Fire and Cross, penned by Enid Wilson, begins with a fire spreading at an inn that the Darcy family is staying in. Darcy’s father awakens to find himself in the midst of the flames, unable to reach his wife and son. As he searches for a way to get to them, a man convinces him that he must get out of the inn, promising that he will go back in for his wife and son if Mr. Darcy will watch his infant daughter. Mr. Darcy agrees, and while holding the daughter offers up a promise to God; if his family is saved his son’s hand in marriage will belong to this baby girl. As a token of the promise he tucks a garnet cross (pictured on the cover) into her blankets. The unknown man eventually makes it out of the inn with Fitzwilliam and Mrs. Darcy in tow right before Mr. Darcy collapses. Years later at his deathbed, the elder Mr. Darcy informs Fitzwilliam of his promise and asks as his dying wish that he find this individual (who is now old enough to be a young woman) and marry her. Although he wishes no ill will towards his father and would like to carry out this wish, he finds himself rather annoyed when he discovers that two women he is acquainted with possess a garnet cross. To make matters worse, neither one meets his standards of a suitable mate (as if anyone would with his pride!) One of these women is the sister of his best friend Charles Bingley, and the other a Miss Elizabeth Bennet, whom he can’t seem to get out of his mind. How will he figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying? Will Darcy sort all of this out and get his heart’s affairs in order?
While the concept of the book was creative, intriguing, and interesting, I thought that some of the character changes were a bit much. Without a doubt, Caroline Bingley was changed to a displeasing extreme. I can’t reveal too much of the changes, as it would uncover pivotal pieces in the plot, but suffice it to say the Caroline Bingley of Fire and Cross is a far cry from what I’d ever expect of her.
Not all character changes were bad however. I found it humorous that Mr. Bennet helped Darcy steal moments with Elizabeth throughout the book. Once Darcy realizes that Mr. Bennet is the man responsible for saving his family’s life all those years ago, a strong affection builds between the two. Mr. Bennet senses the attraction between Elizabeth and Darcy, and is only too happy to help in Darcy’s arduous journey to win Elizabeth’s heart. I found this twist to be an entirely enjoyable one which afforded me an opportunity to get to know Mr. Bennet’s humor better.
Romance fans abound will be pleased with the intimacy of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship. They have multiple encounters that serve to create strong attractions between the pair. Stolen walks and carriage rides through the surrounding estates help build their relationship to a point of deep intimacies. Austen purists will probably not enjoy these interludes, hence my forewarning. Despite this, fans open to exploring new paths with Darcy and Elizabeth will delight in Wilson’s retelling of the tale of our beloved couple.
3 out of 5 Stars
Fire and Cross by Enid Wilson
Steamy D Publishing (2010)
Paperback 226 pages