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Publisher's Summary

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?

(Given the "early marriage" premise, the issue of growing affection and intimacy is central to the story. The relevant scenes are not graphic, but the novel does address mature themes.)

©2016 Joana Starnes (P)2017 Joana Starnes

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not the Elizabeth from the original P&P

Struggled to finish it. I spent most of the book waiting for the Elizabeth we know and love to show up. Instead you get this submissive, whiney woman who won't stand up for herself or her family. Yes there are a few times when they argue but she never puts up much of a fight.

The ending is horrible. Darcy goes from being this loving man to an ice-cold and heartless jerk. He wasn't even this cruel to Wickham and yet he's going to treat the woman he loves this way. I finally skipped the final chapters to get to the end. Very disappointed, would not recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Heart-wrenching and Emotional P&P Variation

"Serve and obey, a terrifying burden when one cannot also love and honor. How could she sacrifice herself thus?"

In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Col Fitzwilliam's revelation of Darcy's interference in Bingley and Jane's budding romance is interrupted by a letter from Longbourn with disastrous news. Mr. Bennet has been struck down by an apoplectic fit and lies at death's door. Darcy recognizes that Mr. Collins will cast out the Bennet family the moment Mr. Bennet passes and immediately proposes to Lizzy. His proposal is tempered with apologies for the timing and kindness in his consideration of her current condition. He offers to convey her to Longbourn and on the way Lizzy considers his offer.

Lizzy only knows that Darcy is cold and capable of cruelty to those once considered friends, she believes that he is a proud and reserved man. But she also perceives the love he has for her and the closeness and companionship he shares with Bingley and Fitzwilliam. She recognizes the advantages to her family, and that close association with Bingley may bring him back to Jane. Lizzy agrees to marry him, and Darcy is overcome with joy. But simply saying "yes" can't solve their problems. Lizzy struggles in a marriage of unequal affections, and Darcy wonders what happened to the lively and charming girl he fell in love with.

Poor Lizzy! and poor Darcy! Without Lizzy's words of refusal to dispel Darcy's pride, and Darcy's letter to clear up her misconceptions, Lizzy continues to willfully misunderstand Darcy and he remains blissfully unaware of her true feelings of disapprobation. Darcy makes blunder after blunder and repeatedly insults her family, while Lizzy rails at her lack of choice in the marriage but won't speak up for herself. Both of them are the losers in this situation. Things finally come to a head after Darcy learns that Lizzy didn't marry him for love, and their woeful failure to communicate leads to some of the most heartbreaking scenes in any P&P variation I've read.

The author made me feel Lizzy and Darcy's pain deeply, the emotional turmoil she created was incredible. I spent chapters unable to work because I was blinded by tears, and I haven't been able to begin a new book yet. This isn't a lighthearted or frothy read, but a well written novel about love grown through gratitude and two very different people coming to understand each other. Ms. Starnes' writing was impeccable, and she lifted my heart with warm loving scenes between our couple, then ripped it out of my chest with wrenching descriptions of their pain.

Who better to narrate this beautiful retelling than Stevie Zimmerman? Her voice is quickly becoming synonymous with Pride & Prejudice to me. She is able to masterfully perform the male character's voices, and her normal speaking voice is so pleasant. She has the perfect accent, tone, and voice for each character. They came alive and lived and loved through my speakers.

I received a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I have this book on my reread list, and it is well worth an audible credit.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully written and elegantly narrated.

If you could sum up Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter in three words, what would they be?

Eloquent, elegant and intriguing

What did you like best about this story?

A completely different take on P & P which managed to tell a totally different story but still be authentic, period appropriate, and really sensitive

What about Stevie Zimmerman’s performance did you like?

Stevie's voices and accents are impeccable. You believe every conversation and hear the characters come to life completely. She can be funny and sad and serious and joyous.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful Story!

Great Pride and Prejudice love story with a different twist. Lots of passion, a struggle for trust and acceptance with a happy ending.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A hard lessened learned

If you could sum up Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter in three words, what would they be?

Misunderstanding, love, and forgiveness.

What did you like best about this story?

Elizabeth growing to love her husband and trying to make him happy. Let’s say it was hard work, more than I’m could have imagined.

Which character – as performed by Stevie Zimmerman – was your favorite?

Elizabeth of course. Stevie Zimmerman made All the characters come to life and is always a pleasure to listen to without any of the characters sounding hokey.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Mrs. Bennet causes havoc wherever she is but what else is new.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook. I wanted more.

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The narration only enhances this masterful novel!

If you could sum up Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter in three words, what would they be?

Believable, natural, and honest reading

Who was your favorite character and why?

Elizabeth, of course. And Mr Darcy was authentic as well.

What does Stevie Zimmerman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Honest reading and not at all distracting.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I've read this book before and it haunted me for days after. The narration has again reignited these same feelings.

Any additional comments?

