“The Perfect Gentleman” by Julie Cooper, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all, please welcome Julie Cooper, the author of The Perfect Gentleman, a variation of the beloved Pride and Prejudice.

Julie Cooper, a California native, lives with her Mr Darcy (without the arrogance or the Pemberley) of nearly forty years, two dogs (one intelligent, one goofball), and Kevin the julie-cooper-photo-with-emmaCat (smarter than all of them.)  They have four children and three grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and adorable, with the pictures to prove it. She works as an executive at a gift basket company and her tombstone will read, “Have your Christmas gifts delivered at least four days before the 25th.”  Her hobbies are reading, giving other people good advice, and wondering why no one follows it.

You can connect with Julie on Facebook.

I think the blurb of The Perfect Gentleman is going to be both confusing and, “I need the book now” at the same time. Enjoy!

’Tis no secret that Lizzy Bennet has dreams. The uniquely talented daughter of a woman with a dubious reputation, Lizzy knows she must make her own way in a world that shuns her. Fitzwilliam Darcy carries the stains of his family’s disgrace upon his soul and only by holding himself to the strictest standards has he reclaimed his place in society.

Now Georgiana Darcy has gone missing. If his fifteen-year-old sister cannot be found quickly, the scandal could destroy Darcy’s years of perfectbehaviour. Lizzy Bennet know just what to do to find Georgiana. She is willing to join the pursuit to get what she wants but will Darcy be willing to trust her with his secrets? And what will they do when the search for Georgiana reveals what neither expected to find?

The Perfect Gentleman is a romantic adventure so big it needs two volumes in one book. Follow the adventure in A Not-So-Merry Chase and discover the surprises and temptations that await at Pemberley in Love Wisely But Well.

What a twist, right? What do you think? Let me know on the comments. I am not sure how to analyse the blurb, even writing my “questions” seems lacking because the main one would be: what is going on with the disgrace and the dubious reputation???

Let’s get a bit more about this book… a lot more!

The Perfect Gentleman is the story, at its heart, of a man and a woman from separate social circles but with comparable inner-life experiences. This allows them to see each other differently than the rest of the world might. It does not mean, however, that they have an easy time convincing the world of the advisability of the match.

In this excerpt, we hear Charles Bingley, sent to play cupid’s assistant, try to explain to Lizzy’s family (who has always lived amidst scandal and scorn) a little bit about the great family she is marrying into, and how they might help prevent social disaster from befalling Our Dear Couple!

Excerpt from The Perfect Gentleman:
Jane looked up at him hopefully. “So…your friend, Mr Darcy…he is…a kindly gentleman?” she asked tentatively.

Charles’s brow furrowed. “Hmm. Kindly. Well, ’tis not that he is unkind. A right honourable gentleman, he is, but I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, of a Sunday evening, when he has nothing to do.” His brow cleared. “Fret not. He is the busiest of men, terribly industrious, always doing three things at once. Excepting the Sabbath, of course. Which is why, if restlessness takes him, it happens then.”

“Oh, my,” Jane murmured.

He saw he had not achieved his object, which was to give a confident report of Darcy’s character. “Truly, ma’am, he is a splendid fellow.” He continued with a convoluted tale of how Darcy had walloped a regular bell swagger at Eton, thus rescuing the much younger Charles Bingley from a terrible drubbing. He noted she did not look much reassured, though he thought it a grand tale, himself.

“I say, don’t get yourself in a pucker,” he soothed. “I promise Darcy does not make a habit of getting himself yoked. He has had many an opportunity too, for he is known as one of the finest catches on the marriage mart. His uncle on his mother’s side is an earl, and the one on his father’s is the Bishop of Derby. No fears he cannot support her, what?”

“Oh, my,” Jane murmured again. “’Tis worse than I thought. I mean…not worse, precisely, but…our household situation is not quite…” She trailed off, plainly at a loss.

Charles was certain he knew the cause. “Darcy knows all about, um, your family history,” he said, unable to prevent his blush. He hurried on to the part of the plan he had practiced with his stepmother. “I have a letter here, from my mother-in-law. She is the sister of Thomas Bennet, which makes her Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s aunt, see?” he said eagerly.

Jane cautiously accepted the folded parchment, and smoothing it open upon her knee, read:

Longbourn House
Hertfordshire
28th May, 18—

Dear Mrs Bennet,

I send you the greetings of a long-lost sister. It grieves me to admit I only just learned of your marriage to my brother a few weeks past. The cause of said acknowledgement being a sad one, as Mr Bennet is ill, nigh unto death, and his marriage and most especially, his daughter, weigh heavily upon his conscience at the crossroads of his own mortality.

However, God works in mysterious ways. My son-in-law, Mr Charles Bingley, upon hearing the tale of your star-crossed marriage, sent his friend, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, who has relations in your city, to discover how you and your daughter fare.

I cannot say enough favourable regarding Mr Darcy. He is a prosperous gentleman, a great landowner, and true and faithful friend to my son since their days at Eton.

The situation, of course, is delicate. We would both, I am sure, wish to avoid any gossip attending the wedding of your daughter to such a great man as Mr Darcy. I feel confident Mr Bennet, were he well enough to understand the particulars, would acknowledge Elizabeth as he ought to have long ago. But he is not able to do much at present and it is left to us to settle what ought to be done now.

