Sunday, January 29, 2012

Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton

For anyone obsessed with Pride & Prejudice, it's Darcy and Elizabeth like you've never see them before!
This modern take introduces us to the wealthy philanthropist Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome and brooding bachelor who yearns for love but doubts any woman could handle his obsessive tendencies. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bennet has her own intimacy issues that ensure her terrible luck with men.
When the two meet up in the emergency room after Darcy's best friend, Charles Bingley, gets into an accident, Elizabeth thinks the two men are a couple. As Darcy and Elizabeth unravel their misconceptions about each other, they have to decide just how far they're willing to go to accept each other's quirky ways... (synopsis from B&
Sourcebooks, Trade Paperback, 352 pages

When I read the summary for this book, I was a little leery of reading it.  I was worried the Darcy character would be ruled by his OCD and be less romantic.  Boy was I wrong! In this wonderful adaptation by Nina Benneton, Darcy’s OCD is sensitively handled; Darcy is a man with OCD but he is not defined by it.
Darcy and Bingley have come to Vietnam to help his sister and brother in law, the Hurst’s, finalize an adoption at an orphanage managed by Jane Bennett.  Bingley injures his leg horsing around and ends up at the hospital. Darcy goes with him but doesn’t go inside (one of his quirks) until it seems to him that too much time has gone by and he goes in to give someone what-for.  He ends up blundering into a surgery setup, gets into a tussle with the surgeon, sees Bingley’s bloody leg and takes a facer onto the floor.  Guess who the surgeon is?
After this inauspicious beginning, Darcy and Elizabeth develop a friendship that quickly goes deeper. Misunderstandings abound, nasty relatives and enemies do their best to break up the couple, and things go very badly. Just as in the book from which this novel is adapted, people make assumptions about other people and misread situations which lead to the relationship troubles.
I loved that way Ms. Benneton worked in the characters from the original book and from other Jane Austen books as well.  Some of the characters follow a similar path as the original version, but others go a different direction and it all works. Elizabeth and Darcy have a strong relationship that overcomes their own mistrust and outside influences. The bad people get punished and when you read the last page you think to yourself…. That was really an enjoyable read!  I hope that we will see more from Ms. Benneton

Friday, January 13, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James

A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.

It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery. (synopsis from B&

Hardcover, Knopf Doubleday, 304 pages

I am a total sucker for any Austenesque book and I enjoyed reading this one. The setting is clever, Darcy and Elizabeth are getting ready to host the annual Lady Anne Ball and Lydia shows up in a carriage having a hsterical fit. Wickham and Captain Denny have had some sort of disagreement and left the carriage to go off in the woods, shots rang out and Lydia panicked and made the coachman take her to Pemberley ( uninvited  of course). Darcy, col Fitzwilliam and some footmen head out and find Captain Denny now dead and Wickham claiming it was his fault. The ball gets cancelled and the Darcy's are thrown in the middle of a murder. Darcy finds himself in the unwanted position of having to provide assistance to keep his brother-in-law from hanging and having to try to find out what really happened.
The premise is clever and I liked the way little snippets of other Austen books are worked into this story, ie Wickham worked for a short time for Sir Walter Eliot ( Persuasion).  Ms. James fills in a lot of the backstory of Pride and Prejudice from the Darcy side and that was fun. However, parts of the story plod along and the ending is a little contrived. That said, as an Austen fan I enjoyed reading it and overlooked the negatives. Wickham and Lydia are just as one would have expected them to be and it's nice to see what has happened to the P&P characters years later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz

A rare book. An ancient code. An all-new novel from the New York Times-bestselling master of passion and the paranormal.
Within the pages of very rare books some centuries old lie the secrets of the paranormal. Abby Radwell's unusual psychic talent has made her an expert in such volumes-and sometimes taken her into dangerous territory. After a deadly incident in the private library of an obsessive collector, Abby receives a blackmail threat, and rumors swirl that an old alchemical text known as The Key has reappeared on the black market.
Convinced that she needs an investigator who can also play bodyguard, she hires Sam Coppersmith, a specialist in paranormal crystals and amber-"hot rocks." Passion flares immediately between them, but neither entirely trusts the other. When it comes to dealing with a killer who has paranormal abilities, and a blackmailer who will stop at nothing to obtain an ancient alchemical code, no one is safe.( Synopsis from B&

Hardcover, Putnam, 352 pages

Copper Beach is the start of a new paranormal suspense series, A Dark Legacy . Abby Radwell is a bookseller working primarily with private collectors. She has the power to take psychic energy from book and use it to disable people but primarily she uses her senses to find “hot books” for her carefully vetted clients. She gets involved in the search for a lab book with tremendous energy potential and needs help with a blackmailer-enter Sam Coppersmith. Sam comes from a family that has a long history of paranormal work and research. Added to his background with an unnamed government agency and he is the perfect man for Abby-personally and professionally. There is a lot of chemistry between the two characters and they get involved with each other and the search for the book right from the beginning. Abby is being pressured to find the book by her family and possibly also from an unknown blackmailer. Sam's father was involved in the beginning of the experiment that created the lab book and Sam knows the consequences should it fall into the wrong hands. Floating around in the background is the mystery of how Sam’s ex-fiancĂ© ended up dead, why Abby’s family needs her to find the lab book, and who the mysterious blackmailer is. The suspense of the story keeps you turning page after to page to see what will happen next. This book is a bit of a departure from her Arcane series but just as enjoyable.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy

White House chef Olivia Paras and her arch nemesis, White House Sensitivity Director Peter Everett Sargeant, must work together to solve the double murder of one of the First Lady's assistants and the Chief of Staff-before they become the next victims of a merciless assassin with a secret agenda.  ( Synopsis from
Paperback, Berkley, 304 pages
Ollie Paras returns again as White house Chef in a new mystery from Julie Hyzy. At the request of the First Lady, Ollie has to work with prissy Sensitivity Director, Peter Sergeant to arrange a birthday party for the Secretary of State.  On their way to the venue, they are stopped by Peter’s ne’er do well relative, Milton, who is pushing Peter for a White House job. They also have a brush with a rude stranger.  When the duo gets to the Lexington, they discover the bodies of two White House staffers in some kitchen equipment. Thus begins Ollie’s wild ride.
Ollie tries not to get involved but the fates conspire against her.  First the head usher, Ollie’s friend Paul, takes an indefinite leave which puts an inexperienced guy in his place. Then she somehow gets involved in a kidnapping of a family member of the Secretary of State. Finally, if working with Peter isn’t annoying enough, she gets saddled with Wyatt, a protocol aide who is a big blowhard know –it-all. Add to all of this the need to keep most of the situation a secret for security’s sake and the ongoing feud with the First Family’s private chef, the situation just keeps getting worse.
Ollie’s personal life isn’t any calmer. Her romance with Secret Service Agent Tom is a fading memory and her new romance with SAC Gavin is seemingly going nowhere. Poor Ollie, it seems as though she has no peace in her life at work, at home, or in her love life.  Ms. Hyzy does a great job of depicting the ins and outs of DC life and the way the White House hierarchy works.  The situations that Ollie finds herself in aren’t so farfetched as to be unbelievable. The book is suspenseful from beginning to end with plot twists galore.