Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Contrary Wind Excerpt & Giveaway

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Hello everyone,

I usually post about Pride and Prejudice and North and South fan fiction because those are the books closest to my heart, but I know that my readers love all things Jane Austen, so today I bring you an excerpt of A Contrary Wind, a Mansfield Park variation from debut author Lona Manning.  

Lona Manning is currently teaching English in China and has written “The Hurricane Hoax”, “The Murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair” and other true-crime articles available at True Crime Magazine, but her love for Jane Austen made her venture into JAFF with a different take at Mansfield Park.

I hope you like the excerpt and please do not miss the opportunity to win a copy of this book by commenting this post 🙂

 

book-blurb

What if Fanny Price, the meek and docile heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park,ran away from home? What if Fanny could no longer endure living with the Bertrams? What if she could not bear to watch Edmund fall in love with Mary Crawford?

In Lona Manning’s debut novel, Fanny Price is given an opportunity to change and grow, to learn and to make mistakes; while Edmund Bertram’s fascination with Mary Crawford, and Henry Crawford’s efforts to avoid matrimony, lead to completely different outcomes than in Jane Austen’s masterpiece.

All of the familiar characters from Mansfield Park are included, and many – such as Mrs. Norris and little Betsey Price – help drive the plot. New characters, such as the brusque but kindly widow, Mrs. Butters, and the impecunious but charming writer, William Gibson, are involved with the movement to abolish slavery. Real characters from history – politicians, writers, and sea captains, join the story and there are even some cameo appearances from characters in other Austen novels.

The text employs many of the techniques which made Jane Austen so popular – dialogue in which each character speaks in their own unique voice, free indirect style of narration, Johnsonian cadences, and some snark.

A Contrary Wind differs from Mansfield Park in that not all the scenes involving sex occur off-stage and instead of having “[t]hree or four families in a country village,” the action moves from Mansfield Park, to Bristol, London, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and the coast of Africa, where young Lieutenant William Price fights the slave trade as part of the West Africa Squadron.

“Like many Jane Austen fans, I’ve wished that Austen had written more than six novels,” says Manning. “’A Contrary Wind’ is my homage to Austen, and a bit of a “what if” scenario. I really loved working with the unforgettable characters Jane Austen created, such as Henry and Mary Crawford and Mrs. Norris, while adding a few new characters of my own.”

excerpt

The grandfather clock in the front hall struck eleven, then midnight, and Fanny still lay awake in her narrow bed, unable to console herself. As miserable as her present circumstances were, the future offered no hope of improvement.

At an age when most young ladies were beginning to seriously contemplate matrimony, she had already formed the resolution that she would never enter the state; it was impossible that she would ever meet another man who could be the equal of Edmund Bertram. She rejected with contempt the idea of marrying for money, and in her humility she could not conceive of receiving an offer from one who esteemed her well enough to overlook her lack of a dowry. Settling with her family in Portsmouth appeared to be as equally out of the question as finding a husband. Her parents had never, in the course of her nearly ten years’ absence, expressed the wish that she return to them.

Fanny’s visions of her own future had all centered on a plan concocted with her older brother William – namely, that they would one day live in a little cottage and she would keep house for him when he retired from the Navy. But what was she to do until then? Her cousins had paid little regard to her over the years, but how empty the great house would seem when Maria and Julia married and formed their own establishments. Tom was abroad more than at home and Edmund would remove to Thornton Lacey after his ordination. She would be left behind to grow old in the service of her aunts. A long twilight existence, fetching and carrying for Aunt Bertram and bearing Aunt Norris’ slights and insults in silence, stretched ahead of her. She might have to endure ten, fifteen, twenty years of such a life before she could retire to a cottage with her brother.

And could she truly rely upon this solace, at long last? Although marriage formed no part of her brother’s plans at twenty, could she expect him to regard the state with the same indifference at five or eight-and-twenty? What if William did marry, and his wife had no wish to be encumbered by a maiden sister? And whether in Mansfield, Portsmouth or her brother’s cottage, was she not dependent upon the charity of others for every mouthful she ate and every thread upon her back? Were her comings and goings to be entirely at the command of others, her own preferences never consulted?

As Fanny tossed and turned for the hundredth time that long night, a new unbidden resolution suggested itself to her – you are acquainted with one independent gentlewoman who earned her own bread.

Your own governess, Miss Lee.

Why should you not do the same?

***

The following morning, Fanny escaped to the East Room after a half-eaten breakfast to ask herself how the thoughts she’d entertained the previous night appeared to her in the judicious light of morning.

