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Series Review – Take Charge

Posted in Book Blogger

Take Charge Series

by Shana Granderson A Lady
Genres: Regency England, Historical Fiction, Romance

Because there are six books in this series (thus far), I didn’t want to review each one separately. As a whole, the series contains the fun, lighthearted, happily ever after type of stories I love to read.

However, there are a few recurring items I’d like to mention now so I don’t have to repeat myself in each book’s review:

  • The extended families are too perfect. I can only assume this is because they are mostly of Ms. Granderson’s creation — either original characters or characters only briefly mentioned in Pride and Prejudice. But, the Fitzwilliam family, as well as extended Bennet and Fitzwilliam relations are all perfectly jolly, down-to-earth, unprejudiced people. Despite their elevated status, the parents only want their children to marry for love and are disappointed in Darcy when he forgets that his parents wanted the same for their children. They are all happy to welcome the Bennets into the extended family, without a question of their suitability, and those who are of an age with the Bennet sisters are happy to extend informality well before it would be considered appropriate given that they aren’t related.
  • Ms. Granderson doesn’t like Mr. Bingley. Most of his interpretations in this series are weak-willed and led astray — often to the point of ridiculousness — by his sisters. While he didn’t attend a finishing school — since those were for women — his time at Cambridge, as Darcy’s friend, and among the Ton should have taught him basic social rules. However, in several of the books in the Take Charge series, Mr. Bingley is either ignorant of them, or allows himself to disregard them in order to appease one, or both, of his sisters.
  • The proposals and acceptances feel fake. They are very wordy and seem perfectly thought out, even though the women’s answers, at least, are meant to be offered without much, if any, forethought. Even if I’d scripted my acceptance and practiced it regularly as a young woman, only needing to substitute in my future fiancé’s name, I don’t think I could have delivered such a long, perfectly articulate response to a marriage proposal. I also find the use of complete names — including any middle names — when proposing and accepting proposals to be odd.

Charlotte Lucas Takes Charge cover

Title: Charlotte Lucas Takes Charge, #1
Release Date: September 17, 2021
Pages: 335
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Synopsis:  None of the books in this series are purely about the title character, but how their taking charge affects those around them.

Fanny Bennet dies of an apoplexy two years prior to the start of this story.

As in canon, the Bingleys, Hursts, and Darcy arrive in the area residing in the leased Netherfield Park. Up until the Reverend William Collins arrival, things are not far from canon. Collins is the sycophant we all love to hate and sets his sights on Jane. Bennet tells him in no uncertain terms he will not consent to such a man marrying ANY of his daughters.

Charlotte Lucas overhears Collins ranting to himself about how he will evict the Bennets from Longbourn the day Bennet passes. He then tried to woo Charlotte soon after and she too rejects him. He is derisive when she rejects him out of hand, he tells her that no man would ever offer for one on the shelf, without fortune, and as homely as her.

Collins then proposes to Matilda Dudley, Lizzy’s friend and Longbourn’s widowered parson’s daughter. Matilda accepts him much to Elizabeth and Charlotte’s surprise.

Collins’s words to her spur Charlotte to take charge, the story tells the tale of what she does and how it affects the lives of not a few people. The book examines how Charlotte actions change the trajectories of some of our favourite (to love and hate) characters.

Review: I enjoyed Charlotte Lucas Takes Charge (CLTC). It was a delightful story, and provided an interesting plot. The various “villains” — I use that term loosely since they don’t really ever pose a true threat — are dealt with in new (to me) and interesting ways. The various pairings made sense and the relationships progressed well.

I wish the epilogue had either been shortened or lengthened. It felt rushed with so much information crammed in. If Ms. Granderson felt it was so important to provide all of the many details, then she could have extended CLTC to include those events. Instead, we’re force-fed a lot of extraneous details that don’t ultimately matter.

Because of the number of errors, I have to knock off a star from the rating. I came across many that pulled me from the story, including errors in continuity.

Still, CLTC was a good story that I intend to purchase to read again later, which says a lot.

