Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Very Darcy Christmas Giveaway winner

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Hello dear readers,

Welcome to From Pemberley to Milton’s last post of the year! I had thought about posting about my favorite reads from 2016, but the year isn’t exactly over is it? So I thought it would be best to leave it to the beginning of the year 🙂

Today I would like to announce the winner of A Very Darcy Christmas ebook that Victoria Kincaid kindly decided to offer to one of my readers 🙂

If you haven’t read this book yet I highly recommend it! I absolutely loved it, and I’m very happy that my last post of the year is concerning this book and this wonderful author who keeps amazing me! (I’m reading Darcy vs Bennet right now, and wow…).

Anyway, I was starting to digress again…so without further delay, the winner is:

 

***Priscillateh***

 

Congratulations Priscilla! Could you please send me your e-mail to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so we can send you the ebook?

 

***

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers and my Janeite friends a Happy New Year!!!

Let’s hope 2017 will bring us many, many, many enjoyable JAFF books, and many more discussions about them 😉

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To Forget: Darcy’s London Christmas

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Hello dear readers,

How are you? And how was your Christmas? For the first time I had my family coming over to my house for Christmas and I really enjoyed it! Too bad it was only 2 days and I didn’t have time to rest a little…

In fact I’m still catching up for everything and I have to apologize to you for being absent for so long. I intended to post several Christmas reviews and ended up only posting one, so today I will post the review for one of my favorite Christmas reads this year, To Forget: Darcy’s London Christmas by Maria Grace.

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On their first Christmas as a married couple Elizabeth asks Darcy how he spent his previous Christmas. He starts remembering and telling her how he spent his days after leaving Hertfordshire, how he struggled to forget her, how she haunted him in every social meeting, in every social encounter and even how went to Mr. Gardiner’s shop in the hope of seeing her.

Seeing Darcy remember those days and reading everything from his point of view was absolutely delightful as it made me feel really close to Darcy and his heart.

But last Christmas is not the only thing Mr. Darcy recalls, he remembers several moments spent with his mother while he was a child and as a young boy. He remembers her teachings and the lessons she gave him to become the honorable and kind person he turned out to be. This may seem a small detail, but I loved how Mr. Darcy’s mother made me feel calm and relaxed while reading this book. I could feel the love she felt for her child and it was somehow reassuring to know Mr. Darcy still had these fond memories of his mother.

If you want to spend some time with Mr. Darcy and to get to know him and his deeper feelings and thoughts, this is the book for you. When I was reading this book I felt there was no one else with me except Mr. Darcy. It was just me, him and a warm cup of coffee.

This is a perfect short story to read on a Saturday afternoon while the rain is falling outside, it is cozy and it gives us a sense of peace that fills our soul. I highly recommend it, but please bear in mind that it is a short story and it will be a very fast read.

You can find this book at:

Amazon.com – To Forget: Darcy’s London Christmas

Amazon.co.uk  – To Forget: Darcy’s London Christmas

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Jane Austen’s shopping cart…A few ideas for Christmas gifts

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Hello dear readers,

How are you this week? Have you done much Christmas shopping already? I haven’t even started yet, but I already have an idea of what I want to give to my family J For my friends, though…it’s been hard to choose something nice and original.

Last Christmas one of my best friends offered me a Pride and Prejudice mug that she found on Amazon, so I thought I could use her example and search for book related mugs for some of my friends as well. I started looking in Amazon and I confess I was really amazed at how many products are out there! I usually just use Amazon to buy books and cd’s, but when I started searching for mugs, I realized there are lots, and lots and lots of book related items for sale. I started looking for Jane Austen products of course, and discovered some very interesting things J That’s when I thought that maybe you would find them interesting as well, so today’s post is not a review or a guest post, but more of a free style post where I share my favorite Jane Austen discoveries on amazon…and Janet Taylor’s page, because who can resist buying her products?

When it comes to clothing I knew there were some t-shirts using Jane Austen’s sentences, but did you know there are also other types of garments such as socks?

