Title: A Certain Appeal
Author: Vanessa King
Page Count: 352
Publication: November 2021
[Amazon | Indie Bound | BN | Find it at your local library]
(Other reviews: Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly (starred review))
Pride and Prejudice retellings are a crapshoot. They can either be really good or really terrible (hello Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and you really don’t know until you get into the story.
But Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is ripe for retelling. The story of a couple who can’t stand each other, realise how terribly wrong they are about the other, and then have a HEA is a story of all times. It’s one of most popular tropes in the romance genre.
So, what make a story an exact Pride and Prejudice retelling? Honestly? It’s the use of names. The heroine is Elizabeth Bennet and the hero is Fitzwilliam Darcy. Somehow the four sisters are wrapped into it, as is Wickham, and Pemberly and Meryton become name of places or villages.
Enter A Certain Appeal which takes the Pride and Prejudice trope for a refreshing and sexy spin. Lizzy Bennet is a struggling interior designer currently working as a glorified admin assistant and works at Meryton, a burlesque club, at night. Will Darcy is in wealth management and whose family line stretches back far and wide and the owner of Pemberley, the New York possible hot spot event space. Jane is Bennet’s (as she preferred to be called) best friend who also happens to be gay. He falls in love with Charles Bingley, Darcy’s best friend and may one day happen to be an investor at Meryton.
While I’m not a fan of doing summaries in my book reviews, that’s what other reviews and summaries at the back of books are for, it’s important to understand that this is a super inventive, and very sexy, way of telling the timeless story. ED is a family friendly blog and it’s important that a head’s up about salacious sexy times is given.
There is a lot to recommend A Certain Appeal. It’s a fun and soapy read, the book has very nuanced touches of Pride and Prejudice including the meet cute at Pemberley the event space. Swapping in the sisters for burlesque dancers, having a gay best friend named Jane, their mother is the club mother, and there is even a sleazy Wickham. King really knows her story and it shows up on every page. There is a lot of dedication to this story and that is incredibly admirable.
The only thing that I hesitate from giving A Certain Appeal five stars is the language. King tries really, really hard to capture the language of 20-somethings and it shows that kid of desperation. Even authors who are in their 20s don’t drop slang that much. It was a distraction which was such a shame for how well developed and written the story is.
tl;dr: If you are tempted into a new sexy romance based on Pride and Prejudice in the world of burlesque, definitely give this a read.