Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013. Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog. This month’s review is Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife by Linda Berdoll. Here is the link to Goodreads and below is the blurb.

mr darcy takes a wife

What readers are saying
“Whoa, Darcy!”
“Some parts are hilarious and some a walk on the wild side for Austen characters. Curl up and enjoy!”
“Tells the tale I always wanted to hear…how the Darcys lived happily ever after…”
“The only fault I found with this book was that it ended.”
Every woman wants to be Elizabeth Bennet Darcy-beautiful, gracious, universally admired, strong, daring and outspoken-a thoroughly modern woman in crinolines.
And every woman will fall madly in love with Mr. Darcy-tall, dark and handsome, a nobleman and a heartthrob whose virility is matched only by his utter devotion to his wife.
Their passion is consuming and idyllic-essentially, they can’t keep their hands off each other-through a sweeping tale of adventure and misadventure, human folly and numerous mysteries of parentage.
Hold on to your bonnets! This sexy, epic, hilarious, poignant and romantic sequel to Pride and Prejudice goes far beyond Jane Austen.

Let’s just get this out of the way.

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy like to do it.

A lot.

It’s what we all hope for, isn’t it? I so rarely read romances with married folk in it. The author does go back a bit and tell us a little of Darcy’s sexual history and the lead-up to the marriage. I found the beginning of this a little uneven. Rather than being really sexy… it was really awkward. Focused way too much on the unfortunate aspects of sex (She knows nothing about sex and little of a man’s anatomy. It’s messy. Or at least the Darcy sex is incredibly messy. Do we really have to “see” him wiping away his leavings? Really? I don’t think we do.) I was also distressed that the author used that age old trope of giving our hero the penis of a small Shetland pony. The member is of such girth and magnificence that Mrs. Darcy was not sufficiently devirginized the first few times and continued to experience pain. Oh, she was gifted the aperture of a grape seed. The author-ial gift of size, you see… it abounds.

Ok, enough of my grousing. It does take awhile (8% according to the Kindle) for things to get past awkward, messy sex and for a story that does not include the Darcy’s sexual explorings to emerge. The author does a great job of sticking to the characters as put forth in Pride and Prejudice and weaves in new ones, friends and foes. In the beginning, the tone is almost farcical and overly wordy, but it smoothes out and finds its own voice. The plot also grows and expands.

Darcy’s first sexual conquest was a very willing maid, who had the bad manners to brag that she had seduced the master’s son. Darcy didn’t know that his rival to Abigail’s affection was none other than Wickham. Well someone (imagine who?) spread the word to Darcy’s father that his son was bedding a housemaid and she was not being quiet about it. Not wanting a scandal, the elder Darcy sends Abigail away and makes sure only women of a rotund appearance work above stairs. When next we see Abigail, she’s in dire straights and has had more than a few other dalliances. She has several children, including a tall, good-looking son named John who has witnessed his mother go from servant to prostitute to wife of a sailor who abuses her and her children. They have to flee London because he is coming back from sea, and she is more than halfgone with another man’s child. She returns to the land near Pemberly seeking work. For the first time, her son learns that he was conceived in the great mansion. He heaps all the blame for his mother’s unfortunate life on the head of whoever sired him. So…there’s that…

There is also the man responsible for Abigail’s flight from London, Tom Reed. He takes off for Pemberley as well, for different reasons. He’s heard from his brother (a footman in the Darcy’s employ) that it’s an amazing place. He thinks jewelry and silver will be for the taking and probably the living is easy. His brother’s word gets him a job. Reed is a horrible man – a brute, thief, and all-around jerk. He gets caught abusing a horse and sent packing by Darcy. But not before he’s got a serious thing for Elizabeth. He was hoping that if he stuck around long enough, his crass ugly face might grow familiar enough… I don’t know. I don’t know how this monster ever thought he’d get in mi’lady’s knickers, but he had his mind set on her. He doesn’t go far – and his return to Pemberley has dire circumstances.

I’m not even done. There are other villains out there – these are familiar to us in the persons of Lady Catherine and the perfidious Wickham! These four people descend on Pemberley and through various deeds and disasters weave our story. I can’t remember gasping out loud more during a book – also wanting to throw it. Not for bad reasons, you understand. Well, some things are bad but the story isn’t.  It is a bit long… I wondered how much more the author was going to do to me before I was done. But I give this very high marks. There’s a lot of tragedy, the deaths really pile up and you wonder if the hits will stop coming. But the love of the Darcys and their trials and tribulations are really enjoyable. And really painful. And really worth wading through the less than sexy sex in the beginning.

I understand there is a sequel. I’d like to get it!

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