Tuesday, July 26, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Pride & Prejudice: Hidden Lusts by Mitzi Szereto

Release Date: July 5th, 2011
Publisher: Cleis
Page Count: 265
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via Romancing the Book, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!!)

Imagine that Jane Austen had written the opening line of her satirical novel, Pride and Prejudice, this way: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good romp and a good wife—although not necessarily from the same person or from the opposite sex." In Pride & Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, the entire cast of characters from Austen's classic are caught with their breeches unbuttoned and their skirts raised high in this rewrite that goes all the way—and then some! Mr. Darcy has never been more devilish and the seemingly chaste Elizabeth never more turned on.

This time, Mr. Bingley and his sister both have designs on Mr. Darcy's manhood; Elizabeth's bff, Charlotte, discovers that her clergyman husband's pious nature extends to worship of a different sort; and, in this telling, Lady Catherine de Bourgh takes the disciplining of those in the parish very seriously. As for the handsome Mr. Wickham, he's wickeder than ever. And of course there's plenty of good old-fashioned bodice ripping that shows no pride or prejudice and reveals hot, hidden lusts in every scandalous page-turning chapter. This is the book Jane Austen would have written, if only she'd had the nerve.
What Stephanie Thinks: I'm amazed how parallel Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Szereto's sexy parody, Hidden Lusts, are. Though I do believe the original is a timeless classic, I can't say I really enjoyed it that much. I remember having to read it in tenth grade English; I made it about three-quarters through, before deciding just to SparkNotes the rest of it. This fiery rewrite however, I had no trouble reading. It may be I just really like sex (most likely), but the drama and mishaps of Hidden Lusts are absolutely entertaining, and best of all, kinky.

You always see hilarious porn parodies, and this book reminds me of one of them, only it's in the form of erotica, rather than porn. Each of the characters' traits are highly exaggerated, which makes for an even funnier storyline, and there of course, is brash, shameless, sex—lots and lots of it.

My favorite thing about this book is how each of the characters have their own concealed desires, but only the reader knows about them. Szereto's content is sizzling hot, but I often found the sex scenes redundant. For instance, Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth's encounters always are described with "a moving in his breeches", meaning, an uncontrollable boner (LOL, right?), but that happens every time. It's funny at first, but becomes repetitive after a while.

Speaking of Mr. Wickham, we all know from Pride and Prejudice, that he turns out to be the charming, but elusive and judgmental villain. In Hidden Lusts, boy, is he ever! His accusations are atrocious, but his actions, even worse. He screams Victorian naughtiness, and threatens to tear the Bennett family apart.

Mr. Bennett seems to have his perversions as well, but they don't involve his wife. It's difficult to call him a handsome man, but his ways are very, very kinky, and often comical too. Mrs. Bennett's character seems mostly untouched, though her neurotic personality is strongly caricatured. We also discover the reason behind her brazen frenzy. She however, is one of the only characters who isn't sexualized, so her story is a breath of fresh air.

Then we've got the Bennett sisters, who are burlesque within themselves. Lydia—oh, my precious Lydia. There isn't too much of her in Pride and Prejudice, except that she's the frivolous, foolish one. To call her a brazen whore would be uncouth, but spot-on. She elopes with Wickham in the original novel, as she does in this book, but the method of means isn't revealed until the very end; you'll be surprised! Mary is delightful as ever—sarcasm, sarcasm. Poor Mary, the only unpleasant and ugly one in her family. Her greed to become physically beautiful eventually take a toll on her in Hidden Lusts, which teaches a lesson to our superficialities. Jane is nothing short of submissive, but her character is, for the most part, left alone. She isn't kinky or rowdy like her sister, Elizabeth (whom I will get back to later), but we do learn that her lusts are carefully hidden—much so, that we wonder if they exist at all. Kitty plays a minor role in the novel. All she seems to do is chase after handsome militiamen along with Lydia, and her character isn't deeply examined either. But Elizabeth. How shocked I am with Elizabeth! She, soon after meeting Darcy, discovers the powers of self-pleasure, and realizes how much she loves it—a little too much. She is definitely a likable character though, and the chemistry between her and Darcy is scalding hot.

I won't tell you about the rest of the smaller characters (who all have fervid, carnal intents), but I will say how fun it is to wander in the minds of seemingly proper tea-and-crumpets men and women, set to the tune of Jane Austen's romantic tale. Szereto creates a parody that's full of sex of all kinds (including taboo topics like homosexuality, adultery, and BDSM), but is classy at the same time. Her sophisticated and humorous touch to retelling a well-known story is both absorbing and clear. I still find it impressive how well her rewrite lines up with the original novel, and look forward to her future endeavors.

Stephanie Loves: "His touches set fire to her flesh, stealing away all sense of propriety as she abandoned herself to his care, heedless to the repercussions.

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