Monday, November 24, 2014

The Falmouth Connection by Joana Starnes + Giveaway

I am pleased to welcome Joana Starnes back to Leatherbound Reviews! Joana has recently published her latest novel, The Falmouth Connection. For your reading pleasure, Ms. Starnes talks about villains and provides you with quite an engaging excerpt. Enjoy!

Mr. Darcy Vs. The Perfect Villain
A Spot of ‘Cloak-and-Dagger’

Thanks, Jakki, for inviting me to Leatherbound Reviews again, it’s such a pleasure and an honour to be here!

I believe this is my last guest-post on ‘The Falmouth Connection’ blog tour, and I thought I’d finish on a rather different note than I began.

If you have visited ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Facebook page, you might have found several different excerpts from the book. If not, there are links on my website and, if you are intrigued, please come and have a look. Some excerpts are humorous, as interactions between Mr. Darcy and his cousin often are. Some are verging on the silly and, needless to say, they feature Lydia and/or Mrs. Bennet. Others are deeply romantic, like a certain kiss in a deserted garden in the middle of the night. But so far none have introduced the villains – and maybe it’s time to remedy that.

I had a rather different villain in mind for ‘The Falmouth Connection’ – but then I remembered a comment from a reader who was wondering why would we ever try to invent new villains, when Jane Austen has provided us with the perfect one?


Ah, yes. Mr. Wickham – the very man we all love to hate!

I must admit that Elizabeth Cohen, another one of my very kind readers, rather hit the spot when she asked if I should start writing stories where Mr. Wickham has some redeeming quality or another, now that I have met Adrian Lukis at the Jane Austen Festival earlier this year and found him to be such a wonderful person and so incredibly tolerant with two young ladies and a matron who frankly should find themselves at the receiving end of a restraining order ;)

Maybe I should consider this one day – or maybe not. For now, I’m rather glad that ‘The Falmouth Connection’ was already written before September and no such dilemmas got in the way.

The story needed a villain – and who can do a better job than Mr. Wickham? Not merely because he is a perfect villain in his own right, but also because we all know that no one can push Mr. Darcy’s buttons quite as effectively as Wickham. Childhood frustrations, which we can only speculate on (and we often do, in our variations), then the very real misdeeds he was guilty of in later years, culminating in the ultimate betrayal of making designs on young and innocent Georgiana. The fact that Elizabeth champions Wickham in the midst of Darcy’s first proposal adds fierce jealousy to the already explosive mix!

But fear not, there are no such explosions in ‘The Falmouth Connection’. Mr. Darcy does not get to make the Hunsford proposal and many changes to the plot occur as a result.

One thing will never change though – and that is the deep aversion that the former childhood playmates now feel for each other. And when they happen to meet with weapons in hand, none would back down – and hang the consequences!

 * * * *

Excerpt from ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Chapter 19

Wickham’s eyes remained trained on his chief opponent, who stood before him poised to lunge and just as carefully assessing his own chances. He grinned and could not deny himself the vast pleasure to taunt his hated adversary.

“Lo and behold,” he sneered. “What have we here? I do believe ‘tis the knight in shining armour armed with a fire-iron! Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Darcy, and ill-prepared as well. How do you think your pitiful poker would fare against my blade?” he sneered again and apparently succeeded in giving the other pause, for he saw Darcy swiftly casting around for a better weapon.

Taking advantage of his foe’s momentary distraction, Wickham lunged and struck but Darcy, devil take him, had impeccable reflexes! The fire-iron parried the vicious blow – and might have also dented his blade in the process, Wickham noted with an oath. Well, be that as it may! Darcy could duel with a poker if it pleased him, but he would have the devil of a job skewering anyone with the blunt, crude weapon, Wickham smirked. Yet his smug self-satisfaction faded once his opponent turned and twisted, skilfully avoided yet another blow and lunged to grab a blade from the positively medieval display that Mrs. Pencarrow had chosen to adorn her great hall with – to Wickham’s detriment and disappointment.


 The damned thing was not even secured on the wall and readily came off the panoply into Darcy’s hand as the maligned poker clattered to the floor.

It seemed it was now Darcy’s turn to goad him.

“You were saying, Wickham?” he shot back with a curl of his lip that his childhood playmate would have dearly loved to reshape with a cutlass.

With a loud grunt, Wickham lunged again, giving his best strike, but blade met blade in yet another parry, and he could only hope that his enemy’s weapon was a mere ornament devoid of substance or blunted by disuse and age.

To his ill-fortune, it was nothing of the sort.

 * *

‘This must be the stuff of nightmares,’ Elizabeth thought, overcome with terror, as the scene before her erupted into violent commotion, the sickening clash of metal against metal echoing in the vast empty hall.

Hands pressed against her mouth in agonising fear, she watched them lunge, thrust, feint and lunge again, the poor light from the few guttering candles making the scene more terrifying still. Not for herself, not for her own safety but his, Good Lord, for his!

How could she have been so blind, so dreadfully blind and dense? Why did she need to see him facing mortal peril to understand at last how much he meant to her? Was she so devoid of reason and imagination that she had to witness this primeval scene before she understood that her whole world would plunge into grief-filled darkness if anything befell him?

