A light and unique Austen retelling... Pride and Preston Lee (Review) #newbooks #booktwitter #romancebooks #austenesque #retelling

Pride and Preston Lin
By Christina Hwang Dudley
Contemporary Romance, Retelling
Paperback & eBook, 288 Pages
March 19, 2024 by Third State Books


In this modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, the quick-witted and contrarian Lissie Cheng must navigate societal pressures and her growing attraction to the rich and enigmatic Preston Lin.

Lissie is the middle of three sisters, orphaned and taken in by their aunt and uncle. Both she and her older sister, Jenny, work in the family restaurant while pursuing their education and career dreams. When Lissie accidentally serves a dish containing shellfish paste to an allergic customer, she runs afoul of the wealthy Lin family. Their golden boy, Preston, star swimmer and Stanford Ph.D. student, is as handsome as he is self-righteous. Lissie hates him and everything he stands for, but circumstances keep bringing them together. Can she overcome her pride and her initial misgivings about Preston Lin and his condescending mother? Will love prevail, and will these enemies turn into lovers?

Pride and Preston Lin by popular Regency romance writer Christina Hwang Dudley is a hilarious and earnest contemporary riff on Jane Austen’s classic work. And readers will undoubtedly root for Lissie Cheng, a sassy new Elizabeth Bennet for our times, to find lasting love and happiness.

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My Review

PRIDE AND PRESTON LEE is a contemporary Asian American retelling of Austen's Pride and Prejudice set in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's cute with likable characters and an interesting plot. Fans of sweet romance and Austen should enjoy this contemporary spin.

I liked the humor and comradery between these characters. Lissie and her family and roommates are all likable and there was an inherent feel of closeness from years of knowing each other. Similarly Preston has some of that with his family and friends although not as much since his group is small. Both fit into these characters playing modern Elizabeth and Darcy rolls. Lissie's older sister and Preston's closest friend also easily fall into replicating Jane and Bingley. I liked that the author made an aunt and uncle the main parental group with a few other changes that made this story her own. I also thought it was interesting to set these characters as college students, which gave this story its own unique twist.

The plot meanders along, which is also a bit like P&P. There are places where Lissie and Preston don't interact for a time and other things are happening in Lissie's life. I appreciated that there wasn't a lot of drama per se since that's something that tends to not work for me. I was engaged enough to want to know what would happen and how the author would retell this classic. There were also a few places that were climatic and a few happenstance meetings that kept the story moving.

I also had some issues with the story. For one, a server who delivers food knowing that one of the clients is allergic would be fired on the spot no matter if it was a mistake or not. Having a son who has an allergy and having the experience of asking about dishes so that we know if he can eat them is an often occurrence for us. If staff don't know, we ask them to find out or we order something else. If something like this does happen, there is a process that is followed between the restaurant and those injured or they would go to mediation. If the injured party decided to let it go then they probably wouldn't go publish an article naming the restaurant as that could be seen as breaking their agreement. As this is the entire set up of the story, I found the whole situation not realistic. Then there were also issues with a swim coach, which I won't go into too much detail to remain spoiler free. That whole situation also didn't work for me, especially as at one point a mom could have been charged with kidnapping and no complaint was even filed, the swim organization wasn't informed, and cops were never called even when no one could be reached and were missing for hours. Again, not really plausible. Lissie is also studying P&P for her master's but doesn't see how her life has become very similar. It would have been a great opportunity to add some humor. I also felt like there was a lack of chemistry. There is banter and some witty remarks, but I felt like what makes this trope and P&P so good is the romantic tension and that was mostly missing here. I also felt like some plot points were forced to fit more in line with Austen's plot regardless if those things fit this story and without Austen's underlying satire of culture, classes, and gender.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I wanted more depth and development from this story, but if you're looking for a light read, with likable characters, some humor, and sweet romance then this will meet those expectations. It's an enjoyable story overall and there definitely need to be more stories like this published.

Content: Some suggestive content, references to affairs, but otherwise clean.
Source: I received a complimentary copy through Austenprose, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Have you read this one? If so, what did you enjoy about the story? If not, is it a book you'd like to read?

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