Monday, January 29, 2018

Book or Movie? "Unleashing Mr. Darcy"

Welcome to the first "Book or Movie?" that doesn't feature a Christmas book/movie combo!

Unleashing Mr. Darcy is a book by Teri Wilson and a Hallmark original movie starring Ryan Paevey and Cindy Busby.

I first watched the film when it premiered in 2016 ... and I found myself horribly disappointed. I normally love Austen adaptations, but this one just fell flat. I recently caught the last thirty minutes or so and found myself liking it more than I remembered, so I decided to give it another chance.

In this modern day spin on “Pride & Prejudice,” Elizabeth Scott (Cindy Busby), is fishing for direction in her life and gets the opportunity to professionally show her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in a fancy New York dog show. Dog show judge Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey) comes across as aristocratic and rude and a chain of misunderstandings unfold during the competition, complicating their mutual attraction. In true Jane Austen fashion, Elizabeth and Donovan begin to see the error of their ways and it turns out Mr. Darcy is far more kind and interesting than Elizabeth ever imagined.
On second (full) viewing, I've remembered what I didn't particularly like about the movie the first time: Elizabeth. She is horribly rude to Donovan with no real reason—it's dislike at first sight for her, and I don't know why. Busby-as-Elizabeth just doesn't come across as a sympathetic character at all.

Paevey, however is perfectly charming as Donovan. But why Donovan falls for Elizabeth is beyond me! Also—and this is what I found most ridiculous about the movie—both times Donovan kisses Elizabeth, they are in public. And the people around them begin applauding! If it was a public proposal or something, I'd get it, but it was just a kiss. I don't know about you, but I don't break into applause every (or any) time I see some PDA in public!

I was rolling my eyes as the credits rolled, and I didn't have high hopes for the novel.

How wrong I was!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman teetering on the verge of thirty must be in want of a husband. Not true for Manhattanite Elizabeth Scott. Instead of planning a walk down the aisle, she's crossing the pond with the only companion she needs; her darling dog, Bliss. Caring for a pack of show dogs in England seems the perfect distraction from the scandal that ruined her teaching career, and her reputation, in New York. What she doesn't count on is an unstoppable attraction to billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy. The London tycoon's a little bit arrogant, a whole lot sexy, and the chemistry between them is disarming. When passion is finally unleashed, might Elizabeth hope to take home more than a blue ribbon?
I loved this book! Sure, there are times when it mirrors Pride and Prejudice a little too closely (Donovan says several of Darcy's lines verbatim, yet there's no indication he or Lizzy realize he's stealing from Austen—and yes, P & P does exist in this universe), and there's a non-explicit but still too much for my taste sex scene about 75% of the way through the novel, but I would say the breakdown is 95% pure enjoyment and 5% ugh, really? So yes, I really liked the novel!

Donovan and Lizzy have chemistry in spades, and Lizzy's initial dislike for Donovan makes so much more sense here than in the film—she overhears him calling her "tolerable" shortly after they meet (sound familiar?). She also has trouble trusting him because he's rich, due to her encounter with Grant Markham (the Wickham character), a man who tries to buy his son's grade and then has her suspended from her teaching job upon her refusal. Of course, Donovan ends up breaking down her walls.

Yes, it's predictable (even if you don't know Pride and Prejudice), but it's also just so fun and romantic that you can't help but excuse its flaws.

So ...

Book or movie?

I think this one is pretty obvious: book all the way! (Book: 4 stars. Movie: 2-1/2 stars.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. So sorry you didn't like the film (and I think I remember talking about this one with you back when it premiered). It's one of my favorites. (I always get a laugh out of the whole public-kiss-and-applause thing too; in fact, I think that's WAY overdone in these cute movies.) I had intentions of someday reading the book, but never got around to it. Perhaps someday (in the next hundred years, you know when I don't have a TBR :D), I'll actually read it.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Becky! :)

    1. Yes, I feel like we did talk about this before :-) When I caught just the end of it, I really did think I'd like it more, but alas, it was not to be. However, Ryan Paevey? He can be my Mr. Darcy any time ;-)

      The book is very cute :-) There are, of course, the things I mentioned that I wish weren't in the book, but I do think you'd really like it.

  2. I love that you are doing this! Can't wait to see more!

    1. Thanks! I'm having lots of fun doing it :-)

  3. Becky, I appreciate you reviewing this book. When I heard there was a "sex scene" in the story I was immediately turned off. I'm sure Teri Wilson is a delight to read, but as a Christian, I would never be comfortable reading or recommending a book with a "non-explicit but still too much for my taste sex scene."

    When I saw you were reviewing the book, I had hoped you would feel the same. Immorality (sex before marriage) is rampant in today's society, but it's definitely not acceptable in the eyes of God.

    1. I appreciate your comment. I know that we all have different levels of content that we are comfortable with (whether we agree with it or not--for the record, I in no way believe that sex outside of marriage is OK), so I want to be sure my readers always know what they'll be getting into with a specific book and can make informed decisions.

  4. The first time I watched Unleashing Mr. Darcy, I remember being disappointed, too. But it kind of grew on me after I watched it a few times. I really like it now.

    But your comment about people clapping whenever they kissed...Haha. Strange, it didn't really occur to me how abnormal that was. But I thought the public clapped because Elizabeth and Donovan were always the center of attention within the crowd whenever they kissed. Apparently, when a couple has the public audience's complete attention and they kiss, the polite, proper and encouraging thing to do is clap. Hehe. Anyways, great review.

    1. Well, I did like it more than I liked it the first time, so maybe if I keep watching it? ;-)

      The whole kiss and clap thing is just so odd to me--but then I just saw it in another Hallmark film earlier this week! (I can't remember which one ...) So maybe it's a Hallmark thing. Anyway, thanks for stopping by!


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