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Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

Source: Publisher Berkley Trade
Paperback, 368 pages
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Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is a contemporary novel steeped heavily in the Austenite world, with Vanessa Roberts’ Aunt Ella one of the leaders of an American chapter of the Jane Austen society.  Vanessa is a social media genius and public relations expert, and as a favor to her aunt — with a bit of matchmaking in the background — she takes on the book tour and American media blitz tour of Mr. Darcy.  The man has stepped out of the pages of Pride & Prejudice, including the breeches and cravat, and he oozes British charm and politeness that’s hard to read, but Vanessa can’t help falling for the storybook fairytale.

“A fortune-teller with heavy makeup lasered in on Vanessa from across the lobby and came right up to her.  ‘I see foreign travel in your future.  It’s what you need, darling.'” (page 29)

Doornebos sets the scene of Vanessa’s world well, from her attachment to the virtual world as a safety blanket to protect her from the real world to the real-world life that comes crashing down around her.  While her relationship with her aunt is tight and endearing, her fallout with Lexi — her former best friend and business partner — is a bit mysterious, but once revealed seems like a deal-breaker for good until the friendship chemistry between the two becomes overpowering, even for the reader.  It’s clear that these two women are strong and will butt heads, but that they sincerely have their friend’s interests at heart.

Mixing the modern world with Austen’s world creates clashes and moments of nostalgia for written letters and face-to-face meetings. While the first half of the book is quick and engaging, once Vanessa hits the streets of Bath and London, the pace slows down as she takes in the sights of Austen’s home and goes on a scavenger hunt for the man of her dreams. Doornebos has created a commentary on the modern pace of life, while at the same time holding true to Austen’s outlook on matchmaking and romance. Things are not always as they seem in this world or in Austen’s.

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is full of romance, misdirection, secrets, and sexy men.  Doornebos surely knows what most women want these days in a love story — hot men with substance.  Vanessa is a strong woman who needs to learn how to be vulnerable, and she also needs to learn that being vulnerable doesn’t have to translate into being a lapdog or doormat.

About the Author:

Karen Doornebos is the author of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY published by Berkley, Penguin. Her first novel, DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY, has been published in three countries.

She lived and worked in London for a short time, but is now happy just being a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and living in the Chicagoland area with her husband, two teenagers and various pets, including a bird.

A fun moment in the book for me is imagining the lecture Dr. Cornel West would give at a Jane Austen Society gathering.  If you think it’s an odd pairing, check out this video:

This is my 81st book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.