My top 3 favourite items on clothing department were a pair of knee socks, a scarf and a tote bag. Aren’t they beautiful? (if the image is too small, click on it and it will take you to the amazon page where you can use the zoom on the images :))) )

The scarf is a little bit more expensive and out of my budget this year, but I’m convinced to buy the socks!

I also discovered some original and classy things in the jewelry department. Some of them will make good presents for my bookish friends, especially as they are not that expensive 🙂 The necklaces are just 16 dollars each and the bracelet 4,24.

And did you know that you can also find some items for men? I would buy this t-shirt for my husband if I had any hope he would ever wear it 😉

Adults are not the only ones who can get Jane Austen related gifts, there are also lot’s of items for children, and they can not refuse a presente can they? Well…they may not like it and throw it to a corner, but I think Janeites will not resist buying at least one Jane Austen item for their children once in their life 🙂

At least I think many children’s items are too cute to resist. My favourite discoveries were children’s books like Goodnight Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice Babylit Counting Primer , or Sense & Sensibility Babylit Opposites Primer (I just added one because I din’t want to fill you with images, but there are so many nice children books about Jane Austen’s works our there!), the Jane Austen Action Figure and Jane Austen tattoos:

One of the funniest discoveries I made while searching for children’s items were the Jane Austen Bandages!! Isn’t that amazing? I think I’ll buy some for myself, and I will definitely wear them! I would never wish for Rui to get hurt, but a simple paper cut would be very funny if the only bandages available at home were the Jane Austen ones 🙂

And this wouldn’t be complete without stationary would it? I am a little obsessed with stationary, I just love all types of things 🙂 In fact, I do have some of the items on this list, but I always bought them on my travels and never in Amazon. Like I said…Amazon did surprise me 🙂 Below you’ll see Jane Austen note cards, Jane Austen’s mousepad  and Jane Austen Address book,

And…as I said, I do love stationary, so I couldn’t resist showing you more products…I could hardly leave Amazon’s webpage when I started seeing all these things! The last 3 items are a 2017 Persuasion Planner, a Persuasion mousepad, and Persuasion Coloring Book. Can you tell Persuasion is my second favorite novel? The last item made me realise that there are tons Jane Austen Coloring books and some of them will make great additional gifts to my 7 and 8 year old nieces 🙂

I also found some decorating items that I found particularly beautiful, but my favorite was this black and white Pride and Prejudice Poster.

But this all started with the mug Anabela gave me last Christmas didn’t it? So there is no better ending then showing you some of the mugs and cups I found:


If you have not completed your Christmas shopping yet, I hope this post might help you identify some Jane Austen products you could offer some of your friends and family…or give your friends and family some ideas of what they can offer you 🙂

I almost forgot, this is the mug that started it all…

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Meryton Vignettes – Giveaway winner

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Hello dear readers,

Last month I was honored to receive Elizabeth Adams at From Pemberley to Milton with a guest post about Meryton Vignettes, her latest release and a whole new concept that I was happy to read and review a few days later.

Mrs. Adams brought with her one copy of Meryton Vignettes to offer to my readers and I have to apologize for taking so long to announce the winner, my real life job has been taking too much of my free time, and it has been driving me away from bonnetland.

As I am quite late already I will not add the suspense towards the winner, so without further ado, the randomly chosen winner is:

 

***Sheila L. Majczan***

 

Congratulations Sheila! Please send me your e-mail address to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so that the eBook can be sent to you.

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A Very Darcy Christmas Review & Giveaway

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Hello everyone,

I was very happy to know that Victoria Kincaid was releasing a holidays vagary. I had been wanting to read something from her for a while and this was the perfect timing to do it.

I have been reading several P&P books that occur during the Christmas periods and A Very Darcy Christmas from Victoria Kincaid was one of my favorites. It is a very light, fast paced book filled with humor but also romance from a quarter we would not expect.

After their marriage Darcy and Elizabeth didn’t have many opportunities to spend quality time together, so they are eager to spend the Christmas season alone at Pemberley while Georgiana is visiting Lady Catherine. All they wanted was some peace and quiet, but that is very far from what they will get.

