If you throw a classic love story into a pot, add a few unexpected twists to the mix, and sprinkle it with some Christmas cheer, some familial angst, and some naughty bits, that’s pretty much what this book is all about.
Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz is as the title suggests a Christmas-themed spin on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. This novel however, also features some interesting gender-swaps and it is set in present time New York, within a fictional small town called Pemberley, Ohio.
Darcy Fitzwilliam, our heroine, is a beautiful, successful, and brilliant business woman who has never been in love. When she returns home to visit with her estranged family over Christmas, she bumps into her childhood rival Luke Bennet, and her life suddenly takes a dramatic turn for the romantic.
I appreciate the fact that Darcy Fitzwilliam was written as a strong, independent, and business savvy woman with an interesting inner life. I also liked Luke Bennet, the slightly antagonistic furniture carpenter who seems to be completely at peace with his small-town life. They are interesting opposites to each other, however, I found it hard to like Darcy. I also thought that the build-up to their romance was a little rushed and would have liked for some more back and forth between the two of them before they officially became an item. The relationship I ended up appreciating the most was that of Darcy and her gay best friend Bingley as it felt genuine. It was easy to picture the two of them sipping drinks together, making snide remarks about people in public and fussing over each other’s love lives.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I usually don’t enjoy straight up romance novels, so that is saying something. The romantic and sexy parts of the novel did not feel awkward or cliché. There were also some genuinely funny and emotional moments where I caught myself smiling along with the characters, or feeling upset on their behalf.
However, there were a few formatting and timeline issues in this novel that bothered me to such an extent that I completely lost the flow of the narrative, especially during the last chapter of the book. I also thought that the reason behind Darcy’s familial estrangement felt a little flimsy in such a contemporary setting. When I discovered why her relations with her father were so strained I felt disappointed, like there should be more to it.
In addition, the synopsis of the book is a little bit misleading. It mentions several things that never make an appearance in the book at all and paint a very different picture of who Darcy is as a character.
In conclusion, I found Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe to be an enjoyable quick read, and an interesting twist on the original novel, but I would clarify that it leans more towards being lightly “inspired by” the original, more so than being a modern re-telling of the story. Diehard fans of Jane Austen might not be the intended audience for this book, but if you like fun and light romance stories, and you are in the market for a laid-back Christmas read, this would be a book for you!
Will you be burying your nose into Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe? Or have you already? Tell us in the comments below!
SYNOPSIS | GOODREADS
Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.
Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?