Published by Self-published on March 22, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Kindle Edition
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I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Elizabeth Bennet is living a lie.
She’s known since she was fifteen that she isn't truly a Bennet, but who is she? Are the people and places that appear in her dreams just a sign of her active imagination, or are they memories of her true family? Could the stories she'd told Jane when they were children not be stories at all?
Fitzwilliam Darcy is reliving a nightmare.
He hasn’t dreamed of “Ellie” Windham in years, but after meeting Elizabeth Bennet, he is reminded of the day little Ellie was kidnapped. And now he is left to wonder whether he is drawn to more than her fine eyes.
When Darcy realizes that Elizabeth and Ellie might be one and the same, he is anxious to return her to the Windhams, and Elizabeth is no less eager to meet her family. But when the idyllic reunion she longed for goes awry, both Darcy and Elizabeth wonder whether it’s really possible to put a broken family back together again.
Can Darcy help Elizabeth find her place in her first family so she can one day join him in his?
How many lives are effected and how they are affected by the kidnapping of one child are the questions at the center of this unique Pride and Prejudice variation story. Restoration is the beautiful element that is longed for throughout this tale and it was only better still when an infamous encounter begins the romantic catalyst that brings a lost child home.
I have long wanted to try this author’s books and it was not long into this one that I knew I had been missing out. The characters are wonderfully drawn with depth that included flaws and winning ways, solid conflict that offered internal as well as external challenges. There was angst without it getting out of balance.
It has a large cast of characters and there are several narration threads all swirling around the main character, Elizabeth Bennet. Even the tender romance with the supportive, loyal and oh so loving William Darcy takes backseat to Elizabeth’s coming to terms with all that has happened and is happening to her. If I had a complaint, it would be maybe that many of the side threads could be a distraction and slow the pacing of the main story to little purpose particularly in the first part of the latter half when things were reshuffling for the end. I admit to being impatient for the final push when it came to a few storylines. However, if you pressed me to what of those side threads to give up, I’m not sure I could. I liked all the characters right where they were even the absurdly spoiled, Mercy, and the cruel, selfish Mrs. Bennet.
The book had several moving pieces that all had to play out before the end. It was put into parts and I appreciated that because I saw Elizabeth’s story in that way as well. I thought each segment of Elizabeth’s life rang true and the author didn’t stint on the development of each particularly how loss of a child can alter things for a whole family and how a child who was wrenched from family at a young age struggles to fit in and feel wanted.
Beyond the plot and characters was the historical setting. This was a Pride and Prejudice variation. It varies from the beginning of the story and only connects where names, places, and the Regency setting meet. No prior familiarity with the original Austen story required. It has the classic gothic overtones when it comes to the kidnapping, the sinister Collins who will do what it takes to get the Bennet estate, and the way Elizabeth is treated by her ‘aunt’ Bennet, but the intense part of the story is less action and more relationship and character-driven.
The author also did her homework when it came to Regency era law to form a story. In this case, it was the shocking rule of criminal law in that day that allowed the stealing of the child’s clothes to be the bigger criminal offense and not the stealing of the child. Melanie Rachel weaves a heartfelt, emotionally honest story around this element of law. Other legal elements: the entail of an estate to only go to male heirs, the law of primogeniture that allowed only the oldest to inherit the family estate, and marriage settlements that bound a woman’s fortune and even herself over as property of her husband- all drive the plot.
All in all, it was a story that touched me emotionally, but also had thoughtful moments that made me lose myself in a good way. Those who appreciate mild gothic tones, sweet slowburn romance, complex characters, and well-drawn historical settings should pick this one up.
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.