Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.
Together they become entwined in a Regency tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. As if traveling back in time, a story unfolds within their story. All was not as it seemed in the private lives of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but how can they ever uncover the whole truth?
How could they know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?
Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?
The Elizabeth Papers is a tale of romance and intrigue, spanning the Regency and modern eras, reminding us how the passions of the past may inspire those in the present.
Although I’ve hosted author Jenetta James on The Calico Critic in the past, her latest work The Elizabeth Papers is the first novel of hers that I’ve read. Prior to the day that she contacted me for this review, I’d noticed the book’s arrival throughout social media and other blogs. The cover art completely drew me in—yes, I’m that kind of reader. The premise sounded interesting enough, but I must say the amazing art was what sold me. Jenetta assured me that the content wouldn’t be overly steamy for my readers, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this for you!
Unlike many titles, The Elizabeth Papers can indeed be judged by its cover. I absolutely adore this book! James’ writing is superb, confident and strong. She deftly handles the multiple time periods of the narrative by giving each its own distinctive voice. I was completely drawn in, and in truth, I could not read this book fast enough. I loved the voice she gave to Elizabeth Darcy. It was almost modern in tone, without being too anachronistic. Darcy has his unique timbre within his letters and is very faithful to Austen’s original view of him. He is strong and regal in public, tender and sincere in private. Their marriage is very real; they’ve been together for six years, and the newlywed sheen has worn from their relationship. As a woman who has been married for over two decades, I loved how Jenetta handled the vicissitudes of the marital relationship. One passage almost took my breath away. While my husband and I are doing well as of late, there have been periods during our relationship when my heart has echoed these emotions of Elizabeth Darcy's:
“Now, if she [Lydia] is in his presence and causing him annoyance, I find I do not care. Is this how love dies? Does it falter on the road of complacency and acquiescence? If I do not tend to him as once I did, is it not he who has made me feel thus? A feeling of darkness and loneliness is welling up inside me, and I know not how to push it down.” (Chapter 13)
With this style of writing, it is no surprise that each chapter left me grasping for the next, especially with the format that James chose, alternating time periods with each chapter. She had me wondering which era I preferred—the Regency time period in which the Darcy's were so compelling, or the modern era in which the characters were so interesting. It truly was a great combination of a traditional Austenesque novel and a contemporary tale.
Jenetta also crafted romantic storylines that I found to be a touch steamy, but not over the top. She kept the content within the PG or light PG-13 range, with plenty of opportunities to go further with the private details of the bedroom without doing so. Most of the sensual moments were between the married Darcy's, with just a tad from other sources. Her writing is very strong; she has no need to become overly sensational in this area. I applaud her choices in this regard.
Overall I cannot recommend The Elizabeth Papers highly enough. It’s the best Jane Austen Fan Fiction I’ve read in quite some time, and truly stands apart with its quality writing. I think my only major complaint is that at just over 200 pages, I wanted it to be longer! We could have heard more from Darcy’s letters, for example. I in no way felt cheated—I simply enjoyed the novel so much I didn’t want it to come to an end! Jenetta James has completely won me over, and I look forward to reading more of her in the future!
Giveaway: The Elizabeth Papers
Jenetta has generously offered to give away two copies of The Elizabeth Papers to our readers! Simply use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. The winners may choose between a Kindle edition or paperback copy. Open internationally. Contest period closes on August 13th at 12am EST. Good luck!
About the Author
Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego.
Connect with Jenetta
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