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Sunday, 10 June 2018

Catherine by Sue Barr - Blog Tour - Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour - Catherine by Sue Barr
Today I'm welcoming Sue Barr back to the blog. Sue has written sequels to Pride & Prejudice. She visited here with Caroline, and now Catherine (Bennet, not Lady!). Sue has brought us an excerpt to enjoy, plus a giveaway opportunity. Let's take a look at the blurb first:

Monday, 4 June 2018

The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams - Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams
I am very pleased to be hosting a spot on Caitlin Williams' blog tour for her new Pride & Prejudice variation, The Events at Branxbourne. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of the ebook and I'll be telling you what I thought of the book. Read on for my review, and a giveaway opportunity!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Plans for June 2018

Hello my friends! I hope you haven't forgotten me, because it seems like forever since I've blogged. As you may remember, I have been having building work done. The room is built, but not quite complete. The kitchen cupboards were fitted yesterday, and the kitchen should be fully usable in about a week or so, as we are having solid worktops which take a little longer, as they are made to measure. My house is still in complete chaos, which is very wearing! I am hopeful that the month of June will bring with it some tranquility for my home; I can't wait to get back to normality, and be able to enjoy my new kitchen, which is looking lovely :)

Book Cover: The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams
So, on to the plans for the month - firstly, I will be reading The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams. This has a very mysterious sounding blurb - Elizabeth is unhappily married to SOMEONE OTHER than Mr Darcy. Harrumph! From the sound of the blurb something happens - maybe unsatisfactory hubby dies in veiled circumstances, I'm not sure.

Book Cover: Catherine by Sue Barr
Also, I get to welcome Sue Barr back to the blog, with her new book Catherine which has Kitty Bennet as the heroine. This blurb also has an air of mystery to it, with a character who is a spy...

Book cover: Austenistan, edited by Laaleen Sukhera
Later in the month, I hope to feature Austenistan, which is a book of short stories edited by Laaleen Sukhera of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan. These stories take the themes of Austen's stories to Pakistan and I'm looking forward to seeing how they transfer to another time and culture.

What do you have planned for the month? Let me know in the comment what news you have, what you plan to read and anything you've read lately that we all should know about!


Monday, 14 May 2018

The Best Laid Flight Plans by Leigh Dreyer - Blog Tour, Guest Post and Excerpt

Book Cover: The Best Laid Flight Plans by Leigh Dreyer
Today I'm happy to be welcoming Leigh Dreyer, who has just brought out her debut novel, edited by Christina Boyd. The Best Laid Flight Plans is a modern Pride & Prejudice variation against an airforce backdrop. Leigh comes here with some Q&A and an excerpt from her book, plus there is the opportunity to win a copy of the book if you're quick! Let's take a look at the blurb:

Book Description

In this modern Pride and Prejudice variation, Captain William “Fitz” Darcy has just received a new assignment as an instructor pilot at Meryton Air Force Base. Soon he meets the intrepid 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Bennet, a new student at the base that he cannot keep out of his head. Elizabeth, on the other hand, finds Captain Darcy to be arrogant and prideful and attempts to avoid him at every turn. Despite Darcy’s insulting manners, Elizabeth soars her way through pilot training, but can she soar her way into love as well?

Author Q&A

Tell us a little about yourself and your background

I work as a speech pathologist, currently in the Las Vegas area. I work both in person and doing teletherapy (which I absolutely love) from my home. I write while my kids take naps and during teletherapy breaks. I also have just been the lead in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. I have an incredible husband who is a pilot in the Air Force and two amazing kids. My son is three and my daughter is eighteen months. Both my husband and I are Air Force brats, both children of pilots which makes for fun family get togethers.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 

Elizabeth Bennet and “Fitz” William Darcy are well known to any regular JAFF readers, but in my novel it was fun to see them in the military, a culture with which I’m so familiar. When I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, I’ve often wondered what amazing things Elizabeth would do in a time where women could go and do anything a man could, and I loved seeing her go out and reach for her dreams.

What are you working on at the minute?

Book two, The Flight Path Less Travelled and a short story about how Mr. and Mrs. Bennet meet and get married.

What’s it about? 

The Flight Path Less Travelled will start where The Best Laid Flight Plans ends and will continue the story to see where Elizabeth’s dreams end up.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

The Best Laid Flight Plans will be book one in a series (although I think it stands alone quite well). I really wanted to see the journey of Elizabeth Bennet and see how our dreams change based on factors outside our control. My Elizabeth is a strong, independent, woman who, unlike the original, doesn’t need a man to help her move up or continue in the world and I think it is interesting to explore how love changes us.

How much research do you do? 

