Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise. Sourcebooks Landmark. ISBN: 978-1-4022-4103-1. Pages 368. Trade Paperback. ($14.99 / Amazon: $10.19, Kindle $9.68). Originally published as Something Like Regret.
Only Mr. Darcy Will Do is a “what if” book building on the characters and somewhat on the plot of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In this instance, the author, Kara Louise, chose to diverge shortly after Darcy’s horrendously inappropriate proposal to Elizabeth and her curt and hurtful refusal. Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter detailing his involvement with Mr. Wickham and explaining his reasons for separating Mr. Bingley and Jane. Elizabeth returns to Longbourn from Rosings just as she did in the original work. That’s when things change. Mr. Bennet falls ill. Elizabeth doesn’t go on the trip with her Aunt and Uncle Gardner. And more importantly, when Mr. Bennet dies, Lydia is called back from Brighton before she can elope with Mr. Wickham.
The death of Mr. Bennet means that the Collin’s inherit Longbourn. Elizabeth persuades her mother to move in with her sister, Mrs. Phillips, and her husband. Jane moves in with the Gardiners in London to help with their children. Elizabeth takes a position as a governess with Mr. and Mrs. Willstone to care for their daughter Emily — a very precocious six-year-old. The stage is now set and the story spins out from this point.
The Willstones live in London which allows Elizabeth to visit the Gardiners and Jane on her Sunday’s off. They also travel in the similar social circles as the Darcys and Bingley. Mrs. Willstone’s sister Miss Rosalyn Matthews comes to visit the family and for some of the London social season. It was a chance invitation that brought Miss Darcy and Mr. Bingley to the Willstones on a day when Emily had been asked to sing for their guests while Elizabeth played the piano for her. Bingley’s surprise was genuine and sincere. However, since Elizabeth and Rosalyn were becoming friends it also led to Rosalyn confessing her admiration and respect for Mr. Darcy and her hope that she could secure his love.
As you can imagine this throws Elizabeth into a quandary as now she has realizes just how much she misjudged Darcy and somewhat regrets her refusal of his offer of marriage. She’s now a governess and if Rosalyn and the Willstones begin to entertain the Darcys, it will be painful for her as her first encounter with Darcy shows.
How will things turn out? Will Elizabeth’s change in circumstances prohibit Mr. Darcy once again asking for her hand in marriage? Will she have to stand by and watch as Rosalyn vies for his attention and regard? Does he even still care for Elizabeth?
Those of us who are fans of the book have definite ideas about how the questions should be answered. But will the author oblige? You’ll need to read the book to find out how or if she manages to have our two favorite characters interact.
Kara Louise is very respectful of Austen’s characters and the feel of the story as well as the interactions of the characters are believable while following naturally from the new story line. There are also no sex scenes, just plenty of romance and witty dialogue. The writing is such that you could believe that if Austen had been a bit more romantic and less pragmatic, she could have written this story.
Once again I was enchanted by characters I admire and enjoy reading about and by Louise’s style, wit, humor, and story telling.
If you enjoy Pride and Prejudice variations as much as the follow-ons, you really need to read Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise, unless of course you’ve already read it when it was published as Something Like Regret.
If you have read this book, I’m anxious to hear what you thought of it — please leave a comment.