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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Blog Tour - A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder - Guest Post and Giveaway

Blog Tour: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder
I'm very happy to be welcoming Suzan Lauder back to the blog today with the blog tour for her latest book, which has a premise that is both a little disturbing and fascinating: what if Mr Collins was very attractive? Mr Collins has done very well in life considering he is somewhat ridiculous. He has a very high opinion of himself as it is. But what if... he can add to his eligibility by having attractiveness of person? That's bound to affect his expectations, and very probably people will react to him differently.

The more you think about this premise the more potential ripples this variation may make occur to mind! Let me share the blurb with you and then I'll hand over to Suzan for her guest post.


Book Blurb:

Book Cover: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan LauderElizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.

Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?

Bestselling Regency romance author Suzan Lauder delivers a hilarious Austenesque romance suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice.

Guest Post from Suzan Lauder

I owe much appreciation to Ceri for hosting this little explanatory post related to a plot theme carried through the book A Most Handsome Gentleman.

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In Praise of Voluptuous Ladies (spoiler alert)

While avoiding too much of a spoiler for a key plot point in A Most Handsome Gentleman, I’d like to tell the readers some behind-the-scenes stories related to why we mention the sizes of ladies in the book, both slender and round.

Henri-Pierre Danloux Portrait of a Young Lady in a White Dress from Sotheby's
While writing Letter from Ramsgate, I stumbled across of a couple of Pinterest pinners who had clicked into the fact that not all women in the Regency were young, slim, tiny, and had upper bodies that would easily fit the briefest of bodices like those models in Ackermann’s Repository of Art and La Belle Assemblée. These pinners made up boards that contained numerous portraits of Regency women who were larger than average, as well as older and more busty examples. One board was called “Voluptuous Regency”. I had selected one of the ladies on that board as Lady Edwina in Letter from Ramsgate.

A quote from Pride and Prejudice has always suggested to me that Austen is trying to tell us that Jane was a bit heavy: “Jane, who was not so light nor so much in the habit of running as Elizabeth, soon lagged behind…”.

William Blake Mrs Quentin 1820 engraving after Francois Huet Villiers The British Museum
After Jane Austen and her brother Henry attended a portrait exhibition in Spring Gardens on May 21, 1813, she wrote to her sister Cassandra that one of the portraits looked excessively like she would have imagined Mrs. Bingley (Jane Bennet), and went on to describe the portrait. From her description, it’s believed that she was referring to a portrait of Mrs. Quentin by Jean François-Marie Huet-Villiers. In the portrait, Mrs. Quentin is has a softly rounded face and generous figure with fashionably sloped shoulders and blonde curls, and wears a green ribbon, “a favourite colour with [Mrs. Bingley].” Mrs. Quentin would be on the larger side of average today and, if compared with fashion plates of the day, larger than a desirable size for the Regency. She’s prettily plump. When I thought of Mr. Collins’ original choice of Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (before Mrs. Bennet redirects him to Elizabeth), I had this type of lady in my imagination.

Because Mr. Collins is so terribly handsome and knows it, not only is he admired by every woman he meets, but he’s rather picky about which ladies he favours because he knows he can afford to be picky. This issue put the author in a difficult situation. In the twist represented in A Most Handsome Gentleman, why would a terrible hot Mr. Collins marry Charlotte if she was the sort of lady who had been passed by for ten years (assuming a normal Regency age of seventeen for being available for marriage) when he could have any lady he chose? Numerous ideas, some rather racy, were tossed around between me and my friends in AHA Chat, who are some of the liveliest brainstormers around (thanks, chitties!). She had to have, uhm, talents that no one else had. We discarded the more x-rated talents as this book was not intended to be mature. I had my own special idea for Charlotte, though, and you’ll have to read the book to find out the details.

Madame Tallien by Jacques-Louis David
Now I myself happen to be slightly larger than a healthy weight for our modern era, though in Western culture, I’m average. However, I had made some comments in the original draft of the novel that set off a warning by beta NinaH: “be careful when making fat jokes.” On the contrary, my intention was in praise of larger women, of which the BMI says I am numbered. But she was right. One line was a little too catty, and it was cut before the story hit the public’s perusal.

On the flip side, both my sisters struggle with weight issues because they’re too slender, and have seen nutritionists to help them with ideas on how they can gain enough weight to be in a healthy weight range. That’s my father’s side of the family creeping in. It’s just as much of a struggle as the women on my mother’s side, who tend to hold onto their weight. In A Most Handsome Gentleman, I made the Bennet sisters have a similar mix: some slim and the others prettily plump like Jane.

