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, – “History of Ballooning.” Virgin Air, – “A Brief History of Vauxhall Gardens.” Vauxhall Gardens,

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, 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.

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 😉


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


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


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


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.”


“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


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.


Blog Tour of “The Child” by Jan Hahn, review + giveaway

Will Darcy ever grow to love a child he never wanted?”

Wait a minute… how can someone write that and leave it like nothing happened! Jan Hahn, that is one of the most unnerving questions I have ever read in a JAFF novel. If you are looking for the definition of “intriguing”, that sentence would be a good example. You cannot guess how my mind went wildly and how many different scenarios I imagined in a few seconds.

I will let you read the rest of the book description in order to let your imagination rest… or not!

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford is disastrous. In Jan Hahn’s The Child, Darcy flees England soon afterward, striving to overcome his longing for her. Upon his return two years later―while standing on the steps of St. George’s Church in Hanover Square―he spies the very woman he has vowed to forget. But who is the child holding her hand?

Darcy soon discovers that Elizabeth and her family are suffering the effects of a devastating scandal. His efforts to help the woman he still loves only worsen her family’s plight. His misguided pride entangles him in a web of falsehood, fateful alliances, and danger.

Will Elizabeth be able to forgive Darcy for his good intentions gone awry? And what effect will the child have on Darcy’s hopes to win Elizabeth’s love?

What now? Better? Worse? Even more questions? I totally understand it, it is complicated. I will let you know a bit more later on in my review, but let me introduce you to the author of The Child: Jan Hahn.

Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of five Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas, but discovered her true love was a jan hahncombination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, A Peculiar Connection, and The Child. The anthology, The Darcy Monologues, contains her short story entitled Without Affection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: ‘A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.’ Jan is a member of JASNA, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of grandchildren.

Follow Jan on:

Jan Hahn’s Facebook Page                    Jan Hahn’s Author Page

Already so intrigued that you cannot wait for the giveaway?

Buy the book on:    Amazon US         Amazon UK        Amazon DE

Blog Tour Schedule

A great tour with lovely posts where you can find out more about this book. Do not forget to check them!

March 21st My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway

March 22nd From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

March 23rd  More Agreeably Engaged / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 24th My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

March 25th My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway

March 26th Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

March 27th Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway

March 28th Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview & Giveaway

March 29th So Little Time / Guest Post & Giveaway

March 30th Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 31st Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

April 1st Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

April 2nd Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway


Maybe one of the most difficult JAFF books that I have read and I want to review without giving spoilers. I will try: the book is really good and there is a lot of misunderstanding between Darcy and Elizabeth. Full stop.

No, I am not crazy, this book is almost impossible to review without spoilers so I will just make one… you have been warned, do not look below…






there is a HEA.

Am I crazy again? Nope, but you may think so. Let me explain a couple of things about the beginning of the book.

Darcy, as you have read, left England after the first proposal. He went to Europe even crossing enemy lines. He took Charles Bingley with him. He was escaping. When he is back a few years later, he is about to walk down the aisle when, before entering the church, he sees the woman he has always loved, Elizabeth, just on the other side of the street. However, there is a surprise, she holds the hand of a child. He is petrified but eventually he goes down the aisle.

How can things get any worse?, you may be thinking. Trust me, they do worsen. A transport problem finds Darcy and Bingley helping Jane, Elizabeth and the child who are in need. Fire and thunder go around Elizabeth’s manners towards Darcy, you have no idea! However, the ladies need the help for the child’s sake. Nothing carries on in a good path from now on. Angst, pain, resentment, etc. go together hand in hand to despair us while reading.

Jan has written a lovely book where so many of the characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice appear again and a bit changed. There is anguish as well, and a two-years-old child who is a bit spoilt may not make things easy for the adults.

However, who can resist a beautiful little child as the one on the cover. Isn’t it a lovely cover? What an artist!

the child book

4.5out5 stars

Time To Give Away

8 eBooks of The Child are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on March 21 – until midnight ET on April 4, 2018. Just click the following link:

Rafflecopter link to the giveaway of “The Child” by Jan Hahn

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.

You can always buy the book on:    Amazon US         Amazon UK        Amazon DE

Winner of “Cake & Courtship” by Mark Brownlow

c&c cover

Edited on 26th March

Hello again, unfortunately Erika has not replied even after the extra days I have not been able to recheck the post.

