Mr. & Mrs. Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan

I would like to thank Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan, which is now available in select Target stores and will be released everywhere else in March.

Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a scintillating novel that will have readers blushing right alongside Elizabeth Darcy as she and her husband embark upon the rest of their lives as a married couple. Mrs. Darcy gets acclimated to life as Mistress of Pemberley, while her husband relishes his wife’s attentions and delights in helping her fit into his world without losing the passionate and independent woman he loves.

“Darcy attacked the superb provisions with relish and Elizabeth was not too far behind. They had fun with the process: feeding each other morsels, licking and sucking each other’s fingers, kissing honey-smeared lips. Eventually even Darcy’s appetite was quenched, and with a satisfied sigh, he reclined on an enormous pillow. Elizabeth leaned against his bent knee and gazed dreamily into the fire. Neither spoke.” (Page 37)

This novel provides an look at the intimacy this classic couple shares behind closed doors and away from society’s prying eyes. Readers will begin to feel like voyeurs as they become drawn into Pemberley’s world and the coupling of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. In the background hovers the ominous presence of Lady Catherine and the rumors she spread about Elizabeth Darcy and her future, detrimental affect on Pemberley and the Darcy name. The word play between these two characters continues and is a delight. It’s fantastic to see Col. Fitzwilliam return as well and inject his wit as well.

“Darcy greeted his cousin heartily. ‘Darcy, old man, you are positively beaming! Married life surely agrees with you,’ Col. Fitzwilliam decreed.

‘More than I could possibly verbalize, cousin. Someday you must give up your reckless bachelor ways and discover the joys of matrimony.’

Richard shuddered. ‘Not too hasty, Darcy, not too hasty. Mrs. Darcy, if I may be so bold, you are radiant. Shocked I am, to tell the truth,’ he said, with a sly glance at Darcy. ‘Personally, I thought you would be weary of this old codger by now!'” (Page 147)

Readers will find this romance novel stays true to the original Austen characters and develops their relationship more fully within the bounds of matrimony and society’s conventions. It is good to see Mr. Darcy soften with the help of his wife, learning to laugh and interact with others with less rigidity, and it is equally as fascinating to see Mrs. Darcy garner maturity in his presence, while continuing to blossom as a woman and wife. One drawback for me in this novel was the absence of conflict until the very end of the novel and some readers may find the sexual tensions and actions of these beloved characters too intimate at times. Overall, this is a good romance and a great way to spend an afternoon or two in wedded bliss with Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

About the Author:

Sharon is a married, RN, specializing in neonatal intensive care. She is a native Californian who married her very own Mr. Darcy. Two Shall Become One evolved after Lathan watched Pride & Prejudice on the big screen, starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen.

***Look Forward to Sharon Lathan’s guest post and giveaway on March 10***

Also Reviewed By:

Diary of an Eccentric
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Book Nest
Book Zombie

Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds

Abigail Reynolds’ Pemberley by the Sea is a retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, but in modern times and with modern sensibilities. Who would have Elizabeth Bennet been in today’s world, and who would have been Fitzwilliam Darcy?

In Reynolds’ modern day romance, which is set on Cape Cod and in Pennsylvania, Dr. Cassie Boulton is a marine biologist who loves a good book so long as the ending is a happy one–because there are just too much unpleasantness in real life. In many ways Cassie and Elizabeth are both strong women with a sharp wit, but Cassie also is an accomplished career woman with serious ambitions and a dangerous past. One of my favorite scenes is when she and Calder are in a charming bookstore and he has merely followed her around and not said much (from pg. 29).

She paid for her purchase, and said good-bye to Ed, and then turned back to Calder. He held a book in his hand now but was still looking at her with disturbing intensity. She smiled with apparent sweetness at him and said cheekily, “Lovely chatting with you, Calder. We’ll have to do this again some time.” She made a quick exit, leaving the bells on the door jingling behind her.

The tension here is palatable, and it remains so throughout the novel, and Reynolds does a great job showing and creating sexual tension, charisma, and release between these characters.

