Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘miss darcy’s companion’

Happy New Year!! I thought I would start off 2017 by celebrating the best of the books I read last year. Rather than do my usual Top 10 list, I thought I’d try something new this year and list my favorites in various categories, with links to (and quotes from) my reviews.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION (WWII)

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

A Moment Forever Cover LARGE EBOOK

A Moment Forever is not a book you merely read; Gardiner ensures you actually live the story — from the overindulgence of Long Island’s Gold Coast to the wartime excitement in the Big Apple, from the airfields and USO dances and the fashions of the ’40s to the solemnity of Paris 50 years after the roundup of its Jewish residents for deportation. There are so many layers to this story, and I never wanted it to end.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION (OTHER ERA)

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James

lost among the living

Simone St. James is a new-to-me writer, and as soon as I finished Lost Among the Living I determined that I must read her previous novels, which all seem to be equally suspenseful. I loved her writing here, particularly the passages that describe the intensity of Jo and Alex’s relationship, which enable readers to feel Jo’s grief and the frustration inherent in not knowing Alex’s fate. I also liked that while there was romance and passion, Lost Among the Living is at its core a ghost story, but it’s so much more than that. St. James shows the impact of the war on the returning soldiers and the women whose men never came home, as well as the blurring of the boundaries between social classes and how greed and selfishness can tear families apart.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (REGENCY)

Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter by Joana Starnes

mdbb-final-6_9_m

Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is a beautifully written novel, with just the right amount of angst to move me to the brink of tears without making me put the book down in despair. Starnes has a knack for putting Elizabeth and Darcy in impossible situations, delving deep into their souls, and keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they wonder how a happily ever after will be achieved. I loved the pacing of the novel, and Starnes does a wonderful job evolving their relationship through many ups and downs as they navigate the challenges posed by their families and themselves.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (MODERN)

Without a Conscience by Cat Gardiner

without-a-conscience

Like Denial of Conscience, Without a Conscience is sexy (definitely for mature audiences only) and exciting from the very first page. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who weaves clever plots and navigates Darcy and Liz through the twists and turns while further evolving their relationship. In the midst of the danger and excitement, Gardiner provides plenty of humor, and the obvious rivalry between Liz and Caroline had me laughing out loud several times. The novel is perfectly paced, and there’s just something about Gardiner’s writing style that has me hanging on every word.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (SECONDARY CHARACTERS)

The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace

the-trouble-to-check-her

The Trouble to Check Her exemplifies why Grace is one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. Her attention to detail in terms of character development and the history of the era is fantastic, and I hope there is another book in the series (mainly because I want to find out what happened to Jane Bingley after her falling out with Elizabeth Darcy).

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (OTHER)

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

TEPcover

I enjoyed reading both Elizabeth’s diary and about the rocky start to Charlie and Evie’s relationship and their determination to find Elizabeth’s papers. I especially loved how James showed that even Austen’s beloved couple likely didn’t have a perfect marriage, and by telling that story from the point of view of Elizabeth, readers are able to see her insecurities and her frustration while having little clue what Darcy is thinking or feeling, which creates just the right amount of tension. I also loved getting a glimpse of the Darcys and their family years into their marriage, so they are no longer bright-eyed newlyweds but older and wiser and settled into their life together. Charlie and Evie’s story was exciting and even had some similarities to Darcy and Elizabeth’s, and Charlie’s client, Cressida Carter, is very Caroline Bingley-esque. The dual narratives were seamlessly connected, and the shifts between the two were timed perfectly to ensure readers can’t put the book down.

MOST UNIQUE AUSTEN VARIATION

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North and Brooke West

fitzwilliamdarcy_frontcoverprint-1

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy is unique and exciting. It made me laugh, and it left me in tears, so much so that my husband kept asking if I was okay and I worried I would short out my Kindle! It’s been a while since I’ve been so emotionally affected by a Pride and Prejudice variation. It’s absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year, possibly one of my all-time favorites, and definitely one I won’t forget!

BEST HOLIDAY NOVEL

Lucky 13  by Cat Gardiner

lucky 13

Oh, how I loved this novel! Gardiner is a master at bringing Jane Austen’s characters into the present day and turning up the heat (and the laughs). From their heated arguments to their heated encounters at the jaw-dropping calendar audition and the chest-oiling photo shoot, I couldn’t get enough of this Lizzy and Darcy. The secondary characters are equally entertaining, from Jane, the supermodel with a secret, to Caroline, the matchmaking poochie mama, and especially Charlotte (aka “Punky) and Darcy’s cousin, Rick (aka “Preppy”), who are the most obnoxious of the numerous matchmakers.

