Blog Tour of “What’s Past is Prologue” by Ann Galvia, review + giveaway

Dear all,

Today, I am very happy to introduce you to Ann Galvia, a new author who has never been at My Vices and Weaknesses. Ann is bringing her latest novel What’s Past is Prologue, a variation of Pride and Prejudice.I will be reviewing today this novel, so let me introduce you first to the author:

Ann started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

ann galviaSometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Connect with Ann at the following places Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

Before getting to the dissection of the novel, read the description, I hope you like it.

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

What do you think? A lot of information to digest and I imagine that some questions may have risen as well.

If you want to buy the book, you can do it on the following links:

Amazon US   Amazon UK    Amazon CA

Review

Elizabeth and Darcy never met in Pemberley. It was Jane who met Mr Darcy as it was her who went with the Gardiners. Then a lovely reunion with Mr Bingley and then… Lydia’s elopement that can ruin everything!

However, as we know, Darcy made everything right.

Lizzy gets a marriage proposal, again, in a letter, from Darcy because Mr Bennet is too pushy when he asks him why he did what he did for Lydia.

Lizzy accepts but not because she is in love, but because she feels it is the honourable thing to do after all his struggle. (Not a good beginning)

Newly married, they are summoned to Rosings. Elizabeth is treated poorly by Lady Catherine (as you can imagine). However, Elizabeth is always loyal to her husband and supports him.

Darcy faces a big problem in Rosings: the floods have destroyed harvests, houses, etc. and there is no money to be used. Darcy is trying to help Lady Catherine but she keeps being insolent, pedantic and mean… to the point of wanting to kick Mr Collins from the parish because he is the cousin of Mrs Darcy.

Moreover, the cost to help all the farmers, villagers and so on after the flood is too high and Darcy right now cannot help directly as he has lately had some “unexpected payments” to make. Therefore, Darcy’s uncle sends one of his sons, the brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam, to “check” on what Darcy is doing and to confirm the need for such an amount of money. Let’s say that he is not as nice as his brother although he pretends to be. (I hate one of his comments, the one about getting a wife.)

Anne de Bourgh eventually speaks to Elizabeth, not because she hated her before, because she had not much to say. They become cousins and maybe friends eventually…

Georgiana and Kitty, who is to live with the Darcys, are fast friends and they are very good to each other. This will be helpful for everyone.

From my point of view, Lizzy is a bit annoying, she is only worried about not being attractive enough to Darcy for a long time because right now he is “super-in-love” and wants her a lot, but this may not last, as Darcy told her. (I suppose it was jokingly). Elizabeth is worried because she does not want Darcy to tire of her, to realise that he made “a mistake”. She wants to have his heir and spare because then she may not be seen as “a mistake”. However, SPOILER ALERT…

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she may change her mind as we have a happy ending.

I like Ann’s beginning of the chapters with “the girl”, it is a relevant feature to use and it has a meaning later on.

3.5out5 stars

Blog Tour Schedule

WPIP Blog Tour Banner Horz

1st of August / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

2nd of August / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

3rd of August / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

4th of August / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

5th of August / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

6th of August / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

7th of August / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

8th of August / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

9th of August / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

10th of August  / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

11th of August / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

12th of August / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

13th of August / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

Time to Give Away
Ann is giving away 8 ebooks for eight different winners on this blog tour. It is an international giveaway that you can take part until the midnight of the 18th August 2018.

Just click on the link below and follow instructions. Read the terms and conditions below the link.

Rafflecopter of “What’s Past is Prologue”

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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Blog Tour of “The 26th November” by Elizabeth Adams, review + giveaway

Do you like the film Groundhog Day? If by any chance, you do not like it much, it is possible that you will like it when you read this variation of Pride and Prejudice written by Elizabeth Adams: The 26thof November: A Pride and Prejudice Comedy of Farcical Proportions.

As you may know by now, I dearly love Elizabeth Adams’ books, both period or modern variations. I have read and reviewed almost all her books and I can only recommend them as highly entertaining.

Let me (re)introduced you to Elizabeth Adams, a really good writer and a lovely person.

Elizabeth Adams is a book-loving, tango-dancing, Austen enthusiast. She loves old houses and thinks birthdays should be celebrated with trips – as should most occasions. She can often be found by a sunny window with a cup of hot tea and a book in her hand. elizabeth adams author profile pic-1477604540..jpg

She writes romantic comedy and comedic drama in both historic and modern settings.

She is the author of The Houseguest, Unwilling, On Equal Ground, and Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride and Prejudice, and the modern comedy Green Card. 

You can find more information, short stories, and outtakes at elizabethadamswrites.wordpress.com

What is the book about? Apart from my hint to Groundhog Day, read the blurb below. Enjoy!

The Netherfield Ball: Classic. Predictable. Immortalized.

But, what if Elizabeth were forced to relive it over and over and over again? Night after night after night?

Elizabeth: Clever. Witty. Confident.

Suddenly, her confusion and desperation make her question things she long thought she knew.

Mr. Darcy: Proud. Unapproachable. Bad tempered.

In this world where nothing is as it seems, Elizabeth must learn to see through new eyes.

Including a man she thought she hated. 

Let the hilarity ensue.

What do you think? Does it sound interesting? Believe me, it is interesting, fun and catchy: you will like to read a lot more!

Do you want to buy it? Check it here: Amazon US      Amazon ES

Amazon UK     Amazon CA

Review

The Netherfield Park ball again, and again, and again, and again, until you lose track of how many times you have lived it. In a way, some of us like this ball very much and we have watched it several times in the different film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, right? However, how would Elizabeth Bennet feel when reliving the ball so many times? As you can imagine, she will take advantage of that and try to make it right.

The first ball that we attend is the “real” one and we get to live also the following day when Jane Bennet receives the “charming” letter from her “friend” Miss Caroline Bingley. Jane is quite sad, and Elizabeth cannot believe that Mr Bingley is not coming back. Do you remember what else happens on the morrowof the ball apart from the letter? (I will leave it for you to remember).

