“Thaw” by Anniina Sjöblom, excerpt + giveaway

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one false step can involve a lady in endless ruin. On a rainy November day in 1811, Miss Elizabeth Bennet finds herself wondering why no one ever bothered to tell her about this.
A few blithe steps on a morning walk, taken after a succession of rain, lead to unexpected events that irrevocably change the course of Elizabeth’s life, placing her fate in the hands of the haughty and conceited Mr. Darcy – the last man in the world she had ever thought to marry.
As long winter days slowly pass, she writes letters to her loved ones, trying to come to terms with her new role as a wife and the Mistress of Pemberley. But can she ever learn to love her husband? Will he overcome his arrogant notions of rank and circumstance?
And most importantly – will the shades of Pemberley ever recover from being thus polluted?

It would have been a nice thing to be told, indeed! Even more for Elizabeth who is a keen walker. What what? She is married to Darcy and she is not happy? 😉

I love letters and I am looking forward to read some of these letters. You can expect much more and for everything I have read so far about Thaw, I can say that you cannot miss it! I cannot wait to have some time to read it and enjoy this story.

I would like to welcome, Anniina Sjöblom to My Vices and Weaknesses and I would like to wish her all the best with her writing. You may have read her before, I have and it is really good.
Anniina Sjöblom lives in the beautiful but cold Finland and works in university administration. She has an MA in History and enjoys a long-standing love affair with the works of Jane Austen.

author
Her previous works include titles such as Thirteen Days, Fix You and When He Comes Back, published in various online Austenesque forums under the pen name boogima. The new novella Thaw, expanded from the original version of the story first published online in 2011, is her first commercially published work.
When not writing, Anniina spends her time hanging out with friends, binge-watching TV dramas and re-reading her favourite books while the stack of new ones still waiting to be read piles higher on her nightstand. She can ride a unicycle, and once, after losing an unfortunate bet, ate a bowl of ice cream with green dish soap as dressing. She does not recommend attempting it to anyone.

I can totally relate to rereading books while your pile of new books is growing but, thankfully, I do not know about losing bets which involve dish soap!

Anniina is giving us some insight of her novel and I really hope you like this excerpt.
Thank you, Ana, for inviting me to post an excerpt at My Vices and Weaknesses as a part of the Thaw blog tour! The following is an excerpt from a letter Elizabeth writes to her Aunt Gardiner in November 1811, after something unexpected has happened to cause a wave of gossip about a supposed improper encounter between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy by a small pond near Longbourn.
Excerpt
Mama has taken to her apartment and refuses to come out. She is quite despondent, and I am not sure I can blame her. The focus of her vexation varies from our neighbours—how could they have used us so ill?— to myself. To my endless consternation, she seems to entertain a suspicion every now and then that perhaps I did something improper to cause this after all. It need not be said how very much it offends me.
Though at first he barely seemed to take notice of the matter, pausing only to admire the absurdity of it all, even Papa has grown serious. It is perhaps because our cousin cannot stop talking about it—though he does appear more concerned for the damage any further connexion to us could cause to himself (and, of course, by association, to Lady Catherine de Bourgh) than of the damage to our family. All thoughts of the olive branch he came here to offer are forgotten. It is a blessing, I believe, on both sides that he is leaving us today.
I should wish him gone already, but he refuses to leave until Papa and Mr Darcy emerge from the library. Earlier this morning, against my express wishes (I had hoped that from this one embarrassment, at least, I could be spared), Papa sent a servant to Netherfield with a request for a visit from Mr Darcy. He responded to the summons with unexpected alacrity, arriving with the servant instead of sending a note. After entering the house, he marched directly into the library without a word to any of us. I daresay I have never seen anyone look quite so cross.
More than an hour has now passed since his arrival. I have not been offered the privilege of participating in whatever conversation is taking place between them. The more time passes, the more I dread what is being said. Mr Collins is deeply offended that he has not been included in the discussion. His things have been packed and the horses are ready, but he is pacing stubbornly back and forth in the yard, waiting for the gentlemen in the library to come out. I have been led to understand that he feels duty-bound to give as thorough a report of the situation to his patroness as possible. Insufferable gossip.
Oh, Aunt! I am shocked; I am humiliated. I know it is not quite sound, but I cannot help placing some of the blame for what has happened on Mr Darcy. These people are my friends and neighbours, most of whom I have known all my life. It cannot be on my account that someone has seen fit to spread such malicious lies. It is his pride and arrogance that everyone is so universally disgusted with. If only he had behaved with more civility towards the society here, then perhaps this could all have been avoided. If only he had left me to my own devices that day. I would rather be at the bottom of Mr Thompson’s pond than in the situation I currently find myself in. (Very well, it is an exaggeration. I am not stupid enough to not understand that, whatever his faults, he has done me a kindness. But I cannot help it. And I am sure that he already very much regrets his actions.)
I will end now; if you have read thus far, you have already endured more than your share of this misery. Jane is trying to encourage me to go walking with her in the garden, but I am not sure I am willing to comply. She thinks a little fresh air would serve me well, but who knows what further calamity will befall me if I ever set foot out of this house again?

