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Friday, 10 June 2016

Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour: Miss Darcy's Companion

I have a visitor to the blog today - Joana Starnes is joining me with a guest post and a giveaway of her latest book, 'Miss Darcy's Companion'. I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Joana for her post.

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes
Blurb:
Miss Georgiana Darcy is need of a companion, and she would much rather not have Mrs Younge. The recently bereaved Miss Elizabeth Bennet is in need of a position. When she accepts the one Mr Darcy offers, she finds herself in his near-constant company and gets to know him at his best. Not as he would present himself to strangers in some remote corner of Hertfordshire, but as his nearest and dearest know him. An excellent brother, landlord, master. A wonderful man, noble, kind – and impossibly handsome.

So who falls in love first? What of Mr Wickham and his dastardly ploys? And how is a lady’s companion ever to have a future with one who could marry into the best houses in the land?

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Thank you, Ceri, for welcoming me today at ‘Babblings of a Bookworm’ on the blog tour for my latest book, ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’.

Last time I was your guest I brought an angst-y story, ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’, where Mr Darcy has to struggle with his cousin beating him to the post and proposing to Elizabeth the day before he was going to.

This book is very different. To begin with, for the greatest part Mr Darcy is spared the angst. He is calmly going about the business of looking after his family and his estate and, like the excellent brother that he is, he takes heed of his sister’s wishes. Freshly out of her finishing school, Miss Darcy is in need of a companion, but she finds that Mrs Younge has a sharp, shrewish look that makes her uneasy. In fact, she would choose to spend her time with someone else. And her choice is Miss Elizabeth Bennet who, after her father’s passing, is more or less compelled to make her own way into the world.

So there we have it: Elizabeth comes to live at Pemberley as ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’, a warmer and happier influence on Georgiana than Mrs Younge could ever be. The transformations in his sister are a delight to Darcy and although Miss Bennet is not one for easily taking orders, he is rather pleased with the arrangements and sees no major difficulties there. Well, they do say that ignorance is bliss…

If this book had a subtitle, it could easily be ‘Clueless Darcy’. I think he had to be, don’t you? If he struggled so much in the original novel with the disparities between himself and Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn, what would he do if he were to realise he was falling in love with a girl in his employ? I’ll talk about this later on the blog tour, but in a nutshell I think that a gentleman of his moral fibre would either bolt to London or sack her. Kindly and with excellent references of course, but most certainly he wouldn’t let such an unsuitable attraction grow. So he must be clueless, because we need our happily ever after and he has to stay and fall head over heels in love. And what better conduit for falling in love than music and dancing?

Dancing - Pride & Prejudice 1995

 
Last time I visited Babblings of a Bookworm the guest post included an excerpt where Mr Darcy danced with Elizabeth, so I thought it might be nice if I were to come back with a scene where he dances with her again. This time it’s at his friend’s instigation – we all know how Mr Bingley loves a good caper. And, as a blissfully happy newlywed, Mr Bingley has a few words of advice as well ;)

