I’m really pleased to have Megan back at the blog today, not least because we both have heroes called Bennet, and they’re both called that for the same reason. Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet is one of the most endearing characters in print: bright, vivacious, flawed… a wonderful creation. Immortal. While my Bennet is named in homage but without any other link to Pride and Prejudice, Megan’s new release is a modern-day riff on that old story. What more could anyone ask for? Well, except a sequel. Because this book? BLEW ME AWAY.
One’s proud, one’s prejudiced, and they can’t stand each other.
Quick-tempered Bennet Rourke dislikes Darius Lanniker on sight. Darius may be a hotshot city lawyer, but that doesn’t give him the right to sneer at Bennet, his friends, and their college. It doesn’t help that Bennet’s restaurant job has him waiting at Darius’s table. So when his tutor recommends him for an internship at Darius’s Pemberley estate, Bennet isn’t sure he wants it. He’s also not sure he can afford to turn it down.
Darius is a fish out of water in the small college town of Meriton, but something keeps pulling him back there. He’s helping out a friend with business advice, nothing more. If he’s interested in Bennet, it’s not serious. Sure, Bennet challenges him in a way no other man has. But they have nothing in common. Right?
Wrong. Their best friends are falling in love, and Bennet and Darius can’t seem to escape each other. Soon they’re sharing climbing ropes and birthday cake, and there’s a spark between them that won’t be denied.
But betrayal is around the corner. Darius must swallow his pride and Bennet must drop his prejudices to see the rainbow shining through the storm clouds.
A standalone novel—a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. (Note: contains mention of past abuse.)
Win one of Megan’s back catalogue eBooks by entering a Rafflecopter giveaway here.
Two secrets spilt here.
The first is that ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one of my favourite books, and reading the innumerable variations on that great story is one of the guiltiest of all my guilty pleasures. Stressed and tired? Read a P&P variation. Need refreshing entertainment? Read a P&P variation. Going on a journey? Read a P&P variation. You get the drift. I follow a couple of fanfic sites with religious fervour, lapping up the myriad ways in which Elizabeth Bennet meets and eventually marries Fitzwilliam Darcy. P&P related stories are my **jam**.
Riffs on famous books depend for their impact on the reader’s familiarity with the source. I’ll admit a bit of the delight for me was taking Megan Reddaway’s characters and matching them up with the P&P originals, and comparing the events of her book against Austen’s plot. I was thoroughly impressed by how she has taken the well-loved story and brought it into the 21st century and yet how well the characterisation and plotting points mesh with the original. I admit to squealing whenever I recognised a character, chuckling over the scene where the infamous Assembly insult is graphically and profanely updated, and laughing aloud (and scaring the dogs) at the Lady Catherine/Elizabeth confrontation remastered as Catherine/Bennet.
But let me hasten to reassure you that Reddaway isn’t just slavishly copying Austen here. Yes, the links to the source are strong, but the whole book – characters, dialogue, plot – are infused with a freshness and vitality that reflect how unconstrained, mobile and diverse society now is compared to Austen’s time. It has life, a joie-de-vivre that’s almost palpable, it has potential tragedy and heartbreak, laughs and tears, with strong, quick-witted, sharp characters and a dextrous plot, all pulled together in Reddaway’s skilful prose. This isn’t a mere pastiche. This is a clever, intelligent and creative retelling of a beloved classic.
Which brings me on to the second secret: I don’t read many contemporary stories. Mostly I want escapism, something far away from today. Hence the P&P variations, along with period detective/mysteries, historicals and, of course, sci-fi and fantasy. I don’t naturally reach for a contemporary for entertainment. Few grab my attention to the point where I’m cross I have to put down the Kindle to take the dogs out or make lunch or do the laundry. But this contemporary, gay take on P&P? Couldn’t put it down and truly resented Molly and Mavis today and their insistence on exercise just as I got to the exciting bit. I couldn’t wait to get back to see what happens next.
Oh here. Have a bonus confession: I don’t often keep the ARCs I’m sent when I do one of my (rare) reviews. Many books don’t wear well, don’t stand up to constant rereading. But this one? Yeah. I’ll be buying this one for keeps.
All in all, this is a wonderful, funny, and touching book. I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
MEGAN REDDAWAY lives in England and has been entertained by fictional characters acting out their stories in her head for as long as she can remember. She began writing them down as soon as she could.
Since she grew up, she has worked as a secretary, driver, barperson, and article writer, among other things. Whatever she is doing, she always has a story bubbling away at the same time.