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Most Ardently

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Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with. From the mome Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with. From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats -- which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.


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Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with. From the mome Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with. From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats -- which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

30 review for Most Ardently

  1. 4 out of 5

    anna (readingpeaches)

    anna stop expecting more from gay retellings of p&p challenge

  2. 4 out of 5

    Farah ファラ

    "Miss Elizabeth. I have struggled in vain and can't bear it no longer. These past months have been a torment. I came to Rosings only to see you. I have fought against judgment, my family’s expectation, the inferiority of your birth, my rank. I will put them aside and ask you to end my agony. I love you. Most ardently." - Darcy Fitzwilliam Ms.Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in 1797, I have read it too many times and when Keira Knightley + Rosamund Pike joined forces to bring the "Miss Elizabeth. I have struggled in vain and can't bear it no longer. These past months have been a torment. I came to Rosings only to see you. I have fought against judgment, my family’s expectation, the inferiority of your birth, my rank. I will put them aside and ask you to end my agony. I love you. Most ardently." - Darcy Fitzwilliam Ms.Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in 1797, I have read it too many times and when Keira Knightley + Rosamund Pike joined forces to bring the characters to life, the disc received the same fate as my paperback. Since then, I have read a few other disappointing zombie versions and when I saw Most Ardently on my feed, I immediately clicked pre-order. Ms.Mesler-Evans gave plenty of newness to this beautiful old classic without pissing off a fanatic fan. One of the things I love about Most Ardently is, the way the author portrays her characters. Her characters are nuts, real with flaws and insecurities. They are relatable and most of all they are endearing. Elisa is smart, quite funny, strong, a little nerdy and she loves to read, Darcy's a reader too - How to not love leads who enjoy reading? Even with their insecurities, they are not afraid to speak their minds, you have to admire leads who have this qualities. Overall, I found their characterizations to not only be lovable but refreshing as well. The banters between them are intense but entertaining. See, the thing is that, if not for miscommunications and their stubborness in clearing the situations, they would have been together sooner. But then we wouldn't have the story, would we? So when I normally am not a fan of miscommunications, it worked here very well. The steam is low, but I don't care, not when the story is smart, the writing/dialogues is good and snort out loud. Most part of the book is just crazy - thanks to Elisa's mum, with a great cast of side characters who each brought her/his own flair to the story, but there are a couple of heart-to-heart scenes between the leads with each other or others that hit me hard, like someone is stabbing at my heart with daggers - it could be my friends as I hide to read this and they had to seek me. Why should you? z. One of the leads is a - "It might sound crazy but it ain't no lie, she's a bi, bi, bi" y. One lead is a Latina while the other is a mixed-race x. One of the Benitez siblings is a transwoman w. Great lines - "Ah, karma. You’re a bitch." - " Shut the hell up over there or I'll shut off your hot water." Charlene rolled her eyes. "I live next door to the landlord, remember?" - " But he's pretentious, and he talks too much and he's not a good listener and his mom is objectively, the worst. Sure he's smart, but not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, and, and, and.... And he listens to Nickleback...." - " Now you know what to say if someone offers you drugs or alcohol, right?" " Yes, I say. One at a time, please." v. If you are a fan of Ms.Austen's Pride and Prejudice and would like to read a version between a bi and a lesbian. u. Ms.Austen will not be rolling in her grave, I think she's high 5ying Ms.Mesler-Evans from 6 feet under. t. It cost about 5 Dollars s. Elisa and her family might remind you of your own family/friends where everyone wants to be heard/love to talk at the same time. Trigger warning Off-page sexual intercourse involving early teens with a very mature, wicked, bastard, Wickham. For featuring an active Bi, Ms.Mesler-Evans deserve a 5⅛ for her debut.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    I received an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review I personally like starting reviews of retellings by going through the significant changes so I'll do that. Elizabeth: name is Elisa. She's Mexican-American and bisexual. Darcy: still named Darcy, cis women lesbian as well as biracial (Black and white) Kitty: her name's Camilla and she's a trans girl Collin: is Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam: cis girl named Willow I received an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review I personally like starting reviews of retellings by going through the significant changes so I'll do that. Elizabeth: name is Elisa. She's Mexican-American and bisexual. Darcy: still named Darcy, cis women lesbian as well as biracial (Black and white) Kitty: her name's Camilla and she's a trans girl Collin: is Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam: cis girl named Willow I've read a lot of Pride and Prejudice retellings in my time. This is the second f/f one I've read as well (the first is called The Story of Lizzy and Darcy) and I'm honestly happy to see another one. This one was really fun. I liked both Elisa and Darcy a lot. This felt like a retelling that can stand on its own while keeping the personalities of both Lizzie and Darcy. Another element I thought was interesting was that Mr and Mrs Bennett were divorced in this. I thought that was an interesting change to the dynamic of things. Another element I liked was during the scene of Collin's whole deceleration of love, Elisa rejected him to the level I could tell the author felt a certain way about Collin and had been wanting to get it out for years. It was honestly delightful. This was a lot of fun and I'd recommend it whether or not you've read the source material.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    EXCUSE ME, an F/F Pride and Prejudice retelling and Nobody told me? And it comes out Next Month? I feel as if my prayers have been answered

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    DID I HEAR YOU SAY... GAY? PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? FEMINIST? ROM-COM?

  6. 4 out of 5

    E.

