Category Archives: giveaway

Milton’s Magistrate Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

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

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

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

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

Chapter One

 

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

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

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

“Drat!”

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

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

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

“Dixon? Whatever are you looking at?”

The maid didn’t respond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well good day, Miss Hale!”

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

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

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

“Your father?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are her maid?” he asked.

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

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

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

“Your godfather?”

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

“How did you get here, Miss…?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And which mill is that again?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Certainly.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Miss Hale?” Snipes asked.

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

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

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

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

Dixon came to answer, cracking open the door.

“It’s me,” Margaret told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He sat as soon as she did.

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

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

“Did you touch the body?”

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

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

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

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

Margaret nodded. “Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two men wordlessly shook hands.

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

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

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

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

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

“Do we know the man, Margaret?”

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

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

“Why, the front of course.”

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

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

“Do you own a knife, Mr. Hale?”

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

Snipes nodded curtly.

“Stabbed?”

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

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

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

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

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

“And where was this visit?” Snipes asked.

“It was at Marlborough Mills.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is to happen next?” Margaret asked.

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

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

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

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


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

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

So far she has published the following romances:

North & South Variations and Regency:

1910-20’s & Contemporary Romances:

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

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

Good luck everyone!


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A Most Handsome Gentleman Review & Giveaway

After the angsty variation Letter From Ramsgate, Suzan Lauder decided to venture into comedy and developed an unthinkable premise based on Mr. Collins character. She didn’t go so far as to make him witty and interesting, but she made him A Most Handsome Gentleman, or as everyone keeps saying in the social media #HOT Collins.

The changes in his appearance, along with his own foolish character, were sufficient to change the behaviour of many P&P characters towards him, which created the funniest dialogues and situations you can think of. Can you imagine the impact of a good-looking man coming to Longbourn in search of a wife?

I confess I was impressed with Mr. Collins because I can imagine some situations that would render Mrs. Bennet speechless but none that would have the same effect on Lydia, and that my friends, was Mr. Collins greatest achievement in this book! Well…maybe not the greatest. His impact on Lady Catherine’s behaviour was both unexpected and hilarious, so the first place in the podium may go to that feat.

Both scenes made me laugh really hard, but they were not the only ones. The verbal discussions between Mr. Collins and Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins comments on Elizabeth’s skinny appearance, his attraction to Charlotte and the scenes Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth see on the fields behind Longbourn are amongst my favourite moments in this book, but it’s hard to highlight only some scenes because the entire book is incredibly funny. I could not put it down!

I also enjoyed the fact that despite all the craziness that involved Mr. Collins’ presence in Meryton, Elizabeth remained true to herself and was not easily taken by her cousin’s good looks. He may be good-looking, but he’s still a fool, and if I may say, an even more annoying one, so I was really glad that to see that Suzan Lauder didn’t include Elizabeth in the group of ladies who would faint at the sight of Mr. Collins.

I had a great time reading A Most Handsome Gentleman and could not recommend it enough for those who want to relax and enjoy a good comedy. It is a highly entertaining book that will make readers laugh out loud from the first page until the last.

Suzan Lauder took a risk by venturing into this new subgenre but she nailed it! Congratulations!

 

You can find A Most Handsome Gentleman at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet, a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.

She and Mr. Suze split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a 150-year-old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead www.suzan.lauder.merytonpress.com, on her Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/SuzanLauder, and on Twitter @suzanlauder.


Contact Info:

Website

Goodreads Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page    

Pinterest

 

 

10/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway

10/21   My Love for Jane Austen; Guest Post, Giveaway

10/22   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review

10/23   Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway

10/24   Tomorrow is Another Day; Review

10/25   Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Giveaway

10/26   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway

10/27   Just Jane 1813; Guest Post, Giveaway

10/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

10/29   My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway

10/30   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt

10/31   Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Giveaway

11/01   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway

11/02   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

11/03   Margie’s Must Reads; Review, GA

 

 

Suzan is offering 8 ebook copies of A Most Handsome Gentleman on this blog tour.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

To enter the giveaway click here.

Good Luck everyone!

 

45 Comments

Filed under 4.5 stars, giveaway, JAFF, Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

These Dreams – Guest Post & Giveaway

 

These Dreams is a very special book to me for a million different reasons, some of them you’ll understand when reading this last post of the blog tour, and it is to me a great honor and joy to be closing the tour of such an incredible book from a kind, talented and genuinely good person as Nicole Clarkston.

On this last post you’ll read about the Portuguese connection in These Dreams, and I would love to read your opinion about it. Did you like the Portuguese scenes, or was it too hard to bear? Did you start hating the Portuguese characters when you saw what they were doing to Darcy? Or did Amália got to your hearts immediately ? What about her love story, what do you make of that?

I know I’m filling you with questions, but I would really love to hear everybody’s opinion about the Portuguese connection and characters, especially after you read this post. I hope you enjoy it!!!

 

 

 

Nicole: Part of the inspiration for These Dreams came about a year and a half ago, during a chat with Rita about Colonel Fitzwilliam. She said she always wished she could see him fall in love with a Portuguese girl, but no one (that she knew of) had played with that idea. As I was not familiar with Portuguese history, she began telling me of the complicated relationship between the English and the Portuguese during this time.

 

Rita: Portugal was Britain’s oldest ally in Europe and in the beginning of the 19th century, Britain was finding new opportunities for trade with Portugal’s colony in Brazil and the Royal Navy used Lisbon’s port in its operations against France. This was obviously a great problem for Napoleon, as he wanted to deny the use of the Portuguese fleet to the British, so on July 19, 1807 he ordered Portugal to declare war on Britain, close its ports to British ships, detain British subjects on a provisional basis, and sequester their goods. Prince John of Braganza, regent for his insane mother Queen Maria I, declined to join the emperor’s Continental System against British trade, and that was the starting point of the Peninsula War— a military conflict for control of the Iberian Peninsula between Napoleon’s empire and the allied powers of Spain, Britain and Portugal that took place between 1807 and 1814.