Calder Westing III is the son of a rich, Republican, and southern political family. Like Mr. Darcy, Calder Westing is the consummate blue blood with his chiseled features, highbrow manners, and cool temperament, but passion runs deep beneath the veneer as does his loyalty and vulnerability.

Their summer romance hits them hard and fast, but it quickly fades into the background as each deals with the unpleasantness of their every day lives and the qualms they have about fitting into one another’s world. Calder fights for his love through an adaptation of Cassie’s favorite novel, while Cassie has to fight her basic instinct to flee when harsh times approach. She manages to overcome her innate, biological responses and confides in Calder, trusting that they can work through anything together.

Not only are we thrust into their romance, but the reader is introduced to Erin (i.e. Jane Bennet) and Scott (i.e. Mr. Bingley), whose romance falls off track and only rights itself on its own, not as cleanly as it happens in Austen’s novel. Caro, Calder’s mother, is another fascinating character, along with the Jim, Cassie’s mentor, and Dave Crowley, attorney and long-time friend of Calder’s family and Cassie. Joe, Calder’s father, is a force to be reckoned with, and the tension in the novel becomes almost stifling when he enters a scene. There is a wide range of supporting characters in this novel, and each has a significant role to play, which makes this more than just an Austen do-over.

Not only has Reynolds eloquently captured the tension between the characters and developed their relationships believably throughout the 400+ page novel, she has taken the time to put the reader in Woods Hole with her descriptions. It was like taking a vacation and getting lost on the seaside or in the marsh. Check out this description from pg. 422.

Cassie stood on the beach in front of the house, her arms wrapped around herself. Finally some peace and quiet. A cool breeze blew in over Buzzard’s Bay, whipping up whitecaps that broke on the shore, coming closer and closer to her feet as the tide came in. Around her lay the flotsam of the last high tide, strands of seaweed, broken shells, and here and there an empty shark egg case. Mermaids’ purses–that was what children called the egg cases when they discovered them on the beach. A used-up dead shell that once protected a baby dogfish or skate, and now it would be a child’s treasure.

Not only do the descriptions do justice to the setting and put the reader in the midst of the scene with the characters, they serve to put the reader in the characters’ minds. What is Cassie thinking? How is Cassie reacting? In some cases, the scenes serve to foreshadow upcoming events, feelings, and trials, but in others the scenes symbolize overarching themes in the text.

From the beginning to the end, this is an engrossing novel that takes the reader on a deep ride into the romance and struggles of these two characters. They are memorable, and I was sad to see them go. I hope we hear more from these characters. In terms of Jane Austen spin offs and redos, this is one of the best and could even stand on its own without the references to Pride & Prejudice, which is a clear testament to Reynolds’ talent as a writer.

I want to thank Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks for sending me this novel to review.

Also Reviewed By:
Jackets & Covers


Don’t forget my contest for the writing guide Grit for the Oyster. You have two chances to enter: the review and the guest post

Deadline is December 1, Midnight EST.

Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe

Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe is a different type of sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice; it does not retell the lives of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, their children, or modernize their story as a 20th century romance. Lydia Bennet’s Story transports the reader back to 19th Century England to tell Lydia’s woeful and headstrong tail of romance and intrigue, rather than the tales woven by Jane Austen for Lizzy and Jane Bennet.

We join Lydia on her journey from the balls at the Assembly in Hertfordshire, England, through Brighton, and Newcastle. Headstrong and willy-nilly Lydia is just as vivid in these pages as she is in Jane Austen’s novel. Although her character plays a minor role in Austen’s novel, she takes center stage in Odiwe’s, but with journal entries sprinkled amidst the storyline, the reader begins to see what motivates Lydia to act as she does in public and with the soldiers. As the youngest daughter in the Bennet family, she seeks acceptance and love in all the wrong places.

Once in Brighton, Lydia is shameless in her pursuit of a husband and begins lavishing her affections on George Wickham. Despite his declarations that he can love no one, Lydia will have none of it, shunning Captain Trayton-Camfield, who seems to truly care for her. Lydia and Wickham run off to London together, and she expects them to get married, though it only materializes when Wickham is pressured by none-other-than Mr. Darcy. This is where Austen’s Pride & Prejudice leaves Lydia.