The East Room had once been the school-room and had sat empty after the departure of their governess. It was now used solely by Fanny, the smallness of her own bedchamber making the use of the other so evidently reasonable, and Mrs. Norris, having stipulated for there never being a fire in it on Fanny’s account, was tolerably resigned to her having the use of what nobody else wanted.

The aspect was so favourable that even without a fire it was habitable in many an early spring and late autumn morning to such a willing mind as Fanny’s. The comfort of it in her hours of leisure was extreme. She could go there after anything unpleasant below, and find immediate consolation in some pursuit, or some train of thought at hand. Her plants, her books—of which she had been a collector from the first hour of her commanding a shilling—her writing-desk, and her works of charity and ingenuity, were all within her reach.

To this nest of comforts Fanny now walked down to try its influence on an agitated, doubting spirit. Could she, Fanny, take a position as governess? Of caring for children, she had had much experience. As the eldest daughter of a family of ten, she had been important as playfellow, instructress, and nurse until sent away to live with her uncle and aunt.

In the ordinary course of events, gentlewomen only became governesses out of necessity. It was the last resort of the genteel but poor. It was a position entered upon with resignation at best, despair and resentment at worst, by widows and orphans, by persons whose expectations had been dashed and whose hopes had been overthrown – it was not to be wondered at that governesses and their faults were dwelt upon with much energy by ladies on their morning visits throughout the kingdom. While it was possible that some governesses become honoured and beloved members of the family, Fanny only knew that the profession never wore a happy face in any novel she had picked up.

Fanny paced unceasingly around the old work table, greatly agitated at her own audacity for even entertaining such ideas as now entered her head. She attempted to recollect, as best she might, any remarks dropped by Miss Lee concerning her opinions of the profession. But Miss Lee had been of a taciturn and formal disposition, a quality that recommended her to Sir Thomas, but was ill-suited for arousing lasting feelings of affection or confidence from her pupils.

Fanny had first met Miss Lee upon coming to Mansfield when she was but ten years old, and for many months was afraid of her, though anxious to win her approbation. The governess’s biting remarks upon Fanny’s backwardness, ignorance and awkward ways had often brought Fanny to tears. Almost a year passed before Miss Lee had realized that of her three pupils – Maria, Julia and Fanny – only Fanny loved learning for learning’s sake; only her timidity before the others prevented her from showing that she had memorized every textbook laid before her, and thenceforward Miss Lee was more encouraging.

Maria and Julia were overjoyed to be released from the schoolroom upon turning seventeen, while Fanny, the youngest, continued for another year, sitting with Miss Lee for several hours every morning, studying French, geography and natural history, or walking the grounds of the park to collect botanical samples.

Although Miss Lee had less to do as a governess when she had only one pupil, she was required to devote her afternoons and many evenings to attending on Lady Bertram.

When Miss Lee was at last discharged from Mansfield Park, Fanny was old enough to supply her place as Lady Bertram’s errand-runner and cribbage partner. Fanny wondered whether these tasks were rendered less irksome to Miss Lee by the knowledge that she was paid for performing them. Would living amongst strangers be preferable to living with her cousins, if she received a salary, however small, rather than paying for her bread and board with the coinage of duty, submission and gratitude?

A tap at the door roused her and her eyes brightened at the sight of Edmund. They had not spoken since Aunt Norris’s cruel rebuke of the night before, and Fanny, her colour rising, anticipated the unlooked-for joy of a private conference with Edmund, in which he would declare his indignation at their aunt, and assure her of his esteem and regard. But no, it was the play, and worse, it was Miss Crawford, that occupied Edmund’s thoughts and occasioned this rare, this precious conversation.

“This acting scheme gets worse and worse, you see. They have chosen almost as bad a play as they could, and now, to complete the business, are going to ask the help of a young man very slightly known to any of us. This is the end of all the privacy and propriety which was talked about at first. I know no harm of Charles Maddox; but the excessive intimacy which must spring from his being admitted among us in this manner is highly objectionable, the more than intimacy—the familiarity.”

He came to the East room, he said, for her ‘advice and opinion,’ but a very few moments made it clear to Fanny that he had already made up his mind – he would yield – he would take the part of Anhalt himself rather than see a stranger admitted on such intimate terms. “Put yourself in Miss Crawford’s place, Fanny. Consider what it would be to act Amelia with a stranger.”

Fanny protested, “I am sorry for Miss Crawford, but I am more sorry to see you drawn in to do what you had resolved against, and what you are known to think will be disagreeable to my uncle. It will be such a triumph to the others!”

