“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!
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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.

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“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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Mist of Her Memory” by Suzan Lauder, except and giveaway

What happened that fateful morning in Lambton?

What brutal attacker caused such grievous, near-fatal injuries?

Does she remain in danger? Elizabeth cannot remember!

Sequestered in her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner’s London home, Elizabeth Bennet tries to recover from a devastating incident that stole her memories during their Derbyshire tour. She continues to suffer from strange, angry voices in her head and to recall events that people tell her never happened. Even those who love her refuse to believe her. Elizabeth can barely endure the confusion!

Fitzwilliam Darcy is desperate for any hint of his beloved’s well-being, yet he lacks the information he seeks as her family forbids him contact with Elizabeth. His frustration mounts when he learns that her mental impairment incited taunting and torment in her home village of Meryton.

Which of Elizabeth’s recollections bear the closest resemblance to the truth? And what is the result of her sister Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham? How is Mr. Darcy to rekindle his romance with Elizabeth when her aunt and uncle strictly shield her from him?

Prepare to grip the edge of your seat during this original romantic tale of suspense and mystery, another Pride and Prejudice variation by bestselling author Suzan Lauder.

“Suzan Lauder skillfully weaves a story that submerges you into the plot and doesn’t let go. The Mist of Her Memory’s twists and turns hold a well-guarded secret that keeps you guessing until the very end.”

̶ author L. L. Diamond

What has happened? What’s up with Elizabeth?

Hello dear readers! I am pleased to have Suzan Lauder back with us. However, I am pretty intrigued with her new book. Even the title is intriguing: The Mist of her Memory.

This is Suzan’s fourth published book and I am expecting it to be really good. Just a few weeks ago, I read A most Handsome Gentleman and I enjoyed it a lot. If you do not know anything about this book, I will just point out that the handsome gentleman is Mr. Collins!! (among others).

Let me (re)introduce you to Suzan Lauder:

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a suspense novel, The Mist of her Memory is the fifth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet; a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, the dramatic tension-filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate, and the Regency romantic comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman.suzanlauder

She and Mr. Suze and two rescue cats split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a 150-year-old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead www.suzan.lauder.merytonpress.com, on her facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/SuzanLauder, on Twitter @suzanlauder, and on Instagram as Suzan Lauder. She is a lifetime member of JASNA.

I hope you enjoy this brief excerpt that Suzan is sharing with us. I think that the description is great, the last paragraph is so good that I have imagined everything that he was listening to. Enjoy!

April 1813
Meryton en route to Derbyshire

After he refreshed himself with a quick wash and change of clothes, Darcy boarded his carriage once again and hastened to Longbourn before it was too late in the day for a call. This part of his agenda must not wait until the morrow to be completed.

As might be expected, Miss Catherine’s face peering through the window was the first sign of a Bennet at Longbourn. The delicate fabric of the curtain snapped back into place. They did not know him well, but the nervous, noisy chatter amongst them would not be restrained by lack of familiarity, and the younger Bennet ladies and their mother were famous for their inability to curb their tongues. He smiled to himself. If he were to take them on as family, he would have to become accustomed to behaviour he had complained about in the past.

But he did not come to call upon the ladies of the house, and upon admittance, Darcy requested an audience with Mr. Bennet. As expected, the gentleman was found in his library, his bespectacled nose in a book, when Darcy was announced. As he entered, the older man held up one finger as he finished whatever passage held his interest. While he waited, Darcy perused the room he had seen only briefly in the past. It was small but lined with rich mahogany shelves containing many books of high quality. In fact, there was a lack of space, and piles of volumes stood among those neatly shelved with stacks nestled in corners on the floor and upon the large desk of a library too small for its owner’s collection. The scents of leather, paper, and dust mingled in the air.

After a few moments, Mr. Bennet placed a leather marker at his page and closed the tome whilst viewing Darcy over the tops of his spectacles. Following Darcy’s bow and formal greeting, Mr. Bennet rose and offered his hand in a gesture of friendship.

