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New Release Review! MOST ARDENTLY by Susan Mesler-Evans

Most Ardently cover

Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with.

From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats — which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

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Absolutely adorable P&P retelling with (several) modern twists!

Elisa Benitez and Darcy Fitzgerald’s story hits all the main plot points of Pride and Prejudice , but does so with plenty of modern touches that help to make the story Ms Mesler-Evans’ own. Elisa is bisexual and of Hispanic heritage; Darcy is biracial and a lesbian. Camilla (the second youngest of Elisa’s sisters) is trans, and Elisa’s parents are divorced (I was especially interested that the author went there–I’ve read so many analyses re: the elder Bennets and their marriage, and they’ve been about a 50-50 split between they had a good marriage and their marriage was a disaster; though I’m not willing to commit 100% to one argument or the other, this worked here). I enjoyed noting the differences and seeing how the author made Jane Austen‘s period piece become more modern.

For the most part it really, really worked–I’d venture to say that even someone completely unfamiliar with the storyline would enjoy this book’s plot and characters on their own merit. A few bits felt slightly forced (Lady Catherine’s final scenes, I’m looking at you) and others were an improvement (Colin/Mr. Collins and Charlene/Charlotte’s eventual relationship is so much more palatable here!) and I turned the final page of the story with a huge smile on my face. Final verdict? I’ll get in line to read Ms Mesler-Evans’s next book, even if it’s not an Austen retelling 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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