“They will not have much cause of triumph when they see how infamously I act,” Edmund responded drily, adding that he hoped, by yielding in this fashion, to persuade the others to keep the theatricals private and not involve any others in the neighbourhood, either as performers or audience. “Will not this be worth gaining?”

“Yes, it will be a great point,” Fanny said reluctantly. Then Edmund did, finally, refer to her humiliation of the previous night, but only as a further reason to yield to Miss Crawford and take the part of Anhalt, for: “She never appeared more amiable than in her behaviour to you last night. It gave her a very strong claim on my goodwill.”

At this, Fanny could scarcely speak, and Edmund was only too willing to interpret her silence as consent.

He smiled, he spent a few moments looking over her little library with her, when he was clearly eager to be gone, to walk down to the Parsonage and convey his change of sentiments to Miss Crawford. Then he was gone, entirely insensible of the pain he had inflicted.

Had either circumstance – Aunt Norris’ insult or this fresh proof of Edmund’s infatuation – occurred separately, Fanny would surely have spent her morning weeping. But occurring within twelve hours of each other, the absolute misery of the whole was so stupefying that she could no longer weep and, resolving within herself that she would weep no more, Fanny jumped up from her seat and slipped downstairs to the breakfast room, unobserved by anyone.

Lady Bertram kept her recent correspondence in an elegant little desk there. All of Lady Bertram’s acquaintance, including Miss Lee, had received a note from her Ladyship hinting at the engagement of her eldest daughter to the richest landowner in the county – and the former governess, Fanny knew, had recently replied, wishing her one-time pupil every happiness. The note was postmarked from Bristol, where Miss Lee’s latest employers resided.

With a rapidly beating heart, Fanny retraced her steps to the East Room where she composed a letter to Miss Lee, imploring her to keep her secret for now, and asking her advice on whether she thought her last pupil at Mansfield Park might be suited to be a governess. No sooner had she sealed her letter than she was summoned to walk into town on an errand for her Aunt Norris, which happily afforded her the opportunity to visit the village post office without the letter passing through the hands of servants at the Park.

She passed by Dr. and Mrs. Grant’s home on the way to the village, and she could hear the lovely rippling strains of harp music issuing from the sitting room. Miss Crawford was entertaining her cousin Edmund. With tear-filled eyes, Fanny hurried past the parsonage, followed by the faint sounds of Edmund laughing in response to something witty Mary Crawford had said.

 

biography

lona-manningHello. I was born in South Korea a few years after the Korean War. My father taught library science at Yonsei University. And — being from the American South, he also taught his students how to do the Virginia Reel. My mother fostered Korean war orphan babies.

My folks returned to the United States in the early 60’s and were active in the civil rights movement. We always had the kind of house that was filled with books and magazines. Our family (with six kids by then) moved to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, in 1967. Then we had a house filled with books, magazines, and war objectors playing guitar and singing “Where have all the flowers gone.”

I put myself through university in Vancouver. Over the years, I’ve been a home care aide, legal secretary, political speech writer, office manager, and vocational instructor. Mainly I worked in non-profit administration until suddenly deciding (in my late 50’s) to get an ESL teaching certificate. So most recently I’ve been teaching English in China. My husband Ross and I raised two boys; one is now a computer programmer and the other is finishing law school.

Although I have not written much in recent years, I have authored several lengthy non-fiction pieces about notable American crimes, such as: the murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the Lindbergh kidnapping, the 1920 Wall Street bombing, the satanic ritual moral panic of the 90’s, and the Rubin Hurricane Carter case. These articles have been cited in over a dozen books and been used in secondary school and university courses [for  example, Sam Houston University, University of Missouri-Kansas City] My article about O’Hair was used in a course on the history of atheism at the Center for American Studies at Heidelberg University. My Wall Street bombing article was referenced in a New York City Law Journal Review article.

Last spring, after a long silence, my Muse showed up and started writing this book in my head.

Hobbies, interests, passions and peeves:  I’ve sung in a number of bands and choirs, most recently the Kelowna International Choir. My husband and I love to travel around Asia. I get buggy when people use possessive apostrophes when they really mean plural, as in “apple’s for sale.”

 

giveaway-time

Lona Manning would like to offer my readers two copies of A Contrary Wind, a paperback and an ebook.

To participate in the giveaway all you have to do is comment on this post and share your thoughts with us.

The giveaway is international and is open until the 8th of March. The winners will be announced shortly after that. I would hate to see winners of the book miss their chances to receive it, so in order not to miss the announcement, please visit the blog after the 8th or follow it to guarantee you receive an e-mail notification with each post that is published, including the giveaway announcements.

Good luck everyone!