From my original review of the novel: I have read many forced or arranged marriages "Pride and Prejudice" inspired romance novels. But in Joana Starnes' just released "Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter," Mr. Bennet has some kind of apoplectic fit, leaving him at death's door. Darcy, already in love with Elizabeth Bennet, sees the only way to protect her should the worst occur, is to marry her. And soon. Though Elizabeth still finds him abhorrent, under these dire circumstances, and after he has confessed his adoration for her, his protection and his person do not seem as repugnant as upon first acquaintance. As the story unfolds and as she becomes more familar with the man she has hastily married, she discovers he has a kind and generous heart--especially towards her. "Did he not see it dreadfully unwise to reveal quite so much of himself to her? That it would make him vulnerable in the extreme and put him in the greatest danger, were I so heartless as to use it against him? Surely he did not think her equally in love, to trust her so implicitly with every formerly hidden feeling! What a blow must it be to him, were the truth if her deep-held reservations ever to come to light. What burden of responsibility on her, to carefully conceal it from so astute a man." And that dear reader, is the crux. What happens to our beloved couple after he has successfully made her fall in love with him--and he discovers that she married him only to protect her family?
"'Aye. He deserves the world.'
And her eyes filled with tears when [Colonel] Fitzwilliam incautiously retorted, 'That is precisely what he said of you.'"

Gah! Get your tissues out and be prepared to chew a few finger nails because a lot of tears will be shed by Elizabeth and you, dear reader, before the last pages. Three nights in a row did I stay up until 3 a.m. reading Joana Starnes' latest. The evil genius that she is had me sobbing--I haven't been so emotionally distraught for pages, nay CHAPTERS, since C.P. Odom's "Consequences." This book is going to follow me for days as it did something to my soul. Felt every emotion possible. This very well may be her best yet.

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Mr. Bennets Dutiful Daughter

It was one the best variation, I have ever read or listen to. The the story was told and the twist and turns of both the characters emotions. This one is definitely a keeper.

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Surprising twists and turn

This book starts in Kent when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. Right before the proposal, Elizabeth learns that her father is seriously ill and she accepts Darcy's proposal to provide her family with security. The story proceeds as expected with Darcy showing what a good,kind and thoughtful person he really is (with some proud and haughty thrown in to keep the reader entertained). Elizabeth's opinion of Darcy, of course, begins to change and I thought our couple was home free when Elizabeth says those three little words. Much to my surprise (and absolute delight) Ms. Starnes threw in a Jane Austen worthy Hunsford moment. The pain and anguish of Darcy and Elizabeth was riveting and the narrator made me feel the emotions even more so. I can honestly say that I am glad I listened to this book on audio before I read it. One of my all time favorites.

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  • Karla
  • Los Angeles
  • 07-19-17

Beautifully written

I must say out of all the Pride and Prejudice variations I have listened to, this book has got to be by far, the most realistically written. The character growth is masterfully done, especially Mr. Bingley.

Such a marvelous book! I have nothing but praise for the author.

Well worth the read/listen

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A must read or listen

I listen to many P&P variations and I must say this is so fabulous! I cried when Darcy left and loved every minute of it. Please continue to write Joana, you are so gifted. Will always look for your new books. I also love Stevie Zimmerman's readings. She is great too.

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  • Jenny
  • 12-01-17

Beautifully written, wonderfully told!

Where does Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This story is fantastic but so sad at the same time. Mr Darcy proposes to Elizabeth when he learns her father is seriously ill and not likely to survive. He protects her and her family whilst declaring himself in love with her. Elizabeth realises she doesn't know him at all and the reader hears all of her conflicting thoughts as her husband praises and insults her - often in the same sentence! Elizabeth has such a difficult time trying to figure out his character. At times he is kind and thoughtful, at other times he is nothing short of awful. As if this is not bad enough, a further misunderstanding occurs in which seems the couple are destined for misery. I felt so sorry for Elizabeth. A real highlight of the story is the stern telling off Darcy receives from Bingley.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I really liked this version of Elizabeth as she tries to be a good wife to such a difficult and complex husband. Colonel Fitzwilliam is briiliant and Mr Bingley is a real hero. This story focuses very much on Darcy and Elizabeth, particularly her inner thoughts which really adds depth to her character. The reader introduced to the reflections of Mrs Reynolds which adds more breadth to the story and was a really nice addition.

What does Stevie Zimmerman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Stevie Zimmerman is clearly a very talented lady! Her speaking voice is lovely to listen to as it is calm and clear with expression in all the right places. All her character voices are distinct and really good. Mr Darcy's voice is slow and considered, the Colonel has a more cheery inflection and Elizabeth sounds constantly confused!! All the voices are in keeping with what we know about the characters and reflect their feelings about each of their circumstances. I felt that Ms Zimmerman really understood the story and the characters and was not simply reading the story.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This is a tale of complex emotions, lots of trouble and difficulties, disappointment and sadness... but it is amazing and really worth the emotional journey Joana Starnes takes the reader on.

There is some fantastic humour from Elizabeth's musings and interactions between the Colonel, Bingley and Darcy. This tale has an unusually long Epilogue told from Mrs Reynolds perspective which was just lovely.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • xyz
  • 04-18-18

Great story and excellent narration

Really enjoyed this p&p variation. Well written and stevie zimmerman does a great job narrating it