by Cherith Boardman
Total Want of Propriety, Volume 1: At the first light of dawn the morning after the dance at Netherfield, a carriage speeds north as Fitzwilliam Darcy flees the temptation wrought by Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s pert opinions and fine eyes. His heart yearns for the intelligent beauty, but he knows his duty to Pemberley, and his family, and cannot risk exposing his beloved sister to the total want of propriety evidenced by the rest of the Bennet family.
A month later – and now resolved to follow his heart – Darcy hastens towards Bath after Darcy learns of Elizabeth’s expulsion from her family for refusing to marry Longbourn’s heir, Mr Collins.
Soon confronted with the truth of his own family’s wanton lack of propriety – and Elizabeth’s dislike of him – Darcy must do all he can to protect his sister from her own folly, while hoping to earn Elizabeth’s forgiveness for his arrogant presumptions…
And ultimately win her heart.
Total Want of Propriety, Volume 2: In the aftermath of their tumultuous early acquaintance, the newly married Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy spent their months in Portugal building a flourishing relationship built on respect and the deepest love as they learned to support each other through the myriad trials besetting them – especially the peevish and bitter Georgiana.
Returning home to England, the Darcys reunite with their loved ones and take up the reins of their duties at Pemberley and elsewhere, whilst finding their place within Society. When suddenly faced with disastrous opposition from the Fitzwilliam family, Darcy and Elizabeth must present a united front before London’s Upper Ten Thousand. Can they endure the unforeseen attacks, unparalleled scrutiny, and unwarranted gossip as they defend their marriage and love against the onslaught?
Battle lines have split Society, and the war has begun. Who will support them? Who will betray them? And might Fitzwilliam’s and Elizabeth’s growing communion provide the means of Georgianna’s Reclamation?
Please Note: Total Want of Propriety is one story spread across two volumes, Darcy’s Reformation comes first, and Georgiana’s Reclamation comes last. Both volumes are necessary to complete the story. Both volumes are clean, novel-length, non-canon P&P romances, and feature British and historical spellings.
Warning: Total Want of Propriety: Darcy’s Reformation features an instance of fade-to-black (non-sexual) violence. Physical, emotional, and mental recovery from the trauma of past physical and verbal abuse are themes throughout both volumes.
OK, there’s a lot to say about this set. To start, I bought this book by accident. I wish the 1-click button at least had a “confirm” option. But, since I owned it, and Amazon makes it incredibly difficult to “return” digital content, I figured I may as well read it.
I wasn’t expecting Total Want of Propriety (TWoP) to be so different than Pride and Prejudice. Don’t expect to recognize anything from Jane Austen’s classic behind character names and some relationships. If a typical Pride and Prejudice variation is a “re-write”, this is a new creation. Imagine both Jane Austen and Cherith Boardman received a sheet with some character names and relationships and were told to write a story based in the Regency era. You would, of course, get two completely different stories with a slight overlap because they started with the same character names. That’s what this is.
As usual for me, I’ll start with the negatives. Because both the pros and cons for this set are fairly long, I’m going to use bullets to try to avoid writing a novel as a review.
- My biggest issue with these books is the amount of errors. From spelling to grammar to missing words. In many cases, a simple Microsoft Word grammar checker should have caught the issues. I don’t like when a book available for purchase has so many issues. By my own review rules, I should rate this only 2 stars, dropping a star because of the amount of errors, but I don’t dislike it, so I’m leaving it at 3.
- Related to that, I feel as though the author put too much effort into using elevated and antiquated vocabulary and turn of phrase. I have never before seen a work of fiction with so many footnotes. I’m not reading fiction to learn new things, I’m reading it to be entertained. And having to stop to check footnotes or, sometimes, even to Google words because the built-in dictionary can’t define them takes me out of my enjoyment. It was like the author was trying to prove how intelligent they are. That effort would have been better spent on polishing the books and making sure they were error-free.
- The conflict in both books, but especially in book 2, feels incredibly drawn out. It’s not just lengthy conflict, it’s overly lengthy conflict. I often felt as though the author was providing near excruciating detail on all conflict, then skipping over the “good” that was happening in the story.
- Related to the above, the amount of detail significantly slowed the pace of the story. Both books would have benefited from a good editing — not just for errors, but for timing. Both would have been superior cut down by at least 15%.
- Some of the situations and events in the two books make no sense to me. They seem rather unlikely, and even the footnotes don’t provide any validity. I don’t want to go into detail here because of spoilers, but there are definitely moments where I was scratching my head thinking, “I don’t think something like that would actually happen.”
Now, on to the positives.
- It takes a skillful author (in my opinion) to incorporate as much conflict as TWoP has without it feeling angsty. The characters’ feelings make sense for them. Even those feelings I didn’t agree with made sense within context of the character experiencing them.
- The author’s original characters are good characters. They are fully fleshed out and add to the story. None of them feel squeezed in for no reason, unnecessary, or overly perfect. Elizabeth and Darcy still get to shine as the main characters, they just have a wider cast of richly developed secondary characters.
- The storyline is interesting. Clearly, it’s interesting enough to induce me to finish both books even when the going got incredibly slow.
- There were many highlight-worthy phrases within the two books. I had 22 different highlights between them, far more than my typical 1-3 per book.
- The author ended the second book well. I didn’t feel a need for more once I’d finished, and not just because it had been so long. The main story arcs had conclusions, and everything was nicely wrapped up in such a way that I didn’t feel like I was missing information.
So, overall, do I recommend it? That’s hard to say. The two together are just under $13, plus tax. However, they are on Kindle Unlimited. I think, if you have KU, it may be worth reading through them, assuming you find the premises interesting. Had I read them on KU, I would not have purchased them to read again later.
About the Author
Cherith Boardman has always been an avid reader and has been amusing herself by changing stories in her mind since childhood. Due to life’s little quirks, she somehow managed to miss all the Austen novels, including Pride and Prejudice, until she was placed on bed-rest during her fifth pregnancy. Her husband (now of thirty-one years) went to the bookstore to purchase bribes to keep her in bed – one being an omnibus of Austen’s works, which she immediately loved. Upon discovering fan fiction, she found a wonderful outlet for her mental hobby.
Cherith has also always loved history, specifically the day-to-day life of individuals. After living for five years in an Amish community, she feels like she had a long-term immersive study of daily living for most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — both its perks and unpleasant realities.
She is the mother of ten children (yes, they are all hers) and entertains herself (and maintains her sanity) by writing her changed stories – when not chauffeuring her family, helping with school-work, volunteering at the local school, and grabbing hugs and kisses whenever she can.
NOTE: This review is based on two eBooks I purchased from Amazon on April 20, 2022.