So, Vesper! You were second so you get the prize!!

Could you email me please with your details?


Hello ladies and gents, I do apologise for getting to you a bit later than expected. However, here you have the result of the randomiser to get the winner of Mark Brownlow’s giveaway. I have used

Remember that you have the option to choose from some delicious Viennese chocolates or a copy of Cake & Courtship, that is very juicy as well.

Thanks again to Mark for being with us and for the giveaway he is offering.

Without much ado, congratulations to Erika M Messer!! Erika, please email me your choice of prize and your address to pass to Mark at

Erika, you have five days to answer, in case Erika does not email me in that time, I will choose another winner. So, if you know Erika, let her know!


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, 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    Mark’s author page at

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

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

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

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?


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


Blog Tour of “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn” by Don Jacobson, author interview + giveaway + extra

The Bennet Wardrobe series is just something else. Don Jacobson has created a superb series involving one of our favourite novels, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and time travelling. What is most, his writing is awesome and what ideas he has!!

Today he is introducing The Exile: The Countess visits Longbourn.

If you have been following My Vices and Weaknesses for some time now, you may have read my review of The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque in which I could not praise more Don’s way of developing the characters, I simply loved it and that together with really good stories… what else can you ask?

[FYI – This post is going to be a bit long but I promise that it is worth it to read it all.]

For the ones who may be new to the blog or maybe new to this author, let me (re)introduce you to Don Jacobson:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

Don Jacobson Head Shot

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

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

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

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

If you would like to follow his work, here you have different ways to do it:

Website                Amazon Author Page            Goodreads Author Page              Twitter

In case you have not come across this series, check the blurb to The Exile: the Countess visits Longbourn:

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

 Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

wardrobe clock backgrnd.jpg

In the slim possibility that you are not 100% convinced that this book and, therefore, the series is super worth to read, here you have, from my point of view, one of the best Jane Austen Fan Fiction authors that you can read commenting on the series: Joana Starnes.

Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again. – Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion 

You can buy this book on:   Amazon US       Amazon UK        Amazon DE

Without more ado, enjoy this interview that Don is giving us:

MVAW: Maybe you’ve answered this question a lot of times but some of us would like to read it again… Why Jane Austen? Why writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction?

DJ: Like many, I had been inspired to visit (I had not read the Canon in school) the works of Jane Austen after the 1995 Mini-series. My reading tastes up to that point—and from high school onward—had been firmly in the camp of historical fiction and speculative fiction.

Then in 1997 I began to voraciously absorb the Patrick Cornwell Jack Aubrey Series. Shortly thereafter I discovered the works of Bernard Cornwell, particularly the Richard Sharpe Series. Leaven those two with the alternate history approach of Harry Turltledove and I think I had developed a rather eclectic blend. At the same time I was devouring the “Forsyte Saga,” most of Henry James’ and Edith Wharton’s works along with Somerset Maugham.

T’was not until my daughter gifted me with a Kindle around 2010 that I began dipping my tone into other genres. Kindle Unlimited is a marvelous invention! Austenesque Fiction probably entered my reading diet in 2014.

As I have noted in other venues, I had not considered writing any fiction (although I had been making my living for 40 years as a writer)  until my daughter surprised me with her first novel. That jarred something loose…and after a steady diet of Austen-inspired novels and novellas, my brain tossed up a fragment of a letter written by Caroline Bingley to Jane in 1816. Further mulling led me to reconsider my life-long avoidance of fiction writing.

MVAW: Your main focus is Pride and Prejudice, any specific reason? Are you contemplating the idea of writing variations of other novels by JA?

DJ: I feel that there are more stories to tell, particularly about those thinly sketched characters who rest at the margins of Pride and Prejudice, than Jane Austen needed to relate, focused as she was on the tale of Elizabeth and Darcy.

 Perhaps it is because P&P has been dramatized so many times that it provides more fertile ground for an author seeking to expand the tableau and to build a world within which the characters can realistically reside.

 At this point, deep as I am in the midst of creating the Universe of The Bennet Wardrobe, I am unable to consider other possible variations. However, I have found several authors’ efforts to merge the narrative worlds of the Canonical novels to be intriguing.