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What do you think? Elizabeth Bennet not wanting to go outside the house? No more walking for her? It is a bit dramatic, don’t you think? or, is it?

If you are already hooked, why not buying Thaw now? You could do it on:

Amazon UK Amazon CA Amazon US

time to give away winners

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of THAW per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on January 22. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Winner of “When Charlotte became Romantic” by Victoria Kincaid

Lyly Bernard, you are the winner of the giveaway that Victoria Kincaid has done in her stop at My Vices and Weaknesses.

Apologies for taking so long to select a winner.

Lyly, I hope you enjoy this lovely book! I will send your email address to Victoria for you to get your ebook.

“The Clergyman’s Wife” by Molly Greeley, excerpt and guest post

Hello to all of you!

Lately we have Charlotte as a main character and I am personally very glad about it. Although she may not be my favourite character from Pride and Prejudice (as if I could choose only one…), I definitely like Miss Lucas or Mrs Collins. However, when she is Mrs Collins I tend to pity her even if it was her choice. Apparently, Molly Greeley’s latest book may be more into the latter.

Let me introduce you to Molly Greeley, the author of the book I am presenting you today: The Clergyman’s Wife.

Molly Greeley was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her addiction to books was spurred by her parents’ floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A graduate of Michigan State Molly Greeley Author Photo 1University, she began as an Education major, but switched to English and Creative Writing after deciding that gainful employment was not as important to her as being able to spend several years reading books and writing stories and calling it work.

She lives in Traverse City, Michigan with her husband and three children, and can often be found with her laptop at local coffee shops.

Her first novel is forthcoming from William Morrow in December 2019. 

If you would like to follow Molly, you can do it here:

Website            Facebook          Twitter           Goodreads           HarperCollins

Let’s have a look at the blurb straightaway:

In this Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel, not everyone has the luxury of waiting for love.

Charlotte Collins, née Lucas, is the respectable wife of Hunsford’s vicar, and sees to her duties by rote: keeping house, caring for their daughter, visiting parishioners, and patiently tolerating the lectures of her awkward husband and his condescending patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Intelligent, pragmatic, and anxious to escape the shame of spinsterhood, Charlotte chose this life, an inevitable one so socially acceptable that its quietness threatens to overwhelm her. Then she makes the acquaintance of Mr. Travis, a local farmer and tenant of Lady Catherine.

In Mr. Travis’ company, Charlotte feels appreciated, heard, and seen. For the first time in her life  Charlotte begins to understand emotional intimacy and its effect on the heart—and how breakable that heart can be. With her sensible nature confronted, and her own future about to take a turn, Charlotte must now question the role of love and passion in a woman’s life, and whether they truly matter for a clergyman’s wife.

What do you think? She is already married!! OMG! Is there a lot of angst? Is there a happy ending? Poor Charlotte!

Let’s see how you like part of the prologue of this book:

Excerpt

Prologue
Autumn 

Mr. Collins walks like a man who has never become comfortable with his height: his shoulders hunched, his neck thrust forward. His legs cross great stretches of ground with a single stride. I see him as I pass the bedroom window, and for a moment I am arrested, my lungs squeezing painfully under my ribs, the pads of my fingers pressed against the cool glass. The next moment, I am moving down the stairs, holding my hem above my ankles. When I push open the front door and step out into the lane, I raise my eyes and find Mr. Collins only a few feet distant.

Mr. Collins sees me and lifts his hat. His brow is damp with the exertion of walking and his expression is one of mingled anticipation and wariness. Seeing it, the tightness in my chest dissipates. Later, when I have time to reflect, I will perhaps wonder how it is possible to simultaneously want something so much and so little, but in the moment before Mr. Collins speaks, as I step toward him through the fallen leaves, I am awash in calm.

