Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

From the back cover:

Instead of disappearing from Elizabeth Bennet’s life after she refused his offer of marriage, Mr. Darcy had stayed and tried to change her mind?

Lizzy, as she gets to know Darcy, finds him undeniably attractive and her impulses win out over her sense of propriety?

Madly in love and mutually on fire, their passion anticipates their wedding?

To Conquer Mr. Darcy, instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to her home in Hertfordshire, planning to prove to her his a changed man and worthy of her love.  And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she despised irresistible…

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To Conquer Mr. Darcy
Pride and Prejudice fans, have you ever been frustrated with Darcy’s condescending marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Hunsford?  While many wouldn’t question Miss Austen’s choice of plot development, the thought of re-writing the events proceeding Hunsford has probably occurred to more than one creative writer.  Abigail Reynolds has put this speculation to paper in To Conquer Mr. Darcy, available from Sourcebooks on August 3, 2010.

Reynolds’ imagining of the events picks up in June after Darcy’s proposal.  His demeanor is quite sullen and distant, even toward his beloved staff at Pemberley, with whom he is normally open and friendly. Miss Bennet’s rejection of him has clearly taken a toll.  As the story continues, we find Darcy pursuing Lizzy once again, although in a much more overt manner.  In meeting him again, she finds that he has become a far different man from the one she had known previously.  Some of the results of this tale may be similar to what we found in the original Austen text.  However, the ways in which these characters progress are far beyond Austen indeed.

As I began To Conquer Mr. Darcy, I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters again and I was pleased with the way in which Ms. Reynolds portrayed them.  Their personalities rang true to the original story and their manners fit in with Austen’s Regency-era England. The language was appropriate in style, but it was more readable for today’s audience.  For the first few chapters I was very satisfied with how things were progressing.

Then for a long portion of the book (predominantly the courtship of Darcy and Elizabeth) my opinion changed.  I even hesitate to term Darcy’s pursuit of Lizzie as courting, when the more accurate description of his behavior would be outright seduction.  I began to feel as if I was reading a flimsy romance novel, the kind in which we might find a Fabio-like leading man splayed on the cover.  For some readers this might be an attractive draw, but for me it wasn’t.  The characters became far more forward and passionate; the particulars of their relationship were detailed and intimate. As a reader, I just don’t need all of that.  Passion and romance can be conveyed differently, where “less is more” might be the line to pursue.

Interestingly enough, after Darcy and Elizabeth marry the fine details of their romantic life decrease significantly.  I was pleased to see that Ms. Reynolds did convey the message that the spouses were still madly in love with each other.  The state of marriage had not squelched this, as is frequently portrayed in other books and films.  Yet I find it interesting that the majority of the racy content wasn’t saved for the marriage bed.

As the story continued, the characters also had to deal with interesting and sometimes difficult life events.  These final sections improved my enjoyment of the book, as I appreciated the characters more and cared about the outcomes of a number of situations.  In fact, I found the final chapter to be quite touching and gratifying.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy
is not something that I can heartily recommend.  I could have done without the racy content that dominated the majority of the book’s center.  However, I enjoyed the start of the novel as well as its beautiful, moving conclusion.  Abigail Reynolds is an accomplished writer, and it’s clear that she’s writing for a particular audience. It just seems that the audience to which I belong is in a different place.

This title was provided to me by Sourcebooks Landmark. No obligation other than an honest review was required.
To Conquer Mr. Darcy was previously published under the title Impulse & Initiative.


Guidelines for entering to win my advanced copy of To Conquer Mr. Darcy:

  • Leave a comment below; this counts as your entry.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm on Saturday, August 7th
  • Open to U.S. addresses only.
  • Make sure at least one posted comment includes your email address. If you'd rather not have your email posted here, you may contact me directly to give me that information after you've entered here.
  • I will compile the entries and the winner will be chosen by, so even one entry can make you a winner!
  • Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 8th.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message! ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • Note: As this is a pre-published copy, the cover has the working title Conquering Mr. Darcy.
  • More information on the giveaway policies can be found on the Contact / Policies page.

Bonus Entries

Please make note of all your bonus entries in your comment(s).  You may post separate comments or a single large comment.  Here are your bonus entry options:

  • Follow The Calico Critic by clicking on the Google "Follow" button on my sidebar (old or new followers both get the bonus entry, just please let me know that you're following).
  • Follow me (@LHartness) on Twitter and tell me your @UserName.
  • Tweet about this ARC giveaway on; be sure to use an URL linking back to this blog posting in your tweet. You may do this as frequently as every 8 hours between now and August 7th at 11:59pm EST.  For each tweet, please come back and post the direct URL link to that specific tweet, not just your @Username.

That's it!  Thanks for stopping by, and good luck to all the entrants!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Convenient Shopping at CSN Stores

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CSN Stores is an innovative company, bringing together 200+ online stores with over 1 million products (and growing)!  In the near future I'm going to be reviewing some fitness equipment and DVDs for The Calico Critic, but they have so much more to offer.  Everything from furniture to office supplies, items for your pet and luggage for your summer vacation.  Their trained service team is there to assist you if needed, and even with over 200 stores, you can shop at all of them with just one checkout cart! And if for some reason you need to return an item, their Hassle Free Returns provide free shipping on just about everything.

