cover image Pride and Protest

Pride and Protest

Nikki Payne. Berkley, $17 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-44094-0

Payne debuts with an entertaining and politically charged retelling of Pride and Prejudice that tackles gentrification, prejudice, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Rigid Filipino CEO Dorsey Fitzgerald and passionate Black DJ and activist Liza Bennet are at odds over Dorsey’s efforts to gentrify Merrytown, Liza’s DC neighborhood, before they even meet. Dorsey is struggling to prove himself as the heir to Pemberley Development following his adoptive parents’ death and Liza’s efforts to rally the community to halt the company’s plans using her radio show and popular social media accounts aren’t making his job any easier. In a twist on Austen’s classic meet-ugly, Liza arrives at a Pemberley gala to stage a flash protest, mistakes Dorsey for one of the waitstaff, and attempts to entice him to join her cause. When a snowstorm later strands them together in the Pemberley offices, their mutual misconceptions start to melt away as their attraction heats up. As their connection grows, they work hard to see eye to eye, even while keeping up appearances by performing their parts on opposite sides of the fight for Merrytown. While it doesn’t stand out among a crowded field of Austen retellings, the redevelopment plot puts a fresh twist on familiar beats and the enemies-to-lovers romance sizzles. This is good fun. Agent: Kim Lionetti, BookEnds Literary. (Nov.)