For this book most of my research was talking to my husband or calling my dad or father in law. My husband went through pilot training in 2009, my dad spent over 15 years as a master instructor pilot in the T-38 and still works at the base Meryton is based on, and my father in law did more than twenty years in the Air Force as a pilot.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I went to a book club attended by Diana J Oaks and told my sister in law my idea about Darcy in the Air Force and I started writing the next day.

Book Cover: The Best Laid Flight Plans by Leigh Dreyer
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

The photoshoot was done in Utah at the Air Force museum at Hill Air Force Base. It was important to me to highlight Elizabeth as a female pilot. Females are so rare in the pilot world that I wanted to be able to see Elizabeth as I see her, a strong woman who is willing to work harder than anyone else to achieve what she sees for herself. I made the choice to have the little ringlets and her hair up in a kind of braid Mohawk, because I thought it was a fun throwback to the Regency hairstyles. The back cover is Darcy and I love his name tag and the idea of a compass for Elizabeth’s journey.

Where do you get your ideas? 

Life, really. I’ve been around the Air Force my entire life and it is something I know well. Every time I’ve gone to an Air Force event over the last few years, I’ve sent my husband weird note-taking text messages about the event so I can remember them and put them in a book later. I think it’s important for me to give a glimpse for all the civilians into the world of the modern military. There aren’t many books written about them these days that isn’t about the combat aspect, and while that is certainly important, my husband has been deployed several times and that is an ever-present theme in our lives, I think the culture of the military outside of combat is just as interesting.

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Excerpt from The Best Laid Flight Plans
Elizabeth Bennet smoothed her hands downs her starched camouflage ABUs once more and reached absently to the pins in her brunette hair, exhaling nervously. Again, she rehearsed what she would say, muttering under her breath. Putting her hand on the large, wooden door, she paused, stretched out as tall as her petite frame would allow, and walked in. 

“Major Warby, sir,” Elizabeth said crisply.

The major did not look up from the papers on his desk, his hand hovering over one particular sheet, and staring back at his computer. Over his slouched frame, she could see the top of his bald head reflecting the cheap fluorescent office lighting. 

“Major Warby?” To her dismay, Elizabeth’s voice lilted higher in question.

The major let out a noisy sigh and looked up, rolling his eyes as he did so. As he rustled the papers on his desk, tiny dust particles danced into the air. 

Picture from The Best Laid Flight Plans
“Hmm?” He grunted the question. Elizabeth hated when men grunted that way. They tended to do it a lot to her. And sighed. The sigh, especially, was always a sign she had disappointed them. The difficulty was however, she could never figure out precisely what she had done to offend. She persevered, thinking it would be best to have this sorry excuse for an interview over with.

“Sir, I’ve shredded and replaced the regulation binders as you asked. It took a little while because it was difficult to find all of the appropriate AFI’s for each flight when no one could tell me where the binders were exactly. You should be ready for inspection next week.”

“Thanks.” Major Warby grunted his response and gave her a bored look that seemed to politely invite her to get the hell out. She stepped forward, fidgeting, but ventured forth regardless. 

“Sir, is there any other work I can complete?” She hoped against hope that there would be a task, anything, for her to do. Elizabeth Bennet hated to be idle. She was a useful sort of person who thrived in activity and one more day of mediocrity might just kill her.

“Bennet, look”—Major Warby spoke to her like he spoke to his three-year-old at the last Family Day picnic—“You’re in casual status. Do you know what casual lieutenants do?”

“Yes sir. They complete all work assigned to them and are available to their commanders for additional assignments as needed. Sir.” The sarcastic answer dripped from her lips before she could stop herself, so she smiled as she spoke to ensure it sounded more polite than she felt.

“Bennet. That was a lovely book answer, but really, do you know what you guys do?”

“Umm.” Elizabeth glanced at the white-painted cinderblock wall to her left and saw the clock ticking. She could almost hear its silent taunting. 

“Bennet.” Elizabeth could hear the sigh as he said her name. “You wait. That’s it. Nobody cares about what you do or don’t do because you don’t have a real job. You just sit around waiting for your slot to come up. Now, can I do anything for you or are you just here to distract me from what I’m trying to finish before I can go home and have a drink?” He punctuated his question by raising his eyebrows, the wrinkles on his forehead becoming deep creases.

“No, sir. I’m sorry to have bothered you. I’ll just go sit at scheduling in case you need me.”

The major grunted in reply as Elizabeth exited, letting the door slam behind her. Her boots squeaked as she strode down the dull, tile floors. Oh, but she was bored. The assignment the major had given her had taken her two days. Two whole days that she was not sitting, bored, at the scheduling desk waiting for life to happen to her. 

