Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy by Georgina Young-Ellis
Published by Meryton Press on June 27, 2022
Genres: Historical Romance
World War II has torn the continent since 1939 and tested families, the Bennets included. Elizabeth and Jane nurse wounded soldiers and civilians in a London hospital. The other sisters volunteer as best suits their inclinations. Mr. Bennet rattles about Longbourn. Wickham sniffs about the edges of the estate—and the Bennet daughters.
Even the ever-present threat of death from the skies cannot prepare Jane and Lizzy for the most devastating news. The words one never wishes to hear are delivered by two officers, each scarred by years on the front lines. In the dark days that follow, devotion is tested, and affection blooms.
Jane Austen’s classic goes to war in this WWII variation of Pride & Prejudice. I love variations and retellings of Austen’s original stories, but particularly when they are dropped into a different time period and the author takes the time to create an authentic backdrop for beloved, familiar characters.
Kiss Me Goodnight, Major Darcy begins during WWII when four of the Bennet sisters are doing their wartime duty working in a London hospital. Jane and Lizzy are nurses and Kitty and Lydia are volunteer aids. Mary is back home with their widowed father as a Land Girl and Mr. Bennet has opened their home to his sister in law and the kids sent there to avoid the bombings.
Jane and Elizabeth meet two handsome, dedicated army officers when they bring the bad news of Jane’s fiancé passing at Monte Cassino and they were in London on medical leave from their regiment. Major Darcy is taciturn and reserved which rubs Lizzy wrong from the start. She judges that he isn’t grieving for his friend like the open Captain Bingley. Then she meets charming Private Wickham who gives her the scoop on Darcy and she figures she pegged him right.
Until things get tough, and there Major Darcy is, getting her out of the soup, demonstrating active care, and confusing her completely after her first impressions. She starts to soften on him only to decide that a guy like him could never support a woman who plans to go to university and pursue a position a woman has never held as a university professor. The war carries on and takes a further toll and making Elizabeth figure out what is truly important to her.
Kiss Me Goodnight, Major Darcy isn’t a perfectly aligned with the original retelling of P&P and this is how I prefer it when authors move the story into a newer different era. I like seeing how the changing of the times affects the story and that the author alters characters to surprising results. I do love this version of Mary who is eccentric, rather than prim and prosy, and Charlotte who is a Jamaican immigrant struggling with racial acceptance in rural England. Oh, sure, there are some fun and familiar touchstones- Lizzy still forms a bad first impression, Darcy has to come down off his high horse, Wickham lies, Lydia flirts, Lady Catherine must have her say, Caroline simpers, and Jane and Charles are the charming pair. However, there is the war and its effect- bombings, wounded people, loss, rations, jitterbug dancing, wartime songs (like the title), and a colorful background that shows the author did her homework.
The story was emotionally engaging and the romance fit the war-time setting. Lizzy is aggravated by (aka secretly attracted to) Darcy and wants to believe the worst, but she’s fair to him when she sees proof his quiet, non-boastful actions prove different from her impressions and what she learns of Darcy from Wickham. The romance is believably slow and takes a backseat at times to the work they are both doing and the conflict includes the push-pull of Elizabeth feeling she must be respected as a thinking, individual who doesn’t want to settle for a woman’s usual life since times are changing. She is convinced that a man from a wealthy aristocratic family can’t understand or won’t those things in a wife so they must work this out. The pacing was good and the tone was right for characters and situations of the time. Lizzy did all the narrating, but this don’t hinder the reader from getting the bigger picture of other characters and connections. Darcy was somewhat elusive, but he reveals himself eventually.
All in all, it was a solid, engaging WWII romance that left me jiving to Big Band, glad to not be on rationing, and well satisfied with a story from a new to me author that I can recommend highly.
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