Story Title: The Houseguest
Author Name: EAdams
Story url: Amazon or AHA (must register)
Excerpt url: Excerpt at FFN
Content Rating: All
Length: 122,100 words
Story Summary: When Georgiana Darcy comes to Netherfield to visit her brother, she becomes friends with a neighbor, Elizabeth Bennet. After Miss Darcy has returned to London, she invites her new friend to stay with her at the Darcy home in town … unbeknownst to Mr. Darcy. Will this change in circumstances lead to a change in affections?
An outtake from near the end of the story is located at this link.
One of these days I need to add a story tag titled “Weekend-Absorber,” for stories such as this, which will suck me in so thoroughly, that days will slip by without any awareness of the passage of time. This is one such story. “The Houseguest” was captivating enough to get me up early one morning, continue to drag me back to the book throughout the day (at least whenever I could shake off those pesky responsibilities) and keep me up till after 4:00am, afraid to leave the narrative for a second more than was necessary. So let me first praise the author for achieving something few authors seem to have mastered in the romance genre: the ability to write edge-of-your-seat suspense without throwing loads of high angst at the readership.
When Lizzy meets Georgiana during that autumn when the Bingleys were at Netherfield, Mr. Darcy underestimated how firmly the two young ladies would bond. All of his plots and plans that winter to escape the mere thought of Elizabeth are for naught, as Georgiana quickly has Lizzy installed as a houseguest in their London home before Darcy can blink. It’s quite amusing and sweet to watch Mr. Darcy fall in love against his will with an oblivious Lizzy, who is entirely focused on building a touching friendship with Georgiana. Mr. Darcy’s own observations disabuse him of some of his ill-founded misconceptions. For example, it is very eye-opening for Mr. Darcy to see the response of both society as a whole, and his own relatives in particular, to Elizabeth as Georgiana’s friend. Throughout the tale, there are some shriek-out-loud bits of hilarity – parts of it due to Darcy’s healthy competition for Elizabeth’s friendship and, eventually, her heart. The story is packed with activity, but the pacing is perfect, as it all flows together smoothly with a clear emphasis on each character’s development and personal journey.
One of my favorite aspects of Lizzy’s visit with Georgiana is the time Elizabeth spends getting to know the Darcy siblings’ extended family. Ms. Adams does a great job of fleshing out minor, supporting characters from canon and bringing to life new OCs (Original Characters) entirely of her own creation. I particularly love their complex, often-contradictory behavior, such as when Lady Matlock happily tells about the love-match which her marriage was, even while she’s trying to teach Lizzy how to judge prospective suitors by their wealth and prospects!
My Only Critique: I think I caught a couple of apostrophe errors when reading the unpublished draft, but that’s about all I can think of that might catch the eye of the most strident grammar nazi. The author’s technical proficiency, and that of her editors, is spectacular. I don’t think there is anything in this story which should inhibit anyone’s enjoyment.