Book Review and Extract: The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett

Today, I am kicking off the blog tour for Jean Burnett’s release, The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad (publishing today by Canelo Books).

Bad Miss Bennet blog tour

ABOUT THE BOOK

At the end of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice 16-year-old Lydia Bennet had just begun married life to the roguish Mr Wickham. But after some risky gambling and a liaison with an Austrian count in Jean Burnett’s Who Needs Mr Darcy?, Lydia decides to leave London.

Lydia sets sail for Rio, accompanying Austrian noblewoman, Dona Leopoldina, who is travelling there to marry heir to the Brazilian throne and notorious womaniser, Dom Pedro. But troubled waters lie ahead when Dom Pedro sets his sights on wooing Lydia instead.

Finding his flirtatious ways impossible to resist, Lydia is thrown out of the court for her indiscretions. On discovering she is pregnant, Dom Pedro sets Lydia up in the coastal town of Paraty where, in boredom, she begins writing a gothic romance. But things soon liven up when a pirate ship anchors in the bay and kidnaps Lydia and her baby…

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK

As soon as I started reading the prologue of this book, my head started spinning. I wasn’t prepared for all the information that were thrown at me. However, it all made perfect sense, as the prologue pretty much summarised the adventures Lydia got up to in the first book, Who Needs Mr Darcy?. I had not previously read the first book, and although this instalment is perfectly fine to be read as a stand-alone, I probably would have preferred to read these in order. I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed by the first few pages then.

Having said this though, as soon as I began with Chapter 1, I was pretty much captivated by the storyline. The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad is such a brilliant and humorous take on Pride and Prejudice.

Lydia is a fantastic character. I found her slightly naive, yet incredibly strong persona intriguing and fascinating. Following her on her adventure to Brazil made for a great reading experience. The storyline develops nicely and although there are some serious encounters, the mood is lighthearted throughout.

The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad is a refreshing and charming read that I finished in a relatively short amount of time.

EXTRACT

I have never had much luck with lovers or husbands. Most of my difficulties since the age of sixteen have been due to an unerring talent for choosing the wrong man, coupled with a lack of money. The two things are, of course, closely connected in a woman’s life. Ladies, beware of the allure of a uniform – especially if a comely man is inside.

After the less than heroic death of Wickham at Waterloo I returned to England and made my way to Pemberley, where I hoped for comfort and support from my sister Lizzie and her husband. Instead, I found Mr Darcy intent on marrying me off to the nearest curate – a fate not to be borne. After some unpleasantness I escaped to London to join my friends.

What a trio we were – Selena and Miles Caruthers and Lydia Bennet Wickham. Our escapades were the greatest fun and garnered us a satisfactory amount of money, although it lasted an immoderately short time. I

did not lack for admirers in London but, as always, they were either unsuccessful, disreputable or downright criminal (a highwayman), and sometimes all three at the same time.

My involvement with one of these gentlemen led me to Brighton and the Prince Regent’s bedroom while at the same time embroiling me in affairs of state – for which I have no inclination or talent. Fortunately, a friend obtained an invitation to Almack’s ballroom for me. At the time I regarded this as the greatest good fortune I had enjoyed in my entire life. It would, I was sure, compensate for my unfortunate marriage to Mr Wickham – although I was only sixteen at the time, dear reader, and with little knowledge of men and their wicked ways.

Miles told me, ‘We expect you to catch a duke at the very least.’ Indeed, if one could not do so at Almack’s, where else could it be done? This place was where the ton met and found suitable partners – and occasionally unsuitable ones. I hoped to meet a man who would provide me with marriage, respectability, a small but comfortable estate (not entailed), a matching footman or two and a diamond or three. In short, I had the legitimate aspirations of any refined young woman. Surely I deserved such a fate? Not quite twenty years old I was already a widow – a penniless widow, as Mr Darcy often reminded me.

The Austrian Count who beguiled me at the ballroom might have been the answer to my prayers. He invited me to accompany him to Paris (Paris!), another ambition realised – but sadly it transpired that he already had a wife. My dreams were shattered but, as my maid Adelaide reminded me, women have few choices and must take the rough with the smooth.

Realising the truth of this I agreed to the arrangement, taking care not to give the details to my family when I returned for a stay at Pemberley. I made the mistake of confiding all in a letter to my silly sister Kitty, who betrayed me by sending the letter to Mr Darcy. The repercussions from this were most painful and, in short, I was dispatched by my brother-in-law to be a companion to an old lady in Bath.

How quickly one can descend from the heights to the depths! It seemed but a wink of an eye from dancing in my finery at Almack’s to dragging an obnoxious pug called Wellington across the Bath downland at the behest of Mrs Makepeace, my employer.

However, the gods of fortune had not turned away from me entirely. Mrs Makepeace proved to be a most amiable lady who often recounted to me her adventures in pre-revolutionary Paris before Napoleon ruined everything. An idea germinated in my mind. I would persuade my employer somehow to end her reclusive existence and venture to the continent again – and I succeeded. We embarked for France in due course.

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