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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Collide by Melanie Stanford - Blog Tour - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book Cover: Collide by Melanie Stanford
Today I'm joined by Melanie Stanford. Melanie is the writer of Sway and Clash, which are both nods to Austen's Persuasion, the first book being a modernisation of Anne and Captain Wentworth's story, and the second being a follow on focusing on the Elizabeth Eliot character. Melanie's latest book, Collide is a modernised version of North and South. These are pretty rare; in fact, I don't think that I've ever read one.

If you haven't read Mrs Gaskell's North and South I would heartily recommend that you do so. It's a wonderful book, looking at people across class divides and differences between the North and South of Victorian England. There is also a bit of a Pride & Prejudice-ish style romance and arguably the most delicious hero ever. John Thornton is an amazing man - both in terms of business and as a person. He runs a successful business from humble beginnings but what is more admirable than this are his personal qualities - he is hardworking, honourable and fair. He isn't perfect, and by the end of the novel has become a bit of a philanthropist, in addition to being a wonderful son and a loyal man ...... thump.... just swooned! You can see why something this complex, looking at Victorian issues might well be hard to translate to a modern day story and that is just what Melanie is here to discuss today. She's also brought a giveaway! Read on for more details.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues Anthology Edited by Christina Boyd - Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book cover: Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues by various authorsThe blog tour for Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues stops by here today. This is an anthology focusing on the 'bad boys' in Austen's works rather than her heroes, written by some fantastic authors: Karen M Cox, J Marie Croft, Amy D'Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Kate Oliver, Sophia Rose, Joana Starnes and Brooke West, brought together by editor Christina Boyd. The tour joins us for a closer look at one of the stories in the book, written by Joana Starnes, who is one of my favourite Austenesque authors. Joana's story focuses on the breaker of Marianne Dashwood's heart, John Willoughby. I have an excerpt of this story to share with you. Also, if you've been following the blog tour you will know that there are two fantastic prizes up for grabs, details of which are below. Let's read the blurb first:

Monday, 20 November 2017

Interview with a Janeite at Austen Variations

Austen Variations

I don't know if you saw it, but this month's Interview with a Janeite at the Austen Variations site features... me! I am very honoured to feature on their site, as many of my favourite JAFF authors are part of the Austen Variations group.

Author Caitlin Williams
I also got to pose some questions of my own, to Caitlin Williams, author of Ardently, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet and When We Are Married. Caitlin is offering a giveaway of a paperback of Ardently to a commenter on the post over at Austen Variations.

Book cover: Ardently by Caitlin Williams
Please pop over to learn more about me, read the answers to my questions for Caitlin and perhaps win a paperback of Ardently. You can read the post here.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Green Card by Elizabeth Adams - Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Green Card by Elizabeth Adams
Elizabeth Adams has recently re-released Green Card, which, as you can guess from the name, is a modern story dealing with somebody trying to obtain a green card to be able to remain in the US. I've read the previous version of this story, and you can read my review of it here. I understand that the story has had some changes and improvements and a lovely new cover.

To celebrate, Elizabeth is visiting here today with an excerpt and a fantastic giveaway - one winner will receive Elizabeth's 5 books - Green CardThe HouseguestUnwillingMeryton Vignettes and On Equal Grounds.

I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Elizabeth for the excerpt.

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Friday, 17 November 2017

A Very Austen Christmas by Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite

Book Cover: A Very Austen Christmas by Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite
Today I'm happy to be able to bring you an excerpt of A Very Austen Christmas by Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite. I really enjoy anthologies, and I'm looking forward to reading this one. Laura Hile is kindly offering an ebook giveaway of A Very Austen Christmas to an international commenter on this post too :)

Let's read the book blurb and then I'll share an excerpt with you

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Winner's post - President Darcy and Chance and Circumstance

I am a bit behind, sorry for the delay in posting these winners. On the flip side, this means that I get to tell you about two winners in one post. Both winners were selected using a random number generator.

