This book was a give-away from the Author. I was not obligated to give a review, I volunteered to. I enjoyed this story so much, I am moved to share it.
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Author: Caitlin Williams
Author’s Site: Caitlin Williams @ Austen Variations
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Released: June 12, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Give Away-Gift from the Author
My dear Mr. Bennet, excuse me, if you please Sir. Will you kindly re-read that announcement?
“On 4th May, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, Derbyshire, married to Anne de Bourgh, daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Rosings Park, Kent”
Mr. Bennet, Longbourn, May 13, Pg 5, para 3
**** Head⇓Breakfast Table *** Tea Cup⇓Floor ****
Within the Leaves of Ardently
If you are familiar with Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice and maybe a little hazy on it, go skim through your book to the end of Chapter 36 when Mr. Darcy has taken leave of Kent after his failed proposal. Leaving Elizabeth alone to “only think of her letter.” – Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 36, last line
If you haven’t read it yet, you only need to read up to the end of Chapter 36. Chapters 37 to 61 no longer exist and you’re now asking yourself “Did They? – Didn’t They?”
Ardently picks up the story four years after these original events and much has changed.
One little decision, not to visit the grounds at Pemberley while touring the Lake Districts, brings you up to speed and back to the Bennet Family breakfast table with Mr. Bennet reading the newspaper.
He also reads aloud a letter from his younger sister, Mrs. Mountford of Staffordshire, who is requesting the company of any of the five Bennet girls.
Elizabeth having been back from her tour of the Lake Districts with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner eight months prior, is ready for some diversion and volunteers to go.
Her few months stay has now turned into three years, with the exception of quick trips home for Jane’s, then Kitty’s weddings. Elizabeth found in Staffordshire a place that became home.
“Somehow, a shift in perception had occurred in Elizabeth’s heart, and as much as she remembered Longbourn with affection and missed her dear father, the word ‘home’ was now synonymous with her aunt and Oakdene.”
Narrative, Ch 1, pg 15, para 2
Mrs. Mountford is a wealthy widow who moves among the first circles of the ton and as her Aunt’s companion, Elizabeth finds herself enjoying the privileges and acceptance of that society.
But when Mrs. Mountford learns that Elizabeth has never been to Bath, she quickly arranges matters to go there so Elizabeth can savor in the delights.
While walking circles in the Pump Room, Elizabeth meets for the first time Georgiana Darcy and discovers that Mr Darcy is coming to town to visit with their relations, The Earl and Countess of Matlock, Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam.
The Lady Fitzwilliam and Mrs. Mountford were girlhood acquaintances who discover that they still enjoy one another’s company, so Elizabeth finds herself spending a lot of time in Mr. Darcy’s.
Through her new suitor, the handsome and increasingly attentive Mr. Frederick Yorke, Elizabeth learns Fitzwilliam is now a widower who is just starting to come out of his mourning period.
As Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam spend more social time together, will Mr Darcy repeat those sentiments that were once so disgusting to her?
Sweet-Tea Rating for Ardently:
While reading a Janite interview with Ceri and Caitlin Williams on the Austin Variations blog. I commented and the book showed up at my door.
I took it into work the next day, and as the Goddess of books would have it, the power went out at work and I was able to sit by a window and read without getting fired!
We meet a sophisticated and mature Elizabeth Bennet in Ardently. She has found a respectable home away from Longbourn and has developed the character necessary to move easily within the first circles of society.
Rest assured though, Elizabeth has lost none of the liveliness, sparkle, wit and curiosity that has made her such a beloved fictional heroine for over a century.
If you can picture Elizabeth Bennet as she would be in her 50’s, you will meet Mrs. Mountford. In her Aunt, Elizabeth has found similarity in tastes, interests and the capacity to enjoy the ridiculous characters they find around them.
“Good heavens, we have forgotten all about Miss Bingbong.”
“Oh, I shouldn’t worry, Mrs. Mountford.” Georgiana reassured her. “I saw her walking into supper with the Yorkes.”
“Miss Bingbong?” Jane asked Elizabeth.
“Caroline Bingley.” Elizabeth took her sisters arm and leaned in close. “My dear Jane, I have so much to acquaint you with.”
Mrs. Mountford, Georgiana, Jane, Elizabeth, Ch 19, pg 201, para 4 – 7
Mr. Yorke is a fun, spirited, spontaneous, young man. Handsome too. With a ready charm and sense of adventure that captures Elizabeth’s attentions.
Miss Bingley is well… Miss Bingley. Willing to do whatever it takes to find herself immersed in the upper echelons of society.
Georgiana Darcy, is a sweet, shy, accomplished young woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and is looking to gain a little more confidence in society.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is also to be found here and is just what he ought to be. Witty, astute and very enamored with his lady love.
