Guest post + Giveaway with Joana Starnes


Hello dear readers,

I am very honoured to welcome Joana Starnes to From Pemberley to Milton for a guest post on her recently released The Unthinkable Triangle. I had read 3 of her previous books and reviewed The Subsequent Proposal which I loved, so it is with great joy that I now participate in her blog tour with this guest post and a review to be published on the 26th. Mrs. Starnes was kind enough to propose a giveaway of The Unthinkable Triangle, so don’t miss the opportunity to win her wonderful book by placing any question or comment on her guest post and/or the review.

The Unthinkable Triangle_Final cover

* * * *

Thank you, Rita, for the wonderfully warm welcome to your lovely site! I was very taken from the very start with the name you have chosen for your blog, because North and South is one of my favourite adaptations, right up there with Pride and Prejudice 1995.


Mrs Gaskell’s novel is perhaps a tad too Victorian for me sometimes, in ways that Jane Austen’s ones could never be, but what I like best about North and South is that we are left in no doubt about what Mr Thornton is thinking. We are told nowhere near as much about Mr Darcy’s thoughts and feelings, which perhaps is one of the reasons why we are so very keen to find them explored in Pride and Prejudice variations. But Mrs Gaskell tells us plainly that Mr Thornton’s heart ‘beat thick with longing love’ when Margaret Hale comes to take her leave from him and his family and let them know that she would henceforth live hundreds of miles away, in London, with her aunt.

John Thornton

There are many reasons why I think the adaptation is even better than the novel, and the main one must be the unspeakably romantic ‘Look back! Look back at me!’ – the film-makers’ masterstroke, in my opinion.


I can easily picture Mr Darcy whispering the same, should Elizabeth be taken away from him, towards a life with his dearest cousin. Because this is the premise I have chosen for my latest book, The Unthinkable Triangle: on the day before the one when the infamous Hunsford proposal would have taken place, Colonel Fitzwilliam offers marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet – and is accepted.


Unthinkable indeed, for Darcy to have his best friend as a rival. Too cruel, some might say. Too cruel to both. But it was incredibly tempting to pursue a path that would bring Elizabeth and Darcy constantly together. Not to argue this time, but to become closer and closer, as she grows to know and understand him. The fact that this is sheer torture to Darcy is, I believe, richly deserved to some extent. He should have proposed while he had the chance. He had met Elizabeth six months earlier than his cousin, and he should have seen her true worth sooner, rather than think of no one but himself.


And now he is forced to contemplate a future where Elizabeth would be firmly in his life, but never his. Worse still, no one can guess his feelings. Not his cousin – heavens, no! Not Elizabeth, that would be equally unthinkable. Not anyone else either. But some things go too deep for concealment. And before too long of course the truth would out.


The following excerpt shows a night at the opera, when the secret is revealed to a family member who has no love for either Darcy or Colonel Fitzwilliam. The man in question is the colonel’s eldest brother, who had for years envied their closeness and can barely wait to taunt them with what he had just learned.

Covent Garden 2

* * * *


Excerpt from The Unthinkable Triangle


“Darcy! How glad I am to see you,” he found himself greeted with unusual warmth.

He did not let his surprise show and merely nodded.


“I see you have come to pay your respects to my mother. I was about to do the same. I came with Lady Grantley’s party, and oddly enough they insisted on hearing the first act. But I am positively thrilled they did. I would have been distraught to miss such a peerless occasion.”

Out of character as it might have been for his eldest cousin to enthuse over a musical performance, Darcy saw fit to civilly agree.

“The soprano is uncommonly good.”

“Oh, nay, nay, you mistake my meaning,” the other laughed. “I was not speaking of the opera, although it is pleasant enough, I grant you, for a production of a human composer sung by featherless bipeds, to quote the late Diogenes,” he drawled.

Darcy forbore to observe that it was actually Plato who had defined man as a creature with two feet and no feathers. Morton’s tenuous grip on the classics was none of his own affair, and he was about to bow and take his leave, when his cousin fixed him with a diverted stare.

“It was you, Darcy, whom I must thank for the best entertainment of the evening.”

