Twenty-year-old Julia Maitland is ready to find a husband. Lord Dominic Brandon has proposed, delighting Julia's socially ambitious mother, despite Brandon's unsavory reputation and rumored ties to smuggling. Though her father favors Jack Douglas-who lacks a title but will inherit his father's fortune-Julia has eyes only for Kit, Jack's younger brother, who will inherit very little. When Julia accompanies her Aunt Lucy to the estate of Lucy's recently deceased childhood friend, she is stunned to see Kit, who inherited the estate and new surname from his godmother, making him the Master of Morancourt. The attraction between the pair blossoms but Julia knows a loveless union still awaits unless she can convince her family otherwise. Aylmer is more enamored of the period than of her characters, and the plot serves as merely a framework for sumptuous descriptions of Regency-era events and fashions. Despite a treasure trove of Austen-era trivia, a stronger narrative would have made the love affair more compelling.
What is it about Fitzwilliam Darcy? Two hundred years after he captivated Elizabeth Bennett, readers still can't seem to get their fill of him. This title is just the latest in Darcy-inspired Jane Austen "fanfiction." Aylmer adheres more closely to the original in Darcy's Story, which retells Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's point of view. Big chunks of dialogue are lifted straight from Austen, accompanied by Darcy's own thoughts and perceptions. It's an interesting idea, but Aylmer's reverence for the text stands in the way of creating a lively story. There is no attempt to match Austen's sparkle or to flesh out the period setting, and opportunities to create more drama are missed; for example, Wickham's attempted abduction of Georgiana, which in another writer's hands might be a novel in itself, is dealt with in a few matter-of-fact sentences. As a result, this Darcy seems a dull dog. Nevertheless, the book should appeal to ardent Austen fans, especially if they object to too much tinkering.