Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden – Excerpt

Good Afternoon everyone,

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been trying to diversify not only the books I read, but especially the ones I review and promote here at From Pemberley to Milton, so I am very happy to have an opportunity to be a part of the blog tour of Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden.

This book is a mystery set in 1878 and I was very interested in the story when I read the blurb, but the excerpt we’re sharing today was what captivated me the most. I loved the writing style, especially the first person speech. Is this something you usually like too? Are you interested in diversifying your reading habits too? And is this the type of books you’d be interested in reading apart from Austenesque novels?

Now that I have Karen Odden under my radar, I believe she will be an author to follow 😊

I would like to thank not only Ms. Odden for visiting today, but also Laurel Ann Nattress for allowing me to be a part of this tour 😊 Thank you ladies!


NEW book blurb

In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.

September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule. 
 
For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.

Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.
 
As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.

Under a Veiled Moon 2022

You can find Under a Veiled Moon at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and Audible


As I reached the bottom step, a shadow emerged from the alley,  and I felt someone approach from behind. My right hand was on my truncheon even before I turned. 

Two hands came up in a gesture of surrender. “It’s just me.” Colin’s voice picked over the syllables in a way that told me he was two or three drinks along, but not so far gone that he didn’t care that it showed. His boots scuffed the dirt as he came near, and he lowered his hands and thrust them into his coat pockets. The night breeze, ripe with the scent of smoke and meat from the nearby butchery, blew Colin’s brown curls off his forehead. 

He must’ve been lurking in that alley, waiting for me. All that Ma said, all her worry, made me temper my voice. “Why’d you run off, Col?” I asked. “I’d have liked a proper visit with you.” 

“Ach.” His shoulders twitched as if avoiding a weight. “Elsie’s always harping at me like a bloody shrew.” His voice slurred over the last word. “But I stayed ’cause of a message I have for ye.” 

My guess was Elsie wasn’t shrewish so much as she was worried, same as Ma, but she had a different way of showing it. Smelling the whiskey on Colin’s breath and observing the surly set to his jaw, I was beginning to understand their concern. 

I shifted my feet to maneuver him into a position where the light from the window of the nearby pub would fall on his face. I hadn’t been looking at him closely enough of late. My strongest memories were of him as a young boy of six or so, slender and light-haired, his eyes sparkling with interest as I taught him how to whittle a whistle or tie a stopper knot that wouldn’t slip. 

Colin’s eyes were as brilliantly blue now as they’d been then, just like his older brother Pat’s, although Pat had never looked at me so warily. “Don’t bark at me, all right?” Colin asked. 

I replied evenly, “Am I likely to?”
He pulled a face.

“All right, I won’t,” I promised. “What sort of message?”
“It’s from O’Hagan.”
I stared. O’Hagan.

Those three syllables were all it took to bring me back to thirteen years ago, when I’d been one of O’Hagan’s regular boxers, in a bare-knuckles hall underground, no more than a sweaty pen at the bottom of a ladder, where the dirt wasn’t thick enough to absorb all the blood and cheap rotgut whiskey that fell. I’d boxed for O’Hagan until the night he’d asked me to throw a match, and I’d done something bloody stupid that ended with me fleeing Whitechapel, sleeping rough until I found my feet. 

“Why’d he send you, instead of coming to me himself?” I let him see my disgust at O’Hagan’s cowardice. 

Colin glanced back toward the house. “He knows you used to live with us. Mebbe he thought you’d listen if I was the one asking.” He sniffed. “Instead of payin’ him no mind like you well might.” 

I frowned. O’Hagan and I had declared a truce of sorts years ago. I had never come after him for keeping illegal boxing halls and a fleet of bookmakers, and in return, I’d been able to move about Whitechapel unmolested. I certainly harbored no affection for O’Hagan, but I wondered why Colin assumed I’d ignore him. However, it wasn’t worth asking, with Colin in this state. 

“He just wants to meet you,” Colin said. “To talk.” 

Guesses about why ran through my head with the speed of a fast current, but I asked merely, “About what?” 

Colin’s eyes veered away, and he shrugged. “Might have something to do with the Cobbwallers.” 

The muscles across my upper back tightened. 

O’Hagan belonged to the Cobbwallers now? I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that James McCabe’s gang was running boxing halls as well as everything else. But like all London gang leaders, McCabe demanded absolute loyalty and discretion from his members. I couldn’t imagine a circumstance that would cause O’Hagan to discuss anything about the Cobbwallers with me, a policeman. 