However, the following day is, again, the day of the Netherfield Park ball. Elizabeth cannot believe it but eventually she thinks it may have been a premonition. Although… what happens the following day? Again, the ball…

I have asked you above, how would Elizabeth Bennet feel when reliving the ball so many times? As you can imagine, she will take advantage of the repetition and try to make it right: she tries to curb her younger sisters’ behaviour, she tries to convince Jane to be more forward, Elizabeth also tries to talk to his father, she tries to engage Mary with her appearance and with a better selection of music, she does a lot of things to help Jane with her suitor and she also wants her family not to be loud and indiscreet for her sake and her family’s sake.

What Elizabeth does not expect is to get to know Mr Darcy better, to see him in a different life and to feel they could be friends. A simple question such as: do you believe in premonitions? can make one intelligent person realise her prejudice and her misconstructed first impressions.

I am leaving it here, I cannot tell you more because I truly believe that it is worthy to read this book as it has made me smile a lot, but it is also moving and sweet. The last thing I will say is this: what a beautiful letter!!!

5out5 stars

Blog Tour Schedule

Enjoy much more of this book! Do not miss the previous posts.26th of November tour banner

9th of July / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

13th of July / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post & Giveaway

19th of July / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

20th of July / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

21th of July / My Love for Jane Austen / Character Interview & Giveaway

25th of July / More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway

28th of July / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway

2nd of August / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

6th of August / Austenesque Reviews / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

8th of August / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

9th of August / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

Time to Give Away

Elizabeth Adams is offering:

a) five copies of The 26th of November

ElizabethAdams26thNovemberGiveawayeBooks

b) 5 audiobook codes, each one is good for one of her audiobooks

ElizabethAdams-AudiobookCovers-1

c) two autographed paperback copies of one of her books, readers’ choice from her catalog

ElizabethAdams-Covers-2

12 different winner may get one of those amazing prizes, to participate, click the link below and follow the instructions. Read the terms and conditions below the link as well. The giveaway runs until midnight, 11th of August, 2018. Good luck!

Rafflecopter – “The 26th November”

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. 

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

Blog Tour of “The Darcy Legacy” by Joana Starnes, review and giveaway.

Dear all,

I am extremely pleased to welcome back, Joana Starnes. One of my favourite JAFF authors, an author who can write so well that it would like to read the unique Jane Austen.

Today, Joana is presenting us: The Darcy Legacy, her latest release. Read the description below about this book:

‘Pemberley’s ancient halls harbour many secrets. Which one will affect Fitzwilliam Darcy and the love of his life? How is Mr Bennet to enjoy the comforts of a well-stocked library, when his wife’s premature demise had left him with the task of finding suitable matches for their daughters? What of a misleading encounter on a muddy lane in Hertfordshire, that renders a country-town assembly rather more tolerable than some might have thought?

Shades of mystery, meddlesome relations – not least a drenched Adonis – raillery, old errors and a very recent union make for a challenging courtship when Fitzwilliam Darcy is not on his own ground. Yet when love is the reward, challenges make it more worth the earning. “A fraught courtship? So, let it be fraught,” Colonel Fitzwilliam said with a nonchalant flourish of his hand. “A good challenge never hurt anyone.”’

Yes, you read it right, Mrs Bennet is dead 😦 You may not be able to enjoy her outburst of happiness when her girls make lovely matches…

I have to say that this descriptions is more intriguing than revealing, it is not easy to be sure of what is going on. I will try to give you a bit more information in my review, but without spoilers 🙂

Let me (re)introduce you to Joana Starnes, a great and awesome novelist.

Joana Starnes 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 Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion,Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughterand The Darcy Legacy, and one of the contributing authors to The Darcy Monologues,Dangerous to Knowand the upcoming Rational Creatures (due in October 2018).

To connect with Joana:

Facebook      Website     Facebook – All Roads Lead to Pemberley     Twitter

Review

What would you say to having Lady Anne Darcy and Mr George Darcy as the masters of ceremony in this book? What would you say to a Mr Bennet who, after his wife’s passing, tries to give a better education for his five daughters? What would you say if the afterlife is actually, not that bad? What would you say if Lady Catherine remarries for the sake of Anne? What would you say to a murder at Rosings? What would you say… to me after all these questions?

You may be thinking: what’s wrong with you, Ana?! or, what are you talking about?! I know, I am giving you too many questions to think about and they may seem disconnected and not coherent, but I promise, they have something to do in a way or another with the book.

As usual, I do not know how much you have read about this book when you end up here at My Vices and Weaknesses. That is why, I cannot be free to review without spoilers. You know I do not like to give spoilers away but… I will give you my normal spoiler now

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yes, there is an ending that ends happily, a HEA!

I am going to focus mainly on Elizabeth and Darcy and I will mention a few more characters. Just for you to have into account: I do focus on them because there are few spoilers for me to reveal.

Do you remember the Meryton Assembly in Pride and Prejudice? Forget about it (just for a bit) because Joana has created a funnier and more entertaining assembly where Darcy is not as perfect as he normally is… I do not mean the insult to Elizabeth… that comes before the assembly!!! and what an insult/misunderstanding!!! [If you have watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and know what happens to Lizzie at the Meryton Assembly, you can have a mini idea of what could go wrong with Darcy in this one.]

Elizabeth and Darcy are separated for a few months after Darcy’s sudden removal of Hertforshire, where they share lovely time and conversation together. He goes away to Pemberley and London as he thinks he will forget his “infatuation” with a dark-eyed lady from Longbourn. He does not. Due to some events, he ends up at Rosings where the Bennet family can be found. As you may imagine, Lady Catherine is obnoxious as usual and keeps telling Darcy to marry Anne, who, by the way, feels better having so many people to pass the time. Both Darcy and Anne are of the same mind they do not want to marry each other. As you know, Darcy wants Elizabeth but he needs a bit of pushing to get to… declare himself? of make a fool of himself? or have a sunstroke? or… I will leave it there.

Who else must be mentioned? Everyone but I will not bother you with too much information in case you can read between lines…

If you are a reader who normally like Mr Bennet, I bet that you may like him a lot more in The Darcy Legacy, his wit and his sixth sense is well-developed and demonstrates great care of his daughters.

