Thursday, December 31, 2015

Relentless Considerations: A Tale of Pride and PrejudiceRelentless Considerations: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Amy Cecil

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Relentless Considerations is a very oddly written book. So odd that I found it too irritating to read and had to place it on my abandoned shelf. I did not even get far enough into the book to identify how it varied from the original. I just could not read anymore, as it was giving me a headache.

Relentless Considerations reads like the back story an author prepares for him/herself in order to have a full understanding of how they wish to present the characters and situations. The first few chapters are an in depth review of everything each character is thinking and feeling. In most well written fiction, we determine how a character is thinking and feeling by how they act and what they say, as well as how others interact with them and the dialogue between them. Instead, Amy Cecil tells us. This is an incredibly stiff and boring method of getting across information, much less telling a story.

One other irritating factor in the author's writing style is her use of words that initially sound correct, but are just slightly off in their definition. Some examples: Darcy is said to have a "shy countenance". But, countenance reflects emotions appearing on the face. Shyness is a state of being, not an emotion. Usually shyness is reflected in a persons actions - she shyly said, she looked down shyly, he smiled shyly, etc. Jane says "thoughts of Mr. Bingley have evaded her". Evade means to avoid. Usually we avoid thoughts, rather than thoughts avoiding us. Mr. Collins says Elizabeth will meet Lady Catherine on the "ensuing Sunday". Yes, ensuing means following, but it is really following as a consequence of something else. The ensuing courtship follows after speaking to the girl's father, etc. Sunday is going to happen whether or not anything else occurs. All of these words, and many more like them, are close, but just enough off to be irritating and to make the writing feel very strange.

I just couldn't continue reading this book. The author may wish to learn the importance of "show them, don't tell them" in writing fiction. I hate writing negative reviews like this, but I cannot recommend Relentless Considerations.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blame the Mistletoe

Blame the Mistletoe by Sarah Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blame the Mistletoe is a sweet Christmas treat for JAFF fans. It is light, fluffy and romantic.

Darcy and Bingley are in London after not returning to Netherfield. Even Georgiana can tell both of them are down in the dumps. What can it be? Are they disappointed in love? In her wisdom, Georgiana convinces Darcy and Bingley to return to Hertfordshire and fight for their loves. And, she wants to go with them, without Bingley's siblings.

All of Meryton society is caught up in the planning, decorating and traditions of the season. Ever since Elizabeth was a little girl, she has been the one to climb up trees to obtain the all important mistletoe. However, this time she suffers an accident, luckily while Darcy is nearby to assist. She is well, but suffers a twisted ankle and must limit her movements.

Darcy discovers Elizabeth's dislike for him, but convinces her to give him a chance to improve her opinion. Another wise little sister, Lydia, recognizes the signs between Elizabeth and Darcy and determines she will assist. She seeks out opportunities to alert the couple they are standing under mistletoe, and tells them they must kiss. At first embarrassing, it becomes less and less so as it gets closer to Christmas.

Blame the Mistletoe leads us to our inevitable HEA, despite a bit of Wickham, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine, per usual. Traditions around the Christmas holiday play an important role in bringing ODC together often and in warm, loving environments. This is not the season for fussing and fighting, and this leads to a resolution much faster.

The themes of family, tradition and the warmth of the holidays emphasize how much Darcy and Elizabeth wish this for themselves. Even Mrs. Bennet looks like a loving mother to Darcy when bustling around the family as they get ready for Christmas. For the lonely Darcy orphans, this is just too tempting a life and they wish to have the laughter and love of family around them.

In the final chapters, all get their wishes fulfilled, except our resident baddies. Many of our traditional characters are a bit brighter, less annoying, and more loving. P&P JAFF fans will find this variation does not stray too far from Austen's version, but allows for a much earlier resolution set around the joys and romance of the Christmas season.

It just feels good....

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Darcy's Crush: A Pride and Prejudice VariationDarcy's Crush: A Pride and Prejudice Variation 

by Kate Bedlow

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Darcy's Crush by Kate Bedlow was a disappointment. It is basically a rewrite of Pride and Prejudice with the author's own short story added at the end.

