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Fangwilliam Darcy, Neck Plunderer

Alix reads Darcy's Vampire Desire by Regina Jeffers, and it goes exactly as well as you would expect.

Fangwilliam Darcy, Neck Plunderer

BOOK REPORT for Vampire Darcy’s Desire by Regina Jeffers

Cover Story: Kindle It
Single White Female: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: √-1
Talky Talk: The Unfiltered Ramblings of Your Subconscious
Anti-Bonus Factors: Insta-love, Cardboard Cut-outs, Explaining Away Darcy’s Dickishness, Cherry-Picking Mythology
Bonus Factor: Unintentional Hilarity
Relationship Status: Best Worst Date Ever

Cover Story: Kindle It

Regardless of the cover art, do you really want to walk around with something that says Vampire Darcy’s Desire on it? Didn’t think so.

The Deal:

Two hundred years prior to the events of Pride & Prejudice, Lord Arawn Benning falls in love with a beautiful woman named Ellender. But the wrath of Arawn’s spurned paramour--Léana--is more than either of the star-crossed lovers bargains for. This powerful woman casts a curse on the couple, turning Ellender into a vampire, condeming her offspring to the same affliction, and demanding Arawn as a sacrifice. Because she loves Arwan too much for him to become a vampire, Ellender gives Léana another suitor instead--Winchcombe--who vows to avenge himself on Ellender’s descendents for all eternity.

Now, the curse lives on in Fitzwilliam Darcy, part human, part vampire. He is determined never to marry to prevent his vampirism from carrying on another generation--until he meets the alluring Elizabeth Bennet. Can he resist her charms?

Or something. I don’t know, the backstory didn’t really seem to track, and I was too lazy to go back and reread it. Basically, Darcy is a dhampir, and he’s filled with self-loathing and all that. He meets Lizzy and he really really wants to get into her petticoat, but he can’t! 'Cause he’s a monster! And he can never have children or else the curse will continue! But Lizzy doesn’t care! She wants to have The Sex anyway! So she spends the rest of the book trying to get him to bone her! And then James George Wickham shows up, and he wants to eat Bella Lizzy to piss off Edward Darcy! And then there’s an unnecessary love triangle when Jacob Colonel Fitzwilliam arrives on the scene! And then there’s a really underwhelming battle scene, and the good end happily and the bad unhappily because that is what fiction means! And Lizzy cures Darcy of his curse with the power of her magical vagina love!

I’m not saying that Jeffers ripped of Twilight. In the introduction, she said she deliberately avoided reading it, and I believe her. Twilight is not exactly original material itself. Still, you have already read this book. And unfortunately, it was better the first time.

Single White Female: Nay

I am normally all about wanting to be Elizabeth Bennet, but this incarnation didn’t do it for me. She’s got a little too much Bella Swan and not enough fiery independence. Jeffers clearly wants her to be a badass, and she makes a valiant effort by teaching Lizzy to sword fight and wear breeches. But at the end of the day, Lizzy spends way, way too much time being tied to the metaphorical railroad tracks, waiting for someone to rescue her. Rescue your damn self, woman!

Swoonworthy Scale: √-1

Trigger warning: this section of the review contains discussion of violent rape.

Let’s start with my expectations for this book. When I found out there was not just one, but AT LEAST TWO Vampire Darcy adaptations, I picked the one I thought for sure would be smutty. I really wanted to call this review “Fangwilliam Darcy, Neck Plunderer” (h/t Lee), and so Vampire Darcy’s Desire it was. I mean, it’s called Vampire Darcy’s Desire. If that’s not the title of a smutty book, I don’t know anything about the world anymore.

And yet... here we are. Vampire Darcy’s Desire is definitely a paranormal romance novel, but they never actually do The Sex. Instead, Darcy just make-out assaults Lizzy’s neck for 300 pages, and then when they finally DO get it on, it’s a fade to black. What the fuck!? I did not read 300 pages of Lizzy and Darcy barely getting to second base for a fade to black!