    From authors twitter: "Ya like Pride and Prejudice? Ya like gay rom-coms? Ya like feminism and family dynamics?" 👀👀👀👀 Yes. Yes, I like

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stacee

    I will legit read anything that references P+P and I loved the synopsis and that it was a f/f story. Sadly, it was so very disappointing. My main hang up is that I just didn’t care about any of these characters. Elisa doesn’t have the spark Elizabeth does and the rest of the sisters could have been interchangeable. I didn’t see any sort of chemistry between Elisa and Darcy and the tension I was expecting was also missing. Plot wise, it followed the original plot points, but they were moderately I will legit read anything that references P+P and I loved the synopsis and that it was a f/f story. Sadly, it was so very disappointing. My main hang up is that I just didn’t care about any of these characters. Elisa doesn’t have the spark Elizabeth does and the rest of the sisters could have been interchangeable. I didn’t see any sort of chemistry between Elisa and Darcy and the tension I was expecting was also missing. Plot wise, it followed the original plot points, but they were moderately updated. There was a lot of telling and not showing and the addition of trans and non-binary characters felt like an afterthought. By the time we got to the ending, I was happy it was over instead of cheering for them having gotten together. Overall, it was a great idea for an update, but the execution didn’t work for me. FYI: talk of statutory rape and physical violence against women **Huge thanks to Entangled for providing the arc free of charge**

  8. 5 out of 5

    Naty

    Adorable, touching, incredibly sensitive and so sweet. I had a lot of fun with this book and I'm so glad to have picked it up! Really recommend if you're looking for a YA romcom, plus it's F/F! The hate/love tension between the two MCs was great, they're such IDIOTS, I love them. I received a copy of this ebook via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. (See full review in http//natysbookshelf.wordpress.com )

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susan Mesler-Evans

    So I can't recommend my own book, but I can review and rate it? Yeah, that seems legit. Anyway, I wrote a book. I think it's pretty good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    mahana

    modern pride and prejudice (follows the plot exactly with just a few tweaks) but darcy is a lesbian woc and elizabeth is a bisexual woc 👻👻👻👻 rep: Latina bisexual mc, half-Black lesbian li, f/f romance, side trans character

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pam Holzner

    This retelling of Pride and Prejudice takes place in modern times. It was fun watching the choices Mesler-Evans made to move the story to now. Some of the updates worked well (instead of an Army regiment we have college students). Instead of the wayward Bennett daughter being "ruined," Mesler-Evans made Wickham into a sexual predator. That worked. In other places more updates were needed. She kept the plot point where "Darcy's Aunt asks Elizabeth to promise to not get involved with Darcy" and it This retelling of Pride and Prejudice takes place in modern times. It was fun watching the choices Mesler-Evans made to move the story to now. Some of the updates worked well (instead of an Army regiment we have college students). Instead of the wayward Bennett daughter being "ruined," Mesler-Evans made Wickham into a sexual predator. That worked. In other places more updates were needed. She kept the plot point where "Darcy's Aunt asks Elizabeth to promise to not get involved with Darcy" and it's crucial to the plot but I think it probably worked better in the original. But I don't think I could have come up with anything better (maybe she sends lawyers instead?) I don't know anyone in that social class to have an idea of what is more plausible. Also the dialog definitely needed more work. As the book goes along, the it becomes more stilted. I think this is just due to the writer having too much of Austen's syntax in her brain. Also, if you like this sort of thing, check out "The Story of Lizzy and Darcy" by Watson. One more comment. I wish Mesler-Evans had spent more time at Pemberly showing our MCs interacting and having fun banter. I think the read would have been more enjoyable if we could have basked a bit in their new found rapport before advancing on to the Wickham crisis.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    When I first heard about this book, I could not have jumped at the chance to review it any quicker. It was everything I could have wanted in a novel. Pride & Prejudice retelling? Check. Darcy is a woman aka an f/f romance? Check. Set in modern day? Check. What more could a girl ask for? Well, probably to actually have enjoyed the book. The romance was not believable to me. I didn’t see the connection between Elisa and Darcy at all. It was obvious Darcy had a crush but actually lov When I first heard about this book, I could not have jumped at the chance to review it any quicker. It was everything I could have wanted in a novel. Pride & Prejudice retelling? Check. Darcy is a woman aka an f/f romance? Check. Set in modern day? Check. What more could a girl ask for? Well, probably to actually have enjoyed the book. The romance was not believable to me. I didn’t see the connection between Elisa and Darcy at all. It was obvious Darcy had a crush but actually loving Elisa? I didn’t see it. And I really didn’t see Elisa’s feelings. Mostly I’m just confused as to how Darcy managed to develop feelings for Elisa. Elisa’s character was mean. Elizabeth Bennett was a smart woman who used her wit to her advantage and was at worst a little sarcastic and snarky. Elisa was straight up mean. I can’t believe these words are about to be said, but I actually felt bad for Colin when she turned him down. Yes he was dense, but my god. He didn’t deserve her nastiness in that way. The thing about modern retellings of older stories is that not everything is going to translate into current day. Some things need to be changed in order for them to be believable and to work with the story. One example was some of the dialogue. I get that the author wanted to keep some of the speeches, but no one talks like that in 2019. Unless they’re Mark-Francis Vandelli on an episode of Celebrity Juice (seriously, that was all I could picture the entire time). A second example was when Bobby left Julieta after Darcy intervened. He just takes off without a word because Darcy said her opinion of “hey she might not like you as much as you like her” without any tangible proof to back it up? I just can’t see that in today’s world. Maybe my expectations were too high, I don’t know, but unfortunately, this book just was not for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I am kind of bummed about this one. I love Pride and Prejudice and will read basically any retelling/variant I can find, and I was especially excited for a gay retelling, but as good as the author’s intentions clearly were, this one just did not work for me. I am not a P&P purist and don’t mind if a retelling deviates pretty significantly from the original, but this was kind of a confusing combination of the two. It followed the plot and characters pretty closely, but the tone and some of th I am kind of bummed about this one. I love Pride and Prejudice and will read basically any retelling/variant I can find, and I was especially excited for a gay retelling, but as good as the author’s intentions clearly were, this one just did not work for me. I am not a P&P purist and don’t mind if a retelling deviates pretty significantly from the original, but this was kind of a confusing combination of the two. It followed the plot and characters pretty closely, but the tone and some of the outcomes were pretty different in a way that felt like it kind of... missed the point? The biggest example of this was Colin/Mr. Collins. Here, he turns out to be pretty likable and he and Charlotte/Charlene fall in love and are madly happy together. In the original, my take is that Charlotte’s choice to marry Mr. Collins even though he’s horrible is a social and feminist commentary on women’s limited options. I would have loved to see that concept explored in a modern way here rather than having them just become a bland side story with a standard-issue happy ending. Same with Elisa/Elizabeth and Darcy - I felt like they got reduced to just a standard issues enemies to lovers romantic comedy plot device instead of the societal commentary and exploration of, you know, pride and prejudice that they are in the original. I just somehow felt like maybe the author didn’t read up on Austen/dive into P&P lit crit before she wrote this? She clearly knew the plot very well but I didn’t get the sense that she’d given overly much consideration to the themes and messages of the book. She even referred to it as a “classic romantic comedy” in the acknowledgements, which... I mean, yes, that’s one element of it, but the original book is so much more than that (huh, maybe I’m more of a purist than I thought I was...). I just didn’t come away feeling like I understood WHY the author wanted to give a fresh take on the book, or what she was trying to bring to the story beyond making some of the characters queer. Also, and I do feel bad saying this because the writer seems like a genuinely nice person (I checked her out on Twitter) but the writing in this book is just not very good. It’s not, like, secondhand embarrassing levels of poor, but it’s really not great. First of all, this sounds nitpicky but there was a ton of pronoun confusion in this book, not in the misgendering way but in the “can’t actually tell to whom the verb applies” kind of way because it’s oddly vague and the sentences aren’t tightly written enough to tell. The dialogue is stilted and there is a lot of telling instead of showing. For example, we keep hearing how incredibly boring Colin is when he talks, but we only see a few examples of that and... they aren’t actually boring? I totally thought that best man tidbit was fascinating! Maybe this means I’m as boring as he is, but it just felt like the author wasn’t quite able to render the characters the way she intended. Further, Elisa and Darcy didn’t have any chemistry or really anything building between them, despite the author’s best attempts, so I didn’t feel engaged in having them work things out. I did appreciate the diversity throughout, including Cam/Kitty being trans, Elisa being fat, and Keegan using them/they pronouns, and even more so that those were just casually mentioned elements of who these people are rather than a focal point of the story. I did get a bit lost with the family being of Mexican heritage, though, because even though it’s mentioned a few times, we don’t actually see any evidence of it other than the terms Abuela and Abuelo. I always think it’s tough to write main characters of a different cultural background from your own, and that was clearly apparent here. Overall, I really wanted to like this book and I really appreciate what the author was trying to do, but it just did not land well for me. Bummer. Thanks to Entangled and NetGalley for the ARC.

