Mary and the Captain by Nancy Lawrence

Mary and Captin

This is another sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that focuses on Mary. I can’t say this one was as good as others I’ve read but I can’t say it was completely terrible either. It’s better than a lot of the work I’ve read and had a decent story line.

The story follows Mary as she is planning for a small family Christmas with Jane and Charles Bingley. Charles’ sister Caroline invites their other brother, Captain Robert Bingleyand her best friend Helen. Caroline is hoping that Robert will propose to Helen over the Christmas holiday, as he has been majorly courting her throughout the season. Mary is not happy with this as she does terribly around people and just wants to be around people with whom she can be relaxed and let her guard down.

Throughout the holiday activities, Robert notices more and more things about Helen he doesn’t like that he hadn’t noticed (or was prevented from noticing) before – and there are more and more reasons he finds to spend time in Mary’s company. He and Mary  work together to help save a stable boy Robert encounters on his way to Charles’ house. As the two spend more and more time together, the more Mary fights her feelings and becomes miserable. The events culminate in an eventful ball right at the end of the story.

I have to say the story line was original. I had a few twists and turns that I didn’t see, but for the most part it was fairly straight forward. You could see most of the events coming and how the people would react to them. I can’t say there was a lot of emotional development throughout the book, but that is mainly because the characters are set up and described so well at the beginning of the book and don’t change overly much throughout. They are fully developed characters that work in the story line, but the time frame doesn’t allow for major emotional or personal growth.

I’d recommend it to fans of Pride and Prejudice sequels that focus on Mary. This book includes Kitty and Jane to some extent, and of course Charles and Caroline are there, but there is minimal influence to the story line outside of Robert and Mary. I liked the way Jane was portrayed in this book. She seemed to be the individual that grew the most between Pride and Prejudice and this book. Overall, it was a good, solid, interesting read. I can’t say I’ll read it again readily, but that is mainly because once you know the story line, there really isn’t much to draw you back in. It is completely clean, and therefore suitable for all audiences.

My rating:

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Awakened Hearts by Susan Potts

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I have to say this is by far the best Pride and Prejudice sequel focused on Mary that I’ve read. I think it’s either fan fiction or a self-published author because it doesn’t have a cover and seems to only be available through Amazon Kindle.

The story takes place about two years after the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. Sometime between the end of Pride and Prejudice and the beginning of this book, Mary has realized how pompous she sounds and becomes painfully aware of her shortcomings. The book describes how she isn’t really aware that most of her shyness and social anxiety, which leads her to be standoffish or rude, is mainly rooted in low self-esteem. At the beginning of the story, Mary is invited to Pemberly to visit Elizabeth and her new nephew, Elizabeth desiring to develop a closer bond with her sister. While at Pemberly, Mary makes the aquintaince of Georgiana and Colonel Henry Fitzwilliam (both of whom made appearance in Pride and Prejudice). Through these two and her sister Elizabeth, Mary begins to gain confidence and work through the issues that hold her back. Over the course of the book, Mary and Henry become closer and eventually fall in love. Henry is also dealing with issues throughout the book as he transitions from being the second son to being the only heir after his brother dies, and he has to take command of an estate and come to terms with his new lifestyle.

I thought this was an amazing well written book for starters. I never would have pegged it for a person’s first work. There are no, or minimal, spelling and grammar errors and the story flowed fantastically. The emotional development throughout the story was phenomenal and the descriptions of Mary’s life paint an amazingly vivid picture of what it can be like to grow up invisible. Furthermore, the struggles that Mary goes through are extremely relateable, particularly for me, and I emotionally connected with the book on a level I don’t usually do. The interactions between the characters was also natural and developed at a realistic pace. Furthermore, you get to read from a few different characters’ perspectives which adds more interest to how others view Mary and Henry throughout the book.

I actually felt that I was reading a continuation of Pride and Prejudice, not a book that was written more than a hundred years later. The vocabulary and phrasing wasn’t the same as Austen, but it also wasn’t completely modern. It seemed to be a wonderful blend of the two that gave you the same feel as reading Austen.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loved Pride and Prejudice and likes to read sequels, particularly those about Mary. It is an entirely clean book so it is suitable for all ages. The only references to sexual intercourse were made using “the marriage bed” and “her [wifely] duty”, and it was only described as a pleasant experience. Overall a fantastic historical light romance with strong emotional pull.

