I’ve already mentioned that I’m a huge Jane Austen fan so it’s no surprise that I would pick up a book with the subtitle Pride and Prejudice Continues (there are dozens of them, but, dismissing the old adage, I picked this one because of its cover art). Not all characters are interesting enough to follow after their story has ended but Elizabeth and Darcy are certainly two that are. One can imagine a future relationship of adventure, love and shared wit. Something interesting was happening there, which surely would continue. But what exactly did their happily ever after include?
According to the author – lots and lots of sex.
One of the characters in this book, (and I’m getting the feeling she will add to the intrigue later in the story) is Juliette Clisson, daughter of a French Viscountess. She is the unofficial mistress and well paid escort of Mr. Darcy for many years before he weds. She is rich, beautiful and decidedly high class despite her profession.
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (and yes, I can only imagine the title is meant to be ironic, because it seems like all he does is take her – in the bath, in the carriage, on the grounds of Pemberly) is similar to Ms. Clisson in many ways, but mostly because they are both high brow smut. Don’t get me wrong, this book does not aim to hide the nature of its story, in fact it’s likely the book’s main selling point. Alas, however, I expected a story in there somewhere.
Instead I find myself reading excerpts about marginal characters (which are indeed interesting) in between the latest bout of sexual exploration for Lizzy and Darcy (for while he is experienced, she definitely is not). We are even let in on marital activities of Jane (also recently deflowered – do people still use that word?), something that would shame that honorable woman endlessly.
However I may be giving the wrong impression here. I like romance novels, particularly period pieces, as much as the next gal. They just have to be interesting. Victoria Holt has always done an amazing job of keeping the romance flowing while adding a bit of a mystery (egads, a plot? Yes, yes, oh yes!!!) to keep other parts of the brain working. (Full disclosure: I have a tattered, well read copy of Pride of the Peacock by Ms. Holt at home). The sex scenes in Mr. Darcy aren’t bad (though I did stop counting the number of times the word “member” has been used, each time making me giggle. There is also an inordinate amount of heaving bosoms.). They are actually quite good – not terribly well written nor written terribly. They are a bit, well, distracting from what little story is actually within the pages (you have to look for it, but there is one).
This outrageously sexualized version of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship is a stark reminder that these two actually have an interesting and complex relationship. What’s going on in their brains is just as sexy as what is going on between their bodies – isn’t that how they came to fall in love after all? Which is why it’s so frustrating to think that minus some of the sex (though I’m not arguing all) there could have been a legitimate and interesting book here. Somewhere in the middle of the book, either the characters or the author run out of sexual steam and though melodrama ensues, it’s far more intriguing then repeated coitus in the various rooms of Pemberly.
It’s just sad that no one told the author that because as it is, Mr. Darcy will grace the shelves merely as a brief, exciting romp, pleasant for the duration, but quickly forgotten once it is over.