I beseech you: pray, come to Longbourn. I would beg a sisterly indulgence; except I have no right. I am sure you have suffered much as a result of my brother’s pride, but I will not hesitate to petition your mother’s heart, where pride has no place when it poses a barrier to the happiness of our children. Bring any and all members of your household, too, of course. But come quickly, for I know not how many hours Mr Bennet has left in this mortal realm, and I am certain reconciliation ought to be the dying wish of a father and husband.

Hopefully, Your Sister,

Margaret Bennet Bingley

Jane carefully refolded the letter. “Oh, my,” she said.

As is plain to see from this excerpt, challenges await our dear couple!

If you want to buy The Perfect Gentleman, you can do it, among other, here:

Amazon US        Amazon UK           Amazon CA            Amazon DE

Blog Tour

Enjoy much more about this intriguing book! Go and check the other stops on the tour.

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time to give away winners

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on November 13th. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries. Good luck!

“Fiona and the Whale” by Hannah Lynn, review + giveaway

Dear all,

Today I am presenting you a a non-JAFF book which is so worth it to read. However, before talking about Fiona and the Whale, I would like to apologise to Hannah, the author, and to Rachel, the organiser of the tour, because I have not been able to post this review on time. Work has been pretty intense and time caught up with me.

Back to the book… Who is not going to like this book if the full title is: Fiona and The Whale: an uplifting romance with a whale sized heart? The subtitle is just perfect! Moreover, the cover is vibrant and beautiful.

Let me (re)introduce you the author, an amazing person as well as an awesome writer. You may remember that I did a giveaway for her birthday this year celebrating also her novels.

Fiona and the Wale Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments – a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist – which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the Gold Medal for Best Adult Fiction ebook at this year’s IPPY Awards – and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Now she is a teacher, writer, wife and mother.

For up-to-date news and access to exclusive promotions follow her on:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HannahLynnAuthor/

Twitter @HMLynnauthor

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13830772.Hannah_M_Lynn

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/hannah-lynn

Check her other book on her Amazon Author’s page here.

 

What is the book about, you ask? Let me show you the blurb and let’s see what you think.

With her personal life on the rocks, it’s going to take a whale sized miracle to keep her afloat.

Event planner Fiona Reeves did not have her husband’s sudden departure on her schedule. However, she’s certain that it’s only a hiccup and he’ll be back in no time, begging for forgiveness. Fortunately, there’s a distraction of mammoth proportions swimming in the River Thames. 

Absorbed by the story of Martha the sperm whale, Fiona attempts to carry on life as usual as she awaits her husband’s return. However, nothing can prepare her for the dramatic turn of events that throws her life into ever greater turmoil. The road ahead has many paths and for Fiona it’s time to sink or swim.

Fiona and the Whale is a poignant and often hilarious contemporary fiction novel. If you enjoy topical tales, second chances and a little bit of romance, you’ll love this new book from the Kindle Storyteller Award Winner, Hannah Lynn.

What do you think? If you live in the UK, you may think that this sounds familiar, and, unfortunately, it is familiar. Just last week a humpback whale was spotted swimming in River Thames. The story does not end well, unfortunately.

I will tell you more below about Fiona and Martha on my review below.

Ready to buy the book?

Amazon DE         Amazon UK         Amazon US           Amazon CA

Review

What can I say about Fiona and the Whale? I have simply loved it. It is not the “classic” romance, at all! The ones who follow the blog know that I adore romance but Fiona and the Whale is something else. The romance its not just the centre of the book, the centre of the book is… well, I will try to explain.

As you have read on the blurb, Fiona was not expecting to be dumped by her husband. However, he is back in the novel, how he is back!! Fiona feels left alone, her son is gone to uni and her husband is gone too. Fiona does what she knows how to do best, work. Work, work and more work is what occupies her but, then… Martha appears, the sperm whale, the lovely but lonely whale, away from her family, like Fiona. Fiona feels a bond between them and everything else does not matter as much. From following Martha’s story, Fiona will never be exactly the same. No, I am not saying that she is going to the sea to save whales or she is going to sell everything to give money to charities that protect the environment. Although, there is like a catharsis, maybe Fiona does not understand it like that but I would say that the events going on on her life are directly related to that bond. There are other characters, all of them have a key part on Fiona’s life even if what we know about them is that Fiona has met them during an afternoon and that’s it, an afternoon… Some characters are much more relevant: the husband, the best friend Holly, Ben, Rory, etc. Who are they, you ask me? I am not telling you. I highly recommend you to read the book.

Hannah’s writing is beautiful, her descriptions are like a breeze, they take you with them. Her characters are so complex but at the same time so close, there is no characteristic of a character that it is not well-planned or with a purpose. Even if that characteristic is not being a good cook 😉 Moreover, there is a key message in the book, do not forget that!

Regarding the author’s notes: I was not sure at the beginning of the book but then, I enjoyed them immensely.

5out5 stars

Blog Tour

There are so many stops in this blog that I do not know where to recommend you to start! Go and check them, you are going to learn so much about Fiona and the Whale that you will not be able to stop yourself from buying the book now!

Fiona and the Whale Full Tour Banner

time to give away winners

As I mentioned before, I am writing the post later than expected, therefore, the giveaway Hannah was doing is over. Therefore, I am doing a giveaway myself to celebrate this new novel by Hannah Lynn.

I am giving away two paperbacks of Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn to two lucky winners.

Conditions: comment on this blog with your opinions and feelings about the book. Extra points if you share it on social media and you let me know in a comment. Please, write your email address for me to contact you in case you are the winner.

