by Jan Hahn
Genre: Austenesque / Pride & Prejudice Re-imagining / Romance / Historical / Regency
Ages: 15 and up
You can read my interview with Jan Hahn here. Feel free to say hi!
I received a copy of this book from Meryton Press as part of a blog tour, hosted by Leatherbound Tours, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About the Book:
Why would a gentleman ask a lady to conceal their betrothal?
Jane Austen writes of secret engagements in more than one of her novels, and in The Secret Betrothal, author Jan Hahn explores the question of what would happen if Austen’s most famous heroine from Pride and Prejudice reluctantly agrees to accept such a proposal.
When Fitzwilliam Darcy learns that Elizabeth Bennet has committed herself to such an arrangement, his hopes of winning her hand are shattered. After circumstances continue to bring the two together—from Hertfordshire to Rosings Park to the seaside town of Brighton―he finds he is unable to tame his desire for the woman who has stolen his heart.
Will Darcy’s efforts to win Elizabeth succeed, or will his sworn enemy lead her to the altar?
This was a fun book. It explores a P&P what-if that I had never come across before; what if Elizabeth Bennet entangles herself in a secret betrothal - to someone other than Mr. Darcy. This original premise was executed with lovely writing and a thread of delightful humor.
The Elizabeth Bennet of The Secret Betrothal is naive and impulsive. She agrees to marry Wickham, who convinces her to keep their engagement a secret. I wanted to smack her upside the head, to yell at her for being so foolish. And yet, from her point of view, I can see why she did it. Her emotions and thoughts were brilliantly written as she began to have regrets - and feelings for a certain gentleman.
The Fitzwilliam Darcy of The Secret Betrothal is passionate and angst-ridden. When he learns that Elizabeth has secretly attached herself to a man, he is devastated, but circumstances force them into close proximity. Ah, poor Darcy does not have an easy time of it. I mostly just wanted to give him a hug. I loved the alternating POV that let me see what both Elizabeth and Darcy were thinking and feeling with perfect clarity.
One thing bothered me a little bit about this book. While it shares many scenes from the original P&P, those scenes are rarely described in any detail. Darcy's awful first proposal, for example, is told in only a few sentences. However, while I would have enjoyed seeing Ms. Hahn's take on those 'traditional' scenes, the quality of her entirely original scenes made up for the lack of description in those taken directly from P&P.
This book had a couple of little quirks to it that truly made me fall in love with it. One was the random acts of nature that helped the romance along; wind gusting at dramatic moments, etc. The other was Darcy's mild foot fetish, conveniently accommodated by Elizabeth's frequent misplacement of her shoes (aided on occasion by the tide coming in; see random acts of nature above). These details gave the story a certain spark and made me laugh more than once.
If you enjoy wonderfully written characters and sweet, if complicated, romance, then this is the perfect book for you.
Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.
I do not remember any swearing, but there may have been a couple of mild exclamations.
I rate it a 4.10 for a fadeaway and some kisses.
I give it a 1.10 for a well-deserved blow.