MVAW: In the wardrobe series, we have time travelling to different eras. Why time travel? Where do your like/fascination/choice comes from?  How did you come with idea of joining P&P and time travelling?

DJ: In one way, the Regency offers a wonderful, rose-hued world within which to station characters and stories. However, as I was concerned with how Mary, Kitty, Lydia, and Thomas Bennet could overcome the handicaps given them by Austen, I considered arenas in which they could grow and find their destinies without the constraints of their previous narratives. Time travel (as opposed to translation to another world like Burroughs Barsoom or Lewis’ Narnia) offered the opportunity to create a different narrative world that was neither unfamiliar nor unbelievable.

 Thus, Mary’s destiny, shaped as it usually is in Austenesque Fiction by love, was realized not through her own time journey, but that of another. And with that, Mary Bennet was able to find her own path in the early years of the Industrial Revolution. However, Kitty, crushed by her life as the fourth daughter—and, as we learn, other factors—needed to escape all she had known up to 1811 to be able to learn that which she needed to become her best self.

Future volumes of The Bennet Wardrobe will see Lydia learning that the life of a soldier is a hard one indeed. Thomas Bennet needed to shake off his indolence and prove that he was a man worth of the endearment “Papa.” And then there is the reason for the whole cycle. No; that is three books from now. Sorry!

MVAW: So far, I have just read Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque and I loved the story but I must say that what made me loved the book even more is your way of giving the personalities of the descendants a part of Darcy/Elizabeth and at the same time a part of their own new personality. How did you plan the way/personality your new characters were having without compromising the plot and the links to the original characters as their ascendants? People may expect to see Darcy and Elizabeth’s personalities again and again…

DJ: I am not trying to be coy here: I will tell you honestly that I do not plan ahead of time to insert personality traits. My writing is very organic. Characters grow as I write. I would hazard that the great lasting power of the Canon is that the personalities sketched by Austen are fairly universal and, thus, recognizable.

The cycle begins with “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey.” There really are no personality clones from the Canon hiding therein. Most are fairly direct extrapolations of the original core characters. Edward Benton, the man who captures Mary’s heart, was molded in some ways upon Sidney Chambers of the Grantchester novels and television dramatizations.

I did see much of Darcy hiding inside the heart of Henry Fitzwilliam. Like Darcy, his nature had to be shaped by a transformative experience. In “Henry Fitzwilliam’s War,” the young Viscount uses the Wardrobe in 1881 to seek his manhood on the field of glorious combat to set to rights the collapse of the family’s image after his Granduncle had been tarred with the brush that was the failure in Crimea in the 1850s. However, he discovered that, much as his Great Grandmother Lydia often exclaimed, the Wardrobe had a nasty sense of humor. It deposited him in World War I.

 Oddly enough, as “The Exile, Pt. 1” began to take shape, I found much of Lizzy in the soul of Maggie Small. Aline Charigot-Renoir may well have been the Jane of the first part of The Exile. Eleanor Fitzwilliam (Henry’s sister) has the same joie de vivre without the unfortunate aspects of young Lydia Bennet. And Jacques Robard is Colonel Fitzwilliam in the body of a French peasant: fiercely loyal and a man dangerous with whom to trifle.

In Part 2 of “The Exile,” I think that both Darcy and Fitzwilliam would be discomfited to learn that there was more of them in Wickham than previously imagined. And, there is more of the cold steel of the Old General in the frail body of Lady Kate than anyone could countenance.

MVAW: What could you tell us something about the Countess that you may have not said/written in other posts of this blog tour? How changed is this character? How has Kitty matured?

DJ: T’is difficult to consider…but I will try.

Just as Austenesque Fiction writers have long conjectured that Darcy and Elizabeth formed a seamless partnership in love, life, and business, I, too, realized that the Henry/Kitty pairing was the epitome of the “sum of the parts being greater…”

 As Henry was limited by his injuries suffered at Loos in 1915, he could not realize his martial dreams. Plus, as Managing Director of the Bennet Family Trust, the 11th Earl of Matlock take off to fight on the Afghan Frontier or subdue the Boers. Rather, he found his niche in becoming the nation’s “go-to” diplomat in that last decade of peace before World War I. Note that Lady Kate, in “Lizzy Bennet Meets The Countess,” has dictated Henry’s enforced vacation in 1907due to his exertions on behalf of the Empire leading the delegation at the Algeçiras Conference.

 As his wife, the Countess participated in the diplomatic swirl surrounding the great Hague, Berlin, Paris, and London conferences. She was his hostess, fully aware of the importance of her role. The growth in the Kitty/Kate personality came from the confidence she had found as she began to process and understand how the events of the summer of 1800 informed her adolescent life…and how the terrifying trials of 1891 resonated within her heart. The love and support first of Ellie and then Maggie and Aline and then that of Henry shaped her into a Twentieth Century woman, fully confident of her own agency. It is with this power that she returns to 1811 to set in motion events that will, she believes, fulfill the Wardrobe’s mission.

How else could The Countess, all sixty-three years of age, offer her father a cigarette in the latest installment?

MVAW: What are you writing next? Any insights?

DJ: As many of the commenters have noted in the recent blog tour, the Wardrobe is beginning to emerge with its own distinctive personality. Even though it cannot speak, the various Bennets who come into its orbit begin to sense that there is more to this wonderful piece of furniture than simply its service as a doorway, albeit a somewhat intelligent one, to the future. More about this will become apparent.

Other characters will require their own books before we reach the final chapter of the Wardrobe’s Saga. Next up is “The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament.” Lydia’s story will be fully covered in “The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion.”

Don, thank you very much for this interview. I really appreciate all the time that you have spent answering these questions and I believe readers will have enjoyed them as much as I have. I want to also thank Janet as she has put together all the blog tour 🙂

You can buy this book on:   Amazon US       Amazon UK        Amazon DE

Ladies, gents, we are not finished, not even close! We have more!! First, let me remind you the schedule of this blog tour, do not miss very interesting posts about The Exile: The Countess visits Longbourn.

14th February Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

15th February My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA

17th February My Love for Jane Austen;  Character Interview, GA

19th February So little time…  Excerpt, GArsz_the_exile2_blog_tour_banner_vert

20th February Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA

21st February Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA

23rd February More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA

24th February Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA

26th February From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt

28 February Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA

2nd March  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

3rd March  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA

5th March  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA


Have into account that the books of this series are even better if they are read in an specific order:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey

Henry Fitzwilliam’s War

The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque

Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

I wrote more, right? Here you have more:

Here is a taste from the Thomas book which was published as Epilogue Two of “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn.”

This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Reproduction of this excerpt without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

 Epilogue Two

Longbourn Estate, Hertfordshire, October 28, 1814

Thomas Bennet was an unhappy man. No, his disquiet was not the result of what many Meryton friends would have assumed it to rise from: Mrs. Bennet’s famous nerves. His lady wife had calmed considerably since their eldest daughters had married. And, while Longbourn was quiet with Lizzy and Jane living in Derbyshire and Mary off at Rosings, Lydia, now a married woman for three years, had taken up lodging once again at her ancestral home given that Wickham was still on detached duty, serving with Fitzwilliam and the Duke in Vienna. Thomas suspected Mary’s hand in that affair—Lizzy and Jane were too involved in their Derbyshire lives as mothers and wives. Thus, Mrs. Bennet would always have company in the parlor or whenever the desire to shop moved her to declare that mission to Meryton was in order.

Bennet’s discontent rose from something else in his wife’s nature: her maternal feelings. Frances Lorinda Bennet missed their fourth daughter, Kitty, gone now nearly three years. Thomas had leaned upon his lord of the manor excuse of having sent the youngster to seminary in Cornwall far too long. Mrs. Bennet had been complaining that she was quite put out that Kitty never wrote and never visited. More recently, she had begun hinting that, since she had seen the sights of Derbyshire and the Lake District in the last year, she might find a lengthy visit to the south and west to be to her liking. Bennet had come into his bookroom more than once to find his wife curled up in Kitty’s chair, her slippers propped up on Lizzy’s stool, a book on Salisbury Cathedral or the Great Stone Circle or Weymouth in her lap.

Then she would pierce his heart with those sky-blue, nearly purple, eyes of hers and repeat her desire to travel in that direction…with the possibility of seeing Kitty hanging in the air between them.

And, while he had been content to ridicule the mother of his children for more than a decade after that horrible summer in the Year Zero, Bennet had himself changed much over the past three years. He had found her present nature to remind him of the bright, vivacious woman who had entranced him back in ’90.

If I had to do it all over again, I think I still would drop to a knee and beg for her hand. But, I would treat her differently. She is a sweet rose who needs a man to cherish her. Having watched how Darcy and Bingley love my girls…and from what Lydia has told me of her newly-reformed Wickham…I would spend less time in my bookroom and much more in her company.

Thomas Bennet was discovering just how ardently he loved his wife.

And, as such, he was loath to continue to deceive her.

Bennet had thought long and hard about the Kitty situation and how to address it with his wife. He cast his thoughts back to when Kitty, as the Countess, had visited with him after the weddings in 1811. They had never touched on her mother, but Kitty did leave him with the impression that she missed Mrs. Bennet.

Kitty had also revealed that the Wardrobe had been kept under considerable security since her journey ended in 1886.

The germ of a plan began to form in the fertile and capacious mind of Thomas Bennet. Only a modest deception, combined with some laudanum, would put Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in the presence of their daughter.

What Bennet did not take into account was what Lydia later always asserted…except that she had yet to utter it for the first time…The Wardrobe has a nasty sense of humor.


“Fanny, love, would you care to take tea with me in the library?” the Master of Longbourn gallantly asked.

Mrs. Bennet’s head snapped around, her greying blonde hair tucked away under her work-a-day lace topper. Her husband had frequently sat with her in the parlor over tea and cakes…more often now than in any time since they were first wed. But, he had never asked her to join him in that male preserve of his—one that was traditionally barred to any distaff members of the family, although Fanny Bennet had been taking liberties in recent months. She had avoided any effort to inspire him to impose organization upon the chaos that was Longbourn’s book room. She secretly harbored some jealousy that he was comfortable in the library’s disarray where she could never have abided such clutter if it had found its way to her private sitting room.

However, she would not hesitate at this invitation. No, indeed, as it was a rare example of complete gentility on the part of her casual husband.

Perhaps watching Darcy involve himself at Pemberley or Darcy House has left an impression on Thomas Michael Bennet!

Mrs. Bennet calmly placed her needlework in her sewing basket, smoothed her skirts, and rose from her chair. She virtually floated across the room to meet him at the doorway, halting to take his arm to be guided across Longbourn’s entry hall into the library.

Which was spotless!

Bennet’s usual book shelving system was wall-to-wall. Now, however, every tome was stowed with as much care as if the librarians at the Bodleian had been employed for weeks! The dark stained shelves glowed from all of the elbow grease applied by Mrs. Hill and her maids. The fireplace’s andirons shined under new blacking and a cheerful fire spluttered behind a gleaming brass screen.

Mrs. Bennet’s newest tea service, a gift from the Darcys, sat on the low table between the two leather upholstered wingback chairs.

She looked around the room, admiring a large portion of her home she had rarely seen. Everything could not have been more on point. Her heart swelled at the respect her husband was showing her.

One might think Tom Bennet was wooing me all over again!

Guiding her over to the chair nearest to, but with its back also to, his wardrobe, Bennet gently handed her down to the seat.

“Now, Mrs. Bennet, Fanny, you must allow me to serve you today. Then we can talk of some travel plans about which I have been hoping to gain your advice,” Bennet said.

Intrigued, the lady asked, “Travel plans, Thomas? Are you suggesting that we are going to Salisbury? To Bodmin? To see Kitty?”

She fairly bounced in her seat, her excitement turning her from a mature pillar of Meryton’s society into a young lady barely out. She calmed when her husband handed her a cup of tea. In her enthusiasm, she had not noticed Mr. Bennet carefully adding several drops of clear liquid to the brew as he prepared hers.

Bennet replied, “I am hoping to include Kitty in our itinerary for I am certain she would thoroughly enjoy seeing you. However, Mrs. Bennet, I must remind you to keep your emotions under the strictest regulation.

“Act with her as if you are having dinner at Matlock House. In fact, that must be the image you carry in your mind.”

As they continued to converse, Bennet subtly tried to prepare her for what was to come. Mrs. Bennet shortly began to complain about a sudden onset of weariness. Her husband continued to divert her attention that might otherwise have led her to ascend to her rooms for a restorative nap. Eventually, the woman’s chin dropped to her fichu, and she began to snore lightly.

Mr. Bennet waited a full five minutes to allow Morpheus to fully envelope Mrs. Bennet in his grasp.

Rising, Bennet scooped her up.

She is still a slip of a woman. All I need to do is look at her to know how my girls will appear when they are her age. Thank goodness she does not tend to stoutness like Lady Lucas or Mrs. Goulding. Fanny Bennet is one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance!

Stepping around the furniture occupying his path to the Wardrobe, Bennet carried his burden until they were in front of the cabinet. Holding one arm around her middle, he set her feet on the floor, her face nestled into his cravat. He pulled out a long linen sling he had previously hidden in his waistcoat. Draping it over his head and then hers, he maneuvered her unresponsive arms through the opening until her upper body was suspended in tight proximity to his own.

He murmured, “Forgive me, Fanny, for the unladylike manner you are being supported. If I knew a better way, I would have used it.”

Bennet closed his eyes and chased every thought from his mind. Then he scribed in bright letters across the tabula rasa:[i]

Kitty. I want to see my daughter.  

Thomas Bennet, the Founder, planted his hands on the Wardrobe’s front.

A thousand bees buzzed…and the pressure built until…


Matlock House, London, July 13, 1947

Lord Thomas Fitzwilliam, the 12th Earl of Matlock, crossed and uncrossed his legs as he waited impatiently for that which he knew was ordained to happen.

He knew that which he knew because of a Founder’s Letter written in a shaky hand that had been delivered to him by a uniformed messenger from the Trust Offices in Lincoln’s Inn. The writer had neglected to be terribly specific about the time of arrival: he only indicated “in the afternoon.”

I could have dealt with any of a number of issues over at the “Circus” if I had only known the actual when of the where/when.

He reached over to the table next to his chair and lifted a burning cigar to his lips taking a long, exaggerated drag. His eyes never left the Wardrobe where it rested, immobile, across the chamber from him. Nearby was what the writer of the Founder’s Letter had quaintly referred to as a ‘Bath Chair;’ or in modern parlance, a wheel chair.

More minutes passed. The H. Upmann continued to burn, filling the room with an aromatic haze.

With no preamble, a loud thump inside the Wardrobe broke the silence.

The double doors popped open.

Two persons—a man supporting an apparently comatose woman—both wearing garb Matlock had last seen in the Victoria and Albert collection wavered in the entrance. Quickly placing the cigar in the ashtray, the Earl moved across the room, cursing his fifty-two year old knees for their arthritic complaining. He collected the woman from the sling around the other man’s neck and lowered her into the chair.

The gentleman stepped away from the Wardrobe and smoothed his waistcoat with both hands as he looked at the man who had most recently handled his wife with all the propriety the situation could afford.

It is as if I am looking in the mirror after Hill has administered my morning shave. This fellow could be my twin! Except for his steel-grey eyes!

Lord Thomas was experiencing the exact same emotions.

Except, he recognized the man before him, he of the hazel eyes—Bennet Eyes—from the painting that still dominated the Board Room at the Trust.

Throwing position and status to the wind, Thomas Fitzwilliam blurted, “Hello, Grandfather. Will Grandmother require any medical assistance?”

Thomas Bennet smiled and replied, “No, son, she is just under the influence a sleeping agent. I am experienced in administering my wife’s tonics. As such, I imagine she will awaken in an hour or so. Perhaps you could find a bedchamber where she might be made more comfortable?

“So you must be Kitty’s oldest and my namesake, Thomas. Looking at the thinning thatch atop your pate, I would imagine that the Wardrobe has carried us further than I had planned. Certainly I would have enjoyed bouncing you on my knee rather than sharing a brandy with you. But, there is no profit to be had questioning the Wardrobe.

“However, that said, could you fetch my daughter? I would wish to greet her.”

Fitzwilliam’s face fell at his grandfather’s request.

“Oh, Grandfather. We lost Mama over three years ago. You are too late!”

[i] Literally “blank slate.” Used by John Locke in his seminal Treatise on Human Understanding (1690) to describe the infant mind.

(silly note, I really like that Vienna is mentioned, I am actually on the train towards that lovely city)

Time to Give Away

This post is coming to its end but I am sure that everything was a good read, right? Now it is time to give away and Don Jacobson is giving away during this blog tour 10 ebooks copies and 2 paperbacks. A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

Giveaway – The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

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 (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.