Milton’s Magistrate Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I’m hoping to cheer you up and give you a reason to smile in the beginning of this week. As you all know I love North and South as much as I love Pride and Prejudice, and I’m always eager to find more North and South variations out there because compared to Pride and Prejudice variations they are very scarce, so I was very happy to know that Julia Daniels started working on another North and South novel called Milton’s Magistrate. This is still a work in progress but we thought that you would like to have a sneak peek at the first chapter, so we are sharing it today along with some wonderful news.

For those who don’t know this author yet, she has written several romances placed in very different timings and settings and two of them are North and South variations, Master of Her Heart which I’ve reviewed here at From Pemberley to Milton and Milton’s Mill Master which will be FREE for an entire week starting today! If you haven’t read it yet, this is your chance to grab a copy, this link will take you directly into Amazon.

Don’t know this author’s work yet? This is the perfect chance to get a glimpse at her writing as you’ll have an entire chapter to read 😉

.

“The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
                                                                                                         -Sir Robert Peel

Chapter One

 

    Dodging unopened packing crates as she entered the drawing room of their new home in the Crampton Precinct of Greater Milton, Margaret Hale was on a desperate mission to get this room put into some semblance of order by nightfall. Her father’s first pupil would visit that evening, and everything had to be in perfect order. The large room at the front of the rented townhouse in the Crampton district was to be a combination study area for her father’s visiting pupils and a place to relax together as a family in the evenings. The home was much smaller than they were all accustomed to, but for the price, it had been the finest place she and her father could find available in the industrial town.

Margaret, along with her mother and father had arrived in Milton, an industrial town in northeastern England, just five days earlier. This room had been consigned to the lowest priority for settlement. The kitchen and dining room had been unpacked first, followed by her mother’s room, and then her father’s. Although Margaret’s belongings were still crated, this room had to be taken care of that day as her father was hoping his first student would begin reading with him that evening.

She puffed out a heavy breath as she looked at the dozens of crates, most filled with books she needed to unload and place on the empty, built-in shelves. The furniture had been placed in the room, but the pieces still bore the white sheets that had kept them clean on the long railroad trip from the vicarage in Helstone. She decided she would unbind them first, which would allow her a clean place to sit as she sorted her father’s books.

“Drat!”

She had forgotten the list her father created before departing the house that morning. She walked through the narrow pathway she’d created between crates and into the hallway that led to the dining room, where the list likely remained, still on the table where she’d sat for breakfast. As she walked, she tripped on the edge of the Oriental rug that ran the length of the hallway, catching the wall to keep from falling to the ground. The rug was lovely but badly worn in areas, especially the edges. It had come with the house, but it would have to be removed. As often as they would trot down this main hallway, and with her mother’s presently weakened state, it simply could not stay.

As Margaret bent over and began to roll up the runner, planning to store it in the crawlspace under the kitchen, a scream sounded from the back of the house. Margaret dropped the rug, jumped over what she had already rolled up, and rushed to see what the issue was. Dixon had probably seen another mouse, as they’d found several in the kitchen already, but Margaret needed to be certain.

Dressed for her planned excursion to the market, the housekeeper was staring out the back door of the home, clinging to the door jamb, her mouth hanging ajar as if in shock.

“Dixon? Whatever are you looking at?”

The maid didn’t respond.

“Dixon!” Margaret barked sharply. Frustrated, she moved closer to see what in the world the maid was viewing.

On the ground, just below the stairs, a burly man lay still, his neck bloodied from a gaping, horizontal slash across his throat. Margaret cringed and pulled away from the door, bile rising in her throat at the site of a dead man. She sat quickly on a chair and bent over, breathing deeply

Dixon slammed the door and joined Margaret at the small kitchen table.

“You must go find a watchman, Miss Margaret.” Dixon’s urgent voice was quiet, a reminder that Margaret’s mother was still asleep upstairs. It would not do to have her mother become aware of the lifeless body residing in their backyard.

“Should you not go, Dixon?” Margaret took a deep breath and looked up. “You had planned to go to the market. If Mama wakes and finds me gone, she’d think it strange.” Margaret shook her head, eyes wide. “She cannot know about this.”

Maria Hale’s health and spirits had deteriorated rapidly since their arrival. Barely fifty, Mother seemed to have aged a decade overnight. At present, she refused to leave her room except for meals. She refused trips to the market and shops, and while there had been few opportunities to socialize with people of their ilk, she had showed no interest in meeting any people in their new town. Margaret would try to convince her mother to attend church this upcoming Sunday, but she was not holding out hope.

“You should go,” Dixon sputtered. Her gaze remained fixed on the door, a fearful look upon her face.

Dixon often forgot she was a servant. She had been lady’s maid to Margaret’s mother for nearly forty years. As such, they behaved more like sisters and confidantes, than employer and employee. This gruesome task of reporting a murder was not something a young woman of good breeding should be forced to complete. Indeed, her Aunt Shaw would faint dead away at the very prospect of it, but if Dixon would not go, then Margaret must.

Margaret frowned when Dixon finally looked her way. “While I am gone, please finish rolling up the rug in the hallway so Mama will not trip on it should she come to eat lunch.” Margaret stood and replaced her chair under the table. “Lock the main door after me, and do not open the back door again, no matter who comes to call. Perhaps you ought to place a chair under the door knob to block any entrance.”

Margaret marched out of the kitchen. Where in the world would she go to find a watchman in this part of Milton? She was shaking inside, scared what else she might encounter outside her front door. In London, especially on Harley Street where Aunt Shaw resided, it would be quite easy to find a lawman, but here…well, Margaret hadn’t had time to become familiar with the area. She grabbed her hat off the table in the front hallway and exited the house, certain to close the door firmly behind her. Dixon had better heed Margaret’s advice and lock the door.

She paused on the porch and looked in both directions. Which way…? Suddenly, she had a thought. Mrs. Williams. Surely, their new neighbor could guide Margaret toward the closest police station. She descended the steps, turned right out of the gate, then walked along Fulbright, the town’s main road. A few moments later, she stopped at the very last house on the row. Mrs. Williams was the only person she could think of who could help, and as Margaret climbed the stairs, she hoped the older woman was willing to render assistance. With Mr. Bell gone and her father Lord only knew where, she had nowhere else to turn.

Just earlier that week, after they first arrived, Cecilia Williams had stopped to welcome them with a pie. She had lived in this last house on the row for nearly twenty years and would surely know where Margaret could go for help. The woman quickly answered Margaret’s knock.

“Well good day, Miss Hale!”

“Oh Mrs. Williams it is not a good day!” Margaret cried. “Not a’tall!”

“Whatever is the matter, child?” She took Margaret’s hand and tried to pull her inside the home. “Do come in!”

“I cannot.” Margaret shook her head. “I fear I have no time to waste. A man lies dead, Mrs. Williams!”

“Your father?”

“Oh heaven’s no!” Margaret continued to shake her head, and then took a deep, steadying breath so she might more calmly explain. “There is a stranger dead on my back porch. I must find a watchman to report it.”

“A dead man? In Crampton?” Mrs. Williams made a clicking noise with her tongue. “What on earth is this world coming to? Allow me to fetch my coat and gloves and I will take you to the police station.”

Margaret stayed on the upper step of the house while Mrs. Williams went to collect her garb. She glanced around the neighborhood, wondering if the killer was still there, just lying in wait. She shivered at the thought. Had the man been chosen or had it been a random act?

Mrs. Williams was quick to rejoin her and after locking her door, she Together, they rushed through the blustery gray day toward New Street, where Mrs. Williams explained, the nearest police station was located.

“Mrs. Williams, could you slow down a bit, please?” Margaret was struggling to keep up with the much older, spry woman. “I fear I am not as good of a walker as you appear to be.”

 

    “You will have to become accustomed to walking, Miss Hale. Nothing is close to Crampton, and if you do not have means to hire or maintain a carriage, your feet will be your sole transportation!”

She was correct. That had been one of Margaret’s main concerns in settling so far from the town’s center. Although she had walked plenty in London, she’d done so strictly for pleasure, not out of necessity. Aunt Shaw had never allowed Margaret to walk too far and never without an appointed chaperone. Milton was completely different. Women here wandered freely with no need for a chaperone, and most women her age worked in one of the dozens of mills in town, giving the girls far more freedom and independence than Margaret would ever have in London, or perhaps even here. And now, of course, with her father’s reduced circumstances, there would be no carriages—hired or otherwise.

