Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Darcy had done all this for the love of a woman he would never possess. Poor Darcy. He was such a fool.
Author Maggie Mooha and I were introduced by our shared publisher and soon, we were trading war stories about being debut novelists. Since we work in similar genres, we decided to swap books.
Let me introduce you to Elizabeth in the New World (Light spoilers to follow):
We meet the familiar characters of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy after Wickham runs away with Lydia. In this tightly knit plot, the thread Maggie chooses to pull is the nature of Lydia and Wickham's discovery. It leads to a dueling accident which leaves Darcy hovering near death. He is also stinking, I am afraid--but let me assure you that I was enormously interested in the historical treatment of gangrene and am sure that if anyone could be sexily suffering from skin rot, it is our hero. Courageously treating him despite no ready recourse to antiseptics, antibiotics or Fabreeze, Elizabeth's reputation is in tatters.
She became intimate with his suffering.
Then Lady Catherine shows up like some Georgian era Bob the Builder, forever throwing spanners into the works, and I began to wish for a handy guillotine. I really did. If they had asked for volunteers to row across the Channel and drag her into Paris to have her head lopped off, I would have raised my hand.
The upshot of her shenanigans is that Elizabeth thinks Darcy is dead and travels with some of Charles Bingley's friends to Granada (which name always reminds me of that old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers song about pronunciation. You say Gra-NAY-duh and I say Gra-NAH-duh) where all is not sunshine and pina coladas.
It would be a new world for Elizabeth Bennet.
Though they spend much of the book apart, Darcy and Elizabeth are both on a journey of discovery. The status and protections they once took for granted are stripped back and they must learn to cherish ideas and principles that are more enduring.
I won't spoil any more than that. But what I particularly liked are:
Character arcs--Several characters change over the course of the novel. Sometimes the bad get a chance at redemption and sometimes the good and charming get an unmasking. But no one walks in like a cardboard cutout.
Scars that matter--if you read Her Caprice, you'll know that this is important to me. Not all the love in the world can erase traumas in an instant. Both Darcy and Elizabeth will carry the scars of their time 'in the New World' for a long time and be better, more compassionate people for it.
There were no good old days--I took a tour with a nightwatchman of a mideval city many years ago and remember his sly smile when he repeated that phrase. From medical horrors to the terrible realization that a handsome charming man can be guilty of the worst practices and still be accepted by the general society, I was constantly reminded of the quote: "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." Maggie does a really good job of dropping us into the disorientations of the past and showing us the gulf between them and us without ever robbing any characters of their humanity.
The heat rating for Elizabeth in the New World is steamy. Readers can expect sexy-times and battle violence, alongside really fascinating historical details. I hopped onto wikipedia as soon as I finished the book to check out the Granadian slave rebellions.
Check it out and, if you love it, be sure to leave a review!