Saturday, 11 June 2016

Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes - My Review

Blog Tour: Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes
Earlier this week Joana Starnes joined me with a guest post and excerpt of her new book, ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’ plus a giveaway of an e-book of ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’ to a commenter on the post. I was so fortunate as to read the book this week. Read on to see what I thought of ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’, and for the opportunity to gain a bonus entry to the e-book giveaway.

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Book cover: Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes
My Review:
One of the main ways to change the story of Pride & Prejudice is for Mr Bennet to die. The Bennet ladies were woefully protected financially as Mr Bennet had never saved and the Longbourn estate was entailed to Mr Bennet’s cousin Mr Collins, as the Bennets had no sons. If Mr Bennet had died before any of his daughters had married, what would have happened to them?  The girls and Mrs Bennet would have had two routes open to them – to live with whichever of their family or friends would take them in, or to earn a living in the only acceptable way for gentlewomen; governess or companion, though this would come with a drop in status. In Joana Starnes’ ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is in this situation. The elder two Miss Bennets have gone to live with their Uncle in London, Mr Gardiner, while Mrs Bennet and the three youngest Bennet sisters remain in Meryton with Mr and Mrs Phillips.

Miss Elizabeth has chosen to lighten the load on her uncle by taking the post of interim governess to the children of Lady Stretton, who is Colonel Fitzwilliam’s sister-in-law. In this role, Elizabeth has made the acquaintance of Miss Darcy, who has been staying with the family while Mr Darcy made his annual visit to Rosings Park, and Miss Darcy has taken a real fancy to the young lady who is so kind to her young cousins. Elizabeth’s role is temporary, which is just as well, as although her charges, two girls, are very sweet children, their mother is horrible, and their brother a spoilt little beast. Georgiana has come to value Elizabeth’s friendship and pleads with her brother that he consider offering Elizabeth the role of companion in preference to Mrs Younge, who Georgiana has taken a dislike to.

Darcy is unsure of the wisdom of this course, as Miss Bennet is young and inexperienced, but, persuaded by the Colonel and Georgiana, and by the urging of feelings of pity and sympathy he agrees to employ Miss Bennet.
“Truly, Fitzwilliam, have we set out to choose a companion for Georgiana or to rescue Miss Bennet from your sister’s clutches?”
“The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive,” Fitzwilliam observed.’
However, Miss Bennet is a surprisingly good fit in the Darcy household, after some initial hiccups. Miss Darcy’s confidence ibuilds and she spends many happy hours with her new friend. Mr Darcy also begins to enjoy Miss Bennet’s company, finding that she has a keen mind and offers him an excellent challenge in chess. Then news comes from Miss Bingley, whose brother is causing her distress by his attentions to the eldest Miss Bennet, who is visiting her mother in Meryton. Darcy is worried – partly at whether Miss Bingley’s assertions are true and that her brother is being taken in, and partly at the thought that, if Miss Bennet’s sister marries one of Darcy’s friends, she can hardly continue as Georgiana’s paid companion. This thought occurs to more than one of the party.
‘Their daily get-together for refreshment, in the house or elsewhere, had always been a pleasure, but not so today. Georgiana was still ill at ease when Darcy excused himself and left the parlour in reasonably high dudgeon with his reckless friend and Bingley’s attorney, and as for Miss Bennet, she was very sombre and subdued.’ 
Miss Bingley’s letter continues to affect the interactions of those at Pemberley, which annoys Darcy very much:
‘It vexed him greatly that she might have been to blame for depriving him of the enjoyment of a rewarding conversation or a challenging game of chess, and equally so for making his sister’s companion tread on eggshells in a house where she had previously felt nearly as carefree as in her former home.”
Is this the only reason why Miss Bennet’s manner has changed? Why is Darcy so cross at the thought of having to find a new companion for his sister? And with a different companion for Miss Darcy, will she be targeted by impecunious boyhood friends of her brother, or is she safe?

I am a big fan of Joana Starnes’ stories and this one was just wonderful, full of romantic moments and hints of feelings unsuspected by the other characters and even in some cases by the characters who are having the feelings! The story is presented predominantly from Darcy’s viewpoint for the first half and Elizabeth’s in the latter half and it was very entertaining to see the misunderstandings of feelings, though this meant that the exquisite agony that this author usually puts characters through isn’t seen as overtly here for quite a portion of the book, more hinted at. Darcy is more oblivious than he is usually presented in variations, and while this was quite loveable, it makes him slightly less of a romantic figure than we are used to at first. However, as the book progresses we get to see despairing feelings from more than one character, which was very satisfying. There was also a reference to an aria that relates to hidden love which I thought was very evocative - it's not directly in the text, but the words are right at the beginning of the book and the aria comes later:
'My lips dare not reveal my love
But bright and eager eyes might show the raging fire
My eyes will speak for me'
... Sigh!