After a hurried, thirty-minute walk, they reached a building at the corner of New Street and Mills, upon which hung a simple, weather-worn wooden sign that read, Police. Mrs. Williams pushed opened the heavy wooden door and breathlessly, Margaret followed her inside.

A navy-blue uniformed man with a trimmed beard sat at a desk right inside the door. He stood quickly as they neared his desk.

“Ladies?” His voice was very high-pitched. “Have you a problem?”

“Yes!” Margaret cried. Still a bit out of breath, she continued. “There is a dead man lying upon the stairs outside the back door of my home!” She tried to remain calm in her explanation, but the shock was too much.

“A dead man?” The official’s eyes had narrowed, and his tone sounded skeptical, but he resumed his seat, reached for a clean sheet of paper, and inked his quill. Looking up, he studied her. “How can you be certain he is not just asleep?”

She uttered an unladylike snort. “Sir, his throat was cut, and there is blood all over his shirt. My maid was on her way to the market and found him when she opened the door!”

As she spoke, the man wrote out the information she gave him, his penmanship careful and neat. When he looked up, he turned to look at Mrs. Williams.

“You are her maid?” he asked.

“Heavens, no.” Mrs. Williams shook her head, affronted. “I am her neighbor. We live in Crampton, sir, in Fulbright Street.”

His face lit up. “Mr. Bell’s properties?”

“Yes.” Margaret nodded quickly, relieved he finally showed some interest. “Adam Bell is my godfather, sir.”

“Your godfather?”

His voice fairly trembled with excitement, and she half-expected him to leap over his desk at any moment and race out the door. He called out to two other men, both of whom wore similar uniforms but their woolen suits had fewer fancy details. The sergeant, who Margaret learned was called Hubert Snipe, quickly explained the situation to the new arrivals, both constables, and soon Margaret and Mrs. Williams followed the three men down a dark, narrow hall and out a back door.

“How did you get here, Miss…?”

“Hale. I am Margaret Hale,” she answered Sergeant Snipe. “Mrs. Williams and I walked.”

His eyes widened. “You walked all the way here from Crampton?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “It cannot have been more than two miles?”

“It is nearly four, Miss Hale,” he told her. “Please, come along with me in the carriage. Boys, bring the wagon.”

He helped her climb into the rig and then turned to help Mrs. Williams. The older woman slid in next to Margaret.

“I shall ride up on top with the driver,” he said before closing the door.

As soon as she heard him climb aboard, the horses pulled them away.

“How glad I am not to have to walk back. I did not realize just how far we had traveled.” Mrs. Williams chuckled, but relief showed clearly on the older woman’s face. “My husband works at Marlborough Mills and walks this twice every day!”

Milton was a mill town. Mr. Bell had said that over eighty percent of the population of Milton relied on the cotton mills for their daily wage. As long as the mills did well and the price of cotton stayed strong, so did Milton and its residents.

“What does he do at the mill, Mrs. Williams?”

Except for the initial meeting when Mrs. Williams brought the pie to Margaret’s family, they had not shared an extended conversation. Instead, they had waved to each other in passing and talked only once, for a short time, when Margaret ran into her at the market two days earlier.

She tipped up her chin. “He is Mr. Thornton’s overseer. He manages the whole of the mill.” Pride underlined her words.

“And which mill is that again?”

Margaret had tried to pay attention earlier when Mrs. William told her, but still in shock, she could not remember the name. Through gossip Dixon had picked up at the market, Margaret had learned some of the mills were run better than others.

“Marlborough Mills. It’s the largest one in Milton. Mr. Bell owns those buildings, too, you know. The machinery and business, however, solely belongs to Mr. Thornton.”

“That sounds like a taxing job, Mrs. Williams. The largest in Milton! My goodness, I should like to see inside one day, just to have a peek at how such a facility is operated. I have come to understand the mills run very long hours.” The whistles that blew through town early and late each day were testament to that.

“Indeed, child. My George leaves well before dawn and is home barely before nine each evening. With our children grown and gone, my days are quite long and lonely.”

She looked out the window as she admitted the last, and Margaret’s heart went out to her.

“You must come and visit us whenever you wish,” Margaret offered, grabbing the older woman’s hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. “My mother is undergoing a rather…difficult adjustment to Milton. Perhaps if she had someone familiar with the town to learn from, she might become more comfortable?” A thought suddenly crossed her mind. “Has this happened before, Mrs. Williams? Is Crampton so dangerous that we will find dead bodies wherever we go?”

Mrs. Williams snorted. “No, indeed! Why I have never heard of a murder in this neighborhood! This is an anomaly, Miss Hale. A horrible, horrible, rare instance. I would not have lived here as long as we have were it a dangerous area. Furthermore, Mr. Bell would not allow such behavior to occur in and around his properties.”

“That is a relief.” Margaret’s hand rested heavy against her chest. “But Mr. Bell is in Oxford so much; how can he possibly be aware of the condition of his properties in Milton?”

“Oh! I suppose being so new here, you would not know. You see, Mr. Thornton manages all of Mr. Bell’s properties within Milton, which includes his mill and our Crampton homes. There may be other places, as well, but those are the ones I am certain of.”

“This Mr. Thornton sounds like a rather important fellow in Milton,” Margaret commented.

“Oh, he is! He is a very fine man. He started with nothing and grew to become an extraordinarily powerful, respected gentleman. Especially for someone so young. I expect he is not yet thirty-five.”

The coach came to a halt just on the corner of Fulbright. An instant later, Sergeant Snipes popped open the carriage door. The wagon pulled to a halt directly next to them, the constables waiting, no doubt, for Snipes to give them their orders on how to proceed.

“Miss Hale, would you be so kind as to lead me to your residence?” he asked her.

“Certainly.”

Margaret stepped out of the carriage and waited until Mrs. Williams was also on the ground before she pointed Snipes to her house at the very end of the row.

“I shall leave you here, Miss Hale,” Mrs. Williams said. “I have no stomach to deal with a dead man.”

“Of course.” Margaret gave her a quick, impulsive hug. “Thank you so much for your assistance today. I do not believe I could have done this without your support.”

Mrs. Williams tipped up Margaret’s chin in a motherly way. “You are a strong young woman, not like the other soft ones who have come up from the south. Yet, I vow, you are as fine as any lady I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

“That is kind of you to say.” Mr. Bell would be glad to know Margaret made a fine first impression with her new neighbors, his tenants.

“Miss Hale!” Snipes barked, “Let us be on our way, if you please.”  His men in the parked wagon shifted on the bench, while their horses pawed at the ground.

“Yes, sir. I am sorry.” Margaret turned to Mrs. Williams. “Come along. Let me walk you to your door.”

They climbed the steps, and Mrs. Williams paused on her front stoop.

“Please, do come to visit us. You will always be welcome for tea or otherwise,” Margaret told her.

“I shall, Miss Hale. Once you have fully settled, do let me know, and I will visit at once.”

This time, Mrs. Williams hugged Margaret before walking inside her home. Margaret caught a glimpse of the entry hall over the woman’s shoulder before the door closed. Was the house identical in design to the one in which she and her parents lived, or, seeing as the building had been erected on a corner lot, was the Williams’s place larger? Of course, she didn’t have time to dwell on such matters. Not with Sergeant Snipes waiting for her to lead him and his men down the road to her home.

Please, let Mother still be in her bedchamber, Margaret prayed. She could never explain the presence of these men without causing her mother alarm. Perhaps they would have no need to come inside the house? Surely, Margaret could answer their questions in the alleyway just as easily as she could in their front parlor. She could see no need to disrupt the entire household with this matter.

“This is our house.” She stopped at the base of the stairs. “If you go through the alley over there”—she pointed not thirty feet away—“you will find him at the back door.”

Snipes nodded to his constables, and immediately, they went down the path through the alley. Margaret trailed behind, looking over shoulder, hoping the neighbors were all away from home, at work, and not at home, peeking out their windows and watching her with the uniformed men. It was hardly a good impression for a newcomer to make.

She prayed the body was gone, that it had been a horrible, sick joke. But no, the man was still dead, lying on her back porch. The two constables began looking around the area, studying the ground, searching for evidence, she supposed.

“How long have you lived her, Miss Hale?” Snipes asked.

