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 ;)
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!
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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?
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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.
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!!
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