But in defense of handsome men who like a round woman, years ago I read an enlightening interview of a half-dozen handsome, successful, and athletic young men in their twenties where they were asked about the physical features they liked in women. Although a few insisted she be lean and athletic (a “hardbody” like them), more than half indicated that they preferred what they referred to as a “soft woman,” and clarified “soft” as slightly overweight. I liked that!

I’m sure readers will relate to one side or another of this coin!

~~~

Author Bio:

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 comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth 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, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.

She and Mr. Suze 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, and on Twitter @suzanlauder.


Buy Links:

Book Cover: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder
A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder is available to buy now in kindle or paperback. It can also be read on Kindle Unlimited - Amazon US - kindle, paperback / Amazon UK - kindle, paperback / Amazon CA - kindle, paperback. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelves.

Giveaway Time!

Book Cover: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder
Meryton Press are offering ebooks of A Most Handsome Gentleman to commenters on the blog tour posts. To enter, please use the rafflecopter. You can earn additional entries daily by tweeting or commenting on blog tour stops. This giveaway is open internationally.



Blog Tour: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder

Blog Tour Schedule:

20 Oct   My Jane Austen Book Club; Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway
21 Oct   My Love for Jane Austen; Guest Post, Giveaway
22 Oct   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review
23 Oct   Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
24 Oct   Tomorrow is Another Day; Review
25 Oct   Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Giveaway
26 Oct   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway
27 Oct   Just Jane 1813; Guest Post, Giveaway
28 Oct   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
29 Oct   My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway
30 Oct   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
31 Oct   Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Giveaway
01 Nov   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
02 Nov   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
03 Nov   Margie’s Must Reads; Review, GA

49 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that there were athletic young men that liked "soft" women. Since watching the movies, I tend to always see the Bennet sisters as slim but now that I have seen the picture of Mrs. Quentin, I think she will be how I see Jane from now on.

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    1. I'm terribly pleased that you think so! Thank you!

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    2. It's definitely food for thought, isn't it, Darcybennett. We think of an attractive figure as being a certain way, but what is seen as attractive has changed over time.

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  2. Wondering now what was so special about Charlotte

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    1. Win that giveaway, Vesper, and you can know all.

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    2. It's a good point, Vesper. I've always thought of Charlotte as unremarkable, so if Mr Collins was attractive she must have had something that stood out, to him at least.

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  3. I am sure I will read this as the premise is so unusual. I liked reading your comments about weight issues - making no comments about which side of the line I fall. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Handsome Collins was a unique idea when I first had it and mentioned it to others. I look forward to your reactions once you read the book.

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    2. Once you get over the initial shock of the idea I think it's an intriguing premise to explore. I think that there as so many JAFF books out there that it's really intriguing to find a premise that I haven't read before.

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  4. It often saddens me that women think we have to look like fashion models "skinny and hardbody" when most men -- if you ask them -- prefer softness and often voluptuousness. I long ago turned down a date with a man who wanted a "tomboyish" woman with a "tomboyish" figure -- I wondered if he even wanted a woman! Interesting to hear that this was as true 200 years ago. Looking forward to this new story. Wishing you continued success, Suzan.

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    1. Your story is a little unnerving. I wish you success at getting a copy to read.

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    2. What makes me the most sad is that there is an 'ideal' at all. Some people are naturally slim and without curves and wish they weren't. Other people are on the plump side and wish they weren't. The tall wish they were shorter and the short wish they were taller and the end result is a too-small proportion of people are happy as they are.

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  5. It is so interesting that weight will always be the defining point when appraising women. I remember the days of "Twiggy" when we starved ourselves because she was the definition of beauty. Now, women are flocking to cosmetic surgeons for enhancements [big butt, big lips, big... you get the idea] in their quest of a fleeting idea of perfection.

    I remember the day my doctor approached me with a measuring tape so he could measure my waist [checking metabolic syndrome] and we nearly came to blows. The women on my maternal side of the family are big women... some 6-feet... and big boned. I didn't appreciate his snarky attitude.

    I imagine Collins thinking that his own handsomeness deserves a beauty to stand beside him. I can see where he thinks she will enhance his own good looks. I also know there are some men who don't want a beauty, because she takes away the attention he wants and deserves. People are too busy looking at her and don't look at him. So, it is a two-edged sword.

    What a delightful post. I am so excited and look forward to reading this version of a handsome Collins.

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    1. Wow, what a great insightful comment! Thank you!

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    2. Good for you, Jeanne! Glad you stood up for yourself.

      It's funny when you think that in nature, some species have a less showy counterpart (I'm thinking things like peacocks, who are far more glam than a peahen). Maybe they are like the handsome men you mention who want all the attention!

