This is Ayr Bray's six and most recent JAFF book and my first introduction to her work. At 158 pages this was a short read for me, yet it was just right, after all, how long can you stretch Christmas, well forever if I had my way!
This book immediately ticked all the boxes, written in regency prose, Darcy and Elizabeth happily married and all encompassed in the festive holiday of Christmas!
It is Darcy & Elizabeth's first Christmas and they are choosing their first Christmas tree together, within the grounds of Pemberley. This of course is followed by a little snow fight initiated by Elizabeth! Obviously preparations must be made and witnessing Elizabeth's interactions with Mrs Reynolds is always a delight and of course Mrs Reynolds is the kind and helpful person we all expect her to be. Darcy shows what I call his stiff side and adheres to propriety, even sneaking out of Elizabeth's room in the morning less he be spotted by the maid. Yet he breaks with propriety at the most unexpected times, when his happiness cannot be contained and he wants to show Elizabeth his affection (don't you just love him!).
"The two were nearing the end of their conversation and dividing the tasks when Fitzwilliam was noticed leaning against the doorway, watching his wife. That man will never tire of watching his wife, thought Mrs. Reynolds". -Ayr Bray
The first of the guests to arrive are the Bingleys and Jane and Charles seem really happy together, close upon their heels are the uninvited Bennets. The only guests that remain to arrive are the Colonel and Georgiana or at least that is what the Darcy's believe. With a few more unexpected guests due to arrive, their first Christmas will finally be complete, we all know Christmas is not Christmas unless there is a little family drama, Christmas would most certainly be dull without it (wow did I just use Christmas four times in that last sentence?).
Mrs Bennet is more outrageous and embarrassing as ever, kitty sounds just like Lydia, oh dear and Mr Bennet as usual does not see fit to check them or his wife!
The Matlocks make a surprise appearance and I am pretty sure it is just to get a chance at observing Elizabeth in her new role as mistress of Pemberley. Lord Fitzwilliam, his wife and their delightful children accompany them and they are such a lovely family. Things start to take a turn for the worst when Mrs Bennet begins to offend people. However she is not the only one as Anne turns up after escaping Rosings only to be followed by Lady Catherine, let the fun times commence. I must say I take my hat off to Lady Catherine, first she travels all the way to Hertfordshire to confront Elizabeth and now Pemberley to confront Anne. She certainly is a formidable lady, to travel the length and breadth of England to make her sentiments known!
"yes, Lizzy, make sure you put on your red dress. It is quite festive and looks so well with your hair. I am sure your Mr. Darcy will approve.” “Mamma,” Elizabeth scolded as she held the door open, ready to leave, “I need not wear a specific gown to catch my husband’s approval. He and I are already married. Besides, he approves of all my gowns.” “Do not be so sure, Lizzy. You have only been married a few short weeks, and Mr. Darcy does not yet have an heir. You had best retain his notice, or he is apt to send you packing and find himself a better wife.” “Mother!” - Ayr Bray
Anne has a secret admirer and luckily for him she feels the same way. I love stories that expand on Anne because we do not really know much about her and she is a character I feel dearly for. We all love Darcy, hell half the ton does, why he's a handsome and most sort after bachelor, So how must Anne have felt when he did not want to marry her? If it was me I would never be able to live down the shame and rejection considering lady Catherine's sentiments were probably known throughout the land. But did Anne want Darcy? Who wouldn't, yet if they had a good relationship as cousins maybe they had no desire and had agreed previously they would not marry. Either way P&P never lets us know, which is why I would like Anne to have a happy ending, she must have some compensation.
The drama that unfolds is quite entertaining and at times it reads like a comedy, I often found myself laughing and cringing on Elizabeth's behalf. Lord Matlock puts Lady Catherine in her place, the Colonel makes a hasty departure, the Bingley's have an announcement and a family secret that if not uncovered, seeks to destroy Anne's one chance at happiness.
“No, it is not a surprise, but no matter how expected she is, it does not change the fact that in five minutes I will wish she had not come.” “Five minutes!” Fitzwilliam chuckled. “You are gracious. I wish her gone already.” Taking a deep calming breath, Fitzwilliam indicated that the butler should open the door . His Timing was impeccable, for a raving Lady Catherine De Bourgh came storming in. -Ayr Bray
I regret to say that this is the second book this month that has made me dislike my favourite couple, first it was Mr Darcy in Rocks in the Stream and now it's Elizabeth in Pemberley Mistletoe! What I like most about JAFF novels is that although the story is different the characters are usually there in the essentials. I do not mind traits being exaggerated like Darcy's haughtiness or Mr Collins ridiculousness or Mr Wickham's scandalous behaviour. The ability to predict how a character may act is essential to the story's believability. Mrs Bennet was over the top and Elizabeth was forced to bring her mother to order. How Elizabeth addressed this did not sit well with me, not only was it unlike her but I do not believe that she would act thus, if not for herself but out of sheer respect for her elders. Not only did she give her mother more than one set down, they were not done in private. It was unbearable to see her father grovel and Elizabeth was quite happy to ask her mother to leave Pemberley and take up residence in the Inn at Lambton!!!!! You may disagree, but I did not like to see such a side to Elizabeth.
Nonetheless my dislike of Elizabeth at times, did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the story, which also incorporated some of the famous lines from P&P, surprisingly spoken by another couple other than Darcy and Elizabeth! Pemberley Mistletoe is an entertaining and original read. Darcy and Elizabeth are my favourite couple and this story is set at my favourite time of the year!
|This book is worthy of 3.5 hearts - The Colonel & Mr Bingley|
As always I love to hear your thoughts!