Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson takes Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and creates a modern version that will have readers laughing and shaking their heads in frustration as Elizabeth Scott enters the prestigious world of dog shows, where Donovan Darcy reigns as judge. Unlike the young ladies of the classic novel, women are able to carve their own futures and hold jobs; they no longer need to rely on finding a husband to be happy. Elizabeth Scott, however, is even less interested in marriage given that her mother owns a bridal shop and insists on fixing her up with eligible men. She’s made her way as a teacher at a private high school until one day a student in her class is suspended from the lacrosse team because of his failing mid-term grade. While suspended from her job, she enters her new pup in a dog show where she meets the drop-dead gorgeous and brooding Donovan Darcy, as well as the Barrows, a couple from England that shows terriers.
Like Austen’s novel, Darcy is prideful and Lizzy is prejudiced, though given her treatment by her employer, readers will understand where her prejudice against the wealthy comes from. Wilson’s modern Darcy and Lizzy are at odds for much of the novel, and while their miscommunications could be addressed more quickly, there would be far less enjoyable banter between the two. Moreover, Darcy does focus a great deal on Lizzy’s appearance as a reason for his attraction, which can be disheartening for those who view Darcy as more attracted to Lizzy’s personality, intelligence, and loyalty to family and friends. Given that this Darcy is known for his professionalism and restraint, it’s fascinating to see how Lizzy’s presence makes him lose control in a number of ways.
Wilson breaks open the fascinating world of dog shows, and its wonderful to see how the arena is governed and how rules are sometimes circumvented by participants. One of the best scenes of the novel is when Darcy quotes from the breed standard in the ring, and Lizzy takes it the wrong way entirely. Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson is a fun read and is much better than the Hallmark movie version (though Darcy in that film is very easy on the eyes).
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