Anne de Bourgh, really nice character, we get to know her a little bit better and we understand a lot about her illness through Joana’s words. Anne is a nice friend to Elizabeth and even when her mother goes against her, Anne defends her as much as she can.

Miss Bingley, although her role and appearance in this book is very brief, I love it, mainly what w read about the last time she is mentioned or appears here. I am sorry for what I am writing next if you like Miss Bingley but, generally speaking, I am extremely happy when something not nice happens to her, or something that she deserves happens to her.

I have mentioned a couple of things on this review that may arise a couple of questions from you… I would love to answer them in the comments, just let me know.

4.5out5 stars

If you cannot wait to know if you are a winner on this giveaway, why not buying The Darcy Legacy now?

Amazon US    Amazon UK     Amazon ES     Amazon CA     Amazon FR

Joana, one question, what happened to the second letter?  😉

Blog Tour Schedule

Really good things to discover about The Darcy Legacy on the different stops of the blog tour:

2nd of July / Austenesque Reviews/Excerpt Post & Giveaway

3rd of July / Diary of an Eccentric/ Guest Post & Giveawaybanner-tdl

4th of July / More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway

5th of July / Of Pens & Pages/ Guest Post & Giveaway

6th of July / So Little Time… So Much to Read/Guest Post & Giveaway

7th of July / My Love for Jane Austen/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway

8th of July / Babblings of a Bookworm/Book Review & Giveaway

9th of July /My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

10th of July / Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway

11th of July / Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway

12th of July / Just Jane 1813/ Tour Finale & Giveaway

 

Time to Give Away

What a generous giveaway Joana is doing!

  • 10 kindle copies of The Darcy Legacy
  • 20 audiobook codes (of the audiobooks she already has)
  • 1 Amazon gift card of 25 dollars

As you can read, a lot of winners will be chosen through Rafflecopter, just click the link below and follow instructions:

Rafflecopter of “The Darcy Legacy”

The giveaway runs until midnight, 16th of July 2018.

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Blog Tour of “London Holiday” by Nicole Clarkston: guest post, excerpt + GA

Hello to all,

I am again glad to have Nicole Clarkston with us. The first novel I read by her was about North and South, although I have read other JAFF novels (that I love) by Nicole, today she is presenting us with her latest Pride and Prejudice novel: London Holiday: Pride and Prejudice Romantic Comedy. Who wants to have one? I mean a holiday in London? 😉 If you were thinking about the novel, yes, you can also try to win one during this blog tour!!

 

Hot air balloons… what about them? Maybe you do not know much about them but they must be significant in this story as one of them appears on the cover of this lovely book!!

Nicole is going to enlighten us with some part of the history of air hot balloons and I hope that you learn something from it, I was not aware of a few of these details.

One of my favorite scenes to write from London Holiday was the hot air balloon ride. It’s no spoiler, since it’s on the cover, but yes, our dear couple enjoy a flight together during their adventures. Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the Regency airship.

The first recorded hot air balloon flights were in 1783, conducted by French scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. This first flight was reportedly piloted by a duck, a sheep, and a cockerel, and flew for fifteen minutes at the end of a 250-foot tether. Within a month, De Rozier and his team had succeeded in the first untethered, manned flight, which covered five and a half miles in twenty minutes and flew to an altitude of 500 feet.

These early flights were powered by burning straw, which eventually caught the balloon on fire. However, the builders were undaunted, and continued to refine their design. Only two years after the first flights, De Rozier attempted to cross the English Channel with a dual system, consisting of one hot air balloon and on hydrogen balloon. Unfortunately, half an hour after take-off, the craft exploded. Both De Rozier and his assistant were killed. However, later that same year, French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries succeeded in the historic flight.

The British were not idle during this time. In 1784, Scottish aviator James Tytler flew a hot air balloon over Edinburgh. Shortly after this, it was an Italian diplomat named Vincenzo Lunardi who achieved the first flights over English soil. Launching a hydrogen balloon from London, he landed it safely in Hertfordshire with a dog, a cat, and a caged pigeon aboard.

In 1793, Americans got their first glimpse of a hot air balloon. Blanchard flew from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Gloucester County, New Jersey. Among the witnesses was George Washington.

Shortly after this, the hot air balloon entered the history of Vauxhall Gardens. The first regular flights began in 1802, as an additional attraction to entice guests. One of the more startling displays of aeronautics and pyrotechnics involved an unmanned balloon, a long fuse, and explosives. The fireworks shot off first, then the balloon itself was enveloped in a glorious fireball. The display was reportedly seen all over London and was a terrific promotional stunt for Vauxhall Gardens.

Although hot air balloons had their limitations as tourist draws—they could only fly in good weather with no wind–they remained a popular feature at Vauxhall until the Gardens closed in 1859. In fact, Vauxhall’s famous airship has its own claim to fame. Charles Green, already a balloon record holder, had taken over as the chief balloon operator for Vauxhall Gardens. He was known for experimenting with coal gas, as a safer and less expensive alternative to other fuels. He built the Royal Vauxhall Balloon for park owners in 1836, then purchased it back from them shortly after this.

That same November, Green set a record with the Royal Vauxhall by launching from Vauxhall Gardens and landing in Nassau, Germany the next morning. The balloon travelled approximately five hundred miles in eighteen hours and was rechristened The Great Nassau in honour of this achievement. Green and his Great Nassau would go on to set more records, and their names will forever be linked with Vauxhall Gardens.

Elizabeth and Darcy would not have flown on this Great Nassau in 1811, but balloons were certainly there, and already instilled in the popular culture. I hope you have enjoyed this brief history of our earliest flying machines! Now, treat yourself to a glimpse of the hot air balloon through Elizabeth’s eyes.

References: Clark, Liesl. “A Short History of Ballooning.” Nova, www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/short-history-of-ballooning.html – “History of Ballooning.” Virgin Air, www.virginballoonflights.co.uk/history-of-ballooning/ – “A Brief History of Vauxhall Gardens.” Vauxhall Gardens, www.vauxhallgardens.com/vauxhall_gardens_briefhistory_page.html

As Nicole has written… enjoy Elizabeth’s experience of a hot air balloon (excerpt from chapter 24).