While Darcy is out on estate business Elizabeth sees herself welcoming into her home guest after guest after guest who seem to think Pemberley is the perfect refuge for the holiday season. Hanging the greenery so soon might not have been a good idea after all, and in the blink of an eye Elizabeth is opening Pemberley’s doors to Georgiana who ran away from Lady Catherine’s matchmaking plots, the Lady herself who brings along 2 very different suitors, Mrs. Bennet who is obsessed with the idea of the French invading England and is seeking refuge in the north of the country, Mr. Bennet who has no choice but to follow his wife and try to minimize her hysterics, Lydia and George Wickham, and finally Colonel Fitzwilliam. Now, can you imagine what it would be like to have all these characters in one single house? Pemberley is big, but they do have to dine together, and the result of their social encounters is a never-ending laugh for us readers.

I’ve heard many people say that Mrs. Bennet’s obsession with the French made them laugh out loud several times, but even if Mr. Bennet’s method to calm his wife was just hysterical, and the results comical, I confess that for me the most humorous character was Lydia! I absolutely loved her character. She is Lydia in all her splendor, so you can imagine what kind of silly things she can do and say, but as if that is not enough, she actually manages to set Pemberley on fire not once, but twice!! The second time she does it is just marvelous with Darcy seeing it all happening in front of him but not being able to stop it. In fact, Darcy’s desperation throughout the entire book is just adorable, well, at least for us… Elizabeth will not think his black moods are so adorable…

But as I said this book is not just humorous, it also has a romance that I absolutely loved! I know that some people are not particularly fond of the couple Mrs. Kincaid decided to explore in this book, but I am. I love when authors choose to pair these characters, and Mrs. Kincaid did it extremely well! I loved the passion, the jealousy and the tender moments between these characters who developed a trust in one another that is absolutely superb.

This is a very entertaining book full of laughter and holiday spirit but it can be read at any other time of the year. It is funny, romantic and up to the standards Mrs. Kincaid already got us used to. She marvels at adding humor to her stories and yet keeping true to Jane Austen’s characters, and A Very Darcy Christmas is vivid proof of her proficiency in this type of stories.

You can find this book at:

Amazon.com – A Very Darcy Christmas

Amazon.co.uk – A Very Darcy Christmas

 

*** It’s giveaway time***

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Victoria Kincaid brings her own Christmas gift to the readers at From Pemberley to Milton. She would like to offer one ebook copy of A Very Darcy Christmas to a randomly chosen reader who comments on this post. To increase the chances of winning, comment on the Guest Post that was published on the 3rd of December, comments on both posts will be considered for the giveaway.

The giveaway is international and ill end on the 15th of December, with the winner being announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill – Q&A with Julie Klassen and Giveaway

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Hello dear readers

Today I bring you a very different post, a small interview with author Julie Klassen concerning her latest novel The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill.

This is a different post because The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is not a JAFF book, but Julie Klassen is an enthusiast of Jane Austen and she transports the magic of Jane ‘s regency world into her books. I’ve hear much about this author and could not resist being a part of this wonderful blog tour. I’m honored to be the first stop in it and I hope you enjoy reading Julie Klassen’s answers as much as I did 😉 The premise of this book is captivating, but Mrs. Klassen’s enthusiasm regarding the inn’s importance in regency England was the final incentive to put this book at the beginning of my TBR pile. I’m looking forward to read it and share my opinion with you, until then, please see the blurb and Mrs. Klassen interview 🙂

 

***Book Blurb***

 

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

Visit talesfromivyhill.com to find a map of the village, character profiles, a book giveaway, and more!

You can find this book at:

Amazon.com – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Amazon.co.uk – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

 

 

***Author Bio***

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JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Her books have been honored with the Christy Award for Historical Romance, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Midwest Book Award, among others. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.

 

 

***Q&A with Julie Klassen***

 

What can you tell us about the series, Tales From Ivy Hill?

