I love regency and Victorian Romances, but I had never read a Georgian Romance before, so I was somewhat curious as to what my reaction to Her Country Gentleman would be, and in reality, this collection of Georgian short stories was just as good as any Regency or Victorian stories I’ve read before. I found it just as enticing and adorable!
The name of this book gives readers a good sense of what they will find. In this anthology, the protagonists of all three romances leave town to find love in the countryside. They are not all looking for love but love always seems to find them in the most charming manner,
Because all stories take place in the countryside, the book has a feeling of constancy, which is comforting to the reader, but the differences in the characters personalities along with the different dynamics we witness in each romance gives this book an exciting component that is crucial to captivate readers.
I enjoyed all stories present in Her Country Gentleman as the structure and writing styles, which were all very similar, were entrancing and captured my attention from the beginning until the end, so it is very difficult to choose a favourite.
Spring at Tribbley Hall by Sian Ann Bessey tells us the story of Charlotte and William, two wonderful characters with whom I would love to spend more time with. I loved their first encounter, the camaraderie they develop with one another and the small mystery of the story. Their initial misunderstanding, their private conversations and their friendship was absolutely lovely. This was the first story I read from this author, but I will certainly read more.
Love of My Heart by Sarah M. Eden tells us the story of Cordelia’s family who must retrench to Scotland. They reminded me a little of Anne Elliot’s family who is in poverty but still very arrogant towards others, so this was simultaneously a new story, but a familiar feeling. Cordelia on the other hand is a lovely young lady who is fascinated by Sebastian of the Home Farm, the perfect man for her. Unfortunately, her family doesn’t think he is suited for Cordelia, and the strength of their love will be tested. I loved her confidence in him, the strength of her love and his intelligence in dealing with difficult situations
Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire by Rebecca Connolly is a story about true love as it follows Martha, a young lady who still believes love is stronger than everything. Once more, this is a very sweet story where Lord Hillier proves his value by the strength of his beliefs. He didn’t give up on his love, and his pursuit of Martha was my favourite aspect of the book.
Overall, I had a great time reading this book and I am very happy I gave Georgian romances a chance. This anthology is both constant in the countryside theme and diverse when it comes to characters personalities and plots, and readers are bound to fall in love with a few of them. This book is all about low angst and sweetness, so if this is what you like in a romance, this book is for you 😊
Today I have the pleasure to welcome once more Riana Everly to From Pemberley to Milton to talk about Death of a Dandy, book 3 in theMiss Mary Investigates series. This book takes Miss Mary into the realms of Mansfield Park and I wonder the implications this will have, as well as where her relationship with Alexander stands!
Ms Everly didn’t mention that on her guest post, it would be a spoiler after all, but she did bring yet another very interesting post! I hope you all enjoy it, and don’t forget to comment to apply to the giveaway 🙂
Thank you for visiting Ms Everly, it is always a joy to have you here and to read your informative posts 🙂
Before I start, I would like to thank Rita for so kindly hosting me on my blog tour for my newest Miss Mary Investigates mystery, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. This is a terrific blog and I always enjoy connecting with everyone and reading what you have to say about my posts.
My latest book once again features Mary Bennet as the leading lady, as she develops her sleuthing skills in a baffling mystery at Mansfield Park. Fortunately, as before, she has investigator Alexander Lyons at her side, and together they just might get to the bottom of some rather baffling goings-on at the grand estate.
Alexander has been engaged to look for Tom Bertram, who has gone missing, and he and Mary are offered hospitality at Mansfield Park. But the Bertrams are entertaining guests and not even Tom’s disappearance can stop the gentlemen from setting out on the hunt they had planned. After the hunt, however, they make the grisly discovery of a dead body, and the mystery grows even more puzzling.
To set my scene, I needed to ensure I had the details correct, and I began researching different sorts of hunting expeditions a group of bored young gentlemen might undertake. A fox hunt was exactly what I needed, and it fit perfectly into the story.
Fox hunting might seem a cruel sport to many, but for a very long time it was vital to control the fox populations in the fields. Foxes could cause tremendous damage to farmers’ fields, destroy chicken coops, and damage other livestock. Ridding the fields of vermin was important. But fox hunting soon took on another role: that of sport, where a group of mounted men (and more recently, women) followed a pack of hounds in pursuit of their prey.