  14. 5 out of 5

    c,

    On my blog. Rep: Latina bi mc, Black lesbian li, trans and nonbinary minor characters CWs: statutory rape and mentions of domestic abuse Galley provided by publisher I should preface this review by saying that I have very high standards for Austen retellings (probably overly so, if we’re honest). So I try going in with lowered expectations. That said, I don’t think my expectations could have been lower here and I was still hugely disappointed. Most Ardently is almost a direct retelling of/>Most/>Galley/> On my blog. Rep: Latina bi mc, Black lesbian li, trans and nonbinary minor characters CWs: statutory rape and mentions of domestic abuse Galley provided by publisher I should preface this review by saying that I have very high standards for Austen retellings (probably overly so, if we’re honest). So I try going in with lowered expectations. That said, I don’t think my expectations could have been lower here and I was still hugely disappointed. Most Ardently is almost a direct retelling of Pride and Prejudice (no bad thing in itself), but where Darcy is a woman (and various other diversifying changes are made, true). But it’s a fairly superficial retelling. Yes, it gets all the events (even those that don’t really work in a modern setting), but it misses out in a big way on the rest of it. As this review points out better than I ever could, Austen is full of social commentaries on top of the romance, and this book has clearly overlooked the former in favour of the latter. (Or perhaps not overlooked so much as failed to transplant them into a modern setting. Understandable given that some are uniquely Regency.) But hey, you say. You’re just being a Jane Austen snob right now. Which is fair enough. So what about if I took the fact that this is a retelling out of the equation. Firstly, the writing was just awkward for me. Mainly the dialogue which felt entirely forced at some points, but also that bane of writers everywhere – ‘show don’t tell’. It’s trite, I know, but I felt like I was told a lot of aspects, particularly of characterisation, rather than being shown them. Couple that with the clunkiness of the writing and I was bored and skimming after about one chapter. If that. Secondly, I didn’t really like either Elisa or Darcy as characters. The argument that sets them up as ‘enemies’ is so contrived (and also non-existent in the book, where Lizzie only overhears Darcy insulting her, but I promised to keep the retelling part out of it, didn’t I). And neither of them really improved throughout the book. Then there were the interludes with the other characters’ POVs. No, I don’t wish to feel sorry for the Mr Collins character, thank you. Finally (and I do have to go back to it being a retelling here), some events just don’t work transplanted into a modern setting – namely, everything with the Wickham character (Wick? I genuinely don’t remember any characters’ names but this and ‘Bobby’ and ‘Charlene’ felt so pointless as changes that they stuck). Not only is the timeframe too short for events to be so believable, but because what was unacceptable then doesn’t matter now (unmarried man and woman alone together), it’s clearly just been ramped up to make it worse (22 year-old running off with a 14 year-old, them having sex, and okay let’s throw some domestic violence in there too). I can’t believe I’m even remotely defending George Wickham right now, but he never felt this bad. He’s a cad, not a paedophile/child rapist (by the social norms of the time of course). Ultimately, then, I was disappointed, but was I surprised about that? Not one bit.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carly ❊ Reading Is My Kind of Thing