She turned left down the hall and looked at her favorite picture in the squadron. It was small and in a cheap, plain black frame, but she loved it. A loaded A-10 aircraft flying right above the cloud line where she could see the colors of the clouds. Most people thought clouds were big, white puffy cotton balls in the sky, but Elizabeth Bennet knew better. Clouds were a million colors: white and pale yellow with streaks of bright cerulean and cornflower blues, sparkling like pearls in the sunshine or darken in a sinister instant. This picture somehow captured what Elizabeth was so anxious to see for herself. 

Elizabeth had only ever had one dream. She wanted to fly. When she was eight, she wanted to bend her legs, jump, and take off swirling through the skies. When she was twelve, she met a pilot during career day at school and decided to do everything she could to become one. She worked hard and blasted through her classes as fast as she could. And now, here she was, not quite twenty-one...and stagnant. Stuck as a casual lieutenant in a squadron that did not care whether she showed up to work or not. Elizabeth took another long look at the painting and sighed. She hated to wait.

* * *

Author Bio

Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. She is blessed to have multi-generational military connections through herself and her husband, who she met in pilot training. She often describes her formative years in this way, “You know the Great Balls of Fire scene in Top Gun (“Goose you big stud!!!”), where Goose and Meg Ryan have their kid on the piano? I was that kid.” Leigh lives with her pilot husband, a plane-obsessed son and a daughter who is almost walking.

Connect with the Author - Facebook - Goodreads - Website

Book Cover: The Best Laid Flight Plans by Leigh Dreyer
Buy links

This book is available to buy now! US / UK

Giveaway Time

There is a giveaway associated with this blog tour, but you'll need to be quick to enter. Use the rafflecopter to enter.

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Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Secrets of Pemberley by Rose Fairbanks - Blog Tour - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book Cover: The Secrets of Pemberley by Rose Fairbanks
I'm pleased to be welcoming Rose Fairbanks back to the blog today with the tour of her latest book, a Pride & Prejudice vagary called The Secrets of Pemberley. This has a very interesting sounding blurb, which I'll share with you in just a moment. Rose is here today with a guest post of a video diary for Elizabeth, and there's a giveaway opportunity as well. Read on for more details...

Friday, 6 April 2018

Lover’s Knot: A Mysterious Pride & Prejudice Variation by Jenetta James - Blog Tour - Review & Giveaway

Blog Tour: Lover's Knot by Jenetta JamesToday the blog tour for Jenetta James' new book, Lover’s Knot: A Mysterious Pride & Prejudice Variation stops by for my review. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read this book, having previously enjoyed reading Suddenly Mrs Darcy, The Elizabeth Papers and The Darcy Monologues. The other reason I wanted to read this is that it's a mystery. I love reading mysteries, and prefer historical ones such as those by Agatha Christie with sleuthing and legwork. The blog tour also has a giveaway attached! We'll start off with the blurb:

Monday, 2 April 2018

Winner - Mysterious Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview

Book cover: Mysterious Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview
Recently Monica Fairview came to visit with a guest post and excerpt of her latest book, Mysterious Mr Darcy. Monica was very kindly offering a giveaway, of an ebook of Mysterious Mr Darcy to two of the commenters on the guest post. I picked the winners using a random number generator. The two names chosen were:

Leah Pruett

and 

Eva!

I believe I have contact details for both of you, so I will be in touch.

Congratulations to you both, and thank you to Monica for the generous giveaway!

Remember, if you weren't a lucky winner, you can just award yourself the prize - the book is available to buy now:

Buy Links

Amazon Kindle e-book and paperback (international link)

Barnes and Noble Nook

Smashwords

Plans for April 2018

Building work progress so farHappy April everybody! Spring is making a slow start in my neck of the woods. I had a very busy March. It was a busy month anyway but my building work started, so that is taking up a lot of my mental energy. My house is a mess, with things being displaced, and we are having to spend time looking at things like tiles and French doors. The actual work seems to be going well so far. We are having a new room built on the back of the house which will be a kitchen diner, once finished, so there's been demolition and the beginnings of a new room. It may look titchy to you, but houses in the UK aren't generally big, so it'll give us a good amount of extra living space. This is the progress so far!

Lover's Knot by Jennetta James - Blog Tour
As for reading, the only thing I currently have planned in is Lover's Knot by Jennetta James, which I understand is a P&P-based mystery. The blog tour for this will be stopping by later this week. Hopefully you can drop by then to see what I thought of the book.

I hope to do some other reading too, but I'm not sure which books! I have a huge backlog of books I've committed to read, and aside from that there are other books that I have been wanting to read. My children are on school holiday now, and unlike other holidays this may lead to further reading time as we can't plan much in, as I'm not sure from day to day what is happening with the building work.

Let me know what you've been reading or what you plan to read this month. Is there anything I should prioritise in my TBR list? 

I hope you have a wonderful April!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

The Child by Jan Hahn - Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

Blog Tour - The Child by Jan HahnI'm happy to be featuring Jan Hahn again on the blog today, with her latest book, 'The Child'. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book for my review, and I'll share what I thought of it below. First, though, let's whet your appetite by sharing the blurb!