“We arrived on Sunday afternoon. This is our fifth day now, sir.”

Snipes walked forward, circled the body the best he could without moving him. He bent closer, studying the gaping hole in the man’s throat. She pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve and covered her mouth and nose. Was that the odor of rotting flesh or some other foul smell? She had no idea what the smell was, only that it twisted her stomach. Could the body have begun to decompose already?

“I know this may be difficult for you, Miss Hale, but I need you to take a close look at this man and tell me if he is known to you.” Snipes looked to his constables. “Cover the wound with the sheet you brought. It would not do for her to see such a thing.”

“I saw him before coming to you. At least, I looked quickly.” Still holding her linen cloth over her face, she moved forward and stopped beside the sergeant.

“Miss Hale?” Snipes asked.

She shook her head and moved back. “As far as I know, I have never seen this man.”

“Very well. Boys, load him up. Miss Hale, may I come inside your home and talk with you, please?”

“Yes, of course.” She nodded. “Shall we go to the front?”

He nodded and followed behind her, his leather boots crunching the gravel as they walked. When they reached the door, she found it locked, just as she had asked Dixon to do. She knocked quietly, hoping the maid, and not her mother, would hear them.

Dixon came to answer, cracking open the door.

“It’s me,” Margaret told her.

Dixon pulled the door wide and stepped back. “Oh, miss! You are here. I saw the policemen in the back but did not see you with them.”

Margaret walked inside. She invited Snipes to enter, then closed the door. “Dixon, this is Sergeant Snipes. Dixon is our maid.” Margaret addressed the woman in question. “Would you bring tea, please?”

“Yes, miss.” Dixon looked closely, almost fearfully toward Snipes but left to fulfill Margaret’s request.

Margaret removed her gloves and hat and set them on the table by the door. She held out her hand to accept Snipes’ hat but instead, he held onto it.

“We can go into the drawing room.” She pointed to the door on the right. “We have yet to unpack in there, but I shall remove the coverings on the furniture, and we should be rather comfortable.”

She was nervous suddenly. She had nothing to worry about. She did not know the dead man, had no idea how he had come to land on her stairs. That was truly all she knew, all she could tell the sergeant.

She pulled the white sheets off her father’s favorite chair and the matching one next to it where her mother often sat when the furniture had filled the parlor in their vicarage home. “Please, do sit, sir.”

He sat as soon as she did.

“I assume the maid who answered the door is the one who discovered the body this morning?” he asked.

“Yes. We have just one servant at present.” She swallowed. “I had just finished breakfast and was getting ready to unbox my father’s books.” She gestured toward all the sealed crates. “Dixon screamed. I thought she saw another mouse, as we’ve had half a dozen or so since we moved in. But when I arrived in the kitchen, she was staring out the door. I went to stand beside her, and that when I saw…” Margaret shook her head and shuddered.

“Did you touch the body?”

“No!” Margaret said. “I did not even approach it—him. I saw the blood at his neck and had to turn away. I went to sit at the kitchen table to gather my wits. I have never seen a dead body before, sir.”

“I imagine not.” He chuckled. “Fortunately, you will likely never see another.”

Dixon rapped softly on the door before entering with the tea service.

“Could I speak with your maid, Miss Hale?”

Margaret nodded. “Of course.”

“Perhaps you could step out of the room while we talk?” he asked Margaret. “I wish to hear her experience since she was the first to see the man.”

“Yes, I can understand that. Dixon, please do answer his questions, and fetch me when you are finished.” Margaret stood. “Serve him some tea as well. It is a rather grim day.”

Margaret stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her. Thank goodness her mother was still above stairs! Most of the time, Margaret would have preferred her mother to be amongst the family, but for the moment, Margaret prayed Mama would stay abed.

She walked to the back of the house to look out the kitchen window and see if the constables had left. As she’d hoped, they, along with the dead man, were gone. No evidence remained of the blood that had dripped from the dead man’s neck to cover his shirt and shoulders. His left leg had hung at an odd angle, appearing to be broken or twisted. How the poor soul had suffered! Would she ever know who he was or why he’d been killed? Or most importantly, why someone had dumped him on their doorstep?

She poured herself a cup of tea from the pot on the stove and sank onto a hard-backed chair, waiting for the sergeant to complete his discussion with Dixon. She took a sip of the tea, wondering where her father had gone that morning and when he would be home. At breakfast, he had told her he had a meeting with a new student to establish a learning schedule. She had been distracted, reading a letter from her cousin, Edith Lennox, so he very well may have explained further, but she could not recall any other details. She just hoped he would come home before the sergeant left.

Margaret had drank all but the last dregs of her tea when Dixon came looking for her. The pasty-faced maid stopped in the kitchen doorway, a faraway look in her eyes.

“Miss Margaret, the sergeant wishes to see you,” she murmured.

“Are you well?” Margaret asked, standing. “You are so pale.”

“I am well. It was just difficult to explain what I saw. To remember…” Dixon sat heavily and rested her head in hands, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her palms.

“Yes, I am certain that was difficult. It was painful for me, also.” Margaret rested her hand on Dixon’s shoulder. She, too, felt as if the vivid images of the dead man were burned into her mind. “Have some tea, or perhaps something stronger if it will help. Just keep Mama out of the drawing room until Sergeant Snipes leaves.”

“Yes, Miss Margaret. I best go check on her right now, or I might just start tipping the bottle.”

Margaret leaned forward with a grin. “I would not blame you. What a fright!”

She left the room, shaking her head. Just as she reached the drawing room, the front door opened, admitting her thin, gray-haired father.

“Oh, thank goodness you are home.” She rushed forward to greet him.

He opened his arms, and she threw herself into his embrace.

“Oh, Papa! A horrible thing has happened.” She squeezed him and then pulled back. “There is a police sergeant in the drawing room.”

“A police sergeant!” he cried. “Whatever happened?”

“Shhh, you will distress Mama. Come along.” She took his hand and led him into the drawing room. She closed the door behind them.

“Sergeant Snipes, this is my father, Mr. Richard Hale.”

The two men wordlessly shook hands.

“To what does your visit pertain?” her father asked.

“Please, have a seat, Mr. Hale. Perhaps Miss Hale will explain?” Snipes suggested. He sat as soon as she was settled.

“Papa, Dixon was going to the market this morning. Just after you left us, she walked out the back door and found a dead man!”

“What? A dead man? Outside our home? Is that what you are you saying, Margaret?” His face turned stark white.

“Yes, Papa. The man was lying on our back steps. I went to fetch Mrs. Williams—you know, the lady at the end of our row who brought us that pie? She agree to take me to the police station.”

“Do we know the man, Margaret?”

“No, Papa.” Margaret shook her head. “I have never before seen him.”

“Mr. Hale, I spoke with your Miss Dixon at length. She said she did not recognize the fellow, either. She did say you left just before she had planned to depart for the market. Did you leave by the front or rear door?”

“Why, the front of course.”

“Of course,” the sergeant said. “Did you see anything odd or out of the ordinary?”

Her father wrinkled his brow. “You must understand, sir, everything is new here for us.” He smiled softly at Margaret. “We have never lived in such a place. But from what I have seen the past few days, no, nothing seemed amiss.”

“Do you own a knife, Mr. Hale?”

“A knife?” he whispered. “Is that how he was killed?”

Snipes nodded curtly.

“Stabbed?”

Margaret shook he head. “No, Papa. Someone cut his throat.”

She stared at her hands, uncomfortable to be discussing such a thing. How could this happen to them! Five days in their new town and trouble had already found them!

“I—that is, yes, we have knives in the kitchen, I suppose, but I do not carry a knife or have anything aside from food cutlery,” her father said.

“I believe you, Mr. Hale.” Snipes stared at her father for several minutes in silence, perhaps pondering what else to ask? “Would you please tell me where you went this morning?”

Her father nodded quickly and sat up straighter in his chair. “Yes, of course. I came to Milton to be a private tutor. One of my new students had requested I meet him during his mid-morning break so we might develop a teaching schedule. I have to work around his mill responsibilities, you see.”

“And where was this visit?” Snipes asked.

“It was at Marlborough Mills.”

The mill where Mr. Williams worked and one of the buildings Mr. Bell owned!

Snipes grunted. “You will be tutoring one of the hands from Marlborough Mills?”

