Feb 012017

The Dangers of Marrying with Unequal Affections

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

I’ll be honest, the minute I heard a new book by Joana Starnes was coming out I was immediately beset with eager anticipation. And it wasn’t the book description, premise, or shared excerpts that brought on my excitement. It was the fact that this story was written by Joana Starnes, an Austenesque author who has continuously impressed me with her heartfelt, emotionally turbulent, and expressively romantic stories. I’m afraid I went into this reading experience with nothing but high expectations. I’ve loved all I read by Joana Starnes and oftentimes feel it is impossible to choose which of her wonderfully-crafted stories is my favorite. (Now even more so!)

In this Pride and Prejudice variation Ms. Starnes places Darcy and Elizabeth in a situation we’ve seen sometimes before: Elizabeth accepts an offer of marriage from the “last man in the world” she could ever be “prevailed upon to marry.” The reason she accepted the arrogant Mr. Darcy’s proposal is because she just learned her father suffered an apoplectic fit and his survival is uncertain. To refuse what could be the salvation and protection of all her family would be unforgivably selfish and reckless. And so Elizabeth marries Mr. Darcy to secure the future of her family. But she marries him without telling him of her unequal affections and without confronting him with her true opinion of his character. Not the best way to begin a marriage, wouldn’t you say?

And from there begins Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s journey – with a hasty marriage, misapprehended affections, hidden regrets, and an ever present fear for the fate of Mr. Bennet. Through these fragile and emotionally-wrought times Mr. Darcy shows himself to be Elizabeth’s champion and protector. She sees daily proof of his ardent love, compassion, and understanding, but since his pride and manners are unchecked and he still sometimes acts officiously and haughty. And since Elizabeth has yet to discover her husband’s true character, she sometimes continues to misjudge many of his actions. I could not help but fall in love with both characters during this story. Mr. Darcy won my heart with his tenderness and thoughtfulness, and I adored what he did with Mr. Collins and in Mr. Bennet’s study. And I thought Elizabeth acted admirably through these difficult and distressing series of events. I like that she tried to make the best of it all and put on a brave/optimistic face, yet at the same time had some moments where she would mourn the loss of her dreams and what could have been.

One of aspects I love most about this story – and to be honest, any story I read by Joana Starnes – is the emotional depth of her writing. Countless times Joana Starnes has shown herself to be a most eloquent wordsmith and a master at conveying complex emotions. We know she has a penchant for placing Darcy and Elizabeth in trying and torturous situations – something for which she has immeasurable talent! But where Ms. Starnes’s artistry really shines is the evocative language and poignant introspection she uses to describe what her characters are thinking and feeling. It is more than just words on a page, it is more than understanding the characters’ feelings and feeling sympathy for them – it is experiencing the emotions – the anguish, the despair, and the joy – firsthand. I can’t tell you how many times I reread paragraphs and pages in this story just to admire the prose and relive the emotional effect it produced.

Have I said enough to convince you to read this compelling and soul-stirring work by Joana Starnes? 😉 I really don’t want to spoil any of the surprises along the way, so I’m afraid to share any more details. But I will say that the rug was ripped out from beneath me, the complex emotions depicted in both characters were eminently sublime, and I completely adored the small but powerful parts she gave to various secondary characters. Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is a most magnificent and praiseworthy work and I entreat you to read it immediately if you haven’t done so already!

Note:  I’d recommend this story for Mature Audiences, there is one small intimate scene that takes place on page.

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  66 Responses to “Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter – Joana Starnes”


    I agree with all you said. Seriously, I would read anything she wrote. Grocery list, driving directions…her prose are genius.


    Great review, Meredith, I can’t add anything more. 🙂
    Lol Christina, well said. 😉


    Wow what a wonderful review Meredith. I have read some of Joana’s books and they are all wonderful and beautifully written. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! Thank you


    I totally agree Meredith, this book is wonderful and definitely worth the 5stars I gave it in my review. Did you have to resort to the tissue box as I did? I had to keep wiping my glasses and I was seriously sleep deprived by the time I finished it. So glad you liked it too.


      Hi Glynis! So glad you felt the same way I did! Oh yes, I was in such agony and felt my heart breaking for these characters. Tissues were definitely needed!


        Hugs, lovely ladies! You’re SO kind – and what do I do? I make you cry. That doesn’t look right to me 🙂 Sorry about the glasses and the lack of sleep, Glynis, not to mention the tissue consumption. I keep thinking I owe you a funny book for a change and if there are tears, for once there should be tears of laughter. Maybe I should apply myself to the task 😉

        Huge thanks to you both for the great reviews and the wonderful support!


    Yes! Yes! Yes! To all you said in your perfect rendering of a review! This book was amazing and like you, the rug was ripped out right from under my feet too!


    I totally agree with you! A wonderful book from one of my favorite authors.


    Great review, Meredith. I agree with you about her books. When published they’re immediately on my kindle. Some authors just deserve to be read.


    Oh,Meredith,wasn’t it a fantastic story?!
    I agree with everything you’ve said,Joana is a wonderful wordsmith and like others,I too would willingly read anything,and I mean anything that she wrote.

    You know you’re on a winner when you pick up one of Joana’s stories,indeed you’ll be so enthralled by the myriad misunderstandings that befall ODC that the world could come to an end and you’d never know!!

    Great review! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!