“This is a gentleman’s library, not a parlour. We are less formal here,” the older man said with a mild smile as he waved the volume in his hand towards a chair.

“Are you enjoying your book?”

“Indeed. I am rereading an old favourite.” He passed the copy of Shakespeare’s plays to Darcy.

“Ah yes, a preferred book in my home as well. I also enjoy seeing the plays performed in the theatre.” Darcy returned the book to him.

“I am seldom in town, so I must rely upon my imagination for that aspect. I am not wistful about it, though. I do enjoy the country life in preference to all that noise and bustle,” replied Mr. Bennet. “So what brings you here so early this morning, sir, and without your friend? Though I suppose whenever you have attended with Bingley, it was while he was making eyes at Jane, and he no longer needs to come to Longbourn for such a thing.”

“I have come to ask your blessing on my engagement to Miss Elizabeth, who has consented to marry me.”

The older man’s bushy brows flew towards the receding line of his white hair, and his eyes became impossibly wide for a few seconds. “Oh!” was all he said before he peeled off his spectacles, bit the earpiece, and seated himself again behind the desk.

11 Darcy is Léon Riesener by Eugène Delacroix 1835.jpg
Darcy is León Riesener by Eugène Delacroix

Darcy started at the loudness of the exclamation then waited for a response, but Mr. Bennet sat silent. Darcy began to notice sounds in the distance that accentuated the absence of one gentleman’s much-desired reply: a clock, high-pitched voices, a service bell. All were muffled as if far away, yet they pierced his ears nearly as much as the one word full of emotion and surprise had done.

 

Who is surprised? Here we are reading that Darcy goes to Mr. Bennet to ask for the blessing to marry Elizabeth but he is on his way to Derbyshire… where is Elizabeth?

You may want to buy this book because with not a lot of information, this is getting bizarre and I have to say that the blurb itself would make me buy it straightaway. In case you may think that, you could buy it on the following links among others (check ebook or paperback):

Amazon      Amazon UK     Amazon CA     Bookdepository    Barnes & Noble    

Do not miss the rest of the blog tour, you will find very interesting post with guest posts, character interviews, etc.

7th May / Just Romantic Suspense/ Book ExcerptBlog Tour Banner Vert.

8th May / Austenesque Reviews/ Vignette Post

9th May My Jane Austen Book Club/ Book Excerpt

10th May / From Pemberley to Milton/ Guest Post

11th May More Agreeably Engaged/ Guest Post

12th May / Half Agony, Half Hope/ Book Review

13th May / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Character Interview

14th May Just Jane 1813/  Author Interview

15th May My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Excerpt

16th May / Diary of an Eccentric/ Book Review

time to give away winners

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Mist of Her Memory. The giveaway runs until midnight, May 19, 2019.

 Rafflecopter – The Mist of Her Memory

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

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

“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

Blog Tour of “Unwrapping Mr. Darcy” by L.L. Diamond, review + giveaway

Dear all,

I’m really happy to be part of this blog tour. Unwrapping Mr. Darcy is what I needed to read at this point: a modern variation, not a very agonising plot, just the exact amount of angst, a very decided Darcy and an extremely stubborn Elizabeth.

Sometimes when I am reading a modern variation I just need a nice story with a… spoiler alert!

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Happy ending! (What did you expect?)

Firstly, let me (re)introduce you to the author:

L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans before following her husband all over as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.leslie

After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favourite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction.

Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. Her most recent endeavours have included certifications to coach swimming as well as a fitness instructor. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolour is her medium of choice with one of her watercolours featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is also a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!

Leslie’s books include Rain and Retribution, A Matter of Chance, An Unwavering Trust, The Earl’s Conquest, Particular Intentions, and Particular Attachments. She is currently presenting Unwrapping Mr. Darcy released on October 31st, 2018, and has an original modern novel that has some Austen inspiration, hopefully releasing Spring 2019.

To follow Leslie, you can go to:

Facebook       Twitter      Goodreads      Austen Variations

Now, I will give you a bit more about the book, enjoy the blurb:

Elizabeth Bennet’s first day at Darcy Holdings was turning out to be everything she’d imagined—that is until she met her new boss William Darcy. True, he’s hotter than Hades but he’s also rude, abrupt, and stares at her as though she’s committed some grievous sin. If only she could avoid him, but her friends’ not so brilliant ideas keep throwing them together.

William Darcy put his foot in his mouth when he met Elizabeth Bennet! Now, he’s head over heels for her and needs to apologize, but how? The dreaded office Secret Santa draw is a possibility, but would that help or would it only make things worse?

Twenty-five days of gifts? It’s creepy and overzealous if you ask Elizabeth. And what’s with this weird reaction she has to Mr. Darcy? He’s an ogre, isn’t he? But what if her friends are correct and he isn’t? Could there be more to him than she assumes? What would happen if she were to take a stab at unwrapping Mr. Darcy?

What do you think?

He is hotter than Hades but… there is always a but with Mr Darcy.

Would you like to buy it? Check below and check what format you would like to buy before buying:

Amazon DE     Amazon UK     Amazon US    Amazon CA     B&N    Smashwords

Review

Elizabeth was recommended for a new job, by her sister’s boyfriend. Her super-boss is William Darcy. The same man who thinks she may not be good enough for the job…maybe. However, he changes his mind very quickly. So quick is this change that the “Grinch” wants to have the Secret Santa rigged in order to do a advent calendar/Secret Santa to this new woman in the office. He is very decided but he does not even know why exactly…at the beginning.

You will enjoy the present that Elizabeth gets, one everyday until Christmas Day. The presents are very thoughtful and personalised. It is him who chooses them, another first time for Darcy. Those present are the key point around their relationship, although she does not know who her Secret Santa is. Darcy has helpers all over the place (even if he does not know): Bingley, Jane, Charlotte and Grunt!! (lovely cat)

The cat is essential in the story from the first minute, especially when he destroys items in her house. He is so important that he even gets present on this Advent calendar.

Explosion/disaster: she discovers he is her Secret Santa in, maybe, the worst moment. They are really good at this point in their relationship as they are friends and they are comfortable with each other and something else. However, she cannot believe it! She is furious with him! She is, after all, Elizabeth Bennet.

Christmas Day is an important day, and you will love what happens! It is so sweet 🙂 she does not want him to spend the day on his own. Even less because of her. She “rescues” him and that it is what I can tell you for now…

I am sorry that I may not be very explicit but I do not like to spoil any amusing or lovely scenes form the book. I will just write a few things that I hope will make you wonder: the bathroom has a lovely colour; Elizabeth’s boss is nice, and it is Mr Hurst; having a driver must be really convenient but also very embarrassing…for the driver; Charlotte is sooo annoying (in a good way) 😉

4.5out5 stars

Blog Tour

Fantastic blogs are hosting Unwrapping Mr. Darcy, I recommend you to go and check them!

UMD blor tour

 

time to give away winners

There is a cat on the picture but I need to point out that he is not a prize of this giveaway!! If he were a prize, I would want him 😀 He is gorgeous!

44301687_509713496107735_3222900517835374592_nEven without a real Grunt, Leslie is doing a great giveaway. In the bundle one winner will get:

Unwrapping Mr. Darcy tote bag

Pride and Prejudice quote temporary tattoos

Jane Austen Quote Gift Cards

Pride and Prejudice large postcard

Black cat wine glass

4 Lavender mini bath bombs

1 floral large bath bomb (has lavender buds)

Lavender shower bomb

Lavender bubble bar

Yankee Candle Lemon Lavender Candle

Black cat silhouette coaster

Black cat thermos with spoon

Jane Austen quote postcard

Black cat wine topper (just like Elizabeth’s!)

Click on the link below and follow the instructions to participate:

Rafflecopter of Unwrapping Mr Darcy

Blog Tour of “Rational Creatures”, edited by Christina Boyd, guest post: Anngela Schroeder + giveaway

Book Description

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
 
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.
 
In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.
 
Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.
 
“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

rational creatures (1) - Copy

Hello! I am not sure I have a lot more to say now than… finally!! Christina Boyd has done it again: editing a great piece of art with great authors and this time… the ladies are the protagonists! I am still reading Rational Creatures but I can tell you that it is AWESOME 🙂 After having Mr Darcy and his own thoughts and then some dangerous men… we can read some very rational creatures who will tell their stories for us to discover them and know them better.

I have a lot to tell you today about this collection of stories but we have a protagonist today, well, two protagonists: Anngela Schroeder and Emma Woodhouse!

We will start with the real woman, the fictional one will have her say later on; although both are intertwined in this post.

ANNGELA SCHROEDER has a degree in English with a concentration in British literature and a master’s in education. She has taught high school for twenty years and could imagine no job as fulfilling (other than maybe being Oprah). She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of eighteen years and three rambunctious sons. Her weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, a ripe watermelon, and her father’s Arabic food, namely grape leaves and falafel. She lives in California where she dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram: Anngela Schroeder-Author, and Facebook

Welcome Anngela Schroeder to My Vices and Weaknesses, thank you for answering some questions related to Rational Creatures.

1) Jane Austen wrote Emma as a heroine “whom no one but myself will much like.” Why do you think she said that? 

Emma is much different that the heroines Jane Austen had written up to this point. From sensible Elinor and romantic Marianne, to strong Elizabeth and kind Jane, Emma runs in a completely different league. She is not only wealthy but will be independently wealthy upon the death of her father. She knows this; she knows she does not need a man to secure her future, nor does she actively seek one. She is that girl that everyone hates out of jealousy, but loves because although she’s the spoiled rich girl, she still means well through her naiveté. Emma is not as relatable as the other characters, yet we still find ourselves rooting for her and Mr. Knightley because of Mr. Knightley. Without his guidance to help her see her faults, she would succumb to her own arrogance. Just like us-without a good friend or a significant other to ‘ground us,’ we would succumb to our most unflattering characteristics.

2) What appealed to you about Emma for this anthology? Who else would you have liked to write about had Emma not been available? 

Emma appealed to me because she was a challenge. I was not as familiar with her nuances as say Elizabeth Bennet, so I really had to research her. I had a few nights lying awake in bed worried about Emma and the road I was leading her down, and how she would retain her characteristics, but still show growth. I worked really hard and felt I captured her essence, but only the readers will know for sure.

If Emma had not been available, I would love to have written Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte created her future- she was a self-made ‘independent’ woman­. I have always loved the idea of Charlotte’s motivation and her possibilities.

3) Feminism came years after Jane Austen. How do you define feminism? Do you consider Emma a feminist? 

Feminism to me is equivocal to strength-strength of character and choices. Emma is a feminist, not by choice, but by circumstances. She is the mistress of Highbury, a substantial estate; she is treated as her father’s equal, and not a dependent because of her mother’s early death and her father’s reliance upon her. Emma is allowed to voice her opinions and is not made to feel any less because she has them. Her father, and his good friend Mr. Knightley, do not demean or dismiss her leading her to believe she is of worth. This if nothing else, would elevate her to the opinion that she should be taken seriously and has merit in all she does or thinks.

4) What did you like most about writing this story and being a part of this collection? 

I loved watching Emma grow up, and giving her the story line and choices that forced her to do so. In Jane Austen’s original novel, she doesn’t experience true hardship; she is only vexed. Yes, the possibility of losing Mr. Knightley throws a wrench in her world, but I wanted her to truly experience uncertainty- that uncomfortable feeling that sits in the pit of your stomach and makes you reevaluate life. I wanted her to recognize, as other characters in the story do, that there was a world in which women were capable and complete; that one didn’t have to put up with other’s choices, but they themselves could create their own happiness. I loved Emma’s interactions, although limited, with Jane Fairfax. So much was said with so few words.

Being part of such a brilliant group of writers was more than I could have hoped for when I began self-publishing five years ago. In truth, I still fangirl over many of them when they publish a new book, and to see my name on the cover with them, and edited by Christina Boyd…I just want to post the cover on my parent’s refrigerator.

 

Thank you, Anngela, for being here today. I hope the readers may have found them very interesting as you have given a few tiny details that the good observer can easily detect and be intrigued: a wrench in her world, reevaluate the life, etc.

Anngela is sharing an excerpt of her story about Emma Knightley in Rational Creatures. I hope you like this excerpt and I wish you get the compilation asap. I am half way the collection of stories and I can only say: go girls!! As you know, I never say only one thing, so I will also say: one of the female characters that I did not particularly like, after reading her story, she has become a heroine for me!! I am not talking about Emma this time because I have always liked Emma even when she can be infuriating due to her matchmaking.

Enjoy!!

KNIGHTLEY DISCOURSES

It was then that footsteps could be heard from his dressing room and she leaned over to blow out the candle on her bedside table before the door opened to reveal her husband.

Time had not been unkind to George Knightley—his features were showing little sign of aging with only flecks of silver shot through his dark mass of hair. His frame, silhouetted by the warm glow of the fire in the hearth, was still that of an avid sportsman, and Emma’s heart raced as he lifted the counterpane, slipping in next to her.

“Good evening, my dear Emma.” His fingertips traced her arms and he softly kissed her shoulder.

“Good evening, Mr. Knightley”—and she leaned to his touch.

“I am sorry I have been monopolized with Donwell business these last two days.”

“I thought you were avoiding me,” she said with a pout in her voice.

“Avoiding you, my Emma? Whatever for?” He kissed the back of her neck, sending shivers up her spine. “I have actually been thinking much of you lately.”

“Hmm…”

“I have. Have you not been thinking of me?” He kissed her again, causing her breath to catch.

“Yes, I have. I have been thinking of this moment for quite some time.”

“As have I,” he said with a smile which even in the dim light, she could not miss. “And what have you been thinking?”

She turned to face him. Tracing his jaw with her fingers, she slowly arched to kiss him, before pulling away. “I have been thinking about the Winthrops.”

 “The Winthrops?” He sputtered. “What Winthrops?”

“I was hoping you could tell me.”

He sat up and leaned on his elbow, the counterpane falling across his waist. “I had not hoped to have this type of intercourse tonight.”

She ran her hand down his back and smiled at the tease in his voice. “I was just curious about the Winthrops.”

His laughter indicated his confusion. “The Winthrops? The family that used to live at Randalls years before the Westons?”

“Yes.”

“Must we speak of them now? I have discussed business all day and would much rather enjoy my wife.” When she did not respond to his entreaties, he asked, “Why are you thinking about them? They were gone long before you would have any recollection of their family.”

She shrugged her shoulders and lamented her impulsiveness. “It is only that Miss Bates received a letter from Jane, and she was content reading the letter until she came to the name ‘Winthrop’. Then she was so flustered that she excused herself and babbled not another word until I called for our carriage to return her home. Does that not seem an oddity for Miss Bates?”

“Emma?”

“Hmm?”—fidgeting with the covers—“I cannot imagine why you have that tone with me. You cannot have any reason to be exasperated when the uncertainty of my crimes loom before me. I am merely having a conversation with my husband.”

“A conversation at this precise moment, my dear wife, is your first crime.” He reached over and twirled the ends of her blonde curls in his fingers. “Your second is that you interrupted my pursuit solely to appease your curious mind about a missive from Jane to her aunt. That is a crime punishable with transport to Australia.” He slid his hand slowly down her arm before raising her hand and kissing the inside of her wrist. “The third: you are obviously on a meddling mission. Maybe some scheme involving Miss Bates. I will warn you now, under no circumstance, are you to allow that clever mind of yours to take up matchmaking again!”

“Matchmaking? I never said anything about a manor matchmaking!” She squealed, sitting up and clapping her hands. “I knew it! You must tell me, George. I have been riddled with curiosity.”

She could see the resignation in his face as he leaned back against the headboard. “Emma….”

“George, darling. I am a married woman of thirty-one. I have four children. Matchmaking was in my youth. I am only concerned for an old friend.”

She could feel him studying her and hoped her carefully regulated voice showed no cause for suspicion.

“Very well. I will tell you, Emma. But nomatchmaking.” She nodded soberly until he seemed to believe her, then began. “The Winthrops were a highly esteemed family who owned Randalls before it passed to the previous owner before the Westons.”

“Yes, that is what John said yesterday.”

“John? You have discussed this with my brother, then? You arequite invested—”

“Solely for a friend.”

He snorted. “Their brood was a few years older than John and me, save the youngest girl. But our mothers had been at school together, and so we were either at Randalls or they were at Donwell often. I am surprised John did not tell you this.”

“Oh, you know your brother. I suppose he could not stir himself to remember.” After a moment, she asked, “How would that have affected Miss Bates?”

“Their youngest son was the same age as Miss Bates—”

“Miss Bates is only few years older than you?”

“You knew that, Emma.”

“I most certainly did not!”

“Hetty was always amiable. She would make us little boats to sail on the pond when her father, the vicar, would call. She would play hide-and-seek and other childish games with us. Yet when Edmund Winthrop was visiting, we boys did not exist.”

“Did she set her cap at him?”

“We were never certain.”

Emma paused, absorbing the new information and then— “Forgive me. It is only that you seem so much younger than Miss Bates.”

Pulling her close, he laughed into her hair and said, “Because I chose wisely in a bride who would forever keep me young.” He tucked a curl behind her ear. “Now, the Winthrops. I must say, I remember a time when John and I were quite disgusted with Edmund and would have challenged him if we could have formulated the idea. We viewed Hetty Bates as quite our own and were quite put out when the Winthrops visited at the same time.”

Youwere smitten with Miss Bates?” she asked in disbelief. “George, I must say, all I thought I knew of the world is now amiss.”

A deep chuckle rolled from his lips. “Now you are being nonsensical. I am relating the musings of a young boy of ten who favored Miss Bates solely for her skills at making paper boats and pilfering lemon biscuits from her cook.”

“As long as anyfeelings you had for her were of a childish nature…” She kissed him now, reminding him that paper boats were for children and how there were many more advantages to choosing her.

“Emma, darling, you are the most infuriating woman!” He pulled her close and kissed her breathless. “Hetty Bates was a skilled paper boat builder. You, Mrs. Knightley, have other arts and allurements.”

 

“My Emma”… swoon!

What do you think about the Knightleys? I simply adore this story and I will just say a few things: Emma gets better with age, she is more clever than some people may expect and she loves her husband dearly and she will fight for their marriage. (Well… who does not love Mr Knightley? 😉 )

Why not buying today Rational Creatures? You could do it on the following links (check you Amazon site if it is not included below):

Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon ES   Amazon CA   Amazon IT

Blog Tour Schedule

Such an amazing compilation of stories is being discovered during the whole blog tour. I recommend you to check the ones already written and wait for the following ones.

September 18th / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post

September 22nd / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post

September 25th / Books & Wine are Lovely Playlist

September 27th / Fangs, Wands and Fairydust / Guest Post

October 2nd / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

October 4th / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post

rational-creatures-blog-tour-bannerOctober 9th / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post

October 11th / Silver Petticoat / Guest Post

October 15th / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review

October 16th / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post

October 18th / Rosie’s Review Team / Book Review

October 23rd / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

October 25th / The Book Rat / Guest Post

October 30th / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

November 1st / My Vices and Weaknesses / Guest Post

November 6th / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

November 8th / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review

November 13th / Let Us Talk of Many Things / Guest Post

Time to Give Away

What a better ending of this post than having a great giveaway!!

giveaway rational creturesRational Creatures SUPER Giveaway: The Random Name Picker winner review all blog comments and select one winner from these blog stop comments during the tour for all 21 prizes: Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks), our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle; #20, a brick in winner’s name to benefit #BuyABrick for Chawton House; and #21, the Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook.

Make sure you leave a comment to be entered to get a chance to win one of these prizes!

The giveaway ends November 15th, 2018 and is open to international winners.