Lady Catherine Takes Charge cover

Title: Lady Catherine Takes Charge, #2
Release Date: November 28, 2021
Pages: 392
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Synopsis: The great lady is very much like she is in canon until there is a horrific accident in 1804 where both her husband Lewis and her daughter Anne die. For a lady who believed she could control all by force of will and desire, the deaths of her family rock her world down to the foundations. She revaluates all of her priorities, changes direction, and becomes a surrogate mother to both surviving Darcys.

In his will Sir Lewis leaves his estate and all of his holdings to Richard Fitzwilliam as he is the only one of his three nephews to have to shift for himself. Sir Lewis and Anne were the last alive in the de Bourgh line.

Jane Bennet, after losing more than one suitor to her mother’s vulgar and inappropriate behaviour has had the blinders removed. Elizabeth is no longer in awe of her father as she has had her eyes opened to his indolence and abrogation of his parental responsibility. Rather than laugh with him at his treatment of his wife and younger daughters, she understands the inappropriateness of how her father behaves.

The story is close to canon with regards to the interactions between the Netherfield and Longbourn residents with the dastardly George Wickham pouring poison on our Lizzy’s ear up to a point. We see a lot of that interaction through the eyes of William Collins who is very different from his portrayal in canon. Wickham is exposed, but not by Darcy.

Bingley is his spineless self and allows his sister Caroline to rule his life and manipulate him while at the same time he looks to Darcy to make decisions for him. The Netherfield Party escapes to Town and Bingley deserts Jane without a word except for Miss Bingley’s fiction she sends in her note and single reply to a Jane’s three letters.

Up to a point, Lady Catherine has taken a back seat. Unlike the lady we are used to, she does not want to insert herself into her relative’s lives unless absolutely needed. When she sees too much happening which needs correcting, she decides to take charge. She leads her family in berating Darcy for his behaviour in Hertfordshire, his hauteur, and in not taking care of the scourge that is George Wickham.

This story looks at how this iteration of Lady Catherine changes the trajectory of a number of character we all love, and some we dislike intensely.

Review: While Lady Catherine Takes Charge (LCTC) was a good story, it was less to my personal taste than the first book in the series. I will say, however, either there were less continuity errors in LCTC, or I missed them.

I greatly enjoyed Wickham’s fate; it might just be my favorite part of the book. Miss Bingley’s fate is rather good, too. However, there are many excellent scenes involving the Bennet family, as one would expect.

Once again, the pairings make sense and relationships proceed at reasonable paces. I also feel the attitude and behavior changes made by several characters were believable.

Miss Darcy Takes Charge cover

Title: Miss Darcy Takes Charge, #3
Release Date: January 29, 2022
Pages: 297
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Synopsis: Miss Georgiana Darcy in this telling, is not your garden variety victim, as she is often portrayed.

Before her beloved mother died, Georgiana (Gigi) is charged with looking after her brother and father and not allowing them to wallow in self-pity and grief. The young girl takes her mother’s instructions to heart.

As in canon, George Wickham entertains Miss Darcy as a young girl engendering a friendship. However, that is where the similarities end. She overhears and sees some things which force her to begin to assert herself.

Wickham is sent from Pemberley, at what he believes, is his erstwhile friend Fitzwilliam Darcy turning his father against him.

When her father joins her mother in heaven, her life changes once again, now left in the guardianship of her brother and cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam.

Mrs. Younge is employed by Miss Darcy’s guardians and to Ramsgate they go. There she meets her good friend’s mother, Mrs. Felicity Burnett and the cousin she has wanted to meet for some time now, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Ramsgate is very different from canon as are the results. Enjoy reading of the way Georgiana Darcy’s taking charge affects her life and the lives of those around her.

Review: Let me start out by saying Miss Darcy Takes Charge (MDTC) had much fewer errors — at least that I noticed — than the previous two books, so I didn’t feel the need to remove a star from its rating.

This plot was new to me. I enjoyed the original characters and the Georgiana-centric story. Lizzy and Gigi have a believable introduction, given how much they know about each other before meeting, and their characters are similar enough for a friendship to blossom despite how little time they know each other.

My biggest issue with the story is that Georgiana seems far too put-together for her age. While she’s 15/16 in this story, as she was in canon, she acts like a woman in her 20s. Had some major event happened to mature her more quickly, I could have better believed it. However, since her early life wasn’t significantly different than the original, it doesn’t make any sense for her to be so mature.

