Summary: When Charles Bingley and Mr. Darcy made proposals of marriage to the Bennet sisters at the end of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley was both distressed by her brother's choice of bride and humiliated by Mr. Darcy's rejection of her. And she made her objections known.
Now banished from her brother's household, Caroline must return to her mother's home in the north of England until she can make amends with both Bennet sisters. Desperate though Caroline may be to return to polite company, she absolutely refuses to apologize to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and instead, she seeks an alternative route back into society in the form of Mr. William Charlton, heir to a barony.
Through her connections with Mr. Charlton's sister Lavinia, Caroline begins to infiltrate the household in the hopes of securing the gentleman and his title for herself. However, she must also contend with her vexing emotions regarding Mr. Patrick Rushton, a once-wealthy
landowner, and the meddlesome opinions of Mrs. Rosemary Pickersgill, the companion sent by her brother.
When all that Caroline has ever dreamed of attaining--an ancient family name, a title, and a home of her own--is finally within her reach, will she grasp for it even if it means disregarding the workings of her own heart? Or will she cast off the trappings of society and give herself to true love?
Comments: Ever wondered what happened to Caroline Bingley after the end of Pride & Prejudice? Yeah, right, me either. I felt the same way about Charlotte Lucas, and Jennifer Becton changed my mind about that. I purchased this book three days ago and planned to read it as soon as I finished the three others I had going at the time. After the first few pages of Ms. Becton's story, those other books - including a Georgette Heyer - were set aside for Caroline Bingley.
She's haughty, snide, ugly and has been dismissed from Charles' favor and sent to the far north and her mother's home. She has been disappointed by Darcy, and Charles is furious with her over her treatment of Jane and Elizabeth Bennet. She's embarrassed and tries to hide this all from her mother, her traveling companion Rosemary Pickersgill, and her old friend Lavinia Winton. She quickly forms designs on Lavinia's brother, Mr. Charlton, despite rumors of his reputation, because one day he will be a baron and it would be a fine thing for Caroline to be his baroness.
While there are a few characters from Pride & Prejudice, Ms. Becton created a world of her own with Mr. Rushton, Rosemary Pickersgill and Mr and Mrs. Newton, Caroline's mother and her new husband the bridge-building engineer. The characters are smart and engaging and it's fun to watch Caroline realize that those around her are possibly more shrewd than she ever thought. The plot is intriguing and moves quickly, but not so fast that you don't get to know the characters. I've read Ms. Becton's other novel, Charlotte Collins and short story, Maria Lucas. In a very different vain, I've read Ms. Becton's Absolute Liability and and looking forward to future works in her Southern Fraud Thriller Series. I can't wait to see what Ms. Becton does next.