Fox hunting in England, also known as riding with the hounds, dates from at least the 15th century, with trained packs of dogs being used about 200 years later. In the late 18th century, Hugo Meynell developed a new breed of hounds with an improved sense of smell, which further developed the sport into what we think of today. People loved the hunt, or hated it, but it was always an event rife with excitement and emotion. Oscar Wilde decribed the hunt in these words in A Woman of No Importance: “The English country gentleman galloping after a fox—the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.”
As in my novel, where the Bertrams have planned to entertain their guests with such a hunt, fox hunting was very much a sport for the upper classes. For one thing, you had to own land, and lots of it. Hunting on another’s property was not permitted and poaching was punishable by deportation. Furthermore, the accoutrements of the hunt were expensive. Only the very well-to-do could afford the packs of trained hounds and the special hunting horses that were needed for the successful pursuit of the prey, whatever it might be.
And the hunt was quite an event. The meet would likely start with refreshments and libations, and it might be quite a social event. Eventually the huntmaster would lead the hounds off to search the covert, the area where the fox might be hiding. Once the dogs’ cried suggested they had found their mark, the master would sound the horn and with the cry of “Tally-ho,” the chase would begin, over stiles and hedges and across rivers and fields, until the fox was found and, traditionally, killed.
There was a standard uniform for the hunters as well, consisting of red hunting coats (known as “the pinks”) and breeches, the colour of which varied from hunt to hunt. The design of the coat differed according to the skill of the hunter, with varying fabrics and numbers of buttons upon the coat. Of course, this was just custom, and other colours could definitely be worn, a matter which is quite important in Death of a Dandy.
As you might imagine, fox hunting is not uncontroversial, and various animals rights groups have protested the hunt over the years. The hunt was officially outlawed in England in 2005, although it is still legal in other parts of the world, including Canada, the United States, Australia, and Northern Ireland. Almost all more recent hunts, however, are merely enjoyed for the thrill of the chase and the foxes are set free once the event is over.
The following morning the household arose early, far earlier, Mary suspected, than was its wont. Today was the hunt, which had been so anticipated, and which even the continued and mysterious absence of Tom Bertram could not postpone. Whilst the men would later ride for a time and then have breakfast in the fields near where a farmer had spotted a foxes’ den, they were gathered in the breakfast room when Mary descended from her chamber, taking their early morning coffee and sweet buns.
None of the other women was awake as of yet, or at least, none had decided to take tea outside of her chambers. But Yates and Henry Crawford were talking together on one side near the sideboard, and the trio of Rushworth, Maddox, and Oliver were gathered on the other by the windows. The room was abuzz with excitement.
Foxes… the hounds are ready… my horse… fine weather… The words darted about the space as a swarm of bees, brushing past Mary’s ears.
Alexander sat conferring with Edmund at the far end of the table, and Mary went to join them.
“We still have no word of Tom,” Edmund replied to her query and rubbed the bridge of his aristocratic nose. “There is still no word from the toll booth, nor any from my acquaintances in Northampton.”
“And the hunt?” Mary asked.
“Will proceed. These fellows would have nothing else. Miss Crawford is correct, I suppose, in that occupation is preferable to idling about the house staring at each other, but it seems wrong.”
“Have you decided whether to join them?” Alexander asked the question Mary had been thinking.
“I imagine I rather must. Without Tom here, it would be improper to send them off across our land without a host.” Now that Mary looked, she saw that Edmund, like the other men, was dressed in suitable attire for the event.
“My hounds have come by cart, and we shall ride with them. And then, perhaps, later this week we can shoot pheasant.” Mr. Rushworth’s voice came from across the room. “Do I have your permission, Bertram?” he called to Edmund. “I should so like to shoot some pheasant. You may hunt my birds next month if you wish; we can arrange a visit to Sotherton once our play-acting is over, and then you may shoot my birds, or stalk some deer.”
Edmund nodded his agreement. “A gracious offer; we shall organise matters after we return, once we have our foxes.”
“Excellent! I am right pleased. I wish to shoot pheasant. But today we shall ride after fox, and I am most pleased. I have not yet ridden out in my new hunting coat, and look forward to it. See how the buttons shine.” He preened and puffed out his chest. The buttons, all brass rather than usual cloth-covered items, did indeed gleam in the morning light. How long had his valet spent polishing them? And all for a day out in the thickets, to return covered in dust and sweat and mud
[Mary] was sitting at her sunny window seat, recording her thoughts and obligations, when a great noise filtered through the windows from the grounds below. She peered down to see the men returning, and seemingly not in good spirits. Shouts and calls and cries for help all filtered through the glass, and she rushed downstairs to find out whatever was the matter.