“Go on,” I said. 

“Two Cobbwaller men are dead.” Colin peered at me aslant. “Murdered.” 

My stomach lurched. In the wake of the Clerkenwell bombing, police had sought out and killed Cobbwallers. That was a decade ago, but it was a black mark in our history, and no doubt O’Hagan and McCabe remembered it. “Are they blaming police?” 

“Dunno.” 

His evasive look sparked hot fear along my nerves. “Colin, you’re not mixed up with the Cobbwallers, are you?” 

There was the briefest pause before he drew his head back as if in surprise and shook it dismissively. “Nae.” 

That hesitation made me long to press him further, but it was almost as if I felt Belinda’s hand, gentle on my sleeve, counseling patience. There would be time to ask again when Colin was sober. 

Besides, if I did as Colin asked, he might confide in me more readily. 

“All right.” I stepped forward and put my arm around his shoulder, tugged him close for a second. “Tell O’Hagan I’ll meet him.” As I released him, his eyes betrayed a flash of relief. …

I watched him stride away. He’d been a lively child, impulsive and mouthy and at times reckless of his own safety. Sometimes I’d catch him imitating Pat and me, in the way we’d carry ourselves, or wear our caps or hold a knife. It annoyed Pat to no end, and he’d shoo Colin off, but I didn’t mind. When I was one of the youngest members of Simms’s thieving gang, I’d watch the older boys swaggering and try it for myself later as I walked down a quiet street alone. So I’d give Colin a wink, and he’d give me a roguish smile back. …

Just how close were O’Hagan and his ilk brushing up against these people I loved? 

The thought put a thick knot in the soft place underneath my ribs. 


NEW author bio

Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English from New York University and subsequently taught literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books and journals, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes & Noble classics series and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). Her previous novels, also set in 1870s London, have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Karen lives in Arizona with her family and her rescue beagle Rosy.

Karen Odden headshot 2021

WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

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Under a Veiled Moon Book Tour Graphic

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The Barrister’s Bride by Suzan Lauder

the barrister's wife4.5 stars

The Barrister’s Bride is a variation in which Mr. Darcy is a younger son who inherited not only some money from his uncle, but also a bride whose identity he doesn’t know in the beginning of the story. I found this plot simultaneously different and exciting in its newness, and yet familiar and comforting in its proximity to the original story, so I couldn’t stop listening to the audiobook.

This novel is very well written and extremely engaging, especially in the first half of the story when we are still trying to understand the characters circumstances and personalities. I felt compelled to continue reading to see what would happen next, how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship would evolve, and how Mr. George Darcy was truly like. Even if the pacing in the second half of the book slows down a little, I was already too immersed in the book to let it go easily.

I enjoyed witnessing the relationships slowly building in this book, especially the one between Elizabeth and Darcy as they have an unusual path to HEA. Their relationship is built through time and as they go through different situations in the story, and not through endless small talk dialogues, walks in the park and analysis of everything the other is saying or doing in one afternoon. The author took the time to develop a relationship that seemed real and believable and that makes it an interesting relationship to observe. I particularly liked the fact that in a way there is a rival for Fitzwilliam’s Darcy’s love, and that he is forced to question if he is the one Elizabeth Bennet really loves and desires as her husband.

Another aspect of this book I liked was the London setting because it gave the story an extra appeal and vivacity which was even more visible due to the authors writing style. I truly appreciated the attention the author gave to regency wording and behaviours as it made the story more immersive.

I did have one small quibble with this book, and that was Elizabeth’s gullibility concerning Mr.  Wickham. She was a perceptive and self-assured character in this novel, so it was somewhat surprising to see her fall for his deceptions for so long. I would also expect both her and Mr. Darcy to have been harsher and more direct towards him in the end of the book, and I couldn’t understand why Mr. Darcy didn’t take measures sooner.

Despite this small quibble and the difference in the pacing of the book from the first half to the second, I truly enjoyed this story and the balance and attention that was given to all characters.

Summing up, The Barrister’s Bride is a well written and unique storyline that easily captures and holds readers attention. It is unexpected and romantic, and I believe most readers will enjoy it, so I recommend it to those who like interesting Darcy and Elizabeth characters.