My rating:

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My Darcy’s Dream (Darcy Series #6) by Elizabeth Aston

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So I didn’t think this was particularly part of a series when I bought it. While reading it I realized that, technically, it’s a stand-alone book. However, I think that reading the other books in the series first would have been a huge help. As I didn’t read Mr. Darcy’s Daughters I was confused on who the characters were and how everyone was related. I can’t say that those characters factored much into the story, however, they were referenced a lot. The only thing that really helped was that some of the characters provided backstory or servants called them by different names.

The story follows Mr. Darcy’s niece Phoebe (the daughter of Georgiana – which I didn’t figure out until halfway through the book). She had been proposed to be a man that she was completely in love with and thought above reproach. Her father rejects the proposal, describing the man as a rake and wholly unsuitable for his daughter. When she searches for answers she stumbles upon circumstances that make her believe her father. In despair she retreats to Pemberly for the season where she is joined by Jane and Charles Bingley’s daughter Louisa. The two wish to spend a quiet season in the country, only planning the traditional mid-summer ball for the Pemberley estate. Unfortunately, their plans are side-tracked when the Phoebe’s lost love reappears in the country seeking her out.

Overall, the story wasn’t bad but I was expecting something a little more mature, in the same vein as Austen. This story was, however, very predictable and seemed geared toward a younger audience. It is a completely clean read, so suggesting this book to teens, particularly girls in may 7th grade or up would be completely acceptable. They may not understand all the undercurrents or side comments that go on with the snide remarks that were typical of the Victorian era society but that is not altogether a bad thing.

The characters were fairly well developed, but could be done a little better. There was very little actually connected to the original Pride and Prejudice but that is to be expected in the sixth book in a sequel series. The story line could have picked up its pace somewhat though. The majority of the book were Phoebe avoiding the man that only wanted to talk to her in order to explain things. If they had done that soon, there honestly wouldn’t have been much of a book. The side story with Louisa Bingley was a nice touch and I actually enjoyed that plot line more. There were also the standard characters resembling members of the original book, but that made it somewhat more predictable instead of adding in new personalities that could add strife and drama.

All-in-all a light, enjoyable read that is good for the beach or an easy night. Not a whole lot of thinking involved or elegant, advanced vocabulary like you’d expect from Austen, but a clean, fairly interesting read. I’d suggest it to young adults more so than grown adults. I would, however, suggest reading the other books in the series first.

My rating:

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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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I’ve been a Jane Austen fan for a while now. My favorite of her works was Persuasion until I read this book. I absolutely loved Mansfield Park! Like all her other works, there is romance throughout, but not the near erotica of today’s romance. There’s no sex, no innuendo, no open sexual flirtation, just a little hand-holding (rare) or a kiss (very rare), but primarily just the interesting conversation and lively interactions between ladies and gentlemen.

Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price. Fanny was born to a rather poor family with a load of children. When her mother’s older sister offers to raise Fanny, she is sent to live at Mansfield Park at the age of 10, far away from her family and closest sibling, her older brother William. However, she takes of residence with her aunt and uncle Mr. and Mrs. Bertram and their four children – Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia. While growing up, she becomes close friends with Edmund and a personal helper to Mrs. Bertram. She is quite content with her second-place role to the rest of the children in the family. Also, there was Mrs. Norris, Fanny’s other aunt and Mrs. Bertram’s sister who is a continual busy-body in their life and reminding Fanny of how grateful she should be for the wonderful life she had been given.

The meat of the story falls just after Fanny turns 18. The elder sister of the Bertram family, Maria, lands a fiance and eventually a husband in the wealthy, but boring Mr. Rushworth. A new preacher moves into the area and his wife brings her younger sister and brother for an extended visit. The sister, Mary Crawford, begins to court Edmund and the brother, Henry, is a player who plays with the emotions between Maria and Julia. Eventually, there is a big kerfuffle at which point Maria’s husband decides to remove himself and his wife to his estate to the north, away from Henry Crawford,  Henry Crawford is essentially banned, and both Crawfords retire to town. Edmund is heart-broken, Fanny is heart-broken for Edmund, Julia is heart-broken, and Maria finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage.  Later, Henry Crawford pops back up when Fanny is visiting family and begins to court her. Fanny attempts to shake off the courtship but cannot seem to manage it. Eventually, Henry returns to town to wait for her he says while Fanny tries to convince Edmund that Mary Crawford doesn’t really love him.

