“It is a truth less frequently acknowledged, that a good mother in possession of a single child, must be in want of sleep.  Whatever the habits or inclinations of such a woman might have been prior to her first entering the maternal state, in very short order her feelings and thoughts are so well fixed on her progeny that at any given hour she is considered, at least in the young minds  of the principals, as the rightful property of some one or other of her offspring.”

This is the fourth in Carrie Bebris’s Mr. and Mrs. Darcy series – a take off of the Austen classic after it ends, with a Nick and Nora flavor to it.  This time, Darcy’s cousin Anne (of Lady Catherine) has shocked and astonished them all by eloping to Gretna Green with a man she has just met, the very night her mother has arranged a very advantageous marriage for her.  Now, Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are pursuing her and her mysterious fiance to Scotland while Elizabeth is stuck with Lady Catherine and her indignation.  When the entire party is reunited, they’re in for a shock.  Not only by who Anne has married but his past.  Struggling through cases of mixed identities, adulterous affairs, duels, and dead men walking, will Anne finally find love?  And will Lady Catherine let her?

I am an avid fan of Austen spin-offs (in case you haven’t perused my book review list) and Carrie Bebris’s works are some of my favorites.  They don’t slip down the tawdry path or modernizing the romantic and physical aspects of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, but instead takes the world of Austen and transforms it into an engaging mystery series.  She manages to build a good enough bridge into the other works of Austen and insert the Darcys and other P&P characters right in.  And on top of this, she writes a durn good mystery.  I’m not a huge mystery buff and I enjoy these not only for the familiar characters but for the mystery.  There’s just the merest hint of the supernatural, and while there are usually enough clues throughout to allow you to figure out the culprit(s) long before the end, you enjoy the literary journey so much that you don’t really mind.

It’s been at least a year or two since I’ve read the last novel in this series, so I’m not super confident in comparing it to the others which precede it.  However, I do know that I enjoyed this book immensely, especially as it utilized one of my favorite roguish characters from the Austenverse – Mr. Crawford.  It also fills in the characters of both Anne and Colonel Fitzwilliam in a highly satisfactory manner and abuses Lady Catherine even more satisfactorily (who doesn’t want Lady Catherine to get her come-uppance?)

“The Matters at Mansfield” was written by Carrie Bebris and published in