Book Cover: President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid
The first giveaway was for an ebook of President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid. Victoria visited with a wonderful excerpt of her new book which sees Mr Darcy as a modern day US president. You can read the excerpt here. The winner is:

Ginna

Congratulations! I will be in touch. If you weren't lucky enough to win, cheer yourself up by buying a copy instead. It's available in paperback and ebook here:

Amazon UKAmazon US

Book Cover: Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise
The next giveaway was kindly provided by Kara Louise and was a paperback (US only) or ebook (International) of her new book, Chance and Circumstance, which sees Elizabeth and Darcy and Jane and Bingley meeting later than in canon, meaning that Mr Bingley initially takes a fancy to the second Miss Bennet rather the eldest. Kara visited us with a whole chapter of the book which you can read here. The winner chosen was:

J W Garrett

Congratulations! I will be in touch. Again, commiserations if you are disappointed, but the book is available to buy here:

Amazon US - Paperback:  / Kindle

Amazon UK - Paperback / Kindle

Thank you to everybody who commented, and of course, huge thanks to our visiting authors!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise - Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise
Today I'm very pleased to be welcoming  Kara Louise, who is here with a nice long excerpt of her new book, Chance and Circumstance. Kara is also kindly offering a giveaway - a paperback for a US reader or a kindle version for an international entrant. I'll now hand over to Kara.

* * *

I want to thank Ceri for allowing me to be a guest on her blog today and share with you about my new book, Chance and Circumstance.

Here is the blurb
Chance brings about an early encounter between Charles Bingley and Elizabeth Bennet soon after his move into Netherfield. He soon begins to favour this pretty and lively young lady. Circumstances have kept Jane Bennet and Mr. Darcy from the neighbourhood, thereby changing the events that Jane Austen penned in "Pride and Prejudice."

When Mr. Darcy finally arrives, will he be able to keep from interfering when he meets this young lady his friend so greatly admires? When Jane returns from touring the Lake District with her aunt and uncle, will the young gentleman who returns with her prove to be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was?

In this "Pride and Prejudice" variation, chance and circumstance greatly affect the way several of Jane Austen's characters arrive at their happily ever after, but not necessarily in the way you think.

I am posting Chapter 14 here, but I posted the first 13 chapters on the Austen Variations Blog. If you want to start from the beginning, you can read it here: http://austenvariations.com/april-showers-elizabeths-walk/

This is the final chapter I will be posting online, and it brings you through to about half of the book. This story was fun to write as I examined whether Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley would be at all suitable for each other, Jane and the young man she met while up in the Lake District and their compatibility, and finally, Mr. Darcy, as he observes Bingley and the young lady both he and his friend came to admire. There are several twists and turns, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Here is Chapter 14, which takes place at the Netherfield Ball:

“I see Mr. Wickham has finally arrived,” Elizabeth said cheerfully. “I wondered whether he would come.”

Darcy lowered his brows. “You are acquainted with him?”

“We met him in Meryton the day Mr. Bingley stopped to visit. He also attended a party my aunt and uncle hosted.” She stole a glance up at him. “He seems to be an amiable young man.”

“That might be a matter up for debate,” he replied tersely.

Elizabeth could tell his thoughts were no longer on the dance. She had rather enjoyed dancing with him because his movements were so smooth, but since Mr. Wickham’s appearance, they had become abrupt and forced.

For some reason, it pleased her that he was so distressed upon seeing Mr. Wickham. She wondered if he feared his contemptible actions would be discovered now that Mr. Wickham had come into the neighbourhood.

The thought of tormenting Mr. Darcy a little more appealed to her. “Well, everyone is entitled to an opinion. I found him very gentlemanly and polite.” She paused to let him ponder that for a moment and then added, “Oh, and he told us he has known you his whole life, that his father was your father’s steward at Pemberley.”

Darcy’s face paled, and he glanced back at the man, who was now leaning against the wall staring at the two of them.

“That is correct.”

They separated again, and when they came back together, she saw colour in his cheeks and a steely glare in his eyes.

