From the desk of Shelley DeWees…The Uprising.
If Elizabeth had not known better, she would have sworn he was deliberately throwing himself in her way, but she did know better. Whenever they were in company together, Darcy was usually cool and aloof, yet he chose to stare at her constantly, and with a level of intensity that had begun to make her uncomfortable. Sure such a handsome, wealthy, intelligent man, who was used to nothing but the very finest in society, could not deign to look upon a woman of her inferior station and circumstances in life unless it was to find fault; and, indeed, she knew he had found fault with her, almost from the very first moment of their acquaintance at the assembly in Meryton some weeks ago.”
The back of the book poses a question to Mr. Darcy. Should he tell the truth about his old nemesis George Wickham in order to protect the good citizens of Meryton from Wickham’s lies and secrets? Well, in a word, yes. He should. And does within the first two chapters, employing a moment of self-truth that would, had it occurred in the original P&P, caused all measure of heartache and sadness to be averted. What to do now? Especially since Elizabeth immediately follows suit in working out her out neurosis with prejudice right away, denying his first proposal but agreeing to a courtship that she reasons (admirably and in a drastic departure from Ms. Austen’s typical character attributes) will help her actually know this guy, this supposed husband/lover/friend/parent/guardian person she’s to spend her life attached to. Thus, the relationship begins, burgeoning passions ensue, then the wedding, and before you know it the book is over.
It’s a lovely story in all actuality, and Adriani tells it well. There seem to be a lot of modern flavors working here, including the aforementioned “let’s get to know that dude over there before agreeing to marriage” thing and the departure from the “let’s not have any sexual contact before the big day” thing. Having always suspected that many people in Regency England were guilty of violations of propriety in the name of love and/or passion, I found that rather refreshing and, frankly, long overdue in Austen spin offs. That Adriani should take a modern view of relationships and graft it onto Darcy and Elizabeth I found impressive and inspiring! Go you, Ms. Adriani! The courtship is honest and communicative, and paves the way for many heartfelt conversations and even more heartfelt turns in the sack (which were all super sexy but got to be little gratuitous by the end).
The rest of the experience in The Truth About Mr. Darcy was good-ish, not great, not horrific. There was, however, one moment where my hand went to my forehead, accompanied by an outspoken “Oh come ON!” and an exasperated sigh when Mr. Wickham’s nature was explored. Not only is he a debt-ridden scoundrel mired in controversy, he’s a near-rapist, and one sly wink away from a serial killer. Really? I mean, he’s a snotty spoiled dandy, but a rapist? It seemed like the dichotomy of good vs. bad was just a wee bit overused, both with Wickham and with Mr. Collins, whose refused proposal sparks a deluge of conceit and even revenge. In The Truth About Mr. Darcy, it seems as though you’re either a shining paradigm of virtue or the scum on the bottom rung of the ladder of humanity. A little bit of creative character development would’ve been a better choice.
Still, Susan Adriani’s debut novel is not entirely without success. It’s well written and fairly engaging, sexy, and compelling in a conventional sort of way. Those of you gentle readers whose hearts go aflutter at the notion of revisiting P&P won’t be disappointed. If you’re on the fence about these sorts of things, you might be better off skipping this one.