 * * * *

For a chance to find out more, please leave a comment to take part in the international giveaway of one e-copy of ‘The Falmouth Connection’.

There are more excerpts available on my website and on the book’s Facebook page, along with images of beautiful Cornwall and of the places that have inspired this story. Please visit and I hope you’ll like what you’ll see.

Thanks again, Jakki, for having me as your guest at Leatherbound Reviews, for your warm welcome and your wonderful support – as always, it’s greatly appreciated!

Thank you, Joana, for a lovely excerpt! I do so love a good sparring scene. And seeing Elizabeth's reaction to it makes it even more enjoyable. 

From the publisher:
Just as Mr. Darcy finally decides to propose to the enticing Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she is summoned to Falmouth, to meet a relation she never knew she had. 

Thus, the ill-starred Hunsford proposal is avoided – but before he could even begin to understand his luck, adverse circumstances hasten to conspire against him, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is compelled to follow the woman he loves to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril where few – if any – are what they seem to be…

Joana Starnes is kindly offering ONE (1) e-copy of The Falmouth Connection to one lucky commenter. To enter, please leave a comment for Joana with your Twitter handle or email address. 
Giveaway open internationally!!
Giveaway ends December 1, 2014!
Best of luck!! 

 Connect with Joana Starnes
Read It Now!


  1. I always wanted to see a fight between Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham...I really like the variations in witch the two have more and more scenes together!

    1. I agree, Loren :)
      I love a duel between them, preferably 'old style' rather than 'pistols at dawn'. Something that brings to mind the fencing scene and 'I shall conquer this! I shall!!"

  2. Thanks for sharing this excerpt!

    1. So glad it caught your eye, Allison! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Jakki and Joana - I LOVED this book from cover to cover. I've read it completely twice (and I am NOT confessing to how many times I've read and reread the garden scene). I was so tired when I first read it as it was late at night, but I just could not put it down. I kept thinking that I would just finish the chapter and then put it aside until morning. Then you would leave a cliffhanger or a reason to turn the page.

    Your storytelling ability is brilliant, Joana. This is now in my top three fiction books that I've read in the past two years (since I started JA variations) and my top ten in my lifetime. It's truly that good. Two thumbs up for you. I'd give you more thumbs if I had them.

    Jakki, thank you so much for hosting. This has to make you feel so good to have a book that is fit for all audiences and an author that has risen above the ordinary. Two thumbs up to you too. (Did I get all of my two, to, too's right?)

    1. Please do not enter me as I have this in both print and ebook already. I've even bought extra copies as gifts. I'm now a Falmouth Connection addict and wonder if there is a 12 step program. Or, might there be fewer steps for an addict that is completely contented with her affliction?

    2. Thanks so much, Joy, for these amazing messages, you're so very very kind!!!!

      I'm absolutely delighted that you liked it so much and the only thing that could make me happier is having the chance to take you to the places I described and point to the location of the garden scene or the proposal(s).

      I guess you've formed your own mental pictures of them so pointing out this / that / the other might not do much good, but still it would be wonderful to meet up someday!

      Thanks for all the thumb-ups and the lovely words!

  4. Great exercept, thanks for sharing with us. Mr Darcy fights with Wickham and poor Elizabeth is watching them. What will happen after?? NOW I am very curious!!

    1. [Spoiler alert?] Don't think so....

      I think it's safe to say that no one gets skewered. We can't have Darcy carted off to the local gaol for killing Wickham (much as the scoundrel deserves it) - and as for the reverse, it doesn't bear thinking!

      Thanks for taking part, Chiara & fingers crossed.

  5. Sorry, I forgot the email address: chiarapiccirilla(at)hotmail(dot)it

  6. Thrilling excerpt! And LOL, Wickham really does get under Darcy's skin, but I think its partly b/c he manages to dupe Elizabeth as one of the man. Look forward to reading this one.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

    1. So glad you liked the excerpt, Sophia Rose! I think so too, Wickham had managed to get away with so much in his dealings with Darcy, but bending Elizabeth's ear must have been the last straw!

  7. Another exciting expert, always leaving us wanting more! I'm going to go back and re-read your other ones...

    Thank you Jakki for hosting and another opportunity for a giveaway. My email address is tdungnvu (at) yahoo (dot) com

  8. Dung Vu, thanks so much for the kind words! So glad you liked the excerpts and I hope you'll like the rest of the story too! Best of luck!

  9. Thanks the great excerpt....definitely makes me want to keep reading! Good choice!

    1. Great to see you here, Kimberley! Thanks for coming over to read and comment and I'm so glad you enjoyed the excerpt! Best of luck in the giveaway!

  10. Wonderful excerpt! I wanted to see it played out, but, no! You cut it short! LOL! Thanks for a chance to win a copy! canapple7 (at) cox (dot) net

    1. I'm so thrilled it caught your eye, Candy, and sorry about the mini-excerpt! It was moving too fast towards the point of giving away everybody's secrets and I just had to cut it short with an imaginary cutlass ;)

      Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and thanks for your comment!