I also feel that Lady Catherine and Wickham are almost unbelievably bad in MDTC. I know Jane Austen’s characterizations leave a lot of room to play on their worst traits, but I think Ms. Granderson put more than a toe over the line between believable and not.

Of the three books I’ve read in the series so far, I’d rank MDTC number two on my preference scale, behind Charlotte’s book.

Mr. Bingley Takes Charge cover

Title: Mr. Bingley Takes Charge, #4
Release Date: April 10, 2022
Pages: 274
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Synopsis: In the 4th book of the Take Charge series, it is the normally capricious and wishy-washy, disguised as modesty, Charles Bingley’s turn to come to the fore.

With events in his life and the guidance of his late father’s brother, this version of Mr. Bingley is one with a spine, who does not need Darcy’s permission to make decisions. As in canon, he takes the lease on Netherfield Park, but that is where the similarities end.

Mr. Thomas Bennet, spurred on by the shame of his second daughter having to beg him to get off his rear end and take up his paternal duties does so and we find out that his wife is not enamoured with the changes he makes.

Darcy sees our Elizabeth before the assembly, and is captivated by the lady, although he knows not who it is. Will he put his foot in his mouth at the assembly? If he does how will his friend react?

Will Darcy be able to put his pride aside and follow his heart? And how will Bingley react to Miss Bingley and Darcy’s attempts to separate him from Jane Bennet?

These questions and others will be answers in this tale.

Review: Unfortunately, Mr. Bingley Takes Charge (MBTC) was riddled with errors of all kinds. I took a star off the rating as a result.

After three books with a weak Mr. Bingley, I enjoyed finally reading one where he’s stronger. I’m actually surprised that Ms. Granderson opted to give Mr. Bingley a book, given that it seems as though she doesn’t like him much.

I enjoyed the Grow Money Game the Bennet daughters started, and how all of the girls were drawn into the sisterhood between Jane and Lizzy. It makes for a sensible set of Bennet daughters that we don’t often get to see. That said, Ms. Granderson takes the opposite path and makes them a bit too perfect. They are virtually flawless, which is both impossible, and somewhat boring.

Wickham was dealt with fairly early on in MBTC, and didn’t really have much impact. He could have just as easily been left out entirely.

I felt Mr. Bennet’s sudden guilt later in MBTC was unlikely, given his previous lack of care. I can understand a sudden change as a result of a major upheaval, but that isn’t what happened. For a man so set in his ways, a single moment isn’t likely to completely upend his attitude and actions.

After reading MBTC, I would rate the series, in order of my preference: 1, 3, 4, 2.

Anne De Bourgh Takes Charge cover

Title: Anne de Bourgh Takes Charge, #5
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Pages: 382
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Synopsis: In the 5th book in this series, it is Anne de Bourgh’s (who more often than not is a footnote in most books based on Pride & Prejudice) turn to take charge.

Similar to canon, Anne is sickly and had a bad bout of scarlet fever when she is around 10 years. Unlike canon, she is not a wallflower sitting and sniffing while her companion piles shawls on her.

In her own words from the story, just because she is weak of body does not mean she is weak of mind. We see the affect she has on the lives of those around her.

As in canon, Lizzy comes to Hunsford to visit Charlotte Collins. That is where we separate from canon. Lady Catherine attempts to be the woman we all love to hate, but how will her story play out when factoring in a strong and resolute Anne?

Before Darcy and his cousin come to Kent, Lizzy and Anne form a friendship and then we see how Anne influences the courses that out favourite (and some hated) characters travel.

Join me as we explore an Anne de Bourgh who is very different from the one we are used to reading about.

Review: Like so many of the books in this series, Anne de Bourgh Takes Charge (AdBTC) is full of errors. With as much as I enjoy the stories as a whole, it’s highly frustrating to be so distracted by the errors.

I enjoyed seeing more of Anne, especially a stronger Anne. She’s so often relegated to a footnote in the story, like with Pride and Prejudice when she could be much more, like she is in AdBTC.

