Category Archives: JAFF

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds

Mr Fitzwilliam darcy the last man in the world4.5 stars

The opening scene of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World was incredibly powerful and revealed Abigail Reynolds’s talent for writing.

I have read many forced marriage scenarios before, but none like this, where Elizabeth herself felt forced to accept Mr. Darcy in order to save her reputation. After proposing, and believing Elizabeth can only accept his proposal, Mr. Darcy kisses her and that kiss is seen by Colonel Fitzwilliam and a few Rosings Park workers. Because of that, Elizabeth sees no other option to save her reputation, and the ones of her sisters, then to allow Mr. Darcy to believe she did in fact accept him. Unfortunately, her deception remains after her marriage and when Mr. Darcy discovers it, it is heart breaking.

The idea behind this variation was simple, but Elizabeth’s feelings were so powerfully presented that one cannot stop reading to know how she will act in her role as Mrs. Darcy.

Elizabeth’s deception is understandable to a point, but if this is a quibble for you, rest assured that after getting to know Mr. Darcy, and realizing he is in fact the only man in the world she could ever love, her devotion to him is endearing. Elizabeth even comes to his defense while arguing with Mr. Wickham at the end of the story, and that scene is priceless. 

In this book, our characters will have to face and fight against the feelings of loneliness, betrayal and hopelessness as they grow in their marriage, but also come to learn to trust in one another and in their respective feelings.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World has it all, the romance, the character growth and the action necessary to make the book move forward at the perfect pace. It does not have unnecessary page time filled with descriptions or repetitions of the characters feelings. It goes straight to the point and provides the reader everything a book should. If you are looking for an engaging and well written book, this may be it.

 

Audiobook Narration:

Elizabeth Bennet’s Level

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World was narrated by Rachel E. Hurley at a time when not many Austenesque books were getting released on audio, and even if the narration is somewhat different from later narrations we are getting used to, it is very pleasant to hear her tell us this story. I do recommend the audio version if you like audiobooks.

 

You can find Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited and on Audible

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Plots, Ploys and the Art of Matchmaking by Sarah Courtney

plots ploys and the art of matchmaking4.5 stars

It is very common to see books mentioning matchmaking mamas, but I never saw one where the main characters were a pair of matchmaking Papas! Plots, Ploys and the Art of Matchmaking is a very original and funny story that I do not hesitate to recommend to those looking for a good time spent in the realm of Pride and Prejudice. 
In this book, Mr. Bennet and Lord Matlock met at school and remained very close friends through out the years. Their families share a special bond and everyone is very used to their pranks and bets, however, when they get together in Hertfordshire, and decide Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth must fall in love and get married, some family members start to realize they need a lesson of their own. These gentleman may like to have some sport at the cost of their families and neighbours, but they will certainly get what they deserve as well.

Plots, Ploys and the Art of Matchmaking is told from the point of view of various characters and combines humour with some romance, as the main characters find themselves more often than not, trapped in a closed space together.

I appreciated the different tone I found in this book and consider it very refreshing. As mentioned above, we still have some romance in this book, especially towards the end of the story, but it is not the usual austenesque romance because of its humoristic approach. I laughed out loud in some parts with Mr. Bennet and Lord Matlock’s pranks towards one another, with their ineffective matchmaking efforts, and was also pleased to see their influence on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy as they started to orchestrate pranks of their own.

Elizabeth’s dry humour and response to the gentleman’s ploys was one of my favourite aspects of her personality, and also one of the reasons Mr. Darcy found her so confounding. I loved her resignation towards her father’s antics and her practical approach to all of their plots. As to Mr. Darcy, he proved to have a sense of humour Elizabeth was unaware of, and to be the perfect gentleman and hero in every single situation. If you think these plots and ploys take place only in libraries and carriages, as we are led to believe in the beginning of the story, you are very wrong. Our dear couple will face some challenges and dangers during this story and Mr. Darcy raises to the occasion! I bet you will never see his love declaration coming, and never imagined he would do it in such a circumstance.

For a long time, it appeared Mr. Bennet and Lord Matlock’s ploys were ineffective towards Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but they are very good at the art of matchmaking, and I laughed and loved all the couples that came out of their pranks.

Another aspect I loved about in this book was the difference in Mrs. Bennet’s character and the close connection both families have. Of course Mr. Darcy cannot be as prejudiced towards the Bennet’s when they are close friends to the Earl’s family, but Sarah Courtney found a way to have him antagonise Elizabeth so that the story is appealing to the reader from the beginning to the end.

The entire book has a very light feeling and the perfect length to read during a lazy weekend. If you are looking for a humorous story that will make you laugh along with the characters from Pride and Prejudice, I recommend Plots, Ploys and the Art of Matchmaking. This book was certainly different and I loved it!

 

You can find Plots, Ploys and the Art of Matchmaking at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited 

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Freebies & Books on sale

Good Afternoon everyone, 

I was perusing amazon today and saw there were several books on sale that I had not seen before, so I thought it would be helpful to put them all together in a list once more.

As you know, these are not all the books that are currently on sale, just the ones I could find on my search.

If you know of any other books on sale please do not hesitate to share them with us 🙂

Jane Austen Fan Fiction currently FREE

Bewildered – FREE

Book Blurb: 

While Elizabeth Darcy is suitably happy in her very fortunate marriage, she cannot help but feel as if something is missing.
When her husband comes to her with an interesting plea, she cannot help but be curious herself.
Bewildered is the first in a new series of intimate and sensual short stories by Grace Reeve. A sequel to Pride & Prejudice, the series will follow Elizabeth and Darcy as the newlyweds become acquainted with one other and learn how to be the sort of spouse the other deserves.

An Austen Masterpiece – FREE

Book Blurb:

An art major with a focus on graduation, a psychology major hoping to get into grad school, and the relationship that wasn’t in the cards.

Lily has a history of men leaving her life, just like her latest boyfriend, Wes, who took off to Florida with some girl he met at a club. When her roommate, Meg Austen, tries to set her up with the quiet guy from her psychology class, she’s not jumping at the chance.

Ben is waiting to hear back from master’s programs he’s applied to as he works through his last semester for his bachelor’s. He’s the typical nice guy, who gets set up by everyone back home. Now Meg wants him to date her roommate and they couldn’t be anymore opposite.

When he receives some acceptance letters to school outside of Boston and Lily gets the internship she always wanted, it seems their relationship can’t continue.

Can they get over their past fears and make it work?

Sincerity of Heart – FREE

Book Blurb:

SINCERITY OF HEART – A collection of modern Austen inspired short stories, themed around different holidays and seasons. Melissa Buell has taken her HOLIDAYS WITH JANE stories and compiled them into one anthology. Sweet, clean romance!

Jane Austen Fan Fiction on Sale for 0,99$

.