    I agree with Christina – Joana is not only a great author but also a sweet, endearing friend. I would love to meet her in person. Christina, are you going to meet up with her in London?

    This book was another 5 star review in my book. Great review from you, also, Meredith.


      Thanks, Sheila! And I can attest to the fact that Joana is an extremely lovely in person. <3 Just like you would imagine her to be, but 10x more so! And if I ever find myself traveling back to England she will be the very first person I will tell so I can spend more time exploring Jane Austen haunts with her!


      Oh Meredith!!! Hugs!!! It was so wonderful to go exploring together and I hope you come back soon, there are SO many places I’d love to take you to.

      Huge thanks for everything, Sheila! I do hope you can come to England, I’d love to meet you face to face and chat-chat-chat for hours! LOL I’ll do my best not to stalk Christina on the ‘Henry – champagne & London Eye’ special day, but we MUST meet up even if it’s in a coffee shop at Heathrow!


    I’m another huge fan of Joana’s writing and totally agree with everything that’s already been said above, including your review, Meredith. One of my fabourites from 2016.


      Thank you, Anji! I wanted so much to gush about all that took place in my review, but I really don’t like to ruin any spoilers!


      Thanks so much, Anji, for the wonderful words and all your support, you’re ever so kind! Fingers crossed we’ll get to have that evening of waving bonnets in the air & planning more torments for Darcy. I’ll bring the red wine 🙂


    Great review Meredith! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! Me too Christina, anything will do!


    And you are very ardent about your love of her books. 🙂 I tease, but I agree about her writing. I still have this one and others to read, but she captured me with the first book I read by her.


    Agree with your review. Just finished this wonderful book. Enjoyed it greatly.


    What a gorgeous review, Meredith. I just recently got this one, but haven’t read it yet. Because, I know I’ll need to have a block of time when I can cry my eyes out, go sleep deprived, and as you stated M., ‘have the rug pulled out from under me.’ (For instance, not when company is coming this weekend. 🙂 ) I agree with everything everyone else has said. In my humble opinion, she is among the top five Jane Austen fan writers that I consider our best gifts. We’re so fortunate to have her writing for us.


      Oh thank you, Michelle! I appreciate you saying so! Very wise of you. Yes, if you did start this one when your company is there you may end up being a bad hostess because the story is so compelling that you will have a hard time convincing yourself to care about anything else!


      Oh wow, Michelle, thanks SO much. Ever so kind of you! Huge thanks 🙂


    Fabulous review, Meredith! I am thrilled you enjoyed this story as much as I did!


    Glad to read your review. I enjoyed the heck out of this, perhaps as much as to say it is my second favorite of Joana’s novels (she’ll have to go some to surpass Darcy’s excellent suffering in The Unthinkable Triangle). In this story, it was Lizzy’s turn to suffer, and it was beautifully written.


      Hi Linda! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Yes, it was beautifully written with so much understanding and palpable feeling. I love The Unthinkable Triangle too! It is impossible to decide which one I love the most though!


      Linda, you’re so kind!! I’m so glad you liked them!
      LOL we do like to torture Darcy, don’t we? 😀
      Thanks so much for the lovely comment and the wonderful support!


    WOW! I really can’t thank you enough for this amazing review, Meredith. I’m speechless, overwhelmed & over the moon that you liked MBDD so much. Your wonderful words and all the ever so kind comments totally made my day.

    <3 THANK YOU, lovely ladies, you're awesome!! <3


      Oh no, the thanks all go to you, Joana! I am just trying to do your lovely book justice. It deserves so much! Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us and for giving us such beautifully rendered and heartfelt stories!


    Wow! Sounds like a hands-down winner! And I do love these stories of ‘forced’ marriage with HEA : )


    I just finished reading another wonderful JAFF story this morning and hadn’t yet decided which one to start next … now it looks like I’ve found my next read. Have to admit that I am also a fan of compromise scenarios with happy endings. Lovely review and looking forward to a very enjoyable read.


    May I add my voice to the love-fest? I’ve been trying to decide if it’s too soon to read again, LOL! This is a story I anticipate returning to over and over. The emotion in your review, Meredith, is such a fine tribute to the emotion evoked by this book and by the writing that seizes you and won’t let go.


      Oh yes, please do, Renee! 🙂 LOL! I think the answer is no, not too soon! I was rereading my favorite parts as I was reading it! 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading my review!


      Thanks ever so much for stopping by, Renee, to leave this wonderful comment! I’m thrilled beyond words that you liked the book so much. You’re ever so kind. Thank you!!


    Glad to see you loved it as much as I did! Joana is a fantastic writer and such a sweet person as well. 🙂


    I was so excited when a new book came out by Joana Starnes and I wasn’t disappointed. Almost finished, hate to see it end. So many twists and turns and so much angst! Love it!!!


    A lovely, thoughtful review. This was my first Joana Starnes story (having come to JAFF rather later than many of you). I won a copy of MBDD in a giveaway, and I’m so glad I did because otherwise I don’t know when I would have gotten around to it (so many books, so little time). And I would have missed out. Based on this book I ordered a couple of others of hers from amazon recently; I like to buy used hard cover or paperback whenever I can. Many thanks for a lovely read.


      That’s so great that you’ve discovered Joana Starnes and loved this book so much, Janis! This one is indeed very special, but almost all her other variations are 5 star reads for me. I’m glad you are checking them out! I love Joana’s beautiful writing so much! 🙂 Enjoy your new reads!

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