I love the way the various couples came together in AdBTC. And having Anne as the center focus of it all was nice.

It was interesting to have twin Bingley sisters, as opposed to the older and younger of canon, but it worked well and they had a marvelous comeuppance. It’s a shame the Bingley sisters of canon didn’t suffer such a set down.

Once again, the amount of information in the epilogue was out of proportion to its length. It felt more like an information dump than a conclusion to the story.

Despite the issues, I enjoyed AdBTC. At this point, I would rate the series, in order of my preference: 1, 5, 3, 4, 2.

Jane Bennet Takes Charge cover

Title: Jane Bennet Takes Charge, #6
Release Date: September 28, 2022
Pages: 324
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Synopsis: In this the 6th book in the ‘Take Charge’ series, it is Jane Bennet’s turn to shine.

We discover in this story what caused Jane to take on the persona of the peacemaker, the one who always needs to see the positive regardless of the facts.

Through the first few chapters we see a Jane close to the one in canon and the story follows the familiar track (to a certain extent) of the one and only great Pride & Prejudice.

We arrive at a point in the early chapters where Jane is forced to re-evaluate her outlook on life which helps her to find her voice and begin to take charge. From that point on there is a divergence from the original story that this one is a variation of.

What happens when Jane is pushed too far? How will she react to Bingley’s abandonment, especially as this is not the first time something similar has occurred to her. This tale will tell us of Jane’s first love and the reason she was sundered from her Mason.

A saving grace for the three older Bennet sisters is their Grandmama Beth Bennet. What happens when Jane and some of her sisters reunite with their beloved Grandmother and discover previously unknown family members? How does Jane influence her own course with Bingley, Lizzy’s with Darcy, her youngest two wild sisters, and her parents? Will Wickham be believed and will he be allowed to wreck the havoc he does in canon?

This story will reveal all of the answers to the above questions and much, much more.

Review: I only thought the errors in the previous books of the series were bad. In Jane Bennet Takes Charge (JBTC), the errors overwhelm the story. I often had to re-read sentences to figure out what the author was trying to say. There are misspellings, typos, grammar errors, and continuity errors. JBTC desperately needs an editor. I’m tempted to remove two stars from JBTC‘s rating, but I don’t want to give it a score that implies I disliked it.

The storyline itself was enjoyable, but it was completely overtaken by the errors. This Jane was given a believable character arc and backbone, and I liked her happily ever after.

The epilogue to JBTC was unnecessary. The main story ended at a natural point, and I didn’t have any remaining questions to be answered.

Having read the entire series, I would rate it, in order of my preference: 1, 5, 3, 4, 6, 2. JBTC would rate 3rd or 4th if it had been properly edited.

About the Author

I have three children and after a disastrous first marriage I found my soul mate who I thought that was lost to me over 25 years ago. I recently married the love of my life. I live with my soul mate in Australasia and have three pets, two cats, Darcy and Bingley and a golden lab, Honey.

Like many high school students, Pride and Prejudice was assigned to me in an English literature class. It was not my favourite book, but I read it as I had to. I forgot about the book until in my 30’s when I saw and fell in love with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice version made for TV in England, and purchased a copy of the DVD that is now much played.

The tipping point was the 2005 big screen adaption of P&P. Not long after seeing it I found and read the complete works of Jane Austen on Amazon, starting with Pride and Prejudice. The latter book is by far my favourite. After I read it three of four times over, I wistfully said to myself: ‘it is a great pity that Miss Austen never wrote a sequel to her seminal novel.’ One day I was searching Kindle books and for the fun of it I entered “Pride and Prejudice Sequel’ into the search not expecting any results.

The rest is history. I discovered the JAFF community and books. I became a veracious reader of JAFF books and once I had devoured all of the sequels and continuations that I could find, I read my first variation. I had been resisting variations wrongly thinking that I would not enjoy them as much as the sequels. Boy, was I ever wrong! Today I am the proud owner of well over 1,000 JAFF novels that I have purchased on Amazon. ‘A Change of Fortunes’ is my first book that I wrote. There are a number of others on the way.

Note: These reviews are based on eBooks I borrowed from Amazon between December 26, 2022 and January 6, 2023 as part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

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