“Gracious, no, not a laborer. I met with the master himself! Mr. John Thornton has requested my assistance in finishing his learning of Latin and Greek. I am an instructor of the classics, Sergeant Snipes.”

“Do you know, Papa, Mr. Thornton oversees these properties for Mr. Bell?”

“I do, Margaret.” Her father nodded slowly. “That is precisely how I was first introduced to Mr. Thornton, through Mr. Bell, first through letters. When you were at the station on Monday, waiting for our furnishings to arrive, Mr. Thornton came here to introduce himself and to offer his services should they be needed. He and Bell are close associates.”

Snipes stood. “I think I have all the information I need at present.”

“What is to happen next?” Margaret asked.

“We will attempt to learn the man’s identity and question people in the neighborhood. It is shame you’ve undergone such an experience, especially having only arrived here, Miss Hale.” He smiled gently. “Please, do be assured the town is not unsafe for ladies such as yourself, or gentlemen, for that matter. I will place a watchman here in Crampton for several days. Also, if it pleases you, I will send a man here to install some sliding panels on your door, for further protection?”

“How kind of you, Sergeant Snipes. That would be very agreeable,” her father said, nodding.

Margaret stood next to her father, and together, they showed Snipes to the front entry. Her father opened the door for him and stepped aside. Before he walked through the door, Snipes turned back to face them, a small grin upon his face.

“I am unsure if you are aware, but in addition to running Marlborough Mills, Mr. Thornton is also Milton’s Magistrate.”


Julia Daniels loves to write happily ever after stories that warm the heart and make the reader satisfied. From rural and farm romance to historical western romance and even romantic mystery novels, Julia can spin a tale that ends in a happy romance. Her characters come to life on the pages, drawing the reader into the love story, making them want to stick around and see what happens.

Julia lives in Nebraska with her husband and two kids. In addition to writing, she designs counted cross-stitch patterns, sews, gardens and cares for an odd menagerie of animals, including chickens and goats.

So far she has published the following romances:

North & South Variations and Regency:

1910-20’s & Contemporary Romances:

Be sure to also visit her webpage www.juliadanielsbooks.com for updates!

.


.

.

.Julia Daniels would like to offer one ebook copy of any of her books to my readers. All you need to do is comment on this post and let us know which book you would like and why. The giveaway is international and it is open until the 17th of November.

Good luck everyone!


Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under giveaway, North and South, Promotion

The Giveaway Winners are…

Hello everyone,

I hope your week is starting well, mine could be better… Today was my first day at work and I already miss my holidays terribly! Luckily winter is also here to stay that means a lot of reading time in my couch during the weekends, so not all is bad 🙂

I hope that my first post this month will make a lot o people happy because I have 13 giveaway winners to announce!

It’s time to announce the winners of When Jane Got Angry by Victoria Kincaid that I reviewed last month, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor by Jennifer Joy that I am currently reading (and loving!!!), all of Elizabeth Adam’s books which will be signed by the author, and to announce 2 other winners of Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because two of the people who won this giveaway already owned a copy, so as you can see this post will reach many readers and followers.

I wanted to thank all these authors for their generosity in offering these books to my readers, and to all of you for continuously reading and supporting my blog. The contribution of all of you is very important to keep this blog live and I really appreciate all your input 🙂

Now, without further ado, the giveaway winners are:

 

When Jane Got Angry

*** Sheilamajczan***

 

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor

***Maria***

*** KateB***

*** Schids***

*** Elaine Jeremiah***

Elizabeth Adams signed paperbacks

***Jennifer Redlarczyk***

*** Dholcomb1***

*** Evamedmonds***

*** Ruth P Clapp***

*** Lúthien84***

*** Pemberlypebbles***

 

Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

***Virginiakohl***

***Darcybennett***

 

Congratulations everyone! I hope you enjoy your prizes 🙂 Can you please send me your addresses to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so that your prizes may be sent to you?

Happy Reading!

13 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Unwrapping Mr. Darcy Review & Giveaway

Unwrapping Mr. Darcy is a sweet modernization that is perfect to read during December first because the story begins in that period, and second because everything in the story transports us into a Christmas environment. I could feel the winter breeze and Christmas excitement that comes with the Secret Santa described in this book, and always had a feeling of cozyness that made me keep reading until I reached the last page.

In Unwrapping Mr.Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, a recently hired attorney, hears Mr.Darcy, the head of the company, making a remark about how she was only hired because she is the sister of the girl Bingley is dating and feels he is diminishing her merit. This sets the prejudice that will be present in a big part of their relationship, but after that remark Mr.Darcy starts paying attention to her and realizes she is in fact the only woman capable of steering any type of feeling in him, so he decides to change her opinion of him.

He convinces Bingley to rig the Secret Santa to be able to surprise her and based on the advent calendar presents her with small but thoughtful gifts every single day until Christmas. He does it expecting that this gesture will change her perspective of him and also give him the chance to have an actual conversation with her, but you know Elizabeth Bennet, it will tho be that simple 🙂

Every single gift shows just how attentive and caring Mr. Darcy is. He is the perfect gentleman and the man most of us wish she would one day call her husband. I felt for him with each gift and word and he is the main reason why I loved this book so much.

I’ve also loved Elizabeth and was pleasantly surprised with Bingley and Jane who were the perfect secondary characters. I loved watching the four of them together and their interactions always made me want to jump into the pages of the book and join their dinners. Their little matchmaking was funny to see and I’m glad Jane opened Elizabeth’s eyes on Christmas Day because that led to my favorite scene in the entire book!

Whickham makes a small appearance but I was happy to see that he was not a cause for conflict, his small part was an interesting detail but it did not lead us away from the interactions of the main characters and I appreciated that.

The end of the book is very rewarding as the author took the time to show readers just how happy our dear couple is. We have a glimpse of their happily ever after and I’m sure most readers will particularly love this part of the book.

I really enjoyed reading this story and recommend it to all readers who want a cozy, entertaining and romantic story, but be prepared to be swooned by Mr.Darcy, he is irresistible!

You can find Unwrapping Mr. Darcy at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk


Have I made you curious about this book? I hope so, it is the perfect book to read during Christmas Time, and it may even inspire you to buy less expensive but thoughtful presents for your loved ones! Mr. Darcy did a great job at that 😉 Anyway,  if I have made you at least a little curious please follow the blog tour. You’ll be able to read excerpts, guest posts and much more in all the below mentioned blogs 🙂 And of course, there will be more chances to win the amazing giveaway prize, have I mentioned there is also a giveaway?


.

By now you know this book is all about gifts, and L. L. Diamond brough some with her 🙂 She is offering several goodies listed below:

Unwrapping Mr. Darcy Giveaway: (complete list of all the wonderful goodies)

Unwrapping Mr. Darcy tote bag
Pride and Prejudice quote temporary tattoos
Jane Austen Quote Gift Cards
Pride and Prejudice large postcard
Black cat wine glass
4 Lavender mini bath bombs
1 floral large bath bomb (has lavender buds)
Lavender shower bomb
Lavender bubble bar
Yankee Candle Lemon Lavender Candle
Black cat silhouette coaster
Black cat thermos with spoon
Jane Austen quote postcard
Black cat wine topper (just like Elizabeth’s!)

(cat not included ;))

To enter this giveaway please click here.

Good Luck everyone!

20 Comments

Filed under JAFF

And the winners are…

Hello everyone,

Are you all set up for Halloween? I could tell from my visit to the southern states that this holiday is taken very seriously by some people and I fell in love with all the Halloween and autumn decorations I saw but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll have time to decorate my house, maybe next year I’ll start a new tradition and decorate everything 🙂

Despite my travels, October was a very active month at From Pemberley to Milton with lots of authors visiting and sharing news on their work, and as always, many of them brought gifts with them. Lory Lilian and Alice Isakova were two of these authors with whom I had the pleasure to work with. I would like to thank them both for the patience and kindness they showed towards me and my readers, but also announce the ones who were lucky to win a book, so without further ado the lucky winners are:

Any of Lory Lilian’s book – Winners choice

*** Rachel Sheransky Danziger***

*** Ginna ***

Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

*** Michelle H***

*** Lynnchar***

***CaroleinCanada***

*** J.W. Garrett***

*** Lilar53***

Congratulations everyone! I hope you enjoy your prizes 🙂 Can you please send me your address to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so that we can send the books to you?

Happy Reading!!