Giveaway open from today, 15th of October, until Saturday 19th of October at 11:59 CEST. I will publish the winners on Sunday, 20th of October.

I will be using Amazon to buy the book so eventually I will email you to ask you for your post address. I will not share your address with anyone apart from the amazon website that I will use to buy the paperbacks.

Fiona and the Whale

“A Case of Some Delicacy” by KC Kahler, review + giveaway

Dear all,

I am glad to introduce you to a new author in My Vices and Weaknesses: KC Kahler. Although she is not a new author for me, as I have read some years ago, her first modern JAFF novel: Boots and Backpacks. A novel I found very interesting, not only because of the characters but also because of the descriptions and setting.

KC Kahler lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and works in online education, after having dabbled in sandwich making, bug collecting, and web development. She kckahlerdiscovered Jane Austen fan fiction in 2008 and soon began dabbling in writing her own.

KC blogs about Austen and other pop culture topics. In 2015 and 2017, her popular Austen + The Onion Headlines meme was featured in The AtlanticFlavorwire, and AV Club. In 2017, she made the requisite pilgrimage to Jane Austen country, where she took the waters in Bath, walked the lanes of Steventon, didn’t fall off the cobb in Lyme Regis, and stood awestruck in Chawton. 

KC’s first novel, Boots & Backpacks, was published in 2014. Her second, A Case of Some Delicacy, released in 2019.

If you are interested in following her, you can find her on so many different media:

Blog     Tumblr     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     Goodreads    Amazon’s Author Page

What about knowing a bit about this novel? Here you have the blurb, a 150 words blurb that I hope intrigues you.

The heir of Longbourn offers his olive branch earlier…

Rumors of Jane Bennet’s impending betrothal to her cousin Mr. Collins are already spreading at the Meryton Assembly. But Elizabeth vows to prevent her dearest sister’s happiness from being sacrificed in marriage to the ridiculous parson, no matter how much Mrs. Bennet encourages the match.

A secret partnership formed…

After Mr. Darcy overhears an argument between Elizabeth and her father, he offers to help in her quest. She is desperate enough to accept assistance from the man who insulted her. They begin meeting secretly to strategize and, in the process, come to know and understand each other.

Eavesdropping abounds, cricket balls go astray, and romance blooms despite Mrs. Bennet’s poor matchmaking. All the Bennet sisters play roles in the altered events, some in surprising ways. Join the characters you already love on a fun romp in your favorite Hertfordshire neighborhood. 

Ready to buy it? You could do it on: Amazon US      Amazon UK      Amazon CA

Review

Cricket, that sport that I barely knew anything about until seven years ago. I still do not know much, although I kind of understand the 4s and the 6s but not much. Cricket, that sport that Mr Darcy plays as a pro! but also is played by Elizabeth Bennet, and Mr Bingley, and the Lucases, and Lydia Bennet too. What can a cricket game do to get one of our favourite couples together? It can do a lot of harm, mainly if a ball goes astray!

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Let’s start with the idea that “apparently” Mr Darcy abhors any kind of disguise… false! or at least, he should define “disguise” because he is pretty cheeky and a bit naughty in order to help Lizzie to help Jane. Let’s face it: Lizzie is quite oblivious to what she is getting into when she accepts Mr Darcy’s help, she seems a bit naive and he is far too keen to help. She thinks that this will be just something for him to entertain himself as he is not among the ton and the best society.

Things evolve easily, I really like how quick Darcy is and how he “organises” his help. Mr Collins is so obliged to him that he follows almost any advice that Darcy gives him, even if it includes being less time with his dear Cousin Jane.

A few things for you to know: cricket can be dangerous, going upstairs and downstairs with a twisted ankle can be entertaining, having Lydia looking up for a husband may be even beneficial, Anne de Bourgh can be really nice and understanding, Caroline Bingley is, as usual, annoying and Mr Bennet needs a good telling off.

Jealousy is a powerful tool, a very powerful one, it does not matter what way it goes. Misunderstandings are always going to be there for this couple and KC Kahler knows how to write them.

4.5out5 stars

Blog Tour

Really nice tour of A Case of Some Delicacy. Visit the other posts to get more opportunities on the giveaway but above all, to get to know much more about the book.

2nd of October Austenesque Reviews

3rd of October My Jane Austen Book Club

4th of October From Pemberley to Milton

7th of October Babblings of a Bookworm

8th of October Diary of an Eccentric

9th of October Savvy Verse & Wit

10th of October My Vices and Weaknesses

11th of October So little time

BlogTour

time to give away winners

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on October 18. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.

“The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion” by Don Jacobson, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

I am very pleased for hosting Don Jacobson once more, and to reintroduce him to all of you. Don is a great author who has such an amazing mind that I cannot even imagine how all his ideas go around his brain and imagination without spilling out every five seconds. Don is back with his latest book on the The Bennet Wardrobe Series and I cannot be more excited. If you do not know what this series is about, let me try to describe it a bit: characters of our beloved Pride and Prejudice plus great new characters, time-travelling, strong family link, love and love and more love!

Do you understand what I mean? 😉 I am leaving you now with the blurb of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion:

“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.” Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.

Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.

Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.

In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.

The Pilgrim explores questions of love, loss, pain, worry, and perseverance. All of these are brought to bear as one of the silliest girls in England grows into the Dowager Countess.

This 151,000-word novel is the seventh, and next-to-last, volume in the Bennet Wardrobe Series. Each book along the way has revealed more about how the mysterious Wardrobe has led Miss Austen’s Bennets to learn that which they need in order to take part in its ultimate mission.

