Seducing Mr. Darcy
by Gwyn Cready, paranormal (2008)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4165-4116-5


It goes without saying that Seducing Mr. Darcy is a story where author Gwyn Cready plays fast and loose with Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. If you have enshrined the story in your heart so much that you cannot bear the thought of Colin Firth's Mr Darcy's private parts coming in contact with any female genitalia that doesn't come attached to a person whose name is Lizzy Bennet, this book may give you a heart attack in the midst of your furious composition of a virulent letter to Ms Cready.

As for me, I'm not the biggest fan of Jane Austen's works. Come to think of it, I'm not even the smallest fan, so to speak. But I have to tell you, if Jane Austen's Mr Darcy can shag a woman senseless the way he does our heroine Flip Allison (start reading from page 52 - go on, you know you want to), I'd start practicing how to drink tea with my pinkie finger extended straight out while holding my cute little teacup as I speak to my fellow Groupies Who Wanna Shag Colin Firth Jane Austen Appreciation Society friends in a horribly fake British accent. I never knew that Mr Darcy has such a dominant lover streak in him, oh my.

Alas, that is the sole positive moment in this story where Mr Darcy doesn't come off like a fickle and inconstant jerk so seriously, if you really cannot bear to read anything that does anything to the glowing memories of yours of Pride And Prejudice, this book is not for you. I'm not trying to make fun of you if you are a big fan of Jane Austen's works, mind you. It's just that I have come across enough violent overreaction from humorless fans of Jane Austen to this book to come to the opinion that some Jane Austen fans really shouldn't try to read this book. The author herself is a big fan of Pride And Prejudice and it shows in this book, but eh, fans will always be fans.

Oh, and I don't think you need to know Pride And Prejudice inside out to appreciate this story. I am only familiar with the abridged version of that story, and even then, I read that silly thing in order to help my son with his homework a long time ago. Still, I manage to have plenty of fun with this story, so who knows. I'm never confused while reading this story.

Oh, and one more public service announcement before I give the synopsis: while there is a romance here, the author doesn't follow the structure of a typical romance novel when it comes to handling it. Ms Cready breaks a few rules in the process, such as the one where the heroine must never have sex with any other man in a romance novel or she will be nailed to the cross and burned alive by a hoard of enraged romance readers. If you are familiar with and enjoy chick-lit stories, you will find yourself in familiar territory while reading this story.

Okay, on with the plot. Philippa "Flip" Allison researches birds but her love life leaves much to be desired. I'm sure there is a dirty joke in there somewhere, but eh, I'm not even going to touch that one. Flip loves the works of Jane Austen, especially Pride And Prejudice, but currently she's experiencing some dry spell where her sex life is concerned so she doesn't mind reading something that gets down and dirty by the third chapter, if you know what I mean. Stressed out by the way her life currently is, she decides to visit a massage parlor on a lark. Madame K claims to be an unique massage therapist, however - one session with her will allow you to experience a vivid escapade straight out of your favorite book. Flip expects to live out some hot scene in a dirty book she has read recently, but instead she finds herself "inhabiting" the body of Mr Darcy's childhood friend and experiencing a hot torrid sex session with him. I tell you, Flip's lucky that her favorite author is not Lora Leigh. That would be... uncomfortable, to say the least.

It's just a vivid dream, right? Flip is pleased with her massage session and decides that perhaps she will come back one of these days... until she realizes that her "dream escapade" has actually altered Pride And Prejudice as we know it. Lizzy Bennet now despises Mr Darcy because everyone knows that he was doing the dirty with some woman that he ended up impregnating. In public, no less! That woman in question is the dream version of Flip, of course. Flip is now in a state of panic, convinced that somehow she will be beaten to death by legions of enraged fans wielding the DVDs as a battering weapon of mass destruction.

Fortunately for her, she has an ally in Magnus Knightley, an Austen scholar who is convinced that Pride And Prejudice is the most brilliant "objective representationalism" ever of the social values of Jane Austen's time. He abhors the way vapid fans have confused Mr Darcy with Colin Firth and treated the masterpiece as a sappy love story. Two people with very different viewpoints of the same book will have to band together and who knows, even venture into the story via a session with Madame K in order to set things right and match up Lizzy and Mr Darcy. They prefer the original version, after all, and not the revised version that Flip calls When Darcy Met Lizzy.

This book is funny. It makes me laugh hard at so many places. Needless to say, this one is more than adequate as an entertaining and fun story. Ms Cready has the pacing down right and the timing of the comedy done perfectly. The story is simply too hilarious. This is a book that I have to adore. Ms Cready won't have it any other way - she's merciless in making me giggle and laugh out loud as I happily turn the pages of this story. Comedy is easily the greatest strength of this book.

The characters are on the underdeveloped side, but they all play their roles perfectly, from Flip all the way to her naughty ex-husband. Flip, I'm happy to say, isn't too neurotic or annoying as a heroine that seems to have stepped out of a chick-lit novel. She can think and she even has a sense of humor. Magnus, on the other hand, is a dull character. It is as if the author has started work on him as the "tall, dark, and handsome asshole with British accent" archetype but abandoned all efforts when Magnus is barely out of the Austen Scholar Ken doll production line. Still, because the characters here are busy doing things rather than trying too hard to psychoanalyze their feelings, Magnus and Flip get to be fun one-dimensional characters jumping through hoops to make me laugh instead of annoying me endlessly with their whining. As for Mr Darcy and Lizzy, he comes off as a shallow and one-dimensional jerk while she's a judgmental twit, but since they are merely in the story to make me laugh, I have no problem with them at all. I suspect that some fans of the original story may beg to differ, though.

The only thing that I am not too fond of here is Flip's pathetic need to have a baby and how she will feel so grateful that first Mr Darcy and later Magnus will "generously" attempt to knock her up. Give me a break. We are in the twenty-first century, no? Flip is not strapped, financially, so I find it hard to believe that she has no choice but to get men to impregnate her if she wants a brat that badly.

Still, Seducing Mr. Darcy is a fun laugh-out-loud read. It doesn't have much depths when it comes to the romance or the characters, but oh my, it is so entertaining to read. How can I resist?

Rating: 86


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