ARC Review – Most Ardently by Susan Mesler-Evans

YOU GUYS. I got this AMAZING retelling from Entangled Publishing, and I didn’t even think I would like it but OH MY GOODNESS. So, hi, I should probably speak using words in sentences that make sense? Backstory – I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice! It was never assigned when I was in school and I just… haven’t gotten around to reading it. But one of the reviews I read about Most Ardently, this particular retelling, stating that you didn’t need to know the source material to appreciate it. So I decided to check it out. Also… MEXICAN AMERICAN BISEXUAL PROTAGONIST. It’s… it’s me. I couldn’t turn that down, I mean, come on!

So anyway, you probably know this story already, but here’s the synopsis anyway!

In Most Ardently, Elisa Benitez is taking college courses her senior year of high school and meets the most annoying, pretentious girl ever in her first college class – the very rich and very into herself Darcy Fitzgerald. Elisa is determined that her first impression of Darcy is correct and goes on hating her with everything she has. Even after Elisa’s sister Julieta starts dating Darcy’s best friend Bobby. Even after Darcy starts being nice to her, actually trying to make conversation, even though she’s not a lover of social situations. Even after several people realize that Darcy has a crush on Elisa and sort of try to tell Elisa that she may have it all wrong. Nope – Elisa HATES Darcy. And that’s that.

Or… is it?

most ardently


3 Things I Loved

  1. Elisa. Elisa is a stubborn ass sometimes, but she was so real and so R E L A T A B L E that I couldn’t NOT like her. Plus, as I mentioned earlier… MEXICAN AMERICAN BISEXUAL PROTAGONIST. Hiiiiiiiii I loved her.
  2. Darcy. Okay, so Darcy was adorable from the very beginning. Yes, socially awkward, which was also super relatable, and yes, she could be a bit pretentious at times, but she was often trying to compliment Elisa when she was doing it, which was so dang cute! And in the end, it was easy to see how good of a person Darcy really was, and I just loved her.
  3. The side characters. I’m not sure if the original Pride and Prejudice was this flushed out, but the side characters in Most Ardently were AMAZING. They were well-rounded and fun and realistic and there were a whole lot of them. But I never felt like I didn’t know who was who and I never was confused and I felt like each one was a unique character. It was very well done.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

Okay, so like I said, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, so I don’t know if this side plot exists in the original – maybe let me know if it does? I’ll get around to reading it eventually, I swear. But in this version, there is the side plot of a literal pedophile and I HATED IT. So this is a combination of a dislike and a trigger warning. THERE IS ON-THE-PAGE SEXUAL PREDATION ON MINORS IN THIS BOOK. And while it was handled fairly tactfully – it was awful and the characters reacted as such – it didn’t feel completely necessary. Which is why I’m wondering if that was part of the source material? Is that why it was in the book? Because she was sticking to the original story? Because otherwise, idk man, I didn’t need ELISA’S 14-YEAR-OLD SISTER TO GET BASICALLY KIDNAPPED AND HELD BY A GROWN-ASS ADULT MAN in order to understand the Elisa and Darcy plotline.

Somebody please tell me if that was a thing in the original and I’ll write an update to this review. Also, sorry not sorry for the spoiler, because I wish I had been warned, honestly.


Rating

A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

This is a really hard one for me to rate, because there was so much that I liked! And also one, giant, pedophile-shaped plot point that I hated a lot. Plus, a F/F Pride and Prejudice retelling! It was so great! But anyway, I’m going to have to split the difference here. I’m giving Most Ardently a GREEN rating. But PLEASE heed the warning about the child predator character because that’s a trigger that a lot of the population probably has, truly.


Thank you to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! More books with rep like this that is pulled off so completely effortlessly, please! #GoodRepresentationMatters

Happy reading!

3 Comments

  1. OMG I thought this already came out!! I’ve been wanting to read this one, and I’m so glad that you liked it enough to give it a green rating ❤ So on your note about the pedophile thing, that kind of is in the original. It's a pretty big deal in the original too, and I'm pretty sure they include it in all of the retellings because that's when Elizabeth realizes that Mr. Darcy is actually the "good guy". But thank you for including that trigger warning. Some people who haven't read the original or have watched/read any other retellings may not realize that would be part of the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg, it IS in the original! That’s so good to know! Thank you for filling me in. I was *hoping* it was, because otherwise it felt so unnecessary to the plot! This was super good – I loved the writing and the characters! So it’s super good to know that nastiness has always been a plot point, I guess. 🙃

      Like

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