In this title, author Bedlow rewrites Pride and Prejudice (seriously?) in her own words, with a decent sprinkling of JA's own work. Then, at the ball at Netherfield, the story changes and then ends fairly quickly, too quickly for my taste.

Many author's are publishing novelettes or short stories in the JAFF world, and, as long as it is made clear it is not a full novel, they are selling. If Kate Bedlow had done so, she would have written a slightly silly, but still fun story and I would have given a higher star rating. However, I had to skip through the book always looking for where the variations take place and was very disappointed to not see much until late in the book.

Therefore, I do not recommend Darcy's Crush: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Kate Bedlow. There is too little here to make it worth paying either in money or in time. However, I would encourage the author to either write short story compilations or to vary the larger part of her books from the original. She has the writing ability and can certainly come up with original ideas.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Satisying P&P Variation with Lovely Christmas Message: Darcy's Christmas Wish

Darcy's Christmas Wish: A Pride and Prejudice VariationDarcy's Christmas Wish: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Penelope Swan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a twelve year old boy, Fitzwilliam Darcy falls into a frozen pond while at Rosings for the Christmas season. No one is in sight as he desperately tries to reach shore, but he is tired and soaking wet and feels himself greatly in danger of drowning. From nowhere comes a very young, but strong girl to help pull him from the water. She covers him with pine branches for some protection and runs for help. But, he is discovered by servants before she returns. In his feverish state his family almost convinces him she was just his imagination. But, he remembers her eyes. His Christmas Wish that year is to someday meet the little girl that saved his life. Years later, as an adult, Darcy is again at Rosings for Christmas, and wonders about the lovely Elizabeth Bennet whose eyes immediately caught his attention when they met in Meryton.

My initial thought in reading Darcy's Christmas Wish was that it was a story that could have been written about anyone, but the characters were given names from Pride and Prejudice. However, as time goes on, you begin to see how P&P takes hold in the characters personalities and actions. This is a tale of P&P with all personalities true to Jane Austen's characters.

The only serious variations, outside the initial premise, are in time of year and Colonel Fitzwilliam being a widowed father of a young boy named George. However, a potentially tragic incident involving George and his puppy, tied to the weather in winter, plays a very important role in unifying all of our usual characters during the Christmas season.

Darcy's Christmas Wish is a very sweet tale played around the tendency of the upper circles to judge too harshly and too quickly based on class and the importance of good breeding. Elizabeth is the character who helps to demonstrate how honesty and love are universal, and trust in appropriate blood lines is not always well placed.

As in P&P, we see Darcy change for the better due to Elizabeth's actions and harsh words. But, Darcy is not the only one at Rosings to undergo these changes. All are bettered due to Elizabeth's influence. And, the result is seen just as Christmas morning arrives.

This is a very satisfying P&P variation. Of course, our dear couple have their happily ever after, but the story has a lovely message for the Christmas season regarding love and kindness and the role they can have in overcoming pride and prejudice. I am not sure if I have read other Penelope Swan JAFF but I will certainly check them out.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sweet and Funny - Mr. Darcy to the Rescue: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Victoria Kincaid

Mr. Darcy to the Rescue: A Pride and Prejudice VariationMr. Darcy to the Rescue: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Victoria Kincaid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth plans to refuse Mr. Collins, but when her father tells her he is ill and may not live long, she realizes she is the only sister in a position to save the Bennet family from ruin. She changes her answer and accepts him instead.

Meanwhile, in London, Mr. Darcy is pining away for Elizabeth when he hears of her engagement. He realizes he cannot live without her, and determines only he can rescue her from the toady Mr. Collins. He immediately heads to Longbourn with the plan to propose to her and sweep her off her feet to Pemberley.

However, things do not go as planned for our hero as he overhears a conversation among the Bennet sisters and realizes the poor impression he has left with them and all of Meryton. In order to save the woman he loves, he must convince her that life with him would be preferable to life at Hunsford with Collins and Lady Catherine.