On the morning of my wedding, my mother dismisses the maid and helps me to dress herself. Lady Lucas is not a woman prone to excessive displays of emotion, but this morning her eyes are damp and her fingers tremble as she smooths the sleeves of my gown. It is only my best muslin, though newly trimmed at the bodice with lace from one of my mother’s old evening dresses. My father went to town the other day, returning with a few cupped hothouse roses, only just bloomed, to tuck into my hair this morning. He offered them to me, his face pink and pleased, and they were so lovely, so evocative of life and warmth even as winter grayed and chilled the landscape outside, that even my mother did not complain about the expense.

“Very pretty,” my mother says now, and I feel my breath catch and hold behind my breastbone. I cannot recall having heard those particular words from her since I was a small child. I look at my reflection in the glass and there see the same faults—nose too large, chin too sharp, eyes too close together—that I have heard my mother bemoan since it became apparent, when I was about fourteen, that my looks were not going to improve as I grew older. But the flowers in my hair make me appear younger, I think, than my twenty-seven years; I look like a bride. And when I look into my mother’s face now, I find nothing but sincerity.

My mother blinks too quickly and turns away from me. “We should go down,” she says. She makes for the door, then pauses, turning slowly to face me again. “I wish you every happiness,” she says, sounding as though she is speaking around something lodged in her throat. “You have made a very eligible match.” I nod, feeling my own throat close off in response, a sensation of helpless choking.

I am largely silent during the long, rocking ride into Kent. My new husband speaks enough for both of us; he has an astonishing memory for minutiae and discusses the wedding ceremony in such great detail that I find myself wondering whether he remembers that I was also in attendance. We left for my new home directly from the church; my family and a few friends all crowded, shivering in their cloaks and muffs, outside the entrance, waving as we were driven away. Maria, my sister, cried as I left; my brothers looked solemn, my father beamed, my mother smiled a tremulous smile. My friend Elizabeth’s smile looked as if it had been tacked in place, like a bit of ribbon pinned to a gown but not yet properly sewn on.

Mr. Collins’s awkward height is emphasized by the cramped conditions of the coach. His long legs stretch out before him as far as they can go, but he still appears to be uncomfortable. The hair at his temples is moist, despite the cold, and I have to glance hastily away, feeling a lurch in my stomach that has nothing to do with the jolting ride.

He is very warm beside me in bed. I watch him sleep for a time, tracing the relaxed lines of his face with my eyes and thinking how different he seems without the rather frantic energy he exudes in his waking hours. There is a tension about him, much of the time, that I did not recognize until this moment, until sleep removed it.

He introduced me when we arrived to the housekeeper, Mrs. Baxter, who is broad and pleasant, and to the gruff, graying manservant, John, whose powerful shoulders are built from years of labor. The parsonage itself is exactly as Mr. Collins described it: small, but neat and comfortable, with surrounding gardens that he assured me would be beautiful come spring. His eagerness to please me was matched by his inability to believe anyone might find fault with his home, and I found his manner at once endeared him to me and irritated me thoroughly.

Throughout the tour, he pointed out improvements here and there that had been the suggestion of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. There were rather a lot of them.

At our bedchamber he paused with his palm against the door. “I hope . . . it suits,” he said, then opened the door and bowed me in.

The room was much like the rest of the house: comfortably furnished, if a trifle small. “Charming,” I said, and pretended not to notice the flush on his cheeks.

We ate dinner together. I had little appetite, despite the novelty of eating a meal in my own home that I had had no hand in preparing. Afterward, I considered suggesting we adjourn to the parlor but found I could not face the intervening hours between then and bed. Tomorrow I would unpack my books and my embroidery. I would write letters. I would meet Lady Catherine, for Mr. Collins assured me that lady had vowed to have us to tea when we returned to Kent; and I would begin to learn the duties of a clergyman’s wife. But tonight—I wanted only for tonight to be over.

“I am tired,” I said. “I think I will retire early.” Mr. Collins rose from his chair with alacrity. “A fine idea,” he said. “It has been a long day.” And to my consternation, he followed me up the stairs, his footsteps behind me a reminder that it will forever be his right to do with me as he pleases.