    When I requested Most Ardently on Netgalley, I hadn’t seen or read any iteration of Pride and Prejudice. Like ever. But the cover was super cute and I couldn’t say no to what sounded like a great F/F enemies to lovers romance. And then on the day I planned to read this, I made myself watch the Keira Knightley P&P movie in the morning. Which honestly, I’m glad I made myself do because there are so parallels. I mean… duh, it’s a retelling. However I think this is going to When I requested Most Ardently on Netgalley, I hadn’t seen or read any iteration of Pride and Prejudice. Like ever. But the cover was super cute and I couldn’t say no to what sounded like a great F/F enemies to lovers romance. And then on the day I planned to read this, I made myself watch the Keira Knightley P&P movie in the morning. Which honestly, I’m glad I made myself do because there are so parallels. I mean… duh, it’s a retelling. However I think this is going to be hit or miss for some fans. Whilst I personally enjoyed how the author modernized and diversified the story, I never felt surprised. Most Ardently hits all the expected plot points, which takes away a certain amount of suspense that I like whilst reading. The romance also felt lackluster. The blurb focuses on Darcy and Elisa's relationship and so I expected them to be the stories centre of focus. Yet we see more of Elisa and her family and get little romance. I am a huge romance reader and honestly don’t really love contemporary. (I just put up with it for a good romance.) So the fact that the romance aspects fell to the wayside and was overshadowed by the family drama was not appealing to me. I like steamy, angsty romance, and forced proximity where enemies to lovers tropes are concerned. The latter particularly felt like a missed opportunity here. This romance is the opposite of steamy and is more fluffy if anything. Overall, there were just very little scenes with Elisa and Darcy, which was a disappointment. ALSO, for a brief moment it's mentioned that Elisa is fat. Why wasn't this highlighted more? I find it so rare that I come across fat/plus-size heroines in stories. Or they just go under the radar. Again, I felt like this was such a missed opportunity. The biggest compliment I have for this book was that I was picturing it as a Netflix romcom the entire time. I would definitely watch that movie on a Friday night! But can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as a standout contemporary story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Last Book Marauder

    So, for full disclosure, I have only read Pride and Prejudice once yearsssssss ago and I have never seen any of the movie adaptations. But I was unbelievable excited for this book. Darcy Fitzgerald is such a hate to love character (much like her historical counterpart). She is cold, standoffish, meddling, and far too formal; but she is also sweet and sincere. Her fierce love and protectiveness of her sister was portrayed well and I am always a sucker for sibling bonds. Speaking of sibling bond - So, for full disclosure, I have only read Pride and Prejudice once yearsssssss ago and I have never seen any of the movie adaptations. But I was unbelievable excited for this book. Darcy Fitzgerald is such a hate to love character (much like her historical counterpart). She is cold, standoffish, meddling, and far too formal; but she is also sweet and sincere. Her fierce love and protectiveness of her sister was portrayed well and I am always a sucker for sibling bonds. Speaking of sibling bond - Elisa Benitez and her four sisters are pretty fantastic. I think it can be hard when the cast of characters is so large to make sure each person has their own distinct voice and mannerisms, but Mesler-Evans does a great job of really establishing all these characters. I just really enjoyed all the different types of relationships that were represented here - the romantic ones, the friendships, strong (and sometimes very damaged) family connections. One of my favorite side relationships was Elisa's parents being divorced for years and still figuring their way around that. And, the representation is this book is pretty fantastic. Elisa is a bi, fat, Mexican-American; Darcy is a lesbian and half black; Cam is trans, Keegan uses they/them pronouns. There was just a lot of queer rep that I was very happy to see. A bit of a sensitivity warning - there is a fairly large portion of the plot surrounding statutory rape. So, there's that. My one negative is that the writing and editing.... leaves a little to be desired. There are several typos and many times when it is not clear who the commentary is referring to. Overall, I did really enjoy this story and it makes me want to read the source material again very soon. If you like classic retellings, need some queer rep in your books, and love complex family dynamics I would suggest picking this one up. ***Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled! Copy received in exchange for honest review.***

  17. 4 out of 5

    Storme

    All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you NetGalley and Entangled. Uh... so I liked the diversity. But I didn’t enjoy the book. It was rather poorly written. I hope they fix the verb tense issues. This is 400 pages of my life I won’t get back. This author just isn’t for me. I normally write longer reviews, but this book just isn’t it. I skimmed a lot towards the end... I thought I would love it as a Mexican bisexual, but I just think this wasn’t the retelling I wanted.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shan( Shans_Shelves) 💜

