I really enjoyed the idea of To Have His Cake (and Eat It Too). It reminded me a bit of Jane Erye...but with better lighting. The "what if" plot led to continued friction and misunderstanding between Darcy and Elizabeth...with some heat thrown in. However, there were a few items in this book that have been deal breakers for me in other Pride and Prejudice spin offs. Instead of being comfort food for my brain, it was a bit more of an interesting read.
A portion of the blurb from the back of the book: "...The amorous, provocative, and at times tumultuous tale, illustrates Mr. Darcy as a wealthy young man of sense and education, as well as considerable worldly experience - not at all uncommon for Regency era gentlemen of his social standing. He enjoys his lifestyle and has no particular desire to marry at all.
That is, until he renews his acquaintance with Miss Elizabeth Bennet - her own circumstances greatly diminished pursuant to the sudden and tragic death of her father..."
** You can sample the first 20% of this book on Smashwords.com. I have never used this option, but it sounds pretty great.**
Rehash vs. Revisit: A
Nit Picky Little Things: A
Wonderful Little Moments: A
The Moment I was Hooked: B
Language: The straight forward language along with the straight forward writing style made the book feel a bit...straight forward. I would have liked more transition in spots. I'm not one for lengthy explanations and a lot of description. In spite of that, there were a few lines I had to reread because the dramatic information was so simply and succinctly stated that I was not sure exactly what had just happened.
Also, the bluntness of language in several scenes made them feel more graphic than romantic. I will refer back to this in the characterization section as one of my two issues.
Characterization: Ahhhhh: Darcy and Elizabeth sparring, misunderstanding each other and pride once again taking center stage. That, I loved.
I enjoy reading how different authors interpret items from the Regency Era and Jane Austen's writing: the waltz, wedding bands, how Christmas is celebrated, the # of staff at Pemberley, Darcy's wealth and social status, the size of Pemberley, Darcy's extended family, if Darcy would remain in the room during the birth of his child, would Darcy curse, how religious is he, and so on.
The nonnegotiable for me is the characterization of Darcy's honor and devotion to Elizabeth. This is no great spoiler here, as it is alluded to on the back of the book where it says he has "worldly experience...not uncommon for a gentleman of the Regency era...", and you can find it on page 2: Darcy visits a brothel. After meeting Elizabeth.
I gave the book The Private Dairy of Mr. Darcy a very harsh review for the same reason. Perhaps, in all of the Pride and Prejudice follow ups you have read, a bit of reality will feel refreshing. Maybe I am just a little too caught up in the fairy tale. As I said, I like the idea of the story so much, I really really wanted to love all of the book. I did not love the parts referring to the brothel even though Ms. Dixon makes a case for this being more than a disparagement later in the story. It is not a thoughtless detail.
I, personally, want the fairy tale. I stick my fingers in my ears and sing "LALALA" when I hear Colin Firth say "no such men like that exist" in interviews referencing Mr. Darcy and other Fitzwilliam and Mark Darcy-esc characters he has played. (Perhaps not the exact quote..hard to be sure with one's fingers in one's ears.)
Plot: Darcy, wanting to have Elizabeth close, offers her a position in his household as a companion for Georgiana. This leads to great deal of humor and tension. I think to create tension between characters that we already know with an ending that we have already heard, is pretty exciting. At the end, I was left wanting to know more about Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, Caroline, Mr. Bingley and a few spurned women in Darcy's wake.
There is a plot turn that, when coupled with the language used, felt very graphic and out of character for Darcy and Elizabeth. I do not mind love scenes. I am a fan of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and The Two Shall Become One. It is the subject people e-mail me the most about. (In reference to the Pride and Prejudice books only...of course.) Smashwords.com rates this book for 17 and above.
Rehash vs. Revisit: Revisit, for sure. I quite enjoyed the use of original lines in different circumstances.
Nit Picky Little Things: I think my two complaints are sufficient.
Wonderful Little Moments: : "It could be worse, I might be Mrs. Collins," horseback riding, seeing Pemberley for the first time (Ms. Dixon did create a wonderful version of this), Mary's character development, Georgiana's gift, Darcy and Elizabeth's arguments.
Originality: Excellent - The idea of the story drew me in and left me wanting more. It is quite hard to set your work apart in a sea of Pride and Prejudice follow ups and Ms. Dixon did just that.
The Moment I was Hooked: The few lines preceding Chapter 1 made me sink into the book immediately. But then, the previously mentioned item on page 2, pushed me back out again. So many dramatic plot details were revealed in the first chapters, my interest was drawn back....but not as quickly as my heart had been initially.
If this book was a movie - it would be rated R.
And, there IS another book coming, so I will get to find out what happens to those characters I mentioned, in What He Would Not Do by P. O. Dixon. This link is to an excerpt on Ms. Dixon's blog. (Although, you may not want to read the excerpt from book #2 before reading book #1.)
(This image is from podixon.blogspot.com)