“I have not the pleasure of understanding you.”

“Whereas now I can safely say the opposite. Oh, Darcy, this is priceless! My honourable cousin lusting after my dear brother’s woman. You could not take your eyes off her all night!”

Darcy’s hands clenched behind his back.

“You are mistaken,” he enunciated darkly.

“Oh, spare yourself the trouble to deny it. I saw you clearly. Does Richard know? Is this why he stormed away in such a haste? Oh, I could not have wished for anything grander! Mind, it explains your charming fit of passion at Netherfield, last summer. Pray tell me, how does it feel to know that your dearest relation will be the one to enjoy your best-beloved’s charms – indeed, that maybe he already had? And under your own roof, no less. Or are you and my brother still so close that you would share everything?”

The savage urge to maim and kill – kill with bare hands – erupted in him with the devastating force of a volcano. Under the thin veneer of civilisation, the primeval instinct of the wounded beast battered to break through – and it was terrifying, because the last vestiges of sanity screamed that this time he could not react. Not here. Not in the sight and hearing of so many people, who would delight in vicious gossip that would drag her through the mud. And since he would rather die than let that happen, he must find the strength to walk away.

Yet his feet would not obey him. He remained frozen to the spot and could not even stop himself from shaking. The only victory was that his hands were still clenched behind his back rather than strangling the living daylights out of Morton.

Oblivious to the risks, or perhaps perfectly aware of Darcy’s reasons for inaction, the other gloated.

“What, no bare-knuckle fights? No more threats of sending seconds? How very sensible of you. Let me assure you, I shall reciprocate. I will keep your entertaining little secret. I do not wish to spark a scandal that might let you have your heart’s desire. Nor would I help my brother out of the pit that he has dug himself into. No, let him marry her and starve. I am looking forward to us all gathering together at some time or other. Shall we say at Ashford next year for Christmas?”

With that parting shot and a scant bow, Morton walked past him towards his mother’s box, leaving Darcy to return in a dark trance to his own.


* * * *


I hope you have enjoyed the excerpt, even if Darcy certainly did not. If you would like to see what happens next, and indeed what bare-knuckle fight the dastardly roué was talking about, please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a Kindle copy of The Unthinkable Triangle, available internationally. In order to increase your chances, do be sure to also comment on Rita’s review, that will soon be published on her blog. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment and many thanks again, Rita, for having me as your guest, it was wonderful to be here!


About the author:


Joana Starnes lives in the South of England with her family. She has published five Austen-related novels, all available at Amazon in print and Kindle version:


  • From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley ~ A Pride & Prejudice sequel
  • The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion
  • The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation
  • The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set in Poldark territory
  • The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation, where loyalty comes at loggerheads with love

You can connect with Joana Starnes on ; ; or visit ‘The Unthinkable Triangle Facebook page’ for details of giveaways and lots of images that have inspired this story.



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45 responses to “Guest post + Giveaway with Joana Starnes

  1. Inês

    Thanks for this guest post! Rita, i’m looking forward to reading your review! Keep up the good work 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Diane Mota

    Tell me all about Darcy’s ‘charming fit of passion’!!
    This excerpt has left me needing more.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Glynis

    Another great excerpt from this book. I started off unsure about reading a book where Elizabeth is not with Darcy but the more bits I have read and the more I have to read it all. Thanks for the giveaway

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great to hear that, Glynis! She’s not with anyone else either, the 3rd in this triangle is hardly ever there (thank you, Napoleon 😉 ) and although she’s not ‘with Darcy’ in spirit yet, in person she is, more than ever. I’m so glad you enjoyed this excerpt too and good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this scene. Now Darcy’s deep dark secret is out! I do not know what upset the Colonel, but the allusion was good. Thank you for the scene. I look forward to reading this book.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow! Talk about control… I would be very careful, if I was Morton, the next time there’s no one around him and Darcy…

    Please, please, enter me in the giveaway!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Tita Wyatt

    That excerpt was marvelous!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Maureen C

    Love the connection to North & South! “Look back at me” pulls my heartstrings every time. Poor Darcy. He needs to be more careful.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Danae

    I would dearly love to win a copy!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Chiara

    This excerpt is wonderful, it made me more curious about this novel.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh, my! Am I ever so curious about the outcome of such an inconveniently timed proposal…!

