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Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini (Excerpt)

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy: A Modern Pride and Prejudice
by Sara Angelini

Sourcebooks Landmark (October 1, 2009) ~ 352 pages
Fiction / Contemporary

Edition Reviewed: Paperback ARC - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Perfect for : Personal Reading

**Quick note ~ Readers will find the use of the F*** word occasionally throughout the book, along with some very steamy and detailed sexual encounters (not erotica, but not PG-13 either)

My Thoughts: This is a completely fun and sexy modern-day romp through the San Fransisco courtroom for Judge Fitzwilliam "Will" Darcy and Attorney Elizabeth Bennet, a trial lawyer whose cases often come before Judge Darcy. You will also get to see other memorable characters such as Jane, Bingley, Caroline and Mr. Gardiner (just to name a few), in a whole new light!

Very true to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Judge Darcy comes across having a lot of pride, and Elizabeth Bennett herself admits to being prejudice against him initially.

I LOVED the ending, and how the author resolved the conflict of interest. :) I also really enjoyed the gentle epilogue, with its very caring and loving feeling. What a sweet way to end the book.

Characters: Most seemed to be very close in personality to their Austen originals - the only one I found to be a bit of a stretch was Caroline, but she was so well-written, it made for a very interesting addition to the story.

Story-Line: Loved the modern day twists to the original characters. Sara was very creative and most likely had a lot of fun putting Elizabeth and Darcy into the legal system.

Readability: A fun and quick read that turned out to be very entertaining.

Overall: A very fun, modern day adaptation of the classic Pride and Prejudice characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the original story by Jane Austen, and subsequent sequels by other authors, but would caution those die-hard Austen fans who may not like the more modern take (very slight profanity, sexual situations) on the story.

About the Book (from Amazon):
A sexy, bold adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that re-paints favorite characters in twenty-first century colors

Judge Fitzwilliam Darcy, a legal expert on both sides of the Atlantic, is ready to hang up his black robe and return to the life of a country gentleman—until he meets Elizabeth Bennet, a fresh-faced attorney with a hectic schedule and no time for the sexy but haughty judge.

Tempers and sparks fly in Judge Darcy's courtroom— and outside, in a series of chance encounters that give each of them pause—as the two match wits and try to fight their overwhelming attraction. When they meet up in England at an international law conference, they embark on a hot, heavy affair. Back in the States, though, ethical considerations intrude, and each is subjected to a torturous period of soul-searching before they can find their way back to each other...
Excerpt: (from the author's site)

“Oh, come on, Darcy, it will be an absolute bore without you,” Caroline said as she sipped her coffee.

“It will not!” Bingley cried indignantly. Caroline gave him a disbelieving snort and turned back to Darcy.

“It will be full of scrubs and nurses,” she pouted.

“I do know people outside the hospital, you know!” Bingley said hotly. Darcy watched the interaction between older sister and younger brother with amusement. He could almost envision Caroline holding Charles out at arm’s length, her hand on his forehead while he swung fruitless punches at her.

“Aren’t you inviting any of your friends, Caroline?” Darcy asked, sipping his tea.

“I’m inviting you, aren’t I?” she replied, leaning over the table and poking her finger into his chest.

He looked down at her red lacquered nail. There was something about Caroline, a strange mix of socialite and slut that never ceased to fascinate him. It must work on some level, because she’d made a bloody fortune in real estate, but it never quite fired on all cylinders for Darcy. He supposed that was one of the reasons he had never really been serious about her.

“Halloween is a tedious holiday. Everybody thinks it’s their one time in the year to get outrageous by dressing up in costume,” Darcy said derisively.

“It is!” Bingley grinned. “I’m not sure what I’m going to be yet—”

“No doubt it will be outrageous,” Darcy drawled. “Maybe you could be a surgeon. You could wear one of those little paper hats!” he said with mock excitement. Then he shook his head and leaned back in his chair. “It’s a time for everyone to get drunk, act stupid, and hide behind a disguise while doing it.” He took a sip of tea to emphasize his teetotalling point.

Bingley sat back with his arms crossed. “Honestly, Darcy, sometimes I think the wart on Caroline’s ass is more fun than you.”

Darcy choked on his tea, and Caroline swatted Bingley on the head before turning her attention back to Darcy. “Will, really, I’ll be desolate if you don’t come,” she purred. “Bring Georgie; she’ll have fun.”

Darcy rolled his eyes and put down his teacup. Caroline was under the impression that his twenty-five-year-old sister, Georgiana, was perpetually fifteen.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” she sang, tracing a little circle on his hand with her fingertip.

