Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Author interview with Kelly Miller / Book review 'The Darcy Secret'


This month's book review and author interview is with award-winning author Kelly Miller. She’s written seven books to date, her first in 2019, and she’s indie / hybrid published. So, let’s meet Kelly:

‘I am a native Californian and Anglophile and made my first visit to England in 2019. When I’m not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, I can be found playing the piano, singing, or walking my dogs. I reside in Silicon Valley with my husband and our pets.’

And here’s a tweetable for you (tweet here):

‘”Ms. Miller is quite skilled at recreating this Regency-era world under different scenarios”


I asked for more information about her books:

‘I write Austenesque Regency romances. One of them, “Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley,” is a paranormal romance. A couple of them, “Accusing Mr. Darcy,” and “The Darcy Secret,” are blends of mystery and romance.’

I was privileged to read The Darcy Secret and my review’s below (spoiler, it’s fab!), but is it part of a series?

‘All of my books are standalone. It’s my latest release and an Amazon #1 Best Seller.’ Wow! That’s impressive! She continues, ‘“The Darcy Secret” is a romantic and suspenseful variation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.”’

What inspired her to write this book?

‘Since childhood, I have been a fan of mystery and suspense, so I wove these elements into the plot of this Regency romance.’

But how does she reimagine such a well-known story?

‘My stories start with an idea. For "Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley," I thought about writing an old-fashioned fantasy in which Darcy and Elizabeth as a married couple deal with an angel of death. I loved the classic movie, "Death Takes a Holiday," and used the title, along with plot points from that story and from a few other classic movies like "The Bishop's Wife" and "Heaven Can Wait."’

I can see that most of her books are inspired by Pride and Prejudice (great choice!) so when did she first read it and was it an instant favourite?

‘It is rather embarrassing, but I did not read "Pride and Prejudice" until just before I started writing, around 2017 or so. And until I read it, I did not understand all the fuss over Jane Austen. However, I did see the 1995 miniseries of "Pride and Prejudice," and it, or more precisely, Colin Firth, made a big impression upon me!’  

Oh yes, he made an impression on me too! Talking of which, does she enjoy Austen’s work being dramatised?

‘I liked the 2006 film of "Pride and Prejudice" but did not love it. It has silly things in it, like Darcy entering Elizabeth's bedroom to give her a letter or Elizabeth choosing to walk alone from Pemberley to Lambton when she did not know the area. I thought Greer Garson in the 1940 version was too old for the part of Elizabeth. The 1995 "Persuasion" is very well done as is the aforementioned 1995 miniseries of "Pride & Prejudice."’

And as a native Californian, how has she managed to make the language sound so authentic – both in its British feel, as well as the historical accuracy?

‘In my books, I have attempted to restrict myself to words/terms that would have been used in Regency England, and I have benefitted from experienced and knowledgeable editors. But in "The Darcy Secret," I worked for the first time with editor Jo Abbott, who has the advantage of being a UK native.’

It certainly shows, I wouldn’t know where to begin (and I’m English!). I suspect a lot of research goes into her work, so how does she go about finding period information and how important is it to be historically accurate?

‘The Internet is my first resource, and I have found books and other resources online. For instance, all of Jane Austen's books are available to read for free. I have a few other books at home on Regency era topics like clothing and lifestyle. I want to be as historically accurate as possible.’

That’s admirable! I can’t help but wonder how she manages all the information she’s collected though. Is she the Queen of spread sheets, or owns copious paper files, or something else?

‘One of my editors had started a file of common words not used in Regency, and even gave me a copy. But I have found that it is just as easy to check Etymology Online Dictionary or do a quick search for other subjects as I write/edit. I remember many of the words I cannot use (like mesmerize or hello) so I do not need to look them up.’

There’s a great tip for any historical writer! What does Kelly most enjoy about writing?

