Dreaming of Mr. Darcy
Even though Ms. Connelly has a light breezy style of writing that is engaging, this book didn’t work for me. While I am not a Jane Austen enthusiast, I do like “Kisses” books. However, the heroine’s naiveté, which bordered on TSTL, brought me out of the story, making me lose all sympathy for her.
Thirty-one-year-old Kate Ashton is working at a dead end job – actually, the first job she was offered. She dreams of a career as an illustrator, and spends her free time drawing pictures of scenes from Jane Austen’s books. Her mother died a month ago, but gentle soul that she is, Kate continues to visit the nursing home to read to Peggy Sullivan, a friend of her mother’s. After Peggy’s death she is flabbergasted to discover that Peggy has left her a fortune, with the imploration that she “do something amazing.”
With Peggy’s words resounding in her head, she goes for the brass ring, quits her job and decides to move to Lyme Regis. She has never even visited Lyme Regis but feels she knows it from Ms. Austen’s books. Initially she has a very sensible budget, but then she falls in love with Wentworth House – named after Captain Frederick Wentworth, the hero of Persuasion – and decides that running a bed-and-breakfast is a perfect way to make a living.
Three months later, as the last of the remodeling is just finished and even before she has a chance to put out the opening sign, the bed-and-breakfast is taken over by the cast and crew filming the newest adaptation of Persuasion, written by Adam Craig. Kate is in heaven. This is a dream come true. And speaking of dreams, Oli Wade Wilson, the actor playing Captain Wentworth and the most handsome man she has ever seen, is playing a big part in her visions of the future. Of course, with her falling in love, she wants everyone to be in love as well, so she attempts to fix Adam up with one of her new friends from the cast.
Adam Craig is an agonizingly shy man. Writers are typically people who are comfortable spending long periods of time alone, and he is no different. He has had several unsuccessful relationships, which have made him cautious but haven’t diminished his desire to find the right one. He notices Kate when she first arrives in town but he has only the courage to give her a smile, and before long she slips away. He does meet her again, and just when he is getting up his courage to tell her how he feels, she wants to set him up on a date.
I have been reading romance a long time, and I have to say this book reminded me of books I read in my early teens. The characters – well, for lack of a better analogy, think of Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart. The heroine is a poster child for gullible and foolish. Before the first date the heroine visualizes the future in which Oli states, “You know when I decided I was going to marry you? The moment you came to the front room for our first date wearing that amazing…” And on the actual first date she is thinking of how she’ll tell the press, “We were sitting in the back of a taxi when he proposed to me.”
The book is thin on details that typically pull me into the story. Kate opens a bed-and-breakfast, but there is no mention of her having any experience. Supposedly Oli is charming enough to Kate to make her to fall in love with him, but the author shows more of his egocentrism, causing me to view her as idiotic. And there are a couple of secondary plots that ultimately distract from the focus of the main romance.
Maybe for many people the appeal lies in the references to Jane Austen and her books. If that is something that you love then you might enjoy this book. Otherwise, my recommendation is to give it a pass. There are better books out there that are more fun.