7 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Elizabeth Adams Birthday with giveaways

Good afternoon everyone,

I hope you are all having a great week and that fall is already warming your hearts 🙂 I’m not sure if y’all know but for the past two weeks I’ve been traveling through the Deep South in the United States, and I’m amazed with all the fall colors and decorations.

I started my trip in Miami, went down to the Florida Keys and then up to New Orleans and finally Tennessee where I had the most wonderful host anyone could ever have!!! It’s because of her that I’m publishing this post today, it is her birthday and I would like to ask you all to join me in wishing Elizabeth Adams a happy birthday!!!

While I was staying with her I learned a lot about the United States culture and even more about the southern ways, I visited lots of interesting places and I got a collection of signed paperbacks!!!

If you’ve been following my blog you know I love paperbacks, especially when they are signed, I love all the benefits of ebooks but who can resist an old fashioned paperback to put in the library?

My love for paperbacks inspired Elizabeth and to celebrate her birthday she is offering one signed copy of each of her books to her readers. This means that 6 different readers will get a chance to win one of her books, isn’t that a great idea?

Which one would you prefer to receive? Let us know in the comments your order of preference and why you’ve chosen that order. The giveaway winners will be randomly selected and the prizes will be attributed as in a lottery, meaning if you are the first name to be choosen you will have a chance to select any of the 6 books Elizabeth has published. If you are second you will have to select between the 5 remaining and so on, so it is important that you state all the books in your order of preference.

Your comment will gain you an entry in the giveaway and the winners will be announced in the beginning of November 🙂

If you want more chances to win a signed paperback share this post on any social media and let us know about it, we will consider that as an extra entry 🙂

As you can see from this picture Elizabeth is really happy to sign the paperbacks and offer them to you 😉 But if you are not sure about which book you would prefer, here is the list of all her published books with a small blurb for you to know what to expect 🙂

The Houseguest

When Georgiana Darcy comes to Netherfield to visit her brother, she becomes friends with a neighbor, Elizabeth Bennet. After Miss Darcy has returned to London, she invites her new friend to stay with her at the Darcy home in town … unbeknownst to Mr. Darcy.

Will this change in circumstances lead to a change in affections?

Unwilling

Mr. Bennet discovers his days are numbered, so he immediately begins to set his affairs — and his five unmarried daughters — in order. Knowing they will fare best should at least one of them find a suitable husband, he cannot refuse any respectable suitors.

The high-spirited Elizabeth suspects something isn’t right in the halls of Longbourn, but nothing prepares her for a certain haughty gentleman from Derbyshire. While Mr. Darcy is exceedingly wealthy and handsome, in Elizabeth’s opinion, he is also proud, high-handed, and insulting. And unfortunately, desperately in love with her.

Suddenly, Elizabeth is forced to rethink her previous opinions. And accept a choice she never had the chance to make.

Meryton Vignettes

What becomes of Longbourn when the Collins family inherits? How does Charlotte manage both her husband and an estate? Can she truly become the mistress of Longbourn while living in Mrs. Bennet’s shadow?

Caroline Bingley learns there’s more to life than chasing after Darcy. Can she find true affection? How will she live down the humiliation of being passed over?

Sometimes childhood experiences inform adult observations. Unfortunately for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth’s recollections are not in his favor.

Mrs. Bennet makes a shocking discovery and her family must deal with the consequences.

Elizabeth navigates a situation she never thought she would find herself in, and in so doing, she learns more than she bargained for. Disturbingly more.

A jaded and mature Lydia finally grows up, but is the price she pays worth the wisdom she gains?

In this collection of six short stories, the people of Pride and Prejudice move on, grow up, and explore paths not taken. Time leads these beloved characters down roads of self-discovery, courage, and heartbreak. And sometimes, the journey takes them to surprising places.

On Equal Ground

Well-read, observant, and spirited, a young Elizabeth Bennet draws the attention of a wealthy widower.

When she finally meets Mr. Darcy, she outranks him. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from insulting her. Married and wealthy, is she still beneath his notice?

Elizabeth’s high society connections create new opportunities for her sisters and, in turn, keep Darcy close to her family.

When tragedy strikes, will Darcy rise to the occasion? Or will his propensity to give offense show no respect for rank?

The 26th of November

The Netherfield Ball: Classic. Predictable. Immortalized.

But, what if Elizabeth were forced to relive it over and over and over again? Night after night after night?

Elizabeth: Clever. Witty. Confident.

Suddenly, her confusion and desperation make her question things she long thought she knew.

Mr. Darcy: Proud. Unapproachable. Bad tempered.

In this world where nothing is as it seems, Elizabeth must learn to see through new eyes.

Including a man she thought she hated.

Let the hilarity ensue.

Green Card

William Harper has it all: looks, money, power. There’s just one tiny problem—he’s about to be deported. He needs a green card. Fast. An American wife is the easiest way to get one. But where will he find a woman to marry him on such short notice?

Elizabeth Barrett is a full-time student, part-time dog walker, and weekend tutor. With a roommate who just ran out on her and neck deep in tuition payments, she needs money. Now. Harper just might make her an offer she can’t refuse.

He thinks he’s worked out the perfect deal, she thinks she’s signed up for an easy job. Neither of them bargained for the ride of their lives.

Oh, and yes, that’s me with all the paperbacks I got :)))) Look at the smile on my face :))

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!! 🎉

And good luck in the giveaway everyone 🙂

93 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor – Excerpt and Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone

I’m very pleased to announce that Jennifer Joy released a new book yesterday and I personally can not wait to start reading it! Jennifer Joys’s writing is very appealing to readers because it makes us feel good about the characters and the story, when I start reading one of her books I feel immediately pulled into it and I’m sure Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor will be no exception.

Today we are sharing with you the book blurb and an excerpt that shows just how swoon worthy this book is 🙂 I hope you like it!!! And don’t forget there is a very generous giveaway too, please charge your thoughts with us to be included in it.

Hero or villain? Gentleman or traitor?

What if your life depended on discerning one man’s character?

He wants to honor his family legacy.

Fitzwilliam Darcy takes his responsibilities seriously. He excels in every endeavor he pursues and upholds the highest standards … and he has little patience for those who flaunt their flaws like the Bennets do.

She wants to fall in love with a hero.

Elizabeth Bennet longs for the toe-curling romance she reads about in novels. She dreams of an honorable man — loyal and generous to the less fortunate … everything Mr. Darcy is not.

Now, he’s England’s most wanted criminal … and she’s stuck with him.

Besieged by highwaymen and left for dead in a snowstorm, Mr. Darcy seeks help only to get arrested for treason. A split second decision forever attaches Elizabeth to his side, and together, they’re on the run.

When adversity reveals their true character, will Elizabeth regret her decision? Or will she find her hero in Mr. Darcy? Can such a rigid, proper man return the passion she craves?

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor is a sweet and clean romantic suspense variation of Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice.

If you like swoon-worthy romance and pulse-pounding action, then you’ll love this book!

You can find Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

I’m an 80’s child with a special place in my heart for 80’s music. So when Bonnie Tyler comes on the radio, I sing along. You know one of her hits, Holding Out For a Hero? She talks about waiting for a good man to come along. He’s got to be strong, fast, fresh from the fight… She dreams of this hero, and she refuses to settle for less. Sounds like someone we know, huh? A young lady who said: “I am determined that nothing but the deepest love could ever induce me into matrimony.”

My goal with Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor was to give Elizabeth her hero. Now, my favorite heroes are those who overcome seemingly impossible odds without compromising their true nature. What could possibly happen to Mr. Darcy to test his character to the limits? That’s what I wrote about, and in doing so, Darcy not only becomes the hero of Elizabeth’s dreams but she becomes the woman who saves him. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Traitor is my most romantic story to date, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it.

Here’s to the men of our dreams! And to Bonnie Tyler for giving me this book’s theme song!

Here’s a taste of what awaits you:

***

She did not want to open her eyes, and when she finally did, the sight of Mr. Darcy staring at her coiled her into knots again. He probably thought it was the height of impropriety for her and Jane to allow him to see their hair loose while in his presence. What was she supposed to do? Let her hair snarl into a knot resembling a bird’s nest?

She could have pointed out to him that there was nothing proper about their current circumstances, but he spared her from defending her behavior when he jerked open the latch and stepped outside, slamming the door behind him.

Jane exclaimed, “He does not have his coat on. He will freeze to death.”

