Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pride, Prejudice & Secrets Blog tour!

I am delighted to taking part in the Pride, Prejudice & Secrets blog Tour! Kindly brought to you by Leatherbound reviews in conjunction with  Meryton Press.
I am so excited to be reviewing C.P.Odom's newest book as I am a big fan of his work, not to mention what a great way to start the New Year!  This was another "my Kindle must not leave my sight!" kind of story.

Dear Elizabeth has once again found her self engaged to the last man in the world she would ever be prevailed on to marry, my favourite type of plot!!!! I found this story strangely satisfying considering much of the "usuals" were left out. There is no fiery rejection, no discovery of the part Darcy played in Bingley's separation from Jane and no daring recovery of Lydia with Darcy as the knight in shining armour! Does Elizabeth really need the letter to see Darcy for the man he really is? If Elizabeth is as intelligent as her eyes seem to suggest, the answer is "No". Does Darcy require a set down? "No", If like me you believe his slight was not maliciously done, then I think the honourable gentleman he is would shine forth. I think what is pure genius about this story line is that the Regency proprieties and proclivities that make each of the characters the way they are, are all dependent on interpretation. This "what if" alters that interpretation, thus not only does the plot change but so does the person.

Of course, she thought uncomfortably, if I am honest with myself, I am no longer as certain of my assessment of Darcy’s character as I once was. Proud and disdainful he may be, but as Charlotte once said, perhaps he has some justification for that pride: master of a large fortune, many people obligated to his benevolence and management, a sister in his charge, both parents dead for some years, and still not thirty years of age. So, is it overweening pride or something more understandable—the pride of challenges met and tasks well done? - C. P. Odom

The different dynamic that a male author brings cannot be denied but I believe it is the type of male that Colin is specifically, that leaves me an admirer of his work. Coming from an era that was closer to the civilities I so adore in the Regency, helps to shape Colin's Darcy. As a man, I believe how Colin acts influences how 'Darcy' would, it is an influence I like because Darcy keeps to Elizabeth's description, "In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was" and to quote Colin's own words, "I think I understand Darcy in a different way than most female readers, but, yes, I admit to a definite fascination with Elizabeth". Some of my favourite JAFF's involve a Darcy that is recognisable as Austen's, but all too often a female author's obsession with Darcy, will inadvertently influence and the equally obsessed reader will allow the slight liberty, (its part of the nature of JAFF). However in the back of their mind they can hear Elizabeth's all too familiar words "You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way yourself.''  Therefore on the few occasions I found myself saying "I am not entirely convinced Elizabeth would act so", it suddenly dawned on me that I was witnessing the reverse, therefore putting the accustomed liberties aside I enjoyed watching Colin's admiration of Elizabeth transpire, seeing the side to Elizabeth he would like to see. He used her intelligence, wit, compassion and sensible personality to shape her reasoning throughout. Each internal struggle was wonderfully portrayed through Elizabeth's inner thoughts and expressed with such clarity that your own admiration for Elizabeth becomes more apparent. The development of Darcy and Elizabeth's relationship without the key elements of P&P hence the secrets, equals more time spent developing how characters might act, leading to more introspection in regards to canon, as the author's view and understanding of Austen's characters inadvertently transcends into a silent exchange, between both author and reader about the reasons why P&P is so dear to each.

'He was unrepentant in the way he took every opportunity to leave the table early and avoid these monologues, and he had done exactly that this morning, silently rising and departing the breakfast parlour ten minutes earlier while his aunt’s attention was diverted. Darcy always marvelled at how stealthily Fitzwilliam could move when he so endeavoured. Somehow, his chair did not scrape as he rose, and his hard-heeled boots made no sound on the wooden floors. It was always astonishing to watch him simply fade away, and Darcy wished he could do likewise.' -    
C. P. Odom

It is no secret that I like a man's man and Colin's marine and sports background gives him a knowledge he can apply to the male characters that had me swooning and sighing throughout. The subtle weaving of history and military life was fascinating and brought another dimension to the story.
In-particular, Darcy's cousin, Captain the honourable George Fitzwilliam of His Majesty's navy, (The Colonel's brother, Richard to many JAFF fans).  If you ever thought Bingley did not wholly deserve Jane, then you will like George, the most decisive man you'll ever meet, he is the total opposite to Bingley and I am positive one particular JAFF fan I know from New Zealand, will be smiling from ear to ear if she gets her hands on this book. I really fell in love with Jane's story and I assure you I do not say it lightly, my only wish, is that there had been more!!!!