The series tells the stories of four women facing life-altering challenges with the help of their quirky neighbors and intriguing newcomers. Each novel will have a romance and drama wrap up in a hopefully satisfying way, while the main character’s story spans all three books. The series celebrates the strong bonds of friendship, because in a small village like Ivy Hill, everyone is connected, like leaves on a vine.

 

Why did you choose to set the first book in the series at an inn?

In the early nineteenth century, before the advent of trains, the lifeblood of many small villages were their coaching inns. In this era, stage and mail coaches were the primary means of travel, and they stopped at coaching inns along the way to change horses, let passengers take a meal, or stay the night. Coaching inns were restaurant, hotel, “train” station, travel agency, livery, and repair shop, all rolled into one. I think it’s a wonderful setting for a series, providing a backdrop for a cast of regulars who work at or frequent the inn, as well as for new people who are traveling through.

 

Do you as the author have a favorite resident of Ivy Hill?

I like so many residents, but would have to say Thora Bell. Her gruff exterior disguises a hidden vulnerability, and her sassy directness, and dry, often self-deprecating sense of humor endeared her to me, if that’s not a weird thing to say about a fictional character I created. 🙂

 

What real-life locations inspired the setting of the series?

Ivy Hill is a fictional place, but it was inspired by the National Trust village of Lacock in Wiltshire, which I’ve had the privilege of visiting a few times. Lacock was used as a film location for scenes in Pride & Prejudice (1995), Cranford (2007), Emma (1996), and recently, a market scene in Downton Abbey (season 6). Even though I am using Lacock as a basic model for Ivy Hill, I’ve placed the village farther south, on the old Devonport-London Royal Mail route, not far from Salisbury and the real village of Great Wishford.

 

Assume for a moment that Mr. Darcy had never met Elizabeth. Which of your heroines would be most likely to attract his interest?

What a fun question. I would guess that Mr. Darcy would admire Miss Rachel Ashford. She might be a little proud, and not a great reader, but I don’t think he would be able to resist her gentle beauty and fine eyes.

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***Blog Tour Schedule***

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December 5: Author Q&A on Pemberley to Milton

December 6: Excerpt on My Love for Jane Austen

December 8: Review on Laura’s Reviews

December 9: Book Spotlight on More Agreeably Engaged

December 10: Review on A Bookish Way of Life

December 11: Review and Excerpt on Delighted Reader Book Reviews

December 12: British Show Inspiration Guest Post on Living Read Girl

December 13: Historical Background Guest Post on English Historical Fiction Authors

December 14: Review on Calico Critic

December 15: Excerpt on So Little Time

December 16: Review and Author Q&A on My Jane Austen Book Club

December 17: Review on Just Jane 1813

December 18: Excerpt on Babblings of a Book Worm

December 19: Review on Austenesque Reviews

December 20: Guest Post on Jane Austen in Vermont

December 21: Review on Luxury Reading

 

 

***It’s giveaway time***

Be sure to enter the giveaway before you leave—the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will be notified on December 22.

To enter click the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A Very Darcy Christmas Guest Post & Giveaway

Hello Dear Readers,

This month’s agenda is filled with Christmas posts 🙂 For me Christmas has always been a family season, and even if I haven’t enjoyed it in the last years as I used to, I’m having a blast organizing all these seasonal posts. After Nicole Clarkston’s christmas vignette to end the Blog Tour of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, I am happy to bring to you today a guest post by Victoria Kincaid where she shares what she learned of her investigations regarding regency Christmas traditions.

I found out about Victoria Kincaid’s book at Just Jane 1813, and I immediately knew I had to read it. In fact, I had been wanting to read a Victoria Kincaid book for a while, so A Very Darcy Christmas came at the right time.

So far I’m loving it, but my review will only come next week, for now, I’ll leave you with Mrs. Kincaid guest post.

 

 

*** Guest Post***

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When I decided to write a Pride and Prejudice variation set at Christmas-time I realized it would be necessary to learn more about Regency Christmas customs so I could make them part of the story.   What I found was enlightening. While some traditions were similar to ours today, many were different. They did not send Christmas cards or set up Christmas trees. They did not give presents except to children. There is some dispute about how much Christmas carols were sung, but it may have been confined to the lower classes. I didn’t read this in my research, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t have Elf on the Shelf.