Darcy pointedly ignored her and looked at Bingley. “What time should I come?” he asked with resignation.

Bingley grinned. “The party starts at eight.” His smile disappeared. “And you’d better not come dressed as a judge!”


“Come on, Lizzy, you have to come with me. I won’t know anybody there!” Jane pleaded.

“Jane, you’re perfectly capable of making friends. Besides, you’ll know him,” Elizabeth pointed out.

“Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaase!” Jane said, clasping her hands together. “I really like Charley, and I’d like you to meet him.”

“And what better time to have an intimate one-on-one than when he’s hosting a party in a mask?” Elizabeth snorted.

“If you don’t come with me, I’ll… I’ll… I’ll think of something,” Jane finished weakly.

“You are so lame,” Elizabeth laughed. “Fine, I’ll go, but I won’t dance, and I’m leaving at eleven o’clock. I have an early massage tomorrow. You’ll have to find your own way home.”

Jane squealed with pleasure and planted a juicy kiss on Elizabeth’s cheek.


“How do you like it?” Caroline asked as she twirled in a circle before Darcy.

“What is it?” he replied, tilting his head. She was wearing a bright orange jumpsuit that ended in short-shorts and fishnet hose. The suit was unzipped halfway down her ample chest, and she was wearing handcuffs.

“It’s a prisoner costume,” she pouted, turning around again.

“Property of the penile system,” he read on her back, laughing.

“Maybe you should put me in jail, Judge Darcy,” she cooed as she sashayed toward him. He laughed again as she put her hands on his hips and did a little grind against them.

“Caroline, what are you wearing?” Bingley’s dismayed cry interrupted Caroline’s seductive routine as he swept into the room wearing a Darth Vader costume. “You were supposed to be Princess Leia!”

“Don’t you find it a little, um, incestuous for us to have coordinating costumes?”

Bingley put the helmet on his head and raised his fist in the air. “You have failed me for the last time!” came the electronic voice from within the helmet. Darth Bingley then turned to Darcy and raised an accusing finger at him. “What the hell are you?” he demanded with a dramatic shake of his fist, clearly enjoying the power of the Force within him.

Darcy, dressed in a black flame-retardant auto-racing suit, put on his helmet and lowered the tinted visor.

“Are you Evel Knievel?” Darth Bingley asked. Darcy shrugged and gave a thumbs-up. Bingley was lucky Darcy had followed through on his promise to attend the party in the first place. Unfortunately for Caroline, Darcy’s change of costume had foiled her plan to appear as his prisoner.

She stuck out her lower lip and groused, “I thought for sure you’d be a judge again.”


“Where the hell is this place?” Elizabeth frowned as she held a flashlight to the map. They were in the middle of nowhere, having taken a winding road off of the Pacific Highway. It had been a good ten minutes since they last saw any signs of civilization.

“Did we take a wrong turn?” Jane asked nervously, gripping the steering wheel and flicking on the high beams. She slowed as the road twisted around a bend.

Up ahead was a row of parked cars, and around the bend an enormous mansion came into view. Jane and Elizabeth looked at each other in disbelief. Just in front of them, a woman in a ballerina costume climbed out of her car. Jane giggled nervously. “Do you think this is the right party?”

“No, most bazillionaires normally keep ballerinas on their grounds just for fun,” Elizabeth quipped.

Jane rolled down her window and tapped the horn lightly.

“Is that Charles Bingley’s place?” she called to the ballerina

“Yes,” the tutu-clad woman replied.

“Oh my God, Jane, your boyfriend is Bill Gates’ rich brother,” Elizabeth breathed, awed by the grandeur of Bingley’s house.

“I don’t think I need to tell you there’s probably security here, so don’t stuff any silverware into your bra.”

“Me? You were the thief when we were kids!” Elizabeth laughed. Together they began the trek up the driveway toward the brightly-lit entrance. At the bottom of the steps, a crowd of costumed guests hovered near a yellow Lamborghini. Darth Vader sat behind the wheel. His head turned to them as they approached.

“Jane!” came his electronic voice. Jane looked at him startled, until he took off his helmet. “Jane, it’s me!” Bingley laughed. He climbed out of the car and walked over to her, giving her a light kiss on the cheek. “I’m so glad you came. You look great! What are you?”

Jane was wearing thigh-high vinyl boots and fishnets, short biker hot pants, and a black leather vest. Her blond hair was curled into a sedate bun at the nape of her neck, a black cap perched jauntily on her head. She turned her back to Bingley, who read the lettering across her vest.