He paused for a moment, took a deep drink, and then continued. “You know me well enough to know I have few social graces with the ladies. I have been at sea since I was twelve, and we have been at war with France for virtually the entire time. I am now two and thirty, and I know my parents, as well as my fellow officers, expect an officer of my rank to find a wife about now.” “I felt some of those same pressures, George, though it was more from society at large than my professional colleagues. I believe Richard said the rule was ‘Lieutenants must not marry, captains should not marry, majors may marry, colonels must marry.’ I assume it is much the same in the Royal Navy.” - C. P. Odom; 

I liked CAROLINE! respected MR COLLINS! and WICKHAM revived my faith in humanity (even if it was coerced). Pride, Prejudice & Secrets has entered into my exclusive category of books, the category that makes me like the Austen characters I dislike. I am very similar to Jane in that respect, I like to think good of the world. The reforming of ones character is not to be sniffed at, as changing lifetime habits and learnt behaviour takes real strength of mind and an inner drive towards consciousness. I believe this was done well, especially when it came to understanding Caroline, in Colin's introduction he says "Elizabeth Bennet is as much a part of Regency society as Austen herself" and in Caroline's case you cannot truly understand her character without considering her world view, both external and internal. I enjoyed where her story went and was genuinely happy for her. Wickham's tale is just as great, managing to pull off an elopement with Mary King, Wickham is likely to spend her money and move on, or is he?

“You do not really understand, do you, Miss Bingley? No, I can see you do not, and I suppose it is not really your fault, at least not completely, considering the lessons you learned at your most excellent school. I am sure the well-meaning ladies who instructed you believed they were teaching you all the correct behaviours needed by a young lady of fashion to attract an eligible and worthy husband. I hope it does not come as too great a shock if I tell you that your teachers were incorrect in their assurances. Or perhaps it would be better to say that they were incomplete. They instructed you in how to attract a certain type of man, but I can assure you there are more types of men in our world than they would have you imagine.” -   C. P. Odom

As you may or may not have notice I have said little of the plot and storyline but I can only say in my defense that I truly did not want to spoil it. What I will say however, is that it was an easy 5 heart rating and I believe it was the dinner at Darcy's London residence that had me wanting to order my paperback copy before I had finished the ebook. I frustratingly had to leave the dinner to do something in my own life and throughout the day I picked up my kindle at every opportunity, eager to get back to that dinner table, to the conversation at hand, to what was being directly and indirectly said. It is one of the things I love about books, the escape. It is on the author's shoulders to make the escape seem real, to make even the obscure make sense and to give you an experience you may never experience first hand. This is a rich, all encompassing story with secondary plots I was eager to get back to, history I found meaningful and interesting  and most importantly further evidence, Regency JAFF just keeps getting better!
Thank you Colin, what a great start to the New Year!

This book deserves 5 hearts - Mr Darcy!!!!

Book Blurb:
“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.”
Jane Austen
It is always the completely unforeseen events that lead to the most unexpected consequences, and such is the case in this variation on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. One of the crucial points in Austen’s novel is Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s fiery and passionate refusal and denunciation of the equally passionate but infinitely more repressed Fitzwilliam Darcy. What might eventuate if the robustly healthy Elizabeth falls prey to illness for almost the first time in her life just when Darcy comes to call? Bemused by her illness, she hardly comprehends what Darcy is asking, and her simple nod of acknowledgment is misinterpreted as acceptance of his suit by a joyous Darcy. By the time Elizabeth regains her health, it seems that every one of her acquaintance and many outside of it accept that she has become engaged to the last man in the world she would ever have considered marrying. Can she openly demand her engagement to the amorous but prideful Darcy be broken, a course fraught with hazards in the social milieu of Regency England? In a maelstrom of confusion, choices have to be made and disclosures closely considered. Elizabeth knows that nothing in her life will ever be the same, and the consequences will likely spread further than she can imagine.

As always it is delightful to hear your comments.

I received an ARC copy for my honest review