Lydia is pretty changed here, don’t you think? The fault is Don’s!

The Author

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series 

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)Don Jacobson Head Shot

Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)

The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)

Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)

The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)

The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South due out in the Fall of 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and The Maid and The Footman” (2016) “Lessers and Betters” offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective.

He lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days). Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Excerpt

Chapter LIX

The Darcys and Lydia have repaired to Selkirk to attend the Matlock Harvest Ball some two weeks hence. As the guests arrive, they gather in the Great Parlor. Lydia has entered late, hoping to remain inconspicuous. There is, however, one guest, of great significance, who desires to make her acquaintance. 

The Countess took Lydia’s arm and led her toward the gathering at the room’s center, the crowds parting like the sea beneath Moses’ staff. At the end of the void rested a pair of chairs. In one sat Richard’s father, the Earl. In the other, though, reposed a man who, even sans regalia was clearly one of the leading men in the entire realm.

As the two ladies approached, he fixed Lydia with a hard stare and planted his cane vertically between his feet before clasping his hands atop its head to lever himself up to a standing position.

Lady Fitzwilliam at his nod initiated the British tradition, “My Lord, may I present to you Mrs. Lydia Wickham of Longbourn and Pemberley. Mrs. Wickham, may I present to you the Marquess of Anglesey, Lord Henry Paget. You may know of him, by his ancient title, as the Earl of Uxbridge.[i]

“My Lord, Mrs. Wickham is the widow of Captain George Wickham of the 33rd.”

Anglesey nodded, “My condolences on your loss, madam. As the Duke said, Wickham saved us all.

Lydia felt Richard arrive by her side. His presence comforted her, although she was quite taken with the handsome, if older, aristocrat standing before her.

Then the Master of Uxbridge snapped, genially, but ordered, none-the-less, “I fear that I am still uncomfortable on my feet for too long.

“Matlock, get yourself off. I would speak with Mrs. Wickham, but I need to sit. As yours is the only other seat up for bids, I declare the auction closed! Mrs. Wickham will join me. Only those of us who have marched to the drum need be here right now for a bit of private conversation. General…you may stay.

“The rest of you: begone.

“Maybe Miss Darcy might turn her mind to some lighter Scottish airs.”

Lydia smiled her thanks at the Earl of Matlock who grinned back at her as if he was in possession of some great secret.

The Marquess adjusted his seat, grimacing as he was forced to reach down to slide his right boot into alignment with his missing knee. Four years after that June afternoon and his stump was still bothering him. Lingering pain aside, he was proud of his fully-articulated prosthetic limb. With the knee joint unlocked and pantaloons—the modern styles were much to his taste—draped outside of his boot uppers, he could sit in company without anyone being forced to notice his amputation.

Three pairs of eyes were riveted by his bluff yet comfortable demeanor, awaiting whatever pronouncement he would make.

“You know, Mrs. Wickham,” the great man intoned, “I have made it a study of mine to explore what makes men behave bravely. Those musings also, I am convinced, allow me to comprehend what turns their bowels to water.

“You have offered up an interesting conundrum. You see, men would have it that they are the sole repositories of courage, ignoring, of course, Queens Judith and Boadicea. All too often, these self-same deep thinkers seek to ascribe the success of our greatest monarch, Elizabeth, to Drake or Exeter or Salisbury rather than to her political genius and ability to make the people believe in her cause.

“You, my good woman, have reminded me, no all of us, through your selfless act of saving General Fitzwilliam that resolve is neither defined by the color of the uniform nor whether a uniform is worn at all.

“Brave acts may be committed by the young or the very old. Here you are, a lady of but three-and-twenty, yet you acted without fear.

“You have also shown that one can do one’s duty without reference to the body within which the bravest of hearts resides.

“You have destroyed the myth that only men can commit daring acts and reverse the flow of history.”

By this point, Lydia was blushing fiercely, and she averted her eyes as Paget’s praise flowed deeply around her.

She made to demur, saying, “My Lord, I would wish that you would temper your compliments. They are undeserved by me. I acted without thinking, not heroically, like you who sat in the line of fire [that June] afternoon. I honestly can remember little of what happened on St. Peter’s Field this past August.”

The Marquess stopped her by grasping her right hand.

“Enough of that, Mrs. Wickham.

I am no hero. Oh, perhaps an argument can be made that I behaved like one because I did not flee the moment the Tyrant’s le brutal fired. But, remember that young Fitzwilliam along with the Duke was equally exposed. Both stayed in their place.

“However, I repeat…I am no hero because I sat on my horse and watched my cavalry troopers get ground up between the lines. That image of all those beautiful men vanishing into the smoke and never returning will haunt me to the end of my life.

“I am no hero. I sat and watched…watched men like your husband…long may his name rest upon the lips of Britons far and wide…put down that French dog once and for all.

“T’was hot work at Hougoumont, madam, and George Wickham did his duty without flinching, knowing that t’was his portion to hold that end of the line.

“Me? At Waterloo, I was unmoving, atop my beast, when the ball took my leg.

“You, in Manchester, showed that you were a queen defending her realm: regnant and glorious, shaped by Lord knows what forces.

“You say you acted without thinking. The greatest of champions act without thinking and, in those unconscious moments, show the depths of their character.

“But, whether reasoned or not, your actions saved my comrade-in-arms, my dearest warrior friend and brother, Richard Fitzwilliam.