This was a lovely, romantic read and I would recommend it without hesitation. There are no sex scenes or distressing themes so it’d be suitable for all historical romance readers looking for an escape for a few hours. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’d rate it as a five star read.

5 star read

*I was provided an e-book of this story by the author for my honest review.

Giveaway time!

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes
If you’d like to enter the giveaway for a kindle version of ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’ go to Joana’s guest post to comment. You can gain a bonus entry for the giveaway by commenting on this review post too. The giveaway closes at the end of the day on Friday 17 June.

At the end of the e-book there is an excerpt from Joana’s next book, which was a lovely surprise as I had no idea she had another work in progress already. Hopefully when this new book is published Joana will come back to visit Babblings of a Bookworm to let us know more about it. You can see some of her past visits to the blog here, as well as my reviews of her previous books.

53 comments:

  1. I definitely have to read this story!

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    1. Yes, you definitely must, Tere! I hope you enjoy it when you read it :)

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    2. Good luck in the giveaway and I hope you'll like it!

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  2. Great review, I've always enjoyed Joana's books very much!

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    1. Thank you! I have enjoyed all of Joana's books too.

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    2. Thanks so much for the wonderful words, you're so kind!!

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  3. Huge thanks for having me as your guest and for the fabulous review, Ceri! You're SO kind and I'm so happy that you liked the book :)

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    1. It was a joy to have you here as ever, Joana, and I loved the book. I was writing my review earlier and checking over my highlights and I had to stop myself re-reading the whole thing! :) Thank you so much for visiting!

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  4. Lovely review Ceri! Joana write such romantic stories! When I am being selfish and greedy, I ask myself how much longer until her next book is published! Lol! Just love her writing

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    1. Hi Claudine! Joana's stories are just so romantic, aren't they! I nearly gave a hint of the premise of the new story in this post, but then I thought I'd leave the enjoyment of finding out to the readers of the ebook. I was pleased to find out that the story has come so far already that Joana could include an excerpt of it :)

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    2. Thanks ever so much for the kind words, lovely ladies :) I'm over the moon that you like my stories and your wonderful support means SO much to me!!

      Fingers crossed, the next one will be ready by the end of the year (if I stop fiddling, that is :D ) and I hope the founders & jolly members of the 'Let's Torture Elizabeth' club will be pleased. Have a great week and thanks again!!

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  5. Now I can't wait to read her next book!

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    1. Thanks, Ceri and BookLuver!! I'd better get cracking then :D All the best!

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  6. I love how you make readers see the setting and circumstances and oh boy does it make me more eager than ever to get the rest. I'm in the process of reading my first Joana Starnes book (I know, soooo late to the party, don't hit me) and I can see what you mean about the 'exquisite agony' for her characters. :)

    Nice review, Ceri!

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    1. Whaaaa?!! I thought you would have read one of Joana's stories, Sophia, but if you haven't, it's not too late to join in the fun. Which one are you reading? My favourite of her stories is still probably 'The Subsequent Proposal' but only by a small margin, as they are all such wonderful reads.

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    2. OMG Sophia!! I have read two and they are blow-minding! I am doing the review of one of them now :)

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    3. Wonderful to hear that, Sophia!! LOL, I can well imagine how the agony might be a bit scary to jump into, I'm pretty harsh to dear Mr Darcy, especially in The Unthinkable Triangle. Looking forward to hearing which one you're reading and what you thought of it.

      Hugs for the lovely words, Ana and Ceri, you're so kind, and Ana, I can't wait to read your review!

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  7. This review definitely makes me after to read the book! Thanks Ceri and Joana!

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    1. Hi Liz. Thanks for commenting. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it :)

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    2. So glad to hear that Ceri's wonderful review tempted you to read Miss D's Companion, Liz! Best of luck in the giveaway and I hope you like it.

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  8. Ever since I read my first Joana book, I have always been eager to read the next

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    1. Hi Vesper, I know just what you mean, I have consistently enjoyed Joana's books.