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *Thank you to Netgalley and Publisher for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review* This is quite possibly my FAVORITE f/f romance ever. The slow burn, THE. SLOW. BURN.!!!! The obliviousness!!! The hate to love. The pride and prejudice retelling!!!!! Need I go on?? Reviewers, bookworms, sapphics, you all need this book in your LIFE. More coherent review coming soon.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lucia

    Oh my FUCKING GOD GAY PRIDE AND PREJUDICE WITH THIS TITLE IM-

  20. 5 out of 5

    Keelin Rita

    3.5 rounded up because it’s gay

  21. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Reviewed on my blog, Becky on Books, on 10/30/19. Absolutely adorable P&P retelling with (several) modern twists! Elisa Benitez and Darcy Fitzgerald's story hits all the main plot points of Pride and Prejudice , but does so with plenty of modern touches that help to make the story Ms Mesler-Evans' own. Elisa is bisexual and of Hispanic heritage; Darcy is biracial and a lesbian. Camilla (the second youngest of Elisa's sisters) is trans, and Elisa's parents are divorced (I was especially intereste Reviewed on my blog, Becky on Books, on 10/30/19. Absolutely adorable P&P retelling with (several) modern twists! Elisa Benitez and Darcy Fitzgerald's story hits all the main plot points of Pride and Prejudice , but does so with plenty of modern touches that help to make the story Ms Mesler-Evans' own. Elisa is bisexual and of Hispanic heritage; Darcy is biracial and a lesbian. Camilla (the second youngest of Elisa's sisters) is trans, and Elisa's parents are divorced (I was especially interested that the author went there--I've read so many analyses re: the elder Bennets and their marriage, and they've been about a 50-50 split between they had a good marriage and their marriage was a disaster; though I'm not willing to commit 100% to one argument or the other, this worked here). I enjoyed noting the differences and seeing how the author made Jane Austen's period piece become more modern. For the most part it really, really worked--I'd venture to say that even someone completely unfamiliar with the storyline would enjoy this book's plot and characters on their own merit. A few bits felt slightly forced (Lady Catherine's final scenes, I'm looking at you) and others were an improvement (Colin/Mr. Collins and Charlene/Charlotte's eventual relationship is so much more palatable here!) and I turned the final page of the story with a huge smile on my face. Final verdict? I'll get in line to read Ms Mesler-Evans's next book, even if it's not an Austen retelling :) Rating: 4 stars / A- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be... difficult." This is the polite-company word Elisa Benitez uses to describe Darcy Fitzgerald, the super-rich ice queen she has the misfortune of sharing an English class with. Unfortunately, the semester-long torment becomes even worse as Elisa's older sister Julieta becomes involved with Darcy I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be... difficult." This is the polite-company word Elisa Benitez uses to describe Darcy Fitzgerald, the super-rich ice queen she has the misfortune of sharing an English class with. Unfortunately, the semester-long torment becomes even worse as Elisa's older sister Julieta becomes involved with Darcy's best friend, Bobby. No matter how much Elisa tries to keep her distance from Darcy, the two girls keep finding themselves thrown together (thanks a lot, universe). But the more Elisa learns about Darcy, she has to wonder: will she ever know the whole truth about her? The LGBT retelling of Jane Austen's classic "Pride and Prejudice" that you didn't know you needed until it existed, "Most Ardently" is a fun wlw glow-up of the original that still hits on tough topics as hard as Austen did, such as poverty, class differences, and abusive predators. Even then, it's still a very fun, almost light-hearted book that brings a smile to your face. The witty dialogue would make Jane smile, all of the characters have been adapted and 'modernized' perfectly, and I most definitely approve of the Benitez' sisters willingness to ride-or-die for each other. An example of both: "Lucia, for the last time, property damage is not feminism." "Anything can be feminism if you play Beyonce in the background while you do it." In short, you will love this book "Most Ardently".

