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on 7 March 2010
"Darcy tried to focus his attention on her kisses, tasting the passion that was clearly sweeping between them, but the rest of his body remained all too aware of how little stood between them, and as he finally pulled Elizabeth to him, the sensation of her softness molding itself to him stole away any remaining rational thought." Chapter 7

In this retelling of Jane Austen's novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, author Abigail Reynolds re-imagines the famous plot and asks these burning questions. What if after Elizabeth Bennet's refusal of Mr. Darcy's first proposal at Hunsford, he does not disappear from her life, but arrives at her home at Longbourn determined to change her mind? What if Elizabeth seduced by his ardent attentions sets aside all propriety giving way to her base impulses? What if their mutual passion can not be abated, anticipating their wedding night? Ms. Reynolds then proceeds to creatively answer each of these questions with her spin on the retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE that might require some readers to suspend their disbelief and burning objections of altering one of the most cherished works in English literature, and just let go and let it happen.

The story opens with the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam at the Darcy townhouse in London. It is the summer of 1803 and two months have passed since he and his cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy had visited their aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh at Rosings in Kent. He is immediately informed by concerned servants and Georgina Darcy that Mr. Darcy is not quite himself, sullen and short tempered to the point of alarm. Darcy shortly reveals to him the cause of his misery; - the rejection of his marriage proposal by the woman that he loves, Elizabeth Bennet, and the reasons why she so flatly refused him. Colonel Fitzwilliam is not surprised by his attraction to the lovely Miss Bennet, only that she would refuse such an advantageous offer and Darcy's reasons for separating his friend Charles Bingley from Elizabeth's sister Jane. Inspired by Colonel Fitzwilliam's advice he convinces Charles Bingley to return to his estate at Netherfield Park to renew his attentions to Jane Bennet with the ulterior motive of seeing Elizabeth and winning her heart and hand.

Readers of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE will remember that after Elizabeth refuses Mr. Darcy's first proposal that she returns home to her family at Longbourn and Mr. Darcy disappears from her life only to be re-introduced by a chance meeting at his estate of Pemberley when she is touring Derbyshire on holiday with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. In this scenario, instead of leaving their meeting to chance, Mr. Darcy has become the aggressor, taking the initiative to reconnect with Elizabeth and pursue her affections by ingratiating himself to her family, her friends and herself, first by gentlemanly means with little results, then by the Wickham school of charm and seduction which eventually breaks Elizabeth's resolve, giving way to her passionate desires.

IMPULSE & INITIATIVE offers PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fans the opportunity to explore yet another avenue of a story that we all just can not seem to get enough of as evidenced by the many prequels, sequels, retellings and pastiches available. It is creative and clever in theory, but do the `what if' questions really need to be asked and answered? Possibly, but at times while reading IMPULSE & INITIATIVE I felt like I was privy to a creative writing assignment where students were asked to take a story from classic literature and believably alter the plot and characters to the opposite intention of the original author. In this case, the results can at times be both believable and baffling, but unfortunately not at the same time leaving the reader in a bit of a quandary.

Abigail Reynolds has taken a huge risk in her choice of changing a classic story that is quite delightful to begin with, and whose hero and heroine Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy may be the most iconic romantic couple in popular culture short of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. She might have succeeded if she had allowed the characters integrity to continue from Austen's original concept. Instead we are asked to suspend our disbelief beyond equal measure and accept well known characters acting in a manner that does not constitute their happiness or ours. Reynold's Mr. Darcy has changed from the honorable Regency gentleman that many expect into George Wickham, a plotting seducer and the type of man that Austen's Darcy despises, and Elizabeth Bennet into a caricature of her younger sister Lydia, willing to throw off propriety for the pleasures of passion.

I am reminded of one on my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Bennet from the original novel. "One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty." Ms. Reynolds is a talented writer who shows flashes of wit and charm in her style. She has creatively blended a classic love story with a saucy romance novel, and if knowing that Darcy and Elizabeth are quite passionate about their love for one another before the marriage does not set off any decorum alarms, then this one deserves a slot in the queue on your bedside table. If you wonder why the "what if" questions needed to be asked in the first place, then try stumbling upon something else more witty.

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
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on 23 June 2009
Abigail Reynolds writes down all the dirty fantasies about Mr. Darcy and his Elizabeth we are all guilty of having. She describes her scenes with such attention that when Darcy first touch Elizabeth's hand I shivered with sensation - and it only gets better (or worse depending on your outlook) after this, leaving me wanting more of this version of the couple that lets their tempers show in the affection for each other. The book is well written and leaves you breathless, desperate for more.
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on 3 September 2007
I love the Darcy Abigail Reynolds portrayed in this book. Despite Darcy's resignation to accepting his fate without Elizabeth at first, once urged on by the Colonel, Darcy returned to Herdfortshire to prove his love to Elizabeth. He didn't give up even though Elizabeth didn't show him any encouragement. Their journey to understanding was gradual and heart-felt.The library scene was romantic, sensual and moving. And I like the humour. I reread it a few times already.
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on 4 April 2008
Impulse and Initiative explores what might have happened in P&P if Darcy had pursued Elizabeth to Hertfordshire after she refused his first proposal. It is an interesting and enjoyable read, and on the whole I found the story believable. Although Reynolds portrays Darcy in a much softer light than the original, this falls in with Austen's conclusion that when they were finally united Elizabeth taught him to cast aside his reserve and join in her teasing. In parts some of the dialogue could easily be Austen's, and the areas where Reynolds works in passages from the original text are skilful.