Mr. Bingley snored, and Elizabeth imagined Mr. Darcy falling ill with a cold. Undesirous of caring for two ailing gentlemen, she charged over to the woodpile and grabbed his greatcoat. It was mostly dry thanks to its proximity to the fire.

“I will take this to him,” she said with all the enthusiasm of a martyr. If Mr. Darcy thought she would attend to him as tenderly as Jane cared for Mr. Bingley in his illness, he was in for a surprise. She would sooner slap him over the face with a cold rag than gently bathe his brow.

Donning her pelisse, her dislike for Mr. Darcy growing more severe as the damp fabric chilled her skin, Elizabeth pulled the collar up and braced herself. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and secured it behind her in one fluid motion.

Her entire body shivered, and her chin shook.

Propriety be hanged! She wrapped Mr. Darcy’s greatcoat around her like a cloak. Snuggling into the thick wool, Elizabeth breathed in smoky oak and earth — odors that would forever remind her of Mr. Darcy. She sniffed the fresh air, trying to rid herself of it.

Mr. Darcy stood at the edge of visibility, his dark hair whipping around his face in the wind and his coattails flapping against his breeches.

Did he want to catch a cold? Kicking the snow away to save her skirts, she joined him, shoving the coat in front of him.

He pushed it back to her.

She had little patience for a man who would stand in the frigid wind without his coat. “What are you doing? Have you gone mad?”

Mr. Darcy threw his arms up in the air. “I must be,” he exclaimed with more energy than Elizabeth could ever recall him speaking.

She did not understand what had brought on this episode, but it did not change the fact that he needed his coat. She shoved it toward him again. “Then be so kind as to put your coat on. If you are to lose your mind, you might as well be warm.”

He cackled harshly, taking the coat and putting it on.

She looked at him from the corner of her eyes. What had come over him?

He made no effort to return to the house, and she stood with him for as long as she could, rubbing her arms and bouncing up and down to keep what little warmth she could retain. When her teeth began to chatter, she said, “Mr. Darcy, I cannot stay in the cold much longer, and yet I do not trust you alone out here. You are not well.”

He folded his arms over his chest and peered down at her. She must have been a pitiful sight. He slid his coat off and wrapped it around her shoulders quicker than she could protest. “What do you care? You despise me,” he said, pulling his coat around her snugly.

He looked at her as if her answer was important.

Unable to think of something clever when he had been nice to her and when she was certain her brain had frozen, she said, “You crossed the line when you interfered with my sister’s happiness, but the truth is, I do not know what to think of you. Yes, there are times I despise you, but then you will do something so honorable and sincere, I doubt my reasons for disliking you.” Lest he use her words to minimize his betrayal, she added, “How would you feel if someone, no matter how well-intentioned, ruined the prospects of your sister?”

She wanted him to feel her sister’s pain, to understand what he had made her suffer.

He stepped toward her, leaning forward so he filled her vision. The look in his eyes was so fierce it frightened her. “I would hate him forever. He would be dead to me.”

Overwhelmed by his intensity, Elizabeth stood firmly rooted in place, the wind whipping her skirts around her legs and pulling her hair loose to whirl around her head. She was aware of her surroundings, but they had no impact on her. Not when he allowed her to see him fully in his vulnerability. What she saw moved her. She felt Mr. Darcy’s pain at her very core. He understood her, and he hated himself.

If that was not enough to inspire her sympathy, nothing could. She tugged on his sleeve, urging him, “Come inside, Mr. Darcy. You see how thick the snow falls. None of us can leave here today.”

He allowed her to pull him inside the cottage where he spent the rest of the day in contemplative silence. He was vigilant assisting with the few measures they could take to ease Mr. Bingley’s discomfort, but he withdrew into himself.

Elizabeth’s curiosity grew the more she pondered Mr. Darcy. Opinions and gossip aside, who was he really? She burned to know.


What did you think of the excerpt? I found it very appealing and if this is a sample of the entire book I’m sure it will be a 5 star read :)))

I would like to thank Jennifer Joy for visiting today with the excerpt, it is always a pleasure to receive her at my blog and work with her. She is a very kind person and talented writer 🙂 She is also very generous and would like to celebrate this new release with all of you by offering a giveaway of 4 ebooks of Fitzwilliam Darcy Traitor.

All you have to do is comment on this post until the 31st of October and let us know what you thought of the excerpt.

The giveaway is international and the winners will be announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

76 Comments

Filed under JAFF

When Jane Got Angry Review & Giveaway

Diversity is clearly one of Victoria Kincaid’s characteristics that I cherish the most and why I respect and love her work so much. We never know what type of book to expect when she has a new release coming up and her latest was definitely a surprise for me. After When Mary Met the Colonel, which is my favourite secondary character novel, Ms Kincaid decided to venture once more in a secondary character story, but this time she choose sweet Jane as the main character. We don’t see a lot of variations solely based on Jane and Bingley’s love story, so if Jane is your favourite sister, you cannot miss this book.

On this story Jane travels to London after Mr. Bingley’s party leaves Netherfield, but instead of quietly waiting for something to happen she gets angry with Miss Bingley’s attitude, and when Jane gets angry good things happen 🙂

This is short but sweet novella that explores what would happen if Jane took a more active part in the pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and I really enjoyed seeing how her actions have repercussions in other people’s attitudes. Jane has more influence and power then some of us give her credit for and Victoria Kincaid did a wonderful job at exploring that. In this book we see an angry Jane who doesn’t quite know how to react to that new feeling, and consequently behaves in a surprising manner that changes the entire course of the story.

Mr. Bingley’s character was exactly as we know him to be, but he surprised me with how he handled Caroline’s meddling. He grew a backbone and stood up for his girl in the most exciting way! He was very smart and that made me love him a little bit more (I’m generally not a huge Bingley fan).

I loved the ending and the small appearance that both Mr Darcy and Elizabeth make in this story. They made it unique and funny and I couldn’t think of a better way to end this book.

I recommend When Jane Got Angry to all romance lovers who like sweet stories, but especially to JAFF readers who want to read a different and unique story. Darcy and Elizabeth make small appearances so if you only like to read books where they are the center of the story, this may not be for you. Even so, I usually prefer books where they are the main characters and I really enjoyed this one, so I would still recommend giving it a try. Jane and Bingley’s romance will captivate you.

You can find When Jane Got Angry at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk


.

Victoria Kincaid would like to offer one ebook copy of When Jane Got Angry to my readers. All you have to do is comment on this post until the 31st of October. Ok The giveaway is international the winner will be announced shortly after 🙂

34 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Excerpt & Giveaway

Good afternoon everyone,

In the beginning of the week I had the honour to receive at From Pemberley to Milton Lory Lilian, one of the first authors to publish JAFF over a decade ago, and now that we are approaching the end of the week I am pleased to bring to you a new author who is publishing her first book, Alice Isakova.

Ms Isakova chose Georgiana Darcy as a heroine for her first story, and I know that some of my readers will be thrilled with this choice because I know she is a favourite amongst many. Today we bring to you an excerpt that can give you a very good idea about the book, I hope you like it 🙂

I would also like to thank Alice Isakova for visiting! It is always a pleasure to receive new authors in my blog, but particularly rewarding to receive guests who are kind and pleasant to work with as you were 🙂

 

.

With her temptingly large dowry, the beautiful and talented Georgiana Darcy catches the eye of numerous suitors, not all of whom wish to marry purely for love. As Georgiana navigates the treacherous waters of courtship, her story becomes intertwined with that of Anne de Bourgh, her wealthy but painfully awkward cousin, who stirs up trouble when she sets her sights on a young gentleman with a rank far below her own. In so doing, Anne encounters the opposition of her proud and domineering mother, the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and sets in motion a chain of events that brings a damaging secret to light and threatens to destroy Georgiana’s dreams of happiness. Intrigues, gossip, and elopements further complicate Georgiana’s efforts to find love and avoid the snares of fortune-hunters.

Written in a sparkling, witty, humorous style on par with Jane Austen’s own in Pride and Prejudice, Alice Isakova’s Georgiana Darcy continues the tale that has delighted readers for over two centuries.

You can find Georgiana Darcy at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk


.

.