Alexander was there at the bottom of the stairs, his coat still dusty from the road, his forehead damp with perspiration under his mop of copper hair; he must have only now returned from his mission. Together, they hurried to the door where the hunters were crashing into the house.
“Baddeley! Mrs. Parker!” It was Edmund’s voice, but it held a frantic note Mary could not have imagined. “A cart, and ale, and the doctor. Somebody summon the doctor! There has been a terrible accident. He is dead!”
The worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park meet when Mary Bennet lands in the middle of her third adventure with handsome investigator Alexander Lyons.
The two friends are travelling back to Mary’s home after a visit to the Darcy family at Pemberley when their journey is interrupted by the news that Tom Bertram, the heir to Mansfield Park, has disappeared. Alexander is asked to take the case, and he and Mary find themselves as guests at the estate. The house is abuzz with activity as plans go ahead for a fox hunt and the performance of a play, and Mary sees intrigue in every interaction between the beautiful residents of Mansfield Park and their sophisticated guests.
When the hunt ends in tragedy with the discovery of a body, Alexander’s involvement grows even deeper, but every clue leads to even more questions. The more Alexander digs, the more it seems this death might involve people much higher up than he can reach. And the biggest question of all is who, exactly, was the intended victim of what is surely murder most foul?
Mary and Alexander find themselves hard at work to unravel a web of secrets and dark goings-on that enshroud the elegant estate of Mansfield Park. But Alexander is hiding a secret of his own, one which he knows will forever doom any possible future for him and Mary.
Will they solve the mystery before somebody else dies? And will any hearts remain unbroken if they succeed?
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.
You can contact her throught the following links, she loves meeting readers:
I am delighted to be giving away five eBooks internationally of Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. I have set up a Rafflecopter draw, but for anybody who cannot use the link, please email me your name and preferred email address and I will add you manually to the list for the draw. My email is email@example.com
How are you this weekend? If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you’ve probably noticed that I have been publishing only once a week instead of twice, and that is because I finally went on a much-expected USA Road Trip!!! After all the confinements and closed borders, I was able to travel across the Atlantic and visit some incredible places in a country I absolutely adore, and that of course took away all the free time I usually have for reading and blogging.
While I was there, I was able to spend a few days with Meredith Ezparza from Austenesque Reviews, and that was certainly the highlight of my trip! It was the first time I met Meredith and I really hope it was not the last time we spent some time together 😊 We’ve also had dinner with Elizabeth Adams and Victoria Kincaid, two authors I’ve come to love over the years, and all the conversations we had during those days reminded me of a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a long, long time. So, I thought this might be as good a time as any, and today I am finally publishing the ”3 Things I Like & I Dislike in JAFF”.
Of course there are a lot of things I like about JAFF, or I wouldn’t read and review this genre almost exclusively over the last years, but there are also a few things I dislike about it, especially after so many years of reading the genre. What about you? Is there anything you dislike in the genre? I would love to hear everybody’s opinion on this, so I am looking forward to reading your comments 😊 But, let’s start with what I like in JAFF Books!
Darcy & Elizabeth
I believe this may be a point I share with many, many readers of the genre, but having Darcy & Elizabeth interacting with one another over and over again is definitely my favorite aspect about JAFF. I started reading this genre because I felt the need to spend more time with these characters, to continue their journey, to see them in different settings and situations. These are some of the best characters ever written in literature, they are perfect in their imperfections and most assuredly part of why JAFF is so successful. I simply cannot get enough of them, and JAFF books not only allow me to be with these characters more often, but also to be surprised by them 😊
The Endless Possibilities
When I explain people what JAFF is, they always ask me if I don’t get tired of reading the same story over and over again, and that is precisely the point, I’m not reading the same story over and over again, I’m reading different stories every single time! The possibilities in JAFF are endless! The smallest detail may change the entire storyline, and that is if we think of regency variations only, but we know that we also have other sub genres such as secondary characters or modernizations. The beauty of Jane Austen’s stories is that they have this huge flexibility that many other books do not have (North & South for example is not as easy to change), and that allows authors to go anywhere with the story and the characters. The endless possibilities we have with JAFF is probably what I love the most in the genre.
