by Staci Hart
Publication: October 13, 2020
Series: The Austens #5 (also connected to series The Bennet Brothers)
**I received a copy of the book from the publisher and author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
You don’t have to be a Pride and Prejudice (P&P) fan to enjoy Pride and Papercuts. In fact, not reading P&P might even be beneficial because if you’ve read (or watched) the former, you might end up making too many comparisons and forget to enjoy Hart’s retelling on its own merit. Overall, Pride and Papercuts is better than average at 3.5 stars.
The book tracks the original well, integrating new elements into the original plot quite nicely. There were points when I wondered how an incident would fit in, but Hart managed it seamlessly. In particular, Lydia is now Luke and married (see Coming Up Roses) so I wondered what would happen to Wickham but this was resolved satisfactorily. Hart infuses enough of her flair to make the story her own. Like many of her other novels, the imagery and the evocation of emotions is present (these are largely why I am a fan of Staci Hart and continue to read her novels even if I haven’t loved all of them). While I came here for the romance between Liam (Darcy) and Laney (Lizzy), it was the bonds between siblings and the commitment to family that I truly took away from the novel. Of course, this isn’t to say that readers will be disappointed in the romance. This is an enemies-to-lovers novel after all, and it checks all the right boxes: bickering, angst, and desire.
***The remaining is the comparison I couldn’t help but make.***
I found the elements outside Liam and Laney’s relationship to be the real standouts of the novel. Hart’s Georgie is the most welcomed change. Georgie is a combination of two characters, Bingley (Darcy’s best friend) and Georgiana (Darcy’s sister). I always felt Georgiana was a missed opportunity in Austen’s novel. She was treated delicately with nothing much to do but this iteration of Georgiana is one I like much better. Georgie still loves her brother but she isn’t so fragile that something like seeing Wickham again could break her. While Georgie still listens to Liam, they are at least on a more equal footing than they were in P&P.
Georgie and Liam’s relationship, one of respect and adoration, demonstrates Hart’s strength in writing strong familial bonds. Like Georgie and Liam, Jett and Laney are quite close, likely even closer than P&P’s Jane and Lizzy. The lengths they’re willing to go to for one another made me root for their HEA even more. I did wish more time was spent showcasing Mr. Bennet’s fondness for his daughter.
More difficult for me to enjoy or settle into was Liam and Laney’s relationship. I did like Laney and felt she was an accurate depiction of present-day Lizzy. I liked Liam as well–I really liked being able to see into his head– but I’m not exactly sure how I feel about them together. They verbally sparred so often it became difficult for me to believe they could be attracted to one another despite each repeatedly noting how they were attracted to the other. While P&P has less interaction between the leads (as compared to Pride and Papercuts) it still creates this slow burn that makes hearts race when Darcy unexpectedly confesses, Pride and Papercuts’ leads, more often than not, left me frustrated. The consolation, however, was how much I liked them working together when they could overlook one another’s perceived faults. Of course, I’m also quite aware that I hold Lizzy and Darcy in a special vault in my heart. I may have made Lizzy and Darcy too much to live up to. But, it’s also possible I would still feel this way about the book even if I wasn’t a P&P devotee.