Hello readers, and thank you, Rita, for hosting me on From Pemberley to Milton. The following excerpt from my book is part of a ballroom scene that takes place in Bath, where Miss Darcy is spending the winter with Mr. Bingley and Jane. Georgiana has just arrived at the Upper Assembly Rooms, and as she is one of the wealthiest and most beautiful debutantes present, it is not long before the gentlemen begin a battle for her heart.

***

Mr. Grey was not the only one overjoyed to see Georgiana at the ball. Michael Brydges had also come to the Upper Rooms that evening in hopes that Miss Darcy would be there. When she arrived, he had been dancing, but seeing her now, he eagerly moved through the crowd in her direction. Alas, suddenly noticing an unknown (and concerningly handsome) gentleman who was deeply engaged in conversation with Georgiana, Mr. Brydges paused. He then turned and went towards his sister, who was nearby, and asked her:

“Grace, who is that gentleman over there?”

“I do not know his name, but I saw him come with Sir Philip and Lady Egerton. Perhaps he is some relation of theirs?”

“He does seem very well-acquainted with Miss Darcy, does he not? We must find out who he is.”

“I managed to discover the size of Miss Darcy’s fortune, though,” said Miss Brydges.

“And is it a large one?”

“A well-informed acquaintance tells me that she has thirty thousand pounds.”

“Thirty thousand pounds! God has indeed been good to me!” exclaimed Mr. Brydges.

No less enticing than this excellent fortune was the prospect of marrying into the eminent Darcy family, which was an ancient and well-respected one of Norman origin. Furthermore, as the niece of the Earl of —, Miss Darcy could hardly have better connections. Since an earl is influential at court and has the ear of the king, reasoned the gentleman, her uncle could do much to help him advance in politics. Then, also, Miss Darcy’s beauty and charm were such that Mr. Brydges should be proud to introduce her to all his acquaintances; he relished the thought that every one of them would admire his choice of wife and think the more highly of him for it, and perhaps even envy him. Almost as much as he enjoyed being envied, the gentleman liked possessing beautiful things, and what a pleasure it would be to feast his eyes on such a glorious wife every day! She would adorn even the finest house that he might hope to acquire.

While Mr. Brydges was absorbed in these enjoyable contemplations, Mr. Bingley happened to pass by. On perceiving each other, the two men exchanged greetings. Mr. Brydges then introduced Bingley to his sister, and as soon as the opportunity arose, he asked with feigned unconcern:

“That gentleman speaking with Miss Darcy, is it by any chance her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy?”

“No, that is Mr. Grey. I can introduce the two of you if you like.”

“I would be delighted to make his acquaintance.”

However, there was less delight than suspicion in Michael Brydges’ countenance during the introduction. He immediately disliked his rival; Mr. Grey was just the sort of man a woman could easily fall in love with—handsome, intelligent, amiable, and lively. Mr. Brydges was impatient to learn more about him but even more impatient to dance with Georgiana, and therefore, instead of spending much time on conversation with his new acquaintance, he seized the opportunity to solicit Miss Darcy’s hand for the next dance. She had no choice but to accept; yet, as Georgiana was walking away with him, for a brief moment she turned her head to look back at Mr. Grey. He, meanwhile, was inwardly kicking himself for having missed the chance to stand up with Miss Darcy. Why on earth had he not asked her to dance?!

Grace Brydges stayed behind with Mr. Grey, and after they had been chatting together a few minutes, she suddenly had an idea. Seeing a pretty but rather silly, young acquaintance of hers nearby, she addressed her with:

“Miss Pheasant, how lovely to see you here this evening! Come, there is someone I would like you to meet!”

After Miss Brydges had introduced Mr. Grey to the young lady, she asked her, “Have you danced yet this evening, Miss Pheasant?”

“No, Miss Brydges, not yet.”

“But you are very fond of dancing?”

“Oh yes, I love it above any other amusement!” cried Miss Pheasant, beaming radiantly at Mr. Grey.

In light of such an obvious hint, the young man did his duty in asking Miss Pheasant to be his partner for the next dance. No sooner had he done so, than Miss Fanny Pheasant came towards them in search of her elder sister. To this young lady Mr. Grey was promptly introduced as well, and before he knew it, he was engaged for not one but both of the next two dances. The poor gentleman could only hope that the Miss Pheasants had no other sisters.


 

 

Born in Eastern Europe, Alice Isakova spent the latter part of her childhood in the United States before finally settling in Australia. There she obtained a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Adelaide and won multiple university prizes for outstanding academic achievement.Alice now lives with her family in rural Tasmania. She spends her free time either writing or pursuing her passion for fitness, especially the disciplines of rhythmic gymnastics, yoga, and ballet. Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is Alice Isakova’s first book

 

You can reach out to Alice Isakova on the following media:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/aliceisakova
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18169009.Alice_Isakova

 

 

 


.

Alice would like to offer five ebook copies to my readers, the giveaway is international and all you have to do is comment on this post until the 19th of October. Let us know what you think of this excerpt or who is your favourite secondary character…do you have a particular fondness for Georgiana? I have a preference for Col. Fitzwilliam and Mary, what about you?

Good Luck everyone!

10 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Bitterness of Spirit, Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I am the bearer of good news today! Maybe you’ve noticed, but in case you haven’t, Lory Lilian has released a new book this weekend! It is called Bitterness of Spirit and from what I’ve heard the Queen of Hot Mush did it again! I’m taking this one with me on my road trip and I think it will be the perfect company for when I’ll be relaxing in a paradisiac beach 🙂

Ms Lilian decided to share with all of you and excerpt where Elizabeth and Darcy seem to be in advance stage of their relationship… I wonder if their will be any angst before they get to this point in the story. I would certainly like that, but I’m sure I will love all the Hot Mush we will get for sure in the final chapters 🙂

I will let you read the excerpt and take the chance to win any book of your choice from Lory Lilian 🙂 She came bearing gifts, and the best thing is, you get to choose them 🙂


 

 

Bitterness of Spirit tells the same beloved story—with new twists, new characters, and new situations—of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, two powerful characters struggling against pride and prejudice to reach their happily ever after.

On the path towards happiness, they overcome well-known obstacles, as well as new ones, face opponents in classic battles, and defeat others in unique ways.

Even more, an original character—seemingly lost to the world for nearly a lifetime—emerges from an obscure past to connect their lives and families in a way no one could imagine.

Will Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship disintegrate or evolve under such challenging circumstances?

Bitterness of Spirit is recommended for a general audience except for the last chapter, which is intended for mature readers. It may be omitted based on the reader’s preference.

You can find Bitterness of Spirit at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 


 

.

They continued their walk as well as their conversation. Gradually, Bingley and Jane, arm in arm, moved several steps further while Elizabeth and Darcy remained a little behind.

The park was crowded, and the paths, bordered by rows of flowers, carried a charming scent. A few minutes passed before Darcy began to speak.

“Miss Bennet, I am glad we have the chance to speak privately. To be honest, this was the main purpose of my visit today. For several days now, I have wanted to approach you about a rather delicate matter.”

They walked side by side, their arms almost touching as they moved.

A chill coursed through her. “A delicate matter? What would that be, sir?” Surely, he would not propose if he started that way, and certainly not in the middle of the park. Or would he?

“Miss Bennet, Lady Catherine has finally accepted Wilson’s invitation to the ball,” he said hesitantly.

“Has she?”

“Yes. To our mutual surprise, it was Anne who insisted upon attending. It was quite unexpected; she usually loathes such parties. I believe this will only be the second ball she has attended in London.”

“I am truly happy to hear that she wishes to come. And honoured,” Elizabeth replied sincerely.

“I believe that is what convinced my aunt to attend. There is…something different about Anne lately. She expresses her wishes and opinions more decidedly. She has grown in strength and determination. Both Richard and I are pleased to witness her improvement.”

“That is wonderful news indeed. And what have the doctors said about her health?”

“They are still uncertain, but she seems to feel better than I have seen her in the last years. And that is what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Miss De Bourgh’s health?” Elizabeth inquired, puzzled.

“No…her presence at the ball.”

“Oh…is there a problem?”

“Yes…not really… In order to convince Lady Catherine to attend the ball with Anne, Richard and I promised to take care of her and make her feel comfortable. Anne will not dance; she has never danced in public. So Richard and I decided to take turns; while one of us dances, the other will stay with Anne.”

“How generous and kind of you. Miss De Bourgh is surely pleased to have such considerate cousins,” Elizabeth responded, puzzled as to why he would make such a disclosure to her.

