I can't help it. I know I shouldn't, because SHE IS SUCH AN ASS.
But I love her BECAUSE she's such an ass.
So, when I found out about The Bad Miss Bennet, a novel STARRING Lydia, obviously I HAD TO READ IT.
It's set three years after Pride and Prejudice, and a few months after Lydia's husband, George Wickham, died at at battle of Quartre Bras. Not due to any dashing act of heroism—that would have been totally out of character—but because he got thrown and then trampled by his own horse. Which seemed fitting*.
So, now Lydia is stuck living with boring Lizzie and pompous Mr. Darcy and, worst of all, the insufferable Miss Georgiana. After three years of relative freedom—Wickham wasn't a particularly good husband, but he wasn't particularly concerned with his wife's habit of flouting social conventions, either—staid life as an impoverished relation at Pemberley chafes.
Also, mourning is a HUGE DRAG. Black is just NOT. HER. COLOR.
So, the moment that opportunity strikes, Lydia heads out on her own, determined to live life on her own terms.
Sadly, The Bad Miss Bennet did not live up to my expectations. It was extremely scattered, in that it didn't seem to know if it wanted to be a sex romp or a mystery or a romance: it had elements of all three, but never settled on one long enough to dig in, so the plotting wasn't particularly strong. The story would meander in one direction for a while, and then it felt like the author just... got bored, switched gears, and meandered in another direction for a while, and then got bored again. And the end of the story felt the same way, just: BORED NOW, THE END.
Which, to be (possibly excessively) blunt, was pretty much my attitude by the time I hit the halfway mark.
So, the plotting didn't do anything for me. But what about the voice, right? I mean, if ANY of the non-Lizzie Bennet sisters ought to have a strong (if asinine) voice, it's Lydia. Not so here. She's got a few super lines, but overall, it certainly wasn't strong enough to carry the entire book.
Characterization? There's no growth whatsoever, and while that made sense in the context of the original text—everything got fixed for Lydia in Pride and Prejudice, so while she had the opportunity to learn lessons, she was never forced to—I found it hard to believe that she wouldn't have matured at all during her three years of marriage, and especially hard to believe that she wouldn't mature at all over the course of her independent adventures. Basically, she started the story as a caricature, and she ended the story as a caricature, and while that can make for a hugely entertaining secondary character, it doesn't work so well in a heroine.
TL; DR: Overall, totally forgettable. Lydia deserves better.
*That said, I did love that Lost in Austen made him out to be a nice guy.
Book source: ILLed through my library.