26 Comments

Filed under JAFF, Mansfield Park

Snowbound at Hartfield Review & Giveaway

snowbound-at-hartfield-ebook4 stars

Snowbound at Hartfield is a crossover of books and characters that I never thought possible, but maybe the issue is with my imagination because Maria Grace made these characters interactions completely plausible and interesting.

Pride & Prejudice will meet Persuasion and Emma when both Mr.Darcy’s party and Sir Walter Elliot’s are trapped in an inn during a snowstorm without any rooms vacant. Luckily this inn is close to Hartfield, and Mr Knightley, who is Mr. Darcy’s old friend, invites them all to stay with him and his family until the storm abates.

It is due to these circumstances that we will have in the same house Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Mr. Bennet, Col. Fitzwilliam, Sir Walter Elliot, Miss Elizabeth Elliot, Mr. Knightley, Mrs Emma Knightley and Mr. Woodhouse. I’m sure you’re starting to imagine how much fun it will be to have Mr. Bennet and Sir Walter Elliot in close proximity! But Sir Walter will not even be the only person who will contribute to the amusement of Mr. Bennet, the Knightley’s neighbours are, after all, perfect to make sport of, and Mrs. Elton will always be a source of amusement for some and chagrin to others wherever she goes.

The originality of bringing all these characters together and developing a very different and unexpected couple has to be praised! The romantic couple in Snowbound at Hartfield is one I had never seen portrayed and would never think of, but Maria Grace made it work by showing us a deeper and darker side of these characters, one that is not often shown to us and will make us think of what is beneath the character’s usual façade. In fact, she picked up one of my least favourite secondary characters from Austen, and made her the love interest of one of my favourite characters succeeding to make me wish they would find happiness together.That wasn’t an easy task, and I still can not say Miss Elliot is a favourite of mine, but she deed redeem herself in this book, and Maria Grace’s approach to this character was remarkable.

The love story between Col. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot will be very different from what we are used to, but they will be presented to us as two broken souls who can mend each other, and we can not stop thinking that they will do very well together.

Elizabeth Darcy and Emma Knightley are secondary characters in this story but it was very amusing and fun to see them described as matrons!

Snowbound at Hartfield is a creative, fun and romantic novella which will fill our hearts with the hope that it is never too late to find happiness. I recommend this book to any Austen fan who is looking for a secondary character story to read. This story is a quick read that will bring several of Austen’s characters into a new light, it is perfect to be read between two Darcy and Elizabeth centered books, and I’m sure any Austen aficionado will enjoy it.

 

You can find Snowbound at Hartfield at :

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

giveaway-time

Maria Grace has offered a giveaway of an ebook of “Snowbound at Hartfield for my From Pemberley to Milton readers.  To enter it please leave a comment on this post until the 1st of March, and if you want to double your chances of winning, comment the interview with Maria Grace posted on the 20th of February.

The winners will be announced in the beginning of March. To make sure you receive the winners announcement notification please follow From Pemberley to Milton to make sure you receive an e-mails every time a new post is published. I would hate to see someone didn’t win the book because they missed the announcement.

Good luck everyone!

17 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Interview with Maria Grace & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

Maria Grace has been an important name in the Jane Austen community for many years. She has written several fiction books and novellas celebrating our dear characters from Pride & Prejudice, but also some non fiction works where she shares with us the costumes in regency, namely A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions and Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World.

Apart from all her work in JAFF, she has always been a dear author and I am very happy to interview her today regarding her recently released book: Snowbound at Hartfield.

I hope you enjoy this interview but if you still have any question that you would like to see answered, please do not hesitate to ask it in the comments. I’m sure Maria will be glad to answer you and it will enter you in the giveaway she is hosting.

 

interview

 

Hello Maria, welcome to From Pemberley to Milton. I know you have just released a new book called Snowbound at Hartfield. What can you tell us about it? What can readers expect?

Maria Grace – Snowbound at Hartfield is a romance about second chances and the difficult reality single adults, men and women, faced in the regency era. Even though it deals with some difficult subjects, there’s a generous helping of humor and lots of warm fuzzies as well.

 

FPTM – This book is a mash up of several Austen stories, and even though I’ve seen crossovers between two different Austen books, I never saw one putting together characters from three different books. How did you come up with this idea?

MG – The idea for Snowbound came out of a March Mash-up Madness theme we had last year at Austen Variations.

 

FPTM – But why Emma, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice?

MG – One of our readers suggested a scene between some of the Austen fathers, like Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Bennet and Sir Walter Elliot. I took that idea and ran with it. By the time all was said and done, Snowbound was the result.