They did have decorating for Christmas, parties, and feasting—although they all took different forms during the Regency. They decorated with holly, evergreens and other greenery, but not before Christmas Eve (it was considered bad luck). They also had kissing under the mistletoe (or a kissing bough), which seems like an odd custom for a time period that was so rigid about contact between the sexes. The Christmas season began in early December and ended on Twelfth Night; during that time the upper classes did a lot of visiting, partying, and other kinds of socializing. They played parlor games and ate a lot of good food, including some things we still eat today: gingerbread, march pane (marzipan), and turkey.

It was a time for gift giving to the lower classes. On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) the well-to-do would give their servants boxes of gifts as well as presents to the less fortunate in the neighborhood. The lord of the manor would sometimes host a Christmas day open house of sorts that would be the only celebration some of the poorer neighbors would experience.

I found these differences and similarities very interesting and it was great fun incorporating them into the A Very Darcy Christmas. I hope you enjoy them as well!

 

***Book Excerpt***

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“I apologize, Lizzy,” her father said. “Trying to stop her was like trying to halt a runaway carriage. When she declared her intention to visit Pemberley with or without me, I thought my presence might mitigate the damage.”

Elizabeth took her father’s arm. “I am very pleased to see you both, Papa. And it will provide an opportunity to show you Pemberley.”

He smiled gently. “I must confess, that is something I am anticipating with pleasure. What I have seen so far is quite grand.”

Elizabeth gave her father’s arm another reassuring squeeze, but her spirits sank. With Georgiana visiting Rosings Park for the yuletide season, Elizabeth and William had been anticipating a quiet Christmas celebration by themselves. Since they had arrived at Pemberley after their wedding voyage, Elizabeth’s life had been a whirlwind. She had spent much of her time familiarizing herself with the household and the servants, caring for tenants, entertaining neighbors, and performing the many other tasks required of Mrs. Darcy. William had been looking forward to having her to himself over Christmas, and the feeling was very much reciprocated.

Well, Mama and Papa are only two people, Elizabeth reminded herself. And Papa will happily spend much of his time in the library. Certainly I can find a way to occupy Mama.

Elizabeth and her father had just reached the top of the stairs when she heard quick footsteps behind them. Glancing over her shoulder, she found one of the footmen rushing toward her, his brow creased with worry. “Madam, Mr. Giles sent me to inform you. Miss Darcy’s coach is on the drive!”

Elizabeth blinked. Georgiana? What was the matter? Her sister-in-law had planned to visit Rosings Park for at least three more weeks, until Twelfth Night. Although Lady Catherine had initially severed all contact with Pemberley, she had recently insisted on Georgiana’s company—no doubt hoping to counteract Elizabeth’s pernicious influence. Georgiana had assented in part because she hoped to mend the breach between her brother and her aunt, although William had told her not to bother.

Elizabeth turned to her father. “Papa, I must meet Georgiana’s coach. Sally will help with anything you might need, and I shall see you at supper.”

Her father patted her hand reassuringly. Elizabeth quickly retreated down the great marble staircase. Georgiana was just entering the house. The slight woman was rumpled from travel, and some of her blonde curls tumbled into her eyes. But Elizabeth was most concerned about the signs of strain around the younger woman’s mouth and the tension in her shoulders.

Giles took Georgiana’s pelisse and bonnet, and then Elizabeth hurried to embrace her. “Is there trouble, my dear?” Elizabeth asked. “Are you feeling quite well?”

“Yes, my health is good.” Georgiana grimaced. “But William was correct. Visiting Rosings was most unpleasant. Aunt Catherine took every opportunity to disparage you and William. In addition, she invited two young men—both distant relatives of hers—to Rosings. It is clear they think they can be my suitors.” Elizabeth bit her tongue against a quick retort. How dare her ladyship ambush Georgiana in such a way? “It was so uncomfortable.”

