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Review: SNOWBOUND by Joana Starnes

ABOUT THE BOOK: A narrow escape and a staggering encounter mere miles from the gates of Pemberley leave Mr. Darcy in no doubt: the Fates have grown tired of nudging him gently. And now Elizabeth is in his home. Beside him. Every waking hour of every day. "I missed you. Dreadfully. And now you are here. Against all odds, you came to Pemberley, and every moment brings fresh glimpses of what my life could be if you stayed." Will she?

Thanks to a broken bridge and a heavy snowfall, she is not going anywhere. Not yet, anyway. How is he to persuade her to remain forever while maddening houseguests would do anything to thwart him, and an old secret is at work behind the scenes?

The Hunsford proposal never happens in this version of events. Instead, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are thrown together sooner than expected. She finds herself snowbound at Pemberley, along with some of her well-behaved relations. But Mr. Darcy has other houseguests, and they behave very ill indeed. Miss Bingley refuses to accept defeat. And who else comes to add to his troubles? When a house as large as Pemberley is not large enough, what will Mr. Darcy do to win his heart’s desire?

REVIEW by Christina Boyd: Snowbound: A Pride and Prejudice Variation is the great Joana Starnes at the top of her game. When a snowstorm and carriage accidents require Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, along with their aunt and uncle Gardiner, to become guests at Pemberley, the last thing Elizabeth expects is a charming and considerate host. Yet cheating death has awakened Darcy to the idea of Fate and second chances, and he is determined to change Elizabeth’s opinion of him and win her love. His kindness and attention beget her affection and consideration.

The opportunity to tease him on that score was too good to miss—but Elizabeth missed it all the same, for it vanished as swiftly as it came. He stopped closer, dipped his head, and a moment later, his lips were on hers, very warm, very soft, in a feathery caress that robbed her of her breath and sent the strangest tingle down her spine. —Chapter 9

Ha! Moments like that stole my breath and sent tingles down my spine, too.

With a balance of humor from surprising standouts like the indolent Mr. Hurst, I was turning pages into the wee hours of the morning.

"I say," Mr. Hurst muttered. "This has all the markings of hysteria. In cases such as these, the only thing that does the trick is a quick, sharp slap. I fear it falls on you, my dear, to deliver it."
"Mr. Hurst!" his wife cried in horror. "I will do no such thing. You had much better let her have a sip of brandy. It will settle her [Caroline] nerves far more effectively."
"Will it, now?" Mr. Hurst scowled. "Oh, very well," he finally conceded, holding out the flask with manifest reluctance. "But have a care, madam, lest she drops it. ’Tis fine stuff, this. A damn shame to waste it." —Chapter 2

And who would have imagined Elizabeth would have a champion in Lady Catherine?! I loved how Starnes deftly pens her clever backstories through quick dialog and concise letters, building connections and blending them into her full-bodied character driven plots.

…wicked amusement that had come from playing cat and mouse with Miss Bingley soon cooled into nothing, once Lady Catherine was left alone in her apartments. She wandered towards the escritoire but did not avail herself of a fresh sheet of paper. The letter that preyed upon her mind had been written already in the late hours of the night. Or half-written, rather. —Chapter 15

As a Joana Starnes fan for over a decade, I’ve been looking forward to this latest. Not only do I buy all her ebooks and audiobooks, but I also add the print copy to my home library. I was especially keen to read this latest as last March I bid on a walk-on roll in her next book in support of the Jane Austen Fanfiction fundraiser to support Ukraine, "Support for Ukraine," and have wondered about my tertiary role. I was delighted to learn Mrs. Boyd is an avid horsewoman and...

her husband owned a large estate to the west of Bakewell. They entertained lavishly and often, hosting lively gatherings and cheerfully informal dinners. Their home boasted an excellent library, and all their friends were welcome to partake of its delights. Moreover, their Thoroughbreds were said to be some of the finest in the country. —Chapter 4

I love it! Who wouldn’t want to be written up as rich and acquaintances of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet and the Darcys? Thank you, dear author. And for such a cause!

Snowbound is easy to recommend. I confess, it’s imaginative storytelling and excellent writing like this that keep me reading Austenesque fanfiction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. She swapped several hats over the years (physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst) but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Regency England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She loves to look for glimpses of Pemberley and Jane Austen’s world and to write about Regency England and Mr. Darcy falling in love with Elizabeth Bennet over and over and over again. You can connect with Starnes via Facebook, All Roads Lead to Pemberley, and her website.

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