Writerly Ambitions: An Elizabeth and Darcy Story – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

In this story Mr. Bingley only takes Netherfield years after he did in the original novel. Mr. Darcy has spent these years determined to find the perfect wife, attending every ball at Season, and dancing every dance. But each girl he met lacked something. His friends don’t believe him anymore when he insists he wants to marry.
Elizabeth Bennet started writing novels after she was banished to London following an unfortunate incident. Her literary endeavours proved popular, and now she has a modest independent income, and a determination to never depend on anyone.
They become friends quickly when they meet at the assembly ball, Elizabeth is amused by Darcy’s arrogance, and he is kind to her and charmed by her charming and mischievous manner. But Mr. Darcy has a list of features a wife must have, and Elizabeth does not meet them. And for her part, Elizabeth is determined to never marry…
A romantic story with lots of laughs and a little angst

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth: Breathtaking – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

Elizabeth Bennet and her family remove to Brighton after her youngest sister receives an invitation to travel with the colonel of the militia and his wife. All seems well, but when Mr. Darcy unexpectedly arrives from Pemberley, he reveals that things in Brighton were not quite as they had seemed. Drawn to Mr. Darcy in their mutual quest to restore balance and safety to both their families, Elizabeth finds herself struggling to recognize the man who had insulted her in Hertfordshire and Kent. So much has changed—yet can she rely upon the change? And will he still love her and wish to marry her when he sees her family and its folly fully unleashed in Brighton?

The Tree on the Green – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

“I know what my behavior has been to you, but believe me when I say my wishes have never wavered.”

Love at first sight—it is what both Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy feel after meeting under an oak tree in Derbyshire in a set of highly unusual and precarious circumstances. Elizabeth’s usefulness to Mr. Darcy and his sister Georgiana recommend her to them both, while the manners of both brother and sister make Elizabeth highly interested in knowing them better. It seems a gift of providence, therefore, when Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy among a party of visitors to her neighborhood in Hertfordshire two months hence. The couple feel an instant attraction to each other, raising expectations among their neighbors and friends of a mutual attachment.
However, Mr. Darcy soon discovers that there is more to Elizabeth than meets the eye. While he has no objections to her, he is astonished at the bad manners of her family and the lack of sense they often display. Feeling insecure and conflicted following the recent betrayal of an old friend, he feels unwilling to risk a connection with someone so unknown to him. A withdrawal of his attentions is the ultimate result.
Elizabeth, confused and irritated, wants to forget Mr. Darcy and move on. However, despite all his resolve, he cannot seem to stay away from her. Being found irresistible by a man like Mr. Darcy cannot fail to flatter her—but is such attention enough to prove he is truly worthy of her love and trust?

Tempt You to Accept Me – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

What if Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy decided to ignore the voices warning him of the dangers presented by a certain young lady? Would he be able to accept her relations whose condition in life was so decidedly beneath his own? This story begins after the Netherfield party returned to London. A clean Regency romance. (Darcy’s point of view.)

Barely Bethrothed to Mr. Darcy – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

Miss Elizabeth Bennet is pleased with the state of her life. She lives with her sister and her sister’s husband, Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, and she dotes on her niece and nephew. She doesn’t long for a husband or children of her own. To do so would only bring her misery.
Then news reaches them which tears Elizabeth’s contentment to shreds.
Mrs. Caroline Darcy is dead. She’s drowned herself.
Everyone has long observed the late Mrs. Darcy’s dissatisfaction with her loveless, childless marriage, so the news, while tragic, is not entirely surprising. Elizabeth knows that Caroline trapped her husband into marrying her by falsely accusing him of a compromise that never occurred. Of course, that truth has never mattered, nor has the fact that Mr. Darcy is still in love with Elizabeth and that she is in love with him.
Now, Mr. Darcy is free, but propriety dictates that he cannot remarry immediately. A quick marriage would court scandal and it would wound Caroline’s brother, Mr. Bingley, who is also Mr. Darcy’s dear friend. So, though Elizabeth knows that Mr. Darcy will be hers eventually, they cannot be officially engaged yet. Now, they must wait.
For these two who have waited so long for each other, the waiting will prove to be the hardest part.

An End to Estrangement – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

When Fitzwilliam Darcy travels to Hertfordshire with his friend, the last person he expects to see is Elizabeth Bennet, the young woman who broke his heart in London four years previously…
Book 1 in a fun new Pride and Prejudice variation series. Romance and Reconciliation what if Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet met long before the Meryton Assembly…?

One Minute More – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

“If I do my duty as a gentleman, I shall have to marry a woman who prefers you. How is this fair?”
It has been a miserable few weeks in Meryton. It was not enough that Fitzwilliam Darcy has had to tolerate the attentions of his best friend’s sister. Now he must deal with his cousin’s disastrous romantic alliance and his own unfortunate attraction to the intriguing and elusive Elizabeth Bennet.
Caroline Bingley’s life-changing mistake has landed her the wrong groom and a temporary exile to Longbourn. She packs her temper along with her gowns, ensuring no one is happy about their houseguest. Especially Elizabeth, who not only gives up her bedchamber to her adversary but becomes the focus of Caroline’s scheme to attach her to Mr Collins.
So much has happened in so little time. What can happen in one minute more?

Through a Different Lens – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

A tale of second glances and second chances
Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation and a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.
Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?
Warning: This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.

Dating Mr. Darcy – 0,99$

Book Blurb:

Pride and Prejudice meets The Bachelor in this laugh-out-loud rom com from USA Today bestselling author, Kate O’Keeffe
Is it a truth universally acknowledged, that a girl must compete on reality TV to win a modern-day Mr. Darcy’s heart?
Emma Brady is having doubts about how far she’ll go to promote her new activewear line. Sure, being on a reality show could be the big break her business so desperately needs, but is putting up with a Mr. Darcy wannabe worth it?
Sebastian Huntington-Ross is straight out of an Austen novel. But it’s hard to focus on his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders, and wickedly sexy accent when all Emma can see is his pride, arrogance, and smug demeanor.
Sparks fly when Emma realizes Sebastian has his own agenda for being on the show. Will Emma hold fast and keep the aristocratic Sebastian at arm’s length? Or will she put her reservations aside when the lines between reality and “reality show” start to blur?

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a dragon.

Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley has the good fortune to be in possession of the first English firedrake egg laid in a century. Or, at least, he was until some miscreant stole it.
Mr. Darcy tracks the thief to Hertfordshire. Catching the thief, however, proves to be an entirely different kettle of brimstone, especially when he encounters fellow Dragon Keeper, Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn.
Elizabeth Bennet’s deep connection to dragons and remarkable grasp of their lore make her the ideal companion for finding the egg. It’s too bad that from their introduction she finds Darcy arrogant, conceited, and selfishly disdainful of the feelings
of others.
Time is running out for Darcy to win Elizabeth’s trust and recover the precious egg before it hatches, and the fragile peace between humans and dragons is lost forever.
Meryton meets Pern in a fantastical regency romp bound to delight readers of Jane Austen and Anne McCaffrey alike.
Book 1 in the Jane Austen’s Dragons series.

The Most Interesting Man in the World – 0,99$

Book Blurb: 

Charles Bingley is a man who relies on Darcy’s judgment in all things yet understands very little of it, at least when Darcy is speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin or staring at the quick-witted sister of his own angelic Jane Bennet. What was happening behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? A generous, kind, and always hungry Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his thoughts on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the meaning of happiness.
This Pride and Prejudice variation contains scenes from the mind of Charles Bingley which are not found in Jane Austen’s original tale.

Jane Austen Fan Fiction on Sale for 1,99$

Mendacity & Mourning – 1,99$

Book Blurb: 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.
This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.

A Searing Acquaintance – 1,99$

Book Blurb: 

Elizabeth Bennet, saddled with a difficult family, dull dating prospects, and a mundane marketing job, had never met a man like Fitzwilliam Darcy, the wealthy and remote British-American heir to a family famous for both style and tragedy. The aspiring novelist finds herself intrigued yet aggravated by the enigmatic businessman who never imagined thinking about, let alone falling in love with a woman as conversant in Looney Tunes and Yogi Berra as in literature and Greek poets.
When they’re thrown together for a weekend in the country, they find themselves of like mind and lust. Confessions are made and secrets exchanged until misunderstandings and angry feelings overtake the intimacy they shared. Things only worsen when George Wickham stirs up an emotional tempest with tales of the Darcy family’s unhappy history and laces Elizabeth’s book project with traces of legal impropriety.
Marked by their painful pasts, their acquaintance sears them both with anger, yearning and confusion.
Can Elizabeth reconcile her distrust of unconditional love and lasting relationships with Darcy’s need for trust, forgiveness and enduring love? She expects to have expressions of love laughed away; he never anticipates receiving them.
This contemporary variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride & Prejudice sweeps the couple through Darcy’s heartbreaking background and Elizabeth’s ongoing family complications as they duel over everything from college football to the Social Register.


I Hope this has been helpfull everyone!

Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: The Amazon links used in this post are affiliate links.

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Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson – Spotlight

Good Afternoon everyone, 

I hope you’re all well this week and that you’re stacked with good books to read 🙂 As usual, I have more on my TBR pile then I can read, and a few interesting books remain unread. One of them is Isabelle and Alexander, a new Poper Romance novel from Shadow Mountain that reminds me a lot of North & South, and that I would really love to read! If days had 48 hours I would be here with a review of this book, but unfortunetely with a full time job during the day, and only a few hours available to read and blog, all I can bring you at this moment is a bit more information about this book. 

What do you think of the blurb? Is this story appealing to you? Doesn’t it remind you a little of John and Margaret?

I’ve read a few reviews on Amazon and readers are not only loving it, but also mentioning that it does indeed have a few similarities with North & South:

I absolutely loved the moody North and South vibe in this book! ~Amazon reviewer

While it compares in some ways to the classic North & South in setting and contrasts of the hero and heroine’s personality, its plot is distinct ~Amazon reviewer

If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, also known as the BBC film of the same name starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, then Isabelle and Alexander is something you’ll most likely want to read ~Amazon reviewer

With comments as the one I quoted above, this book is definitely on my TBR! Is this a book you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comments as your opinion may move Isabelle and Alexander up or down in the TBR 🙂


Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father’s coal mines with Alexander Osgood’s prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander’s wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn’t bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle’s opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

 

QUICK FACTS:

  • Title: Isabelle and Alexander (Proper Romance Victorian)
  • Author: Rebecca Anderson
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Victorian Romance
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (May 4, 2021)
  • Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (368) pages
  • Tour Dates: May 3-16. 2021
  •  

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Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson 2021

 

You can find Isabelle and Alexander at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk 

and on Audible

 


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Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel. 

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM  | GOODREADS

Rebecca Anderson aka Becca Wilhite headshot

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Dragon’s Beyond the Pale by Maria Grace – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone, 

It is dragon week and today I have another excerpt involving dragons to share with you! This time it is a passage from Dragon’s Beyond the Pale, Maria Grace’s seventh book of the Jane Austen’s Dragons series.

If you thought this series would end with Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion you were very wrong! Not only Anne and Frederick Wentworth are back to find their way into the Blue Order, but also Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy and Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy are present in this story to enter into another adventure. I love the fact that Maria Grace decided to keep both couples in her stories, I love Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion mash ups 🙂

I have read five of the seven books in this series and loved them all, so I honestly cannot wait to listen to the audiobook of Dragon’s Beyond the Pale. I am not sure if we will get and audiobook, but I am hoping Maria Grace will once more collaborate with Benjamin Fife to release an audio version.

Have you listened to any of the previous audiobooks from this series? If not, have you read the books?

I hope you like the excerpt Maria brought us today, and don’t forget to comment the post for a change to win a copy of this book.

 


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Good morning, Rita! Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to share an excerpt from my newest Jane Austen’s Dragons book, Dragons Beyond the Pale

 

Chapter 2 

January 11, 1815, Kellynch-by-the-Sea

 

The sun hung midway between dawn and noon, steadfastly refusing to deliver enough warmth to vanquish the prevailing chill. Anne rubbed her gloved hands over the arms of her navy-blue wool pelisse and pulled the heavy basket closer to her chest. 

Would she ever become accustomed to the near-constant sea breeze buffeting her every time she visited Kellynch’s lair? Probably no sooner than she became accustomed to being addressed as Lady Wentworth—it was still difficult not to look for some dowager lurking in the shadows when she heard the name. 

Perhaps Kellynch was right; using the dragon tunnels from the house to the lair would be more comfortable. If only they did not remind her of the dark alley behind the Bath Assembly rooms—and Mr. Elliot.

Thankfully, Wentworth understood and did not insist.

She sucked in cold, salt-tinged air as she looked over her shoulder and across the open—empty— meadow. Mr. Elliot and his cockatrice Friend Jet were safely ensconced in a Blue Order prison. Even if they managed to escape, Kellynch would not tolerate them anywhere near Lyme. With as many friends as Kellynch had made among the local minor dragons, and one other major dragon in the vicinity, Mr. Elliot could not possibly conceal himself anywhere near Lyme. 

She smoothed the prickled hair on the back of her neck. An assault to one’s person was not easily dismissed, even when one had been rescued by the man she loved. Yes, that was the part of the story she should dwell upon.

“Kellynch? Kellynch?” She stepped into the dim stony lair, dank and smelling of dragon musk. How much warmer it seemed now out of the wind.

“Come in.” The space filled with the sound of scales scraping stone. “Have you brought their majesties, my wyrmlings?” 

“Of course I have. They would not miss a chance to visit with you.” She set the basket on the floor. Corn, the black and white tatzelwurmling with white tufty ears and blue eyes, and Wall with the black nose and green eyes, tumbled onto the dusty limestone floor. They bounded down the tunnel, chirruping with glee as Kellynch’s long, toothy grey-green head came into view.

He rumbled something almost like a great purr, which she felt in her chest more than heard. The wyrmlings pounced on him, licking his face and climbing onto the ridges above his eyes. Not the way one was supposed to greet their laird, but as long as they were all happy with it, what harm could it do?

Who would have ever thought Kellynch could be a happy, easy-going dragon?

“When will you allow them to visit me on their own? I do not get to see them often enough.” Kellynch muttered, slithering closer, careful not to dislodge Corn and Wall.

She crouched to scratch the itchy spot between his eyes, just able to make out his pout in the meager light. “They are still small enough to be carried away by the local predatory birds. When they are big enough to no longer be prey, then they can visit whenever you and they wish.”

“They could use the tunnels.”

“Not until I am certain they will not lose their way. They are still very silly little babies and have occasionally lost their way in the house.” She ruffled Corn’s ears. Wall nudged her hands with his nose and demanded the same.

Kellynch sighed and snorted.

“Besides, you visit with them in the cellar nearly every day. You cannot be that lonely.”

“It is not the same as having them in my lair with me. I have been alone so long—”

She sat tailor-style on the floor beside him, her hand on his scaly snout. “I know you have. In fact, that is what I need to talk to you about. Are you certain about us traveling to London, and you remaining here, alone?”

Kellynch grumbled, his lips working in little waves that rippled along his jaw. “Not really.”

Finally, he confessed to the obvious truth. “Then we will inform the Order that we will take the house that boasts a lair with tunnel access to the Thames. That way you will be able to join us easily.”

One brow ridge rose. “Wentworth says the house is not as pleasant as the other you were considering.”

“It is a little enough thing to part with in the interest of your comfort.” She scratched the ridges along his snout as he snuffled appreciative sounds.

“Is it true that I might attend the Cotillion whilst in London? I have never been to the primary Blue Order office.” 

“Indeed. The official invitation includes dragons with new Keepers. The three of us are expected to be presented at the Cotillion.”

Presented by the Dragon Sage. She swallowed hard. Was it a privilege or a punishment to have such a prestigious sponsor? Certainly, the expectations of society upon her would be higher because of it. Father would approve, if he were not banned from all Blue Order society events. 

Was Lady Elizabeth trying to mitigate the repercussions of Father’s ignominy by her show of support? If only she and not Lady Matlock had written to her to tell her of it, it would be easier to judge what to make of it all. 

If only Father had seen fit to have her come out to the Order when she began to hear and allowed her to attend a Keepers’ Cotillion as a young woman. At least she would know firsthand what to expect now. If only he had not fallen from Blue Order society in disgrace, she would not be establishing herself while trying to overcome the huge hurdle he had raised before her. Yet more ways in which she was still paying for Father’s failures.

Kellynch nudged her with his snout and trained a piercing look upon her. Could he tell what she was thinking or only how she felt about it? Who would have guessed he was such a perceptive creature?

“I should like to see such an event, if it would not be burdensome on you.” How polite he was trying to be even though his longing to attend shone clear. He would love the attention and notoriety it would bring him. So like a true Elliot he was. 

“I will consider it an honor for you to be there with us.” 

Kellynch rumbled happily. Corn and Wall purred along with him, though they had little understanding of why. His pleasure was enough to make them happy.

“You will bring their majesties?” He crossed his eyes trying to focus on the wyrmlings perched on his nose.

“Of course, they cannot be left alone.”

“Good, good. I shall go out and have a good feed now so I need not worry about fishing rights whilst I am there.”

How much had Kellynch changed since that day in court? He seemed like an utterly different dragon to the angry, hibernating, threatening sea serpent he had been.

“That seems a sound plan. I am sure Wentworth will agree. I will take their majesties back to the house now and get them ready for traveling in the morning.” She called Corn and Wall back to their basket. Though they lingered in their goodbyes to Kellynch, they did as they were bid. Someday, when they were grown, they would—hopefully—have the good sense of their sire, Laconia. But for now, they were silly, shatter-brained—if very dear — little creatures.

Despite the wind, she took the long way home. Kellynch-by-the-Sea was so different to Kellynch where she had grown up. How could she not miss the spreading old trees, the farmlands, the fields of sheep? The coast was not without its beauties—and it made Kellynch and Wentworth so very happy—but sometimes it still caught her off guard not to see her mother’s gardens, or Lady Russell’s.

A dozen, no there were more than that, small and moderate-sized white rent cottages lined the main road from the manor to Lyme Regis. Several more were set back from the road with small lanes or footpaths leading to them. So many people looked to her as the mistress of Kellynch-by-the-Sea. It could be daunting some days, more so than at Kellynch where she was only standing in for the mistress of the manor.

On the whole, the tenants were pleasant and good-humored, many of them dragon Friends who were quite astonished that Kellynch enjoyed the company of the minor dragons on his estate. 

Despite all the new friends, Kellynch did not neglect Uppercross. Dragon tunnels linked the two estates, and they exchanged regular visits. Uppercross was developing a taste for fish, which Sister Mary definitely did not approve of—it left his breath quite frightful!

According to Lady Elizabeth’s last letter, their whole relationship was very unusual among land dragons. But perhaps not so among marine creatures? She still hoped to visit them soon and learn more about England’s only marine wyrm.

“Mrrrrow.” 

When had Laconia come upon her?

He bumped up against her leg, all three stones worth of fluffy, black tatzelwurm jolting her from her reverie. “Wentworth wonders where you have gotten to.”

“I told him I would be checking on Kellynch. Is he very worried?” She glanced past Laconia as a gust of chill air raced down the neat line of cottages.

“He is accustomed to having all his sailors at an easy distance.” Laconia glanced over his shoulder and backed up two steps, a very odd movement for a tatzelwurm.

“And I am out of range of his spyglass, I suppose?” 

“Come back to the house with me.” An odd note of concern tinged his voice as he turned for the manor.

She followed. “Is there something wrong?”

“It is difficult to say. A cockatrice messenger from the Order arrived not very long ago.”

Merciful heavens!

Anne increased her pace to a near run; Laconia spring-hopped to keep up.

 

Anne stopped in the study’s doorway and stared at an unfamiliar hawk-sized cockatrice, red-brown and a bit weather-beaten, wearing a small pack embossed with the signet of the Order strapped to his back. He stood on Wentworth’s desk, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Wentworth did the same as he stood, a mite awkwardly, at the far side of the desk.

He still had not got the room quite arranged to his liking. Long and narrow, he complained there was both too much room and not enough at the same time. Too big to be compact and efficient like the accommodations on his ship, but not spacious enough for the desk that had been shoehorned in and the three leather-covered chairs that seemed to take up the remaining floor space. A bookcase lined the long wall, opposite the windows, lacking both enough books to look scholarly and sufficient bric-a-brac to appear well traveled. 

He declared the entire affair felt a bit like a midshipman’s effort. At least he judged the desk chair comfortable and that sufficient sunlight streamed through the windows so reading was possible most of the day. That was something.

Someday she would have enough saved to commission a proper suite of office furniture for him. An extravagance he would never purchase himself. 

Laconia chirruped and pawed at the doorframe.

Wentworth glanced up and caught Anne’s eye with a brief nod. “There now.” He opened the messenger’s pack and removed a letter bearing the Blue Order Seal.

The cockatrice shook out his compacted feather-scales and scratched behind his tiny ear with his talons, leaning back on his dusty serpentine tail for balance.

“Laconia, show our guest to the kitchen for a solid meal whilst I read this and pen a reply. The wyrmlings may accompany you as well.” That was not a suggestion, but an order.

Anne placed the basket on the floor. Corn and Wall tumbled out and led the way to the kitchen, spring-hopping with speed only the possibility of a snack could induce. The Blue Order messenger flew low behind them.

Wentworth beckoned her in, and she shut the door behind her. He closed the window that the messenger had probably entered.

“Would it be too optimistic to hope it is merely an announcement of time changes to the Cotillion?” She bit her lip and dodged around the clumsy chairs to join him near the desk.

He cracked the seal. “Considering this is written in cipher, I imagine something less mundane.” He yanked open the top drawer and removed a small red leatherbound notebook no larger than the palm of his hand. “The specific cipher was pressed into the wax seal—one that is reserved for only select operatives of the Order.”

“So definitely not good news.” She perched in the nearest chair, stiff and smelling of leather polish. 

He fell into his chair. It groaned, long-suffering. “It will take me some time to sort the message out. Tell me of your visit to Kellynch whilst I work on it.”

“I still wonder that he is the same creature who threatened me in the sea cave. Though I suppose I should not be, considering what Lady Elizabeth has told me about dragons who have been wronged. They certainly take their offenses seriously.”

“Indeed they do, large and small.”

“Dragons or offenses?”

“Both.” He snickered softly though his brow drew low over his eyes.

 “If he had his druthers, I think he would take up residence in the cellar under the house. At least he would if only it were a little larger and had a proper soaking pool for him, like his lair does—apparently after all the decades without water, he is unwilling to do without again. But still, he truly hates to be alone. Can you imagine? He complained he had not seen Corn and Wall recently enough. Who would have thought he would be so fond of them? At times I wonder whether they are our Friends or his.”

“According to Laconia, they talk of Kellynch constantly, honored by the attention of a true wyrm. Shatter-brained little creatures! I half expect that the Sage will ask you to write a monograph on their relationship.” He glanced up from his work. 

Oh, the way he looked at her! It would never grow old. 

The crests of her cheeks heated.

“I imagine you are going to tell me he has decided to accompany us to London, no?”

“He was rather considerate about it, though. He seemed concerned that the house with the lair might not be as pleasing as the other we had inquired after.”

He set down his pencil and fixed her gaze with his own. “And you are all right with the change? You are being presented into Dragon Keeping society by the Sage herself, after all. I expect we will be required to do a great deal of entertaining.”

She swallowed hard, her eyes burning just a bit. He was so considerate. “I cannot imagine a house with a dragon lair being any mean accommodation. As to it being unable to accommodate a large party—I think that is rather a good thing. Hosting small events, for now, suits me very well indeed.”

“A baronet and his lady need not be seen living as a baronet and his lady?” The corners of his lips turned up just a mite.

“I think being seen as honoring one’s dragon is living as a baronet and his family should, do you not?”

 “I could not say it better myself.” He chuckled, picked up his pencil and began scratching away again. 

Perhaps on the journey to London they could talk about what entertaining Blue Order society during the Cotillion season would look like. Wentworth had no experience with such things.

Would he chafe amidst the expectations of “good” society? Would he be accepted among them, or simply viewed a novelty—a Dragon Keeping naval officer who had to be tolerated and humored whilst behind his back talk would fly? How hard did he expect, or even want, to work to be accepted? How important was it to him?

How important was it to her?

His expression slowly crumpled into a deep frown. “It seems the plans you made with Kellynch are fortuitous. Lord Matlock himself requests that Kellynch remain with his Keepers in light of current events.” 

A cold chill snaked down her spine. “Does he say what current events?”

He scribbled down a few more words. “Apparently, Mr. William Elliot finds his accommodations in prison rather uncomfortable—not gentleman’s lodgings, it seems. He has attempted to trade information for some favors toward himself.”

She clutched the edge of the desk. “They are not going to release him, are they?”

“No, that would be far too dangerous—for him. Kellynch will never forgive the assault on his Keeper. Not to mention Elliot is far from paying his debts to the Order. I am sure he has only bought himself a softer bed or better rations. In any case, the information suggests there are those, dragon hearers and some dragon-deaf, maybe even some members of the Order itself, who are hostile toward dragons. There are hints of schemes to profit off trading in dragons and—” he gulped, “—their body parts.”

“Gracious heavens!” The dragon scale lotion she made from the scales Uppercross happily gave her was one thing, but this? The edges of her vision fuzzed and the room spun slightly. She clutched the arms of the chair.

“At this point, there is no way of knowing the accuracy of Elliot’s information. It could have been merely a fiction traded for comfort. But then again, it might not. Matlock insists—and I agree—it must be thoroughly investigated.”

“Of course, of course it must. The possibility is too awful to take lightly!” Anne stood, knees shaking almost too hard to hold her up.

“Lord Matlock asks that we alter our travel plans. He has arranged for post horses so we do not need to stop and rest ours. He wants us to visit a list of persons and places of interest along the way to London. If we travel day and night, it will delay our arrival by a day, at most two.”

“That does not seem so bad. I am sure it will be hardly noticeable.” 

“It will be uncomfortable. At best. There will be no sleeping at inns, we will take meals in the carriage, not at proper tables. It is a form of travel to which you are not accustomed.”

“I am hardly accustomed to any sort of travel at all. I will make do.”

He skirted around the desk and took her hands firmly. “Are you sure?” 

“This is what we decided upon when we wed. I admit, I had not expected Order business to come up so soon, or to be so serious, but I will not back down from our commitment.” Hopefully he did not notice her fingers trembling.

“Then I will write to him straight away.” He pressed her hands to his cheek.

“I will adjust our packing in light of our new plans. Corn and Wall will need plenty of snacks and a few extra bones for teething.”

 

***

 

So, what do you think is going on? No spoilers, but I will say, it’s far more than you might imagine!


Smugglers. A kidnapping. A fire-breathing fairy dragon? The Blue Order is falling apart at the seams.  

After months in Bath mentoring Dragon Keepers and Friends, Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy actually anticipates traveling to London for the Keeper’s Cotillion. Which says a great deal considering the she-dragons who make up the Cotillion board would very much like to show the Sage her proper place.

The she-dragons, though, are no match for what Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy finds waiting for him in London. Threats to the Order on every side, and Lord Matlock demands he keep them secret from Elizabeth. No one keeps secrets from Elizabeth.

In the meantime, Anne and Frederick Wentworth arrive in London with hopes of finally being accepted in good Blue Order society, unaware of the burgeoning maelstrom about to engulf them.

Darcy manages to keep matters under control until a fairy-dragon’s prank unleashes sinister forces who perpetrate an unthinkable crime that could spell the end of the Pendragon Accords and usher in a new age of dragon war.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy, with the Wentworths’ help, restore balance to the Blue Order before the dragons decide to take matters into their own talons and right the wrongs themselves?

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You can find Dragon’s Beyond the Pale at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited

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Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time. 

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. 

dragon author2

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com 

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Maria Grace is kindly offering an ebook copy of Dragon’s Beyond the Pale to one reader commenting this post, or if you haven’t read any book from the series yet, you can pick an ebook copy of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon. Leave a comment on this post until the 13th of May to apply. The winner will be announced shortly after. 

Good Luck everyone!

dragon group 7 cover

 

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Miss Bennet’s Dragon by M Verant – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone, 

Are you a big fan of fantasy? Do you like to have it mixed with Jane Austen’s characters? I never thought I was much into it, but I decided to give it a try, and ever since I read some really good austenesque fantasy books that I’ve been hooked. We should never say no unless we’ve tried something first, right?

Today I am happy to bring to you an excerpt of Miss Bennet’s Dragon, a novel by M. Verant who is a new to me author, but whose writing skills are visible in the excerpt we’re sharing, which means the TBR just keeps growing and growing! The book was released yesterday, but it’s already waiting to be read by me, especially because it already hit Amazon #1 new release in Gaslamp fantasy! That can only mean people are enjoying it right?

I hope you like the excerpt and that you share your opinion of it with us 🙂 Don’t forget there is a giveaway of an ebook for those commenting on this post. 

Thank you so much for visiting Mr. Verant! It was a pleasure to welcome you to From Pemberley to Milton, I wish you the best of luck with this release!


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Elizabeth Bennet is hiding a forbidden power. She can communicate with draca, the fire-breathing creatures that bind to married gentry. But Mr. Darcy has noticed her secret. He even hinted at his own mystery involving “the darkness of Pemberley.”

War with France is raging, and there are rumors that the English army will recruit married gentlemen so their draca may be used in battle.

Now, Elizabeth meets the handsome and scheming Mr. Wickham in Meryton.

 
Excerpt from Chapter 9 
 

Lydia, Kitty, and Mary were outside the haberdashery with some officers, including Mr. Wickham. He offered his arm, and I latched on, amused at my behavior after scoffing at Charlotte’s advice.

Lydia rewarded me with a grumpy expression. Mr. Wickham was now resplendent in his scarlet regimental uniform.

Fortunately, there were officers enough, including one for Mary. She tended to be stranded when competing with Lydia and Kitty, who were aggressive in securing gentlemen. Of course, I had snatched Mr. Wickham without even considering her. That was an uncomfortable thought, although it turned out all right in the end.

Pondering the dynamics of five unmarried sisters, I watched Mary converse with her companion. She was smiling, but to my eye, her pleasure seemed forced. I was not sure what was wrong, but I wished she were happier.

I returned my attention to Mr. Wickham, but he seemed distracted. I followed his gaze.

On the far side of the street, an iron-barred coach was being loaded with luggage. A steel mesh cage on top held a draca.

Wondering what fascinated him, I said, “Colonel Forster reports the regular army is recruiting married, bound officers.”

Mr. Wickham turned to me with a smile. “Indeed, I have considered joining the regular army. Serving in the militia is an honor, but the regulars, even more. I have little patience for men who shout of patriotism while playing cards in drawing rooms.” The corner of his smile dimpled. “Regretfully, I am unmarried.”

I bit my lip to squash an impending blush. “I am sure you would be welcomed. They have a great shortage of officers for the war. They award commissions to those who demonstrate an officer’s character.”

“You are well informed,” he said, abruptly defensive.

I kicked myself for overstepping. “I am sure I am poorly informed, compared to an officer of the militia.” With a doting smile, I added, “Shall I call you Lieutenant Wickham now?”

The warm smile returned. “Truthfully, I enjoy hearing you say Mr. Wickham.” He gave a bow. I felt we were set right again, although my method left me uncomfortable.

Then I had to ponder whether “Mr. Wickham” was a more intimate address than “Lieutenant,” and I decided it was.

His attention returned to the cage on the carriage. The draca was agitated, jumping against the mesh so the cage shook. It was a smallish quadruped, about the size of a rabbit. A reddish underbelly pressed against the wire, and I recognized a roseworm, who take their name from their color.

Lydia and Lieutenant Denny crossed the street toward it.

Blue flame shot from the cage, shivering the blue sky, barely visible but heating my skin like an open furnace. A patch of mesh on the cage glowed red-hot, the center yellow-white and smoking. The roseworm clawed in a frenzy, and the metal tore like fabric. The creature scrambled over the carriage roof and fell into the street.

Even falling, it fell wrong. Draca of every variety are sinuous and exact in their motion, a graceful mix of stalking cat and hunting bird. But this was a flailing, painful plummet, and I heard a thump and an animal’s shriek as it hit the ground.

People crowded close. Then a woman screamed, and they scattered pell-mell like children at a game. One man cried out with every step while a woman supported him, his trouser leg in bloody shreds.

I caught a flicker of rose among the running feet, then the roseworm darted free. It ran toward Lydia and tumbled to an awkward halt a few feet from her.

Lydia’s hand extended in fright. The roseworm’s chest swelled like our drake’s had before it threw fire.

Ten paces away, my thought was an instinctive, silent scream: Stop!

The roseworm’s threatening pose froze. Lydia’s hand hung, outstretched like a command. Then Denny wrapped her in his arms and pulled her away.

The roseworm’s head twisted toward me. My vision blurred. I felt… shame. Terror and confusion. And pain. Burning pain that had struck while trapped in the cage.

With a snap, the sensation vanished. The roseworm fell on his side, convulsing and screeching. It was horrid, a creature in ultimate agony. He bounced on the ground like a child’s abused rattle, then lay still.

“She stopped the attack,” Wickham said in a wondering voice. His gaze was on Lydia.

“Kill it!” someone shouted. Men ran for sticks. An officer drew his sword. But they hung back, afraid to approach.

“He is killed already,” I whispered. I walked between the standing men and knelt by the poor creature. Dead, he was a little thing, with beautiful red scales that turned golden on his back and tail. The memory of his dying terror tightened my throat.

There was a strange odor. Sour orange and bitter almond.

Firm steps approached. “Miss Bennet, please come away—” a familiar baritone began.

“Elizabeth!” said Mr. Wickham’s concerned voice.

On each side of me, a man’s hand was extended. One was gloved beneath an elegant dark sleeve, the other bare beneath an arm clothed in scarlet regimentals.

As I rose, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham turned from me to each other. Mr. Darcy’s face became cold, then white with fury. Mr. Wickham was red-faced. He took a flustered step back before touching his hat in greeting.

With no word, not even the bare minimum of a nod, Mr. Darcy turned his back. His gray horse was a few steps away, untethered but waiting with perfect discipline. With a horseman’s uninterrupted sweep, Mr. Darcy was into the saddle and trotting away. He kicked the animal and vanished down the street at a gallop.

Mystified, I turned the other way. Mr. Wickham’s scarlet back vanished through the crowd in the opposite direction.


An unforgettable fantasy retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is romantic, funny, and more relevant than ever.

Elizabeth Bennet is hiding a forbidden power. She can speak to draca, the fire-breathing creatures kept as status symbols by English gentry. If only Mr. Darcy would stop noticing… and hinting at his own dark secret.

When Elizabeth’s sister falls deathly ill, the cure lies in the mysteries of draca. Elizabeth, aided by her brilliant sister Mary, defies restrictive English society to hunt for lost draca lore. She must hurry. England’s war with France has drawn other hunters, and they have darker goals.

Elizabeth’s search leads her to the fabulous Pemberley estate, home of the entitled and infuriating man whose proposal she scorned. There, Elizabeth’s worlds smash together—protocol against passion, and exultation against the risk of love.

But the stakes are greater than her sister’s life. Elizabeth must test herself against a distant war.

And her enemy is not who she thought.

 

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You can find Miss Bennet’s Dragon at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited

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I write fantasy, sci-fi, and thrillers, all with the same Spotify playlist. My books include social and political issues, but I’m an incurable romantic, so they’re… NobleBright, kind of?

My latest work is Miss Bennet’s Dragon, a fantasy retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that recasts Austen’s social critique as themes of entitlement and empowerment.

Power in the Age of Lies is my first novel. The Culling Gods will be published in 2021 by Montag Press.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, surrounded by Teslas and wild turkeys. Visit mverant.com for more.

 


Mr. Verant is kindly offering one ebook copy of Miss Bennet’s Dragon to one reader visiting From Pemberley to Milton. The giveaway is international and all you have to do to apply to it is comment on this post until the 13th of May. The winner will be announced shortly after that. 

Good Luck everyone!

 

19 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

April Bookmail Giveaway

Good Afternoon dear readers, 

It’s time for another monthly bookmail giveaway, however, in April I only received one book in the mail, which means you won’t get a chance to choose the book you may receive. 

The book I got through the mail is a novella from Alix James, and to apply to this month’s giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me you’re interested. I haven’t read Along for the Ride yet, but I absolutely love Alix James’ novellas, and I do hope to read this one shortly 🙂 Has any of you read it? Do you recommend it? What about other novellas from this author? Do you like them?

Along for the Ride by Alix James – Source: Purchased

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Good Luck Everyone!

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Dare to Refuse Such a Man by Mary Smythe – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone, 

I am very pleased to welcome Mary Smythe to From Pemberley to Milton today. Quills & Quartos has recently published her book Dare to Refuse Such a Man, and she decided to present us with a very intriguing excerpt of it. I find it intriguing because I have never imagined a story where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy wanted to get married but Mr. Bennet would not give his consent, have you? What do you think of this premise? Isn’t it promising? This book is definitely on my TBR and I believe I will be reading it very shortly 🙂

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this tour Q&Q team! And thank you for choosing such a wonderful excerpt Mary! I wish you all the luck with this book 🙂


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Hi Rita! Thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m so excited to be here 🙂

This scene simultaneously takes place at the beginning and the middle of the story. How, you ask? Why, it’s the scene which, chronologically, follows the one from the prologue! After Darcy kisses Elizabeth senseless at the Meryton Assembly, Mr Bennet whisks her away from him for the second time while absolutely denying his consent for them to marry. The following morning, Elizabeth wakes with a new hope and a firm resolution to let no one, even her beloved father, stand in the way of her happiness…

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Hertfordshire, October 19, 1811

Through her window, the rosy fingertips of dawn were just barely reaching over the horizon, but Elizabeth had been awake for some time already, waiting for enough light to dress by. In spite of her late night, she felt no fatigue. Quite the contrary; Elizabeth was full of excitement, anticipation, and renewed hope.

He is here! Her dearest, sweetest, most loyal Fitzwilliam was in Hertfordshire.

She kicked her feet free of her covers and wasted not a single moment more in stoking her small fire—indeed, she barely felt anything save the warm glow of happy anticipation—and instead, selected a gown that required no help with the buttons. 

Since returning to Hertfordshire, it had been nigh impossible for Elizabeth to enjoy the familiar comforts of home, though she attempted to appear as regular as possible for the sake of keeping her burdens private from her mother and younger sisters. Elizabeth had performed all her former duties around the estate by rote, socialised with their neighbours with forced cheer, and grudgingly maintained a civil tongue towards her father. Each and every interaction felt like a terrible effort.

She had not yet resumed the habit of whiling away companionable hours in Mr Bennet’s book room. She only entered that room to collect a ledger or book and then perused them elsewhere. No one, except perhaps Jane, her only confidante, had seemingly noticed the new chill between the Bennet patriarch and his favourite daughter, though it was certainly felt between the two of them. 

Oh, but all the strife from the past few weeks could be put aside and hope renewed. Darcy was here—he had staked his claim, kissing her before everyone she knew—all would be as it should, and they could marry. Mr Bennet would not continue to deny them, surely, when to do so would be to invite censure into their lives? A romantic reunion between established lovers could easily be accepted as a sweet if somewhat improper anecdote. Surely her father must come to reason; if an engagement was not announced soon…well, it did not bear thinking of the consequences for not only Elizabeth but also her sisters.

When she recalled this in the midst of her excited preparations, Elizabeth sobered for a moment. She had no doubt Darcy would propose to her with all haste, and her neighbours, who had known the Bennet daughters since infancy, would be more forgiving than London society, but she did rather wish Darcy had not risked their reputations. 

Then again, Elizabeth could understand why he had felt desperate enough to do so. Mr Bennet’s steadfast refusal to even entertain the idea of their match—Elizabeth scowled, as she often did, at the thought of her father’s stubbornness—and his pains to separate them were likely what had driven Darcy to such extremes. How could she be angry with him for doing this much? She might have done the same had she thought of it.

Through the window, she could see the dome of the rising sun arching over the fields and determined it was light enough for her excursion. There had been no time to arrange a rendezvous between them the evening before, but Elizabeth hoped, by loitering along the boundary between Longbourn and Netherfield Park, she might spot Darcy from afar and draw his attention to her presence. Should her attempts prove unsuccessful… Well, Elizabeth would think of something. Nothing would keep them apart now.


“He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare refuse anything which he condescended to ask.”– Mr Bennet, Pride and Prejudice Volume III, Chapter 17

IT HAD NEVER OCCURRED TO FITZWILLIAM DARCY that once he had chosen a bride, her father might dare to refuse his consent. When his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth is taken from him with only a curt note of explanation, he determines that, far from accepting her father’s rejection of his suit, he must instead find her again and make his case. After all, a woman worthy of being pleased is also worth fighting for.

SEVERAL MONTHS SHY OF HER MAJORITY, it is not so simple a thing to defy Mr Bennet’s will, but Elizabeth, for the sake of her future happiness, must try. With various allies in her corner, as well as foes standing against her, Elizabeth’s courage must rise against all attempts at intimidation. Even from her own, much beloved father.

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You can find Dare to Refuse Such a Man at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited

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Mary Smythe is a homemaker living in South Carolina with a rather useless BA in English collecting dust in a closet somewhere. Mrs Smythe discovered the works of Jane Austen as a teenager thanks to the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and has since gone on to read everything written by Ms Austen at least once yearly, always wishing that there were more. She has been writing since 2001, but only discovered Jane Austen Fanfiction in the summer of 2018. Dare to Refuse Such a Man is the first full-length novel she has ever completed, though she can boast a few shorter works in her library, as well.

Mary Smythe pic


Quills & Quartos is giving away an ebook copy of Dare to Refuse Such a Man to one of my readers. To enter the giveaway please comment on this post and let us know what you thought about this excerpt.

The drawing will occur  a week after the tour ends (7 May) and the winner announced shortly after that on Q&Q’s social media.

Good Luck everyone!

DTRSAM Blog Tour

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Tempt Me by Julie Cooper

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Tempt Me’s prologue starts off with a powerful scene that takes place a few years prior to the Pride & Prejudice events, but on the first chapter, it moves forward to the Meryton Assembly where Mr. Darcy meets a very different Elizabeth Bennet.

In this book, Mr. Darcy is a vampyre who has the ability to feel other people’s feelings. This characteristic may seem interesting, but he considers it a burden, and it is very difficult for him to be around too many people because that experience tends to be overwhelming. However, something changes at the Meryton Assembly, where he is immediately drown and curious about Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a lady whose feelings he cannot sense. I, on the other hand, felt immediately drown to her because her low self-esteem was so different from what we usually see, that it had to be a promising trait in her character.

During the initials chapters of the book, Elizabeth Bennet is indeed very different, and I confess I enjoyed her vulnerability at first. However, after her marriage to Mr. Darcy, which takes place earlier in the book, I started to feel a bit annoyed with her instability and meekness concerning Darcy’s vampiric nature. Fortunately, as the story progresses, Elizabeth becomes stronger and completely devoted to her husband, so it was easier to forget my initial quibble.

In Tempt Me, we will find some of the usual vampyre characteristics, but also some novelties that kept me wondering most of the time. Julie Cooper created her own set of rules, and those rules appear as the story progresses, so the reader never really knows what may happen next. This suspense and creativity was something I really enjoyed in the book and it kept me reading just to discover exactly why certain things were happening, even if some questions regarding the vampyre world are left unanswered, the discovery journey the reader is allowed to take is very satisfying.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was Colonel Fitzwilliam’s character. I loved him from his first appearance until the last and I felt like he was my partner in crime in this story. His character and the blunt way he always dealt with Mr. Darcy, Anne and especially Elizabeth were simply perfect. Every time I felt something needed to be done, or said, the Colonel was there to make it happen J

The story is full of action as the villains, and there are many of them, keep coming up with different ideas to destroy Darcy, and even if I liked the excitement it all brought, at a certain point I thought that we already had our fair share of abductions. I believe the narrative would gain from a more simple conflict with less schemes from the villains. Nevertheless, readers can be assured of many heroic scenes where Mr. Darcy comes to the rescue and even situations when it is Elizabeth who saves her husband. There is no lack of heroic situations in Tempt Me!

Summing up, Tempt Me is a very exciting and entertaining novel where readers can find a new vampyric world full of challenges and happy endings (for the heroes of course… the villains not so much). I recommend it to readers who like exciting stories that are action packed but also examine the characters growing faith in one another.

 

You can find Tempt Me at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited and on Audible

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Silver Buckles by Grace Gibson

SB_cover_900x13504.5 stars

What if Mr. Darcy realizes his mistake in offending Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly and decides to offer an apology? And what if they do dance together and start off on more friendly terms ?

In Silver Buckles the story is relatively simple, and because of that, it is refreshingly interesting. There aren’t unnecessary misunderstandings or farfetched changes in the story. Silver Buckles is a low angst novel that places our beloved characters in drawing room and uses a vibrant writing to make the story progress.

What I loved the most about this book were the flirtation and the dialogues between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Many authors mention repeatedly how witty Elizabeth is and how Mr. Darcy and she are equals in terms of intelligence, but Grace Gibson didn’t mention that, she showed it to us, which proves her quality as a writer. The playfulness and vivacity of Elizabeth and Darcy’s dialogues kept me interested in the story until the last page because I always wanted to know what they would say to one another next, and this definitely sold the book to me.

Another aspect I loved about this book is Elizabeth’s relationship with Mary. The middle daughter is one of my favourites and I always believed that if her sisters would pay her more attention she would prove to be great company. Grace Gibson proved this by having Elizabeth help Mary develop into an adoring lady, and I adored it!

Jane Bennet is another character whose plotline will surprise some readers, and I confess that once more I loved the outcome she had. Col. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana were two other secondary characters I enjoyed, and who filled their job as supporters of the story.

Grace Gibson penned a story that is simple yet catching and where some of the characters are refreshingly different, but where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth stay very true to themselves. For me this was the most important, I love to see some differences in the secondary characters because that makes the story more interesting and unpredictable, but I cannot bear to have different Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s. Grace Gibson did just that.

Summing up, Silver Buckles is an extremely well written book where the author shows the reader what is happening and reveals the characters personalities by having them behave in a certain manner instead of just telling all of these things. For me this is a sign of a quality book and I highly recommend it.

 

Audiobook Narration:

Elizabeth Bennet’s Level

The audiobook of Silver Buckles is one of the most original narrations I have ever heard. Instead of having one narrator, we have two: Stevie Zimmerman who narrates the chapters told from Elizabeth’s point of view, and Neil Roy McFarlane who narrates the chapters told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. The fact that we have the chapters being told from two different points of view, and having each of these narrated by different people made me feel connected to each character more deeply. I clearly heard Elizabeth’s voice when Stevie had the stage and Mr. Darcy’s when Neil took it over. I believe the audiobook may be the best version of Silver Buckles, and I recommend getting a copy through audible.

 

You can find Silver Buckles at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited and on Audible

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