Author: J. Marie Croft

*Book Review*: Love At First Slight by J. Marie Croft

Posted Monday, 16 December, 2013 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Love At First Slight by J. Marie CroftLove at First Slight by J. Marie Croft 

Author’s Pin(terest) Boards:
Love At First Slight +

Genre(s): Fiction | Romance | Historical

| Regency | Jane Austen Sequel

Published by: Meryton Press, 1 November 2013

Available Format: Paperback | Page Count: 270

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on “Love At First Slight” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by Meryton Press. I received a complimentary copy of “Love At First Slight”  in exchange for an honest review by the publisher Meryton Press. The book released on 1st November 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. This marks my first review for Meryton Press!

My connection to the Author & the Novel:

Originally you might recall, I took part in the Book Cover Reveal for this novel on the 30th of August, 2013. I had received a curious email from the original publisher Rhemalda Press expressing interest of book bloggers who wanted to share the joy of the forthcoming release by J. Marie Croft. Having dipped into the Regency this year through participation of August in August, whereupon I re-read my beloved Pride and Prejudice whilst hinged to September’s Classics Re-Told Reading Challenge! I must confess I was deeply curious about which direction Ms. Croft would spin her tale of Darcy & Elizabeth knowing full well the tides were tipped askew as in this rendition of the story “Darcy” was meant to be a lass named Elizabeth, wherein making the “Bennett” a “William”! A flip on heel after canon seemed rather fitting of a story to follow on the foot heels of having read the original! Or, thus I rather thought would be a rather splendid reading!

With the closure of Rhemalda Press in a rather abrupt motion, I was in the dark as far as the pre-promised stop on the blog book tour which as of mid-September was no longer set to happen! I realised the news whilst opening up the former Press website reading on their behalf the letter they had publicly released. I quickly contacted Ms. Croft, to infer my disheartened heart on her behalf, as although I had wanted to read her story I felt grievously worse for her as her book was now in stasis! At the very same moment, I learnt her book had then been picked up by Meryton Press, which delighted me over the very moon in excitement! I was celebrating whole-heartedly the good fortune of having this novel picked up so quickly!

From that moment forward, I have been in the background waiting to see Love At First Slight grow wings and lift off into reader’s hands! I patiently waited word that the book was being released in print and would be available to receive in exchange for an honest review by those of us who had previously been in contact with Rhemalda were given the option to review for Meryton! Over the course of the months (September through December), the author and I have exchanged a few notes whereupon the seed of friendship had been planted. As she was one of the first who saw the name of my blog and fully understood the cheeky humour which is contained therein! I look forward to watching this book grab hold of readers hearts as much as I look forward to knowing Ms. Croft a bit better in the future! How blessed am I for this experience! And, yes, the book is in my hands at long last!

Synopsis of the story:

“It may not be universally acknowledged,
but the unvarnished truth is that a young widow
in possession of a good fortune is not necessarily in want of another husband.”

In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, all the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married. When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport nee Bingley, speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant.

William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent future reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye even though he is beneath her station. However, his opinion of her was fixed when she slighted him at the Meryton Assembly. As her ardour grows, so does his disdain, and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely ….

J. Marie Croft
Photo Credit: Glane Gorveatt
J. Marie Croft lives in Nova Scotia and divides her time among working at a music lesson centre, geocaching (a high-tech treasure hunt) with her husband, and writing. Her stories are lighthearted; and her tag line is Jane Austen’s quote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” A member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (Canada), she admits to being excessively attentive to the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Adult twin daughters are the light of her life even though they don’t appreciate Mr. Darcy the way ‘Momzie” does. She can be contacted at her website: J. Marie Croft

A most curiously familiar cast of characters:

For readers who consider themselves Janeites &/or Austenites, the curious familiarity of the cast of characters found in Love At First Slight, will by no means be found as daunting to unravel as someone entering this lovely Regency world for the first time! The players, of whom, you are most apt to want to keep track off from the jump-start will be as follows:  (counterpart characters are next to their names!)

Benjamin & Flora Bennett – parents of five unmarried, unattached singletons (all male heirs!): Martin (Mary) the studious and oppressively observant elder brother who finds himself befit siblings of social reproach!; Charles (Jane) the loveable sibling who chooses to see the world as an optimist; William (Elizabeth) a bit jaded and indifferent to society’s constrictions; and twins! Laurence and Christopher taking up the rear! (clearly of whom reek more of Lydia’s faults than the sense of Kitty) Uniquely in this spin, its Benjamin not Flora who is consumed by ill-fated nerves of seeing his sons married, which puts the weight of their betrothals on a father rather than a mother! She, in turn, takes her cue from the original Mr. Bennett having a preference for solidarity, reading, and staying outside the sphere of the social specter!

The Lucases (Sir William & Lady Lucas) – parents of  Marcus & Clarence are the Bennett’s rivals for marriage!

The Gardiners – are still involved in the story, though this time a sad referee of knowledge for the Bennett brothers, knowing that even if their heart’s lie in opposite fields of choice, they are each meant to acquire their own livings based on the lot they were given to achieve. The Gardiners happily are still the winsome supporters of their nephews!

Elizabeth Darcy – in lieu of FitzWilliam, gives her earnest début as a woman with as much of an affront on country society as her affable counterpart! She lends the impression of being stalwart stubborn in both extolling her position whilst interacting with others as much as her own countenance.

Jane (Bingley) Devonport – in lieu of Charles is a widow in this after canon, who is determined to take up residence at Netherfield Hall. She, like him before her, has a delicate heart and an innocence of life which is what draws each to their respective heart’s desire.

Casper & Leonard Bingley – are decidedly worse than their original counterparts as they are oppressively snobbish and prejudicial of their peers!

Miss Olivia Collins, sister of William Collins  – an obtusely droll sister who does her counterpart well in her appearance! Except that she has a streak of humility not afforded Mr. Collins (of Pride), to where she gives a glimpse of her softened repose of a woman most in want of a husband. Her pursuit is more of a natural yearning to be part of a union of a complimentary couple rather than the sole pursuit of many of her age. She is of course prone to tone out propriety and settle for long examinations of ramblings no one else has quite the ear towards hearing!

William Collins – (first Cousin of Mr. Bennett) being the clergy under the coattails of Sir Lewis de Bourgh of Rosings Park, is a necessary inclusion.

Miss Felicity Wickham – the wickedly devious bane of Miss Darcy’s existence, of whom could only bring a blight of misery on the Bennett’s! If parallel worlds were compliant she would be the other Wickham’s evil twin! Thus far as to say, they both had the perfect presence for inserting themselves into people’s lives for the pure exulting measure of advancing their own interests!

One happy coincidence the reader will notice most surely is how clever the choices in names, Ms. Croft bestowed on her characters! For Jane fell in love with Charles Bingley in the original Pride and Prejudice, and here, she is widowed by a ‘Bingley’, or rather a ‘Jane’ is widowed by one such fellow! Ha! Using William as the character to go up against Elizabeth is rather classic, if you consider outfitting this William as a Deacon meant to be a Cleric as more mirth and folly than one could hope be afforded! Charles Bingley’s name is donned by the love of his life Jane’s retold character in this story! Little curious oddities and irrepressible delights start this story off on the right footing!

Gathering my wits and alighting into Netherfield:

I regret that my plans to become acquainted with after canons this year, failed in the regard that I was not able to construct the time needed in either August or September for proper readings! Therefore, I am going in a bit blind with this reading as to know how others’ have handled their variations and versions of Pride and Prejudice. I can attest that the humour wrought through the storyline is a bit out of the reach of Jane Austen, as I think she might have blushed by some of the satire for the bluntly common joviality! However, I find Croft’s cheekily woven humour to light a bit of a punch and edge into a story that is as well-known as this, to effectively change the story to where it’s nearly its own tale altogether!

Having said that, it still remains true to how most of Pride plays out, as it is William who must walk over field and meadow in the mud to seek the condition of his ailing brother Charles (rather than Elizabeth seeking Jane!), only to find as a gobsmacked surprise in having Elizabeth (Darcy!) sympathise with his endearing nature to be with his brother, verse the discontentment of the Bingley brothers who felt most put out! From this timeless exchange of familial respect between the respective families, we find Croft venturing into new territory. Your not expecting to find one character smitten by the other, nor to have each of the characters observed in ways of which were not seen in the original. I like how Croft manages to breathe new life into a story all of us have come to know as our own. It lends itself a bit of a mystery as to where the characters are meant to entreat as much as striving to give the reader a new line of suspense upon the ending chapters! I must admit, whilst reading of Elizabeth’s wanton remarks on reflection of William, I nearly saw her inner voice rather than her outer countenance of an upper-class snob! Methinks perhaps this is a bit of a ploy on the author’s part to see how far a reader is willing to go as far as to suspend their own judgement (à la prejudice) towards Elizabeth, as she in full effect is replacing everyone’s beloved FitzWilliam! As for my own mind (and heart!) I like to travel a bit further into the heart of a story before formulating an opinion one way or the other, as far as knowing the true merit of a person’s character and the conviction of their actions as they are relayed.

If I can be so bold as to say, this version of Netherfield is like walking through a time portal to jaunt yourself into an alternative version of the place you last left your feet! You might look around, noticing bits and bobbles of what is already known, but at the very same time, everything appears to be a bit different, a bit off or left of center from whence you where here previously. In those little grievances of change, you start to realise that you’re seeing the familiar in a whole new dimension that is both invigorating and confusing! It takes a bit to draw your bearings, but once you do, I’d be plumb aghast if another reader hadn’t found herself (or himself) in step with this Netherfield as readily as a viewer could step through the portal known as “Lost in Austen”.

My Review of Love At First Slight:

As you fingers pull open the pages of a beloved story’s after canon, re-envisioned in a wholly new and plausible set of circumstances which start to alight in your mind’s eye as though your only re-entering a dance you had sat out the last set of; you’ll find yourself readily acquainted with the key players, with a lurking suspicion that even as they are familiar, there is a measure of freshness to their embodiment! They might speak in the same language of the age, they might even ring true their incarnated spirits of their originals, but wherein you find the familiar, there is a level of wanton choice to make these characters stand on their own laurels. As the story first reveals itself to you, a nod of a notice is given to the author whose passion for Austen’s style of romance is clearly evident as is her ability to convey her own spin on the previous writer’s incantation of a woman too prejudice and of a man too proud! I oft felt they both exchanged their own vices, and theirs was a story of how pride and prejudice towards those you barely know can lead you in such extraordinary corridors of choice!

Therein lies the departure, as Love At First Slight, stands on its own feet as a story of unpredictable turns at moments when even the reader was the last one to suspect the avenues ventured! There is a craft to willing a reader to circumvent their own perceptions of a story, as your only able to base your stances on what you read as a story is read. In this, lies a territory for jostling with the reader’s heart! Yet, it is artistry to switch the tables on gender-specific roles both in structure of story as much as in dialogue. Subtle changes in who originates which bit of speech, and yet, in lieu of a lady for a gent, the ability to ascertain the intent behind the structure changes in one fluid motion! And, of course, the reverse is equally as true!

Without the worriment over an entail due to a lack of a male heir, Croft had disentangled the one key ingredient Austen had left inside the story to dig deeper into the woe of marriage for five unwed singletons. Seeing the story play out to befit men rather than ladies, I admit proved to be a unique glimpse into another side of living altogether. It’s not only a reversal of gender, but of status, and the perception of status therein. The stage in which the story is set ebbs along with the changes to where even the secondary characters start to act outside of their spheres!

Longbourn was never more appealing of a visitation as it is in this story. There is a key observation made on Mr. Bennett’s behalf in the opening passages of Chapter 1, Volume II. The ingenuity of the comparison Croft gave in this section was as befitting as Mrs. Bennett in the original! How I applaud clever observations by giving examples such as the one I had for Taking Root in Provence, where I used a latte to guide my expression of the narrative therein! Giving a bit of reality to the mannerisms of a character bent towards the extreme is a cheeky way of representing them, I do believe! All the lovely little quirks that befall the Bennett family are still inside this tale of their residence at Longbourn. By the time this section of the novel is reached you nearly suspend all logic that there were a version of filt with females rather than excitable males! Three cheers for Croft for having a seamless transition! I also loved how she inserted a passion for Shakespeare by borrowing key references which befit scenes, dialogue, and character with such alacrity as to be struck as natural!

Getting caught up in the everyday jovial notions of Regency life is quite easier when a writer abides the time to include them in their narrative! Croft excels at giving out little bobbles of the Regency, as she doesn’t flout over trivialities but rather revels in them! Your taken abreast of everything you would see, smell, hear, taste, and bear in Regency society! To where I find this exploit of Austenesque literature to be on every Janeite’s shelf of pleasure!

A Special Note on Darcy & William:

One of the attractions for me whilst reading the original Pride and Prejudice is the vexation of having two people who feel transfixed by their oppositional personalities, come to terms with their attraction for one another. In this story, we see the underpinnings of attraction alighting through new circumstances and interjections of dialogue not yielded into view in the original. In this, we can celebrate that at the very heart and nature of a Darcy | Bennett connection there are the under-threadings of wickedly decisive and independently strong individuals who are not used to bending as a willow to give someone the proper chance to fall in love with them. Compromise to them is as devastating as becoming an invalid through illness! The sparring between them in this narrative is as delightful as the first square-off I saw them in when their roles were in reverse! I think it’s always a champion idea to pit would-be couples at odds with each other in a story where your attempting to focus on not only the strong of will but the strength of individual character. Not everyone is always prepared to enter into a betrothal if they feel they have to yield past the point of what they are willing give as concession to another in the relationship. When two strong-minded souls first start to butt heads, I do believe, its in that chance happenstance of a moment they are either going to end up parting company OR they are going become married with the knowledge their relationship will be full of fire and smouldering affections thereafter!

What I most appreciated was the sincerity of William’s appreciation for the natural world around him! Like Lizzy before him, he was as determined to remember where he walked and where he lived as much as she had! They each were attune to the natural environs in ways where their peers would readily forsake the realm for Town! Earthly in sport and of a belief where finding a balance between work and play is a necessity rather than an off-handed foray of play, I found William to be boldly different from FitzWilliam! As I find William a Lord of the Manor, of whom would toil more in the grit of the soil and in the caring of the fields moreso than FitzWilliam, of whom I always felt would delegate the everyday work load. William is ruggedly attached to the land and to preserving the history of how the land has been maintained. In direct comparison, FitzWilliam was more apt to be a caretaker-in-arms, standing guard and overseeing the management of the estate from an executive position. Herein lies the appeal of both characters and the point of perspectives they bring to their roles!

Elizabeth on the other hand is decidedly trickier to get a feel for as she is curious kept cleverly from the reader’s view. Little humanistic qualities peek out in-between the sequences of her interactions, but the true heart of her mind and being are as much of a mystery for the reader as they are for William!

An affection for words, this writer gives to all of thee:

Croft chooses to take the reader to higher grounds of literary enlightenment by her carefully selected words and turns of phrase contained within the pages of Love At First Slight. The entitlement of her novel is a clever twist on the original, but it’s how she chooses to infuse her character’s mannerisms, quirky natures, and expressions of personality that sets her a bit apart from other authors. She’s one of the true wordsmiths who is as giddy about lesser known verbs, adjectives, and nouns as I am! I can see she must have amassed quite the library of dictionaries and thesauruses too! The words may not easily tip-off the tongue but they endeavour even the causal reader to sit up and take stock of what the writer is entreating to teach them! Let the language of the novel inspire a bit of wordplay in all of us, celebrating the depth of the English language and the heart of a Regency romance!

This blog book tour stop was courtesy of Meryton Press,

due check out my upcoming bookish events!

Cross-listed to be included in:

Classics Re-Told badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Cas Cornelissen (Public Domain : Unsplash).

Thank you for your patience in awaiting this review. Illness forestalled its presence!

I am thus far intrigued with Croft’s prose in the world of Pride and Prejudice,

that I took it upon myself to ILL “Mr. Darcy Takes the Plunge”!

Love at First Slight
by J. Marie Croft
Source: Direct from Publisher

Genres: Romance Fiction, After Canons, Historical Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Published by Meryton Press

Format: Paperback

Pages: 270

{SOURCES: Author photograph of J. Marie Croft & Book Synopsis given originally by Rhemalda Press, used again with permission of author in this review as both are still current for press purposes. Book Cover for Meryton Press edition of Love At First Slight given by author and used by permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee Designs to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Classics Re-Told badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Cas Cornelissen (Public Domain : Unsplash).}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

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Posted Monday, 16 December, 2013 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, After the Canon, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Classics Re-Told: 19th Century & Gothic Classics, England, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen Sequel, Meryton Press, Pride & Prejudice Re-telling, Re-Told Tales, Reading Challenges, Regency Era, Romance Fiction, Sequel Authors