcy's long legs. Darcy endeavored to release the child's tight grip. He lowered himself to his knees to meet Ben's eyes at his level.
“What is this I see? Do brave knights cry?” Darcy removed his crisp, white handkerchief and wiped the lad's tears away.
“I do not feel much like being brave,” cried Ben, brokenheartedly. “You are my best friend in the whole world. You cannot leave me.”
- page 62
Another aspect of this novel I greatly enjoyed was the Darcy/Elizabeth/Geoffrey love triangle. Geoffrey definitely brings some tension and friction to this tale. I laughed out loud at the way he and Darcy instantly pegged each other as adversaries and how they both frequently saw green! Lizzy better look out, because this Darcy is determined to win her – and he just exudes magnetism and passion!
While I loved Darcy, Elizabeth, and Ben, two characters I wasn't too thrilled with were Mr. Bennet and Jane. While I can see Mr. Bennet being disappointed and upset with Lizzy for marrying too young, I can't see him remaining upset with her for the length of time that he did. In addition, I was a little dismayed in Jane's attitude towards Lizzy at the close of this story. Isn't she always trying to see the best in everyone? Perhaps because she is twenty-five and still unmarried, this Jane Bennet is not as kind-hearted and forgiving. Nonetheless, these were the only two characters I had issue with, and I understand that in variations not all characters remain unaltered.
While I am not well-versed in Arthurian legend and lore, I was charmed by this imaginative and unique alternate path for Pride and Prejudice. Seeing Darcy's fatherly relationship with an adorable child is well worth the price of this novel! I highly recommend!
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