This was one of the longest speeches Elizabeth had ever heard from Darcy’s sister; clearly she was quite disturbed. Elizabeth squeezed Georgiana’s hand sympathetically. “I can understand. Were they both so terrible?”

Georgiana sighed, pushing curls from her eyes. “Perhaps not, but I am not prepared to meet suitors, particularly without you and William to give me advice.”

Of course. After the Wickham debacle, Georgiana would be reluctant to trust her own judgment about men. Lady Catherine should not have attempted to influence her niece’s matrimonial prospects, but obviously she hoped to circumvent William’s authority. Elizabeth could think of several things to say about the woman, but she held her tongue.

“I decided to come home. I hope you are not too disappointed with me.”

Elizabeth gave her another hug. “Of course not, darling. I am very happy to see you, and William will be as well. He is out visiting tenants but will be home for supper. We would have missed you at Christmas! Oh, and my parents have come to visit from Longbourn as well.”

Georgiana gave a gentle smile. “How lovely. We shall be a merry party!”

Yes, thought Elizabeth. Hopefully my mother will not celebrate Christmas by discussing how we will be murdered in our beds.

Georgiana gave her sister-in-law another hug. “And you have decorated so nicely for the yule season. Mama never hung greens before Christmas Eve.”

Elizabeth smiled despite another reminder of her decorating deficiencies.

Georgiana took her leave and climbed wearily up the stairs toward her bedchamber. Although Elizabeth was pleased to have her sister-in-law home for the yule season, she could not prevent a pang of regret over more loss of privacy. But it is a big house, Elizabeth thought as she watched Georgiana disappear up the stairs. She is merely one more person. We shall hardly notice her.

Elizabeth had only taken one step toward the stairs when a brisk knock sounded on the door. Oh no, what now? Elizabeth fervently prayed for a wayward deliveryman.

Giles hastened to open the door. Elizabeth instantly recognized the tall figure silhouetted against the pale winter sky. “Richard!” she exclaimed.

 

 

*** It’s giveaway time***

sem-nomeVictoria Kincaid brings her own Christmas gift to the readers at From Pemberley to Milton. She would like to offer one ebook copy of A Very Darcy Christmas to a randomly chosen reader who comments on this post. To increase the chances of winning, comment on the review that will be published on the 10th of December, comments on both posts will be considered for the giveaway.

The giveaway is international and ill end on the 15th of December, with the winner being announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

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The Courtship of Edward Gardiner – Guest Post & Giveaway

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Hello dear readers,

Welcome to the last stop of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner blog tour! It’s been a long but interesting tour and I personally enjoyed all stops that brought us excerpts, reviews and vignettes of this wonderful book!

I would like to thank all bloggers involved in this tour as their dedication, efforts and kind words were essential to show everyone the worth of this story. Thank you so much for all your hard work and support!!!

I would also like to praise Nicole Clarkston for her creativity! I always love to read the new scenes she creates for the blog tours 🙂 My love for her vignettes started with Northern Rain, but it surely continued with The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, and I’m very happy to see she chose a seasonal vignette to finish the blog tour at From Pemberley to Milton 🙂

 

***Guest Post***

In keeping with one of my very favourite times of year, today I give you a vignette from the early days of Edward and Madeline’s marriage. Life is unfolding beautifully at their feet, and they celebrate the joyous day in their new home, surrounded by loved ones. I hope each of you will be similarly blessed this year.

-Nicole

***

First Christmas

Edward Gardiner slowly paraded down the staircase of his new home, his heart full and his spirits buoyant. This was to be his first Christmas as the master of a fine house, the first year of lavishly bestowing gifts upon so many now in his employ, and the first year of hosting his Meryton relations in London, rather than going to his sisters as he always had. Most importantly of all, it was his first year of waking with his very dearest treasure wrapped in his arms. Perhaps no other would have perceived the purpose of his motion, but he tipped his chin very slightly down and to the left as he walked, drawing a delicious breath. Madeline’s fragrance still lingered near his neck, where she had kissed and nuzzled him only moments ago.