Darcy & Elizabeth have a beautiful love story, but JAFF authors are able to take it to the next level and give their relationship and their feelings an intensity that is breath taking! There is nothing like reading a book that makes your heart stop and that you cannot put down because letting go is just like letting go a part of yourself. Jane Austen created a beautiful story, but JAFF has created hundreds of books where that story is more intense, more captivating and more overwhelming for readers. Connecting at an emotional level is an important key to reader engagement, and JAFF excels at that 🙂
But just like everything in life, JAFF isn’t perfect, and there are a few things I dislike too! Of course, there are many things I dislike in books in general, such as poor writing style, namely a the telling instead of showing readers what is happening and/or what the character is going through, etc. But even if I am finding this more frequently in JAFF books, it is not exactly a specificity of the genre, so let’s see what I dislike in JAFF that appears to be more common in the genre:
Unless a story is a different POV or set in a different time, I see no point in using the same scenes and/or the same drivers Jane Austen used. If the author is changing a detail in the story that would change the events, then he should really change the events and not just change a few events and repeat the majority of the others.
Readers do not need to read the same dialogues that exist in Pride & Prejudice only with minor changes, just like they don’t need to read the same events that make the story move forward. We do not need to have Lady Catherine visiting Elizabeth to tell her not to marry Darcy in every single book, or to have Lydia running off with Wickham, it would be more interesting to have these scenes replaced with new original ones. Unfortunately, I’ve read many books that change one detail in the story, but then continuously repeat the other events in P&P, and that is certainly something I dislike. Authors should remember that most JAFF readers read many books with these scenes, and therefore, reading them over and over again is a little boring.
This is not exactly a specificity of the genre, but something I see happening more and more these days and that really puts me off when reading a book. Well-written dialogues are a crucial element that helps introduce the characters, their chain of thoughts, and build up their personality, but characters should not be providing each other information they already know, nor make long confessional speeches or engage in too much chit-chat. Fiction isn’t real but it should sound real, and I am not imagining Mr. Darcy having long conversations about his feelings with Georgiana or even the Colonel, or Elizabeth analyzing every single word that was discussed in a conversation with Mr. Darcy.
The same thing is valid for scenes, they should exist only if they further the plot, if they have no relevance at all, then they could simply be cut off. We don’t need to read about Georgiana’s talents and watch her play the piano if it is not relevant to the story, nor should we see Elizabeth confiding in Jane every night when her feelings are already known to the reader. And, we don’t need to be in Elizabeth or Darcy’s head as they question themselves when they fell in love. And do we really need to witness the antics at Longbourn over and over again if that doesn’t add anything to the plot?
I’m starting to appreciate more and more books that stick to what is essential, and dislike more and more books that are filled with flourishings that add little value to the plot or the characters.
A cliché is anything which makes us feel we’ve read something before, and I understand that in JAFF this is one of the biggest challenges, in fact, avoiding clichés is in my opinion what makes JAFF writers so good! Some people think that writing fan fiction is very easy because the characters already exist, but in fact, it is quite the opposite. Writing fan fiction is much harder than writing an original novel, unfortunately sometimes we still see many clichés in the genre, namely with the characters personalities and appearances. I’m not saying authors should change these, but maybe they could stop giving them so much relevance. I mean, most of JAFF readers already have their own idea of how the main characters are, there is no need to keep repeating how tall and handsome Mr. Darcy is, how Elizabeth’s eyes are full of life, and how very shy Georgiana is. It is particularly worse when these cliches are linked to bland characters. Do we really believe Mr. Darcy would fall in love with Elizabeth on first sight just because she has fiery eyes? Does Elizabeth need to walk out in the mud in every book? And what about Elizabeth climbing trees as a little girl, is that really that relevant to the story? Or just a little annoying because it has become a cliché?
When I was in Washington D.C I had the opportunity to meet for the first time Victoria Kincaid and asked her to sign a copy of President Darcy to offer to one of my readers at From Pemberley to Milton. After all, we were very close to the White House so it seemed fitting to have this book with us there. Have you read President Darcy? It is Victoria’s only modernization and I must say I loved it! President Dary was dreamy 😊
If you want to know more about it, you can read my review here. And if you’d like to win this signed copy of the book, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post. Let us know what you think of the premise of this book, and please, feel free to tell us what you like and dislike in JAFF. I would love to hear more opinions on that topic too.
As posting has become a little too difficult to countries outside of the EU, I can only send the signed paperback to EU residents (it’s still possible for UK residents too), so I’ll be also offering an ebook copy of President Darcy to international readers.
The giveaway of both paperback and ebook is open until the 1rst of April and to apply you only need to comment this post.
In Darcy’s Deception, Elizabeth Bennet is involved in a carriage accident that results in a short memory loss the morning after refusing Mr. Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford. When Mr. Darcy visits her to learn how she is, and upon learning she has no recollection of the events from the previous day, he tells her that he proposed, but before he can explain she refused him, Mr. Collins, who happens to hear this admission, starts making a huge fuss out of it and spreads out the word that the couple is engaged, leaving Mr. Darcy no opportunity to rectify his error. News of the supposed engagement soon arrive at Lady Catherine’s doorstep and Elizabeth has to depart Kent to London.
Elizabeth doesn’t understand why she accepted Mr. Darcy’s proposal, but thinking she did, allows her to spend some time with Mr. Darcy without having a prejudiced view of the gentlemen, so the couple slowly starts a sweet courtship in London that progresses at a later stage in Hertfordshire.
The beginning of this story is angst free as we see the couple getting to know one another and even falling in love, but in my opinion it lacked a proper conflict that would allow the story to progress. Elizabeth easily accepts to marry Mr. Darcy but Mr. Bennet opposes the match even after Elizabeth herself tells him she wants to marry Mr. Darcy. There was no reason for his refusal, and it appears that the only reason for his motives is to generate a conflict in the story. His refusal is as inexplicable as is his sudden change of mind in the end of the book and as one of the quibbles I had with this novel.
Another quibble I had with Darcy’s Deception is also related with the lack of real conflict and the need to have characters behave irrationally just so the conclusion isn’t immediate. In this story the main problem preventing the couple from having a happy ending is Darcy’s repetitive way of handling matters, namely, leaving Elizabeth in one part of the country while travelling to another place to solve an issue without giving her any information of why he is leaving, without making any assurances as to his commitment to her, etc. This seemed unnecessary and it didn’t make any sense for him to create this additional angst. The lack of dialogue between these two characters in all situations that kept occurring throughout the book was something I did not appreciate and that didn’t seem reasonable.
I did enjoy the first part of the book which was captivating, but the lack of a real driver pushing the story forward made me loose interest at a point.
Nevertheless, there were a few details I did enjoy in this book apart from the initial chapters, namely Lydia’s learning path and change, which was an interesting detail, and I do believe some readers who are looking for a soft romance may enjoy this story more than I did.
Jane Bennet’s Level
This was the first audiobook I heard narrated by Alyssa Rogge who has a very pleasant voice to hear, however, the female voices where too sweet or childish at times, and it often appeared the narrator gave a different interpretation than I would to people’s way of speaking. Sometimes, I would think a sentence would have been said in a rash manner and it was too sweet, so even though the voice and pace of narration was very pleaseant, it wasn’t perfect in my opinion.
Longbourn tells us the story of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of the Longbourn staff and, because they aren’t always present in the events that take place in Austen’s book, the narrative ends up following the lives of these secondary characters as they navigate through P&P’s events, which makes the story very different. I particularly liked this difference and was very interested in knowing how the lives of Sarah, Polly, Mrs. Hill and James would progress.
The initial chapters are told from the point of view of a housemaid called Sarah who was a character I enjoyed getting to know. I felt compelled to read these initial chapters not only because I did like Sarah and her attitude towards her life, but also because I found it very interesting to know what the life of a housemaid would be like. Instead of balls and dances, the reader is faced with the hardship of daily chores that need to be completed so the ladies of the house may go to the glamorous balls. I loved how real and forthright the descriptions of these chores were, and I admire the author for giving this story a darker tone that was inevitable considering the POV. This darker side of the book was probably what I enjoyed the most because it is impossible to embellish the lives of the hands in the 1800’s, and the author didn’t attempt to do it, she kept the book real as it should be.
I also enjoyed the back story of Mrs. Hill and would have loved to read more about her younger years. Her character and her story are simultaneously sad and powerful and were my second favourite aspect of the book. On the other hand, I truly disliked Mr. Bennet’s character who was unnecessarily cold and distant, and even if I did like James, and was interested in some of the mystery his character brought to the story, when the book moves along to explain his journey, I lost some of the interest. I believe the story would gain if it followed only one narrative instead of jumping into another POV set in a different country and timing.