“But there was something…” She shook her head. “He mentioned that the two of you are no longer on good terms with each other.”

Darcy drew in a deep breath and then let it out through clenched teeth. He and Elizabeth stood opposite each other as the dance came to an end, and she wondered if he would say anything to her in his defence.

Instead, Darcy gave a short bow, and Elizabeth followed with a slight curtsey. He took the few steps to stand before her and extended his arm to escort her away from the dance floor. 
“I am certain that Mr. Wickham has many grievances against me, but allow me to say that the man may not be all he appears to be.”

“Are any of us truly who we appear to be, Mr. Darcy?” She gave him a tight smile, thanked him for the dance, and turned to walk away indignantly.

*~*~*

Darcy watched in disappointment as Elizabeth walked away. He had hoped to engage her in conversation that might endear himself to her, but he felt he had failed miserably. It could not have gone worse. When Wickham entered the ballroom, he could not conjure up any thought other than confronting him about being there. Perhaps that was as it should be. He should not be entertaining thoughts about the young lady his good friend admired.

He glanced about the room again, but no longer saw Wickham. He needed something to drink and walked to the table laden with food and beverage. As he did, Miss Bingley came up to him.

“Mr. Darcy, during your dance, I hope you were able to discourage Miss Elizabeth in her attentions towards my brother,” she said in a fervent whisper. “I greatly fear he is about to ask for her hand!”

Darcy turned sharply to her. “Why do you suspect that?”

Miss Bingley’s eyes widened. “Because he is constantly humming and wearing a smile.” 

She shook her head and groaned. “Did you say anything to her?”

Darcy took his drink and downed it. “The subject of Bingley did not come up.”

“But I noticed you talking. Certainly, you felt the need to…”

“Miss Bingley, it would have been a little difficult to dissuade Miss Elizabeth from her affections towards your brother, when others were so close to us in the set!”

Miss Bingley choked back a response. “Well, I begin to feel it is too late. Look at them talking!”

Elizabeth stood in a small circle with Bingley, Jane, and Mr. Marshall. They were laughing, and it was apparent they were greatly enjoying each other’s company.

“I have heard that Miss Jane Bennet and that gentleman, Mr. Marshall, have an attachment, as well. They are likely planning a double wedding.”

Darcy closed his eyes. “I would hope not.” He wondered if the evening could get any worse. He just had shared a miserable dance with the one woman he felt he could love and most likely already did love. He had watched in indignation as Wickham entered the ballroom. He was accosted by Miss Bingley who claimed she believed her brother was close to asking for Miss Elizabeth’s hand, and then watched her laugh as her eyes danced with joy when she spoke with his good friend.

Darcy gulped. It just got worse!

He watched as Wickham, who had just reappeared, approached Elizabeth, apparently asking her to dance. As the two joined the set, Darcy felt his insides begin to churn. He could not watch this! He needed some fresh air.

“Miss Bingley, would you excuse me?” Darcy abruptly turned to step out into the courtyard, not waiting for a response.

*~*~*

“I thought perhaps you decided not to come,” Elizabeth said as she and Wickham walked to the dance floor. “When I did not see you, I thought there was something keeping you away.”
Wickham’s eyes danced. “Something or someone, perhaps?” He laughed.

“Yes,” she said. “I thought perhaps you did not want to come because he most certainly would be here.” She nodded her head in Darcy’s direction, unaware that he was no longer there.

“I own that I considered it. I debated whether to come, but then decided not to forfeit a splendid evening when I have every right to be here.”

“And so you do, Mr. Wickham.”

The dance began, and Elizabeth was pleased that he was an excellent dancer. He was as friendly as Mr. Bingley but had a more engaging personality. She smiled as she thought he might be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was.

At length, he said, “I noticed you were dancing with Mr. Darcy.”

“Well, think nothing of it, Mr. Wickham. It was not an enjoyable dance, and I am quite certain he regretted the dance as much as I did.”