“We only hope to see her content and relaxed. However, many of those in attendance know that Anne and I are expected to marry,” he uttered, glancing at her. She met his eyes briefly.

“Anne and I know such an event will not occur, but still people will look at us. Therefore, I must be careful and mind my manners to avoid arousing useless gossip.”

Elizabeth’s puzzlement increased. “What kind of gossip, sir?”

He stopped and turned to her. “It was my intention to ask you for the first set, Miss Bennet. And for at least one other set during the evening.”

She held his intense gaze and allowed herself to become lost in it.

“Oh…” she whispered while he slowly resumed walking.

“However, in doing that, I would place Anne in an awkward position and provoke all kinds of rumours. That is, if I invited you to dance and you agreed.”

“Yes,” she admitted without hesitation, her heart pounding. She then stopped and he did the same. “I would have gladly accepted your invitations—both of them—and that would have indeed put Miss De Bourgh in a difficult position.”

Their eyes locked again before they continued to walk. No other words were needed.

“Therefore, I told Richard that I would not dance the first two sets. I suspect he will invite you for the first set and Miss Bennet for the second.”

“Thank you for warning me,” she said, laughing nervously.

“I shall ask Miss Bennet for the third set, and if you would do me the honour, I would kindly ask you to reserve me the supper set.”

“I think that is a perfect choice, sir,” she whispered.

They stepped side by side for a while, her emotions mixed and strong. His confession and the explanation he offered were stronger proof of his affection than any dance could be. His kindness towards his cousin did not diminish his admiration and care for her.

“Thank you for listening to me, Miss Bennet. I was reluctant to broach such a subject with you as I feared it would be an awkward conversation. But for many months, I behaved in a way that allowed you to form a wrong impression of me. This time, I wished to avoid any misunderstanding.”

“It was an awkward conversation indeed.” She laughed again. “But I am deeply grateful to you for it. I confess that I hoped you would ask me for the first set—or for any other.”

“This is good to know…very good to know,” he uttered in a low voice.

“Will you come to Hertfordshire?” she inquired sometime later. They were both looking ahead, paying attention to the view ahead, painfully aware of each other’s closeness.

“I shall, but I am not sure of the length of my stay. I would rather go to Pemberley to be certain everything is prepared for your arrival.”

She said nothing but felt so much that her entire being was wracked by chills. Her mind tried to keep her racing heart under good regulation, but not even her fear of assuming too much could dismiss the obvious truth in his words.

Although their walk lasted only an hour, Elizabeth knew its importance could last a lifetime.

They returned home, and the gentlemen soon left, leaving both Miss Bennets with large smiles and light hearts that did not go unnoticed by their relatives. However, the only subject discussed was the upcoming ball.


.


Ms Lilian would like to offer two ebooks to two different winners. The giveaway is international and each winner will be able to choose any of her books including Bitterness of Spirit.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is comment on this post until the 19th of October and let us know what you thought of this excerpt.

Good Luck everyone!

34 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Rational Creatures – Guest Post from Nicole Clarkston

Good Afternoon everyone,

Welcome to another stop of the blog tour for Rational Creatures, one of the most expected books of the year not only because of its significance when it comes to the defense of feminist principles, but also because editor Christina Boyd was once more able to gather some of the most prominent names in the JAFF literary genre. I’m very happy to receive an author who is new in the The Quill Collective Anthologies but someone whom I’ve known quite well for the past years, Nicole Clarskton.

Nicole Clarkston is one of my favourite authors within the genre for more reasons that I can point out (but you can check some of them in my Author of the Month post) and she decided to create a story about one of the most controversial heroines from Jane Austen’s novels: Marianne Dashwood. This character had everything for me to love her, and quite frankly her sister had everything for me to hate her, but somehow Austen made me love Elinor and dislike Marianne. Why is that? Why is such a passionate character so controversial? I believe it is because of her lack of maturity, but Nicole Clarkston did a great job at explaining the progress of this character, so I if like me you were not a fan of Marianne, you may enjoy reading this guest post, it may change your mind 😉


“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
 
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser


.

.

Marianne Dashwood: the last girl in the world whose name you would accidentally breathe in the same sentence as the word “rational”.

Marianne is introduced to us as exceedingly pretty, lively, engaging, witty, and talented. She is that girl who can hold the room in her thrall with hardly a conscious thought. She is, however, regularly given to excesses of passion—which even her mother encourages—that would eliminate her from the running if we were on the search for someone cool, calm, and collected. That laurel would go to her sister, and Marianne would suffer not a moment’s jealousy in being passed over for such accolades.

Marianne is not without other virtues. She is honest and pure, and her definition of these qualities is exacting. She speaks no guile and expresses every feeling, every thought with heartfelt sincerity. Indeed, this charming trait is perhaps her greatest flaw, for the expression “think before you speak” would smack of artifice to her. Her feelings are passionate, loving, unreserved, and wholly ungoverned. Not only does she permit her emotions free reign over her thoughts and actions, but she encourages them, provoking herself to even greater displays of feeling and relishing every moment of the heights of rapture or the depths of despair.

At this point, you might be asking why anyone would ever have the nerve to declare Marianne Dashwood a “Rational Creature”. I believe the girl we meet at the beginning of the story would even be offended by that appellation, and would immediately quote some poetry to better describe herself. But Marianne undergoes a complete reversal, marrying a stoic man twice her age and bewildering the reader who tries to thumb ahead to read the last pages without first knowing the arc of the story.

She did give her heart away… shocking, I know. In truth, she tore it out of her chest and threw it at an unworthy rascal, who promptly dropped it like a hot potato when the choice was between her and money. What, then, is a girl to do? Not only has she lost that one soul in whom she truly believed she must find all her happiness, she has also been forced to acknowledge the fallacy of her ways in a most humiliating manner. To top it all off, she discovers that her sister—remember the rational one?—has suffered a similar disappointment but has preserved her dignity through it all. That must sting.

Well, it turns out that our girl has a bit of sense bound up in that heart after all. After a life-threatening illness, she emerges a new creature. She is still our headstrong, generous, thoroughly enchanting heroine—the soul of a poet in the body of a bewitching eighteen-year-old girl—but she has learned the value of temperance. Moreover, she resolves to hone her own mind, to discipline her thoughts, and—most astonishing of all—to consider the possibility of life without a man’s ardent devotion. She resolves to be content in who she is, while exerting herself to improve and make amends for past wrongs.

All this transformation is little more than a blip in Jane Austen’s last chapters. Our dear authoress leaves us to wonder, to doubt, and perhaps even roll our eyes. But then, she proves Marianne’s new outlook on life by telling us of her marriage to a man she had once deemed unmarriageable, and then going on to declare her happiness in that circumstance.

“…in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction;—her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.” —Sense and Sensibility

No, she has not changed in essentials. Did you catch that bit about how her husband is even animated and cheerful because of her influence? But the fact that she has devoted herself to loving, and loving wholly, the man who was the most sensible choice, demonstrates that she has learned what her mother thought unnecessary and her sister despaired of ever seeing: she is now governing her feelings by reason. Indeed, she has become a Rational Creature.

 

Nicole


.

 

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her

You can find our more about Nicole Clarkston in the following social media:

Website

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

 

.

 

 


..

 

.

Please follow the blog tour to have a chance to get to know all the authors and learn more about these stories 🙂

 

September 18 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post

September 20 / Long and Short Reviews / Guest Post

September 25 / Books & Wine are Lovely Playlist

September 27 / Fangs, Wands and Fairydust / Guest Post

October 2 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

October 4 / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post

October 9 / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post

October 11 / Silver Petticoat / Guest Post

October 15 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review

October 16 / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post

October 18 / Rosie’s Review Team / Book Review

October 23 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

October 25 / The Book Rat / Guest Post

October 30 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

November 1 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Guest Post

November 6 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

November 8  / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review

November 13 / Let Us Talk of Many Things / Guest Post


.

.

The Quill Collective is offering a huge giveaway to one very lucky winner! It is offering 21 prizes, so comment on the blog posts to enter and at the end of the tour you may be the randomly picked winner who will win all 21 prizes!  

The prizes are:

  • Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks),
  • our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle;
  • A brick in winner’s name to benefit
  • BuyABrick for Chawton House; and
  • The Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook.

 


64 Comments

Filed under JAFF