They had some little difficulty in persuading the balloon master to an early departure. “First flight of the evening is at seven,” he had stated unequivocally. Until, of course, William had brandished several shining coins. These disappeared rapidly, and the man opened the gate to the basket.

It took only a few moments for the coal fire to be stoked to its proper heat, for the warming had already commenced some while before their arrival so the balloon’s impressive silk display could advertise the attraction all over the Gardens. When the man gave the signal for them to board, Elizabeth accepted William’s hand into the basket, then clasped the wooden railing. The little gate closed, bags of sand were hefted over the side, and the floor beneath her feet moved.

They had already agreed that from above, two passengers in a balloon were not terribly conspicuous. Anyone noticing their ascent would only be able to see them for a few moments before the greater height obscured their faces and granted a view only of the bottom of the basket. Those below, however, would be far easier to see. As a precaution in the early moments of their flight, William had arranged to stand behind her at the railing to conceal himself, but soon enough he should have the liberty to move about.

Elizabeth’s heart was thumping wildly. Two feet from the ground… three… six! She had not accounted for the rapidity of their ascent, nor had she considered how terribly unstable the floor would seem. Each shot of heat from the coal furnace, each jostle of passenger weight, served to rock the basket more than she had been prepared for. Her fingers tightened on the rail.

William was already craning his head about, searching at each change in elevation for whatever new angles of vantage the balloon could offer. “There, Burk and Johnson. And there is Turner. Two more there,” she heard him counting. “Blast. Two by the Kennington Lane entrance. I suppose all the gates are being watched.”

She closed her eyes and prayed for courage. She would look at the ground, she would! She swallowed, gulped a hasty breath of air, and tried to lean forward.

The figures below her swam into one dizzying blur. Her breath was coming in short, airless gasps now, and she felt herself growing faint. Oh, why had she thought she could manage this? She had enough trouble on fishing boats and horses! Wherever she could see the plane below her feet and feel movement that did not connect her to the ground, she had always felt ill. Carriages were little enough bother, for they were large, possessed a stable frame all around, and she could see only the horizon. That motion she had grown accustomed to, but this… this was beyond her!

“One by the orchestra,” William continued. “And the South pavilion… Miss Elizabeth, are your eyes sharper than mine? Is the light playing tricks on me, or is that another just there, near the first arch?”

He stepped to her right, leaning far over the edge of the basket, and the floor swayed with a sickening dip. “Miss Elizabeth, can you… Miss Elizabeth?”

The genuine concern in his voice was lost to her, for she could already taste the bitter tang in her mouth. In another half moment she was likely to mortify herself beyond hope of recovery, and if she tried to respond to him, she had not a prayer that she might be able to check the rebellion in her head and stomach.

“Miss Elizabeth, you are ill! We must set down immediately,” he called to the pilot.

She tried to shake her head, but she dared not. “No,” she managed thickly. “Still the north side!”

“Miss Elizabeth, we will find another way. I will not have you so distressed. Here, now, can you take a deep breath without difficulty?”

She clenched her eyes tightly closed and tried, but a gentle gust of evening air unsettled the basket. The breath she had tried to draw slowly came as an inward shriek and then was expelled just as rapidly in a cry of helpless alarm.

“Set us down at once!” William demanded again of the balloon pilot. “Can you not see, man? The lady is unwell!”

“I’m trying to, sir, but there’s a decent wind about just now. It will take some doing—ten minutes to the ground, at least. It will go faster if you help me to wind the rope.”

“Then allow me,” she heard him retort.

At once a stalwart strength left her, and she began to quake. She had not even realised that she had been leaning against his arm, and now bereft of that support, a new panic rose in her breast. No longer was she afraid of physical illness, but a mortal terror overtook her. She trembled from head to foot, and a series of frantic moans, wails, and sobs shook her.

“Miss Elizabeth!” William cried from half the world away, “You are only rocking the basket more. You make it far worse than it must be!”

She could not attend, however much she wished to. The music rising from the ground, so many fathoms below, told off the great measure of her fall, and nothing else could enter her mind. She knew she was shaking, desperately jerking herself about with her helpless spasms, but no force save the grounding security of firm earth could recall her.

“Miss Elizabeth!” William’s voice was near now, just at her ear, and she felt him pulling her hands from the railing. “Please, you must hear me. Can you listen? Squeeze my hand if you can.”

She could not. His presence was comforting—at least she would have someone else’s hand to hold as she plummeted to her death over the side, if it came to that—but she was no more in command of herself than she had been a moment earlier. She clung more tightly to the rail.

And I am so mean to leave you hanging there! My humblest apologies. -NC

If you are a bit mad at Nicole for leaving us hanging after reading this scene, you can find her and tell her off on:

Website        Goodreads Author Page       Goodreads Blog         Facebook

Amazon Author Page         Twitter

Let me (re)introduce you to Nicole Clarkston, author of among other books: The Courtship of Edward Gardiner , Northern Rain and These Dreams.

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.nicole-clarkston

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write four other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole contributes to Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through all the links below the biography.

Would you like to buy the book before trying the giveaway? Here you can do it:

Amazon US         Amazon UK       Amazon ES        Amazon CA   

Tour schedule

Great posts that we have had so far on this book tour and I am sure that the rest are going to be as good 🙂 Check them to know more about this story.

lh tour

7th June   So little time… – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

8th June   Diary of an Eccentric – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

9th June   Just Jane 1813 – Review, GA

10th June My life journey – Review, GA

11th June From Pemberley to Milton – Vignette, GA

12th June My Jane Austen Book Club – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

13th June Half Agony, Half Hope – Review, Excerpt, GA

15th June Austenesque Reviews – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

16th June My Love for Jane Austen – Vignette, GA

18th June Obsessed with Mr. Darcy – Review, GA

19th June My Vices and Weaknesses – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

20th June A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life – Guest Post

Time to Give Away

8 ebooks! Nicole is giving away 8 ebooks of London Holiday to 8 different winners. Moreover, the giveaway is open internationally. You just have to click the link below to participate, just follow what Rafflecopter asks you to do. Please read the terms and conditions below the picture in case you are not sure how to get extra entries.