It was with no small measure of satisfaction that he gained the bottom of the stairs to find the house still largely quiet. His sisters would remain abed at least another hour, and the Bennet children, fatigued from their journey, would likely follow suit. The only soul he expected to encounter was that of his brother, Thomas Bennet. In this, he was not disappointed, for the library had already been commandeered by that reclusive fellow. It seemed, however, that Bennet was not alone.

“Merry Christmas, Uncle!” Elizabeth chirped brightly from the window seat, where she had been flipping through one of his newest books. She set it aside carefully- for a mercy- and bounced to him with her freshly scrubbed face shining.

“And a very Merry Christmas to you, Lizzy!” he scooped her up and gave her a joyful peck on the cheek. “And to you, Thomas,” he turned, extending his greeting to his brother-in-law.

“Aye, it is that,” the other nodded agreeably, his eyes only briefly rising from his book. “For another hour or two, at least.” He lifted his brows, wetted his fingers, and turned a page.

Elizabeth peered up at her uncle with a quizzical little frown, a furrowed brow, and a teasing sparkle in her eyes. Edward sighed, shaking his head. “Come, Lizzy, have you seen all of the greens yet? Does the house not look beautiful this morning?”

She nodded. “Uncle, when may we open our presents?”

“Oh! You must wait, Elizabeth. Did you expect to open yours before your sisters are even dressed?”

“Yes,” she admitted guilelessly.

“I tell you what,” he chuckled, “I’ve a special surprise for your aunt. Would you help me to prepare it for her?”

Her brilliant eyes glittered afresh and she caught her lip between her teeth. “Oh, tell me, what is it? Did you buy her a phaeton and ponies?”

He laughed. “You must wait and see! Come, I think your father would enjoy having the library to himself anyway.”

Three hours later, Elizabeth stood beside her uncle as he welcomed the entire family to the drawing room. “Oh, brother!” cried Fanny Bennet, fluttering her fan. “I knew it would be lovely! Why, Sister, simply look at the bowers, and the ribbons, and… oh! The lace on that table, so charming! Where ever did you find such exquisite decorations?”

Edward beamed proudly at his wife, who had come to his other side. “Madeline deserves the credit. There, my dear, do you see? You feared making a poor impression, but I have never seen a lovelier home than my own this day.”

Madeline blushed prettily, catching her father’s eye as he bounced little Mary Bennet upon his knee. “My dear, I believe you would say so even if I had chosen to decorate the house in brown and yellow, instead of the proper colours!”

“It is a clever man who pays his compliments wisely,” affirmed Thomas Bennet, lifting his glass in a mock salute.

“Indeed!” Edward agreed. “And to that end, I know I am breaking somewhat with tradition, but I should like to give you the first gift, my dear. Lizzy?”

“Yes, Uncle!” Elizabeth dove for the pile of gifts, attempting to wrap her arms about an especially large one right in the middle. Three or four other boxes toppled as she dislodged the base of the stack, but she wrestled determinedly until she had dragged it free.

“Edward, you should not have!” Madeline objected. “What could possibly…?”

Edward laughed and bent to assist Elizabeth. The box was awkward rather than heavy, but even he found it more convenient to drag than to lift. “Open it, my love!”

Madeline bit her lip and tilted her head askance. The box was lovingly wrapped and decorated so beautifully that she hated to break it open. Moreover, her natural modesty objected to what was clearly a large and lavish gift from her husband. What was everyone else to think? Nonetheless, she grasped the ribbon and gave a gentle tug. Carefully she peeled away the folds of paper, taking the greatest pains that not one single corner should be ripped in her haste. Elizabeth started to bounce.

The paper fell away, Madeline lifted the lid of the box, and beheld… another box. She darted a quick look to Edward, and found his eyes dancing with mirth. This box was even more exquisitely wrapped than the first, and still quite large. Edward helped her to lift it out, and with a little laugh, she began to unwrap this box as well. Inside the second box was a third, this one wrapped in gold foil. “Oh, Edward!” she giggled in feigned exasperation.