 

FPTM – The book is written from 2 different points of view and one of them is Miss Elizabeth Elliot from Persuasion. She is hardly ever seen in JAFF and I had never seen her as a main character, why did you decide to give her the spotlight on this novel?

MG – That came out of having Sir Walter Elliot as one of the fathers in the mash-up scene. I couldn’t imagine him traveling without company of some kind, and what more natural company for him to have that the daughter who still lived with him?

 

FPTM – Miss Elizabeth Elliot is a controversial character, what is her story on Snowbound at Hartfield? How did you decide to approach this character?

MG – We pick up Miss Elizabeth Elliot after she has had two very difficult experiences. First, the heir presumptive of the family, William Elliot has taken her friend, Penelope Clay ‘under his protections’–which is to say he has made her his mistress. Worse yet, she is living in his house, which was just not done. All this happened while Elizabeth was expecting an offer of marriage from him. On top of that humiliation, her younger sister Anne is married to the very desirable Captain Wentworth, leaving Elizabeth, the eldest sister who should have been the first to marry, the only one left unmarried.

So, Elizabeth is an humiliated spinster, whose financial situation requires her to live with her foolish father. In such a situation, she would be the mistress of the house, handling the management aspect of this home. With little money to work with, it would have been very challenging to live the lifestyle of a baronet, as her father would have required.

Living through all would tax anyone. To me, it seemed the perfect motivation for potential personal change, so that’s where I wrote her from.

 

FPTM – The other POV in this book is Col. Fitzwilliam whose character also takes an interesting turn in with a different side of him being explored. What can you tell us about his character?

MG -I think Col. Fitzwilliam is a complicated character. As a military officer of the era, he would have seen action in the Napoleonic wars. Those wars were brutal and horrific and it is hard to imagine a man who could experience that without some lasting effects. Those experiences impact him greatly, and leaving himself feeling ‘less’ than the man he used to be.  That is part of the challenge he faces in this story.

 

FPTM – Thank you so much for letting us know more about Snowbound at Hartfield Maria. Is there anything else you want to tell my readers?

MGSnowbound started as a bit of a lark, but the characters had a story to tell and wouldn’t leave me alone until I had allowed them to tell it. It didn’t end up to be the story I expected it to be, but after all was said and done, I’m very happy with the results.

You can find Snowbound at Hartfield at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

biography

 

grace-38-lThough Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

You can find Maria at:

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Random Bits of Fascination

Austen Variations

English Historical Fiction Authors

Pinterest

 

giveaway-time

snowbound-at-hartfield-ebookMaria Grace has offered a giveaway of an ebook of “Snowbound at Hartfield for my From Pemberley to Milton readers.  To enter it please leave a comment on this post until the 1st of March, and if you want to double your chances of winning, comment the review that will be posted here on the 23rd of February.

The winners will be announced in the beginning of March. To make sure you receive the winners announcement notification please follow From Pemberley to Milton to make sure you receive an e-mails every time a new post is published. I would hate to see someone didn’t win the book because they missed the announcement.

Good luck everyone!

 

 

24 Comments

Filed under Emma, interview, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Giveaway Winners Announcement

giveaway-winners-announcement_final

 

Hello everyone,

In the beginning of this month I reviewed The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, one of my favourite books from 2016. It was the only prequel I read of Pride and Prejudice, the last book from Nicole Clarkston, and hopefully one of her many works I’ll review because her writing style is just captivating and when I finish one of her books, I am already in need of another one 🙂

When Nicole Clarkston heard I was going to review her book, she immediately offered to promote a giveaway of both an ebook and an audiobook copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, so today I’m happy to announce that the winners are:

 

Ebook – Karylee Marin

Audiobook – Me

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I would also like to bring some very good news to readers who participated in my Interview with Stevie Zimmerman  post. Unfortunately I did not receive feedback from all winners, so I had to select 2 other readers for Love Never Fails from Jennifer Joy and The Courtship of Edward Gardiner from Nicole Clarkston.

I am always sad when I don’t hear back from winners, but that also means that someone else has a chance to win, and the two new lucky winners are:

 

Love Never Fails – Dung

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner – Mary

.

Congratulations everyone! Please send me your contacts to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so that the prizes may be sent out to you.

8 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Darcy vs. Bennet – Review

Hello dear readers,

I never cared much about Valentine’s Day, and honestly I never do anything special this day. I think that we should show affection towards others, and get out and enjoy the company of someone else whenever we want, and not on a given day that society dictates, so I didn’t prepare anything special for the blog either. But I do have a review that I would like to share with you, and if you feel the same way I do, maybe this book will be your company for Valentine’s Day.

