Play with Fire

Written by J. Marie Croft⎮ Narrated by Harry Frost

Author: J. Marie Croft
Narrator: Harry Frost
Length: 3 hour 52 minutes
Publisher: Meryton Press
Released: Feb. 2, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction; Romance

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Sophia Rose's Review

4.5 Stars

The discovery of an old trunk of clothes and a pile of plays in the attic on a rainy day has the occupants of Netherfield Park occupied with acting. Somewhere along the way, they begin to wonder if they are really acting when silent skirmishers, Darcy and Elizabeth exchange a scorching kiss and a duel elicits further understanding. The Skirmishes and Scandal series of novellas present new authors and new romantic escapades with each new installment. This airy, amusing piece had the added attraction of an already familiar and welcome narrator so I happily put in my earbuds and relaxed into an entertaining variation on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

For this novella-length Regency romp, taciturn, proud, and a wee bit grumpy Fitzwilliam Darcy offers the sole perspective on those who are staying on the estate and even his own changing opinions about them and about himself. This is a story within a story as the play is acted out. The reader/listener is aware of the uncanny resemblance of actors to their acted roles and also picks up on the true state of affairs before a distracted Darcy works it out.

It was fun to see both stories unfold and the author’s trademark witty wordsmithing gave the story some added sparkle. There is a hint of mystery about the convenient discovery of the play and I had my suspicions as I am pretty sure I was meant to guess so that the reader-listener can share a joke with the author as the players act out their parts to the end when comedy reigns and created some laugh out loud moments.

The variation is not just a change in the original storyline, but some liberty with the characters. I adored this version of Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, Bingley, and lord love a duck, Mrs. Phillips the stunning scene stealer. The main players, Darcy and Elizabeth were excellent, but I found the attention to the secondary characters was what really captivated me most.

Harry Frost caught onto the playful tone and the quips, voiced the characters with sensational individuality, and so it was an unsurprisingly excellent audio production.

Rave review from this listener for cleverly having Jane Austen’s characters playacting and enacting their own romance off scene. What a splendid story that other Austenesque fans and sweet historical romantic comedy lovers should flock to pick up.

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