It is not so terrible, I think after, lying in the quiet dark watching my husband sleep. At my insistence, he allowed me time to change into my nightdress in private. And the rest was vaguely shocking, dreadfully uncomfortable, and far more mess than I had anticipated, but bearable. Mr. Collins, at least, seemed vastly pleased at the end, murmuring affectionate nonsense against my neck until he drifted off to sleep.

I wake before dawn, and for a moment I imagine I am still at home. There is a presence beside me in the bed, warm and heavy against my back, and I think it is my sister, Maria, until it lets out a gusty snore against the nape of my neck. My eyes open and I find myself staring at an unfamiliar wall covered in delicate floral paper. For a moment, I am held immobile by the weight of all the ways in which my life has changed. And then Mr. Collins— William—shifts in his sleep, one heavy arm reaching over my hip, his long fingers brushing my stomach, and I go rigid for the barest of instants. A moment later I force the stiffness from my body, allowing my spine to relax back against my husband’s chest. Exhaling the breath I had been holding, I wait for him to wake.

I will, no doubt, grow accustomed to mornings begun beside William. This is, after all, the life I chose.

If you are interested already on reading The Clergyman’s Wife, you can buy the book on:

HarperColllins           Amazon US     Amazon CA       BooksAMillion

Amazon UK (on pre-order, January for the paperback and March for the ebook)

Guest post

What does Molly say about The Clergyman’s Wife? Why Charlotte?

It took about a year of once-weekly writing sprints to finish my first novel, The Clergyman’s Wife, but the idea had been slowly germinating for a long time. I have, in fact, been thinking about Charlotte Lucas and her choice for more than twenty years, ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice. Back then I was ten years-old, and with a child’s understanding of what I read, my first and strongest reaction when Charlotte chose to marry Mr. Collins was complete revulsion. Mr. Collins was gross, and worse, he was a little bit stupid. Someone like Charlotte, who was friends with Elizabeth Bennet and therefore must be intelligent, would be miserable married to him. I agreed completely with Elizabeth’s first reaction to the news of her friend’s engagement: Charlotte had made a terrible mistake. But time, and many subsequent readings, softened my take on Charlotte’s decision, and as I grew up, she became the character in Pride and Prejudice who fascinated me most, her choice to marry Mr. Collins less horrifying than the circumstances that led to it.

Charlotte had neither money nor the means to earn any, and she had no beauty, which was, of course, its own form of currency. Even when she was young, the likelihood of attracting a husband equal to or above her in station was fairly slim, but as the years passed I imagined the constraints of her situation tightening around her like a net. The truly sad thing about Charlotte’s circumstances, I realized, was not so much that she married Mr. Collins but that she lived in a time when an intelligent, capable woman had only two choices: remain unmarried, and risk becoming a burden to her family, or accept the proposal of a man who could offer her security, even if he also happened to be a fool. Her story was all-too- common in Jane Austen’s time: the woman who married the most practical choice available, because a woman’s security, unless she was exceptionally fortunate, was always linked to the prosperity and generosity of the men in her life. The remarkable thing about Charlotte is that she set out to seduce Mr. Collins—not with her body, but with her attention and sympathy. Rather than wait passively for a man to notice her, she saw an opportunity and took it, and in doing so, she took charge of her own life in the only way available to her. I felt punched by the courage and, yes, selflessness of her decision, for in marrying the heir to Longbourn, she ensured that neither her parents nor her younger brothers had to worry about her future. We get so little of Charlotte’s inner world in Pride and Prejudice, and I wanted more.

The remarkable thing about Charlotte is that she set out to seduce Mr. Collins—not with her body, but with her attention and sympathy. Rather than wait passively for a man to notice her, she saw an opportunity and took it, and in doing so, she took charge of her own life in the only way available to her. I felt punched by the courage and, yes, selflessness of her decision, for in marrying the heir to Longbourn, she ensured that neither her parents nor her younger brothers had to worry about her future. We get so little of Charlotte’s inner world in Pride and Prejudice, and I wanted more. 

