September 26, 2012

Review of Definitely Not Mr Darcy by Karen Doorneboos

Karen Doorneboos

There's no place for pride in this Austen misadventure.
Chloe Parker was born two centuries too late. A thirty-nine-year- old divorced mother, she runs her own antique letterpress business, is a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society, and gushes over everything Regency. But her business is failing, threatening her daughter's future. What's a lady to do?
Why, audition for a Jane Austen-inspired TV show set in England, of course.
What Chloe thinks is a documentary turns out to be a reality dating show set in 1812. Eight women are competing to snare Mr. Wrightman, the heir to a gorgeous estate, along with a $100,000 prize. So Chloe tosses her bonnet into the ring, hoping to transform from stressed-out Midwest mom to genteel American heiress and win the money. With no cell phones, indoor plumbing, or deodorant to be found, she must tighten her corset and flash some ankle to beat out women younger, more cutthroat, and less clumsy than herself. But the witty and dashing Mr. Wrightman proves to be a prize worth winning, even if it means the gloves are off...
I have  a weakness for certain things in this life and anything that makes me think of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is one of them

Those that know me KNOW that Colin is the only Mr. Darcy for me
and if a male character in a book is even slightly like him I fall and I fall hard.

Our story starts out with a broke, divorced mom. Her hobbies are all things past, preferably Regency England. She is a huge fan of Jane Austen and devoured the novels. She belongs to the Jane Austen Society; she goes to tea parties; she owns her own failing business that makes hand-crafted, hand-printed invitations.

She feels lost in this modern world. For her, it is too fast-paced. Men disappoint her when she falls into a trap common to many other women: she is looking for a fairy-tale Prince Charming to swoop in and save her.

She is encouraged by friends and family to join a television show that she thinks is going to be just about living life as though it was 1812 in England; it turns out to be a reality dating show called,  How to Date Mr. Darcy

She has to give up everything in her modern life in order to compete on the show. The hardest part for me would be giving up being with my kid for several weeks, but this woman does not throw a fit till they try to take away her cell phone (for me, strike one).

I love a female character I can relate to, and this protagonist isn't one of those.

This one claims to know and be capable of surviving in the past. She talks a good game, saying she knows all of the societal rules, etc., and would be able to handle everything very well. In reality, she only seems to know the rules that are laid out in the very polite stories written by Jane Austen. Jane did not speak of things like baths, or showers, or toilets, or the smell, or how one dealt with things like their period, or the hierarchy of who gets to use the bath water next, or... you get where I'm going, right?


yes that is a Regency shower no it is not in the book
For me, this part of the book was irritating. I did not like that a character who made such great claims did not seem to KNOW things outside of Austen. One cannot claim to be an expert (a word that irks me) and not know that Regency women dampened their gowns so the material clung to them--this should not have been a shock. Nor should using a chamber pot, or the diet of the time period, or the bathing situation.

While those things irritated me, ALL IN ALL I really did enjoy this book. Watching her go from starry-eyed romantic to facing reality was a bit hard, but she needed it. It helped her be a better character, more rounded. Once she was able to get over the rose-colored glasses view of things, she was able to appreciate her own world and the experience did give her a good kick in the ass to not just lay down and accept failure.

I like the theme--the 'grass is always greener approach'-- it worked really well here. I liked the side characters, and I liked the twists in the story.

The story line of this reality show involves two brothers: the elder brother who will inherit everything,and the younger brother who will inherit nothing. At first, I was all for both of the men she has to choose between.

Sebastian is handsome; dark,brooding, and quiet, you get to know him a bit of a flirt. Then there is
Henry, the younger brother. He looks stunning, a bit on the nerdy side, is a doctor, and is the penniless brother.

There are other contestants, of course, and the whole thing is just a powder keg of a mess waiting to explode.
And it does.
Many times.
Watching the mess happen is so much fun!

There were many things in the book that bothered me; I tweeted about them and I made my notes, but there was also a lot that made it a worthwhile and fun read.

So, if you can overlook a few annoying things and let the writer take you on her journey you might love this one. I'm giving it 3 stars if Amazon and Goodreads had half stars this book would get 3 1/2 I liked this one it was a fun read and I do think many people would enjoy it as well.

The end made me wonder if it was really over. I wanted more.
 best quote in this book:

"Curvy women were all the rage in the Regency era."

I am a woman out of time ! 


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