DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY Karen Doornebos
Berkley  Books
ISBN: 978-0-425-24382-4
September 2011
Contemporary Romance

England - Present Day

Chloe Parker is all about everything Jane Austen and the Regency era, so much so that she runs her own letter press business, printing invitations and business cards by hand on fine quality paper.  But now, with the surge of Internet providers for advertising and self-printing, no one is interested in paying for the specialty work she does.  She's about to lose her home and her business all in one fell swoop.  Her ex-husband is making noises about wanting shared custody of their eight year-old daughter, Abigail, and Chloe is ready to do anything to plump up the coffers.  After entering a Jane Austen trivia contest, she gets the call that she is a winner, but she has to fly to England .

Once her plane lands, Chloe thinks she's there to film a documentary, but she finds that she is one of several who have been cast for a reality show where the participants must actually live in the year 1812, foregoing all modern conveniences, aka, bathrooms and regular baths! She must literally dress and live the part, competing with several other women for the hand of Mr. Darcy, who is actually a man named Sebastian Wrightman.  If Chloe is the last woman standing and snags Sebastian's hand in marriage, she wins $100,000!  This contest is tailor made:  Chloe is a card-carrying woman of the Jane Austen Society.  She is a fountain of information and knows everything there is to know about the period.  She needs the money, and she plans to win.  In reality, Chloe hates everything about modern life; i.e. she shuns cell phones and technology, even while using these conveniences like everyone else.  Mostly, she just agonizes over the way the world has become with its lack of old fashioned courtesy.  She'll have a microphone attached to her at all times and a camera person will follow her every move.  Nothing modern is allowed, she can't even keep her cell phone to call Abigail!  From chamber pots to eating game with the fur still attached, Chloe finds herself enmeshed in Regency life as it was.

DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY ranks on the top of new novels for this fall!  The writing is crisp and detailed and gives the reader a genuine look into the Regency era, with true-to-life details of that time.  We learn everything there is to learn about day to day life in 1812.  The facts help make the book, but the characters shine, too.  Chloe is aghast when her romantic interest leans toward the second Mr. Wrightman, Sebastian's younger brother, Henry.  She pushes him away and goes after Sebastian instead.  Spending time with Henry won't bring her the money, scoring time with Sebastian will.  She has to complete a list of Regency-made tasks in order to score enough points and win time alone with Sebastian.  With cameras on her every movement, the game is tense and stressful, but Chloe plunges on, in spite of roadblocks put in front of her by the other contestants.

Chloe is chaperoned by another lady, Mrs. Crescent , and competes against several other young women; her biggest nemesis among these is a lady named Grace, who will do anything she can to get to Sebastian first.  Even so, the adventure is wrapped up nicely after a few bumps in the road, and the ending is quite satisfactory, leaving a suggestion of perhaps a sequel?  I  would love to see another adventure from Chloe, and maybe hear the rest of the story, as it were.  DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY is a delightful and fun romp through Regency life with a modern twist!

Diana Risso