Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn

Why would a gentleman ask a lady to conceal their betrothal?
Jane Austen writes of secret engagements in more than one of her novels, and in The Secret Betrothal, author Jan Hahn explores the question of what would happen if Austen’s most famous heroine from Pride and Prejudice reluctantly agrees to accept such a proposal.
When Fitzwilliam Darcy learns that Elizabeth Bennet has committed herself to such an arrangement, his hopes of winning her hand are shattered.  After circumstances continue to bring the two together—from Hertfordshire to Rosings Park to the seaside town of Brighton―he finds he is unable to tame his desire for the woman who has stolen his heart.
Will Darcy’s efforts to win Elizabeth succeed, or will his sworn enemy lead her to the altar?
My Thoughts:
The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn is one of those books where, as a reviewer, you don’t want to give too much of the plot away and spoil it for readers.
What I will say is: In this P&P alternate path Elizabeth engages in a secret betrothal with Wickham. Yes, dear readers, you read it right. Lovely Elizabeth is engaged to Wickham, who for once isn’t portrayed as a complete villain, and she doesn’t tell a soul, not even her dearly devoted sister Jane.
Let me stress the point again: This is an alternative telling of P&P. Those of you who are P&P purists who want Elizabeth solely with Darcy may want to keep an open mind when starting the Secret Betrothal. Elizabeth and Darcy do get their HEA, but there is a whole lot of the wicked Wickham thrown in the mix, which I devoured like manna from above.
I will admit, when I started the book I was a little skeptical. I mean really, who wants to see Darcy’s hopes of winning Elizabeth’s hand crushed? I suppose the evil reader side of me kind of wanted to see Darcy squirm a little—I know, I know, I am sure vile emails will follow. But, admit it, you kind of want to see it too. 
Although once I started the book, I was hooked. Having previously read Hahn’s novel, The Journey, I knew I was in for treat. Not only does Hahn write outstanding plots that stay true to the core of P&P, her male characters are some of the strongest that I’ve seen in Austen adaptations, which is one of the reasons you should add her novels to your Austen collection.
While many readers, me included, want the HEA with Lizzy and Darcy, I was thrilled to see that Darcy had a contender. And even more pleased that the contender was Wickham, it just throws something extra into the mix.
Overall, I loved this novel. The flow of the plot occasionally waxed and waned but the amazing and realistic characters will have you hooked until the very last page.
Jan Hahn is fascinated by Jane Austen, 19th Century England, and true love. Having spent years in the world of business, she is now content to leave it behind and concentrate on writing about Austen's characters finding true love in 19th Century England. A storyteller since childhood, she's written skits and plays for local organizations and owned a business recording, writing and publishing oral histories. Jan is a member of JASNA and began writing novels based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in 2002.
Jan's first novel, An Arranged Marriage, won the award for Best Indie book of 2011 from Austen Prose. The Journey, published in 2012, was selected by Austen Prose as one of the Top Five Austen Inspired Historical Novels of 2012, and it won the Favorite Pride and Prejudice Variation/Alternate Path of 2012 award from Austenesque.

Jan has five children, seven grandchildren, and is a native Texan. In her dream world, she lives in England in a place called Pemberley.