Audiobook Narration:

Jane Level

Jane Bennet’s Level

This was the first audiobook I heard narrated by Scott Fleming, and I was very surprised by his unique approach to narration. Mr. Fleming not only differentiates male and female voices, as would be expected, but he also uses a different voice depending on the POV of each chapter, so the reader always knows if a chapter is being told from Darcy’s point of view, or Elizabeth’s, because the voice of the narrator is different. I found that very interesting even if it took some time to adjust to.

Overall, and even if there was an exaggeration in the tone on some emotional scenes, I liked his narration and recommend the audiobook version of the book.

You can find The Barrister’s Wife at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited and on Audible

 

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Filed under JAFF, Persuasion

An Unpleasant Sort of Man by Michelle D’arcy

An Unpleasant Sort of Man4 stars

An Unpleasant Sort of Man starts out with a discussion between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham taking place at Oakham Mount. Everything goes as would be expected, but shortly after this secretive meeting, Mr. Wickham is found dead and Mr. Darcy becomes a person of interest in the investigation. Before things turn dire for Mr. Darcy, Miss Elizabeth Bennet comes forward to let everyone know she was also at Oakham Mount and that not only has she heard the entire discussion, but also saw Mr. Wickham leave the place unharmed. This turn of events will not only clear Mr. Darcy’s name, but also allow him to develop a closer relationship with the Bennet’s, which will be the main narrative in the remaining of the book.

The book is written in a simple and clear manner, a fact I really enjoy because it is easy to follow the story and it makes it a very agreeable reading experience. Michelle D’arcy’s first book, Happy by Accident…or not?, excelled in the quality of the dialogues and that characteristic is also present in this book, especially in the last chapters where not only do we see witty dialogues, but also sentences full of sweet humour.

I enjoyed the fact that Mr. Bennet is more present in this story, and that he decides to be more active when it comes to the management of his house and especially his family. The relationship he developed with Darcy and his support of Elizabeth’s feelings and decisions was also endearing, and he became one of my favourite characters in this story because of that. Despite the fact that some characters like Mr. Bennet improved their manners, they are all true to Austen’s portrayal which reveals the author knows and respects Austen’s work.

I also enjoyed the fact that the murder investigation didn’t occupy much page time, and that the Bingley sisters are not overly present, sparing us the annoyance of reading their overtures.

An Unpleasant Sort of Man is a sweet and angst free book, and as I am an angst addict, I felt it lacked some action or angst at times, especially during the middle of the book where the characters simply spend pleasurable times at Longbourn getting to know one another better. It is a very sweet romance and I believe this is more directed to readers who prefer low angst stories.

Summing up, An Unpleasant Sort of Man is a well written and sweet story targeted at those who love angst free and uncomplicated plotlines where Darcy and Elizabeth take their time to get to know one another and fall in love. If this is your cup of tea, I do recommend this book.

You can find An Unpleasant Sort of Man at:

Amazon.com (currently on sale for 1,99$)

Amazon.co.uk

and Kindle Unlimited


 

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Giveaway Winners Announcement

Good afternoon everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and that you’re all taking some time to read this winter. I am not reading as much as I would like to, but I am reading more then I did in the summer, which is a good thing 🙂

Today I would like to announce several winners of the many giveaways we’ve hosted here at From Pemberley to Milton. I would like to thank Don Jacobson for being so generous with his audiobook giveaways, and also Meryton Press for always thinking of this blog to promote their books and giving away a few ebooks to our readers. Lastly, I would like to thank L.L. Diamond for working with me in the JAFF Get Together event, and for offering one of her ebooks to one of the readers participating in the survey that allowed us to present more data at the conference.

Now, without further ado, the winners are:

Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess

*** Carla***

A Dutiful Son

*** Buturot***

The Last House in Lambton

*** Carla G.***

Ebook reviewed at From Pemberley to Milton – JAFF Get Together Survey

*** Colleen***

L.L. Diamond Readers Choice Ebook – JAFF Get Together Survey

*** Glory***

I would like to ask the winners to please send your email contacts and the amazon store you use to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so that the prizes may be sent to you.

Happy Reading everyone!

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Much Ado About Persuasion by Barbara Cornthwaite Review & Giveaway

Much Ado About Persuasion4.5 stars

Much Ado About Persuasion brings together Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I enjoyed it immensely even though I was unaware of the story behind Much Ado About Nothing, so I believe it can be read without prior knowledge of the books that inspired it.