Lydia Bennet’s Story does not miss a beat, Odiwe has a strong command of Austen’s language, style, and characters, but she puts her own flare on the wild maven that is Lydia. Despite winning her prize–Mr. Wickham–Lydia soon realizes married life to her charming soldier is not all she expected it to be as his gambling and womanizing continue. In a way, Odiwe’s Lydia continues to fool herself that Wickham’s character is merely misunderstood, but soon his character is undeniable, and she is forced to not only deal with her loveless marriage, but their poor station in life.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Lydia is on page 290:

“Even in my reckless alliance, I believed I was in love and yes, a state of confusion it might be, but I submitted to it and felt my regard most wholeheartedly. And though I now believe my love was not truly returned, that I was mislead, I still believe in the power of true love.

Here Lydia expresses the evolution of her character and highlights how she has matured on this journey of love, hardship, and growth. She is no longer the silly, younger sister of Lizzy and Jane, but her own mature woman, though more bold than conventions are prepared to handle.

Readers of Jane Austen and Austen enthusiasts will enjoy this novel, but even those readers looking for a fast-paced “romance” will enjoy Lydia Bennet’s Story.

About the Author:

Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and three children in North London.

Check out Jane Odiwe’s blog here.

Thank you to Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks for sending Odiwe’s Lydia Bennet’s Story along for me to review, and stay tuned for a guest post from Jane Odiwe on Oct. 31. See what she and Lydia have to say about Halloween!

Want to win a copy of Jane Odiwe’s Lydia Bennet’s Story, check out the guest post tomorrow to learn how.

Also Reviewed By:
Diary of an Eccentric
A Book Blogger’s Diary
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Book Zombie
Library Queue

***Contest Reminders for Readers:

A copy of Black Flies by Shannon Burke is up for grabs until Nov. 5

A copy of Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby is up for grabs until Nov. 5

Hip Hop Speaks to Children Edited by Nikki Giovanni

I received Hip Hop Speaks to Children edited by Nikki Giovanni from Danielle at Sourcebooks, and Giovanni continues to make television and radio experiences about the book.

Poetry often has an internal rhythm like everyday speech does, and Hip Hop has taken that rhythm and modified it to create a modern day form of poetry, which engages younger generations and children by making poetry fun.

This book came with an audio CD, which you can use to read along with the book or skip around in the book to a variety of poems, and the CD also includes separate introductions to various pieces.

The book touts the talents of Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Eloise Greenfield, Maya Angelou, Queen Latifah, Young MC, and many others. The audio CD has poems read aloud, poems set to music, and some poems are sung. When I first started reading this book and listened to the CD at the same time, I was a bit confused because the poems on the CD were not in sequential order with the book. Then I realized that the poems on the CD have headphone designations and track numbers–check out the sample page to the right.

The beats would make any kid want to get up and dance, and I think the idea of incorporating music with the poetry will keep kids interested. It also makes it easier for children to follow along on their own, which makes this book something parents can sit with their children and work alongside them or set those kids off on their own with the book and CD in hand.

The illustrations are modern, abstract, crisp, and impressionistic and closely relate to the subject matter of each poem. Check out the page for Rapper’s Delight, which is a poem/song from the Sugarhill Gang.

The introduction to the poem is read by Nikki Giovanni and helps explain where the inspiration for the poem/song came from. I found that to be the most captivating introduction.

Queen Latifah makes an appearance in the book and on the audio CD as well. One of my favorites from the CD is Dat Dere by Oscar Brown, Jr., which was inspired by is “inquisitive child” asking questions about everything.

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks is read by the poet, which is followed by a live performance with Nikki Giovanni, Oni Lasana, and Val Gray Ward “hamboning” the poem. I remember the inherent sadness in this poem from middle school, and it still stirs up emotions, particularly hearing it when read aloud.

About Nikki Giovanni: (Picture at Above)

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past thirty years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.” Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.

Also Reviewed By:
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Friendly Book Nook
Cafe of Dreams