Miss Maria Lucas, after jilting her fiancé, has traveled to Pemberley for the Christmas season. She hopes her visit to childhood friends Kitty and Lizzy will ease the discomfort she’s felt at home after disappointing her parents’ plans for her marriage. But she could not marry the man they chose—there is only one man she can give her heart to, a man she believes she will never see again.
Mr. Denny arrives at Pemberley, not a very welcome guest to Mr. Darcy. But, as a friend of Darcy’s new brother-in-law, Sir Camden, Darcy opens his home to Denny. Soon, Denny finds himself opening to new feelings for the lovely Miss Maria Lucas, and he acts to make this Christmastide one of new beginnings. As Denny shows the party at Pemberley his true nature, Maria hides some of her truths from Denny. Forgiveness and happiness dance within reach—can they claim their partners by Twelfth Night?
Publisher and Release Date: Amazon Digital Services, December 2014
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance, novella
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
Who but Jane Austen aficionados remembers Maria Lucas? Or even knows who she was? The almost invisible and impressionable younger sister of the overly practical Charlotte is all grown up here in Reina M. Williams’ fourth Regency Love at Pemberley novella. So much so that she has even had a London season and, like Jane Austen herself, accepted an offer of marriage and then broke the engagement almost immediately. Perhaps that is the most shocking and exciting thing that Maria Lucas has ever done, to the disappointment and disapproval of her social climbing family.
Still, it’s a shame and embarrassment that Maria carries with her on a Christmas visit to Pemberley, where she is enjoying some time with her old friends, Kitty, now married to Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lizzy Bennet (now Darcy), mistress of Pemberley. Both Kitty and Elizabeth are in the throes of marital bliss and babies, something that Maria hopes for as well. She pines for a man who unknowingly stole her heart a few years earlier: Lieutenant Denny, now Mr. Denny, once a friend to the notorious George Wickham, who eloped with Lizzy’s gauche and precocious younger sister, Lydia.
Denny is now tainted by association with that rogue Wickham. But he’s a good sort who had a difficult upbringing and now wishes to start a new life and a family. The influence and effects of war on his personality are aptly portrayed in the descriptions of his life and career.
A friend to Sir Camden – Georgiana’s handsome husband from my favorite book in the series, Miss Darcy Decides – Denny has also been invited for the holidays to Pemberley, much to the annoyance of, who else? The serious and stern Mr. Darcy who upholds his lofty reputation.
I have to say that the romance between Denny and Maria is super fast and not very exciting. We read she has always had a crush on him and then he views her with great interest. It’s extremely tame and almost staid.
This is a very sweet series so if you’re looking for spice, you will have to look elsewhere as Ms Williams describes her stories as “family centered.” But even Jane Austen wrote of sexual tension between Elizabeth and Darcy, subtle as it was. But it is still there.
“…Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.”
The Big Misunderstanding between Denny and Maria is brief and rather silly. It’s the weakest part of the story but it’s over so quickly – this is a novella – it doesn’t spoil the entire story.
Ms Williams writes in a very clear and leisurely style with pleasant attention to interior decor and food of the Regency period. As it is Christmas and, specifically, Twelfth Night, there are some nice descriptions of the decorations and traditions but, other than that, it doesn’t really have a holiday feel to it; the joie de vivre of Austen’s characters is missing.
Misunderstood is an agreeable but overly formal romance.