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I received an advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley for reviewing purposes. This in no way influences my review; all words, thoughts, and opinions are my own. Content notes: (view spoiler)[ 👩❤👩 casual ableism 👩❤👩 misogyny 👩❤👩 anti-Native slur (savage) 👩❤👩 amanormativity 👩❤👩 mother pushing for daughters to get married 👩❤👩 cyber snooping 👩❤👩 non-consensual hug 👩❤👩 I received an advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley for reviewing purposes. This in no way influences my review; all words, thoughts, and opinions are my own. Content notes: (view spoiler)[ 👩‍❤️‍👩 casual ableism 👩‍❤️‍👩 misogyny 👩‍❤️‍👩 anti-Native slur (savage) 👩‍❤️‍👩 amanormativity 👩‍❤️‍👩 mother pushing for daughters to get married 👩‍❤️‍👩 cyber snooping 👩‍❤️‍👩 non-consensual hug 👩‍❤️‍👩 fatmisia 👩‍❤️‍👩 cruel gossiping 👩‍❤️‍👩 derogatory comment regarding teen pregnancy 👩‍❤️‍👩 allusion to possible pregnancy 👩‍❤️‍👩 mention of vomiting 👩‍❤️‍👩 classism, class disparity 👩‍❤️‍👩 student loan stress, financial stress 👩‍❤️‍👩 alcohol consumption 👩‍❤️‍👩 references to death of parents, car accident 👩‍❤️‍👩 financial manipulation 👩‍❤️‍👩 grown man having sexual relationship with minor in past 👩‍❤️‍👩 missing teenager 👩‍❤️‍👩 abuse 👩‍❤️‍👩 victim shame (hide spoiler)] So, uh, I started this expecting it to take a few days minimum cuz it’s 400 pages and uhhhhhh, I finished this in like 6 hours 😬 Most Ardently is a Pride and Prejudice retelling starring Elisa, a Mexican-American fat bisexual, and Darcy, a Black lesbian. I had so much fun reading this because the antagonism!! From the moment Elisa sees Darcy she’s drawn to her beauty but can’t get over how pretentious she seems and immediately hates her. I loved how everyone but Elisa can tell Darcy is smitten, and Darcy is an absolute disaster trying to talk to Elisa and fails so abysmally every time. I adored the friendship between Darcy and Bobby, and between Elisa and Charlene. There’s also fantastic sibling relationships between Elisa and her four sisters, as well as Darcy with her younger sister and cousin who is practically a sister. This book is causally queer in many ways because Elisa’s bisexuality is labeled outright very early and her second-youngest sister is trans, Darcy is labeled lesbian on page, and there is a character who uses they/them pronouns. There are so many great friendships and familial bonds, and the development of the relationship between Elisa and Darcy made me swoon!! As much fun I had reading this book, though, there is some heavy content that broke my heart and made me cry reading. There is a grown man who is a sexual predator who targets teen girls with his charm, and he targets two characters - one in the past, and one near the end of the book. It was hard reading those scenes, but it was kinda set up and there were allusions to what kind of “man” he is. Overall, this book was fantastic! I had so much fun reading it and cannot recommend it enough. I’ve never read Pride & Prejudice but that in no way colored my reading experience, except to make me wanna give it a go. Darcy is a disaster lesbian and the barbs both she and Elisa throw at each other were wonderful to see! There’s definitely some scenes that hurt to read, but the ending made me so swoony~

  24. 4 out of 5

    dani

    did i like it? yes. did i love it? no. i've never read retellings this imitated before. i've read retellings with certain pieces of the original work but, most ardently felt like an exact copy of pride and prejudice. the only differences were that it's based on current days and that it's a love story between girls, everything else was the same; which made it weird. p&p it's on the 1800s and its characteristics are of that specific era of time whereas most ardently, we are in the 2010s!!! havi did i like it? yes. did i love it? no. i've never read retellings this imitated before. i've read retellings with certain pieces of the original work but, most ardently felt like an exact copy of pride and prejudice. the only differences were that it's based on current days and that it's a love story between girls, everything else was the same; which made it weird. p&p it's on the 1800s and its characteristics are of that specific era of time whereas most ardently, we are in the 2010s!!! having situations that match another era?? it was a bizarre experience to say at least. overall, it was heartwarming and adorable yet i feel it could have been way better. 2.5/5

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you Entangled and NetGalley for an advanced copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Most Ardently By: Susan Mesler-Evans *REVIEW* 🌟🌟🌟 I love Jane Austen, so my expectations may have been too high for this book. Regardless, Most Ardently fell flat. The characters were not likeable or aptly developed. Something just felt odd about the entire cast. Dialogue lacked original thought and was boring. The story was a slow going trip to nowhere, and I didn't Thank you Entangled and NetGalley for an advanced copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Most Ardently By: Susan Mesler-Evans *REVIEW* 🌟🌟🌟 I love Jane Austen, so my expectations may have been too high for this book. Regardless, Most Ardently fell flat. The characters were not likeable or aptly developed. Something just felt odd about the entire cast. Dialogue lacked original thought and was boring. The story was a slow going trip to nowhere, and I didn't enjoy this one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hanson

    Oh my goodness. Okay, so, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice (don’t shoot me), but this book was SO WONDERFUL that now I think I’m going to have to? I stayed up basically all night finishing it. I absolutely loved the characters and the plot and everything. Everything. I can’t wait to write a more complete review for this one. So freaking good. ❤ Oh my goodness. Okay, so, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice (don’t shoot me), but this book was SO WONDERFUL that now I think I’m going to have to? I stayed up basically all night finishing it. I absolutely loved the characters and the plot and everything. Everything. I can’t wait to write a more complete review for this one. So freaking good. ❤️

  27. 4 out of 5

    michelle (magical reads)

    3.5 stars read on my blog It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be . . . difficult. I read Pride & Prejudice for school years ago, and I did enjoy it, so I decided to request this book! I always love the hate-to-love dynamic as well as the stand-off-ish vibe. Most Ardently is a great retelling of P&P in a mo/> 3.5 stars read on my blog It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be . . . difficult. I read Pride & Prejudice for school years ago, and I did enjoy it, so I decided to request this book! I always love the hate-to-love dynamic as well as the stand-off-ish vibe. Most Ardently is a great retelling of P&P in a modern setting with a f/f relationship, both of whom are women of color. This book was really, really cute. Pride & Prejudice but make it gay! Elisa is a Mexican-American bisexual smartass; Darcy is a biracial (half-white, half-Black) lesbian. In line with the original story, Elisa hates Darcy for being elitist and prejudicial, whereas Darcy finds her prideful and loud. They gradually grow closer together through…many unfortunate circumstances. Most Ardently pretty much plays out exactly like the original book. I liked reading about it in a modern setting because it was interesting to see how all these character dynamics translate so easily to our time today. For example, Lydia always annoyed me in P&P but I found her hilarious in this book. Also, one of Elisa’s sisters is trans! “Does anyone still say ‘boo’ when they mean ‘boyfriend or girlfriend’?” “I do. It’s cute, it’s easy to say, it’s gender-inclusive, and it reminds me of ghosts. Win-win-win-win.” I will say, trigger warning for older men preying on young girls (aka the Wickham plot line). I suppose since I understand how it plays out in our society more, that it bothered me a lot more reading about it now. I admire you greatly, Elisa, and please believe me when I say that I most ardently love you. Most Ardently was a really fun read. I loved reading a classic story with a modern twist; I’m always here for making stories gay! Definitely pick this one up if you like P&P! original review: this was good!! just, it was an EXACT retelling (plot-wise), so that got kinda boring eventually