515w3lingcl__sy346_4.5 stars

When Darcy vs. Bennet came out last year, everyone was talking about it, and I heard that it was a love at first sight story. I’m usually not very fond of the love at first sight premise, for the simple reason that I don’t believe in it, so I was a little put out because I love Victoria Kincaid’s books and I was eager to read this one. But it was a Victoria Kincaid book nonetheless, so I had to read it! I filled myself with courage and gave it a go. Guess what? I should have read it the first time I got a chance because it was absolutely wonderful!!!

In Darcy vs. Bennet Mr. Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet at a masquerade ball, and even if they feel drawn to each other almost immediately, they do have a chance to dance, talk and get to know each other a little better. It is also in this masquerade ball that Elizabeth proves to be a trustworthy friend in the eyes of Mr. Darcy, by saving Georgiana from eloping with Mr. Wickham. But when she hears Mr. Darcy’s family name, she understands a relationship between them can never occur due to their parents’ feud and flees the party.

Mr. Darcy cannot forget the only woman who had thus far captured his attention and searches everywhere for Elizabeth, but knowing only her given name is endeavor is unsuccessful. Two years later, when he travels to Netherfield with Mr. Bingley, he reunites with Elizabeth and from the moment they recognize each other we are faced with a turbulent but poignant love story!

In this book Mr. Darcy senior is still alive and he is the true villain of the story, he is a despicable man and I loved to hate him in Darcy vs. Bennet. In fact, I believe he became my favorite villain in a JAFF story because it was due to his unrelenting demands that Mr. Darcy takes one of the bravest decisions he was ever asked to make on behalf of his love for Elizabeth.

I loved how strong and unbinding Darcy and Elizabeth’s love was in this book, and how far Mr. Darcy would go to be with her; how she made him a humbler man in a completely different way than we are used to see and how they suffered for their love. If I go straight to the point, I just LOVED this book!

In Darcy vs. Bennet I could feel once more the type of love Mrs. Kincaid developed in The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth: intense, secretive, intimate, insecure and resolute at the same time.

It is a fast paced book that captured my heart from page one until the end. I’ve read many of Victoria Kincaid’s books, if not all, and I know she is a diversified author. Among her works, one can either find a humorous and light book or a gripping romance that will touch our souls. Darcy vs Bennet is amongst the second category. It is an epic romance that I recommend to everyone.

You can find this book at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under JAFF

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner – Review & Giveaway

tcoeg-fc-final092816-nobld5 stars

Good evening dear readers,

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston was one of my 2016 favorite books, so you may imagine that I’ve been eager to review it and today I’m finally doing it!

In this Pride and Prejudice prequel, Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet with little Jane and Lizzy are traveling north to visit Mr. Bennet’s brother when Jane becomes sick. Because of that, they are forced to stop at a small town to allow Jane some time to recover, and while her father continues his trip to visit his dying brother, her uncle Gardiner stays behind to look after his nieces. This small town is none other than Lambton, and it is here that Mr. Gardiner will meet Miss Madeline Fairbanks, who will help him take care of Jane during her illness.

Mr. Gardiner’s relationship with Miss Fairbanks is an endearing and adorable one. He finds in her a mixture of the best attributes in Jane and Elizabeth, and discovers she is everything he could ever desire in a woman; she is caring, dedicated to her loved ones, gentil, but also smart, humble, and used to aid her father in his business, which shows him, she is the perfect partner in life for a tradesman.

Madeline Fairbanks’ impression of this young man from London is not the best at first, but soon she discovers he is everything a man ought to be, and it doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with him.

I loved seeing a younger version of Edward Gardiner. I am used to see him as a knowledgeable uncle and not as an insecure young man still trying to make is place in the world. I also liked seeing a younger version of aunt Gardiner who still blushes at some remarks made from a certain young man and finds herself accepting marriage advices from Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Bennet!

But the Gardiners are not the only P&P characters in this book, by the contrary, and that was one of the aspects that surprised me the most. We will find small versions of Lizzy, Jane and Georgiana, teenagers Darcy, Bingley and Wickham along with their fathers, and even Lady Catherine and Anne make an appearance! Seeing younger versions of all these characters was absolutely amazing, it was a very different approach that could not have given me more joy while reading the book.

I also adored how Nicole Clarkston linked Pride & Prejudice’s story with this prequel, it is as if all details are in place and everything was thought through to make us feel we are reading the same book. I could easily imagine this book as a prologue of Pride and Prejudice itself,

Not only all characters are pretty much the same in temper and personality, but we get to see how and why they became the adults Austen developed. It is interesting to see, for example, how Madeline Gardiner’s influence had a great impact in Lizzy’s behaviour, how Darcy’s father’s contributed to his sense of duty and honor and how Darcy and Bingley’s friendship started.