Austen tells Charlotte’s story mostly from Elizabeth’s perspective, with a few interjections from the novel’s nameless narrator, and Charlotte seems, above all else, calm, practical, and more than a bit calculating. But Elizabeth, as it turns out, is not actually the most astute judge of other people’s feelings and motivations. So I started thinking: what if Charlotte was just good at making the best of things, even if she didn’t feel as cheerful about them as she appeared? What if she was grateful enough for the security Mr. Collins offered her to be genuinely pleased with her new life when Elizabeth visited in Pride and Prejudice—but what if security was not enough to make her truly happy in the long run? What if she finally fell in love? Some of my favorite books take well-known stories and delve into the minds and hearts of characters who were peripheral to the original. Charlotte has never felt peripheral to me; even as a child, I couldn’t read Pride and Prejudice without having a visceral reaction to her story. It’s a story about a woman’s worth, a woman’s place in society. It’s about mothers and daughters, because it’s impossible to imagine Charlotte’s own worry about her prospects as the years pass without also imagining the strangling fear her mother must have felt, too. And it’s about love, or lack thereof, and what place it would have had in the lives of women who did not have a man with ten thousand a year waiting to rescue them from the terrifying uncertainty of the future. Such women, like Charlotte, had to rescue themselves.

Molly Greeley

I hope you have enjoyed Molly’s thoughts. What do you think about her?

Have a nice week 🙂

“When Charlotte Became Romantic” by Victoria Kincaid, character interview + giveaway

Dear all,

I hope you are doing well and looking forward to this interview! Victoria Kincaid is sharing her latest book: When Charlotte Became Romantic. Yes, Charlotte Lucas. Was she romantic after all?

In the original Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s friend, Charlotte Lucas marries the silly and obsequious clergyman, Mr. Collins.  But what if fate—and love—intervened?

Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature.  But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision. 

James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man.  Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton.  Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms.  If they are to be happy, they must face her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s disapproval, dangerous figures from James’s past…and Charlotte’s nagging feeling that maybe she should just marry Mr. Collins.   

Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?

Wait a minute… James Sinclair, who is him? What do you mean “cost him a chance with Charlotte”? I am bit stressed now. Let’s see if Charlotte can solve this mystery about Mr Sinclair. Enjoy the interview!

Q. Hello, Charlotte, it’s nice to meet you and congratulations on your engagement to Mr. Collins.

A. Thank you.

Q. Are you looking forward to moving to Kent and becoming a parson’s wife?

A. Of course. I am looking forward to establishing my own home and I hope to have many children.

Q. You’re not worried about how far Hunsford is from Lucas Lodge?

A. The distance is rather an advantage than otherwise.

Q. Interesting. And, tell me, how did Mr. Collins propose?

A. With a lot of words. He has quite a way with words.

Q. That’s one way to put it.Did he express his love and admiration?

A. Yes, of course.I believe he called me his petunia blossom. 

Q. And do you love him?

A. (After a pause.) I greatly admire and esteem him. I’m not romantic, you know.

Q. That’s an interesting claim. I was doing some research about your visit to Bath three years ago and I heard that there was a time in your life when you were quite romantic.

A. I do not know what you mean.

Q. I learned from a reputable source that you were once in love with a mysterious young man and accepted an offer of—

A. (Standing.) I will not answer that question!

Q. Will you just confirm or deny that—?

A. I was unaware that this was to be such a shockingly personal interview. You must write for a very disreputable publication.

Q. I’m sorry.I didn’t mean to offend you.  I simply wanted to know the truth about that visit to Bath three years—

A. This interview is at an end.(Gets up and leaves the room).

WOW! What has just happened? She just left the interview! She was not really receptive and pretty upset she went.

What do you think? Is she romantic after all? I know I already asked that question but I want to know more and the only way is reading When Charlotte Became Romantic.

You can buy this entertaining book on:

Amazon UK                Amazon US                   Amazon CA

For you to know Victoria a bit more, read the biography from her website:

Victoria Kincaid is the author of several popular Jane Austen variations, including The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, Pride & ProposalsMr. Darcy to the Rescue, When Mary Met the Colonel, and Darcy vs. Bennet.All of her books have been listed in Amazon’s Top 20 Bestselling Regency Romances.  The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was nominated for a Rone award and Pride and Proposals was recognized as a top Austenesque novel for 2015 by Austenesque Reviews.

Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, an excessively energetic dog, two children who love to read, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy.  A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice.

If you want to follow Victoria Kincaid’s work, follow her on:

Website            Facebook           Twitter             Goodreads

time to give away winners

Victoria is kindly given an ebook copy of When Charlotte Became Romantic to a winner. This giveaway is international. To participate you need to comment on this post and you can get an extra point for each share in a different social media. The giveaway will end on the 8th of December at 11:59pm (CET). Good luck!

