Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

A Weekend With Mr. Darcy
~Victoria Connelly

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: July 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402251327
ISBN-13: 978-1402251320

From the author's website:
Dr Katherine Roberts is a lecturer at Oxford University and an expert on all things Austen. But she has a guilty secret; a love of racy Regency novels by Lorna Warwick. She’s even struck up a long-distance friendship with the novelist and the two of them have been sharing their closest confidences.

When Katherine gets her yearly invite to a Jane Austen Conference at the magnificent Purley Hall in Hampshire, she sincerely hopes that Lorna will be in attendance as well. She can hardly wait to meet her new friend, but it seems that Lorna may not have been completely honest with her…

Meanwhile, hopeless romantic Robyn Love is at her happiest when her head is stuck in one of Jane Austen’s novels – if only her boyfriend Jace Collins could be more like Colin Firth.

The weekend retreat is the perfect opportunity for Robyn to escape from reality for a few days – especially when she meets handsome stablehand Dan. But Jace isn’t going to be so easy to shrug off.

With misunderstandings, muddles and a few shocking revelations, the weekend proves to be even more than they bargained for. Like all true Jane Austen heroines, Katherine and Robyn will discover that finding their own Mr Darcy is far from easy…

Dr. Katherine Roberts is a Jane Austen lecturer at Oxford, but her guilty pleasure is reading historical romance by her favorite author, Lorna Warwick.  She keeps this guilty pleasure hidden, as her colleagues would not be very accepting of anything less than "pure" literature.  She's agreed to speak at a Jane Austen weekend, and she's hoping Lorna Warwick will be there - they've been exchanging letters and Katherine is excited that they might finally meet.

Warwick Lawton has a dilemma - he knows Katherine Roberts, thinks he might be in love with her, but she doesn't realize she knows him.  He plans to sweep her off her feet at the Jane Austen weekend but isn't sure how to go about doing it.

Robyn love is so excited about her upcoming Jane Austen weekend - she's having second and third thoughts about her boyfriend and she's looking forward to getting away and thinking about her future and wallowing in everything Jane Austen.  Things don't go quite as planned when her boyfriend, Jace, shows up to spend time with her while she's at the conference.  Later she runs into a mysterious stranger on horseback who makes her take a good hard look at her life and her relationship with Jace.

My thoughts:
As the story opens, we get a brief glimpse at Katherine's failed past relationships and Warwick's dilemma - he wants Katherine to know him for who he is, not what he is.  Katherine is supposed to be a smart, sympathetic heroine, but I do think it was a bit of a stretch that she didn't figure out Warwick's secret much earlier.  Their relationship progressed in spurts and stops - she goes from avoiding him after he runs her foot over with a suitcase, to "true love", to her discovery of his secret and the subsequent feelings of betrayal; this all in the course of one weekend.

When Robyn was introduced, I thought for sure I'd be more interested in Katherine's story, but I was pleasantly surprised by Robyn.  She's trapped in a boring job and her boyfriend's a boor; she's pretty much a doormat.  But, once she's at the JA weekend, she meets the fellow attendees and tries to view her life as Jane would have viewed it.  There were several scenes where I thought, "Robyn, what are you doing - here's your chance to make a change!"  But, as in real life, change does not happen overnight.  I enjoyed Robyn's path to self-awareness and self-worth, and Jace was a really cringe-worthy anti-hero.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the period costumes, the places where Jane Austen frequented while she was alive, and mentions of her family.  There are also several references to other Jane Austen authors and their books, which I thought was a nice "shout out" to this popular genre.

All in all, two sweet romances filled with fabulous Jane Austen references and history.  A Weekend With Mr. Darcy made me want to pick up my own copy of Pride and Prejudice for a nice, comforting re-read.

My Rating:

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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