“Your modesty does you credit, but do not debase your achievement. Like your sister, Mrs. Benton, you bear scars honorably earned.

“Just as King Harry said before Agincourt…

He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day:[ii]

“And you, Mrs. Wickham will quietly bear up under the scrutiny of those who have no idea what it means to feel the ground tremble beneath the hooves of heavy cavalry. Yet, every year on the anniversary of Peterloo, you will nod to Mrs. Benton and then take a moment to reflect on all that you gained, not lost, on that August day in your youth.”

Scanning the chamber, Lord Anglesey pronounced what was the equivalent of a Red Judge’s decision,“I would have it known that I heartily approve of Mrs. Wickham. Her late husband saved the nation. His widow saved one of our greatest paladins.”

The Marquess stood, leaning heavily upon his Malacca cane. After bending to lock his knee, he extended his left hand to Lydia to help her gain her feet gracefully. Paget, still one of the most handsome men in the kingdom, rapped his wooden leg with his stick, the drum-like sound echoing across the parlor.

He continued, “Just as you ignore my leg, I would have you look at the whole woman standing beside me. She should be held up as an example to your daughters…and your sons…for she has shown that the willingness to sacrifice is not limited to one sex.

“Here is a promise made before all of you assembled here.

“Pon my honor, Mrs. Lydia Wickham will be welcome at any Paget home anywhere in the realm. Our bed and board shall be her bed and board. If she were not already honored by His Royal Highness with a widow’s annuity, I would enhance her dowry.

“If Mrs. Wickham so wishes it, and if the Countess of Matlock and Mesdames Bingley and Darcy countenance this next, my wife, the Marchioness, will sponsor her when she makes her curtsey before the Queen.

“In all of this, I will not be gainsaid.

“Oh, and Mrs. Wickham,” at this he speared Fitzwilliam with an icy stare that bespoke of get on with this, man, “our hospitality is not contingent upon the presence of any slow-witted, addlepated man in your party.”

Richard looked astonished at the Marquess’ outspoken declaration.

Lydia blushed again.

————–

[i]Henry William Paget (1768-1854) was Earl of Uxbridge when a bounding French cannon ball struck his right leg near the end of the Battle of Waterloo. He had been in command of Wellington’s cavalry, much as Major General Richard Fitzwilliam was leading the Allies’ massed infantry squares. Uxbridge was elevated to Marquess of Anglesey (1st) upon his survival and served a long career in the Army (ultimately as Field Marshal) and the Government.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Paget,_1st_Marquess_of_Anglesey
[ii]William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4 from Scene 3  http://shakespeare.mit.edu/henryv/henryv.4.3.html

I am very intrigued to know much more about this book. Not only what comes next, because we already know what is the next name of Mrs Wickham but also I am very intrigued of her brave character and what she has done. I think Don may have redeemed Lydia of any youth folly she committed.

Blog Tour Schedule

I am closing the tour but do not miss great posts, reviews and much more.

25th of September From Pemberley to Miltonlydia-blog-tour-banner-horzm

26th of September So Little Time…

27th of September Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

28th of September My Love for Jane Austen

30th of September Babblings of a Bookworm

1st of October Diary of an Eccentric

2nd of October More Agreeably Engaged

3rd of October My Vices and Weaknesses 

Interested on this book? You could buy it, among other, on:

Amazon UK           Amazon US              Amazon CA

time to give away winners

Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion to four lucky winner. Just clikc the link below and follow instructions.

Rafflecopter – Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion

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“The Journey Home to Pemberley” by Joana Starnes, guest post, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

What can I say about this book? To be honest, if it has the name “Joana Starnes” is going to be an awesome story. That is what has happened so far with The Journey Home to Pemberley, and, even if I have not finished yet, I am loving it at the same time as hating it. Joana makes me angry because she is such a great writer that you really want to get to the HEA, but she insists on making us suffer 😉 in a positive way always!!!

Let me (re)introduce you to Joana, this woman who always has me on a “half agony, half hope” mode while reading her books.

Joana lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats – physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst – but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination, and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine.js-photo

She is the author of eight Austen-inspired novels (From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of PemberleyThe Subsequent Proposal; The Second Chance; The Falmouth Connection; The Unthinkable Triangle; Miss Darcy’s CompanionMr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter and The Darcy Legacyand one of the contributors to the Quill Ink anthologies (The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know, Rational Creatures and Yuletide). They are all available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and some in Audible too: Joana’s Amazon Page.

You can connect with Joana on:

Facebook           Website            Twitter             Instagram           Austen Variations

Let’s have a brief insight on Joana Starnes’ latest book through the book trailer (link) or the blurb below:

Book trailer of The Journey Home to Pemberley

A chance encounter in the wilds of the North brings more joy to Elizabeth and Mr Darcy than either of them dared hope for. But her world is rocked by blow after blow – and the truth would only cause him pain. ‘I must be cruel only to be kind’ is Elizabeth’s guiding precept, and she chooses her path. Yet time, circumstances and new acquaintances teach her she had made a terrible mistake.

How can she regain what she had lost and rebuild a future with the only man she will ever love, but for whom disguise of every sort is his abhorrence?

What happened? What blow was that? Why must she be cruel to be kind? (Sorry, I cannot forget to mentioned that when I read this sentence, Nick Lowe’s song comes to mind 😉 ) Is she cruel in the right measure??

