by Staci Hart
I’m an Austen fan so you’ll probably see Austen-related titles here and there. If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan, you may want to check out Hart’s Bennet Brothers series. This isn’t a retelling of P&P—that’s a separate book called Pride and Papercuts—but a contemporary reimagining of the Bennet sisters as brothers, flipping genders with the exception of Elizabeth (Laney in the series). Luke returns home after a whirlwind marriage and divorce to help revive the family business, Longbourne Flower Shop. Luke is Lydia’s male counterpart, and this is the story of Lydia after her divorce to Wickham.
Hart manages to remain true to Lydia’s original character. Luke is fun, flirtatious, popular among the opposite sex, and a bit insufferable. (Sounds like Lydia, right?) Similar to Lydia, Luke is fickle in his emotions and jumps headfirst into situations without really thinking things through. Luke is steady in his devotion once he realizes what or who he wants, and it could be argued that Lydia also has this quality—she did fall for Wickham and commit to him. Luke puts his energy into winning over Tess, an employee of the flower shop and a former friend—yes, this is an enemies to lovers story. Unlike Lydia, Luke can recognize his foolishness and is more than willing to try to fix his wrongdoings. Luke is a more mature Lydia.
Luke is more likable than Lydia will ever be, but I never quite rooted for him—he was just okay. I would have liked a lot more bantering between Luke and Tess to build their chemistry with each other. It started to lose a bit of steam once our lead characters got together (this is both a spoiler and not a spoiler because it is a romance novel after all). I think what did it for me was that the problem that arises between our leads and its resolution is predictable.
This is an interesting take on P&P, giving life to the other sisters, or brothers in this case. I liked the premise of the series but didn’t find this particular story to be compelling. I liked it enough to finish reading it but it wasn’t a page-turner. If you’re a P&P fan, it is an acceptable book to pass the time, to see Hart’s take on Lydia and how Lydia potentially matures, but you’re not missing much if you pass it up.