BEST POETRY COLLECTION

The Jane and Bertha in Me by Rita Maria Martinez

BerthainMe

Martinez’s poems are full of vivid imagery (“The Bertha in me sleeps until three in the afternoon and sits on the back porch with a cup of Earl Grey that quells the desire to chop up her crotchety landlord,” from “The Jane and Bertha in Me”), sensual (“Charlotte’s manuscript sepulchered like an incorruptible saint, splayed on its back like a woman whose architecture I want to touch,” from “At the British Library”), insightful (“Pain caused by first love never truly subsides,” from “Jane’s Denial”), and even humorous (“She’ll be sorry for canoodling with the missionary, thinks Rochester, who’s exceeded his cursing quota and looks like Wolverine,” from “Jane Eyre: Classic Cover Girl”). Martinez even writes about Brontë herself, from her different personas to the migraines she suffered through in order to create her “pristine prose” (from “The Literature of Prescription”).

BEST SHORT STORY/COLLECTION

“Tea Time” by Tiffani Burnett-Velez

tea-time

I finished reading “Tea Time” in less than half an hour, and I was satisfied with the abrupt ending even though I wasn’t ready for the story to be over. The final few lines pack a punch and made it a story I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait to read more from Burnett-Velez.

FAVORITE COVER

Undercover by Cat Gardiner

undercover book cover

Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who had me hooked from the very first page. The use of slang from the era, her vivid descriptions, the steamy scenes, and the murder mystery are handled so perfectly that I could picture the entire book in my head, as though I were actually watching a black-and-white hard-boiled crime drama on the screen. She moved Austen’s characters into 1952 New York City in a way that felt true to them. I loved that she gave Darcy a painful back story and that Elizabeth and Jane weren’t the best of friends. Gardiner’s portrayal of Georgiana as a modern and independent though innocent and sheltered young woman is handled beautifully, as is Lydia’s downfall at the hands of Slick Wick.

****

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Some of the more memorable 5-star books from 2016 (click the covers to read my reviews)

darcys-hope

denial-of-conscience

undeceived

COAOEB cover

Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4

img_0878

Liebeslied-Final-Kindle

the forgotten room

What were your favorite books of 2016? I’d love to know!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

He consciously ran his fingers through his forelocks to brush them to one side, yet kept the pose nevertheless for Georgiana’s benefit — until he felt compelled to look her way again, merely to discover that his sister was not the only one who kept him under scrutiny. Miss Bennet’s eyes were also steadily fixed on him, her countenance oddly solemn, but before he could wonder why, she dropped her gaze and instantly turned away.

(from Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Miss Darcy’s Companion is the latest Pride and Prejudice variation by Joana Starnes, and it imagines Elizabeth Bennet as a temporary governess for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s nieces and nephew, which is how she meets Mr. Darcy. The Darcys and Richard feel bad for how Lady Stretton treats Elizabeth, and Darcy thinks about how he would feel if his sister, Georgiana, were in her shoes: the daughter of a gentleman thrown out of her home upon the death of her father.

Convinced by Richard that Georgiana needs a companion closer to her age and that, despite her lack of experience, Elizabeth’s liveliness will do her a world of good, Darcy agrees to hire Elizabeth as Georgiana’s companion — and the three settle into a comfortable friendship at Pemberley. That is until Elizabeth becomes withdrawn, and Darcy realizes he wants the love and passion he witnesses between his friend Bingley and his new wife, Elizabeth’s sister Jane. Forced to distance himself from Pemberley to get his feelings under control and make a life-changing decision, Darcy must rush back to Pemberley when a ghost from his past arrives and destroys his hopes for happiness.

In Miss Darcy’s Companion, Starnes puts Darcy and Elizabeth in entirely new situations with entirely different misunderstandings but stays true to Jane Austen’s characters, namely Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s impertinence. She also portrays a Darcy whose true character is known almost immediately by Elizabeth, and a more solemn Elizabeth who is more difficult for Darcy to figure out. I really enjoyed seeing Georgiana blossom under Elizabeth’s watchful eye and Richard relentlessly tease his cousin. There also were plenty of original characters to liven the plot, from the obnoxiously arrogant Lady Stretton to the vicar’s sweet sister, Miss Bradden, to Fitzwilliam’s charming nieces Margaret and Hetty.

Miss Darcy’s Companion is the third Pride and Prejudice variation I’ve read by Starnes, and it’s another winner. (Check out my reviews of The Subsequent Proposal and The Unthinkable Triangle.) Starnes has quickly become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. She never lets me down with her beautiful writing style, tenderly drawn characters, and imaginative plots. I can’t wait to read her next book, Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter, for the blog tour next month!

Disclosure: I received Miss Darcy’s Companion from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

I am so excited to welcome Joana Starnes back to Diary of an Eccentric today! I became a fan of hers after devouring and absolutely loving The Subsequent Proposal, in which she brilliantly blended Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, and The Unthinkable Triangle, in which she seriously (and again, brilliantly) had me worried about Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s happily ever after. Joana is back with Miss Darcy’s Companion, which I will be reviewing here this summer. I can’t wait to read it! Please welcome Joana as she shares an excerpt from the novel and graciously offers a copy to one of my readers.

