I have no words to describe just HOW MUCH I loved this one. I read it in one sitting and was SO sorry to say goodbye to these two which is exactly how I felt after I finished the previous ones. I don't even know where to start so let's first put is out there that this is a modern take on "Pride and Prejudice" (by Jane Austen). As I haven't actually read the novel, I don't really know how or to what to compare it exactly but for me what matters is how much I connected to the story and the characters which I firstly attribute to Anyta and her wonderful style of writing. We only get Bennet's POV (similar to the other installments) which is enough yet I REALLY wanted to be in Darcy's head and heart understand his struggles and he had many - not only concerning Bennet but so much more.
We haven't met Bennet Keene before. He returned to the small village of Cubworthy to care for his 15 year old brother Lyon after their parents death. Right now it's his main goal in life. After years of being apart from his brother (and parents) he wants to make it right, to make him feel comfortable and welcome - being gay like him (especially after his parent's rejection) - in their now family of two as well as the small community. He would also LOVE to find the right guy for himself but with his very specific list of requests it won't be easy. It sounds basic - be proud - of himself as well as Bennet. But Bennet can be judgmental and principled - not the easiest to get along with.
Darcy Tilney.. yep, we've met HIM before alright and he didn't make a big or rather positive impression.. Darcy is Henry and Georgie's father from the previous installment. If you haven't read the previous one - first it's a shame as it's simply SUPERB but also, I think considering the progression of the previous book as well as the abrupt way it ended (regarding the father and son) it's better you read it first. Anything I'll say next about Darcy is going to spoiler anyone who hasn't read "Cameron Wants to Be a Hero" - be advised.
After the way things ended between Darcy and Henry, Darcy decided to take a bit of time off and reflect in his estate in Cubworthy. Spending time in nature and not engaging in his highly demanding job helps a bit. Though Bennet'a presence doesn't help AT ALL. As Bennet puts it -
"You look at me as a fox does a rabbit [..] You like what you see [..] despite having convinced all the other foxes you're vegetarian, you want to eat me"
The progression of their relationship - mostly friendship for most of the book - was a JOY to read. It was the best kind of slow burn. They circled each other, not wanting to assume and definitely not ask for anything more not wanting to be rejected or hoping for something too good to be true. They had a lot in common (though there's an age gap. Darcy being 49 and Bennet in his 30s). They could banter for hours, ride horses and play scrabble but what Bennet NEEDS from his partner is not something he could ever see Darcy being or doing - being proud of who he is and the person he wants.
It was a beautiful beautiful journey heartfelt, funny and witty. I loved seeing the relationships around Bennet change as he was changing his perspective - with his best friend Charlie, his little brother Lyon as well as the way he found a place in a town he lost faith in years before.
There's more to the story with Bennet trying to arrange a pride celebration (for his brother's benefit) with all it's difficulties - mainly called Caroline who I couldn't stand from the start. As well as other love interest for Bennet who confused him for a while. I have to say there is something FAR better about reading a more mature couple. Darcy is an established lawyer, a father of 3 grownup kids. He is in a place of comfort and yet he is missing a piece and to have that one last piece he still has a bit of "growing up" to do - to resolve old fears and perceptions. In a way Bennet as well. He has a career he is good at and he is content in the life he has but now the cards are mixed up again when he returns to a place he no longer perceives as home. I think both men were a bit "set in their ways" which was totally understandable but also what made their journey much more satisfying to read. Even old dogs can learn new tricks or maybe - there's no age for love.
I truly cannot wait for the next installments (all coming this year). I'm greedy to know anything about them, when they'll be released who the characters going to be (we know one of the characters for the next one which is mentioned a bit in this one).
CAN'T RECOMMEND THIS BOOK ENOUGH! Another MUST READ.
2 July 2021
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Love, Austen is a Contemporary Romance series by Anyta Sunday. Each book delivers an updated (and gay) version of the 6 novels written by Jane Austen. I don't think I've actually read any of the original novels (though I've seen a few in film) but it doesn't really matter, Anyta can write about penguins on the moon and I'll read it hehe. This series is simply SUPERB. I love each of the characters, their personal arc and as a couple. Each is so simple yet complex.
If you've felt the ending of the second novel a bit rushed, trust Anyta, she will make it better, continue on to the next one (and that's ALL I'm going to say here :))
HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
1. Emerett Has Never Been in Love - "Emma" [Emerett “Lake” Lakewood & Knightly "Knight" Dixon] (Published 15 March 2021) ★★★★★
2. Cameron Wants to Be a Hero - "Northanger Abbey" [Cameron Morland & Henry Tilney] (Published 17 May 2021) ★★★★★
3. Bennet, Pride Before the Fall - "Pride and Prejudice" [Bennet Keene & Darcy Tilney] (Published 30 June 2021) ★★★★★
4. Finley Embraces Heart and Home - "Mansfield Park" [Finely Price & ?] (2021)
5-6 - "Sense and Sensibility" / "Love & Friendship" (2021)