It is a highly emotionally charged book. I loved Fanny and felt a strong connection with her. You felt each one of her emotions as she dealt with her growing emotions and love for different people. Her emotions are so pure and real you cannot help but relate to her. I found myself often yelling at the other characters because you could see what should happen but everyone was messing around. It was a fabulous book that I will be reading again.

My rating:

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Return to Longbourn (The Darcys of Pemberley #2) by Shannon Winslow

This was Mary’s story. I have never run across very many stories that focus on the middle sister, but I am finding more and more lately. I saw this one and it sounded quite interesting. It did not disappoint. I was actually surprised somewhat. There were modern concepts in the book, but you never lost the time period which was fantastic.

The story follows a few years after the events of Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennett has died as the book opens, leaving the estate to the next male heir. As Mr. Collins has passed away already, the estate falls to his younger brother in America. This Mr. Collins comes as soon as he receives the letter. As he is traveling, Kitty and Mary evade attempts by Mama to establish the future mistress of the house. Mary, having become a governess for the Netherfield family, is out of the question, so of course Kitty must marry Mr. Collins. Kitty flees to visit Jane and Elizabeth in the north before Mr. Collins arrives.

After Mr. Collins arrives, Mary is quite taken with him. The story unfolds between her growing feelings for Mr. Collins and the affections and ties she has to the children at Netherfield Hall. It is a riveting story, following all the trials and tribulations a young governess faces as well as two sisters being drawn to the same man. It is a fascinating story with a couple of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming at all. The characters were genuine, the story line captivating, and you get drawn into the emotional turmoil the normally steadfast Mary is going through.

I applaud the author on her wonderful portrayal of Mary and all the Pride and Prejudice characters. I will be looking forward to more of her work in the future. Like I mentioned, there are a few things that are quite modern social ideas, but she does them in such a way as it doesn’t appear or seem to upset the flow of the time period or is very jarring. I rather thought it a quite original take on the stories. Well done!

My rating:

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Against His Will (Brides of Pemberley #3) by Nancy Kelley

This is the third book in the Brides of Pemberley novella series. I want to start by saying this book fascinated me. I was surprisingly complex for a novella. I loved the intrigue and mystery this book presented. It follows the unusual courtship of Sebastian Montgomery, an old military friend of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Kitty Bennett.

If you read my review of Loving Miss Darcy by Nancy Kelley, you will know that I fell in love with her portrayal of Kitty in that book. This book is a lovely follow up to the story finished in Loving Miss Darcy. At the beginning, Montgomery has no intention of looking for a wife. However, when his grandfather dies, Montgomery unexpectedly finds himself in possession of the title of Earl of Lisle, and all the responsibilities that come with it. As he is required now to find a wife, he turns to Kitty, as the one lady he has found who doesn’t annoy him. The reader is drawn into the wonderful developing characters of Kitty and Montgomery (Lisle) as the grow in their courtship. Kitty grows stronger and surer of herself and Montgomery grows into a the man he has the strength to be. However, when suspicions begin to arise, the mystery and intrigue of a hidden assassin draw you in further.

I absolutely loved this story. It is a good story line for a novella, especially the way the author set it up. I do not think it would have been right to stretch it out to a full length novel. Possibly if she used Loving Miss Darcy and Against His Will, she could have developed a great novel, mixing in an additional story line that perhaps followed Elizabeth and Darcy as well. However, I loved having the short book to read and relax to one night.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in Pride and Prejudice sequels. However, you will need to read Loving Miss Darcy first for some of the book to make sense. This is a nice little series (I don’t know if there are more than three yet, but I will be checking) that Jane Austen fans would welcome. There is no smut or erotic in it at all which is wonderful. It focuses solely on the emotions, looks, and body language that make communication so interesting in those times.

