ARC review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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In this gender-swapped retelling of Jane Austen’s classic romance, Darcy Fitzwilliam is a 29-year-old hedge fund manager.  Luke Bennet is her neighbor and fierce childhood rival.  To all outward appearances, Darcy and Luke have hated each other for years.  Back home after an eight-year absence, Darcy and Luke share a heated (albeit drunken) kiss under the mistletoe at her family’s annual Christmas party.  Unfortunately, their pride and a number of circumstances well within their control conspire to keep them apart.

I haven’t read a lot of books by Melissa de la Cruz, but I did really enjoy her YA retelling of Alexander Hamilton’s love life, Alex & Eliza.  While I felt like that retelling was really well-written, well-researched, and generally well-done, I didn’t get the same feeling here.  It’s been a good decade since I last read Pride and Prejudice, but I do not remember Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet being quite this petty.  Let me get into this in more detail.

Darcy is, at 29 years old, a self-made multimillionaire.  Though she comes from a very wealthy family, her father cut her off when she didn’t want to marry the man of his choosing.  Darcy is an intelligent, beautiful, confident woman who absolutely crumbles to pieces when Luke accuses her of being self-centered.  To prove him wrong, she buys his brothers’ way out of juvie – which, to me, just reinforces the fact that she only does good deeds when she gets something out of it.

I think it’s also important to mention the “other woman” / “other man” aspect of this story.  Early reviews are only just starting to roll in, but I haven’t seen this come up yet.  Both Darcy and Luke are in on-again-off-again relationships when they begin their series of mistletoe kisses.  They both further commit to these relationships to – what – really prove to each other that the kisses meant nothing?  It’s so contrived.  Not only are they dating other people, but then they throw themselves into those relationships with such fervor that it’s not fair to anybody.  They get zero sympathy from me.

The story is cute and easy to read – I read the majority of it in one sitting, stopping only because it was nearly midnight and I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer – but overall, disappointing.  I don’t think that this retelling contributed much to the original story, and while the gender swap is a nice twist on the idea, the sheer pettiness of these characters made it hard to love.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

I received a free ARC of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.