Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa De La Cruz

Summary:  Darcy Fitzwilliam is twenty-nine, beautiful, successful, and brilliant.  She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones -- one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding).  Darcy's never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else's drama, an never goes home for Christmas if she can help it.  But when her mother falls ill, she goes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets Luke Bennet, the smart sardonic slacker son of their neighbor.  Luke is thirty-two and has never left home.  He's a carpenter who makes beautiful furniture and is content with his simple life.  He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other.  When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it's just another one-night stand.  But why can't she stop thinking of Luke?  What is it about him?  And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way? 

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is a sweet, sexy, and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.  (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  As you might have guessed, I picked up this book based solely on its title, as I am wont to do when it comes to anything even remotely Jane Austen.  My hopes have been decidedly dashed of late when it comes to retellings (ahem, here and here) and so I was taking a bit of a chance but figured I’d either get a super cute Christmas retelling or a hot hot mess.  Alas, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a little bit of both. 

As I didn’t read the flap before starting the book, I was a little surprised at some of the character transformations.  Instead of Fitzwilliam Darcy we have Darcy Fitzwilliam a rich, successful woman returning home to her quaint hometown of Pemberley for Christmas.  Elizabeth Bennet is now Luke Bennet, a humble carpenter content to live a small-town life.   And Charles Bingley transforms into Bingley Charles, still Darcy’s best guy friend, who only has eyes for Jane, or rather Jim, Bennet.   In this book it is Mr. Fitzwilliam (Darcy’s father) who is the obsessive parent, rather than Mrs. Bennet.  And don’t even get me started on Charlotte Collins.  I was delighted with some of the changes and less delighted with others, but it definitely made for a fresh take on an oft-redone story. 

After a good chunk of the characters were established, the story took off at a good clip.  There was a deliciously intense, if entirely drunken, kiss under the mistletoe between two arch nemeses, accompanied by some lovely sparks.  I thoroughly appreciated that the author managed to create chemistry between the main characters, yet only alluded to sex without actually having to make it part of the written story, an art that is sadly lacking in many YA authors’ repertoires.  

At a certain point in the book, Darcy undergoes a character shift so dramatic I nearly got whiplash.  It felt disingenuous and attempts to explain it later in the book did little to assuage my neck pain.   About halfway through the book, I felt my interest in the story start to decline -- the chemistry that had once sizzled fell flat, Darcy’s indecision bordered on tedious, and in the last three chapters it all just full-on tanked.   This book probably only took me a few hours to read and ordinarily finishing an entire book in one sitting leaves me feeling pretty good, but I closed this one feeling decidedly unsatisfied.  It held some promise but failed to deliver. 

My Rating: 2.25 Stars. 

For the sensitive reader:  Some profanity (of the H and G-d variety) peppered throughout.  One use of an A-word derivative.  Plenty of ill-advised alcohol consumption.  One non-traditional romantic relationship that is neither avoided nor overly explored. It just is.  Some undressing and allusion to sex between main characters but no actual discussion of it. 

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