Source: Advanced reader copy from publisher
Back Cover Description (modified by me):
In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet tells the proud Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy that she wouldn't marry him if he were the last man in the world. But what if she never said the words? What if circumstances conspired to make her accept Darcy the first time he proposed? In this installment of Abigail Reynold's acclaimed Pride and Prejudice variants, Elizabeth agrees to marry Darcy in order to escape the ruin of her reputation brought on by an impulsive, public kiss by Darcy.
She initially hides her hatred, but when the truth comes out, it sets off a chain of events that nearly brings disaster to both of them. Ultimately, Darcy and Elizabeth, two people with different temperaments, backgrounds, and expectations, will have to undergo a tumultuous and passionate journey to make a success of their ill-fated marriage.
The Last Man in the World is a Pride and Prejudice variation. Purely judged as a "takeoff" of Jane Austen, the novel didn't work for me. The main characters were nothing like the Pride and Prejudice characters. Elizabeth was terribly insecure, compliant, and melodramatic. Her sole objective was to please Darcy, both when she hated him and when she loved him. Darcy was impulsive, conceited, and physically passionate even in public.
I also never expected explicit sex in a Jane Austen "takeoff" novel. This one caught me by surprise with 5+ pages of explicit sex in one (married) sex scene, a 3 page explicit sex scene near the end, and explicit sexual thoughts sprinkled throughout.
Judging this novel as if it had nothing to do with Pride and Prejudice, it still didn't work for me--though I did find it a fast read and a terribly funny situational comedy (though I think it was meant to be a drama).
Elizabeth came to love Darcy within the first 50 pages. Everything after that was a series of misunderstandings where each misread the intent of the other's every word and action and then refused to believe what the other said when they explained what they really meant. These misunderstandings got to the point of being unbelievable, especially when the characters had to act inconsistently to create the misunderstanding.
It didn't work for me as a historical, either, since the author had several modern sensibilities and behaviors in the story.
This novel was a group "out loud" read. One listener was a male, and he commented that the novel didn't accurately portray how a male thinks. We (two) females had to assure him that women don't think like this Elizabeth, either.
I don't recall any bad language. There was explicit sex. Overall, I suspect the target audience for this novel is fans of romances with explicit sex who also have a crush on Darcy.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
"In a moment, when we leave the trees, you will be able to see the house," said Mr. Darcy. "There it is, across the valley--Pemberley House."
Elizabeth smiled at him dutifully, then looked out the window of the carriage to where he was pointing. The house was large and handsome, even at this distance, and its situation on a rising hill above the water was lovely. Of course, she had expected as much, having heard its praises sung by Miss Bingley as well as Darcy himself. In other circumstances, she might have been delighted by it.
She became aware that his eyes were upon her awaiting her response. Obediently, she turned to him and said, "It is lovely, sir. I do not believe I have ever seen a house more fortunately situated."
His face warmed with pleasure, and Elizabeth hurriedly looked out the window again, pretending to examine the nearer aspects of the house as they drove along a stream which wound its way downhill.