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“So, Darcy, when will you see sense and follow my example?” his friend asked. “Whoever has inspired your proverbial reticence for the married state has done you a great disservice, my friend. I, for one, heartily recommend it.”
“Do you indeed? I had my doubts watching you over the last few days, but I thank you for clearing that issue,” Darcy affectionately teased and reached for his brandy.
Bingley laughed and drained his glass.
“I suppose other people’s happiness can be rather tedious. All I can say is that you should try it for yourself. And I beseech you, do yourself a favour and marry for affection. Well, if you have tired of my exhortations, I say we rejoin the ladies,” he suggested, and Darcy saw no reason to object.
They found them listening to Georgiana playing a very lively tune which took Bingley to his wife’s side directly, as though he needed more inducement. He turned to lightly cast over his shoulder:
“Pray oblige me, Darcy. I cannot waste this tempting opportunity of dancing to The Barley Mow.”
“This is unprecedented, and irregular as well. Are you seriously asking me to stand up with you?” Darcy drawled, but his friend was undaunted.
“Insufferable wretch,” he retorted pleasantly. “Need I spell it out that I was hoping you would partner Miss Bennet? We could use another couple and besides I do not see why you should be allowed to sit and be entertained by other people’s antics,” Bingley added as he led his smilingly compliant wife to the floor.
Uncommonly compliant in his turn, at least to those who knew him well, Darcy walked to the lady’s sister.
“Would you do me this honour, Miss Bennet? I know Bingley of old and I can safely say that dissuading him from dancing is rarely an option, so I imagine we might have to join him.”
Her smile was rather perfunctory, but she stood.
“‘Tis no hardship for me, Sir. I dearly love to dance.”
“Which is more than I can say for Darcy,” his friend laughed. “As a habit he avoids it like the plague, so I suppose I should thank him for the condescension.”
“Should you not save your breath for the dance? I believe ‘tis rather sprightly,” the other retorted like for like, and offered his hand to his companion.
Thin warm fingers curled around his own, and he idly registered the novel sensation as they took their place. Of course. Dancing without gloves was as singular as impromptu romps in Pemberley’s music room after dinner. He had never danced at Pemberley in seven years, and never – there or elsewhere – at anything other than a formal ball. He had never danced with a young woman from his household either, nor with a partner who would look at the pianoforte, the floor, the other couple, anywhere in the room but him. Had they not told her, when she was taught to dance, that one was supposed to train one’s eyes on one’s partner? Or was that still an after-effect of Miss Bingley’s poison?
In all other respects the dancing master or whoever might have taught her had done the office well. She easily caught the steps, or perhaps she was more familiar with them than he, and she moved with unaffected ease, her dancing light and pleasing. Very graceful too, even more than her sister’s, so she need not blush for her performance. Yet blush she did, her rosy glow deepening into scarlet. On second thought, exertion might have been to blame. After all, it was a very sprightly dance indeed.
Without warning, the tempo increased still further when, arms linked behind the lady’s back and the other poised above their heads to form a wide circle between them, the couples were expected to whirl around in five fast spins, stop and clap the time, then repeat the figure after an exchange of partners.
They duly whirled and stopped to clap the time – only to see that, in careless disregard for the established pattern of the dance, Bingley omitted or disdained to relinquish his wife to Darcy. They were still spinning, faster and faster still, one arm around each other’s waist, the other raised to frame their faces. Eye to eye. Seemingly oblivious of the entire world around them.
Darcy’s momentary confusion gave way to an understanding smile. Across from him, Miss Bennet’s consciousness melted into a matching one, and they shared a light shrug and a glance of amused affection – for her sister, for his friend – before meeting in the middle for the last figure of the dance.


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So how come Mr Bingley and Jane are already married? And just for how long is Mr Darcy planning to stay clueless? If you would like to read the book for free and find out, please leave a comment for a chance to enter the international giveaway of a Kindle copy. Thanks for stopping by to read the excerpt and I hope you’ll enjoy the full story. Huge thanks for the lovely welcome, Ceri, you’re ever so kind and it’s always such fun to be your guest!

* * * *

Author Joana Starne
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 - My review
  • The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion - My review
  • The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation - My review
  • The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set in Poldark territory - My review
  • The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation, where loyalty comes at loggerheads with love - Guest post
  • Miss Darcy’s Companion ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation without Ramsgate!

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 Facebook, her website, Twitter, or visit ‘All Roads Lead to Pemberley’ on Facebook, for places, events and titbits that have inspired her novels.

Giveaway time!

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes
Joana has very kindly offered to giveaway a kindle version of 'Miss Darcy's Companion' to a reader here. To enter, just leave a comment on this post by the end of Friday 17 June. This is open to international entrants. Please leave a way for me to contact you in case you're the lucky winner. I'll be posting my review of the book over the weekend - you can earn a bonus entry by commenting on my review post once it's posted.

Thank you so much to Joana for joining me here today, and for offering a giveaway to a reader here!

65 comments:

  1. So Jane is married and Elizabeth is a companion?

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    1. Hi Vesper, yes, Elizabeth became a companion and later, Jane marries. As the excerpt tells you that she's married I don't think it's a spoiler to say that. Obviously, Jane marrying would mean that Elizabeth no longer needs to work for financial reasons, but at this point it has just happened, and quite suddenly, so Elizabeth has only just found out.

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    2. Thanks, Ceri, for the great answer!!
      Hope you'll like how the story unfolds, Vesper. Thanks for stopping by to read the excerpt and good luck in the giveaway!

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  2. This is the question that I am looing forward to read the answer to: who falls in love first?

    :D

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    1. I wonder if they even know themselves, aNa ;)
      Thanks and hope you'll like the book! Best of luck!

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    2. Well aNa, that would be telling ;)

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  3. Great excerpt! Poor Lizzy, unable to control her blushing, and poor Darcy not understanding why. Looking forward to reading this!

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    1. I know, bless her! Thanks for commenting, Maureen!