******

Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4Many thanks, Anna, for welcoming me here today on the blog tour for my latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Miss Darcy’s Companion.

In this story Elizabeth and Mr Darcy’s acquaintance does not start at the Meryton assembly with a most ungentlemanly comment. Instead, they come across each other in a fashionable townhouse, where the recently bereaved Miss Elizabeth Bennet is temporarily employed as a governess to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s nieces and nephew. But the children’s mother, Lady Stretton, is about as pleasant as Lady Catherine de Bourgh towards her social inferiors. So what are knights in shining armour to do when faced with a damsel in distress?

Before long, at his cousin’s persuasion, Mr Darcy rather reluctantly agrees to let his dear sister have a say in choosing her companion. Georgiana would much rather not have Mrs Younge. In fact, she would greatly prefer Miss Bennet.

I hope you’ll like the following excerpt. Having been detained by family obligations, Mr Darcy finally joins his sister and her new companion at Pemberley to learn what they have been up to in his absence. Despite Miss Bennet’s young years and obvious inexperience as a lady’s companion, she seems a good choice. She is cheerful, kind and outgoing and might help Georgiana conquer her shyness. But is that all she is? Or is Mr Darcy to discover that he has bitten rather more than he could chew?

******

“You will find that I have become quite the walker, Brother. Lizzy and I have ventured further than I have ever gone before.”

“Escorted, I hope,” Darcy frowned in expectation, and Miss Bennet promptly reassured him.

“Of course, Sir. I have not seen the need in my Hertfordshire rambles, but here it was a different matter. The paths were unknown to me, and besides I had your sister’s welfare to consider.”

“I appreciate your diligence, Miss Bennet. And I expect this good practice to continue even when you have grown familiar with the area, regardless of whether Georgiana accompanies you or not.”

At that, Miss Bennet’s eyes flashed briefly towards him.

“I am quite accustomed to looking after myself, Sir,” she replied, but for all her civility of manner, Darcy could not fail to detect the mutinous undertones.

Riled in no small measure, he shot back:

“Are you now! Pray tell me, how would you fare if you were to come across ruffians or simply twist your ankle? Self-sufficiency is one thing, Miss Bennet. Recklessness is quite another. You will not leave the formal gardens unescorted, and that is the end of the matter,” he said flatly and reached for his cup of tea.

A heavy silence fell. Miss Bennet’s eyes were trained upon her plate, and Darcy could only wonder if they hid distress, remorse or further rebellion. Across from him Georgiana fidgeted, casting uncomfortable glances from her companion to her brother. This riled him too. For the second time since his arrival he had been cast into the part of the unbending ogre, and he did not appreciate it in the slightest. Which was one of the reasons why he morosely observed, “If we are to go riding, Georgiana, perhaps you ought to go and change.”

His sister required no further prompting and stood to do as bid. Her glance still averted, her companion dabbed her lips in readiness to follow, presumably thinking herself likewise dismissed, but Darcy was quick to disabuse her of that notion.

“Miss Bennet, a word, if you please.”

She kept her seat and her back stiffened, but still did not look up when she was spoken to. This sort of conduct bordered not merely on a level of insubordination he was not accustomed to, but was beginning to skirt the edges of downright incivility.

Darcy took a deep breath to calm himself. In living memory he had not lost his temper with one of his people and, by Jove, a slip of a girl would not provoke him into it today. Lady Stretton might have been a nuisance in so many ways, but perhaps she had the right of the matter in one respect at least. He would have known where he stood with an experienced companion for Georgiana – much more so than with a young lady freshly out of the schoolroom and scarcely accustomed to working for a living. Most certainly he would not have had this sort of trouble from the likes of Mrs Younge. He might have to remedy that error and reconsider Miss Bennet’s employment. But that was for another day. For now, he sought to regulate his voice to deliver sensibly and calmly:

“If we get to know each other better, you will see that I do not seek to rule my household with an iron fist, Miss Bennet. However, I do expect my people to obey sensible requests. And also to look at me when spoken to.”

She did as bid at last, only to shock him into momentary silence. Unshed tears glimmered in her eyes and it was Darcy’s turn to look away, caught between embarrassment and exasperation. Heavens, what now? Was she distressed by his forceful manner or were they tears of indignation at being ordered about? She must have reflected, with either sadness or vexation, that she would not have had to bend to a stranger’s will, had her father been alive. The notion struck a chord, because of Georgiana. How would she have fared, had she found herself dislodged from her place in the world, deprived of protection, forced to earn her keep? It did not bear thinking and, thank goodness, it would never happen; the Darcy name and fortune would always be her shelter, come what may. The young woman before him had none of those advantages. And only the likes of Lady Stretton would blame her if she still struggled to adjust to a very different way of life. Darcy cleared his voice.