Guest Post

Many thanks for hosting me today, Ana, on the blog tour for my latest book, released on 12 Sept. Unlike many of my other novels, The Journey Home To Pemberley is almost exclusively about Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. The other characters must take a back seat. So I thought it would be only fair for this guest post to be about someone whom we love as much as Mr Darcy (well, almost 😊). And that would be the dear colonel, of course.

Col Fitzwilliam Hunsford 2a

We picture him in many ways, but more often than not he is the brother Darcy never had – the teasing voice of reason that urges him to follow his heart.

But what if Mr Darcy does follow his heart and goes out of his way to win Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s affections, yet for a goodly while he seems to receive worse than nothing for his efforts? What if Colonel Fitzwilliam should see his cousin cast yet again into despondency? If his fiercely protective instincts should be awakened, I think the even-tempered and cheerful colonel would be formidable. And heaven help those who get on the wrong side of him!

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE JOURNEY HOME TO PEMBERLEY

Excerpt

As soon as he saw young Thomas emerging into the garden and advancing towards him with purpose, Darcy excused himself with a few words and a bow, left his three companions to stroll along the paths and went to meet his footman, a question on his lips:

“Yes, Thomas, what is it?”

“Colonel Fitzwilliam has just arrived, sir. Mr Howard saw him into your study as you instructed.”

With a curt nod by way of thanks for the intelligence, Darcy made his way in, only to be met with a wide grin and a cheerful, “You lucky devil! She is exquisite. Now I see why you left Heathcote hell for leather yesterday, and in such a state too. So, she said yes, eh? Praise be. So, come now, out with it, sly wretch. How did she come to be here? And above all, who is she?”

Darcy’s baffled confusion was short-lived. His cousin’s airy gesture drew his glance towards the window, and he glimpsed Arabella Monkford sauntering through the shrubbery hand in hand with her sister. Fitzwilliam’s misapprehension thus explained, Darcy hastened to correct it with a wide grin of his own, and with matching raillery.

“Judging from your reaction, I expect you will be pleased to hear she is not my betrothed. But pray have the kindness to put a damper on your unfailing charm, Richard. She deserves better than to have her head turned for your amusement.”

His cousin brought his hand to his chest with a look of mock dismay at an undeserved affront. “I could say my character deserves better too. Must you blacken it so? I have half a mind to demand penance for that ignoble speech. An introduction to the lady will do, for a start.”

Darcy rolled his eyes in feigned exasperation. “Ignoble speech, was it? I daresay you have just proven my point. Besides, the pair of you are acquainted already—”

“Impossible!” the colonel cut him off. “I would not have forgotten that turn of countenance unless… Oh, damme, pray tell me I was not three sheets to the wind on the occasion and disgraced myself!”

“No, nothing of the sort, rest easy. Back in those days, you had the good sense to set a decent limit to your libations,” Darcy chortled, but then took pity on his cousin and put an end to the good-humoured teasing. “You made her acquaintance some fifteen years ago. She is Mr Monkford’s eldest daughter.”

Fitzwilliam arched a brow. “What, that little imp? What was her name?” He frowned as he sought to remember. “Bea? Beatrice?”

“Bella,” Darcy said tersely, his feigned exasperation by now turning real. “Miss Arabella Monkford. Now, would you kindly spare me at least some of your attention? I wrote to ask for your assistance, if you remember.”

Suitably chastised and quick to acknowledge the justice of it, the other sobered. “Of course. Forgive me. How can I be of service?”

Darcy rubbed his brow. “I need to locate someone. With due discretion. I thought you would know best how I should go about it.”

“I see,” Fitzwilliam replied with a nod of appreciation for the tribute and the implied trust, then his steady gaze grew shrewdly speculative. “I take it this has something to do with your sudden betrothal and this mysterious lady of yours, still to be named?” he prompted.

“Indeed,” Darcy acknowledged. “And there is no mystery,” he began, only to see his cousin’s eyes widen in outright consternation. Instinctively, he darted a glance over his shoulder, half-expecting to see he had foolishly neglected to close the door firmly and that it had swung open to reveal Elizabeth making an appearance in the great hall behind him. But that was not the case. It must have been something else – something in his air or his tone of voice – that had triggered Fitzwilliam’s finely-honed powers of perception.

No,” his cousin said, the one-syllabled word stretched out into a long, shocked whisper. “You could not have been quite so feeble-minded as to be caught in her web again! Pray tell me you are not engaged to Elizabeth Bennet!” he spat. But he must have read the answer in Darcy’s countenance, because he threw his arms in the air in a gesture of disbelieving anger. “God’s teeth, you are nearing thirty! Do you still need a nurse to keep you from harm?”

Darcy reached behind his back to press the door into the frame for further safety, hoping against hope that his cousin’s outburst could not be heard beyond the study, for neither his urgent words of caution nor his vehement gestures were able to bring an end to the harangue.

“Is that what I should have done, appointed myself as your damned nurse?” the colonel lashed out. The rant was followed by a crude oath that belonged in sordid taverns or in a military encampment, and then a vicious, “What the devil do you see in her that another woman cannot give you? What cursed hold does she have on you, to render you so witless as to seek her out again?”

The look of incensed disbelief suddenly gave way to outraged comprehension, for whatever could be said of the colonel’s temper and his language, the sharpness of his wits had never been in question.

She came after you,” he hissed. “She is here, is she not?”