But the character’s personality and background is not the only connection between Pride and Prejudice and The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, if in P&P the Gardiners are essential to bring Elizabeth and Darcy together, in The Courtship of Edward Gardiner it is Lizzy who contributes to the happiness of the older couple.The reversal of their roles was just an example of Nicole Clarkston’s ability to play with words and situations, and bring to life a story that is perfectly harmonised with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner is a light, endearing and funny book that is the perfect company for an afternoon in the couch. You will laugh to see Jane compared to her mother, to see Mrs. Bennet called a sensible woman and Lady Catherine accused of being afraid of 8 year old highwayman.

Additionaly, Nicole Clarkston’s writing is fluid, agreeable and enticing. She makes us feel among the characters, and we can clearly picture every scene and every dialogue in our head. I was not expecting to love this story because it is not a Darcy/Elizabeth romance, but the story is so good and so well written that it captured my heart and ended up being one of my favourite books from 2016.

The book ends with an epilogue that I loved as we see Mr. and Mrs. Darcy remembering everything that happened in Lambton during the courtship of Edward Gardiner.

Last year I read the book but this year I had the pleasure of hearing it’s audiobook version and was impressed with Stevie Zimmerman’s narration once again. I already had a very good opinion of her, but I was amazed with the wide variety of voices she can make in this book. She is able to replicate not only the voices of male and female characters without sounding fake, but also small children and teenagers. If there is any doubt she is a great narrator, The Courtship of Edward Gardiner is the best example to convince anyone otherwise. I highly recommend not only the ebook and print versions, but also the audiobook, which is the perfect company for your commutes.

You can find The Courtship of Edward Gardiner at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

giveaway-time

Nicole Clarkston would like to offer my readers the chance to get to know these characters a  little better by offering one ebook and one audiobook copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner.

To enter the giveaway comment this post and let us know if you would prefer the ebook or audiobook copy.

The giveaway is international and is open until Valentine’s Day.

Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under JAFF

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey Review & Giveaway

2-1-donwell-cover5 stars

Hello everyone,

Last year I devoured Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes in one day and the book caused such an impression on me that I considered it one of my favorites from 2016.

The only issue I had with the book was that the second volume, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey, would only be available in January 2017 and I didn’t want to wait that long to read it.

I eagerly waited until I could read Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey, and when I put my hands on it, I was once again compelled to read it in one day. I simply could not stop reading this book, and that is because Ginger Monette has a fluid and enticing writing style that make her books true page-turners.

You don’t necessarily need to read Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes to enjoy Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey because even if this is a continuation of the story, readers will easily understand and get immersed in this new story, but the impact this second book will have is much different if you read the first, so I recommend reading Beauty from Ashes first.

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey starts with Elizabeth receiving very disturbing news that imply she is part of a conspiracy of traitors who helped German officers escape from the Allies on the continent (if you haven’t read the blurb yet, the book occurs during the first World War). She knows that traitors are convicted to death and that people associated to them will most likely be shunned by society, so in an attempt to save her own life and protect Darcy she goes into hiding.

When Darcy discovers Elizabeth is missing, he understands the reasons behind this and does everything in his power to find her and let her know that the news she heard are not true, that she is safe from the malicious rumors and they can be happy together, but Elizabeth outsmarts him and assumes a new identity as a VAD nurse. She becomes Miss Juliet Thomas, the assistant of Dr. Scott, who is sent to work at Hartfield facility.

In the meantime, Darcy is obliged to remain in the continent and is send to the front. Being unable to find Elizabeth, he is devoid of hope, and in an altruistic and heroic act gets seriously injured in battle. He is then sent back to England and transported to Hartfield which belongs to his family. In this new hospital he will be under Dr. Scott’s care and in close proximity to Elizabeth who will be crucial to assist him in his recovery.

It is at Hartfield, close to Donwell Abbey, that our characters will face their biggest trial in life. They will suffer, despair, lose all hope and regain it once more; they will laugh, cherish each other and grow as human beings, and in the end, they will have their happy ending.

This book is simultaneously powerful, intense and beautiful. It is very hard for me to cry with a book, but on Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey tears came to my eyes as feelings consumed and pulled me into the story and the characters reality. The path both Darcy and Elizabeth take in this book is a dark one, and the tone is completely different from Beauty From Ashes. In this book the characters are more mature and the relationship they establish is not a passionate love/hate one, it is based on understanding, friendship, respect and perseverance.