“She’s a Hell’s Angel!” Bingley laughed with delight. After Elizabeth was introduced to Bingley, he led them inside, where the party was already in full swing.


Darcy was perusing the drink selection and wondered how he was going to drink with his helmet on when a particular costume caught his attention. The woman was wearing a white tank top and low-slung leather pants with a studded belt and motorcycle boots, but what drew his gaze were the large black feathered wings strapped to her back. The dark kohl smudged around her eyes could not disguise them; he would know those eyes anywhere.

What the hell is Elizabeth Bennet doing here? he wondered. He slipped the dark visor of his helmet down so that she would not recognize him and watched her as she looked nervously around the room. She smiled when a blonde biker chick came to her side and squeezed her hand.

So, she’s a lesbian, Darcy thought, slightly disappointed and slightly turned on.

He stepped aside as they approached the drinks table, heads close together. Elizabeth looked up at him and smiled.

“Nice costume!” she grinned. “Is that your Mach 5 out there, Speed Racer?” Darcy shrugged and gave as bashful an expression one could while wearing a helmet with a tinted visor. Never mind that he wouldn’t be caught dead in such a blatantly ostentatious pimp-mobile.

“Do you know which one is Caroline?” Jane asked Darcy. He pointed to Caroline’s orange back. Just then, Bingley raised a gloved hand and beckoned Jane to him. “I feel an irresistible urge to obey his command,” she droned.

“Okay, Speed and I will be here when you get back—if you survive,” Elizabeth finished ominously. Jane walked toward Bingley who was already pulling Caroline over to meet her.

“I’m Azrael,” Elizabeth said to Darcy, offering her hand. The Angel of Death, he thought, impressed, as he shook her hand with his gloved one. “Nice to meet you, Speed.” He nodded and picked up a bottle of wine, gesturing toward her. “Why, thank you.” She smiled as she held her glass to the bottle. He filled her glass and was about to pour one for himself when he realized he couldn’t drink it without removing his helmet.

“Do you know many people here?” she asked him. He shrugged. She looked at him and tried unsuccessfully to repress a smirk. “Talkative, aren’t you?” He shrugged again and waved his hands in the air. She laughed.

Christ, she’s good looking, he thought. He had never before seen her with her hair down, and he found it unnervingly attractive. She hadn’t come to the party all tarted up like a lot of the women here, nor had she chosen an immature, cutesy costume like, say, a bunny. He had no doubt she knew that in addition to the Angel of Death, Azrael was also the Angel of Law.

“I have a confession,” she said. He crossed his arms over his chest in an expression of interest. “I don’t know anybody here. My sister there works with Charley at the hospital. He invited her, and she dragged me along. I’m a party crasher. It’s always nice to have Death drop in, don’t you think?” she chewed on a swizzle stick and looked at him through her lashes.

Inside his helmet, Darcy grinned.

“Can you believe this place?” Elizabeth mused, taking in her surroundings. “I had no idea that people actually lived in places like this.” Darcy looked around him. It was a bit opulent for his taste, and it was larger than his estate in England, but then Bingley was always one for form over substance. He had no idea why he liked the guy so much.

Darcy turned his attention back to Elizabeth, who was talking to a man in a pirate costume.

“AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR you having fun?” she asked. The pirate laughed and waved his rubber hook at her.

“Shiver me timbers, I need me some rum!” the pirate growled.

Darcy moved aside and watched in amusement as the pirate fumbled with his hook, a wineglass, and a bottle of wine. Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at Darcy, and then rescued the pirate by pouring the wine for him.

After the pirate had gone, she turned to Darcy and said, “Talkative and helpful.” He put his hand over his heart and bowed slightly in apology. She laughed. “It’s really quite sad that I am completely entertained by a mime.”

He laughed again inside his helmet. They stood in comfortable silence as the party became more raucous. As the crowd became thicker, Elizabeth was jostled and spilled red wine down her white tank top.

“Goddamit!” she exclaimed. “This was my last white tank top!” Darcy grabbed a bottle of seltzer water while she dabbed at her top with a paper napkin. He wetted a towel and began to press it to her chest, unwittingly groping her. When her gaze rose sharply, he snatched his hands back and gave her the towel and seltzer water, then watched as she drenched her shirt with it. The stain came out, but now he could see the lacy pattern of her bra underneath. An unexpected surge of excitement thrilled in his core—with that covert bit of lace, her sex appeal had just skyrocketed.

