Thoughts After Reading:
I very rarely read any story involving characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Although I enjoyed reading Austen's famous work, I have no great love of the novel... nor any particular desire to read fan fiction relating to it. Nonetheless, the synopsis and reviews of Lelia Silver's An Unexpected Lady led me to make an exception. The result was even more excellent than I hoped. An Unexpected Lady purports to be the story of Kitty Bennett, yet - after a handful of references early in the novel - settles into a unique and thoroughly enjoyable traditional Regency in its own right. The storyline consists of a very gentle and very sweet marriage-of-convenience plot, with the vast majority of the book dedicated to romantic development. There are a few misunderstandings and romantic conflicts scattered throughout the novel, yet only the slightest bit of angst is used to keep the storyline progressing. The relationship requires little effort because the main characters are so wonderful to each other. As a result, it is very satisfying for the protagonists to arrive at their final, conclusive HEA.
The novel starts out with the Kitty visiting Charlotte and her new baby. The reader is told that the combined effect of Lydia's absence and the older sisters' frequent presence has had a steadying effect on the heroine. Kitty is still the vivacious and fun-loving individual she has always been, but adulthood has also tempered her into a more responsible and conscious woman. In fact, her self-esteem suffers a bit by her new fears of having unladylike behaviors and of being less worthy than her sisters. The hero arrives at Charlotte's house as a guest of Fitzwilliam's. By a very innocent accident, the hero and heroine are found in a compromising position by Mr. Collins - a man all to eager to spread rumors about the Bennetts for Lady Catherine's benefit. The hero has the initial appearance of being rather arrogant, perhaps simply as a callback to Darcy's behavior. However, he decides to do the appropriate thing and marry the heroine. As the hero spends more time with the heroine over the following months, he continues to do right by his wife but for a very different reason - he increasingly comes to care for the heroine. He approves of the heroine's natural state of exuberance, and is disappointed when she hides it in a desire to be more ladylike. Her companionship truly makes his life have more meaning, a truth that is made readily apparent when the hero misses the heroine anytime they are apart for more than a few hours. The story is a very chaste read - the protagonists share their first kiss towards the end of the book - and it is quite endearing to see how much the hero enjoys simply being around the heroine. There are a couple of instances where the hero again exemplifies that initial high-handedness behavior, but on those occasions it is because his wife has become so important to him. The heroine, in turn, undergoes significant character development throughout the novel as she settles into what it means to be a marchioness. And eventually, both characters settle into the love they have for each other. The final conclusion mirrors the sweetness found in the relationship, with a satisfactory resolution followed by an epilogue that somewhat resembles a fairy-tale ending.
Lelia Silver's An Unexpected Lady is possibly the most pleasant romance I have ever read. There is very little conflict in the book; instead, most of the story is devoted to a wholeheartedly affectionate and authentic relationship between the two main characters. It is a traditional Regency novel I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a clean and powerfully romantic read.