Mary Lydon Simonsen, the author of "A Wife for Mr. Darcy" is passionate about history and the novels of Jane Austen so combines these when she writes her own stories. This book takes us back to an age when communications were through letters that were sent by horse-ridden delivery men and a class system was prevalent in society.
Elizabeth Bennet is one of five girls, none of whom are married. Her older sister, Jane, has a suitor who has been formally courting her according to proper customs of the times. Her fiance's friend, Mr. Darcy, made a rude comment about Elizabeth and then decided that he should apologize for this. He therefore went to the Bennet house and was surprised to find out that Elizabeth was not at all like other women who he had met in the past. He was immediately intrigued by her and wanted to spend time with her because of her honesty. But both Elizabeth and Will Darcy knew that their social positions were such that they could never be together.
Will had been caring for his younger sister since their parents died. He wanted to ensure that she could marry well. In order for that to happen, he believed that he could only secure their estate by marrying someone in his class who would give him an heir. Elizabeth's family did not have the status or finances that would help him to accomplish this.
The more time that Will and Elizabeth spent together, the more they were attracted to each other. Each secretly wished they could be together even though Will had already started to court another woman.
The focus of the book is not just on these two characters. There are several others, both friends and family members, who the author presents in a very interesting fashion. Each has his or her own dilemmas and the plot therefore twists and turns as they face these and interact with others.
I found it very interesting to read about the very personal feelings that each character experiences and how they try to manage them in order to maintain dignity and fulfill the expectations of the time in which they lived. Protocol associated with relationships was fascinating to learn about as were the details about how people lived before the modern conveniences that we take for granted were available. For example, not all the rooms were heated in Will's castle during the winter because it was too much work for the servants despite the fact that he appears to have all the wealth necessary to do this.
This book is 374 pages long but I read it all in a couple of days as it easily held my interest. This is my first experience with author Mary Lydon Simonsen but I have already planned to read her other books as I liked her style which offers interesting characters, unique settings, strong dialogue and a dynamic plot.
If you are looking for a romance novel that is staged in the past, this book is a good choice.