Portugal was able to defeat the French with the assistance of the British troops. In fact, the Portuguese army was reorganised and refitted under the command of Gen. William Carr Beresford, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese royal family. Beresford fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellesley.

However, the connections between Portugal and Britain do not end there. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability, and economic stagnation that was in part created by the political and economic agreements Portugal made with Britain. The war with the French was over, but a new war over political and economical power was starting in Portugal, and the former ally was now Portugal’s greatest enemy.

 

Nicole: Our villain was an important character, and his development was integral to the plot. Some of what Rita told me about Portugal’s history and economy gave me some ideas and places to start digging for motives. I wanted to create a man with real and perhaps even admirable ambitions. He wanted to help his country and he wanted to set right what he perceived as an injustice, but his conscience was so twisted that to him, the ends justified the means. (Just to balance him out, there was a British character with even less conscience.) What Vasconcelos wanted was “good,” and he would stop at nothing to achieve it.

 

Rita: The aftermath of The Peninsula War signified Portugal’s traumatic entry into the modern age and the rise of several nationalist movements that wanted to defend the country against the British military intervention in our politics, and fight the economical impositions that were beneficial to Britain but detrimental to the Portuguese economy. When Nicole started talking about a Portuguese villain I thought that this scenario would be perfect for the rise of man such as Vasconcelos whose patriotism would go too far due to everything he was witnessing in his country. I can even relate to him as I am very patriotic myself and the British imposition was truly devastating to Portugal. Who would not want to defend his own country from a foreign power?

The nationalists started to have a voice during the Peninsula Wars and were involved in the liberal wars that started in 1820, which opposed the absolutists to the liberals. I like to think that Vasconcelos was a crucial player in these wars and that his fervent nationalism placed him in an important position amongst the absolutists who supported D. Miguel.

 

Nicole: After Rita gave me some interesting points in the history, a plot was starting to develop in my mind. I had already decided that Darcy and Elizabeth would face a heartbreaking separation, and Portugal seemed like a great place to send him. The next challenge would be to craft more believable Portuguese characters. I started with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s love interest, and even her name was carefully chosen.

 

Rita: I suggested a couple of names that could have been used on the 19th century and amongst them were my mother’s name, Amélia, and a very similar name which was the name of the most known portuguese Fado singer and national icon, Amália Rodrigues. Nicole wasn’t too fond of Amélia, but she loved Amália and from the moment she chose that name I created a vivid image of the character in my mind that was precisely the one I saw described in These Dreams.

Below you can see both Amália Rodrigues and Maria Amália Vasconcelos, or the representation of the character that Nicole chose…which reminds me we didn’t even talk to you about how she chose the lady that would portray Amália! I guess we will have to leave that to another time, but I also had a tremendous fun looking at paintings and telling Nicole which ladies could have been Portuguese and which were clearly British… She ended up choosing this beautiful lady and I think she is the perfect Amália!! There is a fierceness in her eyes that I find enchanting! And she is a bit similar to Amália Rodrigues too, isn’t she?

Speaking of Amália Rodrigues, as I mentioned before, she is a national icon due to the influence she had in our musical culture. She dramatically changed Fado by bringing lyrics from famous portuguese poets into the musical genre, creating her own emotional lyrics and working along with talented musicians, such as Alain Oulman, who modernised the national musical genre. Me and Nicole would like to share with you one of her musics, it’s not her best for sure, but it is called Fado Amália, and speaks of who she was and what she was doing in this world. I hope you like it 🙂

 

Nicole: We agreed that Amália should be strong, ladylike, a dutiful daughter, and enough of a spitfire when provoked to fight for what was right. What she lacks in Elizabeth Bennet’s delightful sense of humour, she makes up for in sheer backbone. She reminded me quite a bit of Margaret Hale; a lady in circumstances not of her choosing, who sacrifices for honour and justice. Amália endures quite a bit of her own grief during the story, so her character needed to reflect enough depth that she could believably stand, yet tremble because she is, after all, human.

 

Rita: To me Amélia is a much sweeter name and I’m glad that Nicole didn’t chose it because Amália is much stronger and fits perfectly in the character. She is my favourite original character in JAFF literature, and the perfect match for our good Colonel.

 

Nicole: Thank you, Rita, that means a great deal to me! Amália’s brother was our means of introducing her to Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was a soldier in the Anglo-Portuguese army alongside “Major Fitzwilliam,” in 1809-1810 we decided, and their history in battle had made them trust one another. I wanted to paint a noble Portuguese soldier, a character whose role is like Georgiana in the original; not central, but pivotal. His name was special to me as well, because I wanted a very traditional sounding name which could be shortened to a more intimate one.

Col. Fitzwilliam

 

Rita: The curious thing is that we found the perfect name! Rodrigo was a common name at the time, and it was shortened to Ruy, which is the name of my husband, even if nowadays it is spelled Rui, so this could not have been more perfect!

 

Nicole: I loved this name! It’s both dignified and playful.

After we had the characters fixed, the next challenge was manners and language. There were a few mannerisms I had to ask about (i.e. would the Portuguese greet one another with a kiss as some cultures do?) but the larger challenge was the language. I have a fair bit of experience with Latin and French, so several of the Portuguese words appeared to be cognates, but the usage was another matter. I wanted authentic, natural sounding speech, and that is something you just can’t get from Google Translate. There are a few key Portuguese phrases smattered about the book, and some of them are very special.

 

Rita: I was in a dreamlike state when I started seeing Nicole venture into the Portuguese language. I could not believe I was reading sentences such as “tive saudades tuas” and “Eu Amo-te Richard Fitzwilliam.”