Wickham pressed his lips together as though pondering this. “Yes,” he said slowly, “but I own I was surprised to see him dancing at all. He rarely dances, and only with those whom he knows well or admires.” Wickham looked at her intently, almost as if to judge her response.

Elizabeth laughed. “I suppose I could claim an acquaintance with him that might be considered more than casual, but only because of my association with Mr. Bingley.”

“Ah, yes. Mr. Bingley! I have heard rumours from some of the other officers that he seems to be singling you out. I feared I might not even be able to secure a dance with you!” He winked. “I wondered whether these rumours were true.”

They separated for a few moments, and Elizabeth debated whether she ought to confirm or deny this. When they came back together, she said, “It is true that Mr. Bingley has been very attentive to me, but…” She wanted so much to tell him that there was nothing between her and Mr. Bingley! “I consider him a kind and considerate gentleman.”

Wickham nodded, seemingly satisfied. “And what of his friend?”

Elizabeth’s smile left her face, and she shook her head. “You already know my opinion of the man and his officious behaviour. Many in the neighbourhood have expressed how rude he is and have noticed how he ignores almost everyone but Mr. Bingley and his family.” She let out an exasperated huff. “I cannot see how someone so kind and generous as Mr. Bingley could have such a close friendship with someone as cruel and ruthless as Mr. Darcy!”

Wickham smiled.  “It is difficult to fathom, is it not?”

The dance continued, and they spoke no more about Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth was able to determine in the course of their conversation that he was indeed an avid reader, appreciated intelligent conversation, and even enjoyed venturing out on a good walk. She hoped that they might eventually be able to enjoy some of those things together.

When the dance ended, Elizabeth thanked Mr. Wickham, and they parted. Elizabeth did not think she had enjoyed a dance this evening as much as she had that one.

*~*~*

Darcy braced his hands on the back of a bench in the outer courtyard. He was grateful no one else was out there, for he was in no mood for idle conversation. He drew in several deep breaths, attempting to ease the constriction in his chest and calm his erratically beating heart. He was unsure if these troubling attacks were due to how disastrously his dance with Elizabeth had turned out or if it was due to Wickham’s sudden, unexpected, and most unwelcome appearance at the ball.

He was not certain he could even step back inside with that man present! He could not fathom being in the same neighbourhood with him, let alone the same room. And dancing with Elizabeth! He kicked the leg of the bench with his foot.

“Upset about something, Darcy?”

Darcy clenched his fists and then turned to Wickham with an icy glare. “What are you doing here?”

“Do you mean here in the courtyard or here at the ball?” Wickham lifted his hands. “I believe I am entitled to be in both places. An invitation was extended to the officers.”

“You, an officer!” Darcy spat out.

Wickham gloated. “The militia recognizes my qualities… unlike someone I know.”

“Oh, Wickham, I recognize your qualities better than anyone.”

Wickham sauntered over to where Darcy stood. “I am sure you do.” He crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall. “Speaking of qualities, I understand you have not done well here yourself in that regard.”

Darcy’s eyes shot up. “What nonsense is this?”

“Word is that you have not made a good impression in this neighbourhood.”

Darcy groaned and turned to walk away. “I do not need to listen to your poor attempts to discredit my name.”

Wickham began to rub his chin. “No, but I thought perhaps you might be interested in what Miss Elizabeth Bennet had to say about you.” He let a satisfied smile touch his lips when Darcy stopped.

He slowly turned back.

“Yes, I noticed the two of you dancing. You rarely dance, Darcy. I was surprised.”

“It is none of your business with whom I dance,” Darcy asserted.

“But I am curious. Were you dancing with her to talk her out of this attachment with your friend…” He paused. “Or, could it be that she is someone you have come to deeply admire?” He turned his eyes towards the ballroom. “I have to say she is quite the beauty.”

Darcy’s eyes widened, and he instantly regretted it.

“Oh, Darcy, I can read you so well.” Wickham chuckled, a sneer appearing. “Would you care to hear Miss Elizabeth’s opinion of you?”