“Yes. She is,” Darcy confirmed, mightily struggling to keep himself in check despite the severe provocation, and not leap at his cousin’s throat, either verbally or otherwise. He sought to remind himself that it was fierce loyalty and affection that had sparked Fitzwilliam’s aggressive outburst and his highly objectionable remarks. Moreover, they had to talk, not tear at each other. “Pray do not fly into another fit of rage,” he sensibly urged, just as the colonel let out a fresh stream of invective. “Do still yourself and listen. Listen, Richard! You have no notion of what she has suffered—”

“What she has suffered?” Fitzwilliam snarled. “What of the hell she put you through for months on end? She deserves to—”

“Just hold your tongue and listen for a moment, will you?” Darcy burst out, at the limits of his patience.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I suppose it was just as well that Mr Darcy stopped him before the colonel could cross too many lines. Least said, soonest mended. Because bridges have to be mended, of course – Elizabeth has to be restored to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s good opinion. But I think we can trust Mr Darcy to do that.

Colonel Fitzwilliam!! I really like him, I am not sure if I have ever read a JAFF book where I do not like him. He is so caring of Darcy and everyone else that I cannot normally contemplate a story without his appearance, even a brief one.

Elizabeth, how much she has suffered?? What happened? How are they back together in the same place? How is Mr Darcy so dedicated? Too many questions that I want to know the answer to now! Unfortunately, I have little time to enjoy one of my favourite hobbies: reading.

As I mentioned before, I have not finished it, I am only on the 50% of the book but I am loving it and I already recommend it!

If you are interested on buying the book, you can find it on:

Amazon US         Amazon UK         Amazon CA

Blog Tour Schedule

You can get to know much more about The Journey Home to Pemberley if you follow the tour. You will not regret reading these entries 🙂

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time to give away winners

Click on the link below for a chance to win:

  • one of the 8 Kindle copies of The Journey Home To Pemberley
  • or a paperback copy
  • or a P&P and Austen-related goodie bag.

Rafflecopter – The Journey Home to Pemberley

The giveaway is international and it ends at midnight EST on 4 Oct 2019.

Good luck to all of you!

“Letters from the Heart” by Kay Bea, review + giveaway

The Bennet sisters of Longbourn lack both decorum and connections and do not possess a decent dowry between them. Even the best of the them is in every way unsuitable for a man whose income is as a good as a lord. But love is not so easily set aside and in January 1812, Mr Darcy persuades Mr Bingley to reopen Netherfield Park, the country estate from which they both fled only two months before. On returning to Hertfordshire, they discover a near tragedy took place three days after the Netherfield Ball and has changed the lives of the Bennet family forever. Mrs Bennet’s relentless fear of losing her place in society has led her to condemn her least favourite daughter to a life of isolation and pain that will greatly complicate Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey to happiness. Old bonds are strengthened, family ties are severed, and unlikely allies emerge as each of them struggles to make sense of the changes they face.

Hello! What do you think of this blurb? What tragedy? What has Mrs Bennet done? Let me present you Mrs Elizabeth Collins!! 😦 That is a tragedy in itself. You may think I am spoiling the book without giving you one of my “spoiler alerts”, but I am not. If you do not believe me, you can go to these links to check the blurb there and maybe to buy the book already:

Amazon US        Amazon UK

I am happy to introduce you to the author of this novel where you will extremely dislike Mrs Bennet: Kay Bea.

bea kayKay Bea is an administrative assistant and Jane Austen lover living in Kansas City with her husband of twenty-five years, her mother-in-law, and her fur kids. She has written several short stories and drabbles on fanfiction.net as “I Found My Mr. Darcy” and on A Happy Assembly as MrsDarcy2032.

Kay grew up in Wyoming, enjoyed a two-year adventure in Maryland, and now calls Missouri home. When she isn’t writing, Kay enjoys photography, cooking, and spending time with her adult children and three granddaughters.

Review

Letters, such a simple thing but can become a great source of happiness or, unfortunately, sometimes sadness. However, if you have put pen to paper, you know how satisfying can be writing to a friend, a family member, a lover… Although it can also be frustrating. Not only the writing can be frustrating but also the content. In Kay Bea’s Letters of the Heart, you can read Mr Darcy’s frustration and despair but also his love and his generosity. Darcy’s intimate correspondence with his family and friend.

Darcy tries to convince Bingley to come back to Netherfield because he realises that he loves Elizabeth however, as I mentioned, there was a tragedy and then Mrs Bennet obliges Elizabeth to marry Collins. Long story short: Miss Darcy is around and befriends the Bennet sisters, but Elizabeth as she is in Hunsford.

Let’s say that when Darcy sees her again, she is not the lively and witty woman he fell in love with. However… love is love and he will do everything he can for her even when he cannot have her.

The End.

Not really, but I promise that reviewing this book is extremely difficult because the letters explain most of what is happening and there is a lot going on! I will give you a few of my teasers instead of spoiling anything.

Do you think that a caring Lady Catherine is possible? Do you think that a sensible Mr Bennet is possible? Can you see a lady-like Lydia? Can you see a proficient musician in the Bennet household?

That’s it, I cannot give you much more. I can definitely write that I have really enjoyed this book. The letters are beautifully written and I would have not minded reading quite a few more letters.

5out5 stars

Blog Tour

To know more about Kay Bea and her Letters from the Heart, follow the blog tour:

3rd of September: My Jane Austen Book Club

4th of September: Austenesque Reviewstour

5th of September: My Vices & Weaknesses

6th of September: Calico Critic

9th of September: Babblings of a Bookworm

10th of September: Savvy Verse & Wit

11th of September: Margie’s Must Reads

12th of September: From Pemberley to Milton

 

time to give away winners

The contest to win an Amazon Gift card ends on the 19th of September. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entry points. Good luck!!

giveaway

“A Lady’s reputation” by Amy D’Orazio, review + giveaway

“Mr. Darcy, I am eager to hear your explanation for the fact that quite a few people believe we are engaged.”