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    2. Thanks ever so much for the kind words and the support, Vesper and Ceri! All the best :)

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  9. I love Joana's books! Since we have similar tastes, Ceri, your good opinion will make it a must read for me.

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    1. It's lovely when you find readers with similar taste to you, isn't it, Kari! I'm glad to hear that we have similar taste and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

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    2. I wholeheartedly agree, it's so wonderful to find readers with similar taste! I got the most wonderful recommendations from friends, most recently 'The Coming of Age of EB' and 'The Elizabeth Papers' (if you haven't read them yet, clear your schedule :) ). I hope you'll like Miss Darcy's Companion too, Kari. Thanks and best of luck in the giveaway!

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  10. This book is indeed very enjoyable. Thanks for the pleasure, Joana.

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    1. Thanks ever so much for the wonderful comment, Betty, your kind words mean so much to me!!

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  11. It was refreshing to have Darcy oblivious to having affections towards Elizabeth, though I agree that for us, fans of Mr.Darcy and Joana's works, it is more romantic to have him ardently in love (and knowing it) from almost the beginning:) I am glad you enjoyed the book. The hours I spent reading Ms.Darcy's Companion were so fulfilling and gratifying! Thank you for the review. I read the book several weeks ago, but now after reading great reviews and excerpts I start wanting to revisit the book once again!:))))

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    1. Thanks, Oloore, for your beautiful comment! You're so right, a Darcy ardently in love is so romantic (and very enjoyable to write ;) ). I'm over the moon that you liked Miss D's Companion and if we're talking Darcy ardently in love and knowing it, fingers crossed you'll like my next book too. He IS madly in love and well he knows it, and before long Elizabeth gets to discover that too. But you know me better than to imagine this means plain sailing ;) Thanks again for your fabulous support and all the best!

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    2. You put that much better than I did oloore, I really struggled to pin down the words for that sentiment! I agree with you too, that reading reviews of Joana's books makes you want to go back and re-read them. When I opened up my review posts of Joana's previous books in order to link to them I was sorely tempted to pick them up to become reacquainted with the characters!

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  12. Terrific review - thank you! I know that I will enjoy watching how all these things work themselves out, and I look forward to it. And a new book?! Yippee! Hooray! I haven't even gotten to this one, and I'm already eager for this next one.

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    1. Thanks Ginna, you're so kind! I hope you'll like Miss Darcy's Companion and I'd better get cracking on the next :) Best wishes!

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    2. Hi Ginna! I was very excited to read the excerpt of the new book. I wished I could get straight on and read it but alas, we must patiently await it. I hope you enjoy this book when you read it.

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  13. Carole in Canada13 June 2016 at 02:03

    Lovely review and now I am curious if Miss Bingley knows if Elizabeth Bennet is Miss Darcy's companion!!!!! Ms. Starnes never fails to deliver!

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    1. Thanks, Carole, for the lovely comment and the vote of confidence, MUCH appreciated! Poor Miss Bingley, she never gets what she wants (thank goodness ;) ). Now that would be a story full of unbearable angst, if Darcy were to discover Elizabeth after giving in and marrying Miss Bingley. [Shudder] Need chocolate to make the nasty taste go away :D

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    2. Hi Carole. I hope you get to read Miss Bingley's letter in this book soon!

      Joana, I very dearly hope that you never have a plot bunny that involves Darcy marrying Miss Bingley! I have to say, I think she was a bit ambitious in setting her sights on him, since he is of good family and NOT broke. I have always imagined her marrying a minor title who has the need of her dowry.

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  14. I am usually like minds with your reviews, not to mention have enjoyed other Joana books. A must read for me!

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon, Becky, and that when you read it you enjoy it as much as I did.

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    2. Thanks ever so much for the lovely words, Becky and Ceri, you're so kind! Best of luck in the giveaway, Becky :)

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  15. Lovely review, Ceri! I'm glad you loved this book so much and I can't wait to read it myself! :)

    newyorkgirl82(at)gmail(com)

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    1. Hi Maria. Thanks for commenting and good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. Best of luck, Maria and I hope you'll like it!

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  16. This just arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and I can't wait to read it. So glad to see you loved it. Joana's books are amazing!

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    1. Anna, I hope you love it too!

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    2. So glad you got it, Anna! Hope you'll like it. Huge thanks to you both for the ever so kind words and the wonderful support :)

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  17. It's next on my to-read list, as I love Joana's books. Thanks!

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    1. Wonderful to hear that, Suzan, thanks so much :) Have a lovely weekend!

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  18. 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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