In this book Sir Walter Elliot is a pompous baronet who believes he would have been a great addition to the British Naval forces, and because of that conviction, he feels he is in debt towards naval officers because he didn’t allow them to have the pleasure of his presence in their ranks. He therefore establishes relationships with some naval officers and invites them to stay at his estate, Kellynch Hall, where the events of this novel will occur.

The naval officers he invites, Admiral Croft, Captain Wentworth, Bennick and Admiral Baldwin spend a lot of time with Sir Walter’s daughters and his neighbors Mrs. Clay, Lady Russel and the Musgrove’s, which allows for several different relationships to be developed between this eclectic group of characters. I enjoyed many of their interactions and the relationships that were created, but my favorite was the one between Miss Elizabeth Elliot and Admiral Baldwin.

I have always hated Elizabeth Elliot, but in this book, I sympathized immensely with her character and found myself inexplicably interested in seeing her find her happy place with Admiral Baldwin. She is still a proud and at times disagreeable young lady, but she is also insecure and afraid to get hurt, a fact that explains part of her coldness towards others. I loved reading her witty banters with Admiral Baldwin. She was truly a match for him, and he was exactly the type of man she needed in her life. I loved seeing their enemies to levers romance grow as much as I loved seeing all the other characters playing matchmakers.

I also liked Sir Walter’s character and his appreciation over the navy. He remains the same pompous man he is in Persuasion, but he is not as despicable as we often see him described, and he demonstrated consideration and love for his daughters, which is a change I certainly appreciated. I was also very amused with his prospective bride! I believe the author was spot on with that 🙂

Mrs. Clay was another surprise as she is also a character I usually dislike, but once more, the author made me realize there are more layers to her personality then I initially thought. I truly liked to get to know her character and to understand her fears and expectations. 

The relationship between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth was much more discreet then all the others, and even if Captain Wentworth was in character, he let me down with his attitude so he wasn’t my favorite character. However, this book is so rich when it comes to the other characters and plots that I didn’t feel the need to have more of Anne and Wentworth.

My only quibble with this book was the ending which seemed a bit rushed. I would have liked a few more chapters that allowed characters to redeem themselves, to be properly forgiven and to calmly reach their HEA.

Much Ado About Persuasion is a well written book that kept me engaged through the entire narrative, I recommend it to Persuasion fans who want a different take on Austen’s characters.

 

You can find Much Ado About Persuasion at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and Kindle Unlimited


NEW giveaaway time

Barbara Cornthwaite would like to give away one eBook of Much Ado About Persuasion to one of my readers. The giveaway is international and is open until the 30th of November. To apply to it, just leave a comment on this post. The winner will be announced shortly after.

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Filed under JAFF, Persuasion

JAFF Tropes – Readers Preferences

Good Afternoon everyone,

How are you this week? And how was your weekend? I was expecting mine to be wonderful because I had hoped to attend this year’s JAFF Writer/Reader Get Together conference, however, I got sick (still am…that’s why this post is coming up 2 days later then it was supposed to) and was only able to attend 2 panels on Saturday, the Historical Accuracy in Austenesque Stories which I moderated, and the Tropes in JAFF in which I was a speaker along with author L.L Diamond. I am eager for the organizers to share the videos of the other panels so I can watch them. It’s never the same as being present in the event itself, but I know that there were a lot of interesting discussions going on there, and I really want to hear what everybody shared during this weekend.

Actually, that’s also what I would like to do today. I know most of you replied to the survey that allowed me to present the results on Saturday, so I would like to thank you by sharing with you all the findings of that survey.

We had 194 people replying to our survey that aimed to determine the readers tastes when it comes to JAFF tropes. I was under the impression that readers tastes changed throughout the years, so we decided to ask people what they used to like, and what they do like nowadays. Most readers admitted their tastes have indeed changed, but when we look at the results, that is not very clear, which also made me think that maybe the questions in the survey were very broad. But we’ll get into that a little later, for now, let’s look at the results:

Readers Favorite Genres – Back in the day

readers favorite genres when they stared reading it

Readers Current Favorite Genres

readers current favorite genres

 

Variations are clearly readers favorite genre and obviously there wasn’t a big change there, but we do see some small changes when it comes to other genres. On one hand, there were fewer genres when readers started reading JAFF a while back, and on the other hand, some people felt the need to change their reading habits a little. That being said, sequels, which were readers second favorite genre when readers started reading JAFF, gave way to modernizations, fantasy and secondary characters. This may not come as a surprise, but prequels are not even mentioned nowadays and the number of readers who still like different POV’s are residual.