You can also follow CSN on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get great tips and links to other CSN promotions!  And of course check back here soon on The Calico Critic for my review of some of their products!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Contest Report - July 21st

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Sometimes on Wednesdays my blog post details contests that I'm entering around the blogosphere for that week.  Some of these might appeal to you as well.  Check them out!

  • Aly at Kid Lit Frenzy is giving away to one winner either a signed copy of Heist Society or a signed copy of Keys to the Repository. Deadline to enter is July 28th, 2010.  Here's the link:

    • The folks at Reading Teen have a weekly "Second Hand Saturday" giveaway.  They have a huge list of books from which the weekly winner can choose.  Lots of YA and MG!  The deadline is each Friday at 10pm EST. Here's their latest link:

    • Linna at 21 Pages is having a big giveaway-- the winner gets to choose from ARCs like Clockwork Angel, The Ivy and Linger.  Deadline is August 20th.  Here's the link:

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Book Review: Portal by Imogen Rose

    From the back cover of Portal:

    PortalCome Find Me Two Years Ago…

    Six words that propelled ice hockey playing tomboy, Arizona, into an alternate dimension.  In one moment, she went from being a varsity hockey player in New Jersey to a glamorous cheerleader in California.

    She found herself with a new dad.  She found herself in a new life.  One that she had apparently lived in always.  Everyone knew her as Arizona Darley, but she wasn’t .

    She was Arizona Stevens.

    She knew she had to find her way back to her real life, to her real dad…

    Then she met Kellan…

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    Continue reading after the next set of red stars if you'd like to avoid anything that might be perceived as spoiler material...

    Author Imogen Rose was very gracious to send this book to me after I expressed an interest.  Along with Jane Austen novels, I go for almost anything with a time-travel motif.  This preoccupation with the genre probably began when I was a child after seeing Christopher Reeve in Somewhere in Time.  After that I was hooked.  Then Back to the Future pulled me in more as a teen.

    So here we have Portal, the first in a series of books called The Portal Chronicles that Ms. Rose is producing.  It’s centered on young Arizona Stevens, who finds herself in a new time and dimension.  Much of her life is the same, but there are many differences that alert her to this new existence.  We later learn that she and other loved ones have traveled through a portal.  She once was Arizona Stevens hockey player, but in this new reality, she’s Arizona Darley, cheerleader and Barbie emulator. She begins making a life for herself in her new reality, but she presses to return to her old life.  Matters are complicated when she meets the attractive Kellan and begins a romantic relationship with him.  She wants her old life back, but in order to get there she must leave Kellan behind.

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    was not quite what I expected, although I don’t know exactly what my expectations were. However, it was a delightful surprise.  I love the concepts introduced in Arizona’s world, and I came to care about the characters within the story.  While simply written for a young, Twilight-saturated demographic, this adult enjoyed the read.

    The technology of the portal is shrouded in mystery—we don’t get much information on what it’s like or how it works for most of the book.  But technological explanations really aren’t the key here—the story is.  And while I found the first 100 pages a bit disorienting, it later enabled me to feel like a part of the story, as Arizona experienced the same confusion herself.  What is going on?  Where am I?  Who are these people?  These were thoughts that ran through my head as I began the novel.  But as things became clearer for Arizona, they became clearer for me as well.

    The book ends on a dramatic note, setting the story up for the next book in the series, Equilibrium, scheduled to be released later this year.  I assume that this second title will not be a stand-alone volume, so I recommend that you go ahead and jump into Imogen Rose’s Portal when you’re ready for a light, entertaining, yet thought-provoking read.  I'll be looking forward to more of the same in Equilibrium.


    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    Contest Winner Announcement

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    A Cottage by the SeaThe winner of our Cottage by the Sea ARC giveaway has been chosen.  

    She tweeted her little heart out, and this time it paid off!  

    Congratulations to Sarah E!

    Thanks to all who participated!   And I hope our winner enjoys the book!

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Saying Goodbye

    Callie loving on a blogger's holiday gift to me.
    Christmas 2009
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    Today I'm mourning the loss of my blog's mascot, Callie Cat Hartness.  Diabetic and advanced in age (15 years), she died peacefully in her sleep today.  She's been part of our family since the summer of 1995, just after my husband and I married.  She came from the local ASPCA in Biloxi, MS as a 6-8 week old kitten. Sometimes we think she chose us, not the other way around!

    Callie saw it all--- our move back to our native North Carolina, the purchase of our first home, the birth of our two children, our career move to Vero Beach, FL and so much more.  She survived many scrapes with death, having more than one kitty accident along the way.  Her patience with our wiley boys was remarkable, as she endured occasional chasings and slightly-rough toddler petting.

    As I sit here in my room, all is silent, there's no cat sitting in the window or at the foot of my bed.  I already miss her so. She was a good friend and companion, and like all good family pets, she will never be forgotten.

    Callie Cat Hartness

    Callie not long after she joined us in 1995.
    She loved to find hidey holes, like in between the cereal boxes. 
    And once as a kitten she got herself shut into the fridge for a few minutes!

    Callie sometime in the last year or so.
    In her favorite perch in the bedroom window, looking out on the world.


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