Most Ardently: A Pride & Prejudice Remix / Gabe Cole Novoa / Book Review


Oliver Bennet isn't who everyone thinks he is. He's a man, for one.

The world knows of the five beautiful and witty Bennet daughters, charming and of good breeding (even if they are a little light on funds). But Oliver isn't resigned to a fate of petticoats, ballrooms, and endless suitors until his ultimate (unfortunate) wedding. He has bigger plans, if only he can figure out a way to realize them.

But living as the man he knows he is turns out to be rather difficult in 1812. Even with suitable clothes, Oliver has to be careful not to get caught. But when Oliver runs into some acquaintances while dressed as his true self, they don't recognize him... and it gives him ideas. It gives him hope that the world might let him exist as he pleases. On the other hand, his family...



Honestly, this book is such an incredible disappointment. I wanted to like it. I wanted to love it, even, and I've enjoyed the Remixed Classics series in the past. But this book just isn't it. It doesn't deliver Pride & Prejudice very well, and it doesn't give a great insight into queer life in 1812. And with neither of those fronts being incredibly successful, this book is just a letdown.


Solidarity One of the bright spots of this book, for me, was Oliver's friend Charlotte and her lady lover Lu. I kind of thought, heading into this book, that Oliver would be all on his own with his struggles, but that isn't the case. He's got a queer (if necessarily clandestine) community around him, and I love that. He doesn't need to go it alone.

Queer Life I wanted way, way more of this, it's true, but I do think we get a taste here of what queer life could have been like in 1812. And I can appreciate that taste, even if it didn't fully satisfy. I especially liked the consideration of Oliver's birth certificate we get at the end... that is, the fact that birth certificates weren't quite a thing. That definitely would change some aspects of trans life, even if many other constraints would make such a life in 1812 very, very difficult.

Acceptance Sometimes it's just nice to read a book where a character can simply be loved and supported. While that's not entirely the case here--there does, after all, need to be some conflict--there is a lot of acceptance in this book. Oliver is really struggling internally and socially with his identity, and so the fact that he gets a lot of support as he works it out is nice.


I didn't like Oliver. I get that he's struggling. I get that it's a hard time to be trans. It's still a hard time to be trans. But Oliver is so incredibly selfish. He thinks only of himself. Queer people in 1812 necessarily have to make compromises (you know, for the sake of survival), but Oliver doesn't want that for himself--which is fair enough. But it was so, so hard for me to read his utterly selfish judgement of Charlotte for the choices she makes to protect and preserve herself. Where's the solidarity that she shows him? He certainly doesn't return it. I couldn't root for Oliver at all, which is so unfortunate, since Jane Austen's character (though equally independent and forward-thinking in her mindset) is such a great protagonist where Oliver just isn't. Selfish Oliver

An adaptation is, by necessity, an adaptation. I get that. Changes can and will be made, especially when you're using a familiar story to examine something rather unfamiliar (such as queerness in 1812). But some of the choices here... just didn't make sense. These changes just pointed to a general misunderstanding of the period the book is set in, the social conventions, the original text, et cetera. The Bennet family lives in the countryside. They don't live a fashionable London life, and so the fact that Novoa places them within walking distance of London (which in itself feels odd) just doesn't make sense since nothing else about their social calendar (or spending) seems to change. You can't just change settings like this. Country life and London life are very different, today and certainly in 1812. And I know these characters have been aged down (though I don't know that they had to be, honestly, but I guess publisher age marketing categories must be appeased). But at 17+ years old, it feels very odd for Oliver to call himself and his acquaintances "boys." Even modern teens of that age probably would be looking to age themselves up from "boy." And the fact that Mrs. Bennet similarly calls Mr. Wickham a boy, even though he is established to be several years older than Oliver... It just isn't period-appropriate. Add to that Oliver's complete unwillingness to consider the risks and limitations of queerness in his time, and I had a really hard time with this book. I get that Oliver wants more, but it just doesn't feel realistic that a trans man in 1812 wouldn't be considering, you know, the very real social constraints upon him. He might want things to be different but needs to make compromises... or be willing to face the consequences of not compromising. And that's not a discussion that we get here, much to the detriment of the story. Weird Changes

This poor man gets butchered. He's not meant to be a likeable character in Pride & Prejudice. You're not supposed to want him to marry Lizzie, for obvious reasons. They are, objectively, a bad match. But he's a silly and ridiculous man, not a horrible one. This book makes him out to be so uncompromisingly horrible that it wasn't fun to read. In what Regency situation would it be appropriate for a man to greet a woman by telling her she has great "childbearing hips"? I know this is thrown in to really drive Oliver's dysphoria home, but really? That's just a disgusting comment, no matter what. One of the things that makes Austen's classic a classic is the timelessness of the characters, and I think pretty much any adaptation will fall short. But this one just butchers the characters--or doesn't quite seem to understand what made them memorable in the first place. The flavor of Austen's work is here, but alas, none of the substance. Mr. Collins



Fans of Sophie Jordan's Sixteen Scandals might like this unconventional Regency romance. Those who enjoyed Rosalyn Eves's An Improbable Season may enjoy the unlikely pairing that arises in this Regency tale.


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date: January 16, 2024
Series: Remixed Classics
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. I enjoyed reading your honest review. I can see why this book wasn't it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Sorry to hear this one wasn't better for you.

  3. This book certainly sounds like it was a disappointment for you. Hopefull your next read will be better ER.

  4. That's a shame about Oliver re: Charlott. Nice though that it tries to show a taste of what queer life could have been like then, even if it could have gone further. Excellent review as always!

  5. Oh no.. sorry to hear you didn't like it.

  6. Collins is an ass, but he is also a vicar so yeah...Also how does this work out in the end? I mean people went to jail if found out

    1. I'm all for happily-ever-after if 1) the author researched well and came up with something inspired by real queer history or 2) the book itself is just an escapist fantasy of history (light, fluffy, and not necessarily "real"). But this book wasn't escapist enough for the not-well-researched HEA that it does have, so... Disappointing.

  7. Love the cover! Too bad that it was a disappointment. Hope you love your next read!

  8. If I don't like a character I can never love the book either!

  9. The premise did sound interesting with Oliver being trans in 1812, but it's disappinting the book was a letdown. Books are ruined for me when the main character is unlikeable, and it's a shame that there were so many changes made.


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