February 16, 2015

Pride & Puppy Love

Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson

Release Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 368 pages
Source & Format: Gifted; Paperback
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Summary (from Goodreads)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman teetering on the verge of thirty must be in want of a husband.

Not true for Manhattanite Elizabeth Scott. Instead of planning a walk down the aisle, she's crossing the pond with the only companion she needs; her darling dog, Bliss. Caring for a pack of show dogs in England seems the perfect distraction from the scandal that ruined her teaching career, and her reputation, in New York. What she doesn't count on is an unstoppable attraction to billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy. The London tycoon's a little bit arrogant, a whole lot sexy, and the chemistry between them is disarming. When passion is finally unleashed, might Elizabeth hope to take home more than a blue ribbon?

Thoughts on Unleashing Mr. Darcy
I'll admit it: I'm a Jane Austen fangirl. Because of this fact, I inevitably want to read almost anything and everything inspired by her novels. So, you can imagine my delight when I was gifted a copy of Unleashing Mr. Darcy! It sounded like such a fun read, and the fact that it's a modern retelling of my favorite book EVER only added to my excitement. I decided to pick this book up when I wanted something light and happy. This ended up being the perfect choice for that mood!

Elizabeth Scott is nearing thirty and, much to her mother's dismay, she's nowhere near getting married. Instead of walking down the aisle, she's walking around at dog shows. When the opportunity arises to travel to England and care for a pack of show dogs, she can't resist. It's the perfect escape - getting her far away from the scandal at home that's left her job in question. Now, if only she could stop running into that arrogant, billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy...

Unleashing Mr. Darcy focuses more on the romance in Pride and Prejudice - with less emphasis on the familial relationships. While I appreciated that Wilson didn't try to replicate everything from the original in her book, I did find myself missing the larger social circle. You'll still meet some familiar characters, but I didn't feel like they had as much life as Austen's originals. I feel like Austen excels at secondary characters, including managing to make them memorable in just a few short sentences. Unfortunately, I never grew to love the secondary characters in Unleashing Mr. Darcy. Instead, I became more preoccupied with identifying what role they were playing ("Oh, he's Mr. Collins!") and examining how Wilson had updated their storyline.

And what about the romance? I'll admit that I didn't feel it ever really came close to the original. The danger with retellings is that the standard is raised even higher, and not many books will be able to live up to the original upon which they are based. One of the things I love most about Pride and Prejudice is the conflict between Darcy and Elizabeth and the way their relationship develops. With Unleashing Mr. Darcy, I was missing that dynamic. Donovan and Elizabeth butt heads and have misunderstandings, but there are never any real obstacles in their path to being together.

I think that's one of the most difficult things about modernizing this beloved story: capturing the conflict and challenges of the book in a world without the same cultural customs. For me, I just never really believed there were that many reasons why they couldn't be together or even that they were really in love. Attracted to each other? Absolutely. But I never felt like their relationship had much depth. It takes more than physical attraction and a few witty conversations to make me believe in a couple.

Honestly, I might not recommend this book as a Pride and Prejudice retelling. It's a fun interpretation of the original, but there was something missing for me. If I wasn't comparing the two in my mind, I probably wouldn't have minded a number of things that ended up not really working for me. I love Austen retellings, but I can definitely be more critical of them than I would be with a regular read.

However, as a contemporary romance, I really liked this book! It was a funny, warm and enjoyable little escape. It would be perfect tossed in a beach bag or read by the pool! I found myself grinning while I read it - just waiting to see how everything would develop and excited about how it would all play out. That's what I wanted when I started it, so I'd say it was a win on that front.

2 comments:

  1. Aww, this looks so cute! I might have to get this one since I looove anything to do with Pride & Prejudice!

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  2. You already know how much I liked Unleashing Mr. Darcy! Personally, I liked the subtle hints of the way Pride & Prejudice inspired it, and it didn't bother me all too much that some of the best things about P&P (as you've mentioned) weren't focused on here. But then again, I'm quite the sucker for a contemporary romance! ;)

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