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  6. Insightful and fun post, Suzan. A less than svelte figure was considered a sign of wealth and social standing at some points in history, and it makes sense that not all women (and men) in JA's gallery of characters would be slim or esteem those who were. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Just like tans and long fingernails have been in and out of fashion, so has the voluptuous body. You're welcome, and thanks for commenting.

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    2. Thanks Jan. I thought this was a great subject for a guest post too :)

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  7. Great post Suzan. I believe many men in the past were more concerned about a woman's ability to bear children, so larger hips were preferred.

    Congratulations on the book release with such a gorgeous cover. :)

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    1. There are those prehistoric Venus amulets to show it, too. Congratulations go to Janet for the cover! Thanks!

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    2. I have heard that too, Kate. The thing is, of course is the hips might be wide from outward appearance, but narrow on the inside. Being a person who has had c-sections, I don't envy women in those times one bit. Although people can die in childbirth these days our chances are so, so much better.

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  8. Great post, Suzan. It was interesting what the men being interviewed had to say. Too much emphasis is placed on how we look rather than who we are as women. There are some really good comments above too. Enjoyed this a lot! Thanks, for sharing.

    Ceri, thank you for hosting!

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    1. Yes, we women spend too much time worrying about matching the fashion magazines and less about the men in out lives as far as appearance goes. Thanks for such a great cover!

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    2. I agree entirely, Janet. Who you are is more important than what you look like, although most of us are guilty of judging by appearances to some extent. I think this is particularly true in how women are judged.

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  9. Very interesting - thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, and I enjoyed sharing it with you.

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    2. Thanks for commenting Eva!

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  10. Great post! So interesting. Congrats on the new release. Im looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Thanks, Dung. Best wishes on the draw.

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    2. Hi Dung. I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

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  11. This book sounds delightful and I must admit that I can't wait to read it!

    Am intrigued at Charlotte's attributes..and what exactly she had to offer to bewitch the handsome Mr C!

    Cheers for such an interesting post,Ceri!
    Best wishes Suzan!

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    1. You must read it, as it seems to be destined for you. After all, that's how you'll find out all the secrets of the book. Thanks to Ceri for hosting me. Thanks to you and best wishes in return, Mary.

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    2. Hi Mary. I must admit that I am speculating on Charlotte too!

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  12. Carole in Canada26 October 2017 at 23:30

    Loved this post and all the comments! I had to laugh about JW's post on trying to look like Twiggy! Was never going to happen with me as I have had a 'healthy chest' since about 13! Then there is my one sister who doesn't and the one sister who is in between! We come in all shapes, sizes and heights as do the men. Love the research you have uncovered for us regarding who 'Jane Bennet' may have been fashioned after. Can't wait to read this one! I'm really curious about Charlotte now!

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    1. YAY JW! My "healthy chest" gets in the way all the time. You're right, we should celebrate our differences. I hope you read the book to answer your questions.

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    2. Have you ever seen the film 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' with Julie Andrews? Millie has problems with an unfashionably fuller front, which prevents her beads hanging straight, which I could relate to!

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  13. I was hooked with the mention of a handsome Collins! Very interesting post on the question of weight.

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    1. I'm glad you've been hooked, Brenda, and that you liked the post. Thanks!

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    2. It's such an interesting idea for a variation isn't it Brenda!

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  14. Thanks for this lovely post, Ceri and Suzan. The premise is really intriguing, and I can't wait to see what sort of havoc #HotCollins wreaks in Hertfordshire. Congrats for the new release, Suzan!

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    1. Thanks Joana. I love this premise too.

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  15. Ceri's a great blog tour host, and I loved sharing this particular post with her. I hope you read the book soon so you can appreciate the secrets of the hilarity. Thanks once again, Joana!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Suzan! It was lovely to have you to visit and I wish you all the very best with #HotCollins!

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  16. Oh goodness, a hot Mr. Collins can ONLY add to our hilarity and enjoyment! Can't wait! Thanks!!

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    1. I agree, and I think you'll find the book capitalizes on all the situations that entails. Enjoy!

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    2. I agree, Leah. The man is so puffed up in his vanity when he is nothing special in the way of looks. I dread to think how much worse he will be handsome.

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  17. interesting about rubenesque women--the term did originate during the regency era

    denise

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    1. It would have been great if it had because then I could have used it in the book! Thanks, Denise!

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    2. I am not sure when the term was first used, but it's a very poetical descriptor :)

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