Review by Anna Horner
Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is a fun novel for any Jane Austen fan who ever dreamed about living in Regency England and finding her own Mr. Darcy. Chloe Parker, an Anglophile, divorced mom, and struggling business owner, leaves her young daughter behind in Chicago to appear on what she believes is a documentary set in Mr. Darcy’s Derbyshire that will enable her to show off her knowledge of all things Austen, win $100,000, and solve all her problems.
She’s a bit horrified to learn that she’s actually been cast in a reality show in which she and several women much younger than herself will compete to win the affections of the wealthy Mr. Wrightman. All she has to do is assume the role of an American heiress, live like it’s 1812, stay in character at all times, and get Mr. Wrightman to propose. Although she’s not interested in finding love, Chloe desperately needs the prize money. Enamored of leaving the present behind for a simpler, more romantic way of life, Chloe jumps headfirst into the game.
She soon learns that Regency life wasn’t all that romantic nor as fun as she’d imagined. She’s not just giving up her cell phone and e-mail; she also says goodbye to underwear, deodorant, daily baths, and toilets. She has to learn needlework and how to make ink. Worst of all, she has to give up the freedoms she enjoys as a modern woman and can no longer speak her mind or be alone with a man. Chloe not only struggles with the loss of modern conveniences, but she must also deal with bad news from home, her conflicted feelings for the Wrightman brothers, and the conniving Lady Grace – a rival contestant who would stop at nothing to send Chloe back home.
In Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, Karen Doornebos has crafted a hilarious novel with a spirited heroine who would make Jane Austen proud. Readers will enjoy watching Chloe navigate the challenges of the game and come alive in a way she hadn’t been since before her divorce. It’s easy to relate to Chloe and her desire for a simpler life, and you can’t help but cheer her on as she blunders her way through archery tournaments, tea parties, and balls. So much for a simpler life — no matter how hard Chloe tries, she’s always getting her gowns dirty and running afoul of the Regency rulebook, which makes for plenty of laughs.
Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is a lighthearted look at the customs of Jane Austen’s time that gives readers a new respect for her beloved heroines.
Anna Horner reviews books on Diary of an Eccentric, where she shares her love of the written word and indulges in her guilty pleasures of Jane Austen-inspired novels and books about World War II.