Where it fails to be a true variation on P&P is the content- much of the book is given over to explicit physical attraction and some sexual relations, which would obviously never appear in an Austen novel. Although I would never have bought the book had I realised before that this would be such a key part of the story, I actually found it acceptable in the context of the book. It does stretch credibility in places- it is hard to imagine Mr. Darcy could have found so many opportunities to be alone with Elizabeth, or that she would allow his advances to such an extent, but the psychology of Mr. Darcy pursuing Elizabeth single-mindedly, of her being attracted to him but then pulling away, of her independence preventing her from committing to an engagement, is realistic when set against the relationship Austen establishes between them. It merely translates their relationship into a setting which would not have been discussed (and probably would not have occurred) in Austen's period.

The book as a whole is very well written. I would say there was too much sexual content, and it is certainly not for purists, but it is a very enjoyable read. On finishing it I immediately ordered the other books in the series.
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on 22 May 2009
Finally a P&P spin-off that's not full of major clangers! Well done Ms Reynolds and editor. This story charts the courtship from after the proposal at Hunsford and from there goes off-piste as Elizabeth and Darcy get together. Gets lusty regularly but not outrageously so. The characterisation gets a little lost as the story diverts from P&P but the plot line is relatively believable. Not bad I'd say but I'm still looking for the perfect novel inspired by Austen.
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on 22 January 2009
This is a wonderful story. Abigail Reynolds has taken the spirit of Jane Austen's characters, put them in a different hypothetical situation and infused them with a certain sensuality. I like the way that Darcy and Elizabeth are drawn to each other, like magnets. They can't resist each other. Ms. Reynolds has a good ear for dialogue and she is very skilled at portraying emotion. Darcy and Elizabeth establish a good rapport and in the early ups and downs of their relationship have some nice dialogue and it helps define why they are so drawn to each other. In the world of Jane Austen inspired fiction, this is one of the best. But most of all, it's a wonderful passionate story about a time that we all find terribly romantic, written for a modern audience. It's fun to read. Suspend reality for a little bit and enjoy it.

There is a good bit of sensuality in this book, so if you don't like the genre, this is not for you. Ms Reynolds "From Lambton to Longbourn" is a excellent choice in that case.
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on 4 September 2010
I have been wanting to read this book for some time, not just because I like all sorts of Jane Austen sequels and variations, but because I like the what if question. Also this book is more the To conquer Miss Bennet kind of book. Darcy is a force to be reckoned with.

This book takes another route, after Lizzy has returned from that awful proposal Mr Darcy shows up with Mr Bingley. This time he will not take no for an answer and decided to court her, gain her friendship and all of her. And that he sure gets too.

I am weird when it comes to HR sometimes, and I end up thinking "no one buys the cow if the milk is free". Here it worked, because in the end, who wouldn't be seduced by Mr Darcy. Stolen kisses, embraces and I am seduced by it all too. But I guess the point here is that he wants her, and he is not going to tire of her just because something happened. Mr Darcy is the true gentleman. if I wasn't already in love with him I would fall for him in this book. He makes an effort to be a better man, a man she deserves, he pursues her, makes her laugh, makes her want him. And all while I am delighted and grinning. Jane Austen would be shocked for sure.

The romance is lovely to watch, she melts, and like I already wrote, Mr Darcy is worth reading this book for. I have never seen him like this, and I am loving it. We also meet Bingley and Jane of course and they get their HEA, and do not forgot Lydia's mistake. The book follows the general storyline and that is here too.

But I did miss one thing, and it had to to with Lady de Burgh, but then again who needs her.
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on 29 November 2009
I was captured by this book within pages and couldn't put it down until I finished it and even then I wanted to know more. The book looks at what might of happened had Mr Darcy not accepted Elizabeth's refusal at Hunsford and instead decided to go after her and win her love. The book is very clever in that certain plot points from the original Pride and Prejudice still occur (such as Wickham and Lydia eloping), but these have a different effect on Darcy and Lizzie as they have taken different paths than those told in the original novel. The attention to detail in this book is fantastic, especially in the more 'sensual' scenes. A fantastic novel for open minded Pride and Prejudice enthusiasts.
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on 8 January 2008
Apart from using the names of the characthers and the environment, this book has almost nothing to do with original P&P. Darcy and Elizabeth are very different in character. Far too much sex involved that it is almost a cheap love book. If their behaviours in this book is reflecting the requirements of the times P&P written, then the original book is not from the same time. I don't want to give spoilers so just saying some things in the book is ridiculous!
It is a nice story but can not be a variation of P&P.
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on 3 May 2014
Having enjoyed Abigail Reynolds novels before, I was really disappointed with this one.

The plot lasted about a quarter of the book before devolving into a long boring series of sex scene after sex scene. I ended up flicking through the last 40% of the novel to see if any sort of plot happened - alas, it did not. I like a bit of smut from time to time but this felt extremely out of character for both Lizzy and Darcy, whose minds were solely focused on their next passionate embrace. I refuse to accept that the Darcy of Pride and Prejudice - the man who despises Wickham's debauchery, disrespect to women, and proclivity for seductions- could do the things he does in this novel. Yes, he's passionate, but a large facet of Darcy's personality is his rigid self-control and and adherence to propriety and I think there's no way he would cast this aside - particularly for Elizabeth, who he respects above all others.

However, on the positive side, it's well written and an easy read, if you're looking for something steamy.
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