With the sweltering crush of the party around them, Elizabeth’s wings began to wilt, as did Darcy’s social fortitude. Ignoring her questioning look, he gently pulled her arm, and they squeezed through the crowd toward the front door. There he rifled through the drawer of an antique card table where Bingley had predictably left his garage door opener.

Darcy grabbed her hand and led her down the steps of the house and toward the garage.

“What are you doing?” she asked warily.

He held his hand up to her in a reassuring gesture.

“You’re not going to axe murder me, are you?”

He stopped and assumed a pensive expression, helmeted chin resting on palm, finger tapping against the helmet. After visually debating with himself, he shook his head. Then he threw his hands up in the air and tugged her by the hand again.

Although Elizabeth had slight misgivings, no mental alarms were ringing, so she let the mysterious stranger lead her to the garage. With the garage door opener pilfered from Bingley’s foyer, he opened the garage and turned on the light. Elizabeth gasped. Bingley had a car collection! While she gaped, Speed rifled through a key cabinet until he found the set he was looking for. Jingling the keys in his hand, he walked confidently to a Ferrari Enzo. When she hung back, he turned to her and beckoned her to follow him. She did, and after helping remove her wings, he assisted her while she climbed into the low-bodied car. Then he jogged over to the driver’s side and expertly slid in. Clearly, this was a man with experience in getting in and out of outrageously expensive cars.

The engine started with a throaty growl, and he carefully maneuvered out of the garage and onto the driveway. The serpentine back road lured the purring motor of the car, and Darcy felt the call in his soul. It hadn’t been that long ago that he tore recklessly across these very roads; he knew their twists and dips like he knew the lines of his own face.

“Are you stealing this car?” she asked. He laughed and shook his head. Pausing at the end of the driveway, he leaned over and adjusted the racing safety harness that crossed over her chest. Then he revved the engine and looked at her—she looked apprehensive.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” she asked, her hand gripping the door.

He nodded. He pointed at his helmet, his gloves, his jumpsuit, and his racing shoes.

“Authentic?” she asked. He nodded. “Authentic eBay?” she clarified.

He shook his head and jabbed his thumb into his chest. Then he gave her thigh a comforting squeeze. Then, with a thumbs-up, he revved the engine. He stepped on the gas and the sleek machine glided forward.

Elizabeth felt her heart lurch as they surged forward. Images of being arrested—or worse, crashing—flitted through her mind as Darcy increased their speed. They took a curve, the car hugging the asphalt like a reunited lover, and suddenly, she was exhilarated. He gave the car more gas, the force pushing her back into the seat as they took another twist.

While the restraining harness brought Elizabeth some comfort, it was the skill of Speed that allowed her to enjoy the roller-coaster thrill of the ride. Each curve swung her toward the door or toward Speed, and she screamed with laughter when he caught air cresting a low hill.

Next to her, Darcy was grinning like an idiot in a joke store. The car belonged to him, stored in Bingley’s hermetically sealed automotive museum. Some motor enthusiasts were afraid to drive their sports cars, fearing to scratch the paint or get dirt on the leather seats. But not Darcy. He felt true joy when pushing the performance of a car that was more like a wild animal than a machine.

With Elizabeth in the car, he was barely going over the speed limit, but in an Enzo it was still an exhilarating ride. He didn’t know what impulse had made him decide to take her for a ride, for there was no telling how she would react, but deep inside, he had somehow known she would enjoy it.

Finally, when her hair was wind-whipped and her eyes were bright with breathless excitement, Darcy steered the car back to the garage. As they pulled under the florescent lights, he glanced at her. With a child-like grin, she gave him a double thumbs-up.

Elizabeth extricated herself from the car, her wobbly knees forcing Darcy to offer her a steadying hand. As he helped strap her back into her wings, his gloved finger brushed her bare shoulder, raising tiny bumps on her skin. She turned to face him and peered into the dark reflective visor.

“Who are you?” she breathed.

Caught up in anonymous flirting, Darcy nearly lifted his visor before remembering himself. He was sure the half-smile on her face would fade when she knew she’d just been taken for a spin by Judge Darcy. So instead of revealing his identity, he shrugged and looked away, then walked her back to the house with his hands clasped behind his back.

He spent the rest of the evening by her side, a silent sentinel warding off any potential flirts with his blank gaze. He stood near when she stepped outside for air, followed her to the buffet, and held her drink when her hands became full. He diminished the destruction wrought by her wings, gently pulling her away from sneezing guests or catching goblets as she brushed by the wine station.

