Kelly and Kim’s dueling review of Spank Me, Mr. Darcy by Lissa Trevor

Joining me on the blog today is my super-bestest reading buddy Kim from Reflections of a Book Addict.  Kim and I both love Jane Austen’s books, particularly Pride and Prejudice, and we’re both open to the concept of stories that take Jane’s Austen’s setting and/or characters and apply some sort of spin, whether continuing the story beyond where Miss Austen left off, or retelling the original story with a different set of circumstances.  Spank Me, Mr. Darcy definitely qualifies as that latter type of Austen re-do, but, of course, it doesn’t do it very well.  Honestly, what were you expecting?

Anyway, Kim and I were just putzing innocently around on the Internet, when we read a post on Book Riot about this book and did a collective (and individual) Whuuuuut? Then we hightailed it to NetGalley to see if we, too, could read it.

Cover image, Spank Me, Mr. Darcy by Lissa Trevor

First, the publisher’s blurb, courtesy of Goodreads:

After finagling an invitation to the ball, Elizabeth Bennet is introduced to the powerful and prideful Mr. Darcy, while her sister Jane has captivated the new owner, Mr. Bingley. Having contented herself with the pleasurable caresses of her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth is intrigued with the sensuality she finds at Netherfield. But it isn’t until her sister Jane is taken ill and Elizabeth stays at Netherfield to nurse her back to health that she finds the dungeons of Netherfield and the man in the black mask who becomes her Master.

By the time she leaves Netherfield, Elizabeth will have become disenchanted with her childhood playmate and obsessed with Mr. Darcy, her Master, who has told her that she would be more marriageable as a Netherfield submissive than as a curious virgin. Elizabeth holds on to her affront at his callous regard for her until Charlotte marries Mr. Collins and Jane is discarded by Mr.Bingley. Unwilling to save herself for a man who’ll make a good match and determined not to suffer Jane’s heartbreak, when she meets Mr. Darcy again at Rosings Park, she decides to become his slave and offers him her virginity.

But when she finds out that her cruel Master has destroyed Jane’s chance at marriage with Mr. Bingley, she rejects Mr. Darcy – even as he reluctantly proposes marriage to her. It isn’t until he saves her sister Lydia’s reputation and brings Jane and Bingley together, that Elizabeth realizes that she loves him. If he still loves her, she would be most willing to take her punishment for rejecting him – and live happily ever after.

Kim: When dissecting the world of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) I’ve always thought there were different fan levels.  There are those who are purists, the ones that don’t want Austen’s stories modernized or changed really in any way.  There are the inbetweeners who are ok with some changes, some modernizations, but don’t really go for the paranormal/zombie/erotic/etc changes.  Then there’s the last group (which I fall in) – the free for alls.  We’ll try ANYTHING that relates in some way to Austen and her characters.  Darcy as a werewolf, pirate, Dom, zombie, etc…..we’’ll read it.  Just because I read it doesn’t mean I’ll like it, but I’m willing to keep an open mind.  When Kelly and I decided to read Spank Me, Mr. Darcy I thought, “Hmm….this one might be pushing my limits of acceptance, but I’m trying anyway.” OMG. This fucking book.  I should start off and be totally honest and upfront and tell you all that I did NOT finish this book.  To put that in perspective, my Goodreads profile tells me that as of today I’ve read 660 books and DNF’d 10.  You do that math. I don’t DNF much, if anything. That’s how bad this book was. OY. Kelly deserves a fucking medal for finishing it. Like a gold medal that is the size of the world. Because I don’t know how she did it. I seriously BOW DOWN to her as a reader.

Kelly: I don’t know how the hell I was able to finish it.  At a certain point, I think I entered a meditative state, and part of my brain sat back to watch — very cinema verite — the rest of my consciousness grapple with the book, its flaws, everything that’s wrong with the world, etc.  Spank Me, Mr. Darcy is just awful, but it isn’t enough to say that it’s bad.  A lot of books are bad, and it’s fairly obvious from the concept that this one wasn’t going to be fantastic, but this one is a special kind of bad.  In fact, it’s the Worst Book I’ve Ever Read.  That’s right — it’s worse than Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, and Tempted at Every Turn put together.

Go ahead and ask me: “Kelly, what’s so bad about this book?”  I mean, I could be glib and shout, “EVERYTHING. ALL THE THINGS,” but it’ll be better to do up a proper Pros and Cons list for this book.  I think you’ll get the drift fairly quickly.

Things that rocked (or at least didn’t totally suck)

Things that SUCKED

The Mr. and Mrs. Bennet scenes, while a trifle awkward, made the best use of the original material coupled (ha) with the erotic elements applied to the story.