    Would love to read this book, as I am sure I will. Definitely would be a fantastic way to enter the world of Jane Austen’s Fan Fiction1

    A pleasure to read from both you, Rita, and Mrs. Joan Starnes!

    Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you liked the post and that the excerpt might tempt you into Jane Austen Fan Fiction. There is something for everyone in the genre and such an amazing number of very talented authors! I’m sure that Rita has plenty of great recommendations. Thanks for the lovely comment and all the best.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you will love this book Sónia! And it will be a fantastic entry door to the JAFF world. This genre is so your cup of tea that you just needed someone to introduce you to it. I’m sure you’ll get so addicted to it as I am. Once you start reading JAFF it’s hard to read something else 🙂 After reading The Unthinkable Triangle I’m you sure you will also love Joana Starnes cross overs The Subsequent Proposal and The Second Chance where Pride and Prejudice meets other Jane Austen novels . Good luck for the giveaway and welcome to the wonderful world of JAFF 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pippa

    Rita,its official,I’ve been awaken from motherhood back to my hobbies again. “(…) leaving Darcy to return in a dark trance to his own (…)” – Just as I remembered him!

    Liked by 2 people

    • To some extent that’s exactly what got me started, Pippa. Nothing like a couple of toddler tantrums to make me appreciate Darcy’s silent brooding even more 😉 Thanks for stopping by to read the post and comment and I’m so glad that the excerpt brought back fond memories!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy to have helped you get back to your reading habits Pippa! Darcy in this book is just as perfect as the one Jane Austen created over 200 years ago. That is the magic of JAFF, isn’t it? To be able to revisit our beloved characters over and over again! Best of luck to the giveaway and happy readings 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. writinglynda

    This sounds wonderful, though I must say it looks as though Darcy will have a very rough time of it. I do agree that some of it was deserved given his selfish behavior, as long as the ending is a happy one… Thanks for the preview, and the giveaway!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you liked the excerpt! You’re right, he’s in for a rough ride, poor man, but the happy ending is guaranteed. It takes a much braver person than me to write Jane Austen fan-fiction where Elizabeth ends up with anyone but Mr Darcy. I can’t see that happening, ever, so I can’t write it either. So with that in mind, I hope you’ll enjoy the ride 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Dung

    Yikes! What a tangle web for Darcy! I didn’t think you could find a way to torture Darcy more in a novel… I wonder what his cousin will do with the information!

    Liked by 2 people

    • “I didn’t think you could find a way to torture Darcy more in a novel…”
      LOL Dung, I think I should blame it on the weather. The idea for this story came to me the summer before last, while I was camping with my family in the Lake District. The weather was abysmal. Rain at night, nearly flooding the tents, and almost continuous drizzle during the day as my family bravely tackled the hills and I sat in the pub with my notebook, scribbling. Maybe Elizabeth and Mr Darcy would have got together in chapter 3 if we had a sunny holiday. But then it would have been a very short story 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dung

        I’m good with putting Darcy through a good amount angst as long as their a HEA for the Darcy and Elizabeth. What’s that saying… “A good book is always too short” so I’m glad it’s not a short story!


  14. I’m a total newcomer to your blog, Rita, only discovering through Joana’s blog tour, but I have subscribed from here on in. There are so many things to say about this post, both of you, so I apologise for waffling on at some length. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Can you imagine how things might have been in Jane Austen’s books, had she lived just a few decades later and been able to incorporate the railways into them? Watching THAT scene in the dramatisation of North and South must count for at least honorary membership of the “Melting into a Puddle” club.

    I actually only saw North and South for the first time earlier this year (shock horror!). Somehow, I missed it when it was first broadcast. Possibly got confused thinking it was a repeat of the American Civil War drama of the same name, starring Patrick Swayze. Anyway, the charms of Mr. Armitage had passed me by until he played Guy of Gisborne in the most recent version of Robin Hood on TV. He was by far the best thing about that series (Richard Armitage in black leather, what’s not to love?) and played “tortured” very well in it. Get that reference, Joana? Then, although I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings films, I wasn’t that impressed with The Hobbit series, with one, or two, major exceptions. I never expected to find Thorin Oakenshield sexy! (Oh, and Aidan Turner) It would have been lovely to see Mr. Armitage’s interpretation of Darcy but I expect that time has come and gone.