Ok, hello to all! Let’s stop here because if a blurb starts with that sentence, the book must be in want of a reader (or hundreds). How can we read this sentence and not having an urge to read the book described? Let me tell you, you have to read it as soon as possible! However, I will allow you to read the rest of the blurb first 😉

It starts with a bit of well-meant advice. Colonel Fitzwilliam suggests to his cousin Darcy that, before he proposes to Elizabeth Bennet in Kent, perhaps he ought to discuss his plans with their families first. 

What neither man could have predicted however was that Lord Matlock would write the news to his sister or Viscount Saye would overhear, and tell his friends, or that his friends might slip a little and let their friends know as well. The news spreads just as quickly through Hertfordshire once Mrs Bennet opens the express Mr Bennet receives from Mr Darcy, and in a matter of days, it seems like everyone knows that Mr Darcy has proposed marriage to Elizabeth Bennet. 

Everyone, that is, except Elizabeth herself. 

Her refusal is quick and definite—until matters of reputation, hers as well as Jane’s, are considered. Then Mr Darcy makes another offer: summer at Pemberley, so that Jane can be reunited with Mr Bingley and so that he can prove to Elizabeth he is not what she thinks of him. Falling in love with him is naturally impossible…but once she knows the man he truly is, will she be able to help herself?

Chinese Whispers are a joke compared with the gossips among the ton: from admiration, to love and to matrimony in a second! Well, not in this case though.

Back to what is important, a summer at Pemberley!! Well, maybe is not the most important part but it is THE PLACE. The place for love ❤ or not… I will let you know later on on my review.

Let me (re)introduce you to Amy D’Orazio, the author of this great read.

Amy D’Orazio is a long-time devotee of Jane Austen and fiction related to her characters. She began writing her own little stories to amuse herself during hours spent at sports practices and the like and soon discovered a passion for it. By far, however, the thing she loves most is the connections she has made with readers and other writers of Austenesque fiction.amy-dorazio-author-photo

Amy currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughters, as well as three Jack Russell terriers who often make appearances (in a human form) in her book.

Amy’s other releases include A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity and the The Best Part of Love, a Readers Choice Gold Medal Winner for 2017. She has also contributed short stories to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies and Yuletide: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories.

If you want to follow Amy’s writing, you can do it here:

Amazon Author’s Page    Facebook   Goodreads

Review

Lately I am finding quite difficult to write reviews without spoilers. It could be because lately I am not writing many reviews on the blog as I barely have time, or maybe it is the author’s fault! Yes, you read it, the author’s fault for writing such a good book that you just want to tell people everything that is going on!

However, I will try to stop myself and just tease you with the review. I hope you like it.

Once upon a time, there was a proud gentleman who was in love with a lady who refused him… Apparently he did not get it the first time and then he decided that he would propose again but checking with his family first, and then with hers. Tiny problem: he forgot to check with her.

Elizabeth was determined to reject him (again) but she then considered her reputation and her sisters’ and gave him an opportunity to “court” her… in Pemberley!! Elizabeth did it also for Jane’s sake as she was supposed to be reunited with Mr. Bingley (thankfully it did not happened… I leave it there! You will have to read the book to know more).

Elizabeth followed her sisters words “Offer your friendship to him, and I think you will be surprised where it leads you”. Elizabeth did and even if it was a bit annoying that her sister, after everything Mr. Darcy did to separate her from Mr. Bingley, recommended her to be nice to Mr. Darcy.

You can imagine what Mr. Darcy is feeling during the book: remorse, regret, guilt. Everything that he could feel, he will feel it because he is soooooo maddening in this book! but we love him anyways. You will read how much he puts on his shoulders, he blames himself or takes responsibility about anything and anyone. Jane Austen was really nice to him compared to Amy D’Orazio! Even the weather may be his fault xD However, Elizabeth and the other characters are there to make him realise that it is not his fault.

Talking about other characters in A Lady’s Reputation, I have a favourite, apart from our main protagonists, and that is Viscount Saye. He is hilarious but he is loyal. He is Darcy’s cousin, the eldest brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam who also appears in the novel and is as usual, very charming. He jokes, he teases, he is somehow a bit liberal, he is engaged to be married to a nice lady, she is a minor character but important enough to appear. Even when she does not talk, the mention of her is important as Saye is all over the place.

Let me give you another “tiny” interesting detail: in this book, Darcy never gave Elizabeth a letter defending himself of the two accusations she gave him on her rejection. She does not know about Wickham, yet.

I was not able to put the book down (in this case my kindle) until I finished the most spread engagement-not-engagement on the history of JAFF! I highly recommend the book, it may be that you want the HEA to happen quicker than it does but everything is worth it.

5out5 stars

You could buy the book here if you cannot wait to read it:

Amazon UK       Amazon US    Amazon CA      Amazon DE

Giveaway and Tour Schedule

You are encouraged to visit all the stops on the blog tour and comment. You are going to enjoy a lot following all this tour.

Quills & Quartos Publishing will be giving away one $50 Amazon gift card to one enthusiastic follower! You get one point for every blog stop you visit and leave a comment. Good luck!

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