Dear Miss Darcy

Laura Briggs, Sarah Burgess
Dear Miss Darcy
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Publisher
Amazon Digital Services
Release Date
October 2011
Genre
Contemporary Romance

SUMMARY
Olivia Darcy has it all: looks, charm, a successful career as a love columnist, and a connection to Jane Austen's greatest love story. Being the descendant of Lizzie and Darcy, however, hasn't guaranteed her a happy ending in love–in fact, Miss Darcy seems cursed by disaster and destined for a long and romantically-lonely life of solving love's problems for others.

But when a letter from a girl known as "Cottingley" pits Miss Darcy's wits against Britain's most notorious bachelor, something's bound to change...

Book Review by JV (reviewer)
Nov 25, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
266 people found the following review helpful
DEAR MISS DARCY is a tale of Olivia Darcy, descended from the infamous Darcys of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which caught my interest early on and kept it throughout the story. The title page of the book calls it a "Modern Regency Romance", which fits it very well in that the story takes place completely in modern times, but the authors manage to evoke the feel of the Regency romance period through various clever techniques.

Olivia Darcy, Livvy to her friends, stumbles into the job of writing an advice column for the lovelorn when she pens a letter while in college scolding an advice columnist for his very poor and ineffective advice to someone who had written him. The next thing she knows, she has received an offer from a competing newspaper to become their advice columnist and, before long, the columnist she scolded has lost his job.

Readers love Livvy's advice, partially because she makes a great effort to offer helpful and constructive advice and partially because her name immediately elicits thoughts of deep and abiding love and romance. Livvy has a shameful secret, though. Apparently being related to one of the most famous romantic couples of all time does not insure one of a happily ever after. Though she has the beauty, the compassion, and the brains, Livvy's love life is a dismal failure. She rarely gets a second date from the same man, much less a third. At this point, she has become so paranoid about it that she seems to sabotage her dates by saying or doing the wrong thing almost immediately. She has nearly despaired of ever finding a love of her own and fears that she will be branded a fraud if her ineptitude at love ever becomes known. Now she only dates through Connections Anonymous, a dating service that assures the ultimate in discretion with its clients.

Then one day, she receives a letter from Curious in Cottingley, who describes a recent boyfriend as having been overwhelmingly persistent and attentive in the beginning and then having become neglectful -- almost impersonal, even -- missing dates and giving her strange gifts that might have been selected by his secretary to make up for it. Her response to the writer is to take the boyfriend to task for Careless Boyfriend Syndrome and holds him up as an example for men everywhere to show that carelessness and inattention to the relationship will doom his romantic performance.

The next day, she receives a terse and angry, albeit anonymous, letter from a man who rebukes her for advising Curious in Cottingley without knowing all the facts and demanding that she retract her comments, as she may have opened him to public ridicule. Though anonymous, the letter was written on the company letterhead of PyroTech Multimedia, however, which leads everyone in her office to the conclusion that the writer and careless boyfriend is none other than Christopher Stanley, the wealthy head of PyroTech and London's most notorious playboy.

Her rather snarky reply to his letter in her column grabs the attention of all of London and enters her into a war with Christopher Stanley in which he is determined to force her to retract and she is equally determined to hold the line. It also encourages a number of women to write and describe their experiences with a Careless Boyfriend, whom they believe to be the same man who dated Curious in Cottingley. She even has an idea for developing the letters into a "What Not to Do" type of book and has a publisher that may be anxious to publish it for her. Her editor warns her, however, not to push Mr. Stanley too far as her job and her book deal could be at risk.

Oddly, Mr. Stanley seems to turn up whenever she is out in public, even when she tries to discretely meet a date arranged for her by Connections Anonymous. Over the course of several in-person meetings with Mr. Stanley, she gets to know him a bit and is irritated to find herself not immune to his charm even though these meetings always seem to end with her angry. For his part, Christopher is determined not to be publicly humiliated for his dating missteps, if they were that. But things are not always as they seem, even for notorious playboys. Despite her determination not to like him and much to her chagrin, Olivia even seems to be developing an ill-advised affection for him.

Though the setting for this story is thoroughly modern, it has an overarching tone that immediately puts one in mind of the Regency period. The somewhat formal mode of speech between Miss Darcy and Mr. Stanley (in which they use formal titles rather than given names until very late in the story) is used very effectively to suggest the earlier period in history, but it is not stilted and does not seem out of place in a modern setting.

The characters are complex and well-developed. They both have great depth as the authors paint the very public face of Livvy and Christopher and then subtly fill us in on their more private yearnings and weaknesses that they have kept hidden. Christopher develops from a pompous, annoying, privileged stuffed shirt who is full of his own importance to a gentle, kind, and somewhat insecure man.

Though I tend to gravitate toward romances with some heat to them, I didn't miss the steam in this sweet story in which the physical relationship never goes beyond a kiss. I think that was just right for the overall tone of the story, and it didn't diminish the relationship between them at all for me.

The authors also gave us a peek back into the Jane Austen story through Olivia's reflections on her ancestors and her visit to Pemberley, their home turned tourist spot. I found the story to be delightfully sweet and poignant, and I think fans of both historical romance and contemporary romance will love it.
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