“The Watsons” by Rose Servitova, excerpt

Dear all,

I am glad to introduce you to a new author here at My Vices and Weaknesses, however, most of you may have read her before. Please, welcome Rose Servitova.Rose Servitova headshot

Irish author Rose Servitova is an award-winning humor writer, event manager, and job coach for people with special needs. Her debut novel, The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr. Collins & Mr. Bennet, described as a ‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication in 2017. Rose enjoys talking at literary events, drinking tea and walking on Irish country roads. She lives in County Limerick with her husband, two young children and three indifferent cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Rose Servitova is presenting her latest book: The Watsons. She is completing this story that Jane Austen left incomplete and she has done a very good job. Just read this praise of the book:

“A gift for Austen fans everywhere – full of wit, informed imagination and palpable affection for Austen’s characters.” — Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society

“Very satisfying, sometimes moving and often laugh-out-loud hilarious.” — Jane Austen Regency World Magazine

For me these two opinions say loads, don’t you think? If you do not believe, reread those reviews again.

I will give you something else, here you have the description of the book:

Can she honour her family and stay true to herself?

Emma Watson returns to her family home after fourteen years with her wealthy and indulgent aunt. Now more refined than her siblings, Emma is shocked by her sisters’ flagrant and desperate attempts to ensnare a husband. To the surprise of the neighbourhood, Emma immediately attracts the attention of eligible suitors – notably the socially awkward Lord Osborne, heir to Osborne Castle – who could provide her with a home and high status if she is left with neither after her father’s death. Soon Emma finds herself navigating a world of unfamiliar social mores, making missteps that could affect the rest of her life. How can she make amends for the wrongs she is seen to have committed without betraying her own sense of what is right?

Jane Austen commenced writing The Watsons over two hundred years ago, putting it aside unfinished, never to return and complete it. Now, Rose Servitova, author of acclaimed humour title, The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence between Mr Collins and Mr Bennet has finished Austen’s manuscript in a manner true to Austen’s style and wit.

Rose is inviting us to five into The Watsons a bit more with this interesting excerpt:

Emma looked in upon her father and found Mrs Ellingham quite at home in a low chair, wearing spectacles and reading aloud from a book.

“And now, Mr Watson, I will retire for a while to return to you later and finish this chapter.”

“Thank you Mrs Ellingham,” he replied. “You have been very kind.”

Placing a wick in the book to mark her page, Mrs Ellingham smiled at Emma before leaving the room and gently closing the door after her.

When he was sure that he heard her footsteps descending the stairs, Mr Watson began, “Really Emma, I do not know how you expect me to tolerate this woman? Is there any way to banish her from our home?”

“Father! It is only her second day. We believed you enjoyed her company. Has she been unkind?”

“Not unkind, if reading these dreadful novels is not considered unkind. I dislike them intensely. I had much rather be forever alone than in the company of a very bad book.”

Emma, relieved, laughed. “You must tell her, Father, and do so thoughtfully.”

“I did attempt to encourage her to read something from my own library but she found them dull and kept nodding off. So I have spent the past several hours in agony – hours that I have not to spare at this time of my life.”

“This would greatly injure her feelings. She has given her time to come here and cheer you,” said Emma while moving about the room, pushing back chairs and taking books from his bedside and placing them back on the bookshelf.

“And what of my time? Recall, my dear, what Shakespeare said ‘I wasted Time and now doth Time waste me.’ But, yes, yes, she is a kind and attentive old friend. And that being so, I had best find another way. I have been thinking, if I feel a little stronger tomorrow, I will come downstairs. In company, I should be safe. She will have no need to read to me. Yes, that is what I will do. I will listen to this hogwash this evening, while you are all at the ball and tomorrow afternoon, when you have returned, I will declare myself well enough to join you for dinner.”

“Father, such a scheme!”

“Illness is a dangerous indulgence at my time of life. My poor cousin! I no longer wonder at his moving onto his heavenly home at such a young age. The miracle is that he did not depart sooner.”

“I shall go now,” said Emma with a laugh, kissing him on his forehead, “and leave you to your fate.”

“Yes, you girls must go and enjoy your ball. I pray there will be a sufficient number of wealthy gentlemen who, in falling for your beauty, will kindly overlook your careless father’s inability to provide you with a dowry. You may tell me all on the morrow.”

Emma hesitated outside the closed door and sought to hear that noise which she had recently detected on leaving her father. It was the creaking noise of her father alighting from his bed, then moments later another creaking sound as he returned to it. She had learned that he regularly sought comfort from the log book which Emma had just now returned to the bookshelf. From his bed, she assumed, he would read with pleasure those entries which logged all his parish duties over thirty-three years and would be found later, lying on his coverlet, while he slept. Smiling at his mischievousness, Emma descended the stairs cheerier than when she had ascended it earlier and waited for the Edwardses’ carriage to arrive. (pages 100-102)

How are you liking it so far? Emma, but Watson this time, do not forget it!

If you would like to buy it, you can do it here:

Amazon US          Amazon UK         Amazon CA

Blog Tour

You are going to love this tour, please check the previous stops because it is very enjoyable!

November 18            My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)

November 18            Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

November 19            The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

November 20            Austenesque Reviews (Review)

November 20            vvb32 Reads (Review)

November 21            All Things Austen (Review)

November 22            My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)

November 25            From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

November 25            Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)

November 26            So Little Time… (Excerpt)

November 27            Impressions in Ink (Review)

November 27            Babblings of a Bookworm (Spotlight)

November 28            More Agreeably Engaged (Review)

November 29            My Vices and Weaknesses (Excerpt)

November 29            The Fiction Addiction (Review)

“A Covenant of Marriage” by C.P. Odom, vignette + giveaway

Dear all,

I am very happy to have author C.P. Odom again with us introducing his latest novel: A Covenant of Marriage. As you may have guessed if you have not followed the tour, which I definitely recommend you to do, he has written a variation of Pride and Prejudice. A really good variation if you let me say it. Let me give you an idea of what this book is about…

A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!

Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.

With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together?

OMG! What is going on? Poor Elizabeth, tied to… or to… or to… It was not simple to be a woman during that era even if what we are reading is fiction, we know that these issues were real though. I can foresee a lot of angst, maybe? Misery? Misunderstandings? Who knows!? Well, Colin knows for sure 🙂

Let Colin (re)introduce himself:

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.

I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.Colin photo 2014

I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published:  A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

You can follow Colin on:

Facebook           Amazon’s Author page           Goodreads          Meryton Press page

Colin is eager to leave us without knowing much about what is happening with Elizabeth and the covenant of marriage. However, he is sharing and unwritten piece explaining Lydia’s destiny…

Lydia’s Destination – a Vignette for A Covenant of Marriage

Unwritten events occurring during the timeframe of Chapter 8

Friday, June 18, 1813

London, Bedford Home for the Unfortunate

Lydia Bennet was already dressed in her traveling clothing when she knocked at the door of the director of the Bedford Home for the Unfortunate. This dilapidated building had been her home since late September of the previous year, when George Wickham had abandoned her, leaving her penniless and pregnant. Her days there had not been happy ones, as she grew larger and larger from the life growing within her, watching other girls in a similar situation go into labour, have their babies, and then have to leave the home. Worse, more than five of the unwed mothers had not survived the birth of their children.

She had not had that misfortune, at least. Her delivery had been without incident, and her baby son had entered the world with a healthy cry of outrage at what had happened to him. But now, after two weeks of nursing the infant and being taught the rudiments of how to care for him and for herself, she was going to have to leave this meagre shelter, like the other mothers before her. What might befall her when the doors of the institution closed behind her, she could not imagine.

Mr. Dickerson himself opened the door for her with a practiced smile of mingled concern and good cheer.

“Come in, come in, Miss Lydia. Here, have a seat. Good, good.”

He leaned forward to look at the sleeping baby wrapped in a threadbare blanket who she held in her arms.

“I understand the boy is doing well. He certainly looks healthy. But I truly wish you would allow us to inform your family of your whereabouts and your condition.”

“No!” Lydia said, almost desperately. “I cannot go home! I just . . . cannot!”

“So you have said,” Mr. Dickerson said sadly. “And your uncle and aunt here in town?”

Lydia shook her head, her lips pressed together petulantly.

“And the boy? Many of the young ladies decide to leave their new babies to the care of one of the parish churches or perhaps the Foundling Hospital.”

“You told me that there is a situation for me where I can keep my son.”

“Yes, that is true. You are more fortunate than most of the ladies who seek asylum with us. You have a benefactor who has—”

“My uncle, you mean?” Lydia said, more harshly than she had meant to, and Mr. Dickerson looked at her unhappily.

He did not, however, say anything and continued his explanation. “Your benefactor has . . . connections, it would seem. He has arranged for you to take up residence in Portsmouth, which is a seaport to the south, where you can live among a number of other women who have been widowed by this war with France. A chaise will soon be here take you and your son there. Have you named him yet?”

