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Review: ENDURING CONNEXIONS by J. Marie Croft

Updated: Apr 1, 2023


ABOUT THE BOOK

I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest— William Shakespeare


When Fitzwilliam Darcy is betrayed by love at the age of twenty-three, he vows that never again will he allow a woman to own his heart. Never again will he be made a fool. Never again will he trust. His heart and pride will be spared from another crippling blow, no matter what.


Four years later, his resolve is put to the test. Elizabeth Bennet is vivacious and beautiful, but she has family connexions which make her unsuitable for him. Her immediate family is vulgar, and her relations are involved in trade. Worst of all, she has an elder sister, Jane, who is nearly a twin of the woman who broke his heart and shattered his trust. Yet, despite his reservations, Darcy’s growing affection for Elizabeth is impossible to deny or resist.


Alas, just as Darcy begins to allow the walls around his heart to crumble, a dark secret from someone else’s past comes to light and threatens the stability of the Bennet family’s very foundations. A connexion Darcy could never have imagined will have a potentially devastating impact on the Bennets and on his and Elizabeth’s burgeoning love. If Darcy wants Elizabeth in his life, he and the Bennets must learn to forgive and accept that which cannot be changed.





REVIEW

J. Marie Croft is an accomplished Regency-era wordsmith, and I can never go wrong reading anything she writes. Her latest, Enduring Connexions, is unpredictable, yet familiar. In this Pride and Prejudice reimagining about love and betrayal, a young pregnant woman jilts her betrothed to marry a peer, and her actions have far-reaching consequences well into the future, affecting Mr. Darcy and the Bennets.


When we first meet Fitzwilliam Darcy, he is twenty-four years old and believes himself in-love with a Miss Amesbury. Yet, after she toys with his affections, he commits to holding himself under better regulation for the future and becomes somewhat jaded toward the idea of love. Four years later, when Darcy joins Mr. Bingley at Netherfield Park, he is wiser, more aware of who he allows in his circle. Plus, he has created "a list" of characteristics for his ideal wife. Oh dear.

Fortunately for him, Darcy would never need to woo and try to win a woman. When the time came, he would crook his finger, and the chosen one would come running. -Chapter 4

Still, he cannot deny his attraction to Miss Elizabeth, despite her family and low connections. Does she even have any traits on his list? Familiar scenes from Austen's masterpiece are massaged into this variation, and Darcy's point-of-view is, at once, sensual and diverting:

Chancing another look, he gaped as she whetted a finger, dragged it over her bottom lip, across the page, and magically, down his spine. -Chapter 10

Poor Darcy.

Fortunately for the reader, he catches on to Miss Bingley's antics early on. (Crofts' play on words is, as ever, smart and humorous with emphatic effect.)

...he noticed Miss Bingley making her sheep's eyes at him as she continued to bleat on about the Bennet family's faults. -Chapter 4

When Darcy meets again the now widowed Mrs. Maguire, nee Miss Amesbury, Croft creates amazing tension as certain truths are revealed and become more than stumbling blocks for Darcy as he navigates love at Longbourn, but his "annoyingly, prodigious memory" remembers his hurts as a younger man:

Miss Amesbury seemed unharmed, unaffected even, by her fall from grace. So, the injured person inside the folly, it turns out, is me. -Chapter 2

I am a longtime fan of J. Marie Croft. Part of the appeal of Enduring Connexions is the clever use of language and how each word is well-intended. But the triumph of the story is the pure originality of its hard-won happily-ever-after and how brilliantly Croft connects all the dots. Satisfying, superbly crafted, and believable. With a plethora of Jane Austen fanfiction to choose from, Enduring Connexions is a must read.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Marie Croft (Joanne) is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter, are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her two playful novellas—A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella) and Play with Fire, and her short stories in the anthologies Sun-kissed, The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know, Rational Creatures, Yuletide, and Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, and in her spare time, she geocaches with her husband, spends time with their adult twin daughters, enjoys photography and paper crafting, and can often be found alternately crying and sighing over some other Austenesque author’s angsty, romantic novel when she should be concentrating on her own work-in-progress story. Connect with Joanne vie social media or her website.


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