Rafflecopter – London Holiday

lh full cover

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries. A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

Blog Tour of “Catherine” by Sue Barr, review + giveaway

A year and a bit later, after she introduced us to her Caroline, I am delighted to have again Sue Barr in My Vices and Weaknesses, her last release “Catherine” may impress you or maybe not, however, it would not leave you indifferent.

Before I knew anything about this book, I read the title and what may have come to my mind? Yes, maybe you thought of “the magnanimous and excellent” Lady Catherine de Bourgh (please read this with Mr Collins (1995) voice in mind) 😉

However, in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we have another Catherine that sometimes is overlooked… Catherine Bennet, that is, Kitty. I have to admit that I really enjoy reading about the other sisters and I normally love the books where they are the protagonists. Nonetheless, it may be interesting to read as well about Lady Catherine, perhaps when she was younger, before marrying or when Anne was little… Sue and authors… just saying (wink wink).

As usual, I am losing the track of what this post is about: Catherine, yes, Bennet. Before reviewing the book, I would let you read the description of this book…

Some secrets are not meant to be shared.
Catherine Bennet, known as Kitty to close friends and family, knows this better than anyone. She also knows that she will never marry, and it never bothered her before she met Lord George Kerr at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding. He’s determined to breach the walls of defense she’d carefully constructed around her heart, and she’s just as determined to stay the course.
Some secrets cannot be shared

Lord George Kerr knows this better than anyone. For five years, as a spy for His Majesty the King, he played the part of a Rake, concealing his espionage activities beneath a blanket of brothels, drink and loose women. Even though he’s forced to resume his regular life within London’s finest society, he still must keep some things hidden.
One thing he does not hide is his attraction to Miss Catherine Bennet of Longbourn. Enraptured by her beauty and warmth of character, he plunges headlong into winning her heart, only to find it carefully guarded and she’s unwilling to give him even a small pinch of hope.
Some things are beyond your control
When circumstances bring Kitty’s secret into the open, she fears the tenuous bonds of friendship she’s forged with Lord George will be lost forever along with whatever love he proclaims to have for her. With the very lives of England’s vast network of spies working undercover in Bonaparte’s France hanging in the balance, she’s forced to face her worst nightmare.
Her secret is laid bare, can he love her enough to overcome what he learns?

Secrets? What are you talking about? What secret(s) may Kitty have? Who is this Lord George? Why Kitty will never marry?

If you are a bit puzzled, the guilty one is the author, Sue Barr, let me (re)introduce her:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three…in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady-in-training’ Sue Barrstatus current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well. Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers.

http://www.suebarrauthor.com

From there you can follow her on Facebook or Twitter or hop on over to her blog and find out how boring her life really is…. While there, don’t forget to sign up for her announcement only newsletter. No spam. Pinky promise.

If you prefer to go directly to some of her social media, here you have the links:

Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads         Pinterest        Sue Barr’s Blog

 

Before reviewing, I want to point out that Catherine can be read on its own, as a stand-alone book, however, there may be a couple of things when Caroline Bingley appears that you may not be sure about or you may be intrigued. That is because that Caroline is the protagonist of Sue Barr’s Caroline and they are related. I recommend you to read both books but you do not have to. However, I recommend it again 😉

Review

Kitty Bennet, normally known for following Lydia and her crazy behaviour, she may not be one of the favourite sisters, her cough is annoying and she is always arguing because Lydia “steals” her ribbons… 😉 To be honest, she has a lot of potential and Sue Barr has found it.

The main change (that I can write about) from the original book, is that the wedding of Jane and Charles+Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth takes place in Pemberley instead of Longbourn. During that event, a lot of pople from the higher circles attend the wedding and it is there, that the Bennet family is introduced to the Kerr family. Specially, we will focus on Lord George Kerr and his short chat with Miss Catherine Bennet.

Nothing really happens during that chat, just a nice chat with some witty comments. Yes, witty, Kitty is lively and witty, she is more similar to Lizzy than to Lydia. She has a mind of her own, mainly after what happened to her…

Lord George has to finish his life as a spy due to an event with one of his colleagues who is also a cover for his “rake” life. After this event, he has to go back to a “boring and conventional” gentleman-like life but his instincts do not let him stop getting to know the truth about the event at his friend’s house and how his cover was compromised.

He has a couple of hints to where to start investigating, so on his way to Cambridgeshire, he has an accident with his horse due to a person being in the middle of the road, that person being more scared falls down in a ditch and hurts herself. Lord George quickly attends that woman who happens to be Catherine Bennet. He is surprised, happily surprised, and he takes her to her home as she is injured.

From there, Mrs Bennet is sure that he will propose as he has also promised to take Catherine and Mary to London as she was going to go shortly after the accident. However, you must remember that Catherine has said that she will not marry.

Once in London, they meet several times as Lord George feels that it is his duty to show her around and accompany her as he “almost kill her” according to Mrs Bennet.

Let’s face it, he is very intrigued by her, he has been thinking about her from their first conversation until he saw her again. He is fascinated by her and she likes him but she is taming her heart as she will not marry anyone.

Lovely scenes with the couple but the best one at the beginning of their stay in London is the one where Catherine recognises Lady Harriet, a friend who she has not seen for ten years. The interesting part is when Lady Harriet flies away when she is recognise by her friend as now, Lady Harriet is the companion to Lord George’s friend… interesting.

Interesting because everything is related to the event who caused George to stop working for the crown and his trip to Cambridgeshire… and also, all the people involved are related to the reason why Catherine does not want to marry anyone. Confused? It will be very easy once you read the book.

4.5out5 stars

Tour Schedule

Follow the tour, previous stops and the ones to come, you are going to find really good things 🙂

28th May /My Jane Austen Book Club/ Launch Post & Giveaway 

29th May /From Pemberley to Milton/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway

30th May /Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post & Giveaway

catherine-blog-tour-banner

31st May /More Agreeably Engaged/Author Spotlight & Giveaway

1st June /  So Little Time…/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway

2nd June / Liz’s Reading Life/ Book Review & Giveaway 

4th June / Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway

5th June /My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

6th June /Savvy Verse & Wit/ Guest Post & Giveaway 

7th June /Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review Post & Giveaway

8th June /  Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway

9th June /My Love for Jane Austen/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway 

10th June /  Babblings of a Bookworm/Excerpt Post & Giveaway 

11th June /  Austenesque Reviews/ Guest Post & Giveaway

Giveaway

Apart from showing us her latest release, Sue is presenting us with a great giveaway.We can have up to six different winner on this blog tour! Three winners will receive a copy of Catherine. Two winners will receive eBooks and one winner will receive an autographed paperback book of Catherine. All giveaways are open to international winners. Click on the link below and read the Terms and Conditions as well:

Rafflecopter – Catherine by Sue Barr

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook or paperback book.

