REVIEW: Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds


Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail ReynoldsReview by MJ Ryan

From the back cover: “Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience for the modern day Mr. Darcy who appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family while Cassie’s success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history.

When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice…but he doesn’t know yet whether Cassie will be willing to supply the happy ending.”

Sometimes, I just need to read a good, mindless romance. Usually, the urge hits me after attempting to read a book that I feel like I should read but that, for whatever reason, my mind just can’t be bothered to comprehend. (Hi, Moby-Dick!) Luckily for me, Abigail Reynolds supplied me, via Mags, the perfect antidote for my overworked brain in the form of Pemberley by the Sea.

It could be argued that all modern love stories are derivative in some way from the brilliant imagination of Jane Austen. Lord knows that Hollywood has made a fortune on the idea that two people who dislike each other on initial acquaintance are destined to fall in love. So entrenched in our romantic psyche is this idea that it is to be expected that any modern telling of Pride and Prejudice will, for the most part, follow the accepted formula. Pemberley by the Sea is no exception but has updated it with modern touches, namely steamy sex early on in the acquaintance. Usually I’m a bit prudish when it comes to reading about Austen’s characters engaging in carnal urges. Since this is a modern version and the main characters aren’t named Elizabeth, Lizzy, Beth, Liz, Eliza, Bethy, Bess, Fitz, William, Will, Billy, Fitzy, etc., nor do they much resemble the original characters in temperament, I was able to read and imagine their hot ocean encounter with no cringing. You see, I prefer to think that Jane Austen’s characters had sex only enough to procreate. Much like my parents.

Reynolds takes the story past Austen’s ending and gives the two lovers more obstacles than a ropes course. Some of the dialogue is clunky and the constant roadblocks become a bit repetitive and wearying. But, I found myself entertained much more than irritated, and Pemberley by the Sea is one Austen-inspired update that I will be likely to read again when I want to read a fluffy romance with just a touch of angst.