Character I would most like to share a Cuppa with:
I would love to sit and share a cuppa with Harriet Yorke. Her love of reading and quick banter make her a perfect person to sit talk of bookish things.
“I think Miss Bennet’s taste in novels might not be quite the same as yours though, Harriet. She probably does not insist every book she reads has black veils and skeletons in closets.”
Mr. Yorke, Ch 9, pg 86, para 1
Harriet and I seem to enjoy different genres but similar hero types. That would make for a very entertaining afternoon’s conversation.
Element Ratings for Ardently
** Spoiler Alert ** Sorry, some things just need to be said…
Was there an easy flow to the story? I didn’t notice, I was too busy devouring the book!
Caitlin Williams writes a real page turner in Ardently. The romantic story lines are very different, yet weave in and out of one another like a country dance.
The flashbacks of the ill-fated proposal and other Pride and Prejudice happenings are so naturally written into the current story, that unless you are familiar with the first 36 chapters of P & P you may be a little confused.
“Is the great Fitzwilliam Darcy really asking another for advice?”
“It is a question of military tactics.”
“I see, go on.”
“Say there was something you wished to capture. A port, a field, a village, but there was another army, in a somewhat more advanced position than yours. What maneuvers would you apply?”
Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy, Ch 17, pg 176, para 6-9
Mr. Darcy has some quality competition for Elizabeth’s affections and really needs to work for her. I loved this element of the story. It was a close race that didn’t reach a conclusion until far enough into the book that it looked like it may not happen at all.
“The knowledge that she was in love washed over her with such force, like a great wave and it made her tremble.”
Narrative, Ch 16, pg 161, para 2
“How happy it would make him to have love and affection around him – to have the woman he had admired for so long at his side.”
Narrative, Ch 20, pg 205, para 3
I like that they both have gained the life experience that took Elizabeth out of her country prejudices and Darcy out of his familial pride. These developments make them better suited for each other.
Mr. Darcy, always the gentleman, has an innate sense of responsibility to render a service to the ladies around him without asking anything in return.
He has a quiet intelligence, a quiet sense of fun and a quiet dignity.
His quick mind is on the ball to turn a word or a phrase and load it with an excellent sense of humor.
“Mr. Darcy meanwhile calmly walked over to the tree, raised himself to his full height and used his stick to the pluck the misbehaving garment from the branch. He walked back to Elizabeth and with great gentleness put it back on her head. To her great shock he began to tie the ribbons beneath her chin.”
“Now, we must fasten this more securely, Miss Bennet, for as Mr. Yorke said, it is a splendid hat, very fetching.”
Narrative, Mr. Darcy, Ch 15, pg 160 para 2-3
I was amused by the similarities between Mrs. Mountford and Elizabeth, Their wit, humor, powers of observation and even the parallels in the circumstances around the men they marry.
I was caught up in a back and forth on my opinion of Mr. Yorke as a good match for Elizabeth until he raced his horses like a mad man to the picnic and then I was decidedly against the match.
Mr. Darcy was written as an interesting emotion coaster of a character. Though we were clued in at first sight of his heart still leaning toward Elizabeth, it sure took him long enough to do something about it. Stubborn fool!
Hot-Tea Rating for Ardently:
Elizabeth got kissed a lot in Ardently. Her knuckles, her forehead, her cheek, her mouth, her neck.
I found that as Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were coming closer to the point, the kisses grew bolder. It added a sweet tension to their romance.
What I Learned About the Real World
“Everything that tastes nice is bad for you and everything that tastes awful is sure to see you healthy, it’s Gods little joke”
Mrs. Mountford, Ch 1, pg 16 para 2
For many stories set in 18th and 19th Century England, ‘taking the waters’ in Bath plays a role. The smelly, foul waters seem to be a favorite remedy for those fictional characters who suffer from the gout and other maladies caused by excess.
Bath is the only place in England with thermal springs. Sourced by rain water, the water runs down through layers of limestone, then is pushed back up through the limestone again by fissures in the earths crust.
The foul smell and taste of the water is the result of the minerals in the limestone that the water passes through and dissolves into itself.
It is the minerals that give the healing effects, whether one is bathing in, or drinking the water. Minerals such as Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium, and Iron, that we find as regular ingredients in one-a-day type supplements, are found in the waters.
The temperature of the waters average 113 deg F or 45 deg Celsius. If you have ever sat in a hot tub, a hot springs (Hot Springs Cove and Radium Hot Springs in British Columbia are favorite spots for me) or even in hot bath water, you already know how relaxing and soothing a good soak can be.
The Last Drop:
Ardently is an innocent yet captivating tale of second chances at first love.
I loved it and have re-re-read it. This one is staying in my personal library, and I will have to think long and hard before lending it out.
What Other Reviewers had to Say: