There’s Something About Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm

 

I have been interested in the Darcy mania phenomena ever since discovering Jan Austen Fan Fiction several years ago. I’ve participated in an academic conference to talk about this topic, read plenty of academic papers about it, and even considered writing a book regarding this matter. Unfortunately my daily job, along with several other hobbies, never allow me to have enough time to do it so I was very excited when I learned that a new book called There’s Something About Darcy was going to be released.

When I read the blurb, I though this book would be pure perfection, and that it would finally generate more discussion about Jane Austen Fan Fiction in a lighter manner, focusing on what makes us read about the same characters over and over again. I have nothing against academic papers, but I never felt they really conveyed what JAFF was all about, and my hopes were all placed in There’s Something About Darcy. Check out the blurb to see if you agree with me 🙂

 

For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. But what is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?

Dr Gabrielle Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.

In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?


 

It is visible in There’s Something About Darcy that Dr Gabrielle Malcom made an extensive research about the Darcymania phenomenon, and literary romantic heroes, using the knowledge acquired to draft a detailed and very organized book. It starts by enlightening readers about what may have influenced Austen in her creation of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s character, progressing to how Darcy influenced other romantic heroes, and finally focusing on the Pride & Prejudice adaptations on screen and in literature.

In the first part of the book I found particularly interesting to read about the influences Austen herself may have add, and how Darcy became a stereotype of a romantic hero. We’ve all heard about other characters that share similar traits with Darcy and we like to believe he is the cause. There are several articles comparing Darcy to other literary characters such as Mr. Thornton (one of them written by Nicole Clarkston and shared here at from Pemberley to Milton two years ago), Mr. Grey and even Edward Cullen from Twilight, but Gabrielle Malcom goes even further comparing Darcy to Dracula, Rochester and even Heathcliff. I find this an interesting topic, but I could not agree with some of the comparisons the author made, and I would have preferred for this part of the book to have been shorter as too much page time was spent talking about those characters and explaining their background. In my opinion, where some comparisons were a little exaggerated, like Heathcliff, others like Mr. Thornton were lost opportunities. I believe these two characters are the ones that are more alike and I would have liked to read more about their similar traits.

The second part of the book was more in line with what I was expecting and I truly enjoyed reading about the several T.V. adaptations that were made of Pride & Prejudice. I particularly loved the analysis the author made of Andrew Davies’ adaptation, because even if I have read many about this subject, I had never seen such a detailed and interesting analysis. The author explains how Davies was able to bring added value to the adaptation remaining faithful to Austen’s work, namely by adding silent scenes that would give a better view of Darcy’s character without creating dialogue that Austen herself didn’t write.

After the interesting analysis of Darcy on film, the author analyses the evolution of Darcy in literature and here she details the storyline of several books and explains the author’s interpretation of the Darcy character. The author is of the opinion that each writer has their own vision of who Darcy is (an opinion I also share), and describes and analyses the plots of books such as Longbourn, Death Comes to Pemberley, The Madness of Mr. Darcy, Project Darcy, etc.

Many papers about this topic focus on far-fetched stories where Darcy is a vampire, pirate, zombie slayer, gay etc, and even if I also like some of those books, I believe most JAFF readers prefer the regular regency variations. That is where the biggest fan base is, so I truly loved the inclusion of The Madness of Mr. Darcy, which is one of my all time favourite JAFF books, in this list. The analysis was very interesting and definitely my favourite, especially because I had read the book before, so the extensive description of the plot was not a spoiler for me.

At some point the author mentions that authors realise the potential of Mary Bennet’s character as the forgotten sister, and I believe it would have been interesting to read more about books focused on Mary Bennet such as When Mary Met the Colonel, but the focus was on Darcy after all, so I guess that is understandable.

Dr. Gabrielle Malcom also discusses the close relationship between readers, writers and reviewers of JAFF and I was very happy to see her quote my fellow blogger Mira Magdo. This was the part of the book I enjoyed the most as it was the one that was closer to the JAFF community, and in line with what I was expecting from this book and I wouldn’t have mind if this was the lengthiest part of the book.

There’s Something About Darcy is an interesting book that Jane Austen Fan Fiction readers will enjoy because it makes an extensive analysis of the many facets of Darcy. It doesn’t clearly answer to the question of why Darcy is still so relevant in the 21st century, and it doesn’t discuss some of the big names in the genre like Abigail Reynolds or Joana Starnes, but it does bring several ideas to the table for our discussion and it is definitely worth reading, therefore I do recommend it to those interested in the Darcy phenomena. It will give those readers much to think about and discuss with their friends.


 

This review is integrated in the Blog Tour for There’s Something About Darcy, so if you’re curious about this book, you can find more information on the following blogs:

And if this is a book that belongs in your library, you can find it at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Happy Reading everyone!

4 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Yuletide – Narrator Interview and Giveaway

Good Afternoon dear readers,

As you all know, I could not live without the company of Audiobooks, so it is with great pleasure that I receive Harry Frost, the narrator of Yuletide, for an interview today.

I feel a great fascination regarding the entire process of narrating an audiobook because I consider it a complex and difficult involving many details, such as genre voices, accents, rhythm etc. This means I absorb with great interest any information that involves the narration process, and Harry Frost satisfied my curiosity with this interview because he talked about many different aspects a narrator needs to consider. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and if you do not have a copy of Yuletide yet, you MUST grab a copy! It is perfect for this time of the year and I’m sure you will not regret it 🙂

 


 

  1. When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?

 

In retrospect, the day when I was seven and my French teacher had me stand at the front of the class and show everyone how well I could pronounce ‘les orreilles’ (ears), with authentic-sounding French ‘rr’. Since then, it has become clear that, while I can be rather shy, I’m quite happy to perform as long as I’ve got a character, a foreign language, or a microphone to hide behind! Of course, while it would be satisfying to think I went forward from that moment determined to narrate audiobooks, in truth it’s more that I just sort of wound up narrating and only then realised that it was exactly what I wanted to do; that it was the point of intersection for all my interests up to that point and could offer just the career I had been looking for.

 

  1. How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?

Well, the signs were all there, but they only came together down the line a bit. I studied English Lit at university, and had loved audiobooks ever since listening to Martin Jarvis read ‘Just William’ on cassette when I was a child, but it didn’t occur to me to even aspire to narrate them myself until I heard about ACX (the Audible platform through which I have so far worked). So, the motive was there from ‘les orreilles’ onward, the means had been provided a while back by technology (internet distribution, cheaper consumer hardware and digital editing software), and the opportunity just suddenly presented itself. I determined to do the absolute best I could on my first project (‘The Darcy Monologues’, also edited by Christina Boyd), while still thinking of it really as an interesting experiment-slash-hobby. Then, when it was released, I was just blown away by all the wonderful feedback I got from the community. If even a few people enjoyed it—despite all my anxieties about it not having been good enough, and despite the fact that I had largely winged it through the technical side of things—and if I enjoyed doing it, then what else was to be said? I drew up an Excel spreadsheet, decided the game might be worth the candle, and opened my wallet for some better hardware. So I guess the final answer is that I did stumble into it by chance, but that, having done so, it was hard not to suddenly see all the jobs and interests and hobbies I had pursued beforehand as though they had been conscious steps on the road to that goal.

 

  1. A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

I certainly hope not; I do not have such a background! But then I’m only starting my career, so we’ll see. I have been in six or seven amateur stage productions, and two student films, but no more. I have never been classically trained. Perhaps, therefore, this is a wishful rationalisation, but I think what might be called the ‘bio-mechanical’ training that stage actors get is at least partially redundant for recorded narration. They are trained to be heard, un-mic’ed, in large venues with terrible acoustics, yet condenser mics are so sensitive that coughing overloads them, and they pick up even the quietest breaths, not to mention whispered lines. It’s well known that stage actors going into film or television have to dial back their projection, as well as making their physical acting more subtle, and I think that’s even truer of narration; it’s much more intimate than declaiming on a stage, and there could hardly be less of a ‘fourth wall’ between actor and audience than when one is soliloquising through a speaker literally inches from a listener’s inner ear. So, in that respect, I think (hope?) that, on the contrary, one would have to unlearn some aspects of traditional stage acting for recorded narration.

On the other hand, breath control and the knowledge of how to warm up the voice are absolutely essential, and I have definitely felt that lack of classical training in that respect, and have had to teach myself (and even take up singing lessons!) to compensate. Then, of course, the main point of intersection is being able to inhabit characters and switch between them quickly, all the while acting as they might act (remembering, too, that the writer’s prose style itself, not just directly reported speakers, must be counted as a character in need of interpretation). I’m certain dramatic training would help a lot here, too, but I also believe that much of just ordinary social life involves trying to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and perhaps ‘rehearsing’ the conversations they might have with us, or that we might have with them, and how they might behave in so-and-so a situation. Hopefully, because of that, there’s something to be said for simply ‘leaning by doing’.

 

  1. What about YULETIDE compelled you to take on the project?

The editor, Christina. Not everyone has the best things to say about working through ACX, but I was lucky enough to have an amazing experience producing the audio version of another of her Austenesque anthologies, and it was all thanks to her and her wonderful authors. The whole ‘JAFF’ community they work within is great; an all-too-rare mixture of high-brow literary tastes and open, enthusiastic, mutually-supportive creativity. I was only too keen for another project, and this time armed with a bit more confidence, and far, far better equipment. It also felt lovely coming back to the same characters I had worked out my ’takes’ on for the earlier project; particularly dusting off the old ‘Darcy voice’. There have been certain situations in my life where talking the way I do (very English, rather ‘posh’) has made it hard to fit in and put me at something of a disadvantage. Voicing Regency-inspired comedies of manners in a near-perpetual drawing room setting is not one of those situations. That said, I also love the opportunity to push myself and try some of the modern and non-British settings; it’s a fantastic challenge, particularly when such strong characters are a given.

 

  1. What types of things are harmful to your voice?

I wish I knew more thoroughly! That’s where the classical training would come in, I suppose. So far it doesn’t seem to be good news: I’ve determined I can’t drink alcohol within 36 hours (I know…) of recording, because it dries out my throat and tongue and leads to ‘mouth clicks’. Then, of course, one can’t go about shouting and screaming as much as one might have been accustomed to do, though serendipitously the not drinking helps with that. Colds, rather than being an annoyance, now mean a week without recording, which makes me even more aware of hand-washing and nose-breathing than ordinary prudence dictates. The world (the internet; same thing) is full of ‘helpful’ tips on what food and drink is good or bad for voice, and so far I can confirm the following: chocolate does seem to clag up the throat and so is to be avoided, dairy does seem to thicken the saliva so ditto, and slippery elm bark (lozenge or powder) helps sooth your throat if ever you overdo it and talk yourself hoarse (I think P.G. Wodehouse calls this ‘clergyman’s throat’).

 

  1. Who are your “accent inspirations”?

BBC USA did a series called ‘Killing Eve’ (adapted from books by Luke Jennings of which there are audio versions on Audible, incidentally), and the lead was a British actor called Jodie Comer, playing hired assassin ‘Villanelle’. The character is a sort of terrifying, psychopathic chameleon, who can change her entire outward appearance on the fly so as to evade capture or complete her missions around the work. That meant, of course, that the actor had to, too. Quite apart from her wider performance (outstanding), I’ve never heard such perfect voice work as she achieves in that show. So accurate, with such instantaneous shifts: Russian, French, German, English of various types, UK and US, and never resorting to pantomime clichés, but always as naturalistic as though she’d had a full-blown professor of linguistics on retainer for each one. Or maybe is also a full-blown professor of linguistics herself; I would hardly be surprised. Then I watched her on a chat show, and her ’natural’ accent is Liverpudlian—perhaps Britain’s third most conspicuous accent—and I’d never had any idea. So, she is a real inspiration, but not an aspiration, because even I know when I’m setting my sights too high.

I’m also very inspired by the audiobook work of Steven Pacey, who I first encountered reading Martin Amis’ ‘The Pregnant Widow’, but who I only recognised and started following properly after hearing him read Joe Abercrombie’s fantasy series ’The First Law’. He demonstrates perfectly how narration style and prose style can come together to really elevate a story as in no other medium. His characters are great, but it’s his standard narration that’s really brilliant; the pace, and that combination of repeated and varied patterns of emphasis that avoids either boring you or jarring you away from the story. He is, of course, inimitable, but I hope that might be a more reasonable aspiration for me: I can see what he does and most of how he does it, so that while I might not be able to do it myself yet, I can imagine one day being able to.

 

  1. How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?

It’s made much easier for me in this anthology, because everyone has an idea of how Darcy, Elizabeth, Lady Catherine etc. sound, so there’s less credit to the voice actor for interpreting, and it’s more about simple mimicry. Then again, there are certainly different flavours of those characters that different authors emphasise or de-emphasise for their purposes, and that comes down to just reading the material before diving in. My two axioms for narration, which I developed as a listener before I was a producer, are ‘Read it like you love it’, and ‘Read it like you understand it’; in that order, and both with the implicit rider ‘…because then the listener will, too’. Loving Jane Austen— I mean, who doesn’t? One would have to have a heart of stone not to. And understanding just takes spending a bit of time with the text, and asking “Which Darcy, which Collins etc., and why?”. My ’training’ (three years and several thousand pounds spent drinking heavily and reading occasionally in the sunny south-west of England) in English Literature and literary criticism probably helps me pick up on those signals and answer those questions.

 

  1. How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done? How does narration of an anthology differ from that of a novel?

Well, on the first point, I’ve not yet done any other type of voiceover work. I know that advertisements and character work and so on are far, far better paid, but I’ve gone right ahead and specialised in audiobooks (because that’s what I love), so that I’ve not yet had any time to audition for anything else, or to think about an agent, or a showreel. On the second, the character voice question above certainly applies here. One can generally completely record a short story in a day, whereas a novel takes far longer, so a character’s first appearance can be separated from his next even by some weeks. So with novels, consistency is much harder to achieve, and I find I have to pick a sort of ’signature’ line in a character’s voice, mark it in the recording, then return to it to make sure I’ve got it right before that character reappears. That’s where a director or producer (who isn’t also me) would come in handy. Apart from that, I’ve not yet detected many other differences, except perhaps that the variety of an anthology might gratify a performer who gets bored with their material. However, that kind of performer probably shouldn’t be attempting audiobooks in the first place.

 

  1. If you could narrate one book from your youth, what would it be and why?

‘Gormenghast’ by Mervyn Peake. The writing is so incredibly dense, the sentences so long, the language so complicated that it’s nearly impossible to slog through as a reader. And yet it’s the most amazing book (series; there are three, this is the second), one of those ones that you can only spend so much time with before you have to leave it alone and sit in a darkened room for a while to calm down and let the images fade. Peake was a painter before he was a writer, and I’ve never come across a book that uses language better for visual effect. A good audio version of that is essential to overcome its deficiencies in plot and readability; it’s one of those instances where the audiobook is far better than the printed one. Now, whether or not I could manage it is another question, but it certainly needs someone who loves the book, and I surely do love it. Alas, there have been at least three versions already made (although one is abridged— boo, hiss—so doesn’t count), read by incredible readers: Simon Vance, Saul Reichlin, and Rupert Degas. There’re probably more, somewhere.

 

  1. Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?

The ‘funny’ anecdotes of any trade often fall flat with non-practitioners, and we narrators are particularly odd, given that we spend so much time alone in darkened, airless rooms. But here goes, you asked for it…

In editing software, you can listen back to work at higher-than-normal speed, which lets you check accuracy to the text while getting through a recording quicker. You just have to put up with the high-pitched chipmunk voice. Sometimes, listening back, I think to myself, “Frost, you could do better on that line”, so I re-record it, to drop it in. On one occasion, we were at the emotional apex of a Darcy/Elizabeth scene; the moment Elizabeth realises her own pride, not to mention prejudice, and finally puts herself out there to love and be loved, and Darcy comes back with some endearingly gruff line that seals their happiness forever. Except in this case, I felt I could have done rather better with Darcy’s—more endearing, maybe, or more gruff—so up I jump to re-record. However, the speed you listen at is also the speed you record at, and I had forgotten to turn the speed setting back to normal. I realised when I came to play back the scene with the new dropins, and unthinkingly re-set it to normal, rolling my eyes at my own absent-mindedness. But of course, like something out of that movie Interstellar, for something recorded at 1.5x speed, ‘normal’ is really 1.5x slower than normal, and the opposite of the high chipmunk voice is a pretty frightening low growl. Unsuspecting, I listen with satisfaction to the lead-in—“Wow, aren’t I good; so delicate, so sensiti…”—then, when the new line hits I nearly fall off my chair. The line is there, but instead of being delivered with my version of ‘romantic lead gravel’, it’s several registers deeper, with this metallic tinge and, worst of all, this sinister, slurred, slow enunciation that completely changes the meaning of the beautifully-written sentiment. I’m instantly transported into this terrifying new scene, where Elizabeth is feigning love to escape the clutches of this half-robot-half-demon creature that she’s somehow contrived to get reeling drunk. This being the first time it had happened to me, I had absolutely no idea what had gone wrong, and didn’t know whether to Google ‘audio production unexpected slow playback’ or ‘audio production unexpected demonic possession’. A stirring lesson in what a difference tone, pace, and delivery can make to a scene with no change to the words.

As for funny…well, I guess you had to be there.

 

11.What was your biggest challenge with this performance?

Definitely having to attempt a New England accent for some parts of ‘Homespun for the Holidays’. It was a new one for me—I mean, I’d watched Good Will Hunting, Family Guy and The Departed alright, but hearing isn’t doing—and led down some interesting Youtube rabbit holes. I hope I managed OK; I could have given more characters the accent as the writer intended, but I took the decision that, unless I could become an absolute master in a short space of time, it would detract from the drama. So selected characters have it, with some creative biography having to suffice to explain why certain members of the same family speak quite differently!

 


 

Harry Frost is an English voice actor specialising in audiobook narration and production. He’s passionate about the power of the audio medium to bring literature to life in every sense of that phrase; to reconnect writing to the spoken tradition it never really escaped, and to turn books into true companions for life as it is lived, rather than things one must escape the world and defer responsibility to read. His studio is in rural Leicestershire, he has recently found an unlikely love of Economics, and he makes a really good Manhattan. Find samples and articles on www.bellows-audio.co.uk, and follow him on Facebook @bellowsaudio.

 

 


 

About the audiobook: “I went up to the Great House between three and four, and dawdled away an hour very comfortably…” –Jane Austen

 

A holiday short story anthology with some favorite Austenesque authors, YULETIDE is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the spirit of the season. Regency and contemporary alike, each romance was dreamt to spark love, humor, and wonder while you dawdle over a hot cup of tea this Christmas.

Stories by Elizabeth Adams * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Lona Manning * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin William

Edited by Christina Boyd * Narrated by Harry Frost

 

.


Yuletide Audiobook is going on a blog and it only started last week at Drunk Austen, please don’t forget to follow the other blogs for more news on this wonderful Christmas Anthology 🙂

4 November, Drunk Austen https://drunkausten.com/

11 November, From Pemberley to Milton https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com/

20 November, Austenprose https://austenprose.com/

25 November, Austenesque Reviews https://austenesquereviews.com/

2 December, The Book Rat http://www.thebookrat.com/

.


 

 

The Quill Ink will offer one $15 Amazon gift card giveaway for the entire tour. You be automatically entered to win by simply commenting on the blog post. It is not necessary to comment at every blog on the tour, but each allows you more entries. The Quill Ink will choose one random winner by December 9.

Good Luck everyone!

39 Comments

Filed under JAFF

A Covenant of Marriage – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that we have recently revealed the cover of A Covenant of Marriage, C.P. Odom’s most recent book, and you also know how much I enjoyed doing that because of my love for cover art. Today we will not discuss his cover, but I am equally happy to share with you an excerpt and a vignette, that I hope will increase your curiosity towards this book. These snippets will reveal the very beginning of A Covenant of Marriage, and I believe will be enough to let you know this is one that should not be missed 🙂

Please do let us know your impressions on this excerpt once you’ve read it 🙂 And if you don’t know what the book is about yet, you can also read the blurb below 🙂


 

A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!

Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.

With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together.

 

You can find A Covenant of Marriage at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

.


Prologue

Marriage is by nature a covenant. Not just a private contract one may cancel at will.

— Bruce C. Hafen (1940–), American attorney,
academic, and religious leader

Monday, June 29, 1812
Longbourn, Hertfordshire

The time fixed for the beginning of Elizabeth’s northern tour finally arrived, and on a Monday at the end of June, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrived at Longbourn with their four children, who were to be left in the care of their cousin Jane. She was the particular favourite of all the children, and she responded in kind since her own steadiness and even temper suited her exactly to the task.

The Gardiners stayed only one night at Longbourn before setting off the next morning with Elizabeth, all of them highly anticipating six weeks of touring the Lake District. Elizabeth had heard much of the region and looked forward to days of diversion and pleasure, especially since she was in company with her beloved aunt and uncle. She knew she could not have picked more suitable travelling companions, and the inconveniences that so often afflicted travellers would not put a damper on their own excursion. Whether they faced inclement weather, a broken carriage wheel, or problems with inns along the way, she knew Aunt and Uncle Gardiner would deal with any problems in the same way she would with good temper, intelligence, and common sense.

Elizabeth recorded no descriptions of the area they toured or the places that provided delightful diversions during their journey, and in later years, she found she could not remember any of those places with any distinction.

Thus, after a month and a half of travel, the party bent their path towards Hertfordshire, and after sleeping two nights on the road, arrived at Longbourn, expecting to be greeted with predictable enthusiasm by the children as well as the rest of the family.

Only half of their expectations were met.

Chapter 1

How many times had those awful words—“I know what I’m doing”—been uttered throughout history as prelude to disaster?

— Christopher Buckley (1952–) American political satirist

Wednesday, August 12, 1812
Longbourn, Hertfordshire

As soon as the carriage entered the paddock at Longbourn, Elizabeth saw her cousins standing on the steps of the house, having been attracted by either the sight or sound of their vehicle. When the carriage arrived at the door, their faces lit up with joyful surprise that seemed to spread to the rest of their bodies since they began to caper and frisk about the carriage even before the door could be opened.

Elizabeth was the first to climb down, and she stooped to give each of them a kiss and an embrace while her aunt and uncle exited the carriage. As she rose to her feet, she was surprised to see Jane running down the steps in a most unusual haste, her face pale with dark circles under her eyes. Elizabeth had not even time to ask whether she was feeling ill before her elder sister embraced her.

“Oh, Lizzy, I cannot tell you how relieved I am to see you!” Jane cried, and Elizabeth was startled to see tears running freely down her sister’s cheeks.

“What is wrong?” Elizabeth asked, suddenly afraid some illness or accident might have afflicted a member of her family during her absence.

“Did you not receive my letters?” Jane asked in confusion.

“I got only four or five while we were gone, but I received nothing during the past several weeks. Come, what is wrong! Are my mother and father well? Did something happen to one of my sisters?”

“No, everyone is well, but Lydia—oh, it is so distressing!”

By this time, both her aunt and uncle had joined them and realized something was wrong.

“Perhaps it would be best to take the children inside and entrust them to the care of the housekeeper before we discuss this further,” Mrs. Gardiner said quietly. “We do not want to upset them unduly. Are your mother and father inside?”

“My father is in town searching for—” Jane stopped when her aunt raised a finger to her lips.

“My father is not here, and my mother is upstairs in her room,” Jane said, choosing her words more carefully. “I am afraid Hill is sitting with her, so she cannot take the children. My mother is too—”

“Then one of the other servants,” interrupted Mrs. Gardiner forcibly. “Come, one need only to look at your face to see how upset you are. We want to know what has happened as soon as possible, but we want to discuss it in private.”

This was obviously sensible, and Jane allowed herself to be guided inside to the front parlour. Within a few minutes, the children had been taken upstairs, and Mrs. Gardiner returned, closing the doors firmly behind her.

“Now, pray tell us what has happened,” Mr. Gardiner said calmly.

“As I told Lizzy, it concerns Lydia. I assume you know she went to Brighton with her friend Mrs. Forster?”

“Yes, Lizzy mentioned it,” Mrs. Gardiner said flatly, and Elizabeth noted her aunt’s admirable self-control in not showing her displeasure. Lydia was not a favourite with her aunt and uncle, and both had thought it the height of rashness that she was allowed to go to such a place as Brighton without a family escort.

“On Sunday last, an express came at about midnight when we were all gone to bed. It was from Colonel Forster, and it contained dreadful news. He informed us that Lydia had gone off to Scotland with one of his officers.”

“Scotland!” exclaimed Mr. Gardiner. “Gretna Green?”

“I presume so, but I do not know for certain. Colonel Forster’s express only mentioned Scotland.”

“Which officer?” Elizabeth asked. “Lieutenant Denny?”

“No, it was…it was Mr. Wickham.”

“Mr. Wickham!” exclaimed Elizabeth, jumping to her feet. “That cannot be!”

“And why is that?” Mr. Gardiner asked.

“It is simple, Uncle. Mr. Wickham would never marry a woman with no money. He has none himself, and he has already proved himself a complete mercenary!”

“Be calm, Lizzy,” Mrs. Gardiner said. “I agree it does seem inexplicable from what you wrote us about his previous engagement.”

“To Miss King,” Elizabeth said, recovering her composure and sitting down. “Miss King and her ten thousand pounds.”

“Yes, I remember, but perhaps we might be wrong,” her aunt said gently. “It may be possible he truly loves Lydia—loves her enough to marry her despite her lack of fortune.”

“I understand what you mean. You think I might be upset at the thought of Wickham seeking to marry Lydia when he made no offer for me despite having earlier shown a preference for me. But I assure you it is not wounded vanity that makes me critical of him. I know Wickham’s true character, as does Jane. He has been profligate in every sense of the word. He has neither integrity nor honour, and he is as false and deceitful as he is cunning.”

“But, how do you know all this?” cried Mrs. Gardiner.

“I am quite sure,” replied Elizabeth, colouring somewhat as she remembered Mr. Darcy’s letter. “I am not at liberty to give you all the particulars, but pray believe me when I say I have reason to believe my information is true. It has been verified by personal testimony as well as unbiased witnesses.”

Both Mr. Gardiner and his wife looked at Jane, who nodded unhappily in agreement with her sister. Her face showed distress at having to openly criticize another person.

“There is good reason to doubt Mr. Wickham’s intentions—though I must admit I was originally hesitant to accept what Lizzy told me.”

“Jane wishes to think well of everyone,” Elizabeth said. “And despite what I had shared with her that refuted the lies Mr. Wickham told me and everyone else about how badly he had been misused by Mr. Darcy, she still tried to find some way to prove everything had been a misunderstanding. But she was finally forced to agree with me about Mr. Wickham. Am I not correct, Jane?”

“I am afraid she is, Aunt Gardiner,” Jane said, nodding in agreement even though her face showed her unhappiness. “And I have to confess that at first I was disposed to think the same thing in this case. As I wrote in my first letter—the one that never reached you—I originally hoped the reported elopement marked nothing malicious in his heart. As thoughtless and indiscreet as both had been, I believed Wickham had chosen Lydia because of disinterested love for he had to know my father could give her nothing. But then Colonel Forster called here on the very next day after I sent my first letter. He had questioned Lieutenant Denny, who disclosed the unhappy information that Mr. Wickham had never intended to go to Gretna Green—or to marry Lydia at all.”

The effect of this disclosure was utterly and immediately disturbing to the others, and everyone began talking at the same time, trying to ask questions of Jane and of each other, until Mr. Gardiner was finally able to bring a measure of quiet to the room.


Post-Prologue Vignette for A Covenant of Marriage

Unwritten events between the Prologue and Chapter 1

Saturday, August 1, 11:45 pm

Brighton

While the Gardiner party was engaged in their tour of the Lake District, events elsewhere in the kingdom were taking place that would have the most deleterious impact on Elizabeth Bennet and her family. In the seaside port of Brighton, where the regiment of militia was encamped after their removal from Meryton, a young girl eased open a French door and tip-toed through it, closing it silently behind her. The house from which she exited was on in which the commanding officer of the regiment, Colonel Forster, resided with his young wife and his wife’s “particular friend,” who had accompanied the regiment to Brighton.

Lydia Bennet had to repress a squeal of delight at seeing the figure of George Wickham standing below on the road with a finger on his lips cautioning silence. She quickly flew into his arms, kissing him fervently but inexpertly, and he lost no time in ushering her further down the narrow road to the central plaza of the town, where a chaise and drive awaited them.

“I assume you were able to slip away without anyone the wiser?” Wickham said softly, as he assisted Lydia in entering the chaise.

“Oh, yes indeed,” Lydia said, giggling. “The colonel and his wife made a good deal of noise in their bedroom soon after retiring, but both of them then fell asleep. I could hear both of them snoring through the thin walls.”

“Excellent, excellent.”

“Oh, I am so excited that we will be off to Scotland! What fun it is going to be!”

Wickham said nothing to this, and Lydia’s excitement was so great that she did not notice it. Nor could she, in the darkness, observe the carefully controlled expressionless look on Wickham’s usually mobile face.

“Of course, I had to leave a brief note to Harriet, telling her we were off to Gretna Green. Otherwise, she would be greatly worried when I am missed.”

Wickham scowled in the darkness but nodded to himself after several seconds. There was nothing to be done, with the note already written, and Lydia was correct that Mrs. Forster and her husband would be highly agitated to find her missing. And, since he had no plans to go anywhere near Scotland, it would serve as a false lead.

“My sisters are going to be so jealous of me, the first of all of them to be wed, and me only sixteen. How long will it take to reach Gretna Green, darling?”

If possible, Wickham’s face became even more frozen, but Lydia’s excitement was so elevated that she likely would not have noticed even had there been sufficient light to see.

“Several days,” he said shortly, then leaned back. In her eagerness to at last be alone with Wickham, Lydia twisted around so her torso faced him and she was able to pull his head down to hers.

It is fortunate that I was able to borrow money from Denney, he thought as his hand explored the firmness of the girl’s breast and she squirmed in pleasure. I carefully avoided ever putting the touch to him, saving him for an emergency, which this is. I think some of the officers are about ready to approach Colonel Forster about my gaming debts, so I had best be off to London. Hopefully, Mrs. Younge can give me refuge until something turns up. And this naïve girl will do well enough to warm my bed at night . . .

 

***

Monday, August 3, 1812, 12:00 am

Longbourn, Hertfordshire

The loud banging of the knocker at the sturdy front door of Longbourn was sufficient to awaken the whole household. Some residents reacted in a positive manner, such as the butler and Mr. Bennet, who both armed themselves before approaching the front door, where the knocker again sounded. Being awakened at midnight was not a normal occurrence at any house of the gentry and almost certainly did not bode well. Other residents were more cautious, such as Jane and her sisters, only coming part way down the stairs after throwing on a dressing gown.

And of course, there was Mrs. Bennet, who set up a wail audible throughout Longbourn that “We are all going to be murdered in our beds! Do something, Mr. Bennet!”

The butler eased the door open, pistol held at the ready, then he slumped in relief.

“It is an express rider, sir,” he said, opening the door wider.

“Express for Mr. Bennet of Longbourn from a Colonel Forster,” said the dust-covered rider, holding out a brown envelope that obviously comprised several pages.

“Thank you,” Mr. Bennet said, accepting the proffered missive. As the express rider started to turn away, he said, “Wait a minute.”

He handed the express rider a coin from his purse, and the rider gave him a smile and a quick bow. He had not really expected anything, since he had been paid in full to deliver the express, but it was pleasant to have his efforts appreciated.

Mr. Bennet lost no time in opening the express and read it by the light of a candle held by the butler. His complexion paled in shock, and his jowls—indeed, his whole body—seemed to sag.

“What is it, Mr. Bennet?” his wife screeched, having finally made her way down the stairs. “What news does it contain?”

“We should go upstairs—” Mr. Bennet started, since he had no desire to talk of private, family matters before the servants, but Mrs. Bennet could not restrain herself.

“Tell me! Tell me now! Oh, my nerves are going to fail me altogether!”

“Then read it, madam,” Mr. Bennet said, holding out the express, but his wife through her hands up in the air and would have collapsed to the floor if she had not been caught by Jane and Mrs. Hill.

“NO! NO! I am so distracted I cannot see to read! Tell me immediately!”

Mr. Bennet could see that his wife’s unseemly display had ruined any chance of keeping the contents of the express private, since his wife would undoubtedly broadcast the news throughout the house when she learned them.

“Very well, madam. It is from Colonel Forster informing her that your daughter Lydia has gone off to Scotland with one of his officers. To be specific, with the amiable and personable Mr. Wickham.”

“Ruined!” Mrs. Bennet instantly wailed. “They have eloped, and we are all RUINED!

Despite the cries of his wife, which were just what he had expected, Mr. Bennet was startled by an unexpected gasp from Jane. He looked at her quizzically to see that she had turned pale at this news. He wondered what that might mean, but any investigation could wait for another time.

“Lydia was not missed until eight o’clock this morning, and the colonel believes that she and Wickham left together in a chaise somewhere around midnight. Several witnesses observed the vehicle departing the central plaza at that time, but the light was so dim that none of them could identify the two occupants. However, further investigations revealed it could have been no one else, so Colonel Forster writes that he plans to set off in pursuit and expects to stop by Longbourn sometime today. Hopefully, he will bear better information when he arrives. Though I have to wonder why Wickham would fix on Lydia—after his engagement to Miss King, we know he needs to marry someone with money, and Lydia certainly has no fortune.”

“I can easily believe him thoughtless in this matter,” Jane said, while her mother continued to wail as she was helped upstairs by Hill and one of the other servants. “But his choice at least shows a goodness of heart, since he must know that you can give her nothing, Papa.”

Jane was to long remember this statement and the naiveté it showed in the dismal events yet to come . . .

***


 

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.

I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing. One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

 

 

Contact Info:

Colin Odom Facebook page

  1. P. Odom Amazon Author page
  2. P. Odom Goodreads page
  3. P. Odom Meryton Press page

.


.

The blog tour for A Covenant of Marriage is still in the begining, don’t forget to follow it to see all the guest posts, excerpts and reviews that my fellow bloggers will publish:

11/05 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life

11/06 More Agreeably Engaged

11/07 From Pemberley to Milton

11/08 Half Agony, Half Hope

11/09 My Love for Jane Austen

11/11 Diary of an Eccentric

11/12 Darcyholic Diversions

11/14 Margie’s Must Reads

11/15 Austenesque Reviews

11/16 My Jane Austen Book Club

11/17 Babblings of a Bookworm

11/18 My Vices and Weaknesses

11/19 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

.


Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of A Covenant of Marriage. To enter it, just click on the following link.

Good Luck everyone!


15 Comments

Filed under JAFF

When Charlotte Became Romantic- Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello dear readers,

How are you this week?  I’m still adjusting to my daily routines after being away for 3 weeks and I’m reading much less since I got back. However, my blog has been very busy with new authors stopping by, and recurrent guests that I’m always happy to host such as Victoria Kincaid, who is here today to share an excerpt of her most recent novel: When Charlotte Became Romantic.

This is another book of her secondary characters series that started with one of my favorite secondary characters: Mary Bennet. It’s been almost 4 years since When Mary Met the Colonel was released, but it is still present in my memory as one of my favorite secondary character books of all times. This time Victoria Kincaid decided to give voice to Charlotte Lucas who I believe is a controversy character. Are you team Charlotte? Do you get her character? Or is she someone you tend to dislike? Let us know what you think of her character and the excerpt we are sharing below to apply to the giveaway. Enjoy this small sneak peek at Ms. Kincaid’s take on Charlotte Lucas.


 

In the original Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s friend, Charlotte Lucas marries the silly and obsequious clergyman, Mr. Collins. But what if fate—and love—intervened?

Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature. But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision.

James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man. Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton. Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms. If they are to be happy, Charlotte and James must contend with her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s nastiness, and dangerous figures from James’s past.

Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?

 

You can find When Charlotte Became Romantic at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

.

.


.

Hello Rita and thank you so much for having me back to visit! In Pride and Prejudice, we only really get a brief glimpse into Charlotte Lucas’s character. She’s best known to Austen readers as not being romantic. But in the grand tradition of P&P what-if stories, I wondered what would happen if Charlotte did have a secret romantic side. How would her life be different if she did have romantic feelings that were simply suppressed and buried under layers of practicality and rationality? The result was quite interesting. I found her acting more like Elizabeth Bennet in some instances and in other places making her own unique decisions. But, no matter what, I think the reader will be rooting for her. Below is an excerpt from close to the beginning of the book. Enjoy!

***

Elizabeth trailed in her wake as Charlotte hastened into the front hall. With her head lowered to ensure that she did not trip on the hem of her gown, she did not notice who was in front of her until a voice intoned, “Char—Miss Lucas?”

Reflexively looking up, her gaze was caught by brown eyes, as warm and kind as she remembered—and yet impossible to turn away from. For a moment her voice deserted her; then she managed a thin and reedy approximation of her normal tones. “Mr. Sinclair…er, greetings.” She had the sinking feeling of having been just a little too slow; a minute sooner and she would have made it to safety.

Was it possible he had grown taller? Perhaps her recollection was faulty. His thick sandy brown hair still fell over his forehead and into his eyes. His full lips held the merest hint of a smile—or perhaps a smirk. His shoulders were quite as broad as she remembered, and he was well-dressed, with a coat of fine wool over an embroidered waistcoat.

I must conceal the effect he has on me. Of course, he might guess by her inability to utter a word in his presence. Was that a smug smile at the thought that he could still render her as articulate as a startled goose?

I am in control of myself. I am my own mistress. I cannot give him any advantage. She repeated these words to herself until she remembered to close her mouth and wet dry lips, but speech still eluded her. Naturally, James was relaxed and unbothered, the picture of serenity and grace.

Only then did Charlotte notice Mrs. Hargrave standing beside her nephew. A bit stout with curling gray hair, she regarded Charlotte with a cool smile. “Miss Lucas.”

Both her hands clenched fistfuls of her skirt, a nervous habit since childhood. Appearing otherwise smooth and unruffled required all of Charlotte’s energy. How could she be expected to speak as well? Elizabeth’s eyes darted between them, sensing the tension but unaware of its source. Charlotte swallowed, hoping her voice would work. “M-Mr. S-Sinclair, allow me to introduce my friend, Elizabeth Bennet. And, of course, you know Mrs. Hargrave.”

Charlotte allowed an inward sigh of relief. That had not been horrible. “Mrs. Hargrave introduced me to Mr. Sinclair when Mama, Papa, and I visited Bath three years ago.”

Elizabeth and James exchanged nods. “Are you visiting your aunt for the whole of the Christmas season?” she asked him.

“Yes. It has been too long since my last visit.”

Does he blame me for that? Charlotte sought his face for traces of bitterness, but his expression was, as ever, open and artless.

“James has a very responsible position with the Customs House in London—the headquarters for HM Customs, you know,” Mrs. Hargrave announced haughtily. He gave his aunt a look of exasperation, which she ignored. “And, in time, he will inherit his father’s estate in Sussex.”

Charlotte’s stomach roiled sickeningly. Why does she tell this to Elizabeth? Does she seek to remind me of what I lost? Or does she hope Elizabeth will develop an interest in James?

Of course, it was infinitely preferable to having James’s aunt tell them about his wife and children.

For the sake of my sanity, I must quit this conversation now. But her eyes would remain fixed on James’s face while he seemed determined only to gaze upon Elizabeth. It makes sense; she is very pretty, but I am driving myself to distraction. Why can I not find any excuse to depart?

Elizabeth seemed to find Mrs. Hargrave’s boasts amusing. “How very fortunate,” she murmured. Then she appeared to read Charlotte’s thoughts. “Are you wed, sir?”

“Unfortunately, I have not yet had that pleasure,” James said, carefully averting his eyes from Charlotte.

“Miss Bennet is the second of five sisters in the Bennet family,” Mrs. Hargrave explained.

“Indeed?” James’s attention had already switched to Charlotte. “Miss Lucas, my aunt tells me you are still residing in Hertfordshire.”

A reminder of her unmarried status? Would he torment her with what could have been? “Yes—” Charlotte cleared her throat. “Yes, I am.”

Elizabeth might not know the story from Bath, but she could sense the tension in the air. “Alas,” she said quickly, “Charlotte is to remain among us only a little longer. She is engaged to Mr. William Collins from Kent.”

“Engaged?” James said faintly. “I had not…heard.” The news seemed to disconcert him, but perhaps that was Charlotte’s imagination.

“Mr. Collins?” Mrs. Hargrave said. “He is a curate, I believe?”

“No, he is a parson,” Elizabeth said rather forcefully. “With his own living—under the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.” Lizzy must have been piqued indeed to defend someone she found so tedious. “He is my cousin and will inherit Longbourn upon my father’s death.”

Despite herself, Mrs. Hargrave seemed rather impressed. Perhaps she had hoped Charlotte would become an old maid—or wed the local rat catcher. “How nice.”

After a moment, James roused himself. “My congratulations,” he said stiffly. His expression was unreadable, although his countenance was quite pale. “I wish you both happy.” He nodded briskly. “Now, if you will excuse us, my aunt is quite parched, and I promised to obtain some punch for her.” He barely gave his aunt enough time to clutch his arm before he whisked them both into the crowd.

Elizabeth and Charlotte stared after them. “My goodness,” Elizabeth said. “What did you do in Bath to offend them? Did you insult Mr. Sinclair’s favorite waistcoat or put too much sugar in his tea?” She gave Charlotte an impish grin.

If you only knew.


 is offering a very generous giveaway. On this stop you can either win a $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice which will be

Victoria Kincaid would like to offer one of my readers an ebook copy of When Charlotte Became Romantic . This giveaway she is promoting is international and will end on November 14th.

To apply to it all you have to do is comment on this post and let us know what you thought about the excerpt. 

Good Luck Everyone!

28 Comments

Filed under JAFF

The Perfect Gentleman- Guest Post & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I’m very happy to receive author Julie Cooper today with a guest post that I absolutely loved! She  has just released a novel called The Perfect Gentleman, and in it Elizabeth Bennet has to travel through England, so Julie Cooper decided to talk to us about travelling in the Regency Era. This is a topic that I find very interesting and every time I go to the UK I try to imagine what it would be like to travel in those days. I try to imagine how inns were run and how the changing of the horses would occur. I imagine how carriages were on the inside and where would they put all their belongings, etc.

I love this topic so much that I actually spend lots of time reading about it online, so you may imagine how much I loved Julie Cooper’s post! I hope you enjoy it too, and that you share your thoughts on it with us.

 


’Tis no secret that Lizzy Bennet has dreams. Uniquely talented, as the daughter of a mother with a certain reputation, Lizzy knows she must make her own way in a world that shuns her.

Fitzwilliam Darcy carries the stains to his family’s honour upon his soul, and only by holding himself to the strictest standards has he reclaimed his place in society. If his fifteen-year-old sister cannot be found quickly, scandal may destroy years of perfect behaviour.

Darcy has Secrets.

Lizzy has Clues.

Lizzy is willing to join the pursuit to get what she wants; Darcy is willing to trust her to get what he needs.

Until the search for Georgiana reveals more than either expected to find.

 

 

You can find The Perfect Gentleman at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

.


In my book, The Perfect Gentleman, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself on a Regency road trip across England. During the course of her adventure, she uses several different forms of transportation. She begins the journey in a rented hack; Darcy, who is used to his finely furnished vehicle, looks upon it with contempt, but it was, actually, quite comfortable in comparison to the stagecoach or “post” (referring to the posting inns where transportation could be purchased), and The Royal Mail—Lizzy refers to it simply as “the mail.”

The mail was the fastest form of transport, travelling at a ten mile per hour clip, because they did not have to pay tolls and kept to a rigid timetable. Unsurprisingly the mail it carried was the priority, not the passengers. By law, only four passengers were permitted inside the mail coach—remarkably roomy travelling conditions—but the fast speed and limited stops on early 19th century roads were difficult for many. Travelling by post was cheaper; most coaches held four to six passengers, but atop was a different story, and as many as were willing to brave the elements were allowed. Occasionally coaches overturned due to top-heaviness, and passengers up top were known to freeze or fall to their deaths.

Both post and the mail stopped to change horses every seven to ten miles, and a guard sounded a horn as they neared the inns so that the stableboys would be ready, like race car drivers pulling into the pit! Some sources state that these horse changes could be accomplished in just a few minutes, and especially in the case of the Royal Mail, one to three minutes was expected. I took poetic licence with both the post and the mail, combining the two experiences for Lizzy: she rode “atop” the mail coach and experienced the discomforts of the speed and the crowding of the post. However, at least some of her horse changes took a few minutes longer, so she could accomplish her detective work! But all of the inn names in The Perfect Gentleman existed in the towns as noted, and were actual posting stops.

In Regency times, when even walking alone was frowned upon for a gentlewoman, travelling alone by post was considered “fast” and unacceptable. The most respectable inns would expect a lady to be accompanied by at least a maidservant. Lizzy has to do some fast thinking to gain admission to one such inn, The Talbot, in Stamford!

One turn of the century manuscript, “The Coaching Era” by Violet Wilson, describes commercial travel in this poem:

 

A horn now told the near approach

Of some convenient, rapid coach;

 

And soon a vehicle and four

Appear’d at the Red Lion door:

 

Into his place the Doctor pounc’d:

The Coachman smack’d, and off they bounc’d.

 

A red-faced man, who snor’d and snorted,

A lady, with both eyes distorted,

 

And a young Miss of pleasing mien,

With all the life of gay sixteen.

 

A sudden jolt their slumbers broke;

They started all, and all awoke;

When Surly-boots yawn’d wide, and spoke,

 

“We move,” said he, “confounded slow!”

“La, Sir,” cried Miss, “how fast we go!”

 

While Madam, with a smirking face,

Declar’d it was o’ middling pace,

 

“Pray, what think you, Sir?” — “I agree,”

Said simp’ring Syntax, “with all three.

 

“Uphill, our course is rather slow,

“Down hill, now merrily we go!

 

“But when ’tis neither up nor down.

“It is a middling pace, I own.”

 

“O la!” cried Miss, “the thought’s so pretty!”

“O yes!” growled Red-face, “very witty!”

 

The Lady said, “If I can scan

“The temper of the gentleman,

 

“He’s one of those, I have no doubt.

“Who love to let his temper out.

 

“But we who — these stages roam,

“And leave our coach-and-four at home,

 

“Deserve our lot when thus we talk

“With those who were ordain’d to walk.”

 

My research for The Perfect Gentleman taught me—no matter the means of transport—travelling during the Regency era was no easy ride!


 

Julie Cooper, a California native, lives with her Mr Darcy (without the arrogance or the Pemberley) of nearly forty years, two dogs (one intelligent, one goofball), and Kevin the Cat (smarter than all of them.)  They have four children and three grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and adorable, with the pictures to prove it. She works as an executive at a gift basket company and her tombstone will read, “Have your Christmas gifts delivered at least four days before the 25th.”  Her hobbies are reading, giving other people good advice, and wondering why no one follows it.


 

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on November 13. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops and Quills & Quartos will select a random winner from the comments. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries. Please check the Quills & Quartos Facebook to find out about winners.

Good Luck Everyone!


45 Comments

October 31, 2019 · 3:12 pm

The Bride of Northanger- Excerpt

Good Afternoon everyone,

I’m very happy to be sharing an excerpt of The Bride of Northanger with you today. There aren’t many Northanger Abbey inspired novels and this new novel from Diana Birchall appears to be perfect for this time of the year. I always considered Northanger Abbey had a lot of potential for gothic variations, which is perfect for Halloween, and that is exactly what I’m expecting from this novel, apart from a great character development of course.

What about you? Are you Team Tilney? Does Northanger Abbey spike your interest? I hope so, and I hope you enjoy the excerpt we have here today 🙂


 

A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share – that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real…until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied – events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other…

 

 

 

You can find The Bride of Northanger at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

.

.


The dogs’ barking outside awoke Mrs. Henry Tilney, and she opened her eyes just at the moment her new husband opened his.

“How do you do, my Catherine?” he asked tenderly.

“Oh, I am very well. But I always am in the morning.”

“But this is a different sort of morning,” he reminded her archly, “the very first of our married life.”

She was lost in joyful contemplation of the doubtless unending succession of mornings that they would welcome together in perfect joy. As Henry then asked her what she thought of it, the answer required some explanation, which Henry then elaborated upon so eloquently that Catherine wished he might never stop. But upon their noticing with surprise that the sun was rising in the sky, much faster than it ever had been seen to do before, Henry considerately retired to his own room to prepare for the day, saying that he would send the maid to her, with a cup of chocolate.

The forenoon was spent in making a circuit of the parish. Henry introduced his bride to the parishioners and cottagers, all of whom made very much of her; and afterwards they retired to a survey of their own grounds, projecting plantings, and visiting the animals.

“It is the happiest day I ever spent,” Catherine declared, as they sat down to tea at their own table, spread with their own new china set, General Tilney’s wedding-present, which Catherine had not before seen.

He was a connoisseur in china, as in many other things, and Catherine could not but admire the delicate gold-and-white dishes and cups, in their prettiness and abundance, however empty was the sentiment behind the sending.

“Happiness is a very proper state in a new bride,” observed Henry, “and I may take the opportunity to tell you that I am happy, too. Upon my word, my father did us well! That is a set that might last us all our lives, even if we have as large a family as yours.”

Catherine blushed again at this reference, and then felt it ungracious to have a secret hope that using the china would not always make her think of the giver.

“The gold leaves are very pretty,” she said, taking up a cup. “I never saw any thing like these little symbols woven round the edges. Do they signify any thing, do you think?”

“I do not know. I had not observed,” said Henry, examining a saucer closely. “You are right, however, they look almost like letters, do they not?”

“Not in any language I ever saw. Is it Russian? Is it Hebrew? Is it Arabic?”

Henry squinted at length, and finally said, “No. I perceive they are English letters, but they are so very small, I do not think they can possibly be read without a magnification glass. We have not one here. I should have to send to Cambridge for such a thing.”

“Well, I wish you would. If there is some secret writing on our china, I should like to know what it says. Do you think your father knows about it?”

“Most certainly. My father does nothing without deliberation. And he had this china made up especially for you –he told me so, in the letter that accompanied it. I can’t comprehend what he means by this.”

“Perhaps the letters are a motto of some sort,” suggested Catherine. “My mother has a set of plates that have a blessing on them, and the words, Hunger is the Best Sauce.”

“Somehow I feel it is not that,” said Henry dryly.

The eyes of the young husband and wife met.

“’Tis very strange,” said Catherine. “Are you quite sure you cannot make out any words at all? I could not, but then I only know English.”

“It does not look like any thing else,” said Henry doubtfully, “it might be Latin, but so tiny…Does this look like the letter T to you?”

“Not very much – oh, yes, perhaps it might.”

“I think it is English. T, C, I…something…L, A, M, I believe, only the size of pinpoints.”

“But that does not mean any thing, Henry.”

“I cannot tell,” he said slowly, “but I think the letters may be written backwards. Then it could be – Maledict. No, surely not. I cannot make out any more.”

He put the saucer down, rather hard.

“That does not sound much like a blessing,” Catherine faltered.

The young couple sat silent, as they each thought of what the words might mean, and what was the opposite of a blessing.

“I suppose I must write to thank your father,” said Catherine reluctantly, “but Henry, I hope you will not take it amiss if I say I prefer not to use this set of china.”

“No, I’d like to break every piece,” he said savagely. (Chapter 3, pages 19 – 22)


 

.

Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen’s style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale. Visit Diana at her Austen Variations author page, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

 


 

.

The blog tour is just starting, so don’t forget to check out other blogs for more information on The Bride of Northanger.

October 28             My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)

October 28             Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

October 28             vvb32 Reads (Spotlight)

October 29             A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide of Life (Guest Blog)

October 29             From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

October 30             Drunk Austen (Interview)

October 30             Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)

October 31             Jane Austen’s World (Review)

November 01          So Little Time… (Interview)

November 01          Laura’s Reviews (Review)

November 04          English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)

November 04          Confessions of a Book Addict (Spotlight)

November 05          More Agreeably Engaged (Review)

November 05          Vesper’s Place (Review)

November 06          Jane Austen in Vermont (Interview)

November 06          Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)         

November 07          All Things Austen (Spotlight)

November 07          A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

November 07          Let Them Read Books (Excerpt)

November 08          Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)

November 08          vvb32 Reads (Review)

November 11          My Jane Austen Book Club (Review)

November 11          Reading the Past (Spotlight)

November 12          Jane Austen’s World (Interview)

November 12          The Calico Critic (Excerpt)

November 13          The Book Rat (Review)

November 13          Austenesque Reviews (Review)

November 14          Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust (Review)

November 14          The Fiction Addiction (Review)

November 15          My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)

November 15          Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (Review)


6 Comments

October 29, 2019 · 2:59 pm

A Covenant of Marriage – Cover Reveal

Good Afternoon everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve done a cover reveal, and you know how much I love those, so I’m super excited to be sharing with all of you the cover of C.P. Odom’s new book: A Covenant of Marriage.

This book has a forced marriage scenario, which is one of my favourite premises, and I haven’t read one of those in a while, so I’m looking forward to see what Colin has prepared for us.

This book will be released around the 29th of October but you can start pre-ordering it today! If you want to know more about it, here is the book blurb.


 

A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!

Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.

With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together.

A Covenant of Marriage is available for pre-order at Amazon.com.


What do you think? It sounds interesting doesn’t it? The cover is also very appealing, and just based on it I think I would be curious about the book! You know me, I do judge a book by its cover 🙂 But without further ado, here it is!

Covenant_cover.indd

 

Isn’t it beautiful? I find it very classy and appealing and I have to congratulate Ellen Pickels for another wonderful cover!

I am partial to covers with silhouettes and quills in them and A Covenant of Marriage has both in it, which means it is perfect in my eyes. When I see covers like these I immediately want to buy the paperbacks.

I wonder if the letter that is present in the cover has any connection to the story, and what does it mean. When I see covers I always search for details that may give me more information about the book and usually those come in the back cover. In this case, I think we can certainly say that more details are brought to our attention, and I love the ambience that is created in the image on the back cover. I can perfectly imagine a scene of Mr. Darcy arranging settlement details with Mr. Bennet while Elizabeth stands outside waiting to know what was decided for her future. But maybe I’m reading too much into it, what do you think?

Overall I think the book cover is very well achieved, and it made me want to read the book even more 🙂 Let us know what you think of it, and don’t forget, the book will be out around the 29th and you can follow the blog tour from the 5th onwards.


 

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.

I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing. One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

 

 

Contact Info:

Colin Odom Facebook page

  1. P. Odom Amazon Author page
  2. P. Odom Goodreads page
  3. P. Odom Meryton Press page

.


.

The blog tour for A Covenant of Marriage will take off next month at A Covent Garden Gilfurt’s Guide to Life, don’t forget to follow it to see all the guest posts, excerpts and reviews that my fellow bloggers will publish:

11/05 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life

11/06 More Agreeably Engaged

11/07 From Pemberley to Milton

11/08 Half Agony, Half Hope

11/09 My Love for Jane Austen

11/11 Diary of an Eccentric

11/12 Darcyholic Diversions

11/14 Margie’s Must Reads

11/15 Austenesque Reviews

11/16 My Jane Austen Book Club

11/17 Babblings of a Bookworm

11/18 My Vices and Weaknesses

11/19 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

.

Thanks for stopping by and see you on the 7th of November 🙂


35 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions – Review & Giveaway

Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions storyline is very different from canon but it is clean, simple and captivating because it avoids major alterations that could scare away the reader.

The main difference in this book is that the Bennet family lives in Derbyshire and Mr. Bennet is a vicar whose patron is Mr. Darcy. The vicarage is but a mile away from Pemberley and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have known each other their entire lives. This changes everything in the story because when the book starts we see that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are good friends and she is someone whose opinions he values and from whom he seeks advice. I found their relationship and comradery very soothing, and the Pemberley setting enhanced that feeling. Most of the story is placed at Pemberley and the restricted scenario along with the relationship between the main characters made this book a very agreeable story.

Unlike other books, Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions doesn’t start with a conflict or dislike between the main characters. Darcy and Elizabeth’s conflict free relationship was something I enjoyed during most of the book and I only wish Mr. Darcy hadn’t been so obtuse for so long. He had some attitudes that I didn’t like, but somehow, in this book, I could understand them. I believe that Maria Grace should be praised for her writing skills, because in fact, Darcy’s character is a little different then canon, but I loved him nonetheless.

The conflict only appears when Mr. Darcy decides to throw a house party with several guests, namely the Bingley’s, Anne De Bourgh, Col. Fitzwilliam and the Garlands, two original characters who will be the cause of much turmoil. I found those characters very interesting in the beginning of the book, but as the story advanced, I started to feel some discomfort towards them. If I think about their dialogues and behavior during the entire story, I can’t figure them out, and that was the main quibble I had with this book. I wish their motives and evolution as characters had been made more clear to the reader.

The other major difference in the story is Georgiana’s character. She is portrayed as someone with dyslexia, and that changes her personality because at the time people didn’t know what that was or how to properly teach students with dyslexia, which means her tutors thought she was either dumb or lazy due to her difficulties in reading or writing. She causes Darcy many headaches throughout the entire story and to be honest I liked that change in this book. Elizabeth’s creates a bridge between Darcy and Georgiana due to her maturity and understanding and I enjoyed to see her on that role.

Overall, this story is very pleasant and it gave me a feeling of comfort. It is clean, sweet and mature, which was one of the things I loved the most about the book. Elizabeth knows Mr. Darcy like no other and he loves her as the result of years of companionship. This maturity in their feelings is not always seen in JAFF and I loved it. I’ve seen some contradictory opinions about this book, and some readers may think that Elizabeth’s personality is not true to canon, but that was the whole point of this book. Elizabeth is not Mr. Darcy’s equal on Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions and readers who accept that will enjoy it immensely, I know I did and I usually don’t like books that don’t follow canon. I definitely recommend this book to readers who like cozy, sweet romances.

 

You can find Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 


Maria Grace would like to offer one ebook of Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions to one of my readers. The giveaway is international and is open until the 3rd of November. To apply to it, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and share your opinion on the blurb or review with us. The giveaway winner will be announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!


 

16 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Jane Austen’s Ghost – Excerpt

Good Morning everyone,

How is October treating you so far? It is already cold in my part of the world and autumn is definitely set here. This weather always makes me want to stay home, grab a hot beverage and read something interesting, and even if in Portugal we don’t celebrate Halloween, I had vouched that this month I would only read paranormal books with a hot coffee in front of me. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happen yet. I have stayed very little time at home and I haven’t read any paranormal books yet. But I am happy to welcome author Jennifer Kloester with an excerpt of Jane Austen’s Ghost because that is in line with the paranormal theme:)

It is the first time I am receiving Jennifer Kloester at From Pemberley to Milton and I am very happy to be working with her team to promote Jane Austen’s Ghost. As you know, I am a big fan of the paranormal and this Austen inspired book really caught my attention. I am eager to have a chance to read it.

I hope you all enjoy the excerpt and share with us your thoughts on this book. It will be released on October 29th, but you can pre-order it already on Amazon.com.

Thank you so much for visiting Ms. Kloester and happy reading everyone!

 


.

A masterpiece of wit, ingenuity and impeccable style, Regency maven Jennifer Kloester brings the great Jane Austen into the modern world in this enchanting, exhilarating adventure of love, literature and life everlasting…

With her life a mess, Cassandra Austin seeks refuge in Winchester with her eccentric great-aunt – but Aunty B has problems of her own. Ghost problems.

Cassie doesn’t believe in ghosts but she’ll do anything to help the only person who’s ever loved her. Besides, a simple spell in the cathedral crypt couldn’t do any harm, could it? Well, except for the two-hundred-year-old curse on Jane Austen, that is.

Overnight, life is suddenly a whole lot weirder and it’s up to Cassie to save the day with the help of a dour Bishop, two literary geniuses, a couple of wise-cracking geriatrics and the enigmatic Oliver Carling.

Magic and mystery abound in this genre-bending contemporary-historical paranormal romance with a Regency twist.

 

Jane Austen’s Ghost is not yet out, but you can preorder it at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

The book will be automatically delivered to you on October 29th.

 

 


Prologue

Carlton House Library

London

November 22nd, 1816

 

‘MARRY you?’ repeated Jane, and there was that in her voice which ought to have given him pause.

‘It would be an honour, Miss Austen.’

‘I fear it would be too great an honour for me, Mr Clarke.’ Jane laid down the book of prints she had been perusing and eyed her unlikely suitor with disfavour. Rising from her elegant gilt chair she added firmly, ‘I assure you that I am well past the marrying age.’

The Reverend James Stanier Clarke folded plump hands across his tight velvet waistcoat. ‘It is indeed true that you are no longer in the first blush of youth.’ He nodded with a satisfied air. ‘But I am confident that the tone of your mind, your principles and literary attainments will more than compensate for those other things which a gentleman generally looks for in his bride.’ He wiped his glistening forehead with a large red handkerchief and reached for her hand.

Jane took a hasty step backwards and gestured towards the magnificent bookcase. ‘Such intricate woodwork. I assure you I never saw a palace as beautiful as Carlton House.’

‘Its beauty is only enhanced by your presence, dear Miss Austen.’ Mr Clarke smiled and, to Jane’s dismay, stepped towards her.

She quickly lifted an elegant volume from the shelf. ‘I see the Prince Regent has a taste for Miss Burney’s books. Here is a copy of Camilla.’ She opened it. ‘And signed to His Majesty, King George. How delightful. I must confess, however, that I prefer Evelina.’

‘As always, we are in agreement, Miss Austen. I am in no doubt that our months – nay – our year of shared correspondence has shown you how entirely your taste in literature, as in so many other things, accords with my own.’

‘You place a great deal too much weight on a few letters, sir. I cannot—’

‘A few letters?’ Mr Clarke frowned. ‘Never say so. Why, I have counted six at least between us since your first visit to this library little more than a year ago. And then there are your novels, Miss Austen.’

‘My novels, sir?’ Jane was puzzled.

‘In which members of the clergy figure so largely. I cannot conceive of any type of man who would make you a better husband than a clergyman.’

Jane suppressed the bubble of laughter that rose within her and looked at him in wonder. ‘Do you think I should enjoy being married to Mr Collins, sir, or do you prefer Mr Elton?’

Mr Clarke considered the question with such ponderous gravity that she itched to seize quill, ink and paper from the nearby secretaire and set down the preposterous scene. At last he said, ‘I cannot, of course, answer for either of those gentlemen but, for my own part, I think us an ideal match.’ He held up a hand to silence her protest. ‘If you will but consider: I am a clergyman and you are a clergyman’s daughter. You have also two brothers who are clergymen. How well you would understand me, what support you would give me in writing my sermons and I, in my turn, could assist you with your stories. I have several ideas that—’

‘I am aware of your ideas, sir.’ Jane’s voice grew cold and her hazel eyes glittered. ‘You have already shared several of them with me in our brief correspondence.’

He smiled, his thin lips parting to reveal yellowed teeth and ruddy gums and she eyed his stout, middle-aged figure with increasing dislike. He did not seem to notice but said with a smug certainty that only made her long to box his ears, ‘There, I knew you would understand. Imagine how it will be when we are married. Two like minds working together as one. I can see us now, living in complete accord, reading and writing our books together in happy understanding.’ He surged towards her across the sumptuous crimson carpet and Jane, finding her back hard up against the Regent’s bookcase, suffered him to take her hands in his.

Mr Clarke sank slowly to one knee, his black clergyman’s breeches straining across his mutton thighs until she thought they must surely split at the seams. As he bowed his head Jane found herself staring down at his shiny pink pate. It glistened through his thin sandy locks and she saw he had grown his hair long enough to comb it across. It was a poor sop to vanity, she decided, and did nothing to lessen her revulsion. She wrinkled her fine, straight nose just as her suitor, unaware of being thus exposed to his chosen bride, launched into speech.

‘My dear Miss Austen.’ He gazed adoringly up at her, his florid face shining with perspiration. ‘My dear Miss Austen, make me the happiest of men and say you will be mine.’

Jane tugged her hands free. ‘Please get up, Mr Clarke.’

‘Never! Not until you say “yes”.’

‘Then you shall be on your knees for a very long time. The truth is we should not suit.’

This pronouncement brought him to his feet in an instant. ‘Not suit? Not suit? I do not see how that may be. Not when you are the very woman for me and I am the ideal man for you.’

She shook her head resolutely and spoke with a civility she was far from feeling, ‘I thank you for your kind offer but I beg you will accept my refusal. It is from one who has long ago decided against entering the married state.’

His expression became mulish. ‘It is your Duty to marry. It is every female’s responsibility to marry.’

‘But not where there is no love,’ countered Jane. ‘I firmly believe that anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.’

‘But I love you.’ He spoke with the air of one making an irrefutable pronouncement.

Ignoring the inward tremor his declaration evoked, Jane enunciated carefully. ‘You do not even know me. You have created a mythical creature in your mind of the woman whom you seek to wed. Let me assure you that I am not she. Indeed, had you seen me in my own home, among my own set, with my friends and family just as I always am, then perhaps you might have formed a just judgement of me. As it is, our acquaintance has been of the shortest duration and what little we know of each other has been expressed only in the occasional courteous letter.’

She set her hat on her brown curls, lay her long red stole across her shoulders and took her fur muff from the Boulle table upon which she had laid it on her arrival. Drawing herself up with unnatural haughtiness she said with a crispness that belied her pounding heart, ‘I am ready to meet the Prince Regent now.’

‘I am afraid that will not be possible.’ Mr Clarke spoke coldly.

‘Indeed? But did not the Regent invite me here? Your letter explicitly stated that His Royal Highness regretted not having met me here last November and wished me to return so that he might thank me himself for the pleasure of reading Emma. I assure you, Mr Clarke, that the Prince’s command is the only reason I am here. In general, my health does not allow me to undergo the exigence of travel.’

‘I apologize for the inconvenience, Madam, but there will be time enough for you to meet the Prince Regent once we are wed.’ He held out his hands to her, ‘You see, Miss Austen, His Royal Highness expected you here in the capacity of my affianced wife. He was most pleased when I told him we were to be married.’

Jane gasped. ‘How dared you tell him such a thing?’ Her heart was beating so fast she wondered she did not faint. ‘It is an odious lie.’

‘I am certain that if you consider the advantages of the match you will think differently.’

‘Indeed, I shall not. Oh, what can I say that will convince you that we should not suit?’

‘Nothing at all, for my mind is made up.’ He nodded wisely. ‘You will learn to trust my judgement in time, my dear Miss Austen, for you of all people have long recognized the superiority of the male intellect. Why, your books abound with men of sound judgment, and all of them with wives or daughters to manage.’

‘Like Mr John Dashwood, I suppose?’ Jane barely concealed her disgust.

‘Yes, or Mr Woodhouse. Now there is a man of great good sense.’

‘I am glad you think so,’ she retorted. ‘But if you believe that your good opinion of two of the most selfish, thoughtless men ever written into my books will convince me to marry you, you are sadly mistaken.’

‘And yet marry me you will. Whether you wish it or no.’

A chill ran down Jane’s spine. She watched his tongue flicker across his lips and saw the carnal hunger in his eyes and knew she had never met a man who repulsed her more than James Stanier Clarke. For one wild moment she considered taking refuge behind the Regent’s graceful Louis XVI desk, but forced herself to stand firm. Meeting Mr Clarke’s hungry stare with as much dignity as she could muster, she pulled her stole tightly about her and turned her back on him. Then, with her chin held high and trying not to tremble lest he seize her from behind, she marched to the door, before turning to face him one last time.

‘Mr Clarke.’ Jane was glad to hear her voice sound calm and steady. ‘Mr Clarke, let me assure you once and for all – for I can promise you, we shall never meet again – that you are the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.’ She dropped a slight curtsey, turned away and closed the door sharply behind her.

James Stanier Clarke stood listening until the sound of her footsteps had passed beyond hearing. When all was silent he moved to a chair by the window and sat down, his gaze lingering on the small, ornate table so recently home to Miss Austen’s hat and stole.

‘I must not do it. I am a man of God.’ He muttered the words a dozen times, before moving abruptly to the bookcase. Here he traced his fingertips across the books’ embossed bindings until he found Camilla. Easing it from its place, he held it gingerly between his finger and thumb. ‘Undoubtedly her taste walks hand in hand with mine. It is merely that she cannot see. If she only knew how ardently I admire and love her, she would think differently.’

He carried Camilla to the Boulle table, spread out his handkerchief and carefully laid the book upon it. Delving into his coat pocket he drew forth a piece of fur from Miss Austen’s muff and a red feather stolen from her elegant black hat and placed them on the book. Turning to the secretaire, he withdrew three letters from the drawer, kissed each one tenderly and added them to the pile. He carefully tied his handkerchief around the items, then sat and stared at the bundle until the clock on the mantelpiece chimed the hour.

Prompted by the sound, Mr Clarke took a key from the fob at his waist and turned it in his fingers.

‘Dare I do it?’ he whispered. ‘It is dangerous to be sure, but would I not risk all for her? I would, indeed I would. The book came to me, called to me. Is that not a sign?’ He unlocked a drawer and withdrew a heavy black volume. It was worn with age, with faded symbols tooled into the heavy leather cover. A curiously-wrought metal clasp in the shape of talons held it shut. Forcing the talons apart, he carefully turned the thick parchment pages. With every page his smile grew, and once or twice he laughed softly. He was nearly three-quarters of the way through the book before he found what he was looking for and a greedy smile spread across his face as he savoured the ancient names. When at last he had finished reading, the Reverend James Stanier Clarke laid his hands over the heavy black text and chuckled triumphantly, ‘I promise you this, Miss Jane Austen. I promise that we shall meet again. Oh, yes. Whether it be in this life or the next, we shall most certainly meet again.’


 

.

Jennifer Kloester first read Georgette Heyer’s novels while living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea and re-read them while living in the desert in Bahrain. In 2004, she completed a Doctorate on Georgette Heyer and her Regency Novels. Since then she has written extensively about Heyer and the Regency and has given writing workshops and public presentations in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. She is the author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller. Jennifer also writes fiction; her novel Jane Austen’s Ghost is out October 29, 2019.

 

You can contact Jennifer Kloester throught the following social media:

Twitter: @JenKloester

Instagram: @jenkloester

Facebook: /JenniferKloesterAuthor

Web: jenniferkloester.com

Goodreads: JenniferKloester

 


5 Comments

October 17, 2019 · 9:32 am

Books on sale today

Good Afternoon everyone,

I know I have published something an hour ago, but I was perusing Amazon to see what is new when I started discovering several JAFF books on sale. I started sharing these sales on Facebook, but the list just kept growing, so I thought it would be better to compile all these sales in one single place, hence this post. This is not something I usually do, but I was truly impressed with the number of books that are currently on sale and thought you might like to know about them, so here they are:

Jane Austen Fan Fiction on sale

Steady to His Purpose – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

What if Elizabeth Bennet was compromised during that unchaperoned half-hour in the Netherfield library with Fitzwilliam Darcy? Would they still have their happily-ever-after? This story begins as Elizabeth and Jane Bennet return home after their brief stay at Netherfield Park.

Meryton Medley – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

A collection of four clean, sweet Regency romance stories.
“Her Derbyshire Friend” – What if Elizabeth responded to Darcy’s letter? Would our dear couple find their way to each other? This story begins the day after the Hunsford Proposal.
“Hunsford Day” – The day of the Hunsford proposal is repeated over and over, Groundhog Day style; from Elizabeth’s point of view. This out-of-character story begins after the disastrous Hunsford proposal.
“Secret Valentine” – What if Elizabeth received a series of valentines from a secret admirer? This short story is not intended to change any events in our favorite story.
“Frog Pride” – What if Darcy was a prince with a spell cast on him by evil Catherine? (A short and clean Pride and Prejudice / Frog Prince fantasy.)

 

Mary Bennet: A Novella in the Personages of Pride & Prejudice Collection -0,99$

Book Blurb:

Now that all her sisters have left home, long-neglected Mary Bennet finds herself the focus of her mother’s attention. Mrs. Bennet intends to find the perfect match for her bookish, socially awkward daughter, and Mary wants nothing more than to please her mother.

But when Mary receives the gift of a large dowry, Mrs. Bennet is no longer content to find her daughter an ordinary husband. He must be rich as well as landed. Now the center of Meryton society, Mary realizes her dream of being noticed, but will she find herself ill-equipped to handle the attention? Will her moralizing ways scare away her mother’s choice of suitor?

But more importantly, can Mary please her family without losing herself in the process?

Mary Bennet is a novella of approximately 33,000 words.

 

A Gentleman’s Mistake – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

Every man knows finding a wife is a crucial and delicate subject, but any man with wealth and station must surely find himself a suitable woman to wed if he intends on having a life of prosperity and abundance – or, at the very least, if he intends on being a dutiful citizen and fine example of a gentleman.

Such an exhausting position was the very place that Fitzwilliam Darcy had found himself in. And yet, though many an eligible young woman was available, he could not imagine entering the bonds of matrimony with anyone who lacked wit, decorum or intelligence – creating the perfect storm of inopportunity and frightening him into fleeing at the mere mention of the word marriage. That is, until one damsel in distress, Elizabeth Bennet’s need for rescuing disrupts his day, and places the two of them in a compromising position unchaperoned.

Elizabeth Bennet is facing her own dilemma with her mother’s incessant worrying over her daughters’ fates and finding them ideal husbands who can care for them. In fact, Elizabeth is mortified at her mother’s lack of discretion and the way her family has been viewed by others in their city due to her mother’s blatancy. She becomes consumed with worry and humiliation over how to not to upset her parents, and yet still be true to her own heart. She is distraught when she learns that Mr. Darcy comes from a family that holds a great deal of influence and importance on social propriety. Frustrated upon realizing that Mr. Darcy has a prejudice against her and her family due to the behavior of her family members, Elizabeth is stunned when Darcy states as much.

Disturbed by his lack of consideration, Elizabeth questions if Mr. Darcy is as kind and helpful as he first presented himself to be when rescuing her. Elizabeth soon begins courting her sister’s fiancé’s cousin, Archibald – who is hopeful about finding a wife of his own and seems intent on having Elizabeth’s hand – placing a rift between Elizabeth and Darcy as Archibald begins making plans on how to propose and if he should. Terrified that Elizabeth might accept Archibald’s proposal, Darcy feels torn between his true feelings and what others will think should he overstep his boundaries.

Will Darcy finally admit to his feelings or risk losing the only woman he can actually see himself spending the rest of his life alongside?

 

For the Sake of her Happiness – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

“For The Sake of Her Happiness” is a clean, romantic novella of about 30 K words that brings Darcy and Elizabeth together in Kent, in the beauty of Rosings Park.

At that point, their relationship is quite similar to the original; however, one small incident will change things completely.

What should a private man like Fitzwilliam Darcy do with the torment in his heart, if there is not a single living soul he trusted enough to share it? Writing his turmoil in a diary, of course!

But when the haste made him drop the precious possession in the grass and, and someone read it before he realized the loss and returned to claim it, the circumstances changed – for the better.

By the time the relationship slowly improved between our dear couple, most distressing news interrupted Elizabeth’s visit and demanded her presence in town.

What could Darcy do when the woman he loved suddenly left, with no apparent reason? Follow her and do everything for the sake of her happiness – of course!

 

In a More Amiable Light – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

“In a More Amiable Light” is a clean, fresh, romantic novella of approximately 30 000 words, that follows Elizabeth and Jane in London, when they visit their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner.
Both sisters are hurt after Mr. Bingley’s hasty departure from Netherfield, although their suffering differs. One of them is trying to mend her broken heart and the other one tries to soothe her anger against those who hurt her sister. Jane and Elizabeth are unexpectedly reacquainted with the men who will change their lives forever.
“In a More Amiable Light” is the first Austenesque attempt of a man who has been in love with reading and with Jane Austen’s books all his life but has tried his pen only in other genres so far.
The author hopes the readers will give this story a try, so he gains enough courage for another longer and more complex project.

 

Ruined Forever – 1,99$

Book Blurb:

Mr. Collins is rightly angered when Elizabeth Bennett refuses his honorable offer of marriage.

Sadly that is the last emotion he experiences. Which gives the gossips of Meryton a delightful piece of news to gossip over – Miss Elizabeth Bennett has pushed her cousin, her father’s heir, down the stairs to his death!

Elizabeth Bennett, Murderess? Oh, shocking, shameful scandal.
Someone must speak for her before she is ruined forever.
Fortunately, a new arrival in the neighborhood – a Mr. Darcy – read law at Cambridge and is willing to be of use to Miss Elizabeth.

The Pursuite of Mary Bennet – 1,99$

Book Blurb:

A tale of love and marriage, society balls and courtship, class and a touch of scandal, Pamela Mingle’s The Pursuit of Mary Bennet is a fresh take on one of the most beloved novels of all time, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Growing up with four extraordinary sisters—beautiful and confident Jane and Elizabeth, and flirtatious and lighthearted Lydia and Kitty—wasn’t easy for an awkward bookworm like Mary Bennet. But with nearly all of her sisters married and gone from the household, the unrefined Mary has transformed into an attractive and eligible young woman in her own right.

When another scandal involving Lydia and Wickham threatens the Bennet house, Mary and Kitty are packed off to visit Jane and her husband, Charles Bingley, where they meet the dashing Henry Walsh. Eager and naïve, Mary is confused by Henry’s attentions, even as she finds herself drawing closer to him. Could this really be love—or the notions of a foolish girl unschooled in the art of romance and flirtation?

 

Tom: To Secure his Legacy – FREE

Book Blurb:

Sometimes, when a gentleman wants to secure his future and mend the errors of his past, all he needs is Faith.

Tom Bertram spent his life chasing pleasure until a gate proved too tall for his horse. Now, having faced his own mortality, he is a changed man. He plans to be all that he should be so that he can secure his legacy. If only he had paid more attention to his lessons, he would be able to fix his follies on his own. However, he did not, and now, he must enlist the help of a financial expert.

Faith Eldridge has witnessed the devastation of living to excess and possesses the skills necessary to protect her future from such calamity. Despite her best efforts to keep her activities secret, her talent has not gone unnoticed, and she soon finds herself in a position to lend aid to a gentleman in desperate need of assistance in recouping his losses.

When Tom meets Faith, he doesn’t realize that they have met before — well, they have sort of met before — but that’s a secret Faith hopes to keep Tom from discovering. However, when her student turns out to be as clever as he is handsomely distracting, and when Tom finds his tutor more than a trifle alluring, can any secret be concealed? And when tragedy strikes, can Tom secure both his legacy and his heart, or will his heart be the price he must pay for his former behaviour?

Tom: To Secure his Legacy is the fourth episode in Leenie Brown’s Other Pens, Mansfield Park series of books. If you like well-written stories with charmingly resolute heroes bent on bettering their lives and practical yet compassionate heroines determined to choose their own future, then you will enjoy this story about overcoming the past and learning that love is far more valuable than a healthy financial portfolio.

So, put the kettle on, grab your copy of Tom: To Secure his Legacy, and discover with Tom and Faith that taking risks is necessary when securing a happily ever after.

 

Monica Fairview on sale for 0,99$ (regency, not JAFF)

 

An Improper Suitor – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

A lady in possession of a fortune has no need for a husband. Julia Swifton, secure in that belief, has no interest in finding one, not even after three seasons in London. That is, until her grandmother reveals her plans to marry her to a notorious rake, Lord Thorwynn. Julia will do anything not to marry him, but when he proposes a false engagement for reasons of his own, she plays along. That will solve the problem, she thinks.

Lord Thorwynn is perfectly happy with his lifestyle, but a chance encounter forces him into a disagreeable situation. A temporary engagement to bluestocking Miss Swifton will resolve his difficulty and he will walk away free.

However, as feelings between them flare up, it isn’t long before both of them realize that they’re in more of a muddle than they thought.

This traditional romantic romp through Regency society by Kindle bestselling author Monica Fairview will make you smile.

 

The Unexpected Duke – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

“Did you sleep well, Duchess?” In the small space of the carriage, his voice seemed to be purring.
“You could have pushed me away.”
“I did.” His voice was amused. “But you came back.”
A carriage accident, an inheritance, and broken promises.
It was supposed to be an arranged marriage. Isabella and James had agreed on the terms, which did not involve living together. But when James unexpectedly succeeds to the title, he is determined to redeem the family name, and for that he needs Isabella to be with him.
Meanwhile, Isabella has no intention of playing the role of a model wife, especially when a marriage of convenience means having to deal with a crumbling mansion and a demanding duke who is a stranger. She counters by setting new terms. Only, now that she is getting to know him, she discovers an unexpected side to him.
Will the two of them be able to stick to the agreed terms, or will the unexpected happen? Will love bring them together when marriage did not?

A Merry Christmas Chase – o,99$

Book Blurb:

When the new Earl at Sorrelgate Lodge catches Cherry poaching, she manages to escape before he discovers her identity. But the Earl is serious about catching his poacher and bringing “him” to justice, so Cherry flees to her estranged rich aunt. Imagine her dismay when she discovers that the Earl is a house guest there for the whole Twelve Days of Christmas! She quickly has to improvise to throw him off the scent.

Lord Carsdale is attending the Christmas house party to find a wife, but there is something very odd about Lady Ashburn’s niece. At first he does everything he can to avoid her, but soon catches glimpses of someone else behind the mask she wears. As Carsdale becomes more and more intrigued, he is unaware that she is leading him on a merry chase in which the boundary between the hunter and the hunted quickly gets hopelessly tangled.

A Sweet Traditional Regency romance that will warm the cockles of your heart.


 

I hope this has been helpfull everyone!

Happy Reading!

8 Comments

Filed under JAFF