Fitzwilliam Darcy is a handsome, billionaire CEO and philanthropist suffering from OCD. Thinking that Darcy needs a vacation and knowing that he will ask all the right questions, Darcy's friend, Charles Bingley invites him on an excursion to Vietnam where his sister and her husband hope to adopt a child. No sooner do they arrive than Charles injures himself and is in need of medical attention. Darcy takes him to a nearby hospital where they are told an American doctor is working. Not being fond of hospitals or the medical profession in general, Darcy waits outside, but eventually finds himself being ushered in to see his friend. Appalled by what he perceives as a lack of care for his friend's well-being, Darcy proceeds to insult the doctor after which he promptly faints at the sight of blood.
Elizabeth Bennett is an infectious disease specialist. She is volunteering at a Vietnamese hospital while her sister, Jane, works at the nearby orphanage. Elizabeth is none too happy with Darcy telling her off, but neither can she deny that he is a very attractive man. Elizabeth has a history of falling for gay men and through a series of misunderstandings comes to believe that Darcy and Bingley are a couple. Elizabeth and Darcy share some fun times together, but she thinks nothing will come of it even though she fondly wishes for more. Elizabeth eventually discovers the truth and couldn't be happier, but she and Darcy still have many obstacles to overcome in their quest for a happily-ever-after, not the least of which are some neer-do-well relatives who want nothing less than to see Darcy ruined.
Nina Benneton's debut novel, Compulsively Mr. Darcy, is a delightfully fun, lighthearted, contemporary spoof of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Much to my shame I have not yet read P&P (never fear, it is on my TBR list;-)), so I can't offer any kind of comparative analysis. However, the book stands very well on its own merits. It would have been equally as enjoyable even if the plot of the book was not in some fashion following the plot of P&P and the characters had been given different names. I have to admit that initially, the sheer volume of characters could be a little confusing, and this is where some previous knowledge of P&P might have been helpful, but eventually, I got everyone straight and had a lot of fun spending time with them.
Compulsively Mr. Darcy begins in Da Nang, Vietnam of all places. What a unique setting for a romance novel! I enjoyed learning a little about the country and the culture, as well as reading about Elizabeth's colorful Vietnamese relatives. The story then moves to New York City and on to California as we follow the hero and heroine through their adventures.
In this retelling, Fitzwilliam Darcy is the OCD billionaire of a very successful company specializing in acquisitions and mergers. He begins the book quite stuffy and uptight, but I immediately discerned a very appealing man underneath the control freak veneer. I actually loved how he took such good care of everyone around him, both family and friends. I think he was a naturally kind, caring, loving person, whose anxieties and OCD just make him go a little overboard. Ultimately though, I thought it was rather sweet. Elizabeth must have agreed with me, because she was never off-put by his neurotic behavior either. William never stops worrying about everyone, most especially Elizabeth and his sister, Georgianna. He does manage to live a fairly normal life in spite of being a worry-wort, but I really loved the moments when he was able to loosen up a little bit. He was actually surprisingly good with babies (dirty diapers not withstanding;-)) which leads me to believe that he would be a great father. He was already a wonderful husband, lover, friend and brother, so he can just add another check-mark to his repertoire.
Elizabeth has a rather inauspicious beginning, first snapping at William when he comes to check on his friend, Bingley, who is under her care at the hospital and later thinking that they are a gay couple which led to all sorts of hilarity. In spite of her initial grumpiness, Elizabeth turns out to be a very sweet, loving woman. She and her sister Jane are women after my own heart, the way they are giving selflessly of themselves to work in a third-world country helping others. I also love how completely accepting she is of Darcy, faults, neuroses and all. I think her only shortcoming is that she has a bit of a jealous streak which led to the dreaded misunderstanding and a temporary breakup. Even though it could have been cleared up with a candid conversation, in terms of page-time, it didn't last too long, led to a very sweet make-up, and was played a little lighter, more like a comedy of errors, so I guess I can mostly forgive the lapse. Elizabeth was very funny too with her frugal ways. Even after she found out that Darcy was a billionaire, she couldn't help herself. She was still trying to pinch pennies and couldn't stand the thought of being wasteful, which is something I can totally relate to. I'd probably be the same way even if I suddenly came into a lot of money.
Overall, I had a really good time reading Compulsively Mr. Darcy. William and Elizabeth are just the sweetest couple who practically dote on each other nearly all the time. They can't stand to be without one another and always seem to have fun when they're together. I absolutely loved all the gentle teasing and bantering. The secondary characters were great too. Bingley is a hoot with his lighthearted, boyish manner, and Darcy's cousin, Richard, is always trying to look out for him while he looks out for everyone else. All of Elizabeth's sisters have their own unique personalities too. Everything just came together to make this an extremely enjoyable read. Nina Benneton is a talented new author, and I'll definitely be looking forward to seeing what else she comes up with. In the meantime, if the original Mr. Darcy is half as charming as William, and Pride and Prejudice is half as delightful as Compulsively Mr. Darcy, I know I'm going to have a blast when I finally read it.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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