The madness in question is a curse, which is the affliction of all male Darcys, though the exact nature of the curse isn’t clear at first. This story is from Darcy’s point of view so we are privy to his private thoughts, hearing just how he’s affected by the curse. Darcy appears to be battling with himself all the time, against the curse within him that has led to so many of his forefathers descending into madness and killing their own wives. With such a frightening future in prospect, Darcy has decided never to marry and therefore let the curse die out. But then he accompanies Bingley to Hertfordshire and meets the alluring Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy quickly recognises the danger she poses to his feelings, and bearing in mind the danger she would be in if they married, he goes out of his way to repel her, making sure she hears him comment that she’s not handsome enough to tempt him. However, fate takes a hand, and during the Netherfield Ball, a faulty library door leaves Elizabeth and Darcy trapped together and in the eyes of society, they must marry.
Nobly making Elizabeth dislike him when he need only spend a few weeks in her society is one thing, but living a lifetime with a wife who despises him is another, and Darcy soon decides that it makes more sense to try and build a more positive relationship with his wife as long as he can ensure she is safe from the curse:
‘Even if she could get past the reason for her initial disgust, there was no guarantee that she would ever come to feel any fondness for me.
Perhaps the more pressing matter was; did I want her to? Or more importantly, could I afford her to?
If the price that I had to pay for her affection was her death, then the answer was, and would always be, most definitely not.’To improve their relationship Darcy will have to overcome the obstacles of Elizabeth’s tendency to think the worst of him at all times, and he’ll also need to find a way to ensure that she doesn’t fall foul of the curse. To add a bit more spice to the mix, it also appears that Darcy has somebody trying to kill him, though he’s not an easy man to kill.
I found this a really riveting story. There is certainly a lot to excite, plenty of action and quite a lot to overcome, curses, assassins, the general horribleness of Elizabeth’s relatives and a rake who has set his sights on the new Mrs Darcy as his next conquest and doesn’t let her lack of interest dissuade him. It’s a real rollercoaster ride. There are a number of themes within this book that might be big no-no’s to people so just to warn you that this story has a curse and some paranormal themes, there are some quite steamy sex scenes and some scenes of violence too, though the worst violence is saved for the baddies.
On the downside, since this is so much from Darcy’s view, it’s harder to come to know Elizabeth. She’s not that easy to like at first, because she’s so pigheaded with her view of Darcy, she sees proof after proof that he’s a good man, but she is determined to think badly of him. I also don’t like to see Elizabeth the victim of so much. I feel that one of the story threads could probably have been cut from the story because there’s so much going on. The homonyms in this book were sometimes mixed up too, peak/peek, draw/drawer etc., it would have been good if they’d been edited out.
Elizabeth is very unfortunate in her relations here. Mr Bennet and Mr Gardiner particularly are very unpleasant, and Mrs Bennet is in full screeching, embarrassing glory. I pitied Elizabeth for this, and wondered why she wasn’t more pleased to be marrying a complete stranger to free herself from her awful family! It throws Darcy and his family into a flattering light to the reader, and makes you sympathise with the situation he has found himself in, because the marriage was no more Darcy’s fault than Elizabeth’s but her family view him almost as a villain. Thankfully Elizabeth is an intelligent lady, and once she’s decided to give her husband a fair chance she soon begins to realise that she’s misjudged him.
One of the things that really made this story stand out for me, aside from the fact that the variation is just so out there, is the style of the author. I loved the richness of the description, Darcy sees things both as a rational man, and in a more tactile, intuitive way.
‘Her laugher was not barbed as it had been in the past. It did not make me feel as though I needed to protect my vulnerabilities from scorn and derision. It made me feel light and content, as though someone had opened a door and poured liquid sunshine into my soul.’Sigh!
If you don’t mind a paranormal aspect to your Pride & Prejudice variations, and don’t object to sex scenes, I’d certainly recommend this book. It’s a really exciting read, with lots of action and mystery, and some deep passion and romance. I’d rate it as 4 stars.