Look, I’m all about the fades to black. Reading sex scenes always makes me feel a little creepy and voyeuristic, so I end up nitpicking the writing or mocking word choices as some sort of deep-seated, sarcastic defense mechanism. But if you are planning to abandon all accordance with 19th century values and decorum so that Darcy can sneak into Lizzy's bedroom to spoon her while she sleeps (also, ew), you had better fucking GO FOR BROKE with your anachronistic smut. But no. Darcy can’t have The Sex because he’s afraid of passing on his vampire genes, and Lizzy and Darcy are THE LEAST IMAGINATIVE, EVER about coming up with alternatives. (And while we’re on the topic of lack of imagination, Mouth Plundering and Tongue Dueling are still not sexy, romance writers of the world.) For God's sake, at least do some dry humping or something. Your unfulfilled sexual tension is boringCurtis and Alisha had a more exciting sex life than these two, and all they ever did was masturbate in a closet for a season and a half.

Furthermore, what we have here is a pacing issue. If the “sexiest” you’re willing to go in your romance novel is a neck-tonguing fetish and a couple of half-hearted motorboats, then you can’t LEAD with that. That’s what you put at the end of the story, just before the fade to black. You don’t write that into the second chapter and then make the reader sit through the same kissing scene over and over for the rest of the book.

Which brings us to the real problem with the “romance” in this adaptation--there was not actually any pride or prejudice anywhere in this story. Lizzy and Darcy get together almost immediately, while Jane is confined to her sick-bed at Netherfield. I understand why Jeffers, as a Lizzy/Darcy shipper, would want the two romantic interests to fall in love sooner. But there’s a reason that the protagonists in love stories don’t get together until the very end. It’s the struggle that’s interesting, not the end result. And in changing the timeline, Jeffers has fundamentally altered the characters. Who are Lizzy and Darcy without their judgmental hubris? Part of the reason that Pride and Prejudice is so compelling is that they don’t just end up together, they earn each other’s love by becoming better versions of themselves. If you skip over all that personal reflection and growth, what do you have left that defines your characters?

Oh, and one last bit of wtfery to add to this steaming turd of a romance. Wickham is a full-fledged vampire, and after killing his victims, he likes to rape their mutilated corpses. Jeffers doesn’t go into a lot of detail, thankfully, but even a short, descriptive paragraph is enough to be sufficiently horrifying. If you’re going to put necrophilia and rape into your romance novel, shouldn’t you counterbalance that with some positive, consensual sex? Just a thought.

Also, -1,000,000 for the gratuitous love triangle.

Also also, Darcy addresses Lizzy as "Vixen" and "Sweetling" 38 and 24 times, respectively. Vomtastic. 

Talky Talk: The Unfiltered Ramblings of Your Subconscious

Often, I have really crazy dreams. I’m usually not a participant; if I’m there at all, I’m playing the part of the Greek chorus. The story plays out in epic, cinematic fashion, and I think to myself, “I am going to wake up and write an amazing book out of this dream.” I’m conscious enough to be aware that I’m dreaming, but not enough that I realize that the plots of my dreams are totally batshit insane. I wake up and try to recount the the story in an email to a friend, and only then do I recognize the complete absence of pacing, the quickly shifty genres, or the sudden introduction of plot points without any regard for previous events or character development.

That is what reading this book is like. You’re going along, thinking you have a grasp of what is happening in the story. Then, all of a sudden, you stop and think, “What the fuck did I just read?” It doesn’t just lack subtlety and nuance, it abandons all pretense of internal logic and continuity. For instance, why does Elizabeth like to pretend like she used to loathe Darcy when that’s never a thing that actually happened in this version of events? Why is George Wickham still so obsessed with revenge, 200 years later? Wouldn’t he have gotten some new hobbies by now? When did Vampire Ellender D’Arcy even have children to pass down her vampire genes to?

In addition to the nonsensical storytelling, Vampire Darcy’s Desire is just not very well written. For instance:

Although he did not look at Elizabeth, he knew his words, literally, struck her.

I can’t believe we are still having this conversation, but that is not how you use the word literally. Here’s an example of proper usage:

I was literally laughing out loud at how bad the writing in this book was.