Fanny Bennet and most of her daughters were beginning to grow restless. To cries of impatience and admiration, with not a little smattering of children clamoring to see over one another, Madeline worked her way through four more boxes. Where Edward had found such a perfect assortment of nesting boxes, she could not fathom, but his cheeks grew ever brighter as she continued to add to the mounting pile of discarded wrapping.

Inside the seventh box, Madeline discovered a nest of tawny packing material, concealing and protecting something precious within. She lifted her brows teasingly at Edward, catching Elizabeth’s bubbling delight as she did so. “For such a large box to begin, whatever is inside must be quite small!”

“It is often so, is it not, my dear? The most magnificent blessings are often in the smallest details.”

Her eyes pricked a little at the warmth in his tones, and she began to suspect that whatever lay within was some priceless treasure- something in which she would delight for the rest of her life. Blinking quickly, she began to search through the rustling packing material until her fingers found a small, humble little box. It was wrapped simply in brown paper and string, and fit within the palm of her hand. She raised her eyes to Edward and he gave her a small nod of encouragement.

Drawing breath, she pulled the string and reverently unfolded the very last of the wrapping, then lifted the lid of the box. Inside was a bright, shining key. She pinched it gingerly between her fingers and held it up with questioning eyes.

Edward came near to rest a hand upon her shoulder and spoke lowly into her ear. “It is a key to my study desk,” he told her quietly. “I know it seems a simple thing, my love, but it is yours as much as it is mine. Everything I am, every facet of my life, is as an open book to you. I want you forever by my side, Madeline, sharing in my heart, my labours, my hopes. I lay all before you, and desire you as my partner in every corner of this life.”

Her throat had tightened and her eyes burned in overpowering joy as she blinked down at his gift- that tiny little object which unlocked his entire world. “It is as you say, my love,” she whispered. “The most priceless treasures are often very small.” She looked up and caught Jane Bennet’s eye. Understanding at once, Jane leapt to the pile of gifts to find a small, soft parcel, and brought it to her aunt.

Madeline took it and gave it into Edward’s hand. “Merry Christmas, my darling!”

His brow creased, he tore silently into the folds of tissue. The item within emerged, and he held it up in some confusion. “What is it?”

Laughing lightly, Madeline took it from him and unfolded the downy material for him to examine. “It is a bonnet… for an infant.”

His face washed in wonder. “A… an infant? Madeline!” He gasped, then caught up his wife in his arms and spun her dizzily about. “Are you certain? We must speak of this at once!” Not delaying even a moment upon his resolution, the determined husband carried his surprised young wife from the drawing room and mounted the stairs. The remaining guests craned their necks to peer round the

doorway in curiosity as the couple departed so unceremoniously, the echoes of their laughter sounding through the entire house.

Thomas Bennet cleared his throat. “Well,” began he, with a suspicious twinkle in his eye. “It seems we must carry on without our host and hostess. Mr Fairbanks, sir, would you care to do the honours?”

Mr Fairbanks, his eyes weak and his smile radiant, took up the invitation. He clasped Mary’s little hand ever more fervently, glorying in the knowledge that soon he might cradle his own flesh and blood once more. Before he gave out the next gift, he hesitated and his squinted gaze passed over each person in that room- his new family. Slowly, he began to nod, as if confirming to himself all that his old heart whispered. “’And it was good,’” he softly quoted the ancient line. “Very good. Merry Christmas!”

 

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I hope you have enjoyed this final vignette! It made me wish I could read more and more… But I’ve got to stop asking for more vignettes right?

In case you find Mrs. Clarkston’s writing as captivating as I do, you can always find out more about her and her work through the following contact links:

WebsiteNicole Clarkston

Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

 

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***It’s giveaway time***

Nicole Clarkston would like to offer one last eBook copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner. All you have to do to be entitled to it is comment on this post. Let us know what you thought of this seasonal excerpt or just share your opinion on P&P’s secondary characters. The giveaway is international and is open until the 15th of December.

Good luck everyone!

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