My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Going Home to Pemberley is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice rather than a variation. This story has what I look for in a sequel - lots of passion and adjustments as Darcy and Elizabeth start their life together. In addition, we see insights into other characters and their lives after P&P - Lydia and Wickham, Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Lady Catherine and Ann, etal. Please note there are many adult scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth.
As the honeymoon begins, Elizabeth and Darcy are both very passionate and are unable to keep their hands off each other. This is light-hearted at the beginning, but we begin to see that Darcy's passionate personality can sometimes cause him to lose perspective, and we quickly see him apologizing for being a little too passionate on his wedding night. As the couple start their life at Pemberley, and Elizabeth happily becomes involved in her new role as the Mistress of Pemberley, we see Darcy over-reacting to some of her actions and having to back-pedal as he rethinks his rash assumptions or over the top anger. This sets the scene for upcoming issues when the two are faced with more serious problems.
Other characters are dealing with their own issues, and this pulls in our couple, as well as continues to set the stage for the major set of conflicts in the story. Georgiana has not recovered from her Ramsgate affair with Wickham, and no one has ever allowed her to talk about it and resolve her outstanding issues. She is severely frightened about going into society and needing to face those who might befriend her for her money, as well as those like Caroline Bingley and her cousin's wife, Lade Penelope, who are quick to judge and make disparaging comments, similar to those she witnesses toward Elizabeth. This leads to a night in which Elizabeth stays with Georgiana throughout the night to help her face her fears and provide support. But, this night plays an important role in future events.
In the meantime, Lydia has found life with Wickham is not anything like she anticipated. She is now miserable and pregnant, fearing her husband, and needing to cook and clean while barely scraping by financially. Wickham insists on a trip to Longbourn when Lydia is only about 1 1/2 months from delivery, but Lydia is too beaten down to refuse or object. Wickham has something in mind, but Lydia cannot fight him.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is by Darcy's side as they confront a threat to their family. But, Richard has his own secrets, which threaten the bond between the two cousins who are almost like brothers.
Thus we have a story with all the pieces in place to bring us to heartbreak for Darcy and Elizabeth. Passion, deceit, doubt and misunderstandings embroil all in a serious set of conflicts that leave all questioning loyalty and love. But, of course, all is resolved with a HEA, despite the roller-coaster ride.
So many times authors are not creative enough to set the stage for the conflicts between Darcy and Elizabeth in writing their fan fiction. We see blow ups between the couple that seem to come out of left field. But, Bradshaw is able to bring us bit by bit to the point where we can understand how passion can sometimes defeat love, or at least temporarily bring it to its knees. The climax of this story seems to occur naturally, with a perfect storm, and imperfect people. And, the resolution where love does overcome heated anger and unforgivable words, is also not unexpected or surprising. We aren't always sure it will get there, but it feels right and logical when it occurs. This takes a gifted author to bring about.
In Going Home to Pemberley, we see the same passionate, loving, yet flawed characters Austen wrote of in canon. We see how circumstances and personality traits (read stubborness, insecurity and stupidity) bring them to the brink of disaster, and how strength and love, plus family support, bring them back. I found Going Home to Pemberley to be a very satisfying JAFF, and highly recommend it to JAFF lovers.
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