“Forgive me for distressing you with my forthrightness, Miss Bennet. I only had your safety in mind. I should not wish to be forced to write to your pa–… your relations that you have been harmed whilst your welfare was my responsibility,” he offered mildly, and was pleased to see that the altered manner had the desired effect and her strained countenance softened.

“‘Tis I who should beg your pardon, Mr Darcy. I fear that my upbringing has had a major flaw, in that it has not taught me the virtues of unquestioning obedience, but rather the opposite. It does not serve me well under the circumstances,” she concluded with a conscious smile, which Darcy mirrored.

“I suppose I should find it in me to be grateful for the practice. A time might come when Georgiana’s mind is different from my own. But let us not hasten that day if we could help it and, for the sake of household harmony, pray do not make a habit of questioning my requests. With some degree of effort, I might be able to disguise some of them as suggestions, but that would not apply to all by any means,” he added, only partly in jest.

Her earnest reply showed she had grasped his meaning: not just light-hearted repartee, but a structuring for the future.

“I thank you for your understanding patience. All I can say, and it is not in my defence, quite the contrary, is that in your welcoming household I found it all too easy to remember how it felt to be my father’s daughter. Lady Stretton had never allowed such licence. Not everyone would.”

“Not everyone has a young sister whom they would not wish to imagine in trying circumstances,” Darcy owned candidly, then stood. “Speaking of which, I should not keep Georgiana waiting any longer. Pray find yourself a cheerful way to pass the time, Miss Bennet, and I urge you to consider allowing one of my grooms to help you overcome your reservations about riding. Derbyshire is best seen on horseback and someday you might find pleasure in joining us.”

“I would only slow you down, I fear. In my most sanguine hopes I cannot imagine mastering anything faster than a canter. Enjoy your ride, Mr Darcy and, once again, I thank you,” she added softly and was gone, leaving him in a far better frame of mind than he had been but a half-hour ago.

So much so that when he found Georgiana by the stables, already in her riding habit and waiting for him, he met her troubled glance with a light chuckle.

“Do not look so concerned, sweetling, I have not devoured your Miss Lizzy for breakfast. She is safe and well, awaiting your return.”

Georgiana’s brows shot up at the uncharacteristic levity but she made no reply, presumably because a groom was by then approaching with their mounts. With a nod of thanks to the man, Darcy helped his sister into the saddle, then leisurely swung into his.

“So… all is well?” Georgiana tentatively asked as they took to the road together.

“All is well. But pray tell me, is she always so wilful?”

“Not that I have noticed,” his sister laughed lightly in response. “But then I am nowhere near as strong-willed as you, so there was little risk of our tempers clashing.”

He conceded her the point, although that brought a different reason for concern. Of course, Georgiana could benefit from the good example of a more outgoing nature, but if she was led by a stronger character, all manner of mischief could brew should she be led in the wrong direction.

Darcy snorted. He had hoped to share the responsibility of his sister’s welfare with a female companion engaged for the purpose, yet there he was instead, in charge of not one but two young ladies of a trying age. His aunt Malvern might have had the right of it. Everything would be a great deal easier if he married.

He snorted again, less audibly this time, lest he should attract Georgiana’s notice. The matchmaking matrons of the ton would laugh themselves into a stupor if he, who had so far resisted all their concerted efforts, should be brought down by a couple of young lasses. Heaven help him if Georgiana and her companion should try his patience enough to goad him into matrimony!

******
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and that you’ll like the full story. Please leave a comment with your email address by Sunday, June 5 for the chance to win a Kindle copy of Miss Darcy’s Companion, available internationally. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Thanks for stopping by and many thanks again, Anna, for the lovely welcome at Diary of an Eccentric, you’re so kind to have me as your guest!

******

About the author:

Joana Starnes lives in the South of England with her family. She has published six Austen-related novels:

  • From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley ~ A Pride & Prejudice sequel
  • The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion
  • The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation
  • The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set in Poldark territory
  • The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation, where loyalty comes at loggerheads with love
  • Miss Darcy’s Companion ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation

They are available on all Amazon sites.

Books by Joana Starnes at Amazon.com
Books by Joana Starnes at Amazon.co.uk

You can connect with Joana Starnes on

http://www.facebook.com/joana.a.starnes
http://www.joanastarnes.co.uk
http://www.twitter.com/Joana_Starnes
Or visit ‘All Roads Lead to Pemberley’ on Facebook, for places, events and titbits that have inspired her novels.

Click the banner below to follow the blog tour for Miss Darcy’s Companion!

Blog tour banner

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »