Category Archives: North and South

Confined With Mr. Darcy by L.L. Diamond- Outtake

Good Afternoon everyone,

Today I am very happy to receive at From Pemberley to Milton author L.L. Diamond who is visiting with an outtake of her latest novella, Confined With Mr. Darcy. 

This book has got to be a must read in 2020! The premise is everything perfect and the book could not have been released at a better time. What could be better during a pandemic confinement, than reading a P&P modernization where Elizabeth gets confined with Mr. Darcy? How perfect is this? Plus, have you looked at the cover? I was in love the second I put my eyes on it! You know I have a thing for covers, and this was definitely a MUST have, so I didn’t resist and got myself a paperback copy 🙂 I was also tempted to get an ebook copy because Leslie has kindly decided to donate part of the profit of these sales to the Jane Austen House Museum, but apparently my contribution was not necessary because, so far, she has been able to donate a very good sum 🙂 Anyway, if you haven’t got this book yet, consider it! The story seems amazing and you would be helping the Jane Austen House Museum 🙂

I won’t keep you much longer, I only wanted to thank Leslie for visiting today, and I’ll release you to read the outtake. I know you want to 😉


William Darcy has gone completely mental! Despite Elizabeth Bennet’s less than stellar opinion of him, some unknown force possessed him to invite her to Pemberley to wait out lockdown. Just because she’d be closer to her sister Jane, who’s isolated in the gamekeeper’s cottage with her husband wasn’t a legitimate excuse either. He’d invited Elizabeth—the only woman he’d ever really fancied—Elizabeth, who’d refused him without reservation at the Rosings Book Festival. Now, he spends part of every day in Elizabeth’s company while struggling to keep his feelings hidden from not only her but also his nosy sister and motherly housekeeper. What a bloody nightmare!
When William Darcy showed up on her doorstep, the last thing Elizabeth Bennet expected was an invitation to Pemberley, yet she now lives in the poshest of rooms and can walk the extensive gardens and the forests without limits. Even Tilney, her timid Maine Coon cat, is willing to brave strangers to explore his new surroundings, but Elizabeth has no idea how to behave around Darcy. If no one can say when lockdown will end, she could be living at Pemberley indefinitely. How do you live with a man you’re attracted to, but who tries your every last nerve? How is she supposed to stay confined with Mr. Darcy?

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You can find Confined With Mr. Darcy at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk


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Thank you so much for having me today, Rita! Confined with Mr. Darcy has been such an amazing experience. As of Tuesday, we’d reached $450 for Jane Austen House Museum and the donation is still growing. I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s response to not only JAHM’s Covid-19 Survival Appeal, but also this attempt to furnish them some much needed funds to continue the work they do every day to preserve Jane Austen’s home and legacy. Thank you to everyone who has read or purchased a copy. If you’ve read Confined with Mr. Darcy on Kindle Unlimited and loved it, consider adding it to your personal collection, leaving a review, recommending it to a friend, or even giving it as a gift. Every dollar will add up!

For today’s guest post, I have one more outtake for you!! This is one someone said they wanted to read when I previewed chapters from the novella. It’s not crazy long, but I just figured I’d give you the crux of the situation. I think everyone has some idea of the past from their initial meeting that I wrote first, to the dinner scene, and now we have Rosings—yes that Rosings! Buckle up your seat belt! I don’t think Elizabeth is going to be very nice about things. Do you?

 

***

 

Elizabeth sighed and sank back into the comfy chair while she enjoyed the view of the water from her hotel room window. Yes, she’d hidden in her room rather than going to the dining room for dinner, but she’d been enduring Darcy’s company the entire weekend. He’d shown up at every single talk as well as dinner every evening. He’d even happened upon her at breakfast this morning. She simply couldn’t tonight.

It wasn’t like she’d wanted to spend nearly every moment of the event with Darcy. She certainly hadn’t even thought about him when she’d signed up, but the problem was she’d been too much of a chicken to tell him. Instead, she’d gritted her teeth, drank entirely too much wine, and bore it with as much grace as a pigeon hit by a car. Okay, maybe that was a bit dramatic. She only felt like a pigeon that’d been hit by a car.

A loud knock nearly made her fall out of her seat. She watched the door for a moment like it might explode. What if it was him? A part of her didn’t want to answer it in case it was, but what if it was her uncle at the door? When she’d texted her uncle that she was going to miss that last event, she’d mentioned she had a headache. He might’ve come to check on her.

After blowing out a noisy breath, she approached the door and touched it gingerly when she opened it. Her stomach dropped to the floor when it was Darcy on the other side. She should’ve gone with her gut!

“The rep. at the Gardiner table said you have a headache. Are you okay? Do you need something? I can get you some paracetamol. I think the shop in the lobby has some.” He stepped through into the room while he spoke, and she glanced back and forth between the hallway and him. He couldn’t have waited for an invitation?

“No, I already took some. Thank you.” She hadn’t really, but if she sent him out for paracetamol, he would come back. She just wanted him to go.

He scratched the back of his neck and looked around the room for a moment, his eyes settling on the room service cart before he looked back at her. “Hopefully eating helped.”

“A little,” she said, watching him stand there in the most awkward manner.

He cleared his throat and opened his mouth twice before he blurted, “You must know how much I like you by now. I mean, I tried not to—I really did, but I couldn’t help it. Despite your horrible mother and your younger sisters, who behave like they’ve shagged half the county, you’ve fascinated me. From the first moment I saw you, I’ve fought with whether I should tell you how I feel. How much I enjoy being with you—talking with you. This weekend has been amazing, but I really want us to spend more time together. I thought maybe we could get away. I have a flat in Paris. We could go next weekend? We could take the Eurostar on Friday evening and return late Sunday. Think about it. We could walk along the Seine, go to the Louvre and the Musèe D’Orsay, eat croissants and crepes and drink champagne.” When his long and rambling speech ended, he simply stood there, his eyebrows high on his forehead.

“You’re mental,” she said. “Absolutely mental.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’ve liked me since the first moment you saw me? Really? Do you remember what you said that evening, because I do? I remember every bloody word!” His mouth opened and closed, but she really didn’t give him time to answer. “I believe your exact words to Charles were, ‘Look! I’m not going to ask her to dance. I said she’s okay and I meant it. She’s not the prettiest woman I’ve ever seen.’” Elizabeth had dropped her pitch so her voice was almost as deep as she could make it. “And even if you’d apologized for saying that, there’s still what your cousin told me about you.”

“My cousin?” He frowned and stepped forward. “Which one?”

“The one who owns the biomedical company. What is his name: Robert …Richard? If you don’t remember, he was as pissed as a parrot by the end of the night. After he asked me to dance, he proceeded to tell me all about how you’d tried to break up Charles and my sister. What has my sister ever done to you?”

She paused for a moment, but again, left him no time to speak. “I can answer that because it’s nothing. She’s never so much as hurt a fly, but you wanted to break her heart. Very nice, Darcy. And now, you seem to think that you can waltz in here and sweep me off my feet by telling how much you like me—even though you don’t want to, and how my mother is so horrible. Oh, and let’s not forget my sisters, who’ve probably shagged half the county by the way. Let me tell you something. Regardless of what they do with boys their age, they are my sisters. They sometimes make me want to pull my hair out, but I still love them.”

“I didn’t think—”

“That much is obvious. You always stand there like a stuck-up prig, staring, and passing judgement on everyone.”

He flinched as if he were pinched. “Is that really what you thought?”

“What else was I supposed to believe? You said I wasn’t pretty and then glared at me whenever we happened to be in the same room.”

“But you invited me to dinner…”

“No, you’d always have some excuse or another to ask to sit with me.” Her hands clenched so tightly at her sides that her fingernails dug painfully into her palms. “Believe it or not, I don’t like to be rude, so I let you. I couldn’t understand why, when we’d never had anything other than an awkward conversation, you wanted to eat together much less pay for my meal but you kept coming back. I’ve drank more in the past few days than I usually do in a fortnight. You are the rudest man I have ever had the misfortune to meet—”

“I’ve heard enough,” he said in an almost tired voice. “I understand that I was mistaken. Forgive me for taking up so much of your time.” Without another word, he strode through the door, letting it slam shut behind him.

Elizabeth dropped onto the bed and put her hands over her face, but quickly pulled them away. They were damp. When had she started crying? “Okay, he’s gone, Elizabeth. You can relax and let your hair down.”

She looked out of the window before peering back at the door. His expression right before he’d walked out made her chest hurt, but why? Since when did she care whether she’d hurt Darcy’s feelings?

“Oh bloody hell,” she said, picking up the phone and dialing the number for room service. “Yes…this is room 311. Could you please send up a bottle of Prosecco?”


L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans before following her husband all over as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.
Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. Her most recent endeavours have included certifications to coach swimming as well as fitness instructor and personal trainer. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolour is her medium of choice with one of her watercolours featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is also a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!

Visit Leslie’s website lldiamondwrites.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @lldiamond2


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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

So This is Love – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

How are you today? I am very happy to receive at From Pemberley to Milton Laura Hile, an author who has marked me forever with one of my all time favourite books, Darcy by Any Other Name. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it! But today she is not here to talk about that book, she is visiting to share with you an excerpt of her most recently release novel, So This is Love

I am currently reading this book and I’m really enjoying it, in fact, the excerpt we are sharing today is precisely the point where I stand in the book, and I am looking forward to see how the romance between Charlotte and Captain Blunt will evolve. 

I used to only read Darcy/Elizabeth centered books, but after reading so many stories, one cannot help but feel the need for something different, so secondary based novels now hold a new appeal to me. 

So This is Love is certainly holding my attention, and I hope you like reading the excerpt as much as I am enjoying reading the book. And there is a giveaway, so don’t forget to comment 🙂 Let us know if you are only interested in Darcy/Elizabeth stories, or if like me your tastes have changed over time. If so, is Charlotte one of your favourites? Or is she a character that holds little appeal for you? I’m looking forward to read your opinion, but now I think it is time to let you read the blurb and the excerpt 🙂


“I am not romantic, you know. I never was.”

Newly escaped from a loathsome engagement of convenience, Charlotte Lucas has no interest in romance. More than ever, she is convinced that no man would—or could—love her. As companion to an aging aunt, Charlotte’s new life is as predictable as it is circumspect.

But then she is rescued from a robbery by her uncle’s heir, a masterful man who is disastrously handsome. Why has he remained as a guest in the house? Why is he so determined to draw Charlotte out and make her talk? And what of his invitation to visit his home by the sea?

Romance is not on the chart for Captain Jack Blunt. Never again will he be played for that kind of fool! He is ashore only to heal from an injury and see to business, nothing more. And yet the pointed disinterest of his cousin’s pert niece is intriguing. She is forthright, refreshingly honest—and altogether lovely.  She will make a fine wife for one of his officers. But not, of course, for him.

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You can find So This is Love at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk


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Excerpt Introduction (general): Mr. Collins is little more than a stranger when Charlotte Lucas agrees to marry him. This is a prudent choice, given her situation. But when Mr. Collins crosses the line, something in Charlotte snaps. How dare he be so familiar, so shamelessly forward! It isn’t as if he loves her!

Come with Charlotte as she breaks the engagement, is sent away to her father’s relations, and discovers a future that is vastly different from the one she envisioned.

Because “I am not romantic” is anything but true. Charlotte simply hasn’t met the right man.

In this story, she will.

****

In Chapter 6, the coach in which Charlotte and her brother are traveling is robbed by highwaymen. Now she and her handsome rescuer must ride double on his horse.

With a nod to the passengers, Captain Jack Blunt took the reins and led the horse down the coaching road at a walk. Once out of sight, he stopped and looked back at Miss Lucas. “The trouble is this: because of an injury my foot will not bear me the full two miles. I’ll mount up behind you now, and we’ll ride together.” 

“I’ll gladly dismount and walk.” 

While he appreciated the spirit of her offer, Jack was not about to allow a woman to walk while he rode. “After twenty-odd hours cramped in that coach?” he countered. “Without sleep? I have traveled like that many a time; it is brutal.”

“Brutal is certainly the word.”

“It will be easier this way.”

“Easier for your pride!”

“How well you understand me! We’ll bring this off, trust me.” 

“I have no choice but to trust you, Mr. Blunt. I’ll have you know,” she added, “that although I am no horsewoman, I am not a coward.”

“Assuredly not, merely worn to the bone. You gave as good as you got back there.” 

Blunt swung into the saddle behind her, and after a bit of adjustment, they settled in. Never mind that she was half sitting on his lap! He shifted the hilt of his sword so that it did not dig into her side. 

“That was a bad business you were witness to,” he remarked, as he urged the horse forward. “I regret having to shoot that fellow, but there was nothing else to be done.”

“His flintlock had already been fired, hadn’t it?”

“It had,” he said grimly, “but at the time I did not know this. Moreover, he threatened to shoot you. From my vantage point, it was likely that he would. Barring that, he’d bludgeon you on the temple, possibly killing you.” 

“That is just what you did to the other man!” 

Blunt hesitated. He would never make her understand. “It was the easiest way to disable him. It makes no difference; he’ll hang soon enough.”

He felt her stiffen. “These are not novices or innocents, Miss Lucas. They have been robbing travelers for many weeks; I cannot fathom why there was no guard today. You saw Marlow’s cheek where the bullet grazed him.”

“Yes,” she said quietly.

“You do understand,” he added, “that last week another driver was shot and killed along this same stretch of road?” 

He sensed her discomfort. Apparently she did not know. 

“Highwaymen are romanticized by women and fools. Any one of you might have been killed today, including your precocious brother.” He paused. “Now, unfortunately, Johnny will think highwaymen rob with empty flintlocks and are easily mastered.” 

“Thank you,” she said stiffly, “for coming to our rescue.” 

“You are welcome. Your uncle was, ah, disinclined to accompany me due to his gouty foot. A pity; a second horseman would have been useful.”

Miss Lucas slewed round. “You talked this over with my Uncle Allen? Do I know you, Mr. Blunt?” 

“Perhaps you have heard your parents speak of me,” he said gently, “as Captain Blunt.” 

It appeared that she had heard of him after all. “Forgive me, but you introduced yourself as Jack. I have always heard you called Jasper.” 

“I prefer Jack,” he said grimly. 

“And I prefer Diana,” cried Miss Lucas, “for it is a lovely name and she, unlike me, is beautiful. But my name is Charlotte. Plain, ordinary Charlotte. Wishing a thing were different does not make it so.” 

Blunt’s response was to laugh. “There is nothing of the ordinary about you, Diana.” 

“That shows how little you know.” 

Again he laughed. Poor Miss Lucas was out of her element entirely. Now when would she realize that she was leaning against his chest?

Presently she did become aware, and she pulled herself rigidly upright. Her traveling bag made this an awkward maneuver. Jack put a hand to her shoulder and gently drew her back. “It’s easier for the horse if you do not fidget, Miss Lucas.” 

“That,” she muttered, “is an outright lie. What a wretched day!”

“It is indeed. Go ahead and have your cry,” he offered. “Don’t mind me.” 

“You are as stupid as you are ignorant, Captain Blunt,” she said. “I never cry. Not in front of people.” 

“But there is only me. You have rightly characterized me as stupid; I cannot be said to count.” 

“Crying solves nothing. For me, it only makes everything worse. Besides, I am not pretty enough to cry.”

“What nonsense is this?” 

“It is very true. In my family, I am the sensible one. When I cry, I never get my way, nor do I get sympathy. People become upset, and sometimes they become angry.” 

He leaned sideways to look at her. “Angry?” 

“It is easier for the horse if you do not fidget, Captain Blunt.”

That scotched him! “Aye, aye, ma’am,” he said meekly. 

They lapsed into silence. “Look,” said Jack suddenly. “Everyone cries. Even battle-toughened men on a warship. Even me, and I am as hard as they come. Not in the heat of battle, mind, but after. When I read the service for the deceased, and we send crewmen to their watery graves, I weep. We all do. There is not a dry eye on deck.” 

She appeared to consider this, but no tears came.

“You’ve had quite a day. Bounced inside that coach for hours on end, covered with dirt from the road, robbed at gunpoint, witness to a killing—” 

“And deprived of food and drink,” she added. “Johnny ate most of the food Mother sent.” 

“Did he now? Johnny deserves to be flogged.” 

“It is not his fault, poor boy. He is growing and is always hungry.” 

Blunt dug in a pocket for his flask and uncorked it. “Here,” he offered. “Sip cautiously.” 

She sniffed it. “But this is …” 

“Cognac from your uncle’s cellar. Otherwise known as brandy.” 

She took a tentative sip, closed her eyes, and then took a larger swallow. 

“That’ll do, Diana.” Blunt removed it from her grasp. “Just enough to take the edge off.” He eyed the flask and then took a swallow for himself. 

He heard her sigh. “It’s only a swallow,” he protested. 

“That’s what they all say.” 

Blunt gave a shout of laughter. What an unusual girl! 

He stole another look at her; her eyelids were at half-mast. “I recommend you settle in and take a nap.” 

Of course she was horrified; it would be no fun if she were not. “I could never! And if I did, I would fall sideways. You would have to catch me, which you couldn’t do because I am so heavy. We would both end up on the road.” 

“Egad,” said Jack, grinning. “I’d not thought of that. Stay awake, by all means.” 

Which meant she would be asleep within the quarter hour. 

Sure enough, Captain Blunt was right.


 

Encourager. Believer. Author. Teacher. Friend.
By day, Laura Hile teaches at a Christian school. By night—or rather, in the early morning when she can think! —she writes Jane Austen and Regency romance with laughs and happy endings.
The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with middle school students!
She enjoys gardening (she is a weed warrior!), choral singing, and having coffee with friends.
Laura lives in Beaverton, Oregon, with her husband and a collection of antique clocks. One day she hopes to add a cat or three.

Other books by Laura Hile: Darcy By Any Other Name and the Mercy’s Embrace trilogy. She is a regular contributor to the A Very Austen anthology series.

Connect with Laura:

Website: https://laurahile.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraHileAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2967234.Laura_Hile

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraHile

 


Laura Hile is offering one ebook copy of So This is Love to my readers. To apply to it all you have do to is comment on this post and let us know if you are a team Charlotte kind of person. The giveaway is open until the 22nd and the winners will be announced shortly after.

Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Rakes and Roses – Excerpt

Good Afternoon everyone,

Today I’m bringing to you an excerpt of Rakes and Roses, the third book in the Mayfield Family Series. This book was written by Josi S. Kilpack and published by Shadow Mountain as part of their Proper Romance Series. 

I’ve read a couple of books from the Proper Romance series this year and really enjoyed them, so even though I have not read Rakes and Roses, I imagine this is another great book from this publisher.

The excerpt we are sharing today is part of Chapter 9 and I hope you enjoy it. If you feel curious about this book, take some time to check the first books in the series: Promises and Primroses & Daisies and Devotion, they have high ratings on Amazon, and look really promising 🙂

 


A standalone novel in the Mayfield Family series with an unusual premise and an uplifting ending.

Lady Sabrina endured an abusive marriage, a miscarriage, and early widowhood to emerge as a smart, successful, confident woman who found a way to make her mark in a man’s world. She has friends and purpose, but cannot hide from the emptiness she feels when the parties are over and the friends have gone home to families she will never have.
Harry Stillman may be charming and handsome, but he’s a gambler and a rake who has made a mockery of his privileges. He turns to the mysterious Lord Damion for financial relief from his debts, but still ends up beaten nearly senseless by thugs and left in an alley.
When Lady Sabrina comes upon Harry after the attack, she remembers the kindness Harry once showed to her six years ago and brings him to her estate to heal. Though their relationship begins on rocky footing, it soon mellows into friendship, then trust. But Lady Sabrina needs to keep Harry at a distance, even if he is becoming the kind of man worthy of her heart. After all, she is keeping a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything she’s so carefully built.

 

 

You can find Rakes and Roses at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

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She pulled the hood of her cloak forward to hide her face, took a step, paused to listen again, and then took another. There was no good time of day for a woman to be alone in London, but outside of business hours was the most unsafe. She gripped the strap of the satchel concealed by her coat. She must not lose the satchel.

The unmistakable sound of a groan turned her around, and she scanned the barrels and crates stacked on one side of the alley.

The moan sounded again.

With another glance to make sure no one was watching her, she moved toward the barrels, then gasped when she saw a foot, or, rather, a boot, sticking out. As she moved around the pile of crates, she inhaled sharply when a man’s body came into view. His face was a patchwork of bruises and blood that made his hair look as black as hers in the shadows of the alley. Hurrying forward, she dropped to her knees beside him.

“Sir,” she said in a soft voice, leaning close to him. “Sir, can you hear me?”

He groaned again. His shoulder was set at an awkward angle, and she cringed; a dislocated shoulder was relatively simple to fix, though the very devil for pain. The wound on his forehead was no longer actively bleeding, so Sabrina ran her hands up and down the man’s arms first—no breaks—then his legs to check for additional injuries. He tried to pull his right leg away when she attempted a tactile assessment, but she could already see the fabric of his trousers tight around his calf—possibly broken. The upper portion of his left leg was tender too.

Could he have two broken legs? One upper and one lower? Other than having fallen from a great height, there was only one explanation for such injuries. But it was an early Monday morning, not a late Saturday night when a man would have to be on his guard against a robbery. His clothing and boots marked him as a gentleman. What was he doing here this time of day? 

She tensed and looked about herself. Were his attackers nearby?

Sabrina felt a sudden urge to run for her carriage and get as far from here as she could, but she couldn’t leave him. She would fetch Jack! He could take over as the rescuer and call for

a doctor.

She started to rise, but the man groaned, drawing her attention and her sympathy back to his poor battered face.

“Sir,” she said again, leaning closer so he could see her face if he opened his eyes—at least one eye did not look too swollen.

“Wha-what . . .”

He must be trying to ask what happened. It was a mercy that victims of such violence often did not remember it.

“I think you’ve been attacked. Robbed, perhaps.” She looked down the passageway to where Adam would be waiting with the carriage. So close, and yet he’d have to leave the carriage to help her if she chose to go to him for help instead of Jack. “Have you a family member I can contact on your behalf? Do you live nearby?”

“No one,” he said, the words slow and . . . sad. “P-please.”

He opened his eye, and the blue of it stood out clear and bright amid his damaged face. With his good arm, he reached toward her face. She took hold of his hand before he touched her, then pushed the hair from his forehead, catching the first glint of its actual color—golden-blond. 

He was a young man, not past thirty. What on earth is he doing here this time of day? Perhaps he had not yet returned home from an evening of entertainment that had

ended badly. Oh, England, she mourned, do you not see what you are allowing to happen to your legacy?

“There must be someone I can call on for you.”

He shook his head and closed his eye, sending a tear to track through the drying blood on his face.

She felt her mother’s heart rise up in her chest—all the love and protectiveness she’d have given to her own child bursting forth like it had so many times before when someone in need crossed her path.

“No one would come,” he whispered.

No one? Could that be true? Unfortunately, Sabrina had known enough dissolute young men of society to know that it absolutely could be true. The poor foxes who did not outrun their hounds.

“I am Lady Sabrina,” she said, wanting to give what comfort she could and earn his trust.

“S-stillman,” he said. “Harrison Stillman.”

Her breath caught in her throat.


We are at the end of the blog tour, but you can still go back in time to learn more about this book! Here is the tour schedule:

May 04 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)

May 04 Historical Fiction with Spirit (Review) 

May 04 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

May 04 All About Romance (Guest Blog)

May 05 Timeless Novels (Review) 

May 05 Literary Time Out (Review)

May 06 For Where Your Treasure Is (Review)

May 06 Courtney Reads Romance (Review)

May 07 Fire and Ice (Excerpt)

May 07 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

May 08 History Lizzie (Review) 

May 08 Wishful Endings (Review) 

May 09 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Spotlight)

May 09 Relz Reviewz (Character spotlight)

May 10 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

May 10 Delighted Reader (Excerpt)

May 11 Frolic Media (Guest Blog)

May 11 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

May 11 Bringing Up Books (Review)

May 12 Lu Reviews Books (Review)

May 13 English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)

May 13 Adventure. Romance. Suspense (Review) 

May 14 Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals (Interview)

May 14 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Spotlight)

May 15 Storybook Reviews (Excerpt)

May 16 The Book Diva’s Reads (Review)

May 16 The Fiction Aficionado (Review)

May 17 Inkwell Inspirations (Spotlight)

May 17 Half Agony, Half Hope (Review) 

May 18 Romance Junkies (Guest Blog)

May 18 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review) 

May 18 The Lit Bitch (Review) 

May 19 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Interview) 

May 19 Heidi Reads (Review) 

May 19 Bookworm Lisa (Excerpt)

May 19 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

May 19 Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Review) 

May 20 The Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)

May 20 Joy of Reading (Review) 

May 20 Austenesque Reviews (Review) 

May 21 The Calico Critic (Spotlight)

May 21 Getting Your Read On (Review)  

May 21 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt) 

May 22 Wishful Endings (Interview)

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Outmatched Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

How are you this week? I am very excited to bring to you an excerpt of Outmatched which is Jayne Bamber’s latest novel and will be released in 4 days. You may ask why I am excited about it, and I shall not refrain from telling you! I have a soft spot for mash ups, and I’ve seen several over the past years, but never have I seen a mash of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park, and that is what Jayne Bamber will bring us! Isn’t that an interesting take on Jane Austen? I loved the idea 🙂

Another reason why this book capture my attention was the cover…you know I absolutely love covers and am not ashamed to admit I do judge books by their cover right? Well, this one is exquisite! I absolutely loved it and definitely want this paperback on my shelves!

Before letting you read this excerpt, I would like to thank Jayne Bamber for visiting once more. I wish you the best of luck with this new release. And now, without further ado…

 

“It seems you must disoblige one of your children, Sir Thomas, and you must be the chooser of the pain inflicted. Your son disinherited, or your daughter married to an imbecile she cannot love.”
When Sir Thomas Bertram returns home to Mansfield after his year in Antigua, he expects respite from his many troubles, in the bosom of his family. Instead he is met with blackmail, collusion, and the ominous threat of scandal.
When Mrs. Margaret Dashwood takes her daughters from Norland to Barton Park, she carries with her a secret hope that they might someday return, though she is not yet ready to pay the price for it.
A mutual connection bent on manipulation and revenge sets the stage for heartbreak, intrigue, and plenty of surprises as the worlds of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park collide. Alliances shift along the way as familiar characters, bound by family ties, descend on Norland Park. There everyone has their own agenda, and constant peril looms as a large party of relations all scheme to outwit, out-maneuver, and outmatch their opponents.
Elinor & Marianne Dashwood, Maria Bertram, Fanny Price, and Mary Crawford forge new friendships and alliances amidst the chaos of conspiracy, romance, redemption and self-discovery, the likes of which Norland Park has never seen before.

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You can find Outmatched for pre-order at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 


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Hello, readers! It is such a treat to be back at From Pemberley to Milton. My new book, Outmatched will be out this Friday, and I am here to whet your appetites for this fusion of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park with another excerpt!

With a wide cast of characters mingling together in such surprising ways, Mary Crawford emerges as nearly a heroine in her own right, and my favorite kind of heroine – a very flawed one. There are a few surprises in store for her over the course of the novel, but I am sure it shocks nobody that she and Marianne Dashwood bond over their love of music.

More excerpts will follow over the course of my blog tour, more chances to enter the raffle for a free eBook. For now I leave you with a little glimpse into the mind of Mary Crawford….

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Mary Crawford was happy when their walking party turned back to the house, and doubly so when their approach afforded her a glimpse of the equipage that conveyed her harp at last. Her instinct was to look over at Edmund, who had spoken to none but his mother and aunts during their excursion. Mary felt quite as though this was her last chance, for her performance on the harp had won him over once before, and if it did not succeed again on this occasion, she would be utterly at a loss. 

And yet, she wondered at it all. Little more than a fortnight ago, he had been the one to exert himself to bring her around. She had been warming to the notion of compromising her ideals, of really considering the life of a clergyman’s wife. She knew not what angered her more – that he had thought it right to expect such a concession from her, or that she had been very near to accepting it, only to find it all now in vain. To be sure, his withdrawal from her had whet her appetite – like Henry, she enjoyed the thrill of the chase. 

Or so she had thought. Already it had begun to wear on her. It was different for men – lovelorn Henry was every bit the star-crossed hero in his pursuit of Maria, which Mary wished rather than fully believed to be sincere. But for a lady, however gently-bred and well-dowered, to behave in such a way, even towards such an honorable man, must be a desperate and unbecoming thing, inviting censure and derision, or worse yet – pity. She did not make the rules of society, but she was obliged to follow them.

How it chafed! If Edmund was so inclined to sulk about, let him do as he wished. She was really almost resolved not to trouble herself any further. Whatever vexed him, he was not inclined to confide in her the way she would like – but better he should reveal such a deficiency in both trust and candor now, rather than once it was too late for her. 

Her pace back to the manor grew swift and resolute – she would enjoy herself here just as she set out to do, and she would play her instrument, even for an empty room! And yet she knew it would not come to that. Marianne Dashwood had expressed some musical inclination, and Mary took pains to attach herself to the girl as they made their way back through the meadow. 

Miss Marianne,” said she, “I hope you will join me in welcoming a new arrival to your brother’s house – I have sent for my harp, and I believe it is arriving even now.”

Still hanging on the arm of her handsome beau, Miss Marianne looked over at Mary, her eyes flashing with excitement. “You play the harp! Oh, but I never had the patience to learn – I should dearly love to listen to you.”

“I mean to subject you all to it, if I can,” Mary teased with a wink. 

“Let us all make merry music,” Mr. Willoughby rejoined, giving Mary one of the smiles that must have caught Miss Marianne at once. “If you will both play for the group, I shall add my own voice to the harmony. I am sure we must find someone to play violin, and then, you know, we might make a tour about the countryside like proper troubadours.”

Marianne’s tinkling laughter was music of a sort already, and Mary found it incredibly endearing. “Oh, you must sing, Willoughby! And when Edward comes, you must read some poetry for us – I am sure your example might do him good!”

“Your sister is sure to write me a very pretty note of thanks,” he whispered, though far too loudly.

Mary had lost the thread of conversation, but was not ready to relinquish the fine company. “Pray, who is Edward?”

“He is Fanny Dashwood’s other brother – do not let Robert Ferrars’ character mislead you, for Edward is everything amiable and kind.”

Mary laughed. She had not found Robert Ferrars to her liking at all, despite her hostess’ best efforts to unite them over dinner and afterward, and Miss Marianne’s candor engendered the same in Mary. “That is certainly a welcome relief! All I have had from Robert Ferrars is a preposterous rhapsody about parsonages – I was a guest in one recently – and yet such observations were not at all to my liking – or even sensible! Well, I am glad that Edward Ferrars will not be talking such nonsense to us all. Pray, when is he expected?”

Marianne chewed her lip. “I cannot say – but I am sure he must come very soon. Although I do think on the subject of parsonages he may have much to say, for I believe he aspires to join the church.”

“Oh – I had thought Robert Ferrars the younger son. Surely the elder would not take orders!”

“That is just Edward’s way. But you shall hear better sense from him than some of our party.”

“Than from most, if my information is correct,” Mr. Willoughby added. 

Mary furrowed her brow. He could be nothing to her, if the elder Miss Dashwood was already attached to Edward Ferrars – she was not like Henry in that respect. Yet what a disappointment that another dull clergyman was to come amongst them! She wished for all the world that if they were to have any addition to their party, which was rather a large one, that it be the sort of man she had hoped Edmund might prove to be. 

To Mary’s chagrin, her feelings must have been readily apparent on her face, and Mr. Willoughby leaned in to tease Marianne. “You shall not entice Miss Crawford with such language as this, Marianne. If she can expect only a clergyman whose feelings are engaged elsewhere, she shall grow quite desolate.”

Mary took the jape in good humor. “Oh, yes. Better to say we shall be joined by a handsome, brooding sort of fellow – a romantic hero of first rate appearance, with a decided air of mystery and fashion, prone to fits of passion and most eager to bestow his affections.”

“How very novel,” Mr. Willoughby drawled.

“It would be rather like a novel if such a person appeared amongst us,” Marianne laughed. “Surely I know of no such man, besides you, Willoughby – though you are far too open to be called mysterious, but for my meeting you in such heavy rain. Surely John and Fanny do not know anybody half so interesting, and would likely not admit him to the house if they did! But I shall hope for your sake nonetheless, Miss Crawford.”

Mary had let her disappointment over Edmund make her nonsensical, and she tried to laugh it off. “I am sure I shall not grow too desolate. I have my instrument now, and my very handsome harp must be the object of all my hopes and affections.”


We are halfway through the blog tour, so you still have time to learn more about this book! Here is the tour schedule:


 

Jayne Bamber is offering one ebook copy of Outmatched to my readers. To apply to it, please click on the Rafflecopter link.

Good Luck everyone!

6 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading Lakeshire Park because this is Megan Walker’s debut novel, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find in it one of my favourite romances of the year. 

Lakeshire Park was perfect in every way, from the writing, to the characters, setting and relationship development. 

We are introduced to Amelia and Clara Moore whose only security in life is about to end with the demise of their bitter stepfather, Lord Gray. He has vouched to leave them nothing upon his death, and that event appears to be close due to his growing health issues. 

Faced with this terrible news, it is with some relief and hope that Amelia Moore accepts an invitation by Sir Ronald Demsworth to a house party at his estate, Lakeshire Park. Amelia has no interest in Sir Ronald, but her sister Clara is quite smitten with him, and Amelia is committed to guarantee her sisters safety and happiness. 

In Lakeshire Park they meet several guests, but the Wood siblings will stand out because Georgiana Wood is also invested in gaining Sir Ronald Demsworth’s attentions, and her brother, is as devoted as Amelia to help his sister achieve that goal.

With conflicting interests, the older siblings soon realize that it is best to keep the other from interfering in their sisters interactions with Sir Ronald, so they agree to spend the afternoons in each other’s company  as this will guarantee they will not interfere in Clara and Georgiana’s business. 

What started as a business-like agreement soon becomes a beautiful and deep relationship which was one of the aspects I loved the most about this book. Amelia Moore and Peter Wood’s time together is filled with beautiful and touching moments where they flirt, have fun together, reveal their deepest feelings, share past memories which carved their personalities, speak of the future and what would make them happy, discuss events as they are occuring in Lakeshire etc. As all these interactions unfold in front of us, we cannot resist reading a little more to see what else the author has lined up for us. Their relationship is not shallow, it is built on a series of moments that are well built and enthralling. The reader witnesses these two people slowly falling in love with each other in a playful manner that is refreshingly different from many romances that lately seem to follow the same formula for romance development.

Apart from the romance, which was clearly one of the biggest achievements of this book, the characters were also a feature I loved., particularly Peter Wood. In a romance that has everything to appeal to Jane Austen fans, the romantic hero is as different from Mr. Darcy as would be possible, yet he is just as compelling. Peter Wood is charming, teasing and funny, but also sensitive, responsible, honourable and honest. he is perfect in every way and I must confess I didn’t miss the Darcy features even a bit.

Last but not least, I need to mention how beautifully written the house party activities are. Megan Walker incorporated in the story all sorts of activities, such as picnics, horse riding, games and competitions, dancing, and  interesting discussions which transported me into Lakeshire Park’s house party. Many of these activities were fulcral to the romance and were written with a detail that I haven’t seen in many regency romances, and this made the book interesting and lively. 

Summing up, Lakeshire Park is a beautifully written and captivating romance with a unique story that will fascinate most readers. I highly recommend it to everyone.

 

Adiobook Narration:

Elizabeth Bennet’s Level

This is the second audiobook narrated by Justine Eyre that I’ve listened to and I must say I enjoyed this one much more. The narration style is pretty much the same, but I believe the playfulness that we can hear in  Justine Eyre’s voice is much more suited for this story. She has a very pleasant tone,and it was a nice experience to listen to her narration of Lakeshire Park.

 

 

You can find Lakeshire Park at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Audible.com

 

5 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Lakeshire Park – Excerpt

Good Afternoon everyone,

I am very pleased to bring to you today an excerpt of Megan Walker’s debut novel, Lakeshire Park. This book is not a Jane Austen Fan Fiction novel, but it is a regency romance, and certain aspects of the book remind me of the characters from Pride & Prejudice, so I believe you’ll still find this interesting.

I will be reading and reviewing this book shortly and will share my opinion with you, so if your curiosity is spiked, stop by on the 29th of April for the review.

I would like to thank Mrs. Walker for visiting today and Laurel Ann Nattress for once more organizing such an interesting blog tour.

Now, without further ado, here is the blurb and excerpt of this romance:

 

 

Brighton, England 1820 

Amelia Moore wants only one thing–to secure the future happiness of her younger sister, Clara. With their stepfather’s looming death, the two sisters will soon be on their own–without family, a home, or a penny to their names. When an invitation arrives to join a house party at Lakeshire Park, Amelia grasps at the chance. If she can encourage a match between Clara and their host, Sir Ronald, then at least her sister will be taken care of.

Little does she know that another guest, the arrogant and overconfident Mr. Peter Wood, is after the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry that Amelia has no choice but to win. But competing against Peter–and eventually playing by his rules–makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim: her heart.

PURCHASE LINKS:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND

AUDIBLE | GOODREADS

 


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Moments later, the coachman rapped on the roof, and we looked out the east window just as the coach drove out of the lined woods and into an expansive clearing. There in the middle of the freshly cut lawn sat a grand estate, sandy- colored with four stories of parallel windows lining the front, reflecting the light from the setting sun. The double doors to the house were open. Our coach pulled into the drive, and a footman hurried out. 

He opened my door and helped me down, followed by Clara. Just as my nerves started to get the best of me, a beautifully dressed, ginger-headed woman walked out to greet us. She was elegant and fair, bearing an air of authority as she approached us. 

“Welcome, ladies. You must be the Misses Moore. I am Lady Demsworth, Ronald’s mother. Ronald has told me so much about you both, and it is such a joy to have you here at Lakeshire Park.” Sincerity flowed through every word, and she reached out for us, inviting us near. 

“Thank you so much, Lady Demsworth.” I urged Clara ahead, following behind her. “We are very happy to be here.” “Yes,” agreed Clara. “What a lovely estate. Amelia and I have missed the countryside dearly.”

Lady Demsworth took Clara’s arm affectionately. “That’s right. Ronald told me you were raised in Kent. I am sure Brighton is a vastly different environment. I hope this visit is a comfortable reminder of fond memories.” 

Clara smiled graciously. “Thank you, Lady Demsworth. It already is.” 

“I am sure you’re both ready to dress, but everyone is so excited to make your acquaintance. Might I introduce you to the party first? We’ve kept it rather small in hopes of a casual gathering and creating an opportunity to become better ac- quainted with Ronald’s closest friends.” 

“Of course we do not mind,” Clara said. “Mary will have just enough time to ready our things.” 

I followed closely behind the two as they entered the house, comfort enfolding me like a warm, heavy blanket. I tried to place the feeling, to name the unfamiliar warmth that relaxed my heart. All I knew was that here, nestled in the middle of nowhere, I could breathe. How I hoped these next two weeks were only the beginning, that we could finally find refuge within these walls once Clara made a match with Sir Ronald. 

We’d just reached the foot of the grand marble staircase when Lady Demsworth veered left. Another set of double doors, white and trimmed with gold, stood as the entrance to the bustling drawing room. 

Lady Demsworth fiddled with a string of pearls around her neck as though she, too, held high hopes for these next two weeks. As we entered the room, a click of the door sig- naled to me that the clock had finally begun. 

Two weeks to secure my sister’s happiness. 


 

Megan Walker was raised on a berry farm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where her imagination took her to times past and worlds away. While earning her degree in Early Childhood Education, she married her one true love and started a family. But her imaginings of Regency England wouldn’t leave her alone, so she picked up a pen and wrote her first novella, A Beautiful Love: A Regency Fairy Tale Retelling which was published in 2019. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and three children. Lakeshire Park is her debut novel. 

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


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April 06 The Silver Petticoat Review (Guest Blog)

April 06 Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Review)

April 06 The Readathon (Review)

April 06 Getting Your Read On (Review)

April 07 Heidi Reads (Review) 

April 07 Romance Junkies (Guest Blog)

April 08 The Calico Critic (Spotlight)

April 08 Timeless Novels (Review)

April 09 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

April 09 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt) 

April 10 Courtney Reads Romance (Review) 

April 11 Clean Wholesome Romance (Spotlight)

April 12 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)

April 12 English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)

April 14 Joy of Reading (Review) 

April 15 The Book Diva’s Reads (Review)

April 15 Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Interview)

April 16 Frolic Media (Excerpt)

April 17 The Lit Bitch (Review)

April 18 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

April 19 Robin Loves Reading (Review)

April 19 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)

April 20 Bringing Up Books (Review)

April 20 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

April 21 Lu Reviews Books (Review)

April 22 Bookworm Lisa (Excerpt)

April 22 Austenesque Reviews (Review)

April 23 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Review)

April 24 Half Agony, Half Hope (Review)

April 25 Relz Reviewz (Review)

April 26 Bookish Rantings (Review) 

April 27 Probably at the Library (Review) 

April 27 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review) 

April 28 Laura’s Reviews (Review) 

April 28 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review) 

April 29 Heidi Reads (Interview)

April 29 Bookfoolery (Review)

April 29 From Pemberley to Milton (Review) 

April 30 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Excerpt)

April 30 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

May 01 Bookworm Lisa (Review) 

May 01 Impressions in Ink (Review)


2 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

The Bennet Affair – Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

My guest today is Riana Everly, an author whose guest posts I always adore! We can tell Riana Everly does a lot of research to develop her stories and, in my perspective, that is always a sign of quality, which obviously increases my curiosity towards her books. 

Today she will bring you a guest post regarding her recently released book, The Bennet Affair. This story is full of intrigue, mystery and spies!!! Isn’t that a different and interesting take on Pride & Prejudice? Plus, the cover is absolutely stunning, so this book is really hard to resist! But I’ll let you read the guest post and a small excerpt so you can make your own analysis 😉

 

A tale of secrets, sweethearts, and spies!

Elizabeth Bennet’s bedroom in the ancient tower of Longbourn has always been her private haven. So what are those footsteps and shuffling noises she’s now hearing from the room above her head? Drawn from her bed one dark summer night, her clandestine investigations land her in the middle of what looks like a gang of French spies!
William Darcy’s summer has been awful so far, especially after barely rescuing his sister from a most injudicious elopement. Then he is attacked and almost killed nearly at his own front door in one of the best parts of London. Luckily his saviour and new friend, Lord Stanton, has a grand suggestion—recuperate in the countryside and help uncover the workings of a ring of French spies, rumoured to be led by none other than country squire Thomas Bennet!
Drawn together as they work to uncover the truth about the Frenchmen hiding in their midst, Elizabeth and Darcy must use all their intellect as they are confronted with an ingenious code machine, a variety of clockwork devices, ancient secrets and very modern traitors to the Crown. And somewhere along the line, they just might lose their hearts and discover true love—assuming they survive what they learn in the Bennet affair.
The Bennet Affair is a full-length JAFF novel of about 112, 000 words.

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You can find The Bennet Affair at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 


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Natural History and Bird-Watching Books

In The Bennet Affair, Mr. Darcy befriends a baron who is also a renowned ornithologist—an expert on birds—who has authored and illustrated several books on the subject. Indeed, the art and science of Natural History was something that was becoming more and more popular in England in the early nineteenth century, becoming almost a mania during the Victorian age.

One origin for this interest in nature and natural history was the Enlightenment, the philosophical movement that prioritized reason and the advancement of science. This was in some ways opposed to, but also complimentary to, the blossoming Romantic ethos of the time, which saw a move to restore people’s relationship with nature. This movement saw nature as pure and uncorrupted, an antidote to the human world, and therefore something almost spiritual. Natural Theology, as set out by William Paley in his book of that same name in 1802, emerged from this. It was the belief that natural science was proof of the existence and power of divine creation.

The popular interest in natural history was essentially egalitarian; there were groups for men and women, for workers and aristocrats, and even for children. Going out into the wild to find and identify plants, rocks, shells, and birds, became a common activity for families and organizations.

Of course, one needs books to guide the amateur along his pursuits, and books on birds were no exception. There were several available in the nineteenth century, most with exquisite artwork and excellent information on finding and identifying birds. Here are a couple of examples.

One beautiful set of plates is found in New Illustrations Of Zoology, Containing Fifty Coloured Plates Of New, Curious, And Non-Descript Birds, With A Few Quadrupeds, Reptiles And Insects. Together With A Short And Scientific Description Of The Same, by Peter Brown.

Brown was an associate of the great English naturalists Thomas Pennant and Joseph Banks. Though primarily an illustrator, he wrote the scientific descriptions of some species. His illustrations are accurate and very beautiful. These plates were published in 1776, and fifteen of the fifty plates are dated between January and May of 1775.

 

Figure 1 The Brown Hawk

Figure 2 The Purple Pigeon

Figure 3 The Blue-bellied Parrot

Another very popular book was A History of British Birds by Thomas Bewick. It was published in two volumes: Volume 1, Land Birds, appeared in 1797; Volume 2, Water Birds, appeared in 1804. These volumes are admired mainly for the beauty and clarity of Bewick’s wood-engravings, which are widely considered his finest work, and among the finest in that medium. The book was effectively the first “field guide” for non-specialists, in which Bewick provides an accurate illustration of each species, from life if possible, or from skins. Indeed, the book has been compared to works of poetry and literature, and features prominently in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

Figure 4 Yellow Wagtail

Figure 5 The Sparrow-hawk

Figure 6 The Heron


In this excerpt from The Bennet Affair, Darcy and his friend Lord Stanton discuss birds.

 

Once again, the day passed pleasantly. The thrumming in [Darcy’s] head was now almost unnoticeable, a background murmur that could well be ignored, and his shoulder too had ceased its ache, except for when it was jolted. Darcy tried to imagine the pain the short carriage ride to his home would occasion, with the rumble of the wheels over the cobbled streets, and he realised the wisdom of the doctor’s command. Instead of having his broken bones jostled through the streets of London, he was quite content to talk companionably with his host and eat the man’s excellent food.

He was rather pleased to discover that he and Stanton had many interests in common, besides birds. When not reminded of his injuries and his enforced sojourn in the baron’s house, he could almost imagine he had been invited for a visit by a friend. They talked of the war, of their estates in the northern counties—the barony of Stanton was in Lancashire, not so far from Darcy’s beloved Pemberley—and of the latest developments in science and industry. Likewise, their opinions on politics were well enough matched that, if they did not agree completely, their differences were fruitful ground for discussion rather than argument, and they enjoyed the same tastes in art and theatre.

By the evening, Darcy insisted on having some paper and a pen to write a quick note to his sister, informing her of his unfortunate encounter and assuring her of his health and recovery. “I should not wish her to hear the news from another before she sees in my own hand that I am well,” he explained. He would not be denied this wish, and the supplies he begged were consequently brought. He composed his letter, and when it was sealed and inscribed with her direction on the front, he idled with a pencil and a small scrap of paper that Stanton insisted was of no value and would be discarded.

“My word, Darcy!” that gentleman exclaimed as he wandered to the writing table to refill his guest’s port. “You are an artist! That is a perfect rendition of the African grey parrot, the Psittacus erithacus. We had one in our home when I was a lad; from the detail of your drawing, you must have had one as well. And that sketch there: That is exactly the Dendrocopus major—the great spotted woodpecker—we were just discussing! You have captured it perfectly, down to the curve of its beak and the white shoulder patches at the wings! I had no idea you were skilled with a pencil!” He hurried to one of the many bookshelves that lined the room and retrieved a large volume. The title was embossed on the leather cover in rich gold and read “Birds of Britain by Raymond Orville Fynch.” Even though not supposed to read, Darcy could not help but notice this prominent text. Stanton opened the tome with the ease of long familiarity and found the page he sought. “See here! This is my own drawing and they match exactly!”

Darcy demurred, but was pleased with the compliment. “Those are fine words from one so skilled as yourself. I have always taken pleasure in rendering small images and scenes with paint or charcoal, although I have never devoted much time to the art. Where I have poured my energy is into technical drawings.” He glanced up and was satisfied to see the look of clear interest on Lord Stanton’s face.


Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back. 

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

You can follow Riana’s blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!


 

The blog tour is just starting, so please do not forget to stop by at the next blogs to obtain more information about this book 🙂

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March 31 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
April 4 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
April 6  ~ From Pemberley to Milton
April 9 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
April 13 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
April 15 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
April 24 ~ Author Takeover at The Historical Fiction Club
May 8  ~ Austenesque Reviews


 

Riana Everly is giving away one eBook on each stop on this blog tour. To enter, just make a comment and leave an email address so she can contact the winner. She will enter names into a random number selector to pick the winner. The deadline for entering will be five days after the blog is posted.

Good luck everyone!

23 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

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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Filed under giveaway, North and South, Promotion

Nowhere But North

Nowhere But North is a character driven book that uses flashbacks to enlighten the reader about the life events that shaped the characters personalities. It starts with what appears to be a forced marriage scenario, which is not only shocking but also innovative in the north and south variations genre, and it develops into a heart whelming love story of two newlyweds who are still learning about what married life is all about. The main story will alternate with chronological flashbacks that will transport the reader into the past to witness several marking events that contributed to the characters development, and allow him to better understand each character.

It is not easy to go back in time and remain truthful to characters who were created by another author, let alone show us how their personalities developed, and the fact that every single flashback was pure perfection in the North and South realm shows a deep character knowledge, and a writing skill that very few have. In fact, I believe only a couple of authors would be able to write such a perfect North and South Variation, which is in my opinion as good as Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South in terms of character development. Had I not known these flashbacks were written by Nicole Clarkston, I could have easily believed that Gaskell had written them herself considering they are perfectly in line with the characters she created.

I have always been fascinated by John Thornton’s life and this book was the first to give me the pleasure of reading about it. I had always been curious about his father and his childhood, about his journey from a teenager into adulthood, I always wanted to know how he made it, how he became a Mill Master after everything that happened to him, and thanks to this book I was finally transported into the past and made the wonderful journey of his life alongside with him. I witnessed him in his worst moments, I felt his struggles and insecurities and now I feel I understand this man even better and respect him all the more because of it. His life story is so interesting that it deserves a place in a North and South variation book and Nicole Clarkston did a wonderful job at making that happen.

Apart from the profound character knowledge Nicole Clarkston demonstrated with this book, venturing into flashbacks alternated with real time events showed a tremendous writing talent. Nicole Clarkston certainly knows how to write a beautiful story with interesting and complex characters while maintaining it clean, and captivating the reader at the same time. The transitions into and from the flashbacks are absolutely perfect, with the scene of a chapter being somehow connected to the scene in the next chapter, even it that scene is happening several years later. It takes true talent and courage to craft such a complex story the way Nicole Clarkston did and she deserves to be praised for such a magnificent work.

I loved the initial scenes between Margaret and John, when they were still afraid to let their emotions be known, but also decide to be honest with one another. I am clearly an angsty type of person and books with angst are usually my favourite, but it was nice to see that in this book no unnecessary angst was present. The characters already had too much to overcome in their life so it was nice to see that, at least amongst them, there were no unnecessary misunderstandings. Nicole Clarkston knew how to perfectly balance the emotions in this book, making sure they were realistic, but taking care not to make the story too dark, the result was an incredible book that made my heart ache at times and tears come to my eyes, but which also made me smile with the tenderness that was emanating from the pages. Margaret and John’s love was pure and stout and it was a joy to see how their companionship grew with each page that I turned and how passionate they both were about one another.

It is hard to say what I enjoyed the most about this book because I loved it all, the character insight and development, the writing style, the flashbacks, John Thornton, their relationship, the romance, the secondary characters and how it all came into place, John Thornton (I know I already mentioned him, but the character is so swoon worthing that I have to mention him twice), the balance, etc.

I am completely rendered to this story and I honestly consider this is the best North and South variation book I’ve ever read. I loved both No Such Thing as Luck and Northern Rain from this author, but I believe that with Nowhere But North Nicole Clarkston took the stakes into a completely different level. This book is a masterpiece that should not be missed by anyone who enjoys good literature and I highly recommend it to all readers.

P.S – I have to talk about the cover!!! Isn’t it beautiful? To me it looks absolutely perfect! It reflects exactly the story and environment we will find in the book. We can feel the tenderness between the characters in it and the entire setting transported me to the books scenes. The detail of the compass inside the O, and which we will see separating the chapters inside the book, is the cherry on top of the cake! It is my favourite cover from Janet Taylor so far, and I’ve loved them all 🙂

 

You can find Nowhere But North at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

15 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, North and South

Master of Her Heart

What if a 21st century student from Oxford was transported to the 19th century industrial city of Milton to study the society of that time as a preparation for her thesis?

And what if she encountered and fell in love with John Thornton while she was there?

Would there be hope for such a love? Would it ever work?

I found the premise of this book very interesting, after all who wouldn’t want to go back in time and meet our romantic hero? Even better, who wouldn’t want to become his love interest?

The initial chapters of this book were very refreshing because having the presence of a 21st century character allowed the author to use a lighter language that was pleasing and agreeable to read, but as the story progressed it became too distracting to me because it started to be incongruent with the setting of the story. The main character, who is an historian, continuously says words such as “nope” which obviously raises the attention of the people form the 19th century and I would like to think that an historian going back in time would pay more attention to these kind of words that clearly did not exist back then, especially as she is specializing in this time period.

Also, she seems to forget the rules of propriety of Victorian England by asking Mr. Thornton to kiss her without any arrangement between them, and he seems a little out of character by not only kissing her, but not raising too many issues with the fact that she had kissed other people in the past.

I really liked the premise of the book and the the last chapters were also very innovative and refreshing to read in a N&S variation. The author did a great job in the development and adaptation of John Thornton’s character in the last chapters, I won’t say how or why because that would be a big spoiler, but that was very well achieved and if readers can forget about the rules of propriety of Victorian England they may enjoy this book very much.

Unfortunately I could not, and I was really upset by the behaviour of the female character especially as she was an historian, so this was only an ok read for me that clearly took an innovative approach.

 

You can find Master of her heart at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

 

6 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, North and South