I was also very disappointed with the progression of Sarah’s character. If in the beginning I was inspired with her attitude, in the middle of the story I wasd I believe readers who usually read JAFF books will not appreciate it as much. Nevertheless, Longbourn is a courageous story that demonstrates not all were balls and bonnets in regency times and should be praised for that.
Jane Bennet’s Level
Emma Fielding’s narration was pleasant to hear, and I believe she was able to give the book the tone the author intended to give, however, nothing in particular stood out in her narration. I listened to some chapters of the book and read others but didn’t feel any difference when picking up the paperback, so I do recommend the audio version of the book.
Hypothetically Married is a sweet, angst free and engrossing Pride & Prejudice variation where the authors explore the idea of having Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet dead before the story begins. With this change, and because Mr. Collins dies before Mr. Bennet, the Bennet sisters become heiresses of the Longbourn estate, but they are deprived of their parents and for that reason dependent on their uncle’s guidance.
The story was tremendously altered in an inventive manner, but without having farfetched plotlines. The simple innovation presented in this book was refreshing, it is still a regency story the readers are comfortable with, but it does make us wonder how the change will impact the outcome of the book. Besides, this change gave us the opportunity not only to meet new interesting characters, but also to learn more about some secondary characters that are not usually very relevant in Pride & Prejudice variations, such as Mr. Phillips and Kitty.
This is not the first book I’ve read where the Bennet sisters are orphans, but it is the first time I see them under the charge of Uncle Phillips and not Uncle Gardiner. In fact, the first chapter of this book is told from Mr. Phillips perspective which is something I had never seen before and I must praise Renata McMann and Summer Hanford not only for giving the spotlight to this character, but also for making him so likeable! Mr. Phillips was definitely an interesting character and as I was reading this book I couldn’t help to feel that this is what a Jane Austen variation should be like! His character intrigued me through the entire story, he is kind, wise and pivotal for the happiness of his nieces. I loved the wise teachings he gave to them, the choices he made concerning Lydia, and the influence he appeared to have over Lady Catherine. The relationship between these two characters was a mystery until the end, and I always thought it could go both ways 😊
Mr. Phillips was one of the selling points in this book for me, but definitely not the only one. The book also starts with Lydia’s marriage, so it takes care of the Lydia/Wickham problem right in the beginning, which is always a plus in my perspective. To be honest, I was relieved to see I wouldn’t have to go through the elopement story once more. But I was also pleasantly surprised to see this couple still had a role in the story, especially as it was not only a surprising, but also a redeeming one.
I also liked the openness with which Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy talked to one another and how that openness was disguised with all the hypothetical scenarios they were discussing. Instead of having ridiculous misunderstandings, these characters talk to one another and learn the facts from one another. I find that interesting because they are both intelligent characters and I would expect them to have that ability in all stories. In this book the reader will witness many different romances forming between the many different couples we see walking in the park, or talking in the parlor, but the stage is taken by Elizabeth and Darcy who develop a sweet friendship that grows into an ardent love. I loved their dialogues, their mutual effort at matchmaking and how their relationship developed.
Summing up, there simply wasn’t anything I disliked in this story, every single detail was lovely and I highly recommend it to readers who like angst free romances between Elizabeth and Darcy.
Kitty Bennet’s Level
I started listening to the audiobook of Hypothetically Married but I honestly couldn’t get over the narration of the male voices, especially Darcy’s as he sounded very aggressive, dry and too arrogant, even when the character was being courteous. Unfortunately, this affected the pleasure I was retrieving from the story so much that I had to stop listening to the audiobook, and pick up the story in paperback. I am, however, glad I did read the story because the book is really good and definitely deserves being read. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to any other audiobook narrated by Catherine Bilson, and I am afraid this first experience wasn’t very good, so I would recommend for this particular book either the eBook or paperback versions.
Today I am pleased to welcome at From Pemberley to Milton Don Jacobson who brought the perfect guest post to my blog! He has just released The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy, the last book in The Bennet Wardrobe Series, and he choose to bring to this blog a post about covers which is one of my favorite literary topics! I admit I do judge books by their covers, and Don’s covers are just stunning! I loved reading his post and discovering some of the small details that Janet Taylor decided to integrate in them. I am a huge fan of her work precisely because she always finds a way to find small details of the book’s stories into their covers, plus she an an excellent taste! But I’ll let you learn more about the covers in the Bennet Wardrobe Series with Don’s post.
Thank you so much for visiting and writting this great post Don! And thank you Janet for an opportunity to be a part of this tour! I’ve loved the first books in this series, and I really do need to catch up with the lateest ones 🙂
A great disappointment of the expansion of the e-book world is the diminished importance of the cover. Go to your favorite e-book source and you will see a postage stamp of the book’s cover. Sure, if you tap it, it will be increased in size: but in glory?
For more than six years I have had the privilege of working with the remarkable Janet Taylor as we have developed the wrappers for my Austenesque stories. Our collaboration includes the covers for eleven distinct books. However, while many #Austenesque readers are avid e-book consumers, many still prefer the feel of a traditional codex-style book. Since the e-book cover is but a part of the entire package, Janet’s design starts as a full-size print-version to enhance a reader’s engagement with the book.
Please consider the image of the full cover spread prepared for the eighth and final book of the Wardrobe series—The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy. It is full of iconography to offer some expectation of what can be found within.
A painting by Claude Monet graces the cover of The Grail. It is a canvas—one of my favorites—of Madame Monet atop a hill looking out on an unseen vista. This painting captured me over eighteen months ago as the book began to take shape. Madame Monet is veiled and so her features are slightly obscured. That is the mystery all of us experience as we generally only “know” Elizabeth as a young woman. This volume begins with her as a lady in her forties. The world in which she stands is suffused with light and color. This resonates with the book itself. The senses of each character are fully engaged, most notably that of sight. Whether Darcy, Elizabeth, Lydia, or Richard, everyone moves through a world that is rich and real.
The subtext of the cover painting is further enhanced by the rose garland stretching across the bottom margin. The rose motif has played a role in every cover beginning with the white roses that graced Volume One (Mary’s book). The language of the roses in the Wardrobe is a close parallel to the language of flowers we see throughout Austenesque literature. Here Lizzy’s Own Red Bourbons embrace us to remind us that this is the story to which the entire Wardrobe series has been leading.
The roses also appear in the wreath around the volume number on the spine. This tidge of imagery informs us that this is the fullness of Elizabeth Darcy’s life, although its top remains open given that we do not read of her ultimate departure. Consider the rose wreath on the spine of Lydia’s book. It is complete.
The back cover is what differentiates the Wardrobe books from others. This is no wrap-around of a horizontal painting. Every back cover in the Wardrobe series is a unique piece of composite artwork. There are only two common elements that appear on each of the volumes: the Wardrobe’s marquetry doors and the clock face. Otherwise, Janet finds/creates images that deeply dive into the heart of the book. Thus, a consideration of several core elements is important.
The idea of Home: Each character is searching for Home—that space where our love can grow. Starting on the upper left, we see two photos taken by Janet herself: one of Luckington Court in Wiltshire—Longbourn—and the other of Lyme Park—Pemberley. Both stood as Home for Elizabeth, the latter for Darcy.
The resolution of the Old One’s Design: As we rotate toward the lower right of the cover, we encounter the Japanese pagoda that stands for the idea of perfection found in pure simplicity of the tea ceremony. Zen precepts flow gently through the Wardrobe, particularly the ideas of kintsugi and the shaping of oneself for function not identity. The final element in this section of the cover is the Japanese stone lantern which floats through the final chapters.
Finally, on the lower left we find, for the first time, a visualization of the Guides. They have never before appeared before readers’ eyes, existing only within their imagination. These potent beings have stood behind and before each of the Bennets moving them through their lives. The colors are analogs of the best identifier of their earliest forms: Yellow for Lady Anne Darcy, blue of George Wickham, Brown for George Darcy (there I have tipped who Darcy’s Guides are).
The story of the covers is the story of the Wardrobe volumes. I am not suggesting that you will comprehend the entirety of the book before you by only considering its cover. However, with the Wardrobe books, I do hope that you may be able to—in part—judge the book by…
“You must throw away notions of what you want.
Only then will you be free to accept what you need.”
—The Brown Guide to Fitzwilliam Darcy, 1840
Long has the amazing Bennet Wardrobe involved itself in the affairs of Longbourn. Where before its actions have been cloaked in mystery, its purpose now becomes clear. The fey cabinet has molded the universes to strike a balance that can be achieved only by saving the greatest love story ever told.
Follow the paths taken by Pemberley’s master and mistress after their children are grown. See Elizabeth Darcy struggle to rekindle the love glow that has dimmed after a quarter century. Grasp the unaccountable pain her departure levels upon the entire Derbyshire family. Watch Fitzwilliam Darcy learn that which he must in order to become the best version of himself: worthy of his Elizabeth.
The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy closes out the Bennet Wardrobe series. The disparate threads spun by the remarkable women born to a Hertfordshire couple of insignificant fortune are woven together. These lives have become the tapestry that records the destiny of Jane Austen’s lovers, immortal in any here/now or where/when.Meryton Press is giving away 6 eBooks of The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy.
Here is what Lory Lilian, one of the leading authors of Austenesque fiction, has to say about the Wardrobe story arc.
As an author myself, I admit I would never be capable to craft such a complex, enchanting, and exciting story, not to mention an entire series! Congratulations to Don for a masterful work! I highly recommend The Bennet Wardrobe series to all readers, not only those who love Pride and Prejudice, but anyone who enjoys time travel, mystery, originality, and history.
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years, from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all nonfiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series,The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Since then, Meryton Press has re-edited and republished Keeper and the subsequent six volumes in the series. The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy is the eighth and concluding volume. Other Meryton Press books by Jacobson include Lessersand Betters, In Plain Sight, and The Longbourn Quarantine. All his works are also available as audiobooks (Audible).
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in history with a specialty in American foreign relations. As a college instructor, he taught United States history, world history, the history of western civilization, and research writing. He is currently in his third career as an author and is a member of JASNA and the Regency Fiction Writers.
Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the Austenesque world, Jacobson also enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine, and well-aged scotch whiskey.
His other passion is cycling. Most days will find him “putting in the miles.” He has ridden several “centuries” (hundred-mile days). He is especially proud of having completed the AIDS Ride–Midwest (five hundred miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-a-Wish Miracle Ride (three hundred miles from Traverse City to Brooklyn, both in Michigan).
When not traveling, Jacobson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and co-author, Pam—a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize.
Miss Bennet’s Dragon is not so much a variation, but more of a Pride & Prejudice retelling with a flavor of dragon fantasy to it.
The book follows all the P&P events, but adds to them some mystery involving draca, a type of dragon that is bound to humans on their wedding night. The Draca and their binding is not explained to the reader in the beginning of the book, instead we are invited to discover the details pertaining this different world alongside Elizabeth, who is also trying to understand the mysteries behind the draca and her family. While this slow discovery was interesting and gave the book a mystery I appreciated, sometimes it was hard to follow what was happening because we didn’t know exactly what draca were, their motivations, how exactly they binded and what that meant. Even at the end of the book, I still felt some details were left unexplained, and for that reason I felt it difficult to travel into this draca world.
Even though the author followed P&P’s events in Miss Bennet’s Dragon, there were a few interesting twists in the secondary characters storylines, and that was one of the aspects I enjoyed the most in the book. I loved Lydia’s story and the approach the author had towards her. For once Lydia assumes a relevance that is not only associated with eloping with Mr. Whickham and I truly loved that, but above all, I loved Mary’s character. Not only had she a strong personality with passionate convictions, but she was also able to communicate and express what she was feeling, which is something we usually do not see happening with Mary Bennet. I also enjoyed the growing relationship she established with Elizabeth and later on with Georgiana, and wouldn’t mind reading a sequel with a more relevant role for Mary in it.
Because the plot follows cannon, the story is a little longer than it need to be in my opinion. I believe some scenes had little relevance to the entire draca storyline, namely the Colonel’s conversation with Elizabeth at Rosings or the anti-slavery discussions, and I would have preferred a faster paced story in detriment of scenes the reader is already well acquainted with, or those which were new but were irrelevant to the characters development or main storyline.
The pace of the book picked up after Elizabeth visits Pemberley and my interested rose at that time when the different Draca characteristics are explain, and when we finally start understanding what is happening with Elizabeth and her connection with the Darcy’s. At this point the story diverges from P&P and it was the most exiting part of the book in my opinion, with new characters and unexpected events occurring at every page.
The ending was fast paced and surprising, but also a little sudden and with some points left unanswered, but this was certainly a satisfying story and well written. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook of Miss Bennet’s Dragon and I recommend it to readers who like a touch of fantasy in Pride and Prejudice.
Elizabeth Bennet’s Level
Miss Bennet’s Dragon was the first audiobook I heard narrated by Helen Taylor and I realy liked her style. She has a very agreable voice which becomes addictive with time. I loved both her interpretation of english characters and foreigners. She nailed it with the accents she gave to scotish and french characters and I believe she did a great job narrating this book. I would certainly recommend her as narrator.