The Child by Jan Hahn
Book Description

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

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

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

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

Monday, 26 March 2018

The Assistant by Riana Everly - Guest post and Blog Tour

Today I'm welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog with her newest book, The Assistant. Riana has a guest post, excerpt and giveaway for us today! Let's start with the book description:

Blurb

Book Cover: The Assistant by Riana Everly
A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean

When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.

But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.

Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

Guest Post from Riana Everly

Thank you so much hosting this stop on my blog tour for The Assistant, the tale of Lizzy Bennet’s aunt and uncle, the Gardiners. The story begins in 1799, when Edward Gardiner comes across an injured youth, whom he takes on as his assistant. Young Matthew has some remarkable abilities, and more remarkable friends. But I shall allow someone else to tell you all about Matthew, for she is always one to sketch the character of everyone she chances to meet.   I hope you enjoy what she has to tell you.

~*~

Oh, did you just arrive? I must not have seen you come in. Do take a seat. Would you like some tea?

Mama says I must learn to be a gracious hostess and treat my company well. Am I doing alright? I do try, but I am only nine years old and I forget sometimes. I would so much rather be outside exploring, or in Papa’s study, reading by the large window.

Young Lizzy
My name is Elizabeth Bennet, but everyone calls me Lizzy. One day, so Mama tells me, I must be known as Miss Elizabeth to all but my dearest friends, but that shall not be necessary until after I come out, whatever that means. I think it involves attending a lot of boring dinners and having to sit still whilst people sing very poorly. For now, I shall be happy as just Lizzy. But you did not come here to listen to me talk about myself. I really wish to tell you about Matthew!

Have you met Matthew? He is the most odd creature ever. Uncle Gardiner found him in the woods, rather like I found my favourite puppy. And just like my puppy, Matt had no family and he was in danger of being drowned, or something, and so Uncle Gardiner took him home. Now he works for Uncle Gardiner at his warehouses, and he is even smarter at arithmetic than I am! Mama tells me it is not ladylike to boast, but I am smarter than my sisters, and that is no more boastful than to say that I am shorter than Jane or have the darkest hair. It is simply fact. Regardless, Matt is so smart, even Uncle cannot match him!

Matt also talks funny. I was scolded when I said so, for Uncle told me that in the part of England where he found Matt, everybody talks like that. I should like to visit there one day, but I must be certain not to say how odd everybody sounds. That might be rude, and Mama would be vexed with me. When we went exploring, I asked Matt about where he is from, and what the people are like there, but he did not really answer my questions. He seemed more interested in hearing about my adventures in the woods, and how I learn about the places we like to explore.

It was really most fun when Matt joined Jane and me on our exploring. He helped us sail to China, although we are not allowed on the pond for fear of falling in and drowning, like what nearly happened to my puppy. But we built a boat of twigs, with a branch of leaves as a sail, and he told us grand stories of what we might see once we arrived. He is so very smart, and knows so very much, but there is something strange about him. He is very kind and funny, but I think I know a secret that he does not want Uncle Gardiner to know.

Well, I must go. Our next adventure is to the wild jungles of Africa, where I hope to sail down the Nile and meet an elephant! You may join me, but the tea will grow cold if you do. And that would not be a polite way to treat my guests, would it?

~*~

Excerpt from The Assistant

The younger men left the room, but not before Edward noticed a strange expression on Lizzy’s face. She was thinking about something in that inscrutable way of hers. He wondered what was going through that unusual little mind, so full of books and stories and tales of the imagination. He never knew what words would come out of that mouth, whether they were informed by fact or fantasy, but he knew they always were perceptive and very interesting.

She glanced away now, as if the notion had abandoned her, and began to talk to her father of what she had helped cook prepare for Christmas dinner. Edward turned towards the door and began to climb the stairs to his chambers. He turned back, however, having neglected to ask a question of his host.

“Go along, Matt,” he told his assistant. “I shall knock on your door when we are ready to dine.” He walked back towards the salon, but paused at the door when he heard Thomas speaking.

“What think you, my Lizzy-bear? Did you enjoy young Matt’s company?”

“Papa, indeed I did, but he is a strange one. He talks so oddly, but there is something else in his manner that perplexes me.” Of course nine-year-old Elizabeth would have full command of a word like ‘perplex.’ Edward adored that child!

“Does he frighten you, Lizzy?” Bennet’s voice held a note of concern.

Children playing
“No, not at all. I like him and I am happy to explore the world with him. He knows so much, much more than Jane knows. He told us stories about the Rajahs of India and the Mandarins of China. Did you know that there are whole lands in the East that are all sand and hot sun? And that they are even further away than France? There are places where they speak strange languages too, even stranger than what Matthew says they speak in Derbyshire. He talked to us normally as well as in his funny Derby voice. His normal voice sounds quite different. He said he was learning to speak like we do, from Uncle Edward and from his time in London, but it didn’t sound like he was just learning. I wonder, though…”

“What is it, my Lizzy?” Edward heard her father ask.

“I don’t quite know, Papa, although I do wonder.”

“You shan’t tell me, will you?”

“No, indeed I shall not!” She laughed her cheerful and knowing little girl laugh, and with that pronouncement, she skipped up the stairs to dress for dinner.

Buy Links

The Assistant is available to buy now: Universal book link

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

FacebookWebsite

Giveaway Time

Book Cover: The Assistant by Riana Everly
Riana is giving away 5 ebooks of The Assistant on her blog tour. To enter for a chance to win a copy, please use the Rafflecopter.


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Friday, 23 March 2018

Mysterious Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Mysterious Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview
Today I'm happy to be welcoming Monica Fairview back to the blog. Monica has a new book, Mysterious Mr Darcy which has a most enticing blurb. She's come here with a guest post, excerpt, and an international ebook giveaway. Let's take a look at the blurb and then hand over to Monica.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Winner - Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow

Book cover: Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow
So sorry for the delay in posting the winner of the Mark Brownlow Cake and Courtship giveaway - my building work has started!

Thank you to everybody who visited Mark's guest post and excerpt and all those who commented. Without further ado, let's get on to to announcing the winner, who was selected by using a random number generator. The winner is...

Leah Pruett!

Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow - giveaway prizesCongratulations, Leah! You have won your choice of some Viennese sweet treats, or a paperback copy of Cake and Courtship. I don't have your contact details, so please contact me before Wednesday, as that's when I will choose another winner.

Many thanks to Mark Brownlow for visiting, and for providing this lovely giveaway.

Cake and Courtship is available to buy now.

Paperback: Amazon.com* | .co.uk* | .de
eBook: Amazon.com* | .co.uk* | .de | Kobo | iBooks | Nook / B&N
Goodreads: Book page

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Cake and Courtship by Mark Brownlow - Blog Tour - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow - Blog Tour
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Mark Brownlow to the blog with his book Cake and Courtship, which has Mr Bennet as its protagonist. I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Mark for a guest post and excerpt. He's brought an international giveaway with him too!

Book cover: Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow
Book Description

When John Barton falls in love with the elusive Anne Hayter, there is only one man he can turn to for advice. Unfortunately, that man is Mr Bennet of Longbourn, a world-weary gentleman with five daughters pursuing their own marital ambitions.

To help John, Mr Bennet must emerge from his beloved library and face the challenges of the tearoom and dance floor one more time. In doing so, he finds his own romantic past catching up with him.

In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Mark Brownlow takes you on an Austenesque journey full of wry humour and Regency romance (with a few slices of sponge cake).

“As you get older, Lizzy, you will discover that life does not
bow easily to the wishes of even the most romantic of souls.
Quite the opposite. Life must be mastered with pragmatism
and sense, which explains why so few people succeed at it.“

Cake and Courtship is a standalone story, but also the first book of Mr Bennet’s memoirs. Look out for the sequel in 2018.

Guest Post and Excerpt from Mark Brownlow

Thanks Ceri for allowing me to drop in on your blog!

When I talk to people about Cake and Courtship, the question they tend to ask first is “Why Mr Bennet?” After all, he might be ahead of Mr Collins in the list of Jane Austen’s romantic heroes (who isn’t?), but he’s a long way behind Mr Darcy and Captain Wentworth.

The answer is part coincidence, part curiosity, and part inevitability.

“Coincidence” because, originally, I had no intention of writing a novel. I was simply playing with the idea of publishing Mr Bennet’s diary. He has some of the wittiest lines in Pride and Prejudice, so you can imagine how he might report on the Netherfield Ball, conversations with Mr Collins or the marital machinations of his wife.

But humour is not Mr Bennet’s only defining quality. There’s a cynicism to him, too. Even the hint of a cruel streak. This is when “curiosity” began to take hold. After writing a few diary entries, I found myself wondering what events and experiences might have moulded his personality and opinions?

Then I wondered how such a man might react if we took him out of his library and (back) into the world of courtship. What if Mr Bennet was charged with the task of bringing a young couple together?

And so a diary turned into a story, a story into a novel, and a novel into a romance. Not Mr Bennet’s romance, but that of a young friend and confidante. It gave me two canvasses to paint words on: Mr Bennet’s observations on the early events of Pride and Prejudice, and a fresh tale of love (and regret) as he tries to help John Barton court the elusive Miss Hayter. It’s that romantic thread that also reveals whether 20+ years of marriage to Mrs Bennet is the only cause of Mr Bennet’s cynicism (spoiler: it isn’t).

Which leaves us with “inevitability”. The obvious challenge for any author is putting themselves in the mind of their main protagonist. The more you identify with that protagonist, the easier this task becomes. I’m a middle-aged, world-weary father of teenagers, with a love of books, a touch of cynicism about me, and a dry sense of humour. Sound familiar?

The excerpt below is an example of the many places where the Pride and Prejudice story intertwines with both the new story and Mr Bennet’s perspective on life. Our protagonist has returned from visiting Netherfield and his daughters are curious about their new neighbour. 

He answers their questions at breakfast by comparing Mr Bingley with John Barton, who had visited Longbourn just a few days previously…

* * *
Excerpt

Book cover: Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow
My daughters ignored me until they decided to turn speculation about my future son-in-law into hard fact.

It was Lydia who broached the subject. “Is he very handsome, Papa?”

“His face is not unpleasant.”

“Yes, but is he handsome?” she urged, fists clenched.

“Jane,” I said. “Be a dear and pass the butter.” She smiled as she did so, doubling the pleasure of my morning roll.

Lydia’s fists beat a staccato on the table as she looked imploringly at her mother, who was thrashing a boiled egg into submission with a spoon.

Pausing in her dismemberment of that oval delight, my wife sought to reassure my youngest. “Of course Mr Bingley is very handsome, Lydia. Not that it matters with his income.”

“Money does indeed disguise many a disfigurement, girls,” I said. “Sorry looks may be of no consequence in a marriage, though a poor character may demand a price that twenty thousand a year cannot pay.”

The clatter of cutlery and glass continued while six minds fought a private battle between curiosity and compliance with a father’s wish for peace. Curiosity won, as it nearly always did.

“Papa, you must allow us some insight into Mr Bingley. The privilege of your sex allows you to visit him; we merely exercise the privilege of ours to ask questions of his character.”

“I do not deny you the right to ask, Lizzy; I am merely disinclined to answer.” I emphasised the point by lifting the paper to block my view of the table and, more importantly, the table’s view of me. “Besides, I am not used to describing young men. They are rarely sighted at Longbourn, so what I know of them comes mostly from books. My vocabulary would not do him justice.”

“Then we must take another approach, Papa,” said Lizzy. “You might simply compare him to other young men of our acquaintance. To John Barton, for example.”

“Interesting.” I lowered my paper. “Let me think. Well, let’s see. Yes, Mr Bingley’s eyes are decidedly bluer.” I raised the paper again. My statement produced nothing but groans from the table.

“Papa,” said Jane. “John’s eyes are chestnut.”

“Precisely,” I said from behind my protective printed wall. “And Mr Bingley’s are blue, so they are indisputably bluer.”

“Is he taller or shorter than Mr Barton?” said Kitty.

“He is,” I said.

“What about his hair?” said Lydia.

“He certainly had some.” I peered over the paper. “Does that help?” It seemed not, based on the girls’ expressions.

“You might at least say how he was dressed, Papa?” Lydia would not let up.

As I was old and married, fashion was now as mysterious to me as the supposed movement of the heavens. I resolved to give Lydia’s question more attention at my next meeting with Mr Bingley. “I am pleased to say he was definitely wearing clothes.”

Kitty and Lydia giggled. I turned down the paper enough to see even Mary raise a half smile. Mrs Bennet was still savaging her egg, which refused to give up its gold and ivory without a struggle.

“Is he a kind man, Papa?” A question only Jane would ask.

I folded away the paper and wiped all evidence of the buttered roll from my mouth. “I believe he is, Jane, I believe he is.”

“It does not matter if he is kind,” mumbled Mrs Bennet through a victorious mouthful of yolk. 

“When he has—”


“Four thousand a year,” chorused the girls before erupting into laughter. They knew their mother well.

* * *

Buy Links

Cake and Courtship is available to buy now.

Paperback: Amazon.com* | .co.uk* | .de
eBook: Amazon.com* | .co.uk* | .de | Kobo | iBooks | Nook / B&N
Goodreads: Book page

Author Mark Brownlow
About the Author

Mark Brownlow is a British-born writer living in Vienna, Austria. His debut novel, Cake and Courtship, is a Regency romance narrated by Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet.

Book cover: The Lovesick Maid by Mark Brownlow
He has also written a novella, The Lovesick Maid: a cozy mystery set in Jane Austen’s fictional village of Hunsford. You can find Mark at LostOpinions.com, where he is known for his reimagining of classic literature as emails. When not writing or teaching, he watches costume drama and football (though not at the same time).

Connect with Mark

 Website • Goodreads • Author page at Amazon.co.uk • Author page at Amazon.com • Twitter • Facebook •

Giveaway Time

Giveaway books and chocolate
Mark is very kindly offering a giveaway to commenters on the blog tour. You can choose between a signed paperback of Cake and Courtship, or, as he lives in Vienna, some Viennese chocolates! To enter, just comment on this post by the end of the day on Friday 9 March. This giveaway is open to international entrants.

Other Blog Stops

Mark is visiting a number of blogs with Mr Bennet and Cake and Courtship. Details of the stops are below:

Feb 28 Diary of an Eccentric – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 1 Half Agony, Half Hope – review, excerpt
Mar 2 Austenesque Reviews – interview with Mr Bennet, giveaway
Mar 3 Babblings of a Bookworm – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 4 Laughing with Lizzie – Mr Bennet’s inbox, giveaway
Mar 5 From Pemberley to Milton – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 6 My Vices and Weaknesses – author interview, giveaway
Mar 7 More Agreeably Engaged – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 8 So little time…so much to read – Mr Bennet’s diary, giveaway
Mar 10 Just Jane 1813 – guest post, excerpt, giveaway

Giveaway stops


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Plans for March 2018

Snowflake
Hello to all of you, and happy March! They say that if March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb, and hopefully that will be the case. We had quite a bit of chaos here yesterday and today because of heavy snow. We can sometimes go a whole year without seeing snow, and if we do get snow often it doesn't even settle because it'll be quite wet snow, but the snow this week has been powdery and drifting with the cold winds. I went out with my kids to have a snowball fight earlier, and it was like a film, the snow was like icing sugar! This would have been ideal reading weather in other years but due to technology I have been able to work from home and have had no additional reading time!

On a personal level March is a stressful/exciting time because we are due to have building work starting on our home. We have a very standard home for the UK, two reception rooms, tiny kitchen on the ground floor. What we're having done is having a kitchen/dining room built on the back of the house and the existing tiny kitchen will become a utility room. It'll be awesome if all goes to plan, but will take a few months of stress and upheaval to get there. Wish me luck!

Cake and Courtship by Mark Brownlow
So, you are not hear for my weather reports and building updates, but to find out what reading plans I have for the month! Let me tell you about the visitors who are currently planned in. Firstly, I will be welcoming Mark Brownlow, who has written a novel focussing on Mr Bennet, Cake and Courtship.

The Darcy Saga by Ginger Monette
We'll be taking a look at Ginger Monette's Darcy Saga novels, which are now available in a combined volume. These are set in WW2 and have had wonderful reviews.

Book cover: Mysterious Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview
I also hope to be welcoming Monica Fairview, with her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, Mysterious Mr Darcy. This sounds very enticing, as there is some sort of mystery about Mr Darcy before he comes to Netherfield and Elizabeth is curious to find out what it could be. I am curious too!

Book cover: Alone with Mr Darcy by Abigail Reynolds
As I've mentioned before, I am part of an Austenesque reading group on Goodreads. It's a lovely group, and if you'd like to join you will be sure of a welcome there. March is the Dusty Shelf Book Scavenger Hunt, where you have to dust off one of the books you've been meaning to read for over two years. The scavenger clue is that it has to be a variation, or feature Miss Austen as a character. Since there is currently snow, I am planning to read Alone With Mr Darcy by Abigail Reynolds which sees Elizabeth and Darcy getting stranded together. Sigh!

What do you plan to read this month? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, 26 February 2018

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, By A. D’Orazio - Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

Blog Tour: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Amy D'Orazio back to Babblings of a Bookworm with the blog tour for her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. I was lucky enough to reading the book for this stop, and I was really excited to do this, because I've spent many happy reading hours enjoying the stories she shared on the A Happy Assembly site (login required). Amy was a contributing author to the popular anthology Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues which I haven't read yet, but am looking forward to. She has also published a full length novel, The Best Part of Love, which I haven't yet been brave enough to read! I was reading it in installments online, and the angst levels were too much for me wait for the next chapter! I was a little concerned that this would be an angsty read as well because I'm such a wimp, but I reasoned that it would be easier if I had access to all the chapters and could find out what happened immediately!

I'll start off by sharing the blurb with you and then we will move on to my review of the book. There's also an opportunity to win a copy.

Book Description:
Book Cover: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio

Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him.

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given.

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept.

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?