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    2. So glad you liked the excerpt, Maureen! I thought it might be a nice change for Darcy to be clueless :) Hope you'll like the rest of the story. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  4. Ooh, how interesting for Darcy to see Jane & Bingley's courtship and marry only to find out that Bingley's wife's sister is Georgiana's companion... What a tangled web...��

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    1. Yes, a bit tangled and convoluted, class lines blurring and all that. When your good friend and his wife/your sister's paid companion's sister comes to visit who sits where at the dining table?! Good job the Bingleys visited when there weren't any other visitors there :)

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    2. Great point, Ceri! Who sits where at the dining table indeed :) It would have been a lot more difficult with others present, especially if they were like Lady Catherine or Lady Stretton.

      Thanks for reading the excerpt, Dung Vu, and hope you'll enjoy untangling the web! Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part.

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  5. The excerpt was nice! I like variations where one of the sisters are married already.

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    1. Hi BookLuver! It's interesting to see how differently Jane and Bingley's courtship goes with only his sisters to interfere, as Mr Darcy is at Pemberley.

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    2. Me too, BookLuver, especially when Bingley's love life goes without a hitch because Darcy doesn't get in the way. I always thought that Louisa and Caroline might storm and thunder, but it was Darcy's advice that tipped the balance in the original PnP, and without him adding the weight of his opinion Bingley might have ignored his sisters. After all, he was the head of the family ;)

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  6. Great! Another good story about Elizabeth and we-know-whom. I never tire of the good ones. Thank you for the pleasure.

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    1. Hi Betty. Sometimes I wonder if I will tire of stories about Mr Darcy and Elizabeth but as long as they are good ones so far there is no sign of fatigue!

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    2. Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Betty, I'm so glad you like my spin-offs! I hope you'll like this too. Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for coming by to read the excerpt :)

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  7. I've enjoyed all of Joana Starnes' other books and I've been looking forward to reading this. Great excerpt! Thank you for offering this giveaway, Ceri and Joana!

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    1. I've enjoyed all the Joana Starnes books I've read so far too Debbie. Good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. Wonderful to hear that, Debbie and Ceri, you're both SO kind!! Thanks ever so much for the kind words, hugely appreciated.

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  8. Julie Ann Rakowski10 June 2016 at 22:41

    I love the different take on the story, Elizabeth meeting Darcy and getting to know his better side right away is in this excerpt such fun and I can't wait to read the whole story. Thank you :)

    Julie Ann Rakowski on FB
    rakowski_julie@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi Julie. Yes, the dynamic between them is so altered. If we think back to P&P Elizabeth says: "I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."

      She understands that he has good reasons for having pride, and if we have no insult for her to build prejudice on, and only examples of a caring brother and good landlord of the estate to judge by then of course her impression of him will be vastly different. I agree with you, it's a great variation to explore.

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    2. Over the moon that you like this angle, Julie and Ceri! Pemberley Darcy is so admirable in every way. Good landlord, good brother, good master, good tempered wince he was 4 years old :) (bless Mrs Reynolds, what a sweetie! And what a sweetie Darcy must have been at the age of 4!). I thought it would be so nice if Elizabeth got to see this side of him first, without the slight or Wickham's slander. And yes, Ceri, you're so right, Elizabeth would have plenty of opportunities to see that he has more than enough reasons to be proud of his heritage. Thanks for the lovely words, I'm so glad you liked it!!!

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  9. Great post,it makes you want to go out,but the book and read it to find out what happens next. I loved this book!!

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    1. Hi Mary, there are such lovely excerpts out there, I am with you, you read one and you just want to carry on and read the whole book.

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    2. So glad you liked the excerpt, Mary!! Hope you'll like the rest of the story too. Best of luck and thanks for reading :)

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  10. love the excerpt, for I dearly love to dance :)

    denise

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    1. And Mr Darcy is our favourite dance partner, isn't he, Denise :)

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    2. So true, lovely ladies :) Thanks, Denise, ever so glad you liked the excerpt. Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for putting your name in the hat!

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  11. Oh boy, yeah, all those blushes and eye avoiding should have clued him in to something disturbing her, but it's sometimes fun to see a man slowly figure stuff out. This scenario of Lizzy being a companion to Georgiana has me all sorts of curious.

    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Sophia! Bless him, he is a sweet man here, but like Joana says, a little clueless. My favourite quote is this one:
      'Had they not told her, when she was taught to dance, that one was supposed to train one’s eyes on one’s partner?' :D

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    2. Clueless indeed :) I think it just didn't cross his mind (which in many ways I guess it's another form of pride, but with class lines and all that...) I do think that if he was clued in before he was caught (hook, like and sinker ;) ) he would have bolted or would have thought it was an act of kindness to encourage Elizabeth to seek another position.

      So glad you read the excerpt Sophia Rose, and that you're all sorts of curious about the scenario!