Mrs. Phillips is a retired dominatrix that teaches her nieces oral sex.

A-W-K-W-A-R-D

…………….

Mrs. Bennet and Lady Lucas have this weird lesbian relationship that Sir William Lucas like creepily watches in secret.

Peeping Tom anyone?

………….

The editing is the worst.  There’s no sense of continuity, and it’s fairly obvious that if the author gave the thing a once over after she was done cutting and pasting the story together, she was drunk at the time.

Ummmm………

Pretty much every character has sex with every other character, whether or not it makes any sense to the story or to the characters.  Even if you try to forget that the characters are supposedly based on Austen’s P&P folk, it still doesn’t work.

The cover was interesting?

The world of the book is SUPER strange.  The servants have sex with the upper characters. (Bingleys, Jane, Hursts, etc) It’s like everyone is into orgies, BDSM, etc, and everyone knows about it.  Like Netherfield is a known sex house. Say what?

The first sentence made me laugh.

Jeweled butt plugs. Just saying.

……………………………………….

Elizabeth’s name is misspelled every other page. Lizzy on one page but Lizzie on the next.  Clearly demonstrates the lack of editing that existed.

……………

Lady Catherine as a retired dominatrix is just yucky. I felt so dirty reading the scene when Lady C, Charlotte, and Mr. Collins get it on. Honestly, I felt coated in filth. Another human being thought that exchange up, and it just made me sad to be human.

Yeah, that’s all we got.

While everyone’s focused on having as much weird sex as possible, it was super strange that Elizabeth places such a high value on maintaining her hymen for her husband to break.

There were sections of the book where a character pops into a scene suddenly and then disappears, only to reappear without explanation.  As Kelly says, drunk writing at its best.

The Wickham/Lydia plot is resolved in 1 pg. The entire Pemberley visit doesn’t even exist. Elizabeth never sees Darcy’s home and sees that he’s changed. Bit of a bizarre twist there.

It doesn’t even make sense how Darcy found out about the Wickham/Lydia bit.  It’s almost like he received a psychic message that something had happened and he went hightailing it to London to solve it.  Of course, the readers get an extremely truncated summary (in one paragraph) of how Darcy found Wickham and Lydia and saved the day… But Darcy isn’t there when Elizabeth gets the news, so how the hell did he find out about it?

Owl post, maybe?

The Elizabeth and Charlotte scenes were pretty awkward, but the worst part is that Charlotte contents herself to marrying Mr. Collins by resolving to hire a maid who looks like Elizabeth so they can both boink an Elizabeth stand-in. It’s so skeezy.

There are a few gratuitous self-pleasuring scenes, but I think Jane’s might be the worst. It’s just disconcerting to read about Jane going to town on herself while fantasizing about all the things she did with Bingley and all the things she wants still to do.  It’s Jane for fuck’s sake!

Mr. Bennet has a super creepy way of treating Mrs. Bennet’s poor nerves. It was the third creepiest part of the book. (Lady C and Charlotte’s Lizzy maid came in first and second, respectively.)

The main thing that Jane likes about Mr. Bingley is that he has sisters that she can diddle while he’s away.  In a story like this, that’s perhaps not so strange, but it is a little weird that she doesn’t do it openly.  It’s another example of the weird dynamic where everyone is utterly oversexed and also super concerned about a few seemingly insignificant aspects of purity/innocence.

The epilogue.  Subtitle: Lizzy gets a jeweled butt plug.

Kim: When I read a book that I disliked or DNF’d I normally try to find one strong thing and praise it for doing that “thing” well.  Unfortunately the only clear thing about this book is that it was not edited and written for one thing only, profit.  I hate saying this about a book, but I found nothing artistic about it.  There is no purpose to it whatsoever, except cashing in on the JAFF fandom and the popularity of publishing something with Jane Austen’s name attached to it.

Kelly: Yes, and also publishing a piece of erotica.  The thing is, even the erotic aspects of the book are terrible. I get it — everyone wants a piece of the erotic pie, but that doesn’t mean you can just throw words together and call it a day.  It’s apparent that the author was drunk or high or both when she ‘wrote’ this thing, and it’s even more apparent that she didn’t care about it at all.  I mean, honestly… I don’t even feel the slightest bit guilty about bashing it utterly, because I’m fairly certain the author won’t give two hoots or a holler about my opinion.

Kim’s final thoughts: ………… Yeah. I think that’s sufficient.

Kelly’s final thoughts: Terrible erotica + a badly edited version of P&P + a lot of tequila + the author’s ennui or self-loathing or poor sense of vocation (I’m not sure which is to blame) = The Worst Book Kelly’s Ever Read.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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