Aha! He writes to Lady Catherine about Elizabeth describing the lovely, vivacious, intelligent, outspoken woman she is. As expected, Lady C. determines she cannot wait for the wedding to meet this woman her vicar plans to install at Hunsford. Once again, Darcy's plans go astray.

Of course, our couple eventually achieves their HEA, but only after slightly rocky starts and stops. This is a very charming story about our dear couple, and it is full of humor. I teared up a couple of times as Darcy expresses his history and his vulnerability to Elizabeth, but the story is basically light and sweet. And, despite a few lusty thoughts on Darcy's part, the story is clean.

Definitely highly recommended as an antidote for gray autumn days. Best read before a warm fire with a glass of wine or sherry. Enjoy!

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Return: A Pride and Prejudice StoryThe Return: A Pride and Prejudice Story by Timothy Underwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Return: A Pride and Prejudice Story is a very fun read. Although it has its share of angst, the premise of the story eliminates some of the angst appearing in the original Austen story.

In this version, Bingley just does not believe Darcy and his sisters when they tell him Jane doesn't love him. He returns to Longbourn to question Jane directly and find out the truth of the matter. Jane assures him of her love, so the couple are engaged only a few days after the ball at Netherfield.

Now to Darcy and Elizabeth. Both stand up with Jane and Bingley at the wedding. They are then seated at a table together. They proceed to have their "Hunsford" moment during the wedding breakfast entertaining all attending to an obvious argument.

Prior to the wedding, Caroline Bingley told some pretty obvious lies to Elizabeth about Darcy's treatment of Wickham. Darcy is simply hurt and amazed that Elizabeth would believe the concocted story. Thus he leaves Hertfordshire with less regret than in the original story, but Elizabeth is much more chagrined at her behavior and belief in Darcy's guilt.

Now when they meet again in Kent they are both in very different mindsets than in the original. Darcy is once again struck by Elizabeth's charms, but he is not under any illusion about her feelings for him. He knows he has to woo her. Elizabeth is painfully aware of how unfair she was in her estimation of Darcy and is determined to apologize, thus making her more receptive to his advances.

This is a very charming variation. I so enjoyed the banter between the couple, as well as between Darcy and Bingley. It is always interesting to read a male author's take on the story. Austen admitted she was uncomfortable writing about male interactions when women were not present. Timothy Underwood shows us this perspective and does a great job.

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Doubts and DilemmasDoubts and Dilemmas by Evita O'Malley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this variation. This is Darcy and Elizabeth after the wedding. Darcy faces a serious accusation and is determined to protect Elizabeth by not telling her. This results in a strain on their marriage, but all is resolved.

This is a unique take on the couple and I found it very compelling. Many readers like to see Darcy portrayed as the perfect man, but this story is truer to the time period and to Darcy's fears of losing Elizabeth.

The only real negative with the story is the ending. It feels a bit rushed, and the tragedy mixed with joy at the end feels uncomfortable and unresolved. Yes it is probably more realistic, but there is no mention of the Darcys reaching out to the family. That feels odd given the large portion of the book given to their kindness to the child Maria.

The author makes note at the end that she hesitated in publishing the story, but I think she made the right choice. This is a nice addition to the world of JAFF.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Yours Forevermore, Darcy, by KaraLynne Mackrory

Yours Forevermore, Darcy

Yours Forevermore, Darcy 

by KaraLynne Mackrory

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best

After reading a couple of hundred P&P sequels, prequels and variations, just this week I had the thought that maybe I had read enough and the authors had exhausted all the possibilities. Luckily for me KaraLynne Mackrory has proven me wrong. Yours Forevermore, Darcy grabbed me from the start and gave me a wonderful day and a half of romance with my favorite couple.

I swiftly read through the familiar tale seeing it again from a fresh perspective. Of course you can tell from the very beginning that at some point a letter will arrive accidentally, but it happens in such a beautiful and happy way as to make it feel feasible.

I love a humble and romantic Darcy with just a slight bit of awkwardness, and Mackrory certainly carried it off well. Elizabeth was her usual spunky, impertinent self.