I particularly liked the fact that Darcy never gave up on Elizabeth, and that she yielded to her feelings in the end.

Darcy and Elizabeth are central characters in the book, but there are several cameo appearances of other known characters such as Col. Brandon and Marianne Dashwood. The ones I loved the most were John Thornton and Margaret Hale from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. If you don’t love John Thornton yet, you will once you see how crucial he will be on Darcy’s life. I hope the author writes a Great War Romance based on John and Margaret’s POV very, very shortly 🙂 The stories intertwine in perfections and I would dearly love to see this romance through their eyes and experiences having Darcy and Elizabeth as mere secondary characters.

Summing up, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is full of depth, intensity and historical romance. It is incredibly well written and the development of the characters fears and war trauma is beautifully accomplished. I highly recommend it not only to JAFF readers but anyone who wants a good historical romance.

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The Darcy’s Hope Saga is available for purchase on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Darcy’s Hope – Beauty from Ashes & Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey  

Amazon.co.uk –Darcy’s Hope – Beauty from Ashes & Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey 

To have a better idea of what this book is all about I would like to invite you read the blurb and the excerpt we brought you today 🙂

 

***Book Blurb***

  1. Amidst the chaos of WW1, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she disappears.

Still reeling from the loss, Darcy is struck by a battlefield tragedy that leaves him in a dark and silent world.

Sent to Donwell Abbey to recover, he’s coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth invite his admiration and entice his affections.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth. His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey in this enthralling stand-alone sequel* to Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes that includes appearances by John Thornton, Margaret Hale, Colonel Brandon, Marianne Dashwood, and descendants of George Knightley.

  • May be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, but readers may experience some minor confusions without the context of the mystery of Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes.
  • Has a happy ending for Lizzy and Darcy.
  • Romance is clean. Minor language and some recollections of graphic war scenes.

 

***Excerpt***

Elizabeth bolted from the chair. “Fitzwilliam, wake up!” She nudged his arm in the darkened room, but he continued writhing with great heaving breaths. “Captain!” She squeezed his hand, but he jerked it away, whimpering.

On impulse, she slid her arms under his shoulders and held him close. Instantly his thrashing ceased.

Gently rocking him, she massaged the unbandaged hair at his temple and whispered against his cheek, “It’s all right. Just a dream.”

He breathing slowed, but his body remained tense. “My ribs…hurt.”

She lowered him back to the pillow, then tapped on his hand, Try to relax. All right now?

“Mmm…. Water. And morphine.”

She squeezed his hand and poured water into the hospital cup. She touched the pill to his lips then offered the porcelain straw.

He swallowed. “Who are you?”

Elizabeth froze and closed her eyes. How she longed to tell him the truth, then brush a kiss on his lips, assure him of her love, and promise to stay by his side.

She took his hand and spelled, Miss Thomas.

“Thank you…Miss Thomas.”

Elizabeth sank into the wing chair and released a heavy breath. Could she bear to be so close and yet so far away from Fitzwilliam?

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*** Author Bio***

3-1-headshotWinner of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 “Picture This” grand prize, Ginger lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Author Contacts:

Website: GingerMonette.com

Author’s Facebook: is here

Goodreads: here

Amazon: here

***It’s Giveaway time***

Ginger Monette would like to offer to three lucky winners ( open to US residents only) a tin of Downton Abbey Tea! All you have to do is click on the  Rafflecopter link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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***Blog Tour***

Excited about this book? Follow the blog tour for more reviews, excerpts and information on Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey.

Feb 1  The Ardent Reader

Feb 2 From Pemberley to Milton

Feb 3 My Jane Austen Book Club

Feb 4  My Love for Jane Austen

Feb 5  vvb32reads

Feb 6  Just Jane 1813

Feb 7  Savvy Verse & Wit

Feb 8  Austenesque Reviews

Feb 9  My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice

Feb 10 Babblings of a Bookworm

Feb 11  Obsessed with Mr. Darcy

Feb 12  Musings from the Yellow Kitchen

Feb 13  Half Agony, Half Hope

Feb 14  My Vices and Weaknesses

Feb 15  Diary of an Eccentric

Feb 16  Every Savage Can Dance

Feb 17  More Agreeably Engaged

Feb 18  The Calico Critic

Feb 20  Austenesque Reviews

Feb 21  More than Thornton

Feb 22  Margie’s Must Reads

Feb 23  Delighted Reader

Feb 24  Becky’s Book Reviews

Feb 26  Linda Andrews

Feb 27  Every Woman Dreams

Feb 28  Tomorrow is Another Day

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Filed under 5 stars, JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice