Winners of “Fiona and the Whale” by Hannah Lynn

Mary Preston and Karen, you are the winner of a copy of Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn.

Please email me the address where you want me to send you your copy!

Email: myvicesandweaknesses (at) gmail (dot) com

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!!

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

Dear all,

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

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

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

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

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

Blog     Tumblr     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     Goodreads    Amazon’s Author Page

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

The heir of Longbourn offers his olive branch earlier…

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

A secret partnership formed…

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

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

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

Review

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

unnamed

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

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

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

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

4.5out5 stars

Blog Tour

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

2nd of October Austenesque Reviews

3rd of October My Jane Austen Book Club

4th of October From Pemberley to Milton

7th of October Babblings of a Bookworm

8th of October Diary of an Eccentric

9th of October Savvy Verse & Wit

10th of October My Vices and Weaknesses

11th of October So little time

BlogTour

time to give away winners

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

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

Dear all,

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

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

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

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

You can connect with Joana on:

Facebook           Website            Twitter             Instagram           Austen Variations

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

Book trailer of The Journey Home to Pemberley

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

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

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

Guest Post

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

Col Fitzwilliam Hunsford 2a

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

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

CF library

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

THE JOURNEY HOME TO PEMBERLEY

Excerpt

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

“Yes, Thomas, what is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon US         Amazon UK         Amazon CA

Blog Tour Schedule

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

tjhtp-blog-tour-banner_m

time to give away winners

Click on the link below for a chance to win:

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

Rafflecopter – The Journey Home to Pemberley

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

Good luck to all of you!

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

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

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

Amazon US        Amazon UK

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

The End.

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

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

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

5out5 stars

Blog Tour

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

3rd of September: My Jane Austen Book Club

4th of September: Austenesque Reviewstour

5th of September: My Vices & Weaknesses

6th of September: Calico Critic

9th of September: Babblings of a Bookworm

10th of September: Savvy Verse & Wit

11th of September: Margie’s Must Reads

12th of September: From Pemberley to Milton

 

time to give away winners

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

giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone, that is, except Elizabeth herself. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Author’s Page    Facebook   Goodreads

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5out5 stars

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

Amazon UK       Amazon US    Amazon CA      Amazon DE

Giveaway and Tour Schedule

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

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

a-ladys-reputation-blog-tour-banner

“His choice of a wife” by Heather Moll, vignette + giveaway

When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves? 

After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?

Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?

Hello to all! What do you think of this blurb? It is not giving a lot of insight but it is making clear that there are quite a few problems that Elizabeth and Darcy may overcome before… a happy ending?

I am glad to welcome Heather Moll to the blog and to introduce you to her and her first book: His Choice of a Wife. On the JAFF world and, obviously in Pride and Prejudice, the choice of a wife is key and we know the struggle that Mr Darcy has with himself when he realises he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet.

I am also interested on Jane and Charles and how big their role is. We know Lydia is almost always a pain but I hope Jane and Bingley end up together.

Let’s discover a bit more about the author:

Moll author picHeather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing.

You can follow her and contact her on:

Facebook                  Twitter              Amazon Author Page             Goodreads 

Vignette

Hello Ana and thank you for welcoming me to My Vices and My Weaknesses today! I’m sharing a vignette from His Choice of a Wife. This was a scene between Darcy and Lady Catherine in London that was cut from the final version because it didn’t move the story forward. In the final version, their conflict is only referenced as an exchange of letters. This cut scene is a more heated altercation but didn’t have any impact on the plot. Still, who doesn’t love a good Lady Catherine set-down?

“You need not announce me, step back! I know where to find him.” 

Darcy had been indulging in the memory of Elizabeth’s lips on his neck, with his feet propped up on his desk, and was so startled he nearly fell from his chair. He had not noticed the arrival of a carriage, but there was no mistaking the overbearing, booming voice that intruded into hissolitude. The door swung open and Lady Catherine entered with an air more than usually ungracious and sat down without saying a word.

He rose to greet his aunt and tried to disguise his dismay, on both her manner of barging into his home and the fact that she had called at all.  

“Good afternoon, madam.  I trust you are in good health.  I admit that I had quite forgotten that you were to be in town in June.”

“You can be at no loss, Darcy, to know why I come.”

“You are mistaken; I cannot account for seeing you here.”

“Darcy,” replied her Ladyship, in an angry tone, “your most alarming letter reached me last night. It had been sent to Rosings Park and that must explain why it has only come to me now. You have made an offer of marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet? Had I heard it from anyone else I would have supposed it a scandalous falsehood!” 

“Lady Catherine,” said Darcy, coloring with astonishment and disdain, “it is no falsehood.  I have made her an offer of marriage and am pleased to have been accepted.”

“Do you still retain the use of your reason? What arts and allurements has she used to make you forget what you owe yourself and all your family?  How is it that she has drawn you in?”

He paced as he attempted to rein in his emotions. That she would charge into his home and disparage his intended’s reputation was not to be borne! He had anticipated Lady Catherine’s disapproval, but he had never dreamed she would accuse Elizabeth of seducing him.

“Do you truly believe that I offered to marry her in a moment of infatuation?” 

“What about Anne? You are engaged to my daughter!”

“No, madam, I am happily engaged to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Darcy attempted to placate her.  “It might have been a favorite wish of my mother and you, but I am not destined for my cousin.  I am neither by honor nor inclination confined to Anne and I have made my choice.” 

“Do not expect to be noticed by your family or friends, Darcy, should you willfully act against the inclinations of all and marry this girl. You will be censured, slighted, and despised by everyone connected with you.” 

“I doubt that but, if it were so, with Miss Bennet as my wife I shall have such an extraordinary source of happiness that I would have no cause to repine!”

“You would let the upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune divide you from uniting our respective houses?”

“Miss Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman and I will have you remember that, madam.”

“True, but what of her mother?  Who are her uncles and aunts?”

“Since I do not object to them, they can be nothing to you!” Darcy found his patience wearing thin.

After some hesitation she replied, “You must find a way to withdraw from this engagement.  I shall convince this girl to release you. I expect Miss Bennet to be a reasonable woman, and she would show me gratitude for my attentions last spring.  I will set off at once and make my sentiments known to her.”

If Darcy had been angry before, this declaration made his blood boil.  He swiftly approached Lady Catherine with his jaw clenched as he towered over her.  “You will do no such thing!” His aunt leaned away from him in her chair, her eyes wide with shock.  “You have widely mistaken my character if you think I can be worked on by such pretensions as these.  Had Miss Bennet not accepted my hand it would not have made me then wish to bestow it on Anne.  I doubt that my family will resent me for acting in a manner which will constitute my happiness.” 

“I am exceedingly angry that you have allowed this, this lady of easy virtue to draw you in!  Did she offer you a bit of muslin on the sly?  I cannot imagine any other possible means for which you would throw off your duty and your honor.  You need not marry her if that be the case; let her be your mistress and take Anne to be your wife.”

“I want you to leave,” Darcy said in an icily quiet voice. 

“I beg your pardon, Darcy, what did you say to me?” Lady Catherine’s jaw hung open.

“You have been ordered to remove yourself from my home.  You have insulted both my betrothed and me in every possible method and I shall no longer suffer your interference in my affairs.”  Darcy strode to the door of his library and threw open the door.  He ordered the footman in the vestibule to call his aunt’s carriage.  Lady Catherine rose from her chair in silent indignation and Darcy led her from the library. “You might wait outside, for I have nothing further to say to you,” and he swiftly shut the door behind her.

Thank you, Heather for sharing this scene with us. It is a pity that it is cut from the final edition but we are able to enjoy it here. I really like when Lady Catherine has an argument about Darcy’s choice of a bride. I simply imagine her almost hyperventilating!!

By the way, Elizabeth kissing Darcy’s neck?!? That sounds like a very happy ending to me *hehehe*

Would you like to buy this book now as you cannot wait how this relationship is going to develop? You can do it on the links below, remember to check if there is the ebook or the paperback edition depending on what you want (not both formats are available on every link).

Amazon US          Amazon UK          Amazon CA            Amazon DE     Bookdepository

Blog Tour Schedule

This is the last stop of this lovely tour, I recommend you to visit previous stops to enjoy much more of His Choice of a Wife.

HCoaW Blog Tour Banner VertJuly 25th More Agreeably Engaged

July 26th Babblings of a Bookworm

July 27th My Love for Jane Austen

July 28th Half Agony, Half Hope

July 29th Austenesque Reviews

July 30th From Pemberley to Milton

July 31st Savvy Verse & Wit

August 1st Darcyholic Diversions

August 2nd Diary of an Eccentric

August 3rd Margie’s Must Reads

August 4th My Jane Austen Book Club

August 5th So Little Time…

August 6th My Vices and Weaknesses

 

time to give away winners

Meryton Press is giving away to eight winners, 8 ebooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife. Click the link below and follow instructions. Good luck!

Rafflecopter – His Choice of a Wife

HCOAW_full_cover (1) M

“The Portrait” by Cassandra Austen, review + giveaway

Dear all,

I’m glad to introduce you to Cassandra Austen. It’s her first time with us and we will read about her latest book: The Portrait which is a historical romance set during the Regency era in England and Wales. It is not a JAFF book but it is a romance that I recommend for its angst!
Cassandra Austen writes historical and contemporary fiction set in both old and New England. She is the author of The Portrait, a historical romance that takes place during the Regency period in England, and Coming Home to Greenleigh, a contemporary New England romance. She lives and works in her 1700s farmhouse in northern New England, but you are welcome to visit her at her virtual home: cassandraausten.com.

You can also find Cassandra on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Before reviewing, I will let you have a rough idea about the book, enjoy the blurb.

Lady Catherine, banished to the countryside as a useless girl with a lame leg, got her revenge by playing a dangerous game. And now it will ruin her.

When the old earl dies, his only child feels no sorrow. The earldom will now revert to the crown and Lady Catherine will continue to live life exactly as she pleases. But when she learns that she is the heir to a secret family title, everything changes. Marriage had once seemed unnecessary and out of the question; now it is the only thing she wants. The two men in her life both need her influence and wealth. Whom shall she choose? The kind but secretive Captain Avebury? Or the notorious Sir Lyle, the handsome smuggler? Both men deal very differently with honor. And when Catherine’s secret self-destructs, which man can be trusted to save her?

The Portrait is about a strong woman, foolish decisions, trust, and the definition of honor. Fans of Jane Austen’s independent women will recognize in Catherine a voice which will not be silenced.

If you are interested, you can buy the book on:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

Review

Catherine, a strong-willed woman but also a very stubborn woman. She is almost a “pariah” in good society even if she is rich. Rich but soon without a title because her father is on his deathbed and she is “just” a female who cannot inherit, therefore, the title is about to disappear. That’s the main reason why Catherine’s father has never shown any love for her but there’s something else, the reason why society does not mind her much, she has a physical handicap, her leg. However, Catherine enjoys, more or less, her life. She has given up on many things, like marriage.
Although a turn on events, makes her realise that what she needs is to get married because, unknown to her before, she is the heiress to a title in Wales that goes from her mother to her as an only child. This fact was hidden by her father because he was extremely upset that he had a daughter that could not inherit his title, therefore, he wanted his late wife’s title to disappear.
Catherine has a suitor but she does not trust him completely, he wants to marry her and proposes but eventually she refuses him. However, things may not be as they seem. Moreover, Catherine has started a friendship with Jocelyn, a man of the navy who hides too much. Although he is, for Catherine, the only one who sees past her leg.
Things are never easy and even less when communication is almost inexistent. Bits of suspicion, jealousy, a lot of stubbornness (as I mentioned before) and, even more secrets! The Portrait is a romance story and…
Spoiler alert!
.
.
.
.
.
.
There is a happy ending but you don’t know who gets the happy ending or how. There’s the big secret that Catherine hides and some other secrets will be discovered. Dreams change during the life of a person and it is not different in this story. Join Catherine on her life, where she almost dies too.
Discover who is Captain Jocelyn Avebury and his secrets. More importantly, who is L??

Thank you very much, Cassandra Austen for writing this book and also having My vices and weaknesses in your blog tour. Thank you, Amy for organising.

Blog tour schedule

Enjoy this blog tour even more if you visit the previous stops, you can find more reviews, excerpts, an interview, etc.

Monday, July 1st
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, July 2nd
Feature at A Holland Reads

Wednesday, July 3rd
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, July 4th
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, July 5th
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Monday, July 8th
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 9th
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, July 10th
Review at McCombs on Main

Thursday, July 11th
Feature at What Is That Book About
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, July 12th
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Book Reviews from Canada

Monday, July 15th
Review at My Vices and Weaknesses

Cassandra Austen is giving away two copies of The Portrait to two winners. To participate, click the link below and follow instructions. You can also read the rules after the link.

Gleam – The Portrait

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

“The Colonel” by Beau North, excerpt + giveaway

Hello! ¡Hola!

Pride and Prejudice, that great novel by Jane Austen that we love so much and has given us so much too. Not only the themes and the characters and her insight on people’s minds and lives but also the JAFF part that she may have never thought about it. All the what ifs, the variations, the sequels, different eras, etc. just carry on with her legacy. I’m not going into better written or less well written but I will say that today we have a really good writer who is presenting her latest book: The Colonel: a Longbourn’s Songbird. This book follows Beau’s Longbourn’s Songbird.

Beau North is the author of four books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband. In her spare time, she is the co-host of the podcasts Excessively Diverted: Modern Classics On-Screen and Let’s Get Weirding: A Dune Podcast.

You can follow her on:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

An obvious thing about this book: Colonel Fitzwilliam is the main character or the main person in this book. I don’t know what you think about him, but I would love to know. I really like him and the way authors portray him of JAFF: a super nice cousin taking care of them, on regency even marrying Georgiana or Kitty or Charlotte, being always the one making fun of Darcy, etc. I believe he can be so reliable in a story that I immensely enjoy his stories. This story is not going to be an exception. As I mentioned this book is second to Longbourn’s Songbird and I recommend you to do as I’m going to do this summer, read both books. I cannot wait to start them and you will know about it 🙂

Beau North is telling us a bit more about “the Colonel”:

This isn’t a love story, but the end of one. The story of two ships forever passing in the night. This is the story of my father and the woman he spent most of his adult life loving, a woman who was never really his.”

1950:
After letting his chance at love with Elizabeth Bennet slip through his fingers a second time, Richard Fitzwilliam loses himself in women, whiskey, and war as he tries to forget what he left behind. Putting oceans, continents, and decades between himself and his heartbreak, Richard seeks his future, only to be pulled back to the past again and again.

2002:
Shaken by recent events, Ben Fitzwilliam has left everything familiar behind, walking away from his relationship, his Manhattan apartment, his career as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to return to his family home in Annapolis, Maryland. Struggling to navigate a world that makes less and less sense, Ben finds purpose where he least expected it: in his father’s private letters. With the help of Annapolis PD Officer Keisha Barnes, Ben attempts to uncover his father’s secrets, heal the rifts those secrets caused, and find the answers he seeks on far shores.

Spanning decades, continents, wars abroad and wars at home, The Colonel is the anticipated companion to Longbourn’s Songbird.

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iBooks

I put these links for you to know where to buy this super interesting book but it was also for the sake of distracting you of the fact that he loved Elizabeth Bennet! It should not come to a surprise if you have read the first book but if you haven’t…

Did you read the part: “a second time”?!?! I will leave it there.

If you are intrigued, just wait for it! Read the excerpt that Beau North is sharing with us. Have fun!

Excerpt Setup:
After a somewhat disastrous New Year’s Party at the Fitzwilliam home in New York City, Richard sends his cousin a letter that is partially an apology, and delivers some surprising news.

Excerpt:

January 15, 1951
Dear Will,
Greetings, salutations, etcetera. Thank you for dragging your family complete up to the city for the party. It was, as always, good to see you, but even better to see you so happy. You can be pretty fun to be around when you’re not glowering and putting everyone off of their feed.
You must think I’m very foolish. No need to deny it―I saw the look that passed between you and your excellent wife. Did you know that the two of you, taken separately, are about as easy to read as Greek—but when you’re together, you’re comically transparent.

So yes, I was a foolish man. Nothing to be done for it now. If I can be grateful about anything, it’s that I never fancied myself to be in love. I was thrill seeking, endangering life and limb, hell, my very sanity (or what’s left of it) but never in love. You may be glad to hear that that is all over with now. In any case, I don’t want either of you to worry about what kind of trouble I’ll be getting myself into next because well, damn it, there’s no easy way to say this, but I am back in the army. Old man Tilney himself pulled some strings and brought me back in, with a promotion.

When I took two bullets in Brest, I was a captain. The old bastard got me kicked out as a major, and now I’m going back in a lieutenant colonel. I could be one of the youngest men to make colonel, provided Uncle Sam doesn’t get fed up with my antics before then. I’ll have a bigger command now, which is good but troubling too. I hope that I’m up to the task. I think that there is more to this little skirmish than they’re letting on.

I’m to leave at the end of the month. I was hoping it wouldn’t be an imposition to come spend my last week there at Pemberley. We could settle my affairs (just in case) and I could say my (temporary) goodbyes to you all.

Confer with Mrs. Darcy and ring me up when you know.
Your faithful friend,
Richard
Darcy looked up from the letter at the two women dearest to him. Georgiana had her nose buried in a book while Elizabeth sat buttering her toast. She wore a bemused little half-smile, as if remembering a joke she hadn’t heard in years. She was beginning to show, getting more beautiful every day. She seemed to glow from within all the time these days, even when she was wretchedly sick or weeping or falling asleep every few minutes. His heart beat almost painfully when he thought about the child she carried, their life to come.
He honestly had no idea how she would take this news.
“So,” he began, watching Elizabeth’s face. “I have a letter from Richard here.”
Her only acknowledgment was a tiny lift of her eyebrows. “Any messages from Charlotte?”
“Ah, no. So I’m assuming things must be well.”
Georgiana put her book down and picked up her coffee, making a face. “Wasn’t his girlfriend so awful?”
Elizabeth’s lips twisted in a wry smile. “Actually, I rather liked her, though probably for all the wrong reasons. She was vastly entertaining.”
Darcy smiled. “She was rather appalling. I think she might have even been ruder than I am.”
“Impossible,” Elizabeth teased. “Still, I shouldn’t laugh at her. If she makes your cousin happy…”
She never said his name, Darcy noticed. It was always your cousin. He wondered if she was even aware of it.
“Ah, well. That’s part of why he writes. It seems that Miss Huntington-Whitney is out of the picture now.”
“Thank goodness,” Georgiana said with a sigh. “Poor Richard.”
If any of this talk bothered Elizabeth, she didn’t let it show.
Darcy turned to his sister and asked if she would excuse them for a minute. She shrugged and gathered her things before breezing out the room. Darcy reached over and took his wife’s hand.
“Elizabeth, do you mind if Richard comes to stay for a bit?”
“Why on earth would I mind? As long as he’s not bringing that little goblin with him. Not that I mind but I think she would probably upset Georgie.”
“I think you know what I mean when I ask, and it has nothing to do with Georgiana.”
“Oh good lord, not that again. I think we’d better get used to our new family situation sooner rather than later. We’re all adults, aren’t we?”
“That point is debatable. There’s…something else.”
“You’re worried! Is everything all right?”
“Richard has…well, damn if he’s not in the army again. That’s why he wants to come for visit. He’ll be headed out at the end of the month.”
She looked down at her plate, a small crease appearing between her eyebrows.
“I see. Headed out where?”
“I think you know.”
She cleared her throat, a habit she was picking up from him. “Are you going to tell Georgie or should I?”
“Don’t you want to tell her together?”
“One of us ought to inform Mrs. R, don’t you think? Yes, I think I will. You tell Georgie. I’m sure she’ll have all kinds of questions.” She stood suddenly, smoothing the fabric of her dress with the palms of her hands.
“Elizabeth—”
“I’m fine, William.”
But he wondered. Wondered at the tight set of her shoulders as she walked out of the room, the overly precise and careful way she closed the door behind her.

OMG!! Sorry, I’m speechless right now, or wordless.

Well, you know me, I’m not really wordless but I wanted you to reread that last paragraph and maybe think: what has happened? Was there something between them? Did he declare himself? Did she refuse him? So many questions that need to be answered soon!

Let me know on the comments what you think. Please if you have read Longbourn’s Songbird, do not leave any spoilers for the people who have not.

Thank you very much, Beau North for being with us today and bringing us your latest book which is extremely appealing!!

Beau North is giving away an e-copy of both of her books. To participate, click the link below and follow instructions:

Rafflecopter – The Colonel

Good luck!

“Unexpected Friends and Relations” by Jayne Bamber, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

I am happy to introduce you to Jayne Bamber and her newest publication Unexpected Friends and Relations. I would like to apologise to Jayne Bamber once more as I did not publish this post on time. Both of us had a hectic month of April and basically, life happened. However, there was an easy solution and here you have a post about a very interesting book.

I have not read many mash-ups with the character of Jane Austen. However, some that I have read are among my favourites, for instance Joana Starnes’ The Subsequent Proposal where Pride and Prejudice joins Persuasion. Therefore, I am convinced that I would love to read this book, the second one of the Friends and Relations series. 

Let me introduce you to the author:

Jayne Bamber is a life-long Austen fan, and a total sucker for costume dramas. Jayne read her first Austen variation as a teenager and has spent more than a decade devouring as many of them as she can. This of course has led her to the ultimate conclusion of her addiction, writing one herself.jayne-bamber-author-pic

Jayne’s favorite Austen work is Sense and Sensibility, though Sanditon is a strong second. Despite her love for Pride and Prejudice, Jayne realizes that she is no Lizzy Bennet, and is in fact growing up to be Mrs. Bennet more and more each day.

After years of dating Wickhams, Collinses, and the occasional Tilney-that-got-away, Jayne married her very own Darcy (tinged with just the right amount of Mr. Palmer) and the two live together in Texas with a pair of badly behaved rat terriers, and a desire to expand their menagerie of fur babies.

Here you have the blurb of Unexpected Friends and Relations:

Following their marriage and a cozy Christmas at Pemberley, Elizabeth & Fitzwilliam Darcy return to London with their family. As new dilemmas arise, the story shifts its focus to three of Austen’s beloved secondary characters, one of her less exalted heroines, a familiar villainess, and the fan-favorite original character Lady Rebecca.

Georgiana Darcy continues to suffer the consequences of her folly at Ramsgate, as well as the peril of following some well-intended but ill-advised counsel that jeopardizes her chance at true love.

Caroline Bingley, now unhappily married and desperate to salvage her position in society, takes on the arduous task of reforming her wild and willful young ward, though it’s anybody’s guess which of the two of them is in greater need of transformation.

Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam travels to Surrey on a mission of mercy, but she and her cousin Emma embroil one another, and many familiar faces in the area, in a web of romantic entanglements from which not everyone will escape unscathed.

Mary Bennet struggles with matters of morality and self-discovery, attempting to find good in the world, as well as her own place in it, but must do so on her own terms, always tip-toeing around the dramas and difficulties of those she loves.

Amidst the complex maneuverings of a diverse and demanding family, an unexpected heiress emerges, and with her rise in station come all the glittering delights of the fashionable world, as well as the challenge of navigating the uncharted territories of high society, extended family, and even her own heart.

After attaining a Happily Ever After, the Darcys retreat into the background as their friends and relations pursue destinies of their own. Equal measures of mishap and miracle result in several alternately paired couples, while some stories are left to be resolved in Book Three, and a wide array of Austen characters will make an appearance in this tale of six unlikely heroines.

Let’s read what Jayne wants us to discover:

pic1

Hi! I’d like to introduce my new release, Unexpected Friends & Relations, which is the second of a three-book series in which the characters from all of Jane Austen’s novels live in the same world. Their lives are intertwined through the bonds of family and friendship, and this results in some alternative romantic pairings that did not take place in the originals.

The first volume of the series, Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, is definitely a must-read before embarking on Book Two. Happier focuses primarily on the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, with romances for Colonel Fitzwilliam (now a viscount) and a widowed Marianne Brandon, and a shocking secret in the Darcy family.

pict2

The story opens with a surprise villain and sets off a chain reaction that ripples across the story, which spans a full year. Elizabeth meets Mr. Bingley in London, where she isn’t the only one having difficulty with a sister, and she meets a couple of new faces – original characters – who change her life.

Darcy has more than one secret when he first meets Elizabeth, adding to challenges to their relationship that are only exacerbated by more than one death of a familiar character. The story takes Elizabeth from London to Kent, to Pemberley and Somserset before she and Darcy reach their HEA.

pic3

The second volume of the series, Unexpected Friends & Relationsopens four months after the close of Book 1, and shows our beloved characters in London for Georgiana’s season, which is nearly ruined by whispers of the Darcy secret. Another scandalous secret is uncovered, bringing a new heroine into the midst of the extended Bennet-Darcy-Fitzwilliam clan.

Not all goes according to plan, and the characters break off into groups, with many traveling to Rosings Park in Kent, while others go to Highbury in Surrey and unleash havoc in the life of Emma Woodhouse. While Emma’s world is embroiled in romantic entanglements, the same is happening at Rosings, and the stakes are high for Georgiana, Caroline, Lydia, and many others.

pic4

Volume 3 will be released this fall, shifting the action to Sanditon, at the behest of Sidney Parker. More familiar faces from the world of Austen will make an appearance, in the seaside village shrouded in mystery!

I will be doing more blog posts over the next few weeks, sharing details about Unexpected as well as excerpts, and will be drawing winners May 20thfor an e-book giveaway! For more info, follow me on Facebook!

 

Blog Tour Promo

 

For now, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt revealing one of the family secrets that will play a major role in Unexpected….

    On the first of March, Harriet was conveyed to London to meet her parents. The journey from Highbury was a short one, though the two hours felt like an eternity. She was grateful to her friend Miss Woodhouse, who had contrived for Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston to accompany her to Town; without their supportive presence, she was sure she would have fallen to pieces with anxiety.

     What would her parents be like? Though she had naturally wondered about them many times over the years, when faced now with the prospect of actually meeting them, she began to feel that she had not given it nearly enough thought. Certainly they must be very grand indeed, and she began to fear that they must be so high above her that she would inevitably be found wanting.

     Her companions were all patience and benevolence during the drive into Town. “You have nothing to fear,” Mrs. Weston assured her. “I am sure all of your family is very eager to have you amongst them at long last. Though we know none of the particulars as to why they should seek you out now, I am sure it will all be made clear in time. Your mother’s letter said they are a large family, and you shall have brothers and sisters and cousins very near in age to yourself. That shall be a blessing indeed for you!”

     “And you have a shared acquaintance with your friend Miss Woodhouse,” Mr. Knightley reminded her. “Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam is both your cousin as well as Emma’s. Certainly you shall discover some common ground with her. I believe Mr. Darcy’s younger sister is just coming out into society, as well, and I daresay you will find a friend in her.”

     “Quite so,” Mrs. Weston agreed. “I daresay you shall find my company quite unnecessary within a few days, once you have settled in. You shall see how they cherish you, and then we shall laugh about all this fuss over nothing.”

     Harriet doubted very much that this would be the case, for her apprehension only increased as they arrived at her parents’ stately townhouse in Mayfair.

     Mr. Knightley planned on staying near his brother’s house in Brunswick Square, and dropped Harriet and Mrs. Weston at the door of the grandest house Harriet had ever seen. They were greeted by the butler and housekeeper, both called Banks. Mr. Banks saw to their luggage while Mrs. Banks led them up to their guestrooms. Adjoining rooms had been arranged for Harriet and Mrs. Weston, and Mrs. Weston declared it very thoughtful of Harriet’s parents to have taken such a detail into consideration. “I am sure they must have thought of everything you may require for your comfort, Harriet,” she said as they were led upstairs.

     “Begging your pardon, ma’am, but her ladyship is most adamant that you shall want for nothing, Miss Sutton,” the housekeeper replied.

     Realizing that Miss Sutton was now how she was to be addressed, Harriet nodded and murmured some words of gratitude. Assuring them that their trunks would be brought up directly, the housekeeper took her leave, as Harriet took in her new bedroom in unreserved awe.

     It was like living in a palace! She stood in shock for several minutes, soaking in every detail of the very feminine bedchamber that was to be hers. All of this is for me? The room was nearly four times the size of her room at Mrs. Goddard’s, which she had never thought was wanting. This – this was beyond anything. A large canopied bed dominated the center of the room, with elegant linens in shades of pink and ivory – a princess might sleep comfortably there!

     There was a very stately vanity table with a large mirror on one side of the room beside a wide window with elegant damask drapes, offering a view of a quaint little garden beneath. On the other side of the room was a gilded wardrobe so capacious that she could not even begin to imagine ever filling it, though she supposed such things must be normal for ladies of her mother’s station. Altogether, the bedchamber looked as if it belonged to someone Harriet was not sure she could ever be.

     Mrs. Weston came through the adjoining door a moment later, smiling serenely. “What do you think?”

     “It is far too grand,” Harriet breathed. “Oh dear, do you think I shall ever grow accustomed to such finery?”

     “I am certain you shall, and sooner than you think. No one ever minds having what is too good for them, though I am of the opinion that there is nothing too good for a sweet girl such as yourself. It is a testament, I think, to how highly your parents must esteem you.”

     “Oh my, yes,” Harriet replied. “They must indeed, to go through so much trouble. But what if they think I am a very fine lady, and are disappointed to discover that I am not?”

     “Let us have no more of that talk,” Mrs. Weston said. “Your father is brother to Mrs. Goddard, to whom he entrusted your care, and therefore they must have perfectly realistic expectations for you. If they wish to raise your station, you must learn to accept their generosity.”

     “I suppose you are right,” Harriet admitted. Still, she was expecting every minute to wake up from nothing more than a very pleasant dream.

     A moment later came a knock at the door, and Harriet suddenly tensed up, fearing it would be her parents. It was only another servant, who introduced herself as Sally – she was to be Harriet’s own lady’s maid.

     “I’ve come to attend you. Your mother wishes to know if you require some time to freshen up before joining her in the drawing room.” Turning to address Mrs. Weston, she added, “I believe my sister Sarah will be coming to attend you, ma’am.”

     “Thank you, Sally,” Mrs. Weston replied, returning to her own room. A footman entered a moment later, bearing the trunk that contained all of Harriet’s worldly possessions. He set it down beside the wardrobe and left her alone with Sally, and Harriet regarded the little trunk fretfully; how small it looked, just as out of place in such a grand house as she herself must be.

What do you think? Harriet’s family is known at last! She is related to Mr. Darcy too! Very very interesting 🙂

time to give away winners

Jayne Bamber is giving away an ebook of Unexpected Friends and Relations. To participate click the link below and follow instructions. Good luck!

Rafflecopter – Unexpected Friends and Relations

“The Avenger” by Don Jacobson – Blog Tour: author interview, excerpt + giveaway

Happy New Year 2019!

What a great way of starting the year I have: introducing The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament by Don Jacobson!

You may be asking yourself, why is it a great way of starting the year? Apart from the obvious part of this being a book from an author that I really enjoy… it is also one of my New Year’s resolutions to read The Bennet Wardrobe series. I have read two of them so far and I want to read them all (even the ones I have already read). Don Jacobson has created an amazing world where Pride and Prejudice‘s characters originally created by Jane Austen have a new level of adventures. Just for you to have an idea, you could read my review of The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque.

Today Don is sharing a lot of information about the wardrobe and how it works. Moreover, he is giving us a bonus, we have a big part of Chapter 23 waiting for us to enjoy (just keep reading after the giveaway).

Let me (re)introduce you to the author, Don Jacobson:

Don Jacobson Head Shot
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”.
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).

You can follow and contact Don through different ways:

Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author’s Page

Goodreads Author’s Page (with blog)

Author Website (with blog)

Twitter (@AustenesqueAuth)

Blurb

Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages.

Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But, he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life.

Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs. Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, t’would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness.

Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.
The Bennet Wardrobeseries stands alone
The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe– an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more.
The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.
Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days
Interview: Of things Wardrobe and Avenger

Thank you very much, Don for visiting us today. Readers, I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have. I have learnt a lot about the Wardrobe and its functioning and I find very interesting the idea of solipcism.
Why the Wardrobe as a device to create a story arc in the Pride & Prejudice Universe?
Many #Austenesque writers have sought to carry on the ODC story by offering the younger sisters their own storylines. Epilogues usually place Mr. Bennet in the bowels of the Pemberley Library. Mrs. Bennet is rarely mentioned—and is often suddenly dispatched with a bout of apoplexy.
I felt that there needed to be a different possibility… that each of these characters could enjoy fulfilling lives once they had overcome the inner demons holding them back. Could they have done that by staying on the Regency timeline? Perhaps.
However, something tickled my brain—perhaps it was my adolescent fascination with science fiction mixing with my much more adult appreciation of the Canon—that placed the Wardrobe up in front of me. Now my protagonists could be immersed in different timeframes beyond the Regency to learn that which they needed to learn in order to realize their potentials.
I adhere to the idea—solipcism—posited by the great speculative fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein: that through the act of writing fiction, the reality in which that fiction exists is created. Thus, the writings of Jane Austen created a universe in which Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet…or Thomas and Fanny Bennet…are as real as you and I. In addition, I have used my author’s prerogative to make them aware of their context, often through the device of tasking historical characters to play a part in advancing the plot or providing needed exposition.
What is the Wardrobe and how does it work?
The Bennet Wardrobe was created by the master cabinetmaker Grinling Gibbons, one of those historical personages previously mentioned, in the early 1690s for the first Bennet to own Longbourn Estate in Meryton, Mr. Christopher Bennet. This Bennet had earned his fortune with the Honorable East India Company (HEIC).
Gibbons, a friend of Isaac Newton’s and a follow student of the universe, had divined a way to create a mystical transport device/system (similar to C.S. Lewis’ Wardrobe, J.K. Rowling’s Flue Network or Dr. Who’s TARDIS). He took those ideas and incorporated them into the Bennet Wardrobe. The Wardrobe was capable of transporting the user—who must be a Bennet bloodline descendent—to a time in the future where the Wardrobe itself is present. Then the user can return to the exact same moment in the present.
Can the Bennet user go to any time and place in the future they wish?
No. The Wardrobe is driven by an intelligence/understanding that employs what the users need to learn to grow into the best versions of themselves…not what they want…as the determinant for the where/whenfor the solution of the request.
What controls the Wardrobe?
Gibbons discerned a series of “Rules of the Wardrobe” that appeared to be inviolable.
Chief amongst these, after the bloodline requirement, were that travel could only be accomplished to the future. No travel to the past prior to that instant was possible.
The second critical rule was that all trips needed to be round trips. Thus, while a user could travel to the future, the user’s next use of the Wardrobe would result in a return to the where/whenfrom which the user departed.
How does the Wardrobe play a role in the Sixth volume of the series?
In The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament, the Wardrobe is used twice.
Before I move on with this response, I must note that The Wardrobe is a plot device. The Bennet Wardrobe stories and novels are a chronicle of the Bennet Family of Meryton… and how they are afforded the opportunity to redeem themselves, to grow beyond the plot devices established by Miss Austen. Thus, you will not see the Bennets flitting around time and space. T’would be distracting.
However, the first time the Wardrobe is employed…three years after the double wedding…Thomas Bennet is responding to his wife’s frequently voiced desire to see Kitty. The fourth daughter, at least according to Mr. Bennet, had been dispatched to a seminary in Cornwall to make reparations for her role in the Lydia affair in December 1811.
Bennet discovers… and he would not learn this epigram until later as his youngest had yet to utter the words… that The Wardrobe has a particularly nasty sense of humor. He had desired to bring his wife (suitably drugged with laudanum) to a where/when—the future (see both Volumes of The Exile)—for a brief conference with their darling girl. Sadly, the Wardrobe decided to send Thomas Bennet to a time and place…and a situation…where he could lift himself up from being the indolent father.
You have mentioned that Bennets are transported to times where they can ‘become the best versions of themselves.’ What does this mean?
This is my formulation of what I have determined to be The Fifth Love(moving beyond C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves). Exagoras Agapis is the love which redeems. I see the Fifth Love as an active force…unlike The Four Loves which describe states of being…driving persons to rectify their shortcomings so as to become worthy of the object of their affections.
For all my conversations about “secondary characters,” the first example of redemptive love is found in Pride and Prejudice itself. After Hunsford and Darcy’s letter, both Darcy and Elizabeth undergo tectonic changes in their personalities, outlooks, ad behaviors. All of these shifts are examples of Exagoras Agapis, two centuries before I articulated it.
However, t’is Mrs. Bennet… as she herself begins the final assault on the heights of her flighty personality construct in Book Two of The Avenger… who offers an introduction to the love which redeems.
Chapter XV (August 1947)
On the slopes of Oakham Mount
©2018 by Don Jacobson. All rights reserved. Reproduction—either mechanical or electronic—without the written consent of the copyright holder is prohibited.
[Here Mrs. Bennet, while in conversation with her husband, uses self-hypnosis to reach out to her Inner Guide, a being with whom she had not conversed since shortly after her marriage to Bennet in early 1789.]
Her eyes drifted shut as she slid down through the layers of noise that had impeded her mentalitée until she arrived at a space so familiarly quiet that an ineffable sense of peace flooded over her. T’was then that she felt the other…one particularly familiar in her ancient comfort yet having not been called upon for decades.

Is it you? I thought you had abandoned me.

>could not rise past lace, children, confusion, anger, fear

Why now?

The form/not form/color/arc shot throughout the vault, as if rejoicing in its liberation. In its passage, a calming smoothed the matte surface that was the slate of her inner being.

>exagoras agapis[i]

Exagoras agapis? What is that? From where did it come?

>the love that redeems

>given you by the Bennet, grasped by your soul

>the desire to be the better version of self

But why now?

>Founder needs you, your strength. but I cannot…

>too new…draw closer for help

At this, a great china-blue strand whipped across the field. With dread, Fanny observed a night black blade drop and cleave it in twain. One portion shriveled and vanished, the other floated, unanchored.

>take it

As the viable strand passed into her possession, she was surrounded by dunes covered with carpets of roses…of all colors. The sound of the sea swished in her core, and she sensed another approaching, sweeping down from behind the crest of the sandy mounds. Then all sound was cast in the richest of green hues.

>mother Gardiner-Bennet

Do I know you?

>i am of yours…not the Countess, but her guide…here for moment.

Are you suggesting that you are “neither Kitty nor Kate” but are like mine, but hers?

>yes…ask…

Where is my girl?

>…not here…gone out, above plane…ask

What happened to her?

>blackness…around…suddenness…noise…pressure…release

What???

><indistinct> winter rose

The flower? There are no roses that bloom in winter.

>truth…browned canes…waiting pruning…even now…black flower.

>rosa chinensis will triumph…ask

Rosa Chinensis like what I introduced from Mama’s garden into Longbourn’s?

>…Gardiner is mother bush from which all Bennet roses bloom…

>…Founder cannot succeed without the rosa merytonensis…

>…help him, mama…ma…ma………..ma….

A great wind arose and swept the emerald filament off into infinity…and silence resumed.
A tear slid down from beneath a closed lid as Mrs. Bennet realized that, for all the abuse and disquiet she had absorbed over four-and-ten years in the wilderness, she was the missing link.

[i]Redemptive love. See D. Jacobson blog post The Fifth Love: That Which Redeems, Austen Authors.net, March 17, 2018. https://austenauthors.net/the-fifth-love-that-which-redeems/

From Chapter XVI

Squaring her shoulders, she spoke in a low, but firm voice, “You saw me just now. You may have thought I was not attending to that which you were saying. I assure you that I was…on one level.
“However, most of my senses were elsewhere. T’is akin to a trance, I imagine. I fall into it when I clear away all distractions and carefully focus my eyes on something like the leaves above us or the upper corner of a room where two walls and the ceiling meet. That permits me to separate myself from my cares and concerns, something I wish I had done these four-and-ten years past.
“As my concentration deepens, my eyes eventually drift shut, the outside world vanishes, and, with my mind clear, I find myself able to commune with…with…oh, I do not know with what or whom. T’is a force, a power, a being. I have always called her my Guide.
“We have conversations. I ask her questions, and she helps me find true solutions to my problems where, in my consciousness, I would seek to derive emotional comfort from false or partial solutions. These invariably lead to nowhere.
“Consider the ultimate false solution.
“I forced you to bow to my demand that each of our beloved girls come outwhen she reached five-and-ten. I wanted each to steal a march on other young ladies in her cohort; to attract the attention of a marriageable man and secure her…my…future.
“While the first four avoided disaster, we now know what my need to protect the girls from the entail led to with the fifth. Lydia will enjoy none of the perquisites relished by our other girls who waited until after their twentieth year to wed.”
Fanny had once again clambered off the fallen tree trunk, so comfortable for her long-legged husband, but a bit elevated for a woman who barely troubled five feet when measured in her satin dance slippers. She stood facing Bennet and made her case with hard-edged hand gestures and broad arm sweeps as if the bowl of Oakham’s slope rising above was home to benches filled with eager students. From time to time her sky-blue eyes would settle on Tom’s hazel orbs and her voice dropped as she sought to drive home her points.
“False solutions, Tom, are the path to ruin,” she continued. “I know.
“T’is not that I had forgotten about my Guide or what I could accomplish with her aid, but rather I was so disturbed after…after…well…the babe…that I could not have settled myself long enough to seek her out.
“I became more and more like my sister; concerned about fripperies and gossip and not on our family. Would that I could have modeled my comportment after Edward.”

How did you enjoy the interview and the excerpts? I believe Don has treated us with so much information and so much insight in the Bennet Wardrobe that some of you may want to go right now and buy this book (or the whole series):

Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA Bookdepository

Blog Tour Schedule

Visit the previous posts to enjoy much more about The Avenger:

28th Dec. 2018 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

29th Dec. Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Giveaway

30th Dec. My Love for Jane Austen; Guest Post, Giveaway

avenger tour

2nd Jan. 2019 More Agreeably Engaged; Character Interview, Giveaway
3rd Jan. My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, Giveaway

4th Jan. So Little Time…; Guest Post, Giveaway

5th Jan. My life journey; Review, Excerpt Giveaway

8th Jan. Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Giveaway

9th Jan. From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Giveaway
Time To Give Away

Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament

avenger covers

Click on the link below to participate on this giveaway. This book, like its series, is worth it!

Rafflecopter – The Avenger

BONUS

Chapter XXIII
The “New” Carlton Club, St. James Street, London, September 1, 1947
Liebermann’s assertion about Bennet Eyes sent Detachment Anubis scrambling as this was the first real clue they had uncovered besides the murderer’s rank and service branch. A trusted forensic artist had been sent over for an impromptu Deauville vacation—something about which her husband and children were justifiably thrilled. Liebermann sat with her, much to Madame Liebermann’s displeasure, for two whole days until an accurate sketch of the subject was generated.
Now Anubis had the first item that could be tacked upon the wall in a meeting room, given over to their exclusive use, deep beneath Lincoln’s Inn. Over the following years, hundreds of documents, photographs, and other scraps, culled from a thousand different sources, would find their way onto the beige panels in that subterranean keep. More would be posted and then removed. But the pencil sketch with hazel green eyes remained, the paper gradually yellowing with age.
Still, a portrait of this nature did nothing to bring to light the identity of the culprit. Only Liebermann could pick him out of a crowd, but chances were microscopic that the two would ever be in the same place at the same time. Thus, Bennet had resolved to place the Sergeant where he would do the most good.
To that end, Bennet had prevailed upon the Earl to break through the bureaucratic logjam that was modern government to enable Anubis to insert Liebermann into the bowels of the captured SS Archives consolidated in the suburbs of Nuremberg. There, the sergeant would soon be able to flip through hundreds of thousands of documents collected from the remains of Himmler’s headquarters in Berlin and satellite complexes across Hitler’s Festung Europa that had been captured either whole or in part. Much was duplicated and nearly all was on paper. The process of microfilming the trove had barely begun and was anticipated to take years.
However, there was a chance that Liebermann would find his man’s photo attached to a personnel record. However, Bennet assumed that the Sergeant’s patience would fail long before achieving positive results. Yet, try they must for all earlier efforts had generated nothing.
The Earl resolved to pull two specific levers to execute Bennet’s wishes.
The first was to employ Lizzy Schiller’s wartime service with General Clay. He gambled that the High Commissioner of the Military Government (US) would respond to an appeal directly delivered by his former driver to allow a demobilized German subaltern into the closely held archives, usually available only to the Nuremburg Tribunal attorneys. Using Lizzy as his emissary likely would guarantee the High Commissioner would consent to a meeting, however brief. Clay knew Lizzy’s background and connections from his earlier history with the young lady. And, knowing what he did of Matlock’s other role, Clay would instantly accept a verbal message from Mrs. Schiller.
Lizzy’s maid pulled the young matron’s WREN uniform from storage and brushed it, all the while wondering if birthing a young heir for the Schiller line would have rendered the question of the outfit ever fitting again asked and answered. However, Mrs. Schiller’s daily rambles across the hillsides flowing down from the Peak toward her mother’s seat at the rose-colored sandstone mansion in Derbyshire proved to be the deciding factor. With one or two minor adjustments to the rich blue skirt to accommodate Lizzy’s now-womanly hips, the outfit settled onto her frame as if it had not been put aside since May 1945.
Lizzy and Alois boarded an American DC-3 at RAF Biggin Hill, and the aircraft soared toward occupied Germany. Operation Anubis came to life as soon as the transport’s wheels left the ground.
The Earl, however, refused to place all his eggs in the figurative single basket. That was the purpose of this session in the bastion of British Conservative Party politics. This was his second pressure point.
The Earl had been warmly greeted by the Carlton’s gatekeepers. However, they balked at admitting the stranger who accompanied him. While Matlock was long seen as apolitical by the Club’s staff, his more unusual activities had left him with an after-image, an aura that was more soiled than pristine; nothing confirmed, of course. The sense of his being involved in a world that would normally be eschewed by the more proper gentlemen who inhabited the paneled rooms overlooking St. James Street imbued attendants with a sense of caution that precluded admitting any unknown persons accompanying the Earl. The staff, therefore, sought to refuse admittance to Bennet.
M, in his guise as Matlock, had an ace up his sleeve. However, as Thomas Fitzwilliam was an eminently honorable man, he would have found that metaphor to be distasteful. In truth, the capital card had been face-down—and un-played—on the table for more than a century…literally from the first day of the Club in 1832.
“Now, Henderson, I do appreciate that you have taken it upon yourself to uphold the Club’s standards. However, I assure you that Mr. Bennet has the same right to be here as I do,” Matlock vowed.
The employee was unfazed.
“I am sorry, my Lord. I do not recognize the gentleman, and, while you vouch for his bona fides, I am not comfortable in seeing him enter here as he may be tainted with unsavory associations. You understand, sir, that I must protect the reputation of the Club,” the man respectfully replied.
Throughout this, Bennet watched, bemused, his grandson, a peer of the realm, doing battle with a banty rooster decked out in the finest livery and determined to protect his coop.
Shaking his head, the Earl let drop a hammer, one that carried little meaning to the attendant beyond shifting the discussion to a level far above his pay grade, “Please send for Managing Director Matthews. Advise that he needs must bring the Club’s membership roster found in his safe. There is but one.”
Henderson picked up a telephone receiver from behind his podium and briefly spoke into it conveying the Earl’s instructions.
Within five minutes, a compact man bustled down the grand staircase. In his arms he cradled a large volume.
Striding across the lobby, he motioned the Earl and Bennet over to a large table flanking the wall adjacent to the entrance. Taking a moment to arrange the leather-bound book on the slab, he turned to the two men. Brief introductions were made. The Earl then took over the conversation.
“Matthews: do you accept me at my word that the gentleman accompanying me is a certain Mr. Thomas Michael Bennet of Meryton, Hertfordshire?”
The official assured him that he would never presume to question the veracity of any statement made by the Earl of Matlock.
Fitzwilliam continued, “Excellent. Then I repeat my assertion made to Henderson. Mr. Bennet has every right to enter the halls of the Carlton Club either by my side or without me—in fact his right to be here long predates mine.”
A look of outrage at the idea that someone who had not been vetted by the Membership Committee entering the sacred precincts reshaped Matthews features. He chose a milder tack, though, when he demurred by saying, “I have never heard of Mr. Bennet, and I have been associated with the Club since your father’s day.”
The Earl glared and uttered an imprecation under his breath before firmly sticking a pin in the supercilious attitude with which he had been met, “Then look in your roster, man…”
Had the Earl finally slipped a cog, Matthews wondered? As the Carlton’s Managing Director, part of his remit was to know every active member and have at least a passing awareness of those who had stepped away from Westminster’s fray and had permanently retreated to their country homes. To his mind, this gentleman from Hertfordshire—more likely a forger from Prague given the number of words the man had not uttered—resembled nobody Matthews knew. He did bear an uncanny resemblance to Matlock. Perhaps, Matthews mused, the Earl had taken to travelling with a body double: someone destined to take a bullet otherwise intended for him? In any event, this person was not Carlton caliber, of that Matthews was sure.
Matthews opened the great roster with exaggerated movements indicating that he truly believed that he had been dragged from his office on a fool’s errand. He turned toward the back of the book which drew an exasperated sigh from Matlock.
“No, Matthews…the front of the book. Look at the first two pages.”
Matthews shrugged, perhaps suggesting that aristocrats, particularly those of the older families, had been known to become increasingly eccentric in their middle years. He knew that those first two pages contained the names of the Carlton’s founding members who had met at the Thatched Coffee House in the aftermath of the Great Reform Act of 1832. While there were some legacy members who had descended from the Originals, their names were entered later in the book. But, he turned to the front of the ledger and dutifully ran his well-manicured forefinger down the columns of member names and their sponsors.
And, there on the second page, about halfway down he discovered something quite shocking.

Thos. M. Bennet of Longbourn, Meryton, Hertshire

by Lord Matlock, Genl. Sir Richard Fitzwilliam KCB

“And, Matthews, if you check your records, this member, number 93, has regularly paid his dues for 115 years,” the Earl growled, “but, I do not expect you to question the plausibility of such as this. Rather, I insist that you cease any further interference and that you admit Mr. Bennet immediately. He has a meeting with the Member for Woodford.[i]
“You will now forget his antecedents. Know that if he wishes to dine here or entertain, his charges will be handled in the usual manner, unless, of course, you would prefer that he frequent his other club—the Reform.”

***

“Officious bureaucrat,” groused Matlock as he and Bennet left the puzzled manager and amused doorman behind as they climbed the great staircase to the member’s lounge that stretched across the St. James’ front of the structure.
Bennet chuckled and laid a comforting hand on his grandson’s shoulder, “Now, Tom, you will give yourself an apoplexy if you let every little thing set your teeth on edge. I was finding the sparring match between you and Mr. Matthews to be quite amusing.
“He reminded me of my cousin Coll…”
The Earl cut him off snapping, “Nobody mentions that man’s name in the hearing of any of the Five Families.”
Astonished at the reproof, Bennet backtracked, “That I did not know. You will have to explain the reasoning behind this injunction sometime.
“What I had planned to say was that Matthews had many of the more irritating qualities that my…cousin…exhibited minus the oleaginous bowing and scraping for which he was legend.
“Now, before we walk in, please tell me something about the man we are to meet.”
A thumbnail of one of the century’s dominant political figures followed and occupied the remainder of their passage across the vast wood-paneled room, their footsteps muffled by the deep pile of exquisite carpeting. The room itself was nearly deserted as members were still making their way back to the capital with the completion of their vacation journeys and the end of the house party season. Individual members consoled themselves in their loneliness with copies of the day’s broadsheets and early afternoon bracers of whiskey or brandy.
However, one small grouping in the pre-eminent position of the room’s geography—adjacent to the great fireplace, cold now—drew Matlock and Bennet to it. There they saw a roly-poly figure of a man, his bald pate shining in the sunlight streaming through the great windows that occupied one long wall. Occupied with a tall whiskey and soda and an equally imposing cigar upon which he puffed from time-to-time, the gentleman was surrounded by two acolytes who relaxed in the great man’s presence, comfortably laughing as he offered some trenchant commentary. The younger men, solely from their manner, impressed Bennet not as lackeys but rather as lessers in the orbit of one who was the first amongst equals.
Winston Churchill, out of office for two years, was now in his 73rd year and continued as leader of the Conservative Party. His health had recovered from the vicissitudes of his wartime service, and he once again relished the rough and tumble of parliamentary politics. Churchill regularly heaped unique levels of scorn upon the Labour government headed by Clement Atlee, continuing his thirty-year battle against the dangers of Socialism first launched in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. Already he had begun to feel the pain of having outlived many of his contemporaries who had already succumbed to upper class lifestyles dominated by cigars, drink, and rich food. Thus, he had necessarily surrounded himself with men twenty to thirty years his junior: good men, but of a different generation without personal memories of late 19th Century global forces that had shaped Churchill’s life and worldview. Two of those, R.A. Butler and Brendan Bracken, sat by him now.[ii]
The former premier espied Matlock and his guest crossing the floor in his direction. He waited until the pair had pulled to a halt in front of his station before he curtly dismissed the other two gentlemen saying, “Rab, Brendan…leave us.”
To their credit, neither man, so familiar each was with Churchill’s behavior, bridled at their man’s brusque manner. They simply rose and, unintroduced, nodded to the Earl and Bennet before departing.
The Leader of the Opposition gazed upwards from his leather wingback. He had known Matlock for decades, both as a young man before his elevation upon his father’s death as well as his wartime M, having swept the previous master of British intelligence out the door with the rest of the appeasers. Churchill’s interest was arrested, though, by the remarkable resemblance between the two men in front of him. Oh, there were differences. Matlock seemed a softer, newer version—Fitzwilliamed, it seemed, on top of another stock—of the other fellow; the latter had apparently sprung from an earlier graft upon their common family tree. However, dismissing superficial differences, the two men were clearly related. The most distinctive variance was to be found in their eyes, similar in their unique cast, something which was held in common by every member of the Five Families, but different in color. The Earl’s were his father’s steel grey. The other gentleman’s eyes were hazel.
Churchill, turning his penetrating gaze directly upon Bennet, drank in a vision of the male version of someone he had last encountered in early 1940. As was frequently his wont when he turned something over in his capacious mind, muttered in sotto voce, “So, you would have me meet a Mr. Bennet of Hertfordshire. Is he the same Bennet written about by Miss Austen, I wonder? I recall talking with Holmes about his belief that Pride and Prejudice was a work of non-fiction published as a romantic novel.
“This fellow does look like a former Miss Bennet who, with her husband the Earl, dined with Clemmie and I at Selkirk when we abandoned Sunny and Consuelo at Blenheim and dashed off to the Peaks in ’07.”[iii]
Then he subsided into himself, content for the moment to await the opening gambit of the Earl of Matlock whom he knew to be as crafty and cagey as any man on the planet. He motioned the two to take up the seats recently emptied by Butler and Bracken. However, M surprised his old employer with something thoroughly unexpected, a remarkable amount of candor.
“Winston…I sent you some information on Mr. Bennet when I requested this meeting. I can tell you little beyond that which you already know about him. I will offer that he has travelled an unimaginable distance to be here today. I trust that you will allow me to leave you in the dark concerning Bennet’s background, although I am certain that you may have already arrived at some conclusions that you may wish to discuss with Lindemann.[iv]
“Beyond some intentional smudging around the edges, I want to apprise you of the true reason we are here today.
“Bennet and I need your help in convincing Atlee to allow one of our people free rein in the SS archives collected at Nuremburg.
“I have asked Bennet’s help in tracking down the SS colonel who orchestrated the death of my mother, my son, his wife, and their two children along with over a dozen other innocents since the end of the war. Mr. Bennet has a peculiar and equally strong interest, akin to my own, in bringing this monster to justice; his obsession is one which would do our friends in Palestine credit.
“We have created a special detachment in MI6—limited to only a few trusted persons, taking a page from Holmes’ pursuit of Moriarty—that will strain neither the resources of the agency nor the black portions of the broader budget. Instead, the Five Families, as this is predominantly their concern, will bear the cost…and I advise you that we are prepared to beggar our treasuries to catch this creature.
“We have already eliminated the actual trigger men in an operation at the end of last month. Now we pursue their leader, a man who has wreaked so much havoc upon our families,” Matlock explained.
Churchill blinked as he digested the aristocrat’s presentation. He already had determined that he would intercede with the Prime Minister, but, in his own way, he needed to glean a nugget of something which the Earl had intentionally left unsaid. He would get the measure of Thomas Bennet and then gracefully subside having had his entertainment.
He tried to pin Bennet using his fiercest glare before launching his assault.
“Now, Mr. Thomas Bennet of Hertfordshire, tell me why you must send someone to crawl through Himmler’s sewer?” Churchill aggressively demanded.
Bennet sat back for a moment. The politician’s manner reminded him of his brother Gardiner when the man had begun a complicated negotiation and was seeking to put his opposite number on his back foot. However, Thomas Bennet, MA, Cambridge, ’82, had not wasted his time in the halls of academe. He knew how to deal with examination boards made up of older men with calcified minds.
Churchill, surely a descendant of Queen Anne’s great captain John Churchill, was not a victim of the worst of all sins, an unexamined mind. He would not be a push-over and would never respect a man who could not join in battle on the same level. An audacious move would be the only path forward.
Bennet, thus, exposed his Queen.
Surprising his host, Bennet turned to the Earl and addressed him as his subordinate, “Tom, I must ask you to rise and stand post over us to ensure that none may overhear. I am invoking our new rule.”
Surprising Churchill, the Earl, long known in some circles to be Britain’s most powerful non-member of Government, simply nodded and rose to his feet in a manner identical to that recently exhibited by two members of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet. He moved off a few paces and faced the room, beginning a metronomic scan that took in every person within fifty feet.
Then Bennet addressed his interrogator, his Hertfordshire “r’s” rolling off the back of his tongue, making his speech sound even more archaic in a London so recently overrun by Americans and their multitude of accents reshaping and coloring their version of the King’s English.
“Mr. Churchill, I think you are taken with the extraordinary circumstances of a commoner such as I who would presume to order about an Earl, let alone the head of the British Secret Services. I assure you that young Tom would normally have bridled at such cavalier treatment by one so beneath his station.
“Matlock has assured me that you are a man used to keeping confidences of the greatest sort. And, thus, I will offer you a taste of Mankind’s greatest secret. Prior to this, the treasure has been revealed to only two others who were not at the very least married into the Bennet Family or one of its branches.
“You may have learned of the abduction of Miss Catherine Bennet who later became Lady Fitzwilliam, the Countess of Matlock. The young Earl, Henry was his name…”
Churchill briefly interrupted, “He was one of my dearest friends as was his wife Lady Kate.”
Bennet continued after a beat, “Ah yes, Lady Kate. In any event, the 11thEarl consulted with Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson as he searched for her. To meet the detective’s unusual demand for complete transparency, this Earl told him the secret.
“The information I share could shake the foundation of nations if transmitted into the wrong hands. However, we have determined that we must eschew the old ways and include those who would help us in our time of need.
“This explains why you see before you a man born in 1760 seeking vengeance for his murdered daughter and asking for your help.”
A waiter was quickly summoned to refresh Churchill’s drink and to offer Bennet and the Earl their choice of libation. Bennet smiled and chose to indulge himself in one of his favorite drinks—vintage port—in this case a generous snifter of 1931 Quinta do Noval Nacional. After all, he assumed that he was a rich as Croesus and would have ample metal to cover his drinks bill. Then two cigars appeared, duplicating the generous tube sported by Churchill.
In a deepening blue haze, the Edwardian politician and the Regency gentleman leaned toward one another and suspended the rest of the world for a while.

[i]Winston S. Churchill (1874-1964) was the member for Woodford from 1945 to his retirement in 1964.
[ii]R.A. “Rab” Butler (1902-1982) served in many high offices in Conservative governments beginning in 1938 and ending in 1965 These included Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary. Brendan Bracken (1901-1958) served in the Cabinet in WWII, was considered one of Churchill’s closest political allies and, if possible, friends, and founded the modern version of The Financial Times.
[iii]Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, 9thDuke of Marlborough, known as “Sunny” and his first wife, Consuelo, formerly Vanderbilt, one of The Buccaneers (see Edith Wharton).
[iv]Churchill’s science advisor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Lindemann,_1st_Viscount_Cherwell