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Thursday, August 22, 2013


In my very first Jane Austen event, one of the first guest posts I had casually mentioned a book I hadn't heard of at that point, called First Impressions (which was the original title of P&P, of course). In emails, this guest reviewer was so glowing and enthusiastic that I invited Alexa to be part of what was then Jane in June; she's been a steadfast presence in my Jane events ever since. And this year, I finally got around to read the books that had made up a part of my Austenmania for the last 4 years. Click through to find out what I thought of them! And make sure to stop by her "Amelia Webster" guest post and giveaway!

I decided to review these two together, as I read them back to back, both are fairly short, and I think my review of the one hinges upon my review of the other.

Billed as "a tale of less Pride & Prejudice," and being novellas, I went into the series expecting the "playful romp" it is described as, and on that score, it delivers. It's a light, sweet style that seeks to remove a lot of the conflict and, you know, pride and prejudices the characters may otherwise encounter. First Impressions takes the tack of "What if Lizzie and Darcy were able to get along pretty early on?" Well, what then? Obviously they don't meet and marry, so what else might keep them apart? Adams explores that, creating a playful, pleasing-enough story that I always found enjoyable, even if it felt like something was lacking.

And see, there is something lacking, for me, at least - when you rob a story of its conflict and obstacles, what's the point?
Those very conflicts and obstacles were what made the characters what they were in the end, and what made Pride and Prejudice so enjoyable  - without that, they're not nearly so perfectly suited; they haven't had the chance to prove their mettle and to truly trust each other, which is one of the beautiful things about the story, and what makes it so transcendent and universal. But I'm willing to go with just about anything, and see how it turns out, so go with it I did. And I have to say, on the whole, I enjoyed First Impressions. I wanted more conflict, but I will always want more conflict, because that's what makes a story interesting to me. But though Alexa did remove the old conflict - those two hallmarks of P&P - she did substitute in new ones.

To accommodate a tale with much of the original conflict removed, there had to be some overhaul in the characters, and Darcy became a bit of a "fixer" - wanting to take everyone in hand and manage them into being what he needed or wanted them to be, in order to get his Elizabeth (or make her acceptable as his Elizabeth, which seemed a very Darcy-like thing to do). But some of these changes meant reactions and personal interactions sometimes became less believable, not only for who the characters were originally, but also for the time period of the story. Sometimes I felt Adams' Darcy is too patient and self-effacing, and he speaks far too freely/puts up with far too much; sometimes I found Elizabeth lacking a bit in her characteristic backbone. And Lady Catherine just isn't that gloriously hard piece of work we've come to know and love to hate - she just wasn't my Lady C. But despite this, they remained enjoyable, and the story gave a fresh spin that I hadn't encountered yet.  All in all, I was pleased, even if left a little wanting.

Then I moved on to Second Glances.... and I kinda loved it. I mean, really. It just made me smile. First of all, I should mention that Second Glances moves the story forward, out of the territory of retelling and into that of continuation. It predominantly follows Kitty and Georgiana, both of whom I'm always glad to see more of, because I don't feel enough is done with their characters, or credit given to them. Maybe I felt this was stronger because it wasn't messing with my beloved and well-known characters, but instead was fleshing out some that needed attention. Or maybe Adams' style and strengths were better show-cased here. Who knows. I have a feeling it was a bit of both, but whatever the reason, I found myself more than a bit tickled by this one.

Where changes to characters may have bothered me before, now they were used to grown Kitty and Georgiana into likable characters capable of sustaining their own stories and romances. Kitty becomes fierier, stronger and more resilient, and I couldn't help but love her. Under the guidance of her sister, she becomes a little more like Lizzie, which isn't a bad thing, but she still remains her own character. The relationship and closeness between her and Georgiana was sweet and strong, and I rooted for them both.

This isn't to say it was perfect, as there were still drawbacks. I would have liked a little less immediacy to the romances, though Alexa managed to take an immediacy that normally would have been a deal-breaker for me, and turn it into something charming. But still - I want obstacles! I want conflict! I want some pride and some prejudice and some misunderstandings, you know?  Honestly, I would really, really like to see Second Glances as a full-length novel, with all the development and fleshing out and, yes, conflict that would entail. I'd love to see Adams' powers let loose on a grander scale, with the room to really play with detail and scope, and build anticipation, and grow these characters into something magnificent. I have a feeling I would love it. I was pretty enchanted by Second Glances, despite any flaws or things that would normally really bother me; I can only imagine what Adams would do with a higher page-count in which to win me over...

All in all, I'd certainly recommend these, albeit with some minor caveats (especially for those of you who are like me, and like a little angst). And I'm definitely glad for that guest post long ago that introduced me to Alexa and her tales... :)

First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice by Alexa Adams
190 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Outskirts Press
In Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy begins his relationship with Elizabeth Bennet with the words: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present togive consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." What would have happened if Mr. Darcy had never spoken so disdainfully? First Impressions explores how the events of Jane Austen's beloved novel would have transpired if Darcy and Elizabeth had danced together at the Meryton Assembly. Jane and Bingley's relationship blossoms unimpeded, Mary makes a most fortunate match, and Lydia never sets a foot in Brighton. Austen's witty style is authentically invoked in this playful romp from Longbourn to Pemberley.


Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Continues by Alexa Adams

172 pages
Published February 25th 2013 by Outskirts Press
A year has passed since the conclusion of First Impressions, and the marriages made by the three eldest Bennet ladies are prospering. Expectations are high for the two youngest sisters to do equally well. Kitty, having excelled in school, receives an invitation to join Georgiana Darcy in her first London season, leaving Lydia to bear the burden of the classroom alone. Will the most forward Bennet tolerate such inequity?

Kitty arrives in London prepared to be happy, but her delight is marred when she finds a most unwelcome gentleman on intimate terms with her hosts. She has met the reckless Sir James Stratton before and would like nothing more than to never encounter him again, but his acquaintance she is forced to endure. Struggling for firm footing amidst the whirlwind of London society, will Kitty be allowed to follow her heart, or will her family force her hand? Join the reimagined cast of Pride and Prejudice as they pursue happiness amidst the ongoing obstacles of life, love, and interfering relations.


  1. Thanks Misty! I'm so glad to hear your perspective on the books. Sorry they didn't fulfill your desire for some angst, but I'll take enchanting any day. It's been awesome being a part of this even these past four years. I'm delighted to share in your Austenmania.

  2. I enjoyed these stories too. It is fun to explore 'what if' questions in stories.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Always enjoy new takes on Pride and Prejudice, and I like the development of the minor characters

  4. First off I'm loving the covers. Great to hear your thoughts thank you.

  5. I'm intrigued by these books and hope to win the giveaway so I can read them. It will be interesting to see how Adams can show Elizabeth's spirit and the spark between her and Darcy without any initial conflict between them. I thought that's what gave them so much pizazz in Austen's original - so much passion while they're arguing/debating can only lead to that same passion elsewhere... If you don't have that, where does their passion present itself? I must read it and find out.

  6. They sound good and interesting and it's always good to have the characters encounter new situations and variations.


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