When Jane squeezed out of the crowded dance floor and grabbed Elizabeth’s hand, laughing, “Come and dance!” Elizabeth looked questioningly at Speed. Although he regretted it, he could not possibly dance while wearing the helmet—and he certainly couldn’t take it off now. Instead, he stroked a finger over one bent and broken feather on her wing.

“You’re right, I’ve done enough damage.” Elizabeth nodded. “Thanks, but no,” she said to Jane.

Jane was just about to beg when Bingley grabbed her hand and pulled her back into the crowd with a yelp.

“You think he’ll slip her the light saber later tonight?” Elizabeth smirked. Darcy did his best to interpret her glance as anything but inviting and looked out to the dance floor where Caroline was showcasing in tangerine glory. She waved at him, and Darcy raised a hand in acknowledgment.

“Is that your girlfriend?” Elizabeth asked.

Darcy looked down at Elizabeth and shook his head unhurriedly. Elizabeth’s lips curled into a coy smile, and she looked at him from beneath her thick lashes. Hooking her thumbs into her belt loops, she swung her hips to the music. She did a slow turn, giving him a generous view of her shapely behind as she continued her dance, throwing a warm look over her shoulder.

Darcy leaned lazily back against the wall, arms crossed. Is she doing a little dance for me? he mused, smirking. Her sex appeal was undeniable, and Darcy was definitely feeling its pull. It wasn’t just the room temperature that was fogging up his visor.

He watched as she faced him, singing a line to him. It was amazing how sensual her lips were, caressing the words. He fell completely under their spell, his pulse quickening and his groin stirring to semi-erection. Almost too late he realized that she was undoing the strap of his helmet, that luscious lower lip tucked mischievously between her teeth.

He stood up straight and firmly caught her wrists, wagging a reproving finger at her.

“Okay, Speed,” she laughed, “your secret identity won’t be revealed tonight.”

He gave an inward sigh of relief as he released her arms. That had been dangerously close to disaster. At least the scare had killed his emerging erection.

Her attempted seduction unsuccessful, Elizabeth looked ruefully at the clock and sighed. “I should be going.”

There was no doubt in Darcy’s mind this time—her look was definitely an invitation. He sorely regretted that he could not take her up on her offer and could have kicked himself when he saw her brows scrunch in disappointment.

“Well, anyway, it was nice meeting you,” she said as she offered him her hand. He shook it, holding it just a fraction too long. Then she was gone, and he had not said a single word.

Darcy pushed his way outside and tore off his helmet, shaking his soaking head and gulping in fresh, cool air. A moment later, Caroline emerged from behind, giving him a playful swat on the butt.

“Miss me?” she asked playfully. He didn’t answer but looked out into the night. “We still have time to use these.” She waved her handcuffs at him.

He laughed shortly and shook his head. “No thanks,” he answered, his mind still distracted by the unexpected—unexpectedly pleasant—company of Elizabeth.

"I told you I’d make it worth your while, and I never break a promise,” she sang as she slipped her arms around his waist. She pressed against him and looked at him invitingly.

“No need, I enjoyed myself. I won’t hold you to it,” he said.

“But will you hold it”—she pressed against his groin—“against me?”

“No thanks, Carrie. Not in the mood.” He pushed her gently away, and she looked at him in slight confusion and amusement.

“Okay,” she said and took a step back. “Are you all right?” she asked.

He nodded. “I’m fine. Just a little overheated. I think I’ll head home.”

Copyright © 2009 by Sara Angelini. All rights reserved.

About the Author: (from the author's site)

Sara Angelini is an attorney living in the San Francisco Bay area. After graduating from West Virginia University with a Master’s Degree in Animal Sciences, she gave up her dream of becoming a veterinarian when she realized that she only liked her own pets. She moved to California with her husband to pursue law school. She often fills her legal pads with dialogue or plot ideas while ostensibly listening to deposition testimony. The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, inspired by Colin Firth’s smoldering haughtiness and an insatiable curiosity about what made Mr. Darcy tick, is her first novel.
If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!


bermudaonion said...

I need to try another Austen sequel and this sounds like a great one!

Blodeuedd said...

Fun, great review and this one sure sounds interesting

Serena said...

I really loved this fun book.

ibeeeg said...

I loved this book as well. It was fun read.
I love reading others'take on books that I have read. I find it interesting to see how different things from the same story stand out to different people. Loved reading your review of this book.
I am posting my review today.

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