Tive saudades tuas is not possible to translate because there isn’t an exact equivalent to the word saudade (saudades is plural). The word reflects the feeling one has when they miss someone or something, it doesn’t just mean we missed someone, it translates a feeling and it is very powerful in the Portuguese language.

Amo-te (I love you) is also very special because unlike English, Portuguese people do not use this word lightly. Amo-te is only used toward people and when the feeling is really strong. It would never be used in sentences such as, “I love this bonnet,” for example. In a sentence such as that, a Portuguese person would use the word “like” and not “love,” which makes the word really special.

These are just two examples, but Nicole used many more Portuguese expressions and words throughout the book, many of them were written by Nicole herself, and I can tell you she was really good at research. Google only mislead her a couple of times. 🙂

 

Nicole: Wahoo! Props to the programmers!

Another detail I wanted to get just right was the pattern of speech which would be natural for a Portuguese speaker who is not absolutely fluent in English. I made the assumption that, being a lady, Amália would have had a little bit less practice than her father who does business with the English all the time, or her brother who sat in army camps with English soldiers. Naturally we wanted her to be fluent, but we intentionally built charming little patterns into her speaking which give her away as a non-native speaker. I chugged right ahead by using the patterns I would have assumed for a French speaker, and Rita had to correct me in nearly every instance.

 

Rita: The masculine/feminine use of words was the most frequent mistake as it is one of the biggest differences between English and Portuguese, and things like Meu flôr, became minha flôr, but also the use of the word yes when making a question. A portuguese would most likely use “no” to end the question instead of the “yes”. And in the end we actually ended up using a mistake I sometimes make when I speak English as a way to “imperfect” Amália’s speech. It is something I know that is incorrect, and I never make the mistake when I’m writing  but when I’m speaking really fast my Portuguese brain makes me say things like “I did heard you” instead of “I did hear you”, that is also because of the differences between the languages, which I find really interesting.

Working on the Portuguese with Nicole was one of the things I loved the most during our collaboration, she is a very curious person who is always willing to learn but also share a lot of knowledge. We had lots of fun discussing linguistics and cultural references 🙂

 

Nicole: That was my favourite part, too! I was thrilled that Rita was willing to take the time to offer constructive feedback and to help me get the details right. We both wanted to honour Portuguese language and culture in this small way. We ended up knowing much more about each other and it was a joy to share both the differences and the similarities of life in modern Portugal and rural Oregon.

I suppose, in the end, those are some of the things Richard and Amália learn to negotiate as well, when they decide that those barriers between continents and people really don’t matter that much.

Thank you, Rita, for your friendship and for the heart you have invested into bringing this book to life.

 

Rita: I’m the one who should thank you for the friendship and the opportunity to work on such a beautiful project with you Nicole! 

I think it is befitting that we close this blog tour with the final moment of the writing process, the memorable moment when Nicole Clarkston wrote Fim (tTe End).

Nicole: That was the most satisfying word I have ever written! This book was a long journey, and it challenged me in new ways. I am delighted to know that it has touched so many already. For me, it enriched so many relationships, from my collaboration with Rita on the plot, with Janet on the stunning cover and many of the emotional elements, with Debbie and Don and Joy and Joana on the read-through process, and with all the lovely bloggers who opened up their pages. I have been blessed with new friends as well, and to everyone I express my most heartfelt gratitude for your support.

 

.

An abandoned bride

    A missing man

        And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy

is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far

from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear,

only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley,

and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared,

Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her

from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and

questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.

An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under

mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and

another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might

have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain

and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

.

If you can’t resist and want to purchase the book immediately, you can find at:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

 

 

Nicole Clarkston is offering a giveaway of 10 eBook copies of These Dreams to readers commenting the posts throughout the blog tour. This is the final stop, so don’t miss this last chance to participate in this international offer.

To enter the giveaway comment the post and click here.

 Good Luck everyone!

36 Comments

Filed under Amalia, giveaway, Guest Post, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, Pride and Prejudice

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future – Guest Post & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

Best selling author Sharon Lathan has recently released Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future which is already #1 new release in Historical European Fiction in the Amazon charts. This is the second book in the two-volume Darcy Saga Prequel Duo, and today I am very glad to receive her at From Pemberley to Milton to talk to you about the book and challenge you to do a very interesting quiz 🙂

I hope you have as much fun doing it as I did, but I shall not reveal how many answers I failed 😉

 

 

Sincerest thanks to Rita for welcoming me to the blog today! It is a true joy sharing my latest novel with the From Pemberley to Milton visitors.

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future is the second book in the two-volume Darcy Saga Prequel Duo, which began with Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. These two novels perfectly fit with my Darcy Saga Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the series now including nine lengthy novels and one novella. A whole lot of the Darcys living “happily ever after.”

After writing Austen’s beloved characters for over ten years now, they are as close to my heart as my flesh-and-blood friends. I can hear their voices in my head and recognize who is talking by the smallest snippet of dialogue. The trick is to convey the individual personalities in such a way that my readers know them as intimately.

With this in mind, I have decided to do something different today. Rather than one long excerpt from Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future, I have chosen random bits of dialogue from assorted characters, given without any scene set-up, for a fun guessing game. I have given three choices for each dialogue set, just so it isn’t too difficult. Hopefully, even if never having read one of my novels, everyone can figure out who is talking.

Who is the Character Talking?

  1.  “I have never hosted a tea party all on my own and admit that doing so unnerves me. Why I initiated the idea is unfathomable! What if I embarrass us by saying something inappropriate? Or what if my tongue refuses to move at all and I stare dumbly for hours?” . . . “Now you must describe your wedding gowns. Is the train four feet and of the spun silk you wanted?” . . . “I’ll spare you guessing my favorite aspect of the chapel. It is the organ! It dates to 1732, and the sound is incredible. The rector let me play it once. Oh, it was such a thrill!”
  1. Georgiana Darcy
  2. Mary Bennet
  3. Anne de Bourgh

.

  1.  “Men are always thinking about…that. This is part of the problem with the male gender if you ask me.” . . . “Why are your new shifts and other undergarment made of such thin fabrics and adorned with lace and ribbon accents? Why, this stay is barely boned at all! And it is pink!” . . . “Precisely why the wedding must be perfect. Two Bennet daughters marrying wealthy, respected gentlemen of Society. We shall be the talk of the county for ages!”
  1. Mrs. Gardiner
  2. Kitty Bennet
  3. Mrs. Bennet

.

  1.  “I am glad to hear of it, Lizzy. Long private audiences during one’s betrothal period are necessary for a happy, fulfilled marriage. A new bride should not be wholly surprised on her wedding night. A bit of prior knowledge and practice is most beneficial for early and lasting pleasure with your husband in the bedchamber. Make sure you arrange a few private interludes with Mr. Bingley, Jane dear.”  . . .  “Now, I wonder, which has you two the most shocked? That I would approve of such scandalous behavior before marriage? That an old woman like me still engages in and enjoys bedroom antics? Or that I would openly broach the topic in the first place?”
  1. Mrs. Bennet
  2. Mrs. Gardiner
  3. Lady Lucas

.

  1.  “Females and weddings! A most riveting topic of conversation! Please, do tell us all about the wedding gown, Miss Bennet. I can’t fathom anything more fascinating. Can you, Darcy?” . . . “Very well, I concede. You are the superior horseman. Just never forget that I trump you at dancing and witty conversation!” . . . “I am incognito. Actually, I am a notorious spy blending in with the common folk for an ultra-secret mission for the Crown. Quite heroic and dangerous. Are you impressed?”
  1. Mr. Bingley
  2. The Earl of Matlock
  3. Colonel Fitzwilliam

.

  1.  “Oh, we have so much to talk about! I have known Fitzwilliam since he was born, you know? Just imagine the stories I have accumulated.” . . . “In due course, you will visit much of the country. William is fond of travel, although not as fond as he is of staying at Pemberley.” . . . “In all seriousness, Miss Bennet, you have no cause to worry. Pemberley may seem imposing, but the Darcys have made it a home. William is the soul of patience and kindness. I assure you, you will be most happy there.”
  1. Colonel Fitzwilliam
  2. Mrs. Reynolds
  3. The Countess of Matlock

.

  1.  “Ooh la! Fancy Mrs. Darcy to have a fancy lady’s maid. Shall I wear the taffeta or the silk? The mink or the ermine? Oh! And what jewels shall I choose?” . . . “You must eat or you will faint at the altar. Can you imagine the horror? Come, come! You can sleep later. Oh! I forgot. You won’t be getting much sleep for days and days and days!” . . . “I maintain it is a travesty to conceal and restrain these lush locks, which God gave me, may I remind. Besides, all the pulling and tugging, and those pins stuck into my scalp give me a headache.”
  1. Georgiana Darcy
  2. Kitty Bennet
  3. Lydia Wickham

.

  1.  “If two open carriages driving together as allowable under the rules of propriety, who am I to argue? Besides, we both have excellent vision so can see the other carriage even if little more than a dot on the horizon. If asked, we can swear we were within eyesight the whole time.” . . . “She was but a babe in a wheeled miniature carriage, Miss Darcy. Although, now that you mention it, I never recall nurse being as generous with flowers for my younger sister.”
  1. Jane Bennet
  2. Lizzy Bennet
  3. Mr. Bingley

.

  1.  “Mr. Darcy specifically noted that allowing modest decoration inside the church was his request as a gift to Mrs. Bennet for her kindness. Is that not kind of him? I do not think he wanted you to know, so do not make a fuss over it. He does not like undue attention.” . . . “I believe it is imprudent to squander the time God has given us in pointless anxiety. As the wise proverb of Solomon instructs, ‘Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.’” . . . “You judge Mr. Collins too harshly, Lizzy. He is a gentleman and has devoted his life to serving God. That is a noble calling with heavy burdens and, as such, is worthy of respect.”
  1. Charlotte Collins
  2. Mary Bennet
  3. Mrs. Gardiner

.

  1.  “Frankly, I cannot fathom how the ton manages the endless dances, dinner parties, and theatre events of the Season! I feel a bit overwhelmed merely thinking of it.” . . . “At the first mention of gowns or hair accessories he would run screaming from the room. To be fair, my mind wanders the second the topic of cigars or firearms is broached.” . . . “It is an excellent house with generous proportions to the rooms, tall windows, a pleasant garden, and a parlor on the uppermost floor with a superb view of the square. The decor is…unique. There are plenty of furnishings, no doubt of that. Some are not quite my taste.”
  1. Jane Bennet
  2. Mrs. Bennet
  3. Georgiana Darcy

.

  1.  “A scolding by Lizzy is a rather fearsome thing, as I suspect you know. A rousing challenge, most of the time, but I’m not up to it tonight.” . . . “You two want to make a grand entrance, do you not? Trust me. You two just concentrate on breathing. I can’t drag both of you down the aisle.” . . . “The foyer is fine, if you wish, but you might consider the terrace. Lizzy has a fondness for starry skies and fresh air. You may have learned that already.”
  1. Mr. Bennet
  2. Mr. Gardiner
  3. Mrs. Bennet

 

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet will soon be joined in Holy Matrimony!

The initial month of their Season of Courtship has passed. Together, the lovers strengthened their bond through honest communication, as they dealt with adversity, jealousy, and distrust. Ever growing in mutual love and understanding, a dramatic confrontation broke through the final barriers.

Now their Hope of the Future “happily ever after” is assured!

As long as Lady Catherine can be stopped in her scheme to interfere, that is. Or, will Mrs. Bennet’s bad advice ruin future marital felicity? Might increasing liberation lead to overwhelming passions that cannot be controlled, with catastrophe a result?

Continue the journey begun in Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. Delight in their flourishing romance, ride along on their escapades in London, and be a witness at the wedding of the century.

The miraculous design of how Two Shall Become One begins before the sacred vows.

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future is Volume 2 of the “prequel duo” for Sharon Lathan’s Darcy Saga sequel series to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Purchasing links—

Amazon Kindle and Print 

Barnes & Noble Nook and Print

Kobo digital

iBooks digital  


 

 

 

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her first novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, was published in 2009. Sharon’s series of “happily ever after” for the Darcys now totals nine full-length novels and one Christmas themed novella.

Darcy & Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship and Darcy & Elizabeth: Hope of the Future complete the “prequel to the sequel” duo recounting the betrothal months before the Darcy Saga began.

Sharon is a native Californian relocated in 2013 to the green hills of Kentucky, where she resides with her husband of over thirty years. Retired from a thirty-year profession as a registered nurse in Neonatal Intensive Care, Sharon is pursuing her dream as a full-time writer.

Sharon is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, JASNA Louisville, the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA, and serves as the website manager and on the board of the Louisville Romance Writers chapter of the RWA.

Sharon is the co-creator of Austen Authors, a group blog for authors of Austenesque literary fiction. Visit at:  www.AustenAuthors.com

Connect with Sharon at the following places—
Website/blog:  www.SharonLathanAuthor.com
Facebook at Sharon Lathan, Novelist
Twitter @SharonLathan
Pinterest  SharonLathan62


Sharon Lathan would like to offer 3 ebook copies of Darcy & Elizabeth: Hope of the Future to my readers.

ALL those who comment this post will be entered into the drawing! Sharon will be popping in to chat and answer questions, so feel free to ask whatever you want 🙂

Taking the “quiz” is optional but those who attempt the quiz will earn 1+ bonus point for the attempt and 1+ bonus point for each correct answer. The total points earned equal a name entry into Random.org which increases the odds of winning an eBook copy of my her newest novel 🙂 It’s a fun idea for a giveaway isn’t it?

The giveaway is international and will end on the 1st of September.

Good luck everyone!

 

37 Comments

Filed under giveaway, JAFF

Blog Anniversary & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

Today is a very special day for me because it marks the second anniversary of From Pemberley to Milton!

People usually say that time flies by when we are doing something we love, but honestly, I do not feel that way. I feel that I’ve been blogging for much much longer than 2 years, and it’s even hard to remember what I used to do with my free time…

It all started as a way to organise myself, to list the books I had read and to have an idea of which authors I would want to read next, but soon this blog became much more than that!

From Pemberley to Milton opened the doors to many experiences, but above all, to conversations with kindred spirits. Because of it, I got to know people with whom I feel really connected with and whom I consider true friends.

It all started in 2015 with me posting the review of Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, after this first step, comments started to appear and I started talking to many of the people with whom I’m still in contact today.

Getting to know all of you was a plus, and one I was not expecting, I never imagined a JAFF community existed and that everyone was so welcoming and nice 🙂 Thank you so much for all your kind words in the past 2 years, and for being such na important part of my live!!!

But the conversations I established with you were all online until the beginning of 2016. That’s when I got to meet Elizabeth Adams, Joana Starnes, Sophie Andrews and Ana from My Vices and Weaknesses.

This first meeting was absolutely wonderful, but it was only the beginning. Since then I’ve been with these ladies many more times, and I believe we are now establishing a tradition of meeting in London once a year 🙂 Who wants to join us next year?

That first meeting opened the door to other encounters, and the next time we all met, we even added another Janeite to the party, author Caitlin Williams, whom I was lucky to meet a second time just last month, along with another group of amazing ladies.

But my Janeite meetings were not restricted to the UK, I crossed the ocean and met fellow blogger Claudine Pepe in New York City that same year.

And then, back in Europe, I had an opportunity to chat with some readers of my blog like Glynis and Sonia. I confess this was particularly touching for me because I might have met other authors and bloggers if I didn’t have my own blog, but I don’t think I would ever have met other readers, and I absolutely loved being with these ladies 🙂

This year, my janeite encounters continued and I met several writers such as Cassandra Grafton and Amanda Grange .

Travelled with writers Lory Lilian, Andreea Catana and editor Ellen Pickels.

 

And of course, through all this time, Ana and Joana were a constant in all Jane Austen related places 🙂

In fact, Joana was the one who introduced me to Mira Magdo, and later on I got to introduce Mira to Ana 🙂

The last day I was with Mira, I was telling her I had to prepare this post, because my blog anniversary was coming, and you’ll never guess what happened! We were on a train on our way to London, when we discovered that, in fact, we started our blogs exactly in the same day!!!

(Me and Mira seconds after discovering our blogs started exactly in the same day)

The 3rd of August 2015 saw 2 JAFF blogs come to life, From Pemberley to Milton and Obsessed With Mr. Darcy! And not only did we start our blogs on the same day, but we also published reviews of books from the same author, Abigail Reynolds. We could not believe the coincidence! So I would like to ask you to wish, along with me, a happy anniversary to Obsessed With Mr. Darcy! Congrats for such a fun and original blog Mira, I still love the tissues, chocolate and icecream things…

And of course, to celebrate our blog anniversary, we are doing a giveaway for our readers 🙂

 

 

As you, wonderful people, have been with me and Mira on this journey, you shared, liked, commented, entered giveaways, wrote us messages, etc,. We would like to offer one lucky winner a copy of The Darcy Monologues, signed by the editor Christina Boyd, and 3 authors: Lory Lilian, Joana Starnes and Caitlin Williams along with a Mr. Darcy Magnet. The giveaway is international and open until the 22nd of August.

You can enter by commenting on BOTH From Pemberley to Milton and Obsessed with Mr. Darcy‘s original wordpress posts. Good Luck!

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An Interview with Cassandra Grafton & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

If you’ve read my last post, you know I was very lucky to meet Cassandra Grafton in Winchester last week. Ever since reading A Fair Prospect, I wanted to meet Cassandra and place her a few questions. Now, with all the celebrations occuring in Winchester, and with the release of A Quest for Mr. Darcy, I got a chance to finally meet and interview her.

I hope you enjoy this interview where she goes from her love for Jane Austen, how she discovered fan fiction and what we can expect from her latest book, A Quest for Mr. Darcy.

Thank you so much for your company last week, and for visiting From Pemberley to Milton Cassandra! It was delightful to have you here for the first time, and I hope it will not be the last 🙂

(Me and Cassandra in Winchester last week)

 

 

Rita! Thank you so much for this fun discussion! It was just lovely meeting you in person in Winchester on such a significant date as the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing, and I will cherish the memories forever. ❤

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Thank you Cassandra! It was lovely meeting you too! We’ve discussed many things already, but I have yet asked, how did Jane Austen influence your life?

Oh gosh, where do I begin? I first discovered Jane Austen and her works when I was 15 (that’s rather a long time ago!), and even now, every time I re-read one of her books, I take something new from it.

She speaks such wisdom through her characters (not all of them, of course!), and I never cease to be amazed at how relevant her stories are today and how her words resonate here in the 21st century.

It has to be said, however, that the biggest influence is far more personal. By nature, I am an introvert, and I’m a pretty solitary person when it comes to writing, but Jane Austen has persuaded me out of my comfort zone to attend events and meet-ups where I have been able to connect with some lovely people – many of whom I’ve encountered online – and who have since become hugely significant to me. My life has been enriched beyond measure as a result, and I only wish I could thank Miss Austen in person!

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And what inspired you to go from reading Jane Austen to writing JAFF?

I’d discovered the world of fan fiction in the early 2000s when I’d ventured into the online Harry Potter community during the three long years between books 4 and 5. I started to co-write Harry Potter fan fiction with Ada, a new friend I made online, and it was such fun!

Becoming curious about similar online communities, I began to look around for those connected to my favourite author and found several sites dedicated not just to the lady but also to writing JAFF!

After co-writing so many short stories inspired by Harry Potter, I finally decided it was time to try my hand at a full length one inspired by Jane Austen’s characters, and so I began A Fair Prospect.

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Following A Fair Prospect you wrote a Jane Austen inspired, but non-JAFF book, called The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, but now you are back to JAFF with the recently released Mr. Darcy’s Quest, what can you tell us about it?

It follows the premise that Darcy does not go home to Derbyshire in the August following his rejection by Elizabeth but instead he goes abroad, taking his sister with him. Not around to ‘save the day’ when Lydia elopes with Wickham, the story begins as we discover the aftermath of that and its impact upon those affected.

Darcy is returning to England a year later, convinced he is over his foolish infatuation with Elizabeth and determined to do his duty, both to the estate of which he is guardian and to his sister: he intends to secure a wife and without delay.

Soon restored to his home in Derbyshire, he puts his quest in motion, preparing to welcome guests from Town, one of whom is a suitably eligible young lady he has earmarked as his future wife.

But it seems there are new tenants on the estate – tenants named Bennet. Could it be coincidence, or is his path fated to cross with Elizabeth’s once more?

With the addition of his friend, Bingley’s, mischievous twin younger sisters, mysterious letters from a stranger and a shadowy figure lurking in the grounds of Pemberley, Darcy’s carefully laid plans are soon in tatters as the rigid protection he has placed around his heart begins to falter.

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The mysterious letters and the shadowy figure bring some mystery to the book. Is this a genre you would like to develop?

Very much so! I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed the mystery genre until I co-wrote The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen with Ada Bright. It was so much fun. In fact, the mystery was the main element to that story, with the romance very subtle and underlying (though the sequel will expand on that). With Quest, I loved interweaving the mysterious elements with Darcy and Elizabeth’s growing awareness of each other’s feelings.

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But the main focus remains romance, right? What can we expect from Darcy and Elizabeth in this book?

Oh yes! I’m a complete romance geek at heart! I’ve always loved the dance of Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship, how they move away from each other, then towards each other, then back again, only perhaps not so far, and slowly their steps become in tandem, until they are in each other’s arms. Sigh…

In this story, although Elizabeth read Darcy’s letter, she has seen nothing of him since the moment he put it into her hands, almost eighteen months ago. She is carrying some resentment towards him for keeping Wickham’s nature secret from the Meryton populace because of the impact upon her family and also is fighting her discomfort over how it is going to feel to meet with him again now she lives nearby. However, she has also realised how she misjudged him, and is daily reminded of his value by those in Derbyshire who hold him in great esteem, so she is in conflict with herself when they become reacquainted.

Darcy has convinced himself he is over his feelings for Elizabeth, dismissing them as a foolish infatuation. He believes he has himself under good regulation, but how long will his armour remain intact? I’m not going to say!

 

This story starts later than the majority of variations, why did you choose this approach?

My favourite JAFF stories take place after the first proposal has gone so disastrously wrong, so I knew I would continue in that vein. The first idea for the story came from a line in A Fair Prospect. Elizabeth is commenting on the fact poor Darcy seems unable to escape her, their having unexpectedly met again – post proposal – in Kent, London and finally Bath. She remarks jokingly that she will likely return home to Longbourn to find her father planning to move them all to Derbyshire.

This idea seemed like it had a lot of potential for fun and, sorry Darcy, also for throwing a few challenges in his direction! How to make it happen, though? Providing a reason for such a thing to take place was key, as it had to have some logic behind it to be credible enough. Darcy not having been around to step in when Lydia eloped seemed the obvious answer, and so I sent him away, hence the story taking place a year later.

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Readers will find Mr. Bingley’s sisters a little different than usual, what can you tell us about them?

The idea of Bingley having five sisters came from Jane Austen herself, or rather from a scene in Pride & Prejudice where Lady Lucas is speculating with Mrs Bennet about the rumours surrounding the number of ladies and gentlemen Mr Bingley will bring to the Meryton assembly.

Here it is:

‘Lady Lucas quieted her (Mrs Bennet’s) fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies; but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing that instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters and a cousin.’

Volume I, Chapter 3

I reasoned that although the early surmising was gossip, the latter comment above is after Bingley has returned from London with his guests, so the likelihood is it could have some truth to it. Just because only two sisters came to the assembly didn’t necessarily mean there weren’t three still at home at Netherfield. It therefore stood to reason they were younger otherwise they would have attended.

I decided Bingley’s mother had passed away when he was young and his father had remarried, having three girls, the twins, Olivia and Viola and a younger sister, Julia.

It is the twins who feature in the story, and I’m hoping readers will grow to love them! All I can say is, they are nothing like their elder sisters!

Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley do of course feature briefly, but they remain pretty much the same as in the original novel!

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While reading the book I noticed some interesting names from secondary characters such as Thornton and Latimer. Was this a coincidence, or are you also a North and South fan?

Absolutely, Rita! I’m a huge North & South fan!

One of the many things I enjoy when writing is naming my characters, and I love it when friends and family say how fun they found it to find themselves or a family member mentioned in some form or another.

However, I do also love using names from other works of literature I have enjoyed. I did knowingly, therefore, use some from North & South such as Higgins and Latimer. As for Thornton, Darcy’s valet, he has an entire back-story though it’s not relevant to this story.

In brief, he is the grandfather of our lovely John Thornton (big sigh)! The family has always been in service and proud of its history of serving some of the country’s most significant families, but he has become estranged from his only son (John Thornton’s father) who has turned his back on the family tradition to try his hand in trade. Working his way up from a clerical apprentice, he has recently started his own small business in Lancashire. The John Thornton we know and love has yet to be born!

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Thank you so much, Rita, for asking your great questions. I had a lot of fun answering them!

 


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A fan of Jane Austen since her long-distant school days, Cassandra Grafton has been indulging her appetite for all things Austen for many years. Having long wanted to be a writer, she began publishing her endeavours in 2013. A Fair Prospect, a Pride & Prejudice-inspired Regency romance, was released in three volumes.

She then went on to be part of the co-writing team on The Darcy Brothers, another Austen-inspired historical novel, before settling down to co-write with one of her best friends.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, a contemporary mystery/romance, was released in July 2016 under the names of Ada Bright and Cass Grafton.

A former college lecturer and PA, Cassandra has lived in three countries, and loves travelling, reading, cats and dry wine (and she combines most of these as often as she can!)

She has two grown up children and splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, and England, where she lives with her characters.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Jane Austen Society UK and is a founding member of the Jane Austen Society of Switzerland.

 


 

 

Cassandra Grafton would love to offer a giveaway – open internationally – of a copy of A Quest for Mr. Darcy (eBook or paperback, winner’s choice), plus some Jane Austen goodies from the gift shop at Jane Austen’s House Museum, namely:

  • Jane Austen 200 pen and key ring
  • Jane Austen compact mirror
  • Jane Austen lip balm
  • Miniature Pride & Prejudice
  • Set of 20 Jane Austen bookplates

 

The giveaway is open until the 4th of August and to be eligible all you have to do is comment on this post. Share your thoughts with us or place Cassandra your own questions.

The winner will be announced on this blog shortly after the 4th of August. Please follow the blog to make sure you receive an e-mail with the name of the winner. I would hate for people to miss a prize because they didn’t see they had won. Unfortunately this has happened in the past and I’m trying to avoid it from happening again 🙂

Good Luck everyone!

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My Jane Austen Road Trip – Chapter IV

Hello dear readers,

Today one of the most wonderful weeks that I have ever lived comes to an end. As you know we have celebrated Jane Austen’s live and work throughout this past week due to the 200th anniversary of her death on the 18th of July, and as most events were taking place in England, that’s where I chose to be this last week.

I’ve been in England many times and I had visited several places related to Jane Austen, but this was the first big road trip completely dedicated to Jane Austen that I have done. I’ve met lots of amazing people, reconnected with old acquaintances and participated in some ceremonies that inspired me to write a few posts Austen related (bear with me for a while, I’ll be posting more than reviews in the upcoming weeks).

My trip started in Milton, er…sorry, Manchester.I would have loved to visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s home there, but as it is only open a few days a week, I didn’t have that chance. I was sad about it, but it means I have another reason to return to the area, so I have to look at the bright side of it. From Manchester I took the train to Stockport to meet for the first time author Lory Lilian, Andreea Catana and Ellen Pickels. These lovely ladies were my travel companions for several days and with them I visited Lyme Park, Chatsworth House and traveled south across the country to attend the religious ceremony in Winchester on the 18th of July. I’ll tell you all about our adventures in the North, but for now, I would like to share with you how it was to be in Winchester on such a memorable date.

We got to Winchester on the 17th, but the 18th was the big day! After breakfast we headed straight into the garden in front of Winchester Cathedral, took some pictures and were even interviewed by BBC radio, but the real fun started when our dear friends Joana Starnes and Mira Magdo from Obsessed with Mr. Darcy joined us for the day. With them we attended a recital in the Cathedral, and travelled the streets of Winchester to find the house where Jane Austen spent the last weeks of her life, and where she eventually died on the 18th of July.

The house is on 8 College Street but it is now a private house and can not be visited. It bears an oval plaque over the front door, placed there in 1956 and designed and executed by Esmond Burton.It is nowadays the only sign that tells us this is a very special house. In front of it lies a small garden with an Austen quote, and even if some people may miss it, we surely didn’t.

Jane Austen wrote to her nephew, James Edward Austen, “our Lodgings are very comfortable. We have a neat little Drawing room with a Bow-window overlooking D’ Gabell’s garden”, and even if this is not what people may see from the bow-window nowadays, I like to imagine Jane looking over this window.

After this walk, we headed back to the Winchester Cathedral where I met Cassandra Grafton author of A Fair Prospect trilogy and the recently released A Quest for Mr. Darcy. Together we attended to the unveil of the 10£ bank note with the presence of the 120th Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney.

Mr. Carney demonstrated a true knowledge of Austen’s life and work, making a charming and captivating speech, but he also shared some interesting aspects about the new 10 £ note. For example, on the front of the £10 polymer note there are two clusters of raised dots in the top left hand corner, this tactile feature will help blind and partially sighted people identify the value of the note. I also learned about a few details the new note will have, such as a finely detailed metallic image of Winchester Cathedral positioned over a see-through window, and a book-shaped copper foil patch which contains the letters JA. But the most controversial detail on the note is the quote “ I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”.

I have nothing against it, I know it was pronounced by Miss Bingley and that it was said in an ironic tone, but it remains a true statement nonetheless, and I find it appropriate for a note with the picture of a writer. What do you think? I know many people do not agree with this quote on the note, is that your case?

The bank note will only enter circulation in September, so I couldn’t come home with one, but thanks to Sophie Andrews, I did come home with a 2 £ coin :)) Do you have it already?

The coin was launched in locations that have a close connection to Jane Austen’s life but the design will only be released into wider circulation later this year. The coin is already being sold on Amazon, but the prices are excessive and the coin can be found at reduced prices in any Jane Austen related place, so if you visit places such as the Jane Austen House in Chawton, don’t miss the opportunity to have one of the first coins out there.

With this ceremony over it was time to eat something, get some rest and be prepared for the religious ceremony that took most of us there.

It was a beautiful ceremony fully dedicated to one of the greatest authors in England and I feel particularly honored to have been there to pay my tribute.

The entire day was wonderful with a beautiful weather, but once the ceremony was over, as if crying for Austen, the sky started pouring rain and we had to leave Winchester.

We ended up eating pizza, drinking god knows what and teaching eachother how to speak our native languages. I don’t think the day could have ended in a better way and I want to thank all these lovely ladies for putting up with me and my photos the entire day! Being in Winchester for Jane was absolutely unforgettable but it wouldn’t have been as special if I hadn’t shared all these moments with people who, just like me, were touched by Jane in so many ways 🙂

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I know that not everybody got a chance to go to Winchester to Jane Austen’s life, so I bring some tokens of the 200th anniversary to offer to one of my readers. As Persuasion was released in 1817, I thought it would be fitting to offer it along with a keyring, rubber and pencil commemorative of the date. I’ve also added an I love Jane pin, and  a bag of lavender I made at Jane Austen’s House in Chawton.

The giveaway is international, and all you have to do to be eligible for it is to leave your share your thoughts with us by commenting on this post. It will run until the 4th of August and the winner will be announced shortly after.

Good Luck everyone!

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Giveaway Winners Announcement

giveaway-winners-announcement_final

Hello everyone,

I’m sorry to have been so quiet this week, but real life got in the way and kept me away from my computer. I wish I could say that I would make it up in the upcoming weeks, but unfortunately May and June will not be easy months for me at work, however, I’ll do my best to find the time for From Pemberley to Milton, and hopefully you will still be here to talk to me about all things Austen 🙂

In the meantime I would like to announce you the winners of the last giveaways I hosted here, at FPTM:

Darcy’s Honor by Victoria Kincaid

* DarcyBennett


A Man With Faults (or any other of the below Lory Lilian’s books at your choice)

Remembrance of the Past, Rainy Days, His Uncle’s Favorite, The Perfect Match, Sketching Mr. Darcy, The Rainbow Promise, A Man with Faults.

* J. W. Garrett

* Cvtperez


Surprise prize from Joana Starnes

* Ceri


Joana Starnes ebook (winner’s choice)

From This Day Forward, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter

* Theresa M.


Bag of Goodies from Joana Starnes

* J. “Joy” Dawn King


Congratulations everyone! Please send me your contacts to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com, and if you won a winner’s choice prize, please let me know what is your choice.

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

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Hello dear readers

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

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

 

***Book Blurb***

 

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

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

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

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

You can find this book at:

Amazon.com – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Amazon.co.uk – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

 

 

***Author Bio***

klassen_julie1

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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***Blog Tour Schedule***

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December 5: Author Q&A on Pemberley to Milton

December 6: Excerpt on My Love for Jane Austen

December 8: Review on Laura’s Reviews

December 9: Book Spotlight on More Agreeably Engaged

December 10: Review on A Bookish Way of Life

December 11: Review and Excerpt on Delighted Reader Book Reviews

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

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

December 14: Review on Calico Critic

December 15: Excerpt on So Little Time

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

December 17: Review on Just Jane 1813

December 18: Excerpt on Babblings of a Book Worm

December 19: Review on Austenesque Reviews

December 20: Guest Post on Jane Austen in Vermont

December 21: Review on Luxury Reading

 

 

***It’s giveaway time***

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

To enter click the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Courtship of Edward Gardiner – Guest Post & Giveaway

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Hello dear readers,

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

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

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

 

***Guest Post***

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

-Nicole

***

First Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” she admitted guilelessly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

WebsiteNicole Clarkston

Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

 

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***It’s giveaway time***

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

Good luck everyone!

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