Summer Sundays: Beach Reads #14 - Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy
by Karen Doornebos
Berkley Books
374 pgs / $15.00
September 6, 2011
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"She gave up pink drinks and took up tea long ago." So goes Chloe Parker, divorcee, mother, Anglophile, Janeite. Chloe Parker is obsessed, and her wildest dreams may be about to come true. She's been cast in what she believes is a Regency-era Documentary, filming in the UK. She foresees the gowns, the breeches...she can hardly wait. But when she gets the UK and the producers alert her that what she really signed up for is a dating show called "How to Date Mr. Darcy," Chloe couldn't be more frantic. 

For anyone who’s seen Regency House Party either on TV or on Youtube (all 36 parts…that’s approximately five and a half hours), and really anyone who has watched Bachelor Pad (or the show that spawned it) will find this concept familiar: a group of 20-something-year-old women vying for the affections of a handful of men, guarded and guided by chaperones, all in period dress with period amenities, period food, period servants and period activities, under the very modern camera’s watchful eye 24/7.

The question, as always - who will get the man? Who will get the money? And what kind of scandals can we create in the mean time? True to form, there's drama, mayhem, a case of mistaken identity, some serious bitchiness, and some seriously attractive men. And, as many good stories go, Chloe is an outsider - she's older than her competition, she's got a kid, an ex-husband, a failing business and, oh yeah, she's the only American for miles. 

Starved for activity and technology, Chloe suffers a bit in Jane Austen's era. But her resulting antics are only part of the fun. Her biggest competition (the very sexy, very Britsh, and very bitchy Lady Grace) does everything possible to get Chloe kicked off of the show (meanwhile she's off rolling in the hay with every footman in sight). Fortunately, the very attentive, very attractive Mr. Wrightman (hardee har har) is smitten with her. And his brother's not unmoved by her, either (nor is he too bad to look at). As Chloe gets closer to the finale, and to both brothers, she knows she's closer to making a choice that could change her heart and her bank account. 

This was a fun read, rich in Austenesque barbs and flooded with historical accuracy...though perhaps not as specific as Regency House Party. Doornebos has done a wonderful job of making sure her likable characters are just that, and that all others are simply despised. It's definitely fun and surprisingly clean. Doornebos rather smartly stops at the odd heaving bosom (in fact the most graphic scene in the entire novel is a birth) and places her debut novel a step above its raunchier regency cousins in the Romance section.  


  1. Got any books that mix the actual P&P with the time warp continuum of reality TV? That would be a funny book. P&P, but they are on a reality TV show. NOTHING in their story is modern or changed in any way EXCEPT for the TV cameras, Interviews, and of course, watching themselves on TV. The show could be called "Marry my daughters . . .PLEASE" Season 1 - Jane, Season 2 - Lizzie, Season 3 Mary (the jump the shark season), season 4 Lydia - Season 5 the show is canceled so Kitty doth not get a spouse.


  2. THEN PLEASE WRITE IT! You have the talent and the knowledge of P&P to pull it all together. Make it work!



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