Seducing Mr. Darcy

Gwynn Cready
2008, Time Travel Romance
Pocket, $6.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 1416541160

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Warm

What would happen if you could suddenly appear in one of your favorite novels? That's the interesting premise of Seducing Mr. Darcy, a mix of chick lit, time travel, and alternate reality. Unfortunately, a weak hero left me with mixed feelings about the book.

Flip, our heroine, is a research ornithologist at a university in Pittsburgh, where she's forced to work with her scumbag of an ex-husband. Though Flip's book group is currently reading Pride and Prejudice, Flip spends more of her time reading a romance novel filled with inventive sex scenes. It's about as close as she's been to sex in awhile.

While discussing Mr. Darcy at a café with friends, Flip spots Magnus Knightly, a visiting scholar from England. According to campus rumors, Magnus is the Lothario of the university's rare book room. He is also an Austen scholar who takes the author very seriously. Magnus becomes incensed when he overhears Flip and her friends talking about Darcy in sexual terms. As she leaves the café, Flip bumps into Magnus, and they have words.

As she's leaving, Flip notices a sign for Looking Glass Massage Therapy, a business that urges patrons to imagine themselves in their favorite book. Flip can't resist, and heads to get a massage. While on the table, she tries to imagine herself in the sex-filled romp set in Venice, but scenes from Austen's classic keep popping into her head. Suddenly, Flip finds herself in full Regency dress faced with a house filled with Regency characters, including Mr. Darcy.

But this isn't the Pride and Prejudice we know so well. Flip is a character based on her sex-filled romp and quickly has sex with Mr. Darcy. A little while later, Flip lands back in the present, but by then, the damage is done. The plot of every copy of the book is changed, featuring a rakish Mr. Darcy, and herself with his bastard child . Flip needs to figure out how to correct the damage (think Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series). For this, she needs Magnus' help.

I liked Flip. To me she was an interesting, sympathetic character. I enjoyed how the author used Flip's career as an ornithologist in both the present, and inside Pride and Prejudice. Many of the scenes set in a book within a book were very clever. Some had me laughing aloud. But I didn't feel strongly one way or the other about Magnus. Though all of the women in the book found him to be incredibly sexy, I though he was cranky and arrogant a great deal of the time. Perhaps if there were fewer scenes featuring Flip's ex-husband and his current lover and more scenes with Magnus, I might have liked the book more.

I had issues with how quickly Flip had sex with Mr. Darcy. It just didn't work for me. I'll admit this may be because I don't want Mr. Darcy to have sex with anyone but Elizabeth Bennett. However, if Flip hadn't had sex with Mr. Darcy, there would have been no book.

I've read a lot of bad Pride and Prejudice themed books. While this one isn't bad, it had enough flaws that I can't recommend it.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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