  28. 4 out of 5

    Smut Report

    Review also available at The Smut Report. Heat Factor: Secondary characters have sex off stage Character Chemistry: Meh Plot: Pride and Prejudice, but lesbian Overall: There are some definite high points, but the Elisa / Darcy relationship leaves something to be desired. It’s a challenge evaluating Pride and Prejudice retellings on their own merits. I’m constantly comparing the retelling to the original. But I decided that I should lean into this dynamic - because most readers probably are as well. Books are neither created nor consumed in a vacuum. Let’s start wlesbian:Meh:stageCharacterReport.Heat Review also available at The Smut Report. Heat Factor: Secondary characters have sex off stage Character Chemistry: Meh Plot: Pride and Prejudice, but lesbian Overall: There are some definite high points, but the Elisa / Darcy relationship leaves something to be desired. It’s a challenge evaluating Pride and Prejudice retellings on their own merits. I’m constantly comparing the retelling to the original. But I decided that I should lean into this dynamic - because most readers probably are as well. Books are neither created nor consumed in a vacuum. Let’s start with Elisa Benitez, who is kind of a judgmental bitch, if we’re being honest. She comes across as uptight when she’s pulling her younger sisters out of trouble (or away from the fun). And she does not pull any punches when she rejects her would-be suitors. This may sound like a criticism, but it absolutely works. The whole point of Lizzie Bennet is that she judges quickly, and once you lose her good opinion, she doesn’t change her mind (until Pemberly, obviously). It’s nice to have a heroine who is prickly, and Mesler-Evans leans into this aspect of Elisa’s personality. Mesler-Evans is also generous with the characters who are usually dismissed as silly and inconsequential, while staying true to their essential traits. Here we have Lucia Benitez: “What kind of cute are we talking here?...Like, ‘reads to homeless orphans on the weekends’ cute or ‘has probably stabbed a guy and we love him for it’ cute?...I call it the Benitez Sliding Scale of Cuteness. Patent pending. Cam helped me perfect it. It’s all totes scientific.” Yup. Here we have Colin Burger: “It’s actually a family affair. The bride, the lovely Miss Hannah Rollins - or, as I suppose I should now be calling her, the lovely Mrs. Hannah Cooper - is actually my second cousin. I was unsure if I should take the time out of my busy schedule to pay my respects to a distant relative who I’ve only met once or twice, but my mother convinced me that it would be a good opportunity to relax and get to know my extended family a bit better. And she was right - well, she usually is. I’m really enjoying it.” If that’s not Mr. Collins, I will eat my shoes. And finally, the pièce de résistance, Alejandra Benitez, Elisa’s mother: “This is the twenty-first century, Elisa. Women can trap men if they want to. It’s feminism.” NAILED IT! However, unlike in the original, Lucia, Colin and Alejandra are all given growth opportunities as well as quiet moments where the readers gain insight into their characters. Lucia might be boy-crazy and a little thoughtless, but she genuinely cares about her family, and is hurt by her father’s neglect. Colin doesn’t pick up on Elisa’s many many hints that she is absolutely not interested in him, but when she ultimately rejects him, he takes her criticisms to heart and actively works to be less annoying. And Alejandra might stalk people on social media and finagle awkward invitations so that her daughters can hang out with nice boys, but she also works long hours to support her girls, and clearly wants them to have a level of economic stability that she has been unable to provide. All of which is to say: it was a nice change of pace to see these characters fleshed out a bit. This is especially true of Lucia and Alejandra. Because these women are more than just silly, the reader can also see why Elisa cares about them, and is offended when Darcy insults them - not just because they’re family, but because she genuinely sees the good in them. The Benitez sisters actually care about each other; even if they annoy each other, they are a loving family. Unfortunately, this retelling is not all sunshine and roses. In fact, I would argue that the weakest points of the book are the things that were directly lifted from the original. In terms of plot, having the sisters as young teenagers (ranging from 14 to 21ish) does mean that the Wickham character is significantly threatening, but it also means that there are some things that don’t make logical sense. Example: Julieta shows up at a restaurant that’s mostly a club with all her underage sisters - and the hostess gives her shit about not having a reservation. But does not card any of them. It’s Saturday night! They are at least going to get their hands stamped - that is, if the 14 year old can get in at all. Some things that Mesler-Evans took from the original don’t really work in a contemporary setting. For example, the extended stay at Netherfield is just nonsense in a contemporary retelling. You do not just stay with people for an extended period if you’re “too sick to go home.” Girl, if you are vomiting for a MONTH, you need to be in the hospital hooked up to an IV, because you are severely dehydrated. To give another example, the emphasis on being with a girl from your own social standing felt pushed in rather than authentic. Yes, the Benitez family is struggling with money, but do people really freak out about “social standing” in this day and age? (Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s how the average Midwestern magnate would put it.) Darcy suffers the most from the moments that are “true” to the original. A few times, she gives speeches with key words that are lifted verbatim. (“Most ardently” is the prime example here.) Therefore, Darcy comes off as stilted. There is some hand-waving about Darcy being awkward, but it is not well-integrated. Darcy as a whole is underdeveloped, and the central love story really suffers. End result: I cared more about Colin and Charlene than I did about Elisa and Darcy. I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255. Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Smith

