Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

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…

Chloe loves all things about Regency Era England.  She’s become quite the expert, so she thinks she will be a shoe in to win the $100,000 prize for a Jane Austen competition in which the competitors will live together a la the Regency Period.  No phones, no tv…and baths once a week. Yeah. Sounds GREAT.

So she leaves her home in America and her young daughter with her parents. When she arrives in England, she is surprised to learn that it’s actually a Regency Era DATING SHOW…several women competing to win the heart (and the $100,000) of their own Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wrightman.  Oh, man…that does not sound like something she would want to do.  Besides that, women her age in Regency England were “on the shelf,” simply way too old to be in the marriage market.  But the producers insist on doing it right, so she’s thrust into uncomfortable undergarments, given a reticule and sent on her way, in a carriage, no less, to meet her Mr. Darcy.

I will read pretty much anything that has to do with Jane Austen and/or Pride and Prejudice.  So, of course, I snatched this book right up.  Sounded down-right interesting.  And it was, but it just didn’t live up to what I was hoping for. 

There were two Wrightman brothers, both of whom Chloe is attracted to, but she has to win the affections of Sebastian in order to win the whole prize.  Chloe is supposed to be this woman who despises modern life, with cell phones attached to the ear of every one, emails instead of a nice hand-written letter, etc., and she’s appalled that she has to fight for a man because that’s not what she was in the competition for, yet she immediately becomes attracted to the director and considers him to be open game.  Then she becomes attracted to both brothers…I don’t think the author knew what she wanted to happen before she wrote it.  It was a little frustrating. 

The book was funny and entertaining, especially learning about the truth of the way of life in this highly romanticized era, and how these modern day people have to change their way of approaching things, yield to those of higher social standing, not show emotion, not touch a member of the opposite sex unless you are engaged to them. 

The romantic entanglements were funny and frustrating at the same time. And the ending was kind of strange.  The end result was what I was hoping for, but I would have preferred actually seeing what happens, rather than assuming. 

Pecans: 3/5

For other Jane Austen/Pride & Prejudice inspired recommendations:

Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo




Austenland by Shannon Hale




Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of  a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler


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