Or maybe that is what Jeffers meant. Darcy has all sorts of weird supernatural abilities, hitherto unreferenced in existing vampire canon. Perhaps violent, physical manifestations of vocabulary fall under that umbrella.

And yet... somehow... I had a really fun time reading this? I think that the continually surprising nature of Jeffers’ writing kept me turning the pages, eagerly anticipating what fresh batshittery she would pull out of her hat next.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Instalove

Y’ALL. I CAN’T EVEN WITH THE INSTALOVE. THE BEST PART OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE IS THE LACK OF INSTALOVE. DON’T BE GOING IN AND RUINING MY FAVORITE LOVE STORY WITH SOME SORT OF BULLSHIT EXCUSE ABOUT HOW DARCY AND LIZZY ARE FATED TO BE TOGETHER BECAUSE *SPOILER* THEIR RESPECTIVE ANCESTORS WERE STAR-CROSSED LOVERS, THEREBY IRREVOCABLY INTERTWINING THEIR INDIVIDUAL MYTHOS.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cardboard Cut-Outs

Apart from Lizzy, the rest of the Bennet family rarely makes an appearance. I think this was Jeffers' attempt to distance herself from the original story and explore the perspective of other characters. As an abstract concept, I can respect that decision. In practice, however, it doesn’t make any sense. Lizzy is always talking about how important her sisters are to her, but she barely talks to Jane. Even going to Netherfield to take care of her was just an excuse to observe Darcy more closely. And when *SPOILER* Wickham turns Lydia into a vampire in the end, Darcy has to stake her and send her body home to Longbourn. Lizzy’s all, “Oh I’m so sad!” and Darcy’s like, “Do you want to go to the funeral?” and she’s like, “Nah, let’s just go to Edinburgh and do some sightseeing.” It all makes Lizzy seem like kind of a selfish bitch.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Explaining Away Darcy’s Dickishness

In all the Darcy-centered retellings of Pride and Prejudice I've read, the authors seem obsessed with inventing excuses for Darcy’s aloof and unfriendly actions at the beginning of the story. In this case, he’s just trying to distance himself from the world so that he won’t pass on his vampire genes. As a result, he can never know real love. Ugh, just stop it already. Colin Firth may have poisoned your mind with his dreaminess, but you’re overcomplicating the situation. I’m about to lay down some truth for you: Fitzwilliam Darcy is aloof and unfriendly because he’s an asshole. And he has to learn to be less of an asshole before anyone decent will want to sleep with him.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cherry-Picking Mythology

What ever happened to good old fashioned blood-sucking, coffin-inhabiting, garlic-fearing vampire canon? Why are all the vampires these days like, sparkly-wolf-vampire-hybrid-daywalkers-with-mystical-powers? If you’re going to arbitrarily disregard commonly held beliefs about vampires for the convenience of your storytelling, at least come up with a plausible explanation for it.

Bonus Factor: Unintentional Hilarity

Y’all, I could not stop laughing when I read this book.

Casting Call:

Lord help us if this is ever made into a movie.

Kristen Stewart as Elizabeth Bennet

Like Kristen, Lizzy has a weird obsession with biting her bottom lip and a predilection for moody, possessive vampires.

Robert Pattinson as Mr. Darcy

No one plays cranky, celibate stalker quite like RPatz.

Ian Somerhalder as George Wickham

Ok, this casting choice would be legitimately awesome. Get on that, Hollywood.

Relationship Status: Best Worst Date Ever

I have been waiting so long for a book like this. I searched far and wide for something whose terribleness has epic proportions, but I kept coming up just short of mediocrity. Good literature may be hard to find, but a truly, wonderfully, surreally awful book is equally rare. So many bad books don’t go the extra mile to be laughably shitty, and it’s just a chore to slog through. By contrast, I can say that I was genuinely gleeful reading this book. I don’t know when was the last time I had such a good time on a book date. Does that make me a bad person? Probably. But at least I’m a bad person who is having a lot of fun.

 

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Alix West's photo About the Author: Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.
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