by Jessie Lewis
Genres: Romance, Regency, Pride and Prejudice Variation, Historical Romance
Release Date: February 10, 2019
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
A tempestuous acquaintance and disastrous marriage proposal make it unlikely Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet will ever reconcile. Despairing of their own reunion, they attend with great energy to salvaging that of Darcy’s friend Mr Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane. People are rarely so easily manoeuvred in and out of love, however, and there follows a series of misunderstandings, both wilful and unwitting, that complicates the path to happiness for all four star-crossed lovers more than ever before. Re-edited with new and extended scenes for 2019 publication.
First thing’s first. Mistaken is hard to rate. I don’t use half stars in my rating system to better port my reviews to Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Generally, therefore, when I feel a book falls between stars, I round up. However, after much thought, I’m rounding Mistaken down. Be aware, there are several spoilers in this review.
I made it through the book without too much trouble. It’s not particularly poorly written in terms of spelling, grammar, and word choices. However, the characters, for the most part, bear little resemblance to Jane Austen’s beloved creations beyond their names.
Let’s start with Jane and Charles Bingley. I can only assume that the author despises Jane Bennet. Jane’s descent into the most spiteful, horrendous character in this book is: a) completely outside the realm of possible for Jane Austen’s Jane Bennet, and b) almost painful to read in how the author twists every possible occurrence to wring every last bit of awful out of this Jane imposter. From false accusations to blackening her sister’s name to striking her pregnant sister, this Jane is so horrendous that Caroline Bingley becomes her voice of reason.
Charles, on the other hand, is so consumed by his obsession with Elizabeth that it becomes nearly his only personality trait. Everything he does, says, and thinks, it seems relates to Elizabeth. And somehow, the object of his affections, her husband, and her husband’s family have no idea. In his obsessed state, he manages to put all blame for an unhappy marriage on Jane, despite making no effort with her. We are also expected to believe that Mrs. Bennet cares so little for Jane’s felicity that she pushes Jane to “encourage” Charles into marriage even knowing he’s more interested in Elizabeth.
A further issue with characters acting oddly is Darcy’s family. His cousin Ashby, Fitzwilliam’s brother, and his wife and Lady Catherine object to Darcy’s marriage on the grounds that he’ll be ridiculed by society and their standings may be hurt by association. However, rather than aid Elizabeth’s entrance into society, they do their utmost to tear her down, and, thus, denigrate their own family. It makes no sense, especially considering that any injury to the Darcy’s is an injury to Georgiana’s chances of a good marriage.
And then there is perfect Miss Elizabeth Bennet who is somehow the most enchanting woman in the world and doesn’t realize it. She captivates virtually every man she meets, to the point that they may accost her to propose, and are somehow wholly unable to behave in a socially acceptable manner around her. In her perfect benevolence, she forgives months of wrongs from Jane the moment Jane shows even a hint of remorse, and completely overlooks Darcy’s family’s treatment of herself and her relatives to try to preserve his family’s peace. However, let Darcy show even the tiniest chink in his armor and she jumps down his throat about how horrible he’s being, just like he used to be, despite claiming the past to be forgotten in light of his improvement.
And we come to Mr. Darcy. How many times can one man listen to someone else give him wrong information and not check facts for himself? He believe Elizabeth to be dead twice, maybe thrice; he thinks she somehow hid that she was intimate with another man before marriage; he believes Bingley tried to abduct his Elizabeth. I’m fairly certain there are more I’m forgetting. All of these are false, by the way. But he doesn’t learn.
And speaking of going around in circles, it seems like every time Darcy believes, or comes to a, mistaken conclusion, the reader is “treated” \s to a jump in time. He’ll get some horrible thought in his head, or he’ll be told something awful, then we’re taken back in time to the beginning of that situation from Elizabeth’s point of view. This happens sometimes from Elizabeth to Darcy as well. It makes the story feel slow-paced and unnecessarily drawn out.
And finally, my last major gripe: where are the rest of the characters? We get tantalizing glimpses at things like Mary’s improvement, Georgiana and Darcy’s relationship maturing, Anne de Bourgh and her husband, but never get to know how their lives end up.
The epilogue is about 3 years in the future where, somehow, everyone is going about their lives like nothing happened except Darcy. We get no information about anyone I mentioned above. Nor do we know what happened with the vile London rumors, Ashby and his wife, Charlotte Collins and her husband and child, or even what Mr. Wickham’s ultimate fate is.
OK, I’ve exhausted my annoyance enough to say it wasn’t all bad. There were some sweet and funny moments, especially between Elizabeth and Darcy. And even a quote I must remember,” Those who disdained the privilege of her acquaintance would be the only ones disadvantaged.” The quality of writing was pretty good, the author does an excellent job of illustrating Darcy’s heartbreak, especially in the first third of the book. That first third actually promised something interesting, though, at the time, I was confused as to how it felt like the story was almost done but there was so much left. Little did I know…
So, do I recommend Mistaken? Not unless you’re a huge fan of angst and drama. Otherwise, give this one a pass.
About the Author
Disclaimer: This review is based on an eBook I borrowed from Amazon on April 10, 2021 as part of the Kindle Unlimited program.