A very enjoyable read that I recommend to all JAFF lovers. Keep a hanky handy.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Haunting Mr. Darcy - One of My Favorites

Haunting Mr. Darcy - A Spirited CourtshipHaunting Mr. Darcy - A Spirited Courtship 
by KaraLynne Mackrory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mar 10, 2014

This has to be one of my favorite P&P variations. Haunting Mr. Darcy is a sweet and funny story with both characters charmingly daunted by the crazy premise - Elizabeth has been knocked unconscious and her "spirit" leaves her body to haunt Mr. Darcy.

Darcy has returned to London, leaving Hertfordshire to forget about Elizabeth.  He is unaware that Elizabeth has been in an accident and is clinging to live, but in a coma. Suddenly, he begins to see her in his home.  He is the only one who sees and hears her. Not only can he carry on conversations with her, but there is some physical attachment that keeps her within about 20 feet of him at all times.

Elizabeth is shocked to find herself in Mr. Darcy's library.  How did she get here?  And, even more terrifying, she finds herself walking through walls and furniture.  Is she dead?

Both of them think they are going crazy, so act in a totally uninhibited manner.  Darcy talks to Elizabeth as if he is dreaming. Elizabeth is trying to figure out what has happened and to convince Darcy that she is really there.  The physical connection and the reaction of others to Darcy's apparently talking to himself provide a tremendous amount of humor. Then the need to return Elizabeth's spirit to her body brings about a small amount of angst.

Add this to your list of variations to read as it is just so humorous and charming.
Of course, this has your standard happy ending, but there is just enough worry to give the story some tension.  Recommended to the JAFF lover who can suspend disbelief enough to enjoy a spirited P&P variation.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Entertainingly Different Version of Mr. Collins


Mr Collins' Deception: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Short Story by Renata McMann

Mr Collins' Deception is that he is not the man we have learned to loath in Pride and Prejudice and tons of JAFF variations.  At the beginning of the story, Mr. Collins learns that Lady Catherine gives every clergyman a 1 year probationary period.  So far, all of Mr. Collins' acquaintance and friends have been let go by Lady Catherine 6 weeks prior to the end of their probation.  William Collins has determined he will be everything Lady Catherine desires for the 1 year period, and then will revert back to being himself.  So, who is Mr. Collins really?  Mr. Collins' Deception is a silly, entertaining story about the true Mr. Collins and how he attempts to fool everyone for 1 year.  I found the story a bit far-fetched, but I am confident that is the intention of the authors, as it added to the humor.  The story is totally told from Mr. Collins' perspective.  A light novella - quickly read.  None of the charm or romance of P&P, but a satiric novelty with an interesting premise.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sweet Story of Cupid's Interference with ODC

Sweet story of one incident after another that put Darcy and Elizabeth in each other's way or in compromising situations.  Very humorous and sweet.  Georgiana gives us her feedback at the beginning of each chapter.
Very enjoyable read.

Plagiarism in the JAFF World

I am so appalled and amazed to hear that some of the authors of Jane Austen Fan Fiction are being plagiarized.

Many of our favorite authors first publish their works in progress on sites such as Fan Fiction, Beyond Austen, A Happy Assembly, Darcy and Lizzy, etc.  Those of us who support these authors are thrilled to help support them as they build their stories.  And, afterward, to purchase the story once published on Amazon, etc.

However, just recently some of the JAFF authors have had their stories stolen off the websites.  The plagiarizers have published the stores as their own before the true author has finished preparing the story for publication.  Because authors rarely use their real names on the JAFF sites, those of us who love their stories can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals.

I think it is important for us to have some indication on the JAFF sites as to the true author of the story so we can be assured we are purchasing it from the correct person.  I also think it is important that we be told the names of the individuals (or the names they published under) for us to recognize if we have purchased a fake.

I would like to see the fan sites move to using at least something resembling the correct author's name so we do not have this problem in the future.

And, shame on those who would so ruin our joy in the JAFF world.