My rating:

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Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley #2) by Nancy Kelley

I have found another set of Pride and Prejudice sequels. This set is called The Brides of Pemberley. I did not start on the first one, it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. I have read several of those already and this one seemed short, so I decided to skip it. I jumped in with the second book that focuses on Georgiana.

One thing that threw me off when I started was the names the characters used. Fitzwilliam Darcy was addressed simply as William, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, whom in every other sequel I have read is named Edward or Edmund, was called Richard. It took me a few chapters to straighten everyone out.

The story follows the coming out of Georgiana in her first season in the ton. As expected Darcy and Fitzwilliam go overboard in their protection of her and this leads to a few difficulties. You meet several Colonel Fitzwilliam’s friends, who are very interesting characters. The season is filled with the typical social niceties and the mixing of people that we saw in the Jane Austen novels. You follow Georgiana through the highs, lows, stresses, and delights of her season. Like in the majority of other sequels, she is in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam, so her thoughts of the men are entertaining. What I particularly loved about this book was the inclusion of Kitty. In order to reduce Georgiana’s fear and revulsion of the idea of having a season, Darcy sponsors Kitty to a coming out season as well. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of her character. Her interactions, conversations, and ability to help Georgiana through her trials kept the story very interesting to me.

I wanted to love this book, however, I found the story somewhat forgettable. I left my review for a few days, as is my normal habit, giving myself time to think it over and decide what I would like to write. However in that short time, I had completely forgotten the story and had to flip back through it to remind myself. That is unusual for me. I read the third book directly after, but I have not trouble remembering it (it will be the next review, Against His Will). So therefore, even though I do feel it is a simple story meant for an easy afternoon, it is not one I will be likely to pick up again. Any Pride and Prejudice sequel fans will enjoy the book, as I think young adults will be enthralled with the work. I personally, however, would have liked a more developed story line and a greater depth to the characters.

My rating:

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Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

I greatly enjoy Pride and Prejudice continuation books. It can be difficult to find ones that are not straight up romance/erotica and have a good story line to them, but this is one of them. Anna Elliott does a good job following Jane Austen’s vocabulary and phrasing, but it has a somewhat modern feel to the writing, not quite as dry as Austen.

One thing that I truly loved about this book was that it was set up exactly like a diary. There were dialogues in the entries, but you still kept the feeling of a diary throughout the whole book. You only read from Georgiana’s point of view and saw her thoughts about everyone around her. There are even drawings included, that demonstrate events in the book. It is a wonderful touch.

The story starts a short time after Elizabeth moves to Pemberly. Aunt Catherine has decided that Pemberly will be home to a short vacation of eligible bachelors for Georgiana to pick from. The story focuses on how Georgiana interacts with the different gentleman in the party as well as the regular guests. She has a difficult time with all the different gentleman, from Colonel Fitzwilliam to George Wickham (yes, he does show up again) to the numerous suitors staying at the house. A strong secondary character in this book was, surprisingly, Cousin Anne. The developing relationships between her and other characters provides some delightful readings. Also, Caroline Bingley is back with her usual drama, but she does not cause as much of a stir as one would expect. Aunt Catherine even sees a bit of romance!

All-in-all this is a delightful read for any Austen enthusiast. There is a second Georgiana book out, as well as third book in the series that focuses on Kitty Bennett. I enjoyed this book enough that I will most likely be picking them up as well. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, particularly anyone who wanted to read more about Georgiana. Her character is fully fleshed out and it is delightful getting to know her and see how she grows over the course of the book.

My rating:

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Darcy’s Tale by Stanley Michael Hurd

I have finished the three part series of Darcy’s Tale by Stanley Michael Hurd. I found quite well done. I am usually always looking for books that are variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and this one was very good. It is the entirety of Pride and Prejudice told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. It is set up in a three volume set to reflect the publishing of the original Pride and Prejudice being released in three parts. The aspect of this trilogy that I find particularly interesting is the appendix. In the appendix, Mr. Hurd writes a series of letters that take place throughout the story. The letters are alluded to and some placed within the actual story, but the entirety of the letters is at the end and make for very enjoyable reading. Through this trilogy, you also get a great sense of Georgiana Darcy which I also like as well. I feel that she is one of the most interesting characters in the Pride and Prejudice world and was glad to see her developed in such a way.

My rating: 

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