Lydia turned back a corner of the blanket and looked down at her sleeping son, with a soft and tender expression on her face. “I have decided to call him Stephen. Stephen Bennet, I guess.”

“It will have to be Stephen Oldham, Miss Lydia. As I explained earlier, you will assume the identity of the widow of Sergeant Brendon Oldham, a trooper in the Sixth Dragoons, who was killed fighting the French in Spain.”

“Oh, yes, I had forgotten.”

“Well, it is something you must remember. In reality, Sergeant Oldham did not have a wife, but it is unlikely anyone will ever check the military records. The government pays a small survivor’s pension to the families of the soldiers and sailors killed, but it is quite small. But your benefactor has set things up so that you will not be showing signs of having more money than expected. The rent for your rooms, for example, will be paid by a solicitor, who will also provide you a monthly allowance for your expenses. Here is his address.”

He pushed a small piece of paper across his desk to her and she nodded her understanding.

“The allowance will pay for your food, with some extra for clothing and other expenses. But I warn you that it is not overly generous. You will have to learn not to spend more than you have, since you will not be able get more money until the first of the next month.”

Now it was Lydia’s turn to look unhappy, since she had never before had to do any of this for herself. Dinners were fixed by servants, who drew her bath, attended to her hair and dress, and kept her room cleaned. But that all belonged to her life before she had allowed herself to be deceived and seduced by Wickham.

And she simply could not go home and face her family! It wasn’t her fault! They would not understand! They would blame her and call her foolish and . . .

She bit her lip to stop the litany of familiar excuses from running through her mind. Somewhere, down deep inside, a part of her knew her situation had been of her own doing, but she could not acknowledge that. Not yet . . .

And Mr. Dickerson was continuing to speak.

“. . . these are the kind of things you would have kept from your dead husband. Here is where you were married . . .”

He pushed that paper to join the name and address of the solicitor.

“. . . a locket with a small miniature of your husband, the letter from his lieutenant telling you of his death, the official notification from the government, the . . .”

Dickerson droned on, adding other papers to the pile in front of her until he was through, after which he wrapped everything into an oilskin envelope and tied a string around it. Then he moved on to other topics.

“You have learned enough while here to allow you to take in sewing to add to your income, and we have shown you how to prepare a few simple meals for yourself and later for the boy. There will be several baskets to go in the chaise with you, a few pots and dishes, some bedclothing, the dresses you sewed for yourself in addition to what you brought with you, and some clothing for the boy. Here is a purse for your money, but I caution you to wear that under your clothing, where a pickpocket cannot get at it . . .”

At long last, the man finished and looked at her. He thought she had listened to most of it, but he still knew she did not know everything she needed to know to take up this life she had chosen. But at least she would have a roof over her head, and the baby could nurse while she was learning. It was more than most of the unfortunate girls who passed through his charity had when he had to usher them out into the world.

As he escorted Lydia Oldham outside and assisted her into the chaise with her meagre household possessions, he could not convince himself to be confident about her ability to survive. She was so very young!

***

What do you think? Does she deserve this? Who is that benefactor? Why can she not go back and deal with the consequences? Will we get to know more in the book? There are many more questions I could write but I will leave you to think them.

Thank you very much, Colin, for being with us today!

What about checking this book and buying it? You could do it on:

Amazon US             Amazon UK         Amazon CA          Amazon DE

Blog Tour

This blog tour is about to finish but I highly recommend you to check the previous stops. Have fun!

5th of November A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life

6th of November More Agreeably Engaged

7th of November From Pemberley to Milton

8th of November Half Agony, Half Hope

9th of November My Love for Jane Austen

11th of November Diary of an Eccentric

12th of November Darcyholic Diversions

14th of November Margie’s Must Reads

15th of November Austenesque Reviews

16th of November My Jane Austen Book Club

17th of November Babblings of a Bookworm

18th of November My Vices and Weaknesses

19th of November Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

ACOM Blog Tour Schedule

time to give away winners

8 ebooks, not one or two, 8 ebooks! Meryton Press is giving away 8 ebooks of A Covenant of Marriage to 8 winners. I hope yo are one of them! Just click the link below and follow the instructions.

Rafflecopter – A Covenant of Marriage

“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.

the-perfect-gentlemen-tourbanner

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!