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  12. I really enjoyed the excerpt, Bingley and his wife going on dancing together :D

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    1. Isn't it sweet, Kirsten! And food for thought too, perhaps a marriage of affection is something desirable :)

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    2. So glad you liked the scene, Kristen! It's such fun sometimes to do away with all the reasons Elizabeth disliked Darcy in the original novel. No lies from Wickham, no reason for Darcy to suspect that Jane didn't love Bingley, no excessive pride. Just 'proper pride' and a fistful of prejudices :) Hope you'll like the different twist and best of luck in the giveaway!

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  13. Carole in Canada11 June 2016 at 14:52

    Oh I was chuckling through Bingley's banter with Darcy especially when he requested to dance! So looking forward to reading this book...thank you for the giveaway!

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    1. There are a few really nice instances of male banter in this book Carole, both with Bingley and the Colonel. Thanks for commenting and good luck in the giveaway :)

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    2. So glad you liked the banter, Carole and Ceri :) I think the guys are adorable when they get together. Especially when Bingley and the Colonel get Darcy to show his easy-going side. Thanks for the lovely comment and for stopping by to read the excerpt, Carole!

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  14. For the most part, the more angst the more fulfilling the HEA. A clueless Darcy is a must.

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    1. Hi Deborah Ann. As Joana said in the post, you are right, a clueless Darcy was needed for the plot here, and he was very lovely too.

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    2. Thanks, Debbie and Ceri! So glad you liked 'clueless Darcy' :) I guess things would be boring without some angst to make them appreciate their HEA even more.

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  15. How mortifying for Lizzy to keep blushing like that... a very interesting post. I hope I get lucky!

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    1. Hi Tere! Yes, poor Lizzy! I felt pretty sorry for her quite a few times.

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    2. Dear Lizzy! Dancing with Mr Darcy... no gloves... I wonder, would he have warm hands or cold?

      Thanks for coming over to read the excerpt, tgruy and fingers crossed!

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  16. Love the excerpt Joana, I always enjoy your stories very much! Cant wait :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I hope you enjoy the story when you read it.

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    2. Thanks so much, it's so wonderful to hear that!! Hope you'll like this one too. Best of luck!

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  17. Clueless can be good for awhile but not for too long. Hopefully his eyes get open soon. Congratulations on the new book. Look forward to reading it.

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    1. Hi Patty! Don't worry, he gets woken out of his clueless state. Thanks for stopping by :)

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    2. No, not for long, Patty. I hope you'll like his OMG moment ;) Thanks for the lovely comment and best of luck!

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    1. Hi Betty. Thank you so much for your lovely comment :)

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    2. Ceri's blog is such a happy place, Betty, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by to read the post!

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  19. Wonderful excerpt. I am very curious to how we get out clueless Darcy on the right track. Thank you for the giveaway.

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    1. Yes, the pleasure of anticipation. Will it be a slow realisation or will he suddenly be shocked with the knowledge? I hope you get a chance to find out for yourself Becky!

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  20. Confession: I had a silly smile on my face while reading this excerpt. What will I do when I read the whole story!? :D Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. And of course I forgot my email address! :P

      newyorkgirl82(at)gmail(com)

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    2. Lots of chances for smiles with this story, Maria. And sighs too!

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    3. Wonderful to hear that, Maria!! Hope you'll like the rest too. Thanks and good luck :)

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  21. I'm intrigued -- our dear Lizzy is just finding out about her sister's marriage? I'm curious to see how Jane and Bingers got together. No Meryton Assembly or Netherfield ball?

    What exactly was Caroline Bingley's poison (although there, I might be able to guess). And clueless Darcy? It will be interesting to discover a less insufferably proud man.

    This sounds like a very original variation, indeed.

    Florence, aka 50of47
    flo123(at)usa(dot)com

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    1. I hope you enjoy finding out how Jane and Bingley got together. Poor Elizabeth misses it all (well I say 'poor' but she's at Pemberley when everything happens so we won't feel too sorry for her on that score!).

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    2. LOVED your comments, Florence and Ceri!
      Yes, Jane's marriage was a bit out of the blue, Florence. Hope you'll like how that came about. So glad you like the premise of this variation, and clueless Darcy too ;) Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part!

      LOL so true, Ceri, not poor Lizzy, poor everybody else who isn't at Pemberley :D

      Have a lovely weekend and huge thanks for the welcome and the fabulous time at Babblings of a Bookworm!

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  22. I would love to read this! Thank you for the giveaway!

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  23. Thank you so much for your comments, everybody! I've just posted the winner of the giveaway: http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/winner-miss-darcys-companion-by-joana.html

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