Blog Tour of “Lover’s Knot” by Jenetta James, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

Let me reintroduce you to Jenetta James, a lovely writer with really good stories. Today I am not reviewing her latest book as unfortunately I have not read it yet 😦 (I need 40 hours in every day, as many of you would like to have). However, everything that I have read about it tells me that it is going to be great! Moreover, with her previous book The Elizabeth Papers, a book that I dearly love, I cannot imagine anything but a super novel.

I would like to congratulate Jenetta James, not only on her latest book but something more important, that is, the birth of her little baby girl who has a very beautiful name and her birthday is just a day before mine (with a few years of different though). Congratulations!!

In case, you do not about her, here you have her short biography:

 

Jenetta James is a mother, writer, lawyer and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. jenettajamesAfter graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She has written, Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers as well as contributed short stories to both The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues.

You can follow her on: Facebook     Twitter

The book

You may be wondering, and the book? What can you tell us about it? Here you have the blurb of the book, enjoy 🙂

A great love. A perplexing murder. Netherfield Park — a house of secrets. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy is in a tangle. Captivated by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a girl of no fortune and few connections. Embroiled in an infamous murder in the home of his friend, Charles Bingley. He is being tested in every way. Fearing for Elizabeth’s safety, Darcy moves to protect her in the only way he knows but is thwarted. Thus, he is forced to turn detective. Can he overcome his pride for the sake of Elizabeth? Can he, with a broken heart, fathom the villainy that has invaded their lives? Is there even a chance for love born of such strife?

Lover’s Knot is a romantic Pride & Prejudice variation, with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Let’s read that again bit by bit… murder? secrets? detective? What happened to: misunderstandings? pride? prejudice? How can it get so complicated?? We do not know yet, but it does, yes, it does!

If you cannot wait, you can find the book on:

Purchase Link: Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon DE

This book is free through KindleUnlimited

Excerpt

Jenetta is sharing an excerpt taken from Chapter 5 of Lover’s Knot. I hope your imagination will start working and fast.

The early morning mist is far from lifted and the earth hard and blanched with frost. The stable boys at Netherfield are surprised when I appear just before dawn. Even so, they saddle my horse without ado and shortly after I am away, galloping to the edge of the estate and beyond. The countryside opens before me, the soft undulations of the South, the vast wakening sky, flecked with pink, the thickets of trees bordering fields, bone-chilling cold. It has none of the drama of Derbyshire, but I admit that it has its own beauty. As I reach the top of Oakham Mount, I rein in the horse. It is a good vantage point, high for the region. From here, one can see the edge of the village, the main artery north and the Longbourn Road snaking through the fields. My eyes study all of those in the murky morning light, wishing it were clearer, but nothing stirs.

I feel in my pocket for the letter and rub it with my thumb, as though the act of touching the parchment should add to its value. It was the work of many hours, and now that it is done and folded within my coat, I am certain that writing it was the best course of action. I have never been a man for lengthy disquisitions where short ones would do. Even as a boy in the school room, I would never waste words nor give too much of my inner self away. And yet, I have spent a sleepless night, writing a letter to Elizabeth Bennet. By candlelight, I procrastinated. However, at length and with no little effort, I achieved it. I managed to write as I seemed unable to speak when in her presence. I apologised as best I could. I told her about Wickham. Not a few weeks previously, I would not have dreamed of being so open, so unguarded, still less on paper. But by some means, I have been moved. I have shifted away from my usual place in thought and word and deed, and no one is as astonished as I. The deaths, the spectacle of the inquest, the force of the lady herself has worked upon me. It was my obligation to give her some indication of Wickham’s true character, and I did. If it keeps just one young woman safe, then it is better done than left undone. More than that, I realise that I owe Elizabeth an apology for approaching her in the manner that I did.

And now, all that remains, is to give her the letter. To that end, I scan the horizon again. The horse exhales noisily and the leather of the saddle creaks as I move to get a better view. I have almost given up when a moving figure appears on the track below. A simple skirt peeps out at the bottom of a red cloak and atop it, a bonnet, ribbons billowing in the wind. It is Elizabeth, alone. I slow the horse to a walk and wend down the incline to the flat field. My gaze, I keep fixed on her. There are few women of my acquaintance who would venture out alone and at this hour. But then, if Elizabeth did not keep such habits, it would be all the harder for me to speak with her. Having reached the field, but still some distance from her, I pick up speed. She looks up, the thin winter sun bouncing on her countenance. And although I am still some distance away, I rein in the horse and dismount. Elizabeth continues upon her course and I close the gap between us on foot, leading the horse.

As I approach her, she stops. Stepping closer, I bow low to her.

“Mr. Darcy—”

“Miss Elizabeth—” come our simultaneous greetings as our wispy breath mingles in the air. I note how her gloved hands knot before her waist and how her fine eyes flicker around me, as if looking for answers.

“Miss Elizabeth, forgive me. I have been surveying the area for some time in the hope of meeting you.”

“Sir, I—”

“Please, madam. Be not afraid that I—it is not my intention to make you uncomfortable.”

A ghost of a smile crosses her face.

“In that case, I thank you,” she says quietly and makes as if to pass me and continue with her walk. But having her so close, I must complete my task. Reaching into my pocket, I hand her my missive.

“Please would you do me the honour of reading this letter?”

Tentatively, she takes it, turns it over and studies it before returning her eyes to me.

“I should not.”

“Please.”

“It is not proper.”

“You are perfectly right. It is not proper. And you are within your rights to refuse it. But I ask on this occasion that you do not. I have made many mistakes, Miss Elizabeth, but I have considered this thoroughly. There is nothing in the letter that can cause you harm or distress. Although, it does contain truths which I would impart to you, if you are willing to read them.”

Her eyes play between the letter and my face and her half boots shuffle on the icy earth of the track. The smallest smile of resignation appears, not of passion or friendship, and I feel that my heart might break.

“It is written, of course, without expectation of there ever being a reply.”

“Of course not. In that case, I shall read it.”

She pauses, and my pulse quickens. Her cape-covered shoulders, which have been so tense ease for a moment and I move slightly closer, not wishing to miss any whisper of a change of heart. A blush creeps up her cheek and the wind stirs the dark ringlets that hang below her bonnet. Suddenly, the horse whinnies and the moment shatters. Elizabeth looks away sharply and slots the letter into her pocket with fast moving fingers.

Before I was ready, she says, “Thank you, Mr. Darcy” and departs. As she moves in the direction of the village, I slacken my hold on the horse but remain standing in the place where we spoke, my feet rooted to the ground. Before me, framed by bare branch and bracken, her figure shrinks. As she recedes, she begins to look like a small, red doll climbing the gentle hill and then as she crests the top, she is gone.

So… still in Hertfordshire and a letter, about Wickham… no reply needed. She blushes, he is not ready to leave her… mysterious, right?

Tell me what your thoughts are and what you think may have happened or how would you like this to carry on.

Blog Tour Schedule

As usual, a lot of blogs are involved on the tour and I am pretty sure that you would enjoy reading more about this enigmatic book. Follow the tour on:

29th March My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway

30th March Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

31st March Liz’s Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway

1st April My Vices and Weaknesses/  Excerpt Post & Giveaway

loversknot

2nd April Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

3rd April So Little Time /  Guest Post & Giveaway

4th April Austenesque Reviews / Author Interview & Giveaway

5th April From Pemberley to Milton /  Excerpt Post & Giveaway

6th April Babblings of a Bookworm /  Book Review & Giveaway

7th April More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway

8th April My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post & Giveaway

9th April Diary of an Eccentric /  Guest Post & Giveaway

10th April Laughing with Lizzie /  Excerpt Post & Giveaway

11th April Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

12th April Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway

Time To Give Away

Jenetta has selected a lovely giveaway package where one lucky winner will receive a Pride & Prejudice scarf, a Kindle cover and paperback copies of all five of her JAFF books.

How could you not participate? Such and awesome giveaway! Read the terms and conditions below the link.

Rafflecopter – “Lover’s Knot” by Jenetta James

Terms and conditions: Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. The winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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Blog Tour of “Cake & Courtship” by Mark Brownlow, author interview + giveaway

I am always very glad and happy to introduce a new author on My Vices and Weaknesses but I am even happier because I had the chance to have a hot chocolate with him (no cake this time) and have a chat about his writing, his books and life!

Welcome, Mark Brownlow to My Vices and Weaknesses and thank you for bringing Cake and Courtship: Mr Bennet’s Memoirs Book One with you.

Here you have Mark’s biography, you may read things that you may not expect and that is always nice and refreshing:

Mark Brownlow is a British-born writer living in Vienna, Austria. His debut novel, Cake and Courtship, is a Regency romance narrated by Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet. He has also written a novella, The Lovesick Maid, c&c authora cozy mystery set in Jane Austen’s fictional village of Hunsford. You can find Mark at LostOpinions.com, where he is known for his reimagining of classic literature as emails.

Science degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Aberdeen and Reading prefaced a short-lived career as a research academic. Since turning from facts to fiction, Mark has also worked as a translator, agony aunt, marketing consultant, journalist, business writer, web publisher and copywriter. None of which kept his soul happy in the way that creative writing does. When not writing, he works as a part-time lecturer in medical and scientific English at a local university.

If there is no pen to hand, he can be found watching his kids play football or sharing a glass of wine with his wife in front of a costume or historical drama.

You can follow Mark and his work on various places: website       Goodreads      Twitter       Facebook  Mark’s author page at Amazon.co.uk    Mark’s author page at Amazon.com

Before reading his interview, please let me present you Cake and Courtship: Mr Bennet’s memoirs book one, a book that I believe you would love, it is very witty and “very Mr Bennet” and after reading the interview, you can easily imagine why it may be so good: Mr Bennet with his way of speaking and Mr Brownlow with his own way… Let’s start with some quotes from a few reviews on Amazon:

“An uplifting, amusing and oh so tender read!” (5-star review at Amazon.co.uk)

The course of true love doesn’t run smooth in this sweet, witty ramble with Mr. Bennet(5-star review at Amazon.com)

There is so much wit, humour and likeability. I laughed out loud many, many times(5-star review at Amazon.co.uk)

Interested now? Keep reading the blurb and a bit more of information about the book:

When John Barton falls in love with the elusive Anne Hayter, there is only one man he can turn to for advice. Unfortunately, that man is Mr Bennet of Longbourn, a world-weary gentleman with five daughters pursuing their own marital ambitions.

To help John, Mr Bennet must emerge from his beloved library and face the challenges of the tearoom and dance floor one more time. In doing so, he finds his own romantic past catching up with him.

In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Mark Brownlow takes you on an Austenesque journey full of wry humour and Regency romance (with a few slices of sponge cake).

As you get older, Lizzy, you will discover that life does not
bow easily 
to the wishes of even the most romantic of souls.
Quite the opposite. 
Life must be mastered with pragmatism
and sense, which explains why so few people succeed at it.

If you are already so intrigued as I was, you could buy the book on any of these links:

Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon DE
eBook: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon DE

Kobo | iBooks | Nook / B&N

Without more preamble, here we have Mark Brownlow, author of Cake and Courtship answering some questions that you may not expect. Well, you may not expect the answer… watch out JAFF! 😉

Hi, Mark and welcome.

Hi, Ana, and thanks for having me as a guest on My Vices and Weaknesses!

How did you get involved in writing JAFF?

Obliquely. My wife and I watch a lot of costume and historical drama, and I always enjoyed the Austen adaptations on television. Then I found myself wondering how much of the dialogue came from the scriptwriters and how much from the books, so picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice. I was astonished – and I mean ASTONISHED – to find that, for example, all the humour was lifted straight from the page. That’s how I discovered Jane Austen the writer.

I always wanted to write fiction, so the combination with the Austenesque world seemed a natural fit, especially as I was already writing snippets of literary humour in the same genre for a web project.

Do you have any special writing rituals?

Not as such. While working as a business writer, with constant deadlines, I was forced to be flexible – to write when and where necessary. So I’m equally comfortable with a pen or keyboard, on the sofa or in a coffee house. Having said that, my dream has always been to write like the Colin Firth character in Love Actually – rent a villa somewhere in the south of Europe and hammer away. Though I’d make copies (and do my own washing up).

I do try and write in the mornings, when the day is fresh and full of promise.

Are there any challenges being a male writer in this genre?

If there are, they’re more internal than external. I’ve never encountered anything other than warmth from the community of readers and writers. And there are other male writers already way more established than me. All of them, actually!

By internal, I mean, for example, that I’d hesitate to write from a first-person perspective with a female protagonist, of which there are obviously one or two in Jane Austen’s works! Not because I think writers should always stick to their gender, but simply because I’m not sure I’d do a good job of it. My new novella has Charlotte Collins as the “heroine” of the story. That’s written from a third-person perspective, which I think Charlotte would be relieved about.

It’s sometimes “interesting” when shifting worlds. My other lives are spent teaching scientists or at the football. I’m not sure all my friends here in Vienna have quite got their head around what I do.

Is there much awareness of the world of Jane Austen in Vienna?

Not much. Austria, of course, has classic authors of its own and the Regency period isn’t such a defined era here, for obvious reasons. A kind of equivalent in terms of interest is the long reign of Emperor Franz Joseph in the second half of the 19th century. There’s a particular fascination with his wife, Empress Elisabeth, who was a rather complex and tragic figure.

You’re not Austrian yourself?

I am now, but I was British until about six months ago. I grew up in Wiltshire, not far from Bath, and moved here in 1994.

Let’s turn to your book: it retells Pride and Prejudice from Mr Bennet’s perspective, but he’s not the first name that springs to mind when you think of the original.

No, he’s not. But his humour and cynicism make him an attractive narrator for a writer, especially when you take him out of his comfort zone and force him to swap his books for balls and bonnets.

Jane Austen leaves his backstory largely open, so there’s a fresh canvas to paint on there, too. Plus, he’s about the nearest Pride and Prejudice has to me in terms of age, gender and character, which makes writing from a first-person perspective a little easier. With my calves, I can’t do Mr Darcy.

I’m glad you mentioned Mr Darcy. He’s talked about in your novel, but he never makes an appearance. Why’s that?

Hah! Because I am more foolish than Mr Collins. When I began writing the novel, I didn’t have much experience of Austenesque fiction. So I assumed people would be tired of reading about the Elizabeth-Darcy story. You have permission to laugh at my ignorance.

But it’s also because, from Mr Bennet’s perspective, Mr Darcy doesn’t play that big a role at first: “Cake and Courtship” ends before Lizzy goes to Hunsford.

Although we see Pride and Prejudice through Mr Bennet’s eyes, there’s a separate story going on, too, with new characters. How did that come about?

I wanted to do something fresh with Mr Bennet, rather than just repeat the original plot. He wasn’t going to leave his library without good reason. It’s the story of John Barton and Anne Hayter that forces him into the unusual position of playing cupid and the unwanted position of facing up to his own past.

If the novel ends pre-Hunsford, will there be a sequel?

I’m working on it at the moment. Mr Bennet still needs to cover the second half of Pride and Prejudice. And although the “Cake and Courtship” story comes to a conclusion, there is one issue in the Bennet past that needs resolution. Also, I can put more Darcy in a sequel!

Will there be cake?

As Mr Bennet says, “Life always has more cake. It is one of its few redeeming features.”

Some quick questions to end…favourite Austen book?

Persuasion.

Favourite Austen character?

Mr Collins. Surely everyone’s favourite?

1995 or 2005 Pride and Prejudice?

I’m not answering that. I can’t handle conflict, a character trait my kids exploit mercilessly. I will admit to a soft spot for the 2005 proposal scene (ducks).

Favourite cake?

Confession: I’m not a big cake person. But I can handle a nice bit of lemon drizzle cake.

Favourite author (you’re not allowed to say Jane Austen)?

Terry Pratchett. He also had an astonishing knack for creating memorable characters. Incidentally, if you read his novel “Snuff”, you can find a subtle tribute to Jane Austen in there.

Interests outside of writing?

Well, football and, um, football. Though I’m trying to teach myself copperplate calligraphy in a desperate attempt to convince myself that I have “varied interests”.

Thank you very much for your time, Mark.

Thank you, Ana!

What do you think, readers? Did you like his answers? Did you like his style? I had a very nice time talking to him and yes, I was a bit astonished with his idea of maybe people did not like to read more about Elizabeth and Darcy, but it is great that he found out as he will keep writing more and more!

Regarding the issue of not much of the world of Jane Austen in Vienna, and in Austria in general, I think we need to do something about it, we will see!

Check the other stops of this blog tour and you will find so much more great info about the book, about the characters and about the author. Find the links to all the blogs below the picture:

c&c blog tour

28th February Diary of an Eccentric – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
1st March Half Agony, Half Hope – review, excerpt
2nd March Austenesque Reviews – interview with Mr Bennet, giveaway
3rd March Babblings of a Bookworm – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
4th March Laughing with Lizzie – Mr Bennet’s inbox, giveaway
5th March From Pemberley to Milton – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
6th March My Vices and Weaknesses – author interview, giveaway
7th March More Agreeably Engaged – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
8th March So little time…so much to read – Mr Bennet’s diary, giveaway
10th March Just Jane 1813 – guest post, excerpt, giveaway

Time To Give Away

Mark is giving away different prizes on this blog tour. The winners can choose either a paperback copy of Cake and Courtship: Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs Book One OR a box of Viennese chocolates (super yummy, I can tell you for sure). One prize per winner and it is an international giveaway. You can comment, share your opinions and/or questions until the 12th March 23:59 CET.

c&c giveaway

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