This information would have been interesting for authors to take into consideration when writing their next books, were it not for the answers we got when we asked readers which genres they disliked and grew tired of.

Genres Readers Dislike 

genres readers dislike

Genres Readers are Tired of

genres readesr are tired of

.

JAFF readers are just like Mr. Darcy, steady and loyal, so most of them are not tired, nor dislike any particular type of genre, however, if we believed that modernizations, fantasy and secondary characters were a growing genre because of the previous graphics, when we look at the genres readers dislike the most and grew tired of, we realize these are also among those. This tells us that there isn’t one single JAFF audience, that readers are not all alike, nor do they like the same things. Apart from variations, which appeal to the majority of readers, the other genres are liked by some, and disliked by others. The audience is much more diverse than I would expect, and maybe we need to do more detailed surveys if we want to understand it.  

What about the tropes?

favorite tropes - back in the day

Readers tastes when it comes to tropes were not very spread out when they started reading JAFF, their preferences lay with the following tropes: Forced Marriage Scenario, Trapped Together, Second Chances, Enemies to Lovers and Change of Feelings at Pemberley, which is the only one of the top 5 that will not be present in readers current favorite tropes. All other tropes had lower results as readers preferences were mainly assembled on those 5.

current favorite tropes

When we look at readers current favorite tropes we can see their tastes are much more diversified! On the top 5 we still have Forced Marriage Scenario, Trapped Together, Second Chances, Enemies to Lovers but now we also have Friends to Lovers, and  it is visible the results are more scattered among the other tropes nowadays with Elizabeth and/or Darcy of higher rank growing. Another curious aspect is the growing number of people who mentioned that their favorite tropes were others that were not mentioned in this list, this tells us that people’s tastes are getting more and more diversified. I guess a future study will need to occur for us to understand exactly how diversified, right?

But what abour the tropes readers dislike or are tired of, do you think we will have the same trend we saw with the genres?

tropes readers are tired of

Love at first sight is clearly the trope readers are more tired of. If you look at the graphic, you’ll notice I made a mistake and had 2 options Love at First Sight and Love From First Sight, which is exactly the same thing. Well, if you put the results together, this is clearly the trope readers do not want to continue seeing. Apart from that you’ll find Forced marriage scenario, which is strange because that’s also readers favorite trope, but also Amnesia/mistaken Identity, Trapped Together and Enemies to Lovers. Even though these are the tropes with the higher results, you can see that almost all had many replies from readers, I believe that is JAFF readers are voracious readers, and have read many stories with the same tropes, so they are now more open to different types of tropes that will surprise them. But this is just my interpretation, of course, if you read these graphics differently, let me know in the comments 🙂

tropes readers dislike

We have good news for authors, there aren’t a lot of tropes readers truly dislike as the only ones that received many votes were Love at First Sight, Love Triangle and Amnesia/Mistaken Identity. I admit I was sad to see these results because I absolutely love Love Triangle’s stories, and I never thought I would be the minority, but there it is. These are the 3 tropes best to avoid at the moment.

 

What do you think?

So, what did you think of our findings? Was this interesting? I think this was not very revealing because it was a little generic, and the main conclusion I got to is that there are multiple JAFF audiences, so what some readers like, is exactly what other readers dislike.

At the conference I asked people if they considered interesting to do a more detailed surveys based on specific characters, as that may give us a better idea of what is acceptable and likeble among readers, and people seemed to be interested in it, so I thought I would take this opportunity to develep a first Survey based on Mr. Darcy. Would you be willing to participate and give your opinion about Darcy’s character? I promise to share the results with you afterwards 🙂

Thank you so much for helping me with the Tropes Survey, and a HUGE thank you for taking a few minutes to do this Mr. Darcy Survey too!

 

WHICH YOUR YOUR MR. DARCY SURVEY

https://forms.gle/wVUEoMgCL7E6AveR9

 

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

 

 

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The Last House in Lambton by Grace Gibson – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

Grace Gibson has become one of my favourite writers due to the uniqueness of her writing style. I love her humour, her dialogues and her first-person narrative. Ever since reading Reckless, Headstrong Girl, which remains to date one of my favourite secondary characters book, I made sure to read everything she released, and I have not once been disappointed. So it is with a great pleasure that I am welcoming her at From Pemberley to Milton today to share an excerpt of The Last House in Lambton, her most recently released book.

I am adding this one to my TBR pile and I cannot wait to read it!

Thank you so much for visiting Ms. Gibson, and for giving me some feedback concerning my 3 Things I Like & Dislike in JAFF post. It’s nice to know some people like those types of posts too 😊


Hi Rita! I have been looking forward to being a guest on your blog for a few months now, so thank you for hosting me once again.

In March of this year, you published a wonderfully insightful post about clichés in JAFF stories, and I found your observations to be truly helpful, balanced and refreshing. Thank you for inspiring me to be more creative and encouraging me to think twice before leaning on an old, convenient crutch.

That said, in The Last House in Lambton, I made a conscious decision to use a well-worn plot line but— keeping your insights in mind—I set my intention to offer enough unpredictability to deliver a few surprises and add depth to a familiar scene. 

Anyone whose first impression of the premise of this story includes a stifled yawn is forgiven. We all know what to expect when Elizabeth Bennet ends up in Lambton. Of course she stumbles upon Mr. Darcy, sparks fly, and they live happily ever after. This sequence of events is perennially satisfying—in my opinion, it is required! 

But this time, hoping for a fresh take on a well-plowed ground, our heroine comes up against some rather interesting opposition in the course of the anticipated conclusion.

Here is an excerpt from Elizabeth’s point of view that perhaps highlights this:

***

Those words—”other than paying out wages and deciding what will be served at dinner”—rang loudly in my head four days later as I stood in front of Mrs. Burke, the housekeeper whose furlough had necessitated my arrival.

“You will need to visit the chandler on Tuesday—early, mind you, lest the best wax be claimed by the vicar’s wife. If you arrive too late, you will be given wax mixed with tallow and will only discover it when the candles give off a malodourous smoke. 

“The butcher is generally to be counted on. Still, you would do well to see him Wednesday shortly before noon, since the chickens are most always slaughtered in the morning. Never let him sell you a day-old bird—which he will try to do after taking one look at you—and whatever you do, do not forget to enquire after the pork bones for jelly…”

My mind wandered as I listened to an endless list of things to remember and consider. 

Mrs. Burke clearly disliked me. That said, she also enjoyed overwhelming me with the details of a position that defined her importance in the world. She was an imposing woman—tall, large boned, and straight-backed with a shock of red hair shot through with streaks of gray. The impression of an angry hawk was perhaps underscored by a pair of fearsome black eyes and a prominent beak…um, nose.

“My word, Mrs. Burke,” I said faintly, “I do hope you have written all this down for me.”

“I hardly have time to do such a thing,” she said, puffing up to her full height. “I am not now and have never been a scribe. Now, the medicinal teas, powders, and cordials are all clearly marked in the cabinet beside the bed. Mrs. Jennings has castor oil every morning first thing, tincture of rhubarb when she is feeling weak, and the spirits of lavender if you suspect she might turn maudlin, which she does from time to time. And…”

I listened in an increasingly weakened state. I had arrived not an hour before this meeting in the kitchen, disheveled and shaken to bits by a journey of three long days across the winter-roughened Great North Road. A hasty wash, a change of clothes and a lie-down of ten minutes were insufficient to restore my wits. As I struggled in vain to understand who Mr. Kelly was and why I should distrust his advice—or worse, why I should never open the door to Mrs. Edmonton—I decided that I would simply have to rely on Mrs. Jennings to guide me; failing that, I could always trust my own good sense and ability to learn.

If you are thinking this does not sound like the most fortuitous beginning to what was meant to be a holiday, Elizabeth confirms your suspicions very shortly with this confession:

Suffice it to say that everything that could have gone wrong, did. Things Mrs. Burke sternly suggested I remember and attend to, I did not; conversely, everything I had been instructed not to do, I did.

***

My hope is that throughout this story set in the village so close to Pemberley, readers encounter the unexpected, and that they find new and interesting facets of Jane Austen’s treasured characters. 

Thanks again for having me and for all you do for the JAFF community.


NEW book blurb

Does it ever stop raining in Lambton?

Darcy and Bingley depart Netherfield Park, leaving Elizabeth Bennet acutely aware of the monotony of her life. Seeking a reprieve, she volunteers to serve as temporary companion to Mrs. Gardiner’s elderly aunt who lives in Lambton. Nothing turns out as Elizabeth expects, and she is forced to dig deep into her reserves of common sense, humor, and stubborn persistence to prove herself equal to the dreary circumstances. 