‘I enjoy the challenge of putting a complete story arc together; it is a bit like completing a puzzle. Restricting myself to Regency era words, phrases, and customs adds to the difficulty in editing my manuscripts, but I think it is worth the effort.’

And what does she find the hardest part?

‘It can be difficult for me to stop editing a manuscript and resist the urge to keep looking for ways to improve it.’

Oh, that internal critique can be a taskmaster! Does she read reviews of her books and how does she deal with them?

‘Yes, I read my reviews. It is gratifying to read the positive ones, and I try not to allow the negatives ones to bother me; after all, no author can please everyone.’

Very true! So, I can guess the answer to this one, but what is her favourite novel?

‘Since most of my books are based upon “Pride and Prejudice,” I must choose it. Ms. Austen filled this masterpiece with delightful prose and created unforgettable characters. The novel’s popularity has persisted for two centuries and seems to get stronger as time goes by.’

As she mentioned visiting England, I wondered if Austen settings were high on the list of places to see and where she managed to visit?

‘We began in Bath and walked all over that delightful city. We visited Jane Austen Centre, the Roman Baths, and several museums. We had a lovely day in Derbyshire where a guide took us to locations I used in my romance/mystery, "Accusing Mr. Darcy," including Chatsworth House, Pool's Cavern, Bakewell, and Tideswell. Then we spent five days in London. Among other places, we went to The Tower of London, the British Museum, and saw a performance of "Austentatious" in Covent Garden. I absolutely loved every part of the trip.’

That sounds a very busy holiday! Before moving onto my book review, I asked Kelly for a tweetable synopsis (tweet here):

‘“Unique and captivating”

"The Darcy Secret," a #Suspenseful #PrideandPrejudice #Regency #Romance! On #KindleUnlimited!


And a tweetable extract too (tweet here):

‘A glimmer of hope bloomed within me, but my doubts persevered. “You must feel differently towards me now. My family, my name, my blood—it is all…tainted.”

“The Darcy Secret”’

I ended our interview asking if there’s anything she’d like to say to you, her readers?

‘Thank you so much for reading my work!’

How lovely – such a special and talented lady – and now to her book.


This is the first of Kelly’s work I’ve read and it makes me realise how much fun can be had by taking a beloved classic like Pride and Prejudice and giving it a new twist – I wish I’d thought of it!

We begin with some backstory about the dreaded ‘Darcy Secret’. George Darcy (Fitzwilliam’s father) is dying and decides not to tell his son and daughter (Georgiana) about the family secret, instead entrusting it to a confidante and asking it be disclosed at the right time.

Fast forward six years and Fitzwilliam pops the question (yes, we see it!) and Elizabeth says yes (or, more exactingly, ‘I thank you for your offer, and I am happy to accept it.’ – lovely!).  Darcy heads to London to tell his family the news and although it’s well-received, he’s finally told the disturbing family secret and it knocks him sideways. It poses so many worrying questions - will the secret medical condition be hereditary? How will this impact Elizabeth? Will she call-off the engagement? And what about children…?

It’s not a surprise that he doesn’t handle the news well but (SPOILER ALERT) Elizabeth is strong and the marriage goes ahead, but this isn’t where our tale ends. Kelly has more interesting storylines up her sleeve, but I’m not going to spoil it by revealing any more, even though I want to!

It’s faster-paced than I was expecting and told through several first-person viewpoints. The use of language, particularly dialogue, sounded very authentic to me - not that I was around then you understand, but I am English and can’t begin to imagine how anyone, let alone a non-UK native, can achieve such a feat!

It’s a suspenseful romantic novel, with a mystery to be solved and problems to be overcome, all wrapped up in a period drama that seems very well researched. It’s a great concept, well delivered, and it took me to places I wasn’t expecting which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you like Jane Austen or similar authors, then pick up a copy of ‘The Darcy Secret’. It’s one I’ll certainly remember.

To find out more about the author, please follow her links below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kellyrei007

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Kelly.Miller

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelly.miller.author/

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