"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman teetering on the verge of thirty is in want of a husband." Anyone who loves Pride and Prejudice will immediately understand that Teri Wilson's latest romance is a pastiche of that novel. And, she succeeds brilliantly in turning Unleashing Mr. Darcy into a sexy, funny story set in the world of dog shows.
Elizabeth Scott doesn't need more turmoil in her life. She's suspended from her teaching job at the exclusive Barclay School in New York City because she failed to capitulate when a father demanded she change his son's grade. In fact, the man tried to bribe her, touched her, and when she slapped him, he accused her of extortion. Her only refuge is the dog show ring with her beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bliss. At least it's her refuge until she spots the judge, a formidable figure. Elizabeth's hackles immediately rise when he calls her "Number Eight". She pegs Donovan Darcy as another powerful, rich man who can get what he wants. She's lucky he doesn't dismiss her. She's not so lucky when he happens upon the black-bedecked birthday scene at the restaurant where her entire family shows up to bemoan the fact that she's still single.
Elizabeth needs an escape, and she's presented with the perfect opportunity when a wealthy English couple ask her to stay with them and help with their four show dogs. She and Bliss are ecstatic with the new opportunity in England, and she's happy when her older sister, Jenna, shows up on business. But, no one told her that one of Mr. Darcy's houses was just down the street. And, he seems to enjoy meeting up with her and the dogs, even though Elizabeth can be quite rude at times. After her experiences at the school, Elizabeth thinks "Men were nothing but trouble. Particularly rich men. They were spoiled, arrogant and thought they could take whatever they wanted without any consideration for the consequences." Donovan Darcy accuses Elizabeth of being a snob.
Teri Wilson has done an outstanding job with the sexual tension between Darcy and Elizabeth, the growing affection despite their attitudes. She has many of the proper elements for an enjoyable homage to Pride and Prejudice; the relatives on both sides, the spiteful woman who wants to marry Darcy, the relationship between Jenna and Darcy's best friend. At the same time, she makes the story her own, setting it against a backdrop of dog shows while bringing it up-to-date with scandals in the newspapers. Unleashing Mr. Darcy is a fun romance with so many moments in tribute to the book.
And, kudos to Wilson. "It is a truth universally acknowledged" that most women will always see Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. In tribute to the BBC production, there's even a scene reminiscent of the most famous one from that show.
Unleashing Mr. Darcy is respectful, humorous, and sexy, a perfect addition to all the tributes to Pride and Prejudice. (And, don't forget all the wonderful dogs.)
Teri Wilson's website is www.TeriWilson.net
Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson. Harlequin HQN. 2014. ISBN 9780373778355 (paperback), 361p.
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