Story: To Conquer Mr. Darcy (previously published as “Impulse & Initiative” and “Rule of Reason“)
Author: Abigail Reynolds
Story URL: Story Link 1 (Author’s Site)
Alternate URL: Story Link 2
ISBN: 9781402237300 and 9781402237300
Word count: Novel Length
Summary: In To Conquer Mr. Darcy, instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to Hertfordshire to prove to her he is a changed man and worthy of her love. And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she thought she despised, irresistible…
Abigail Reynolds is one of my favorite authors in the Pride & Prejudice fandom. I selfishly regret not having been aware of the fandom sooner, as I missed the days when she was still posting her novel-length stories on the fan boards. As it stands, the best way to read Abigail’s books is to order them ($6.99 on Amazon) or do as I did and pester one’s library for them. 🙂 Thus it has taken me until recently to read this story, which I’ve been lusting after for ages.
The characterizations in this story are what really sucked me in, particularly in the case of Mr. Darcy. I fell in love with Mr. Darcy all over again as he is written by Abigail. She depicts a man of such deep, passionate emotion, that it is easy to understand how that bumbling, offensive Hunsford proposal came from the same man who was so sweet and sensitive to Elizabeth at Pemberley and so doggedly intent upon handling every detail of Wickham and Lydia’s elopement himself. Mr. Darcy’s faults are easier to understand, if not excuse, and his strengths are more apparent, particularly his determination to change those faults for the betterment of himself – not merely to please Elizabeth.
I also love Elizabeth’s carefully developed reaction to Mr. Darcy’s earlier appearance in her life in a different setting and under different circumstances than in canon, when they met for the first time post-Hunsford at Pemberley. As much as I would love to pretend that Elizabeth began to regret Mr. Darcy and pine for him immediately after she read his letter at Hunsford, the truth is that while she might have understood him better and realized she had misjudged him (and Wickham), that did not mean she had any reason to fall in love with him. So when Darcy arrives in Hertfordshire just two months after his previous proposal, Elizabeth’s response needed to account for where her feelings were at that stage. Abigail nails it. She writes Elizabeth’s emotional, perplexed, frustrated reaction just beautifully. I love how Elizabeth doesn’t particularly want to fall in love with Mr. Darcy, but finds that the passionate reactions she had always experienced toward him are not easily transformed into indifference now that she no longer passionately hates him.
The author does a superb job of writing for this time period, accurately portraying the customs, the dialogue and the etiquette of the Regency era. At one point I thought I had finally caught her in a mistake when she made use of the word “disability,” as I assumed that was a more modern term. Turns out I was wrong and she was right, as that phrase dates back to the 16th century. Lesson learned; Abigail Reynolds has obviously done her research on this era.
My only critique: This is not something I minded at all, but I know that many of you, my friends, have mentioned to me that you don’t enjoy Pride & Prejudice stories which include depictions of sex. So for those of you for whom that is turn-off, be aware that this story does feature several brief scenes of an adult nature, and see my note below about “Rule of Reason.” Personally, I thought they were very tastefully yet passionately written, with the focus on the emotional, romantic aspects of the scene. There was nothing crude or tasteless in this story’s love scenes.
Please Note: This book has been published three times under three different titles. It was originally known as “Impulse & Initiative,” and that is the copy I am reviewing. However, if you are among those who do not care for graphic scenes in this type of novel, the published version titled “Rule of Reason” omits those scenes and might be right for you.