    Let’s get one thing clear: this is not only an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. This is also an adaptation of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries that is pretending to just be an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I know this because there are several points in the book in which the author pulls quotes, sometimes directly (sometimes changing a few words around) from the series. There are also intonations (shown by italics) that are the same as the actors’ and positioning Let’s get one thing clear: this is not only an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. This is also an adaptation of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries that is pretending to just be an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I know this because there are several points in the book in which the author pulls quotes, sometimes directly (sometimes changing a few words around) from the series. There are also intonations (shown by italics) that are the same as the actors’ and positioning of characters (small actions, body language, etc) that are very clearly tugged out of the videos. If you were to search Jane Austen’s novel for those things, you would not find them. But, genuinely, some of these lines sound like the equivalent of a high school student going through their friends’ paper and changing a few words to make sure the teacher wouldn’t catch them for plagiarizing. Then, when the teacher calls them out, they’re inevitably like “I mean, we both read the same book!” I work in the legal department of a company that frequently deals with intellectual property, so at first, I told myself that I was sensitive to it because of my job. After the “first proposal” came around, I became even more aware until I could no longer disabuse myself of the notion that there were way too many similarities to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Even though Pride & Prejudice is in the public domain, all NEW work crafted utilizing the story is the intellectual property of the creators. Something doesn’t automatically go into the public domain because it is an adaptation. For example, the dialogue from Clueless isn't a free-for-all because it's based on Jane Austen's Emma. Clueless remains under copyright. To that point, this is a pretty flagrant violation of someone else's intellectual property. I ended up making side-by-side-by-side comparisons of Austen’s text, transcripts from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and Most Ardently, the way I sometimes do at work. Personally, I found the accumulation of all similarities to be far more than de minimis, so certainly not coincidental or fair use. There were scenes, conversations, lines, etc, that were pulled from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and were nowhere to be seen in P&P (and I'm not just speaking about "modernizing" the language). If I were the author, the editor, or the publisher, I would be genuinely embarrassed. I was so excited for this book. I preordered it. I told my friends about it. I started reading it the day it came out. And of course, there’s wonderful things about it, and it does genuinely do a great job with representation. The writing is about standard to what I was expecting. I probably would have been willing to forgive the poor pacing—certainly wouldn’t have been able to forgive the casual mentions of physical parental abuse (Colin) and the ill-researched portrayal of grooming (Lucia). But as the book tore on and I saw more direct pulls from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I became far less forgiving. I am unable to recommend this story to anyone and hope that someday soon there will be another queer Pride & Prejudice that I can actually enjoy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I thought this was one of the cutest young adult romances that I have ever read. It's slow burn, hate-to-love romance is just so cute. Watching the characters learn and grow as both individual people and together is a really wonderful thing. I gave this book four out five stars and would recommend it to all my romance lovers out there. The writing in this book was honestly not the best. It didn't detract from the enjoyabilty of the story, but if you are a fan of great, swoonworthy writing t I thought this was one of the cutest young adult romances that I have ever read. It's slow burn, hate-to-love romance is just so cute. Watching the characters learn and grow as both individual people and together is a really wonderful thing. I gave this book four out five stars and would recommend it to all my romance lovers out there. The writing in this book was honestly not the best. It didn't detract from the enjoyabilty of the story, but if you are a fan of great, swoonworthy writing then this isn't it. I think that the author shows great potential as a romance writer, because, in all fairness, this was a debut. That being said, for a young adult romance, the book, as a whole, is totally awesome. The pace in the book is done really well. There isn't a lot of fluffing, when nothing of any importance is happening the story, the plot skillfully skips ahead. The story progress in a timely manner and, while it covers almost an entire year, doesn't feel like it takes place over a great deal of time. It has the enjoyabilty of a shorter romance while also taking the time to make it believable and not at all insta-lovey. The plot of the book was also great. Everything is relevant to one plot line or another and all the plot lines come together in the end, even if you don't think the author could possible connect it all. I liked that about this book, that everything had a purpose. The characters in this book were very lovable, even if they were annoying at times. Elisa was a very believable character. She worked hard for what she wanted, she made mistakes, she tried to fix her mistakes and didn't always succeed. Darcy was not as well written as Elisa, but the story was not told from her perspective. Darcy also didn't speak like a teenager, until suddenly she did. I thought that that was a writing mistake, not a character mistake, though. Part of what made this story so enjoyable was the fact that the author included quite a bit of representation. Elisa is bisexual and latina, Darcy is a lesbian and biracial, one of Elisa's sister's is transgender, and Elisa's parents are divorced. All of this made the story more realistic and therefore more enjoyable. I also really enjoyed the conversations about family and marriage, and how divorced parents can still work together in raising their children. The other side to the representation is that it does go into a few difficult topics. One of them is child abuse. The topic is handled delicately and is very mild, but if you are at all bothered by any of the above trigger warnings, please be careful when reading. While this does make the story more realistic, it is also a bit dark for a young adult romance and I was happy that the author handled it so well. This book, while it does handle difficult topics, is overall a fairly easy to read book. It sucks you in to the story and doesn't let go. The characters are absolutley the best thing about this book and I hope that if you choose to read it, you will fall in love, most ardently.

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