“I am certain Miss Elizabeth has no opinion of me,” he grumbled.

“Oh, I beg to differ,” Wickham taunted him. “She was quite… effusive in her opinion of you.” He gave a soft, malicious laugh. “If I recall… Yes! She said you were officious, rude, cruel, and…” He paused as he counted these off on his fingers. “And ruthless.” He laughed mercilessly.

Darcy’s whole body felt in turmoil at hearing these words, but he refused to give Wickham the satisfaction of knowing how deeply they hurt. “I am certain you were completely innocent of helping her form any of these opinions,” he said sarcastically.

“I think she has a rather realistic perspective of who you are.”

Darcy’s mouth went dry as his thoughts went to the first night he met Elizabeth and how she overheard him talking to Bingley about her. He unwittingly shuddered and then pointed his finger at Wickham. “You had better make yourself scarce around me and be on your best behaviour, Wickham, because I shall be keeping a close eye on you. If I see any misconduct, I will have no qualms reporting you to your superiors.”

Another laugh escaped from Wickham. “Do you plan to bring up your sister? Or should I? From my perspective, you have kept that very quiet.”

Darcy felt his blood boil through his veins. “If you say anything, Wickham…”

Wickham put up his hands, whispering tauntingly, “Have no fear, Darcy. I rather liked Georgiana, remember? It was you, who supposed I had ulterior motives when it came to her.”

“I did not suppose anything! I knew!” Darcy pointed to the door. “Now get out!”

They both turned and saw that Elizabeth had just stepped outside. Before either could say anything, she turned quickly and returned inside.

Wickham shrugged. “I fear, old friend, that she likely has added another trait to her list – unpardonable!”

Wickham returned to the house laughing, leaving Darcy alone with his thoughts. He could barely breathe and wondered how he would be able to exhibit any self-control with Wickham around. He did not know if Wickham knew for a certainty he had strong feelings for Elizabeth, but it was very possible he would eventually come to see it. Wickham knew him well and could always tell what he was thinking or feeling. Usually it involved anger of some sort directed towards him, but in the past, he had also recognized when he was hurting, jealous, grieving, or even just unsure of his heavy responsibilities. He would not be able to conceal how he felt about Elizabeth, especially if Bingley continued to attach his affections to her or – heaven forbid – made her an offer of marriage.

He closed his eyes and tried to think. The last thing he wanted to do was go back inside and pretend all was well. He had no appetite to eat or drink, did not think he could concentrate on the steps required in a dance, and had no desire to carry on a conversation with anyone. He looked towards the door and wondered how easily he could find Bingley and excuse himself with the pretext that he was feeling unwell. Which was absolutely the truth!

He waited for the music to finish to ensure Bingley was no longer dancing. He slowly stepped inside, caring not that his face was likely red from anger, his lips turned down in a frown, and his comportment rigid. He quickly spotted his friend and walked over to him.

“Bingley, if you please, may I have a word with you?”

His friend had been talking to a small group of people, including Miss Mary Bennet and a gentleman he did not recognize. Darcy was grateful Elizabeth was not there.

Bingley turned. “Darcy, you are unwell?”

He nodded. “I regret that I will be retiring to my room. I am not feeling well.”

“I am sorry to hear that, good friend. The ball has only just begun!”

“Yes, and I am truly sorry.”

“If you insist, Darcy. Shall I have some food and drink sent up to you?”

Darcy shook his head. “No, I recently had something to drink, and I… I do not think I could eat anything.”

“All right. But be sure to let me know if you have need of anything. Anything at all.”

“Thank you, good friend.” Darcy drew in a breath. “Thank you.”

Darcy was grateful that was over.

He began to walk away, but the gentleman who had been with Miss Mary Bennet was suddenly at his side. He stiffened with exasperation when the man called out to him.

With a solemn bow, the gentleman said, “Sir! I am most thankful I heard Mr. Bingley mention you by name, for you must allow me to pay my respects to you.”

Darcy blinked, wondering who this man was and what he meant. “Pardon me?”

“I beg your pardon, but it is in my power to assure you that your aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, was quite well when I last saw her in Hunsford. I am Mr. Collins, and I am the clergyman there. Your aunt is my patroness.”

“I thank you,” Darcy said, with an abrupt nod. As he walked away, he heard the clergyman begin to speak again, but fortunately, the man’s prattle was lost as the orchestra began playing.

Darcy returned to his chambers and rang for his valet, Sumner. As he waited, he paced the floor, attempting to sort out his thoughts and feelings. Miss Bennet had a more severe opinion of him than he could ever have imagined. What good would it do him if Bingley – or Elizabeth – finally realized that the differences in their temperaments and interests were too great? From what Wickham said, she would likely never receive his addresses with any pleasure.

His valet entered and asked what he could do for him.

“Unfortunately, I am not feeling well and wish to dress for bed, if you please.”

“Certainly, sir.”

After that was accomplished, Darcy looked at Sumner.

“There is one more thing I need you to do directly.”

“What is that, sir?”

Darcy swallowed. “I need my bags packed. I will be leaving early in the morning to return to London.”

*~*~*

Author Kara Louise
I will be giving away one paperback book (to US readers) or an ebook to International readers to be drawn from those who make a comment. Good luck!

Here is info on me and books:

Buy Links

Amazon US - Paperback:  / Kindle

Amazon UK - Paperback / Kindle


Giveaway Time

Book cover: Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise
As noted above, Kara Louise is very kindly giving away a copy of Chance and Circumstance - a paperback for a US reader, or kindle for an international winner. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day on Friday 10 November. Please ensure you leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the lucky winner.

I'd like to thank Kara for visiting us here today, and for bringing a giveaway too.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Plans for November 2017

It's been a gorgeous day here in the UK today, I almost can't believe it is November! It's currently school holidays, which is the reason for me posting so late in the day, I've been doing mum stuff :) November is always a busy month. At some point it will hit me that Christmas is coming and I will put in a flurry of activity! So I'm not sure how much I will be able to read, but I certainly hope to get some reading done. I have some lovely visitors lined up for November, so let me tell you all about them.

Book cover: Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise
First up we have Kara Louise, with her new book, Chance and Circumstance, a Pride & Prejudice variation which sees both Darcy and Jane out of the neighbourhood when Mr Bingley first comes to Meryton... therefore, the lady who catches Bingley's fancy the most is the second-eldest Bennet sister, Miss Elizabeth... This is a book I hope to read this month, and Kara Louise will be coming by to visit.

Book cover: Green Card by Elizabeth Adams
Elizabeth Adams has re-released Green Card. This book isn't an Austenesque, but it does have a flavour of one, touches here and there. It's a modern marriage of convenience scenario, for the purposes of obtaining a Green Card. She will be bringing a post here to share with you. I haven't read the new version of the book, but I've read it previously, and I enjoyed it. You can read my previous review here.

Book Cover: Dangerous to Know - Jane Austen's Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues Edited by Christina Boyd
This month sees the release of the much-anticipated anthology Dangerous to Know - Jane Austen's Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues, which sees a number of wonderful Austenesque authors coming together with short stories featuring the men in Austen that we don't tend to focus on - think Willoughby rather than Brandon, Captain Tilney rather than his delicious brother Henry, etc. These have been brought together by the editor of The Darcy Monologues, Christina Boyd. I am very excited to read this.

Book cover: Collide by Melanie Stanford
Have you ever read North and South? Not the US-set book, but the UK one, featuring southern-born Margaret Hale moving to the industrial North of England in Victorian times. It's a wonderful book and one of my favourites. There are some parallels between P&P and N&S, but there is far less in the way of 'North and South-esque' fiction. Melanie Standford, who wrote the Persuasion-inspired Sway and Clash is back with the N&S-inspired Collide, and she'll be coming here on here blog tour.

I do hope you'll be able to join me for some or all of these! What do you have planned to read in November? Please let me know in the comments.