    I suppose I ought to get on to the job at hand now. If Morton had any redeeming qualities at all, then I guess he might, barely, qualify for membership of the “Let’s Torture Darcy” club. BUT, card bearing members MUST have Darcy’s best interests at heart in the end and he obviously doesn’t. Can he be trusted to keep it to himself? I guess only reading the entire book will tell. He didn’t learn anything from his previous lesson, did he? Loved Sophie’s reading of that, as I said on her blog. You can sense all of Darcy’s emotions seething just under the surface in this excerpt. Good job it happened in a public place for everyone’s sake.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Anji!!!! Thanks so much for the wonderful comment. Still giggling inanely at all manner of things, like “Richard Armitage in black leather, what’s not to love?” – what, indeed 😉 ? – or sexy Thorin Oakenshield.

      I do wish Richard Armitage had played more characters like John Thornton! He seems to go for the deep and dark rather than the romantic, and isn’t that a pity! I think he would have been a perfect Darcy, he has ‘brooding & tortured soul’ down to a T (yep, I caught the reference, how could I miss it?). I guess you’re right, that ship has sailed, and isn’t that such a pity too!

      Still, there’s hope. Aidan Turner can brood with the best of them so who knows? I always thought he’d make a perfect Darcy too. Or maybe he’ll be busy with Poldark for years. Somehow, I can’t find it in me to complain about that 😉

      As for Morton, you’ve nailed it re. the main requisite for card-bearing club members, and he certainly doesn’t have Darcy’s best interests to heart. So glad you liked the excerpts and thanks for putting such a grin on my face every time!


    • Welcome to From Pemberley to Milton Anji! I hope you enjoy the blog and that it becomes a place where you can find new books to read and comment all things related to Pride and Prejudice and North and South. The possibility to discuss these topics with other readers is one of the things that keeps me motivated. 🙂
      I only discovered North and South a few years ago as well. I saw the BBC series and Richard Armitage’s John Thornton captivated me immediately. I loved the series so much that I had to read the book, and ever since, I have to say that my heart became forever divided between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Thornton. I haven’t seen Robin Hood yet, but knowing that I will see Richard Armitage in black leather has left me without a doubt I will see it in the upcoming weeks. 🙂
      One would say Morton should have learned from that previous encounter right? It was one of my favourite scenes in the book. So very romantic!!! I loved to see Darcy defending Elizabeth’s honour so vigorously. We definably can sense all of Darcy’s emotions in the entire book, but I’ll talk about that on my review tomorrow. 🙂
      Once again, thanks for visisting Anji.:)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m completely intrigued! Thanks for offering a giveaway!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Ana Viseu

    This little sneak peek has definetly spiked my curiosity! Sounds like a great book! Cant wait to read it 🙂 thank you Rita for sharing these reviews as now I have found a new author to follow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by Ana! I hope you do enjoy the review I’ll post tomorrow. This is a book I’m sure you will love, and Joana Starnes is definitely na author to follow!
      I’ve just finished The Unthinkable Triangle and am already eagger for her to publish another book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks you both, Ana and Rita, for your ever so kind comments! I’m glad that the excerpt caught your eye, Ana, and I hope you’ll like the rest of the story too. Thanks again, Rita, for the warm welcome to your lovely site, it’s such a wonderful place to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Diana Inacio

    This book sounds really interesting! Thank you Rita for the guest post and for sharing this with all of us 🙂 I will for sure want to know more about Joana’s work!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Regina

    This sounds intriguing especially as Darcy has to put his vaunted self control to such use in such a public place! I always enjoy Joana Starnes’ work and am certain this will more than live up to her other novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. ASolano

    Can’t wait to read the review and book!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: Giveaway Winner – The Unthinkable Triangle | From Pemberley to Milton

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