“When Colonel Fitzwilliam’s disclosures are interrupted by the bearer of distressing news from Longbourn, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is compelled to accept an offer she would have otherwise dismissed out of hand. An offer of marriage from the all-too-proud Mr Darcy.
Yet how is she to live with a husband she hardly knows and does not love? Will she continue to feel trapped in a marriage of convenience while events conspire to divide them? Or would love grow as, day by day and hour after hour, she learns to understand the man she married, before she loses his trust and his heart?”
* * *
Here, we join the story as Elizabeth is taking a turn about Rosings Park. Colonel Fitzwilliam is just about to spill the beans about Darcy’s ‘assistance’ to his friend and unwittingly turn Elizabeth entirely against Darcy when Darcy himself interrupts. He has come from Rosings, where Lady Catherine has been consulted by her clergyman as he has heard that Mr Bennet has suffered an apoplexy. Rather than inform Mr Bennet’s daughter, Mr Collins is thinking more of his inheritance and Darcy is rightly disgusted. Having such a clear indication of Mr Collins’ ‘Christian nature’ and how likely he is to show compassion to Mrs Bennet and her daughters, Mr Darcy overcomes his scruples. He is determined to save the woman he loves from having to live on the charity of her relatives and he offers Elizabeth to convey her back to her family and his hand in marriage to boot. This is an offer that Elizabeth is forced to consider:
‘She turned towards the window yet again, prey to the same wretched and unsettling thoughts. Not for her own sake, but for her family’s, she could not dismiss Mr Darcy’s startling offer out of hand. Refusing Mr Collins when she did was, with hindsight, unpardonable enough. How could she compound the self-centredness by refusing Mr Darcy too?’
Due to Mr Collins’ attitude this isn’t really a mercenary move, but a practical one, and Elizabeth is determined to be a good wife, as far as she is able, despite the provocation she faces from her tiresomely high handed betrothed. I couldn’t help but feel bad for both of them. I pitied Elizabeth for sacrificing her dreams and ideals to support her family, even though she was unsure of how honourable her future husband would be (bearing in mind that she hasn’t been aware of his true dealings with Wickham). Once he has her in his power, legally he could do pretty much what he liked and she would be powerless to stop him.
‘Serve and obey. A terrifying burden when one could not also love and honour. How could she sacrifice herself thus – leave her old life behind and subject her will to his?
Conversely, when everything stood in balance, from the best possible care for her father to shelter for her sisters and mother, how could she not?
Obviously, I felt huge pity for Darcy as well. It was painful to consider how a man of his pride would feel if he knew that the woman he adored had agreed to marry him even though she could scarcely stand him. It was particularly poignant as this Darcy is just so delicious. He is high-handed, but that’s mostly because he is used to managing his own affairs. Elizabeth is at first over-sensitive to his efforts, interpreting everything as slightingly as possible, but soon, despite herself, she becomes aware that Mr Darcy is more complex than she first gave him credit for.
‘Elizabeth had no glance to spare for her cousin either. Instead, her eyes were fixed on her betrothed – the gentleman whom no one could vex with impunity. A gentleman who had just faced her foe with all the fierce strength of an avenging angel.’
On the other hand, Darcy hasn’t been through the ‘Hunsfordisation’ of canon; he thinks slightingly of Elizabeth’s most beloved relations. Aside from the current worry of her father’s illness, Elizabeth also has the spectre of the future to fear:
‘The unconcealed contempt for her relations would be followed by contempt for her. And, before long, resentment. He would resent her for attracting him against his will, against his better judgement. How had she not seen the writing on the wall before accepting him and condemning herself to a fate no better than her mother’s?’
I thought there were some excellent points explored in this story, as Darcy has some pretty unpalatable faults in amongst his undoubtedly good qualities. I was a little surprised at the small amount of tension and conflict in the first two thirds of the book; considering the circumstances I would have thought there may have been more. Most of the angst related to the reader’s knowledge of the true circumstances rather than issues between the couple. When the real angst hits the story, it does so with considerable force, and is really quite painful. I was confident that there would be a happy ending but I had no idea how it could be brought about!
Joana Starnes stories don’t usually have sex scenes, but there are some here. They are not salacious, but instead illustrate the changing relationship between the couple. I would also say that they are not particularly detailed, so people who prefer to avoid such scenes may be safe reading these.
I very much enjoyed reading this story and I would certainly recommend it. It gets a 4½ star rating from me!
About the author:
Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. A medical graduate, in more recent years she has developed an unrelated but enduring fascination with Georgian Britain in general and the works of Jane Austen in particular, as well as with the remarkable and flamboyant set of people who have given the Regency Period its charm and sparkle.
Joana Starnes is the author of:
- 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 where Jane Austen's beloved characters are compelled to leave their tame and reasonably peaceful lives in the south of England and travel to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril, where few - if any! - are what they seem to be... - My review
- The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation that dwells on the most uncomfortable love-triangle of them all. What if Mr. Darcy's rival for Miss Bennet's hand and heart is none other than his dearest, closest friend? And how can they all find their 'happily-ever-after'? - Guest post
- Miss Darcy’s Companion ~ a variation that explores what might have happened if the warm-hearted Miss Elizabeth Bennet were employed instead of the scheming Mrs Younge. - Guest Post / My review
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.
Joana is kindly offering to give away an ebook of ‘Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter’ to a reader here! To enter, just comment on this post by the end of the day on 29 November. This giveaway is open internationally. Please leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the lucky winner.
Remember, as this is a blog tour there are other opportunities to learn more about the book, with excerpts, guest posts, other reviews and more chances to win an the e-book. See below for details:
17 November / My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
18 November / Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
19 November / Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
20 November / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt's Guide to Life/Guest Post & Giveaway
21 November / Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
22 November / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
23 November / Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
24 November / Happy Thanksgiving
25 November / So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway
26 November / Just Jane 1813/Interview with Joana Starnes & Giveaway
27 November / My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Guest Post & Giveaway
28 November/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Vignette & Giveaway
1 December / My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
2 December / Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway
My thanks go to Joana Starnes for providing me with a hugely enjoyable book to review, and to Claudine of JustJane1813 for arranging the blog tour and allowing me to take part. Thank you, ladies!