Initially unaware that Pemberley is only five miles away, Elizabeth crosses paths with Darcy annoyingly often. When the gentleman rescues her from a shocking situation, Elizabeth faces some hard choices, at the same time struggling against the smoldering attraction that can neither be repressed nor fulfilled.

Mr. Darcy, meanwhile, in whose heart a fire has also been lit, is shocked by the lady’s stubborn refusal to accept his help. Alternating between alarm and begrudging admiration, he stands helplessly on the sidelines while she struggles to retain her independence. He, too, must make some hard choices in the end. Will he let her go?

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You can find The Last House in Lambton at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Kindle Unlimited


NEW author bio

In addition to mosaic art, which she creates at Studio Luminaria (her home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas), Grace enjoys writing Regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations.

Grace Gibson photo

Contact Info

Facebook 

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There is plenty more to discover about this book, so don’t forget to check out the remaining blog tour stops 🙂

November 7   Babblings of a Bookworm

November 8   My Jane Austen Book Club

November 9   Austenesque Reviews

November 10 From Pemberley to Milton

November 11 My Vices and Weaknesses

November 12 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

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Meryton Press will be giving away one eBook of The Last House in Lambton to one of my readers. The giveaway is international and is open until the 18th of November. To apply to it, just leave a comment on this post and let us know your opinion of the excerpt 🙂  

The winner will be announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

28 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Old Boots by Grace Gibson

old boots4.5 stars

Old Boots starts with Mr. Darcy rescuing Miss Elizabeth Bennet from the raging current of a rain-swollen stream, ruining forever his best pair of boots. But what he didn’t know when he dunk into the stream to save this stranger, was that not only the lady didn’t need help, but would also resent it, so ODC starts this story with a very promising quarrel that will set a fun and entertaining tone for the entire narrative.

Because Mr. Darcy appears to have success in commanding Bandit, the Bennet’s dog and the cause of the river exploit, he offers to train him and becomes a regular visitor at Longbourn. In this house, Mr. Darcy finds a grieving family, but one with whom he feels at ease and can spend pleasurable times with. However, that is not the only household where Mr. Darcy will cause some entertaining scenes; in fact, Netherfield is where Mr. Darcy is at his best, when he decides to make Miss Bingley’s life a true nightmare by constantly changing his habits and opinions in an attempt to puzzle her concerning his tastes. 

I loved Mr. Darcy’s wickedness towards Miss Bingley, it was incredibly fun to watch him tease and confuse her. I thought for a moment she would lose her mind and couldn’t stop laughing at all the “pranks” he directed towards her.

I also enjoyed the witty banter between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, especially in the initial scenes when they are both still very upset with the events that took place by the river. I did expect, however, to see more intensity in their feelings for one another. We could feel Mr. Darcy struggling over his feelings for Elizabeth, but I would have liked to see this happening in scenes where they would both be present. Grace Gibson is incredibly good with dialogues, and I was expecting to have more of those in this book as I believe that would increase the intensity of the romance.

Another aspect I loved in this book was the relationship Mr. Darcy established with each one of the Bennet’s, and how that influenced the story. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Mr. Bennet became a father like figure to Mr. Darcy, and above all, how Mr. Darcy became the son Mr. Bennet needed. I loved to see him take care of Mr. Bennet and help him find his own way. The relationship between these two characters was probably one of the most endearing ones in the book

Old Boots is a novella that explores heartfelt relationships and was able to make me cry at times, and laugh out loud at other times. It is emotional, fun, and brilliantly written. I highly recommend it to my fellow readers.

You can find Old Boots at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited and on Audible

10 Comments

Filed under JAFF, Persuasion

Maria Bertram’s Daughter by Lucy Knight

Maria Bertram's Daughter4.5 stars

I am not a huge fan of Mansfield Park, and it has been a long time since I’ve read it, but even if Maria Bertram’s Daughter is a sequel to MP, it is a story on its own and it can be read without prior knowledge of Austen’s work.

In Maria Bertram’s Daughter the reader will follow the incredible life journey of Dorothea Rose, an original character that will enchant all. The story starts when Dorothea is a young child living with Miss Bertram and Aunt Norris, but it will quickly move forward as we witness the major events of her life until she is a young lady trying to find her place and independence in the world.

My favorite aspect of the book was precisely the fact that we were able to follow Dorothea through her entire life. The story is fast paced and takes the reader in a wonderful adventure. I believe this narrative gives the reader the opportunity to truly get to know the character and to understand her dreams, expectations, and motivations. I kept imagining what would happen next, who Dorothea would meet along the way, and what life had reserved for her in the end. Apart from that, it also allowed me to sympathize with the character and to feel all the injustice she suffered at the hands of others and at the dictates of society. I kept cheering for Dorothea, and hoped the kind, naïve and intelligent girl I saw grow up would not turn into a cynic as some of the other characters we saw portrayed in the book were.

Not only Maria Bertram’s Daughter keeps the reader engaged due to a well-crafted story, with a new relevant event occurring at every turn of the page, but also because of the ability, the author had to make the reader care for Dorothea. The main character is likable and it is impossible not to care about what will happen to her.

I believe there is a certain sadness in this story, especially if we think about the many different women who were portrayed in this book and the lives they were forced to have just because they were woman and failed to comply with society’s rules, but there is also a message of hope and contentment. Despite the hardships that Dorothea had to go through, she never grew bitter, never lost hope of finding her place, and never gave up to sadness, even when everything seemed lost to her. Her resilience and perseverance are inspiring and a life lesson the reader takes with him after reading this book.

Even though Maria Bertram’s Daughter can be read as a standalone, it is interesting to see how some of Mansfield Park’s characters have fared in later life. I especially loved seeing how Fanny and Edmund’s marriage turned out to be, how their offspring was like, and even how Fanny could make me dislike her even more.

I heartily recommend Maria Bertram’s Daughter to readers looking for a good book to read. It is a beautiful story with a main character that will pull the readers into the narrative. It is well written, engaging, fast paced and above all, it forces readers to think about humanity, injustice, and resilience. I spent a great time with this book and I believe others will too.

 

You can find Maria Bertram’s Daughter at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited and on Audible

 

7 Comments

Filed under JAFF, Persuasion

Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens by Jonathan Pinnock

mrs darcy versus the aliens1.5 stars

I have always loved sci fi and apart from Jane Austen Fan Fiction my biggest obsession over the last 20 years has been the tv show X-Files, so when I discovered Mrs. Darcy versus the Aliens I could not resist.

I was expecting to read a regency story with some believable sci fi elements, but instead, I found a ridiculous tale where regency characters come across an alien conspiracy to take over the earth, and act as if octopus like creatures or ghosts are the most natural thing in the world. The ridiculousness of many scenes was intended to be humorous and maybe some people can find humor in it and enjoy this book, but unfortunately, I didn’t find it funny at all, and without the humor, this is just a bizarre story, so I could not enjoy it. I believe that is the main feature of this book, it is supposed to be a funny book and the entire story is built over that, so if a reader doesn’t get the humor, the book is lost to him, and that’s what happened to me.

In Mrs. Darcy versus the Aliens Mr. Wickham is actually the good guy, and he is working for a government department that investigates unusual events, a fact I really enjoyed because I found it believable and it kept me wondering if Wickham was really the good guy or just pretending to be. I also liked the mystery behind Lydia’s disappearance and especially the initial doubt that was left in the air concerning Darcy’s behaviors. But I could not enjoy the natural manner with which regency characters saw and accepted shape shifter octopus like creatures raping young woman to impregnate them and see their alien babies burst out of them as we saw in the movie Alien. I understand the tone of the book was not a serious one, but I think I would have found it funnier if characters actually questioned everything that was happening instead of acting as if it was normal when seeing these things for the first time.

As a sci fi story, Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens is more of a farse and therefore not believable, and as a JAFF story the elements in common with Austen’s work are simply the names of the characters, so all we are left with in this book is bad alien references and characters whose names are the same as the ones in Pride & Prejudice. In my opinion, this book is neither a good sci fi story, nor a good JAFF story, and that is a pity because I really wanted it to be good. I wanted to be interested in the story, but I couldn’t do it because it was purely a ridiculous tale intended to be funny.

Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens has the best sentence I’ve ever seen in a book because it mixes an X-Files line with Austen’s words in a beautiful manner: “’The truth is out there’ he added significantly. ‘Though it is not yet universally acknowledged’“ and when I read it in the Prologue I thought the book would blow my mind, but unfortunately, I didn’t find it funny and therefore could not enjoy it. I may have been the one missing out something, and other people may find this a funny story, but I cannot recommend it.

You can find Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

7 Comments

Filed under JAFF, Persuasion