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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