I completely missed this – “The Powerful and the Pure” is a Mills & Boon’s (or Harlequin’s, depending on which side of the pond you sit) miniseries inspired by classic literary romances, including EMMA, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, JANE EYRE, and WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
I love the concept and EMMA is probably my favourite Austen, so I obviously had to read Kate Hewitt‘s take on it. After a couple of false starts (tip – it’s THE MATCHMAKER BRIDE in the States, but MR AND MISCHIEF in the UK), I downloaded it onto my Kindle* and ahhh, fun read.
I did wonder how this would read to someone not familiar with EMMA because really, I had the original novel and its characters and plot at the back of my mind more often than not, comparing and contrasting the two.
Did this detract from my reading experience? I think not. There were just enough allusions to the original novel to delight me, while Emily and Jason were more than enough to hold my attention in their own right – I certainly didn’t view them as mere fascimiles of Emma and Mr Knightley. In a way, having read EMMA may even have added to my enjoyment of MR AND MISCHIEF – being familiar with the eventual relationship between Emma and Mr Knightley made me love Emily and Jason’s interactions even more, right from the start. I did think Emily came across as more sympathetic than Emma (while still retaining that I-know-best personality), which is probably a good thing in a book constrained by category romance word count limits.
Friends-to-lovers is one of my favourite tropes, and having that bit of history between Emily and Jason made the chemistry and romance even more satisfying, while the London background was a lovely way of bringing EMMA into the present-day. Emily’s insta-friendship with the receptionist struck me as slightly off (Emily being the head of HR), but then again, Emma’s friendship with Harriet in Austen’s novel was probably just as unlikely, and the office setting – unlikely friendships aside – hit the right note (one of my pet peeves is anachronisms in office settings, which used to be prevalent in M&Bs**).
I thought Ms Hewitt’s MR AND MISCHIEF did an excellent job of capturing the key themes and the spirit of the original novel, while translating EMMA into a category romance. I really enjoyed this book and am planning on reading the rest of the “inspired by” books, especially if they’re all just as good. And I hope there will be more than four in this series.
*I also love the fact that you now no longer have to buy category romances within the first few months before they disappear forever – yay for ebooks!
**I’ve not been reading many M&Bs recently, so have no idea whether this is still the case or not – I think this tends to be author-specific actually.