My Review

Book Cover: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'OrazioA Short Period of Exquisite Felicity picks up about a year after the events of P&P,  but things have not ended as they did in the original book - instead of staying behind at the inn at Lambton to read Jane Bennet's letter, Elizabeth went for a walk with her uncle and aunt and bumped into Mr Darcy. There she had a chance to apologise for her previous behaviour towards him, he had a chance to renew his addresses to her, and so began a short period of exquisite felicity, 9 days to be precise, where Elizabeth and Darcy were betrothed. No announcements were made, as Mr Bennet's consent was yet to be sought. Then Elizabeth sent Darcy a letter breaking off the engagement. No explanation was proffered by her, or sought by him, regarding why the engagement was broken. Darcy has spent the last year trying to get over his broken heart, and trying to understand why.
'It astonished him to think it had been above a year since he had last seen her. A year since he had heard her laughter and witnessed the sparkle in her eyes. A year since he had felt the lightness of her touch on is arm and—dare he think of it?—felt the warmth of her breath against his mouth and tasted the sweetness of her lips.
A year since she had savagely ripped his still-beating heard from his chest and stamped it beneath her dainty little foot.'
The past year has seen many changes in the Bennet family too - Mr Bennet has died, and three of his daughters have married. Jane is now Mrs Bingley, Lydia is Mrs Wickham, and Mary married the parson who replaced Mr Collins at Hunsford, plus both Jane and Lydia have become mothers. Lizzy has lived with a more distant relation for the best part of the year, at a spa town, as she has been quite ill during the last year.

Darcy joins the Bingleys' house party initially believing that Elizabeth is still away. Once he realises that she will be joining the party he is torn between never wishing to see her again and feeling compelled to do so. He needs to know why she broke off the engagement but shrinks from finding out in case the answer to that question may hurt him even further. Is a short period of exquisite felicity all the happiness he can ever expect in life? To forgive her seems as impossible as ever loving another.
'The notion of seeing her might put him at sixes and sevens, might fill him with despair and sorrow, and might rob him of sleep. But still, the alternative—to go away and not see her—was far, far worse.'
I felt like this was a book of two halves, in one respect. The first half was quite slow moving. We see thoughts and feelings mostly from Darcy's perspective, but we are also privy to Elizabeth's and both of them are so heartbroken. They are fearful of being hated by the other, he is angry, she is sorrowful, and they are both in such pain. I felt that this part of the book went on for too long once they were able to be on civil terms, particularly as so much could have been cleared up just by having a simple conversation. You just wanted them to hurry up and speak to one another, and the only thing that prevented them from doing so was that neither took the opportunity to do so.

After the halfway point the story really took off for me. There were some plot points that I foresaw, but there were some twists that I wasn't expecting, and I love that in a story, particularly as due to the nature of JAFF, a lot of stories have similarities.

Some of the characters weren't as I expected either. You so often see them presented in the same  ways that you come to anticipate particular behaviour, yet, if you go back to Austen's characters, so many of them are lightly sketched, so that there is scope for them to be different. A particular character was moved quite a way from their usual JAFF persona which may not please everybody - it's not a character I am particularly fond of from Austen's book, so it didn't bother me at all!

I liked that Elizabeth learned something about her own character - she is a very private person in P&P, and this is something that is considered here. In P&P Mr Darcy is also very private, but he opens himself up to Elizabeth, making himself vulnerable. Elizabeth keeps things to herself until far later in the book.

A minor character I particularly enjoyed was the elder Fitzwilliam brother. We never meet him in P&P, though of course we know he exists as Colonel Fitzwilliam is the second son, so this is an opportunity for an author to have free rein in creating the character. Lord Saye is so funny, and came up with some very Oscar Wilde style quotes.
'Saye cleared his throat. "This is neither proper enough for polite society nor scandalous enough to interest me, and therefore, I beg you would stop."
I would recommend this book to JAFF lovers, particularly those who are fond of angst. Although the level of angst isn't that deep, it goes on for quite a while. I would make sure you have planned in some reading time because I wouldn't have wanted to break off during the angsty bit and pick up later. I started the book early enough in the evening that I could read right through

Once through the angst, there were some plotting twists and turns which you could either try to fathom out, or just sit back and see where the author takes the story. I enjoyed the fresh take on the characters away from the norm, the betrayal that I only partly suspected, the magnifying effect of character flaws on events. A particular highlight of this book for me was the dialogue, it's often witty and sparkling. I would have liked a bit more romantic page time between Elizabeth and Darcy, though, as a lot of their time together is spent very uncertainly.

There are no sex scenes in the book but the book isn't prim and proper and there are references to bawdy behaviour, though not by E&D.

For me, this was a four star read. I look forward to reading more of Amy D'Orazio's works as they are published.

4 star read


Buy Links:

The book is available to buy now, in kindle and paperback. - Amazon US / Amazon UK. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelves.

Author Amy D'Orazio
Amy D’Orazio’s Author Biography:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

Contact Info:  

• Website • Goodreads Author Page • Twitter • Facebook • Pinterest     

Giveaway Time!

Book Cover: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio8 eBooks of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on February 21 – until midnight ET on March 8, 2018.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.


Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.



Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio

February 21 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
February 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
February 23 Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 24 My Vices and Weaknesses / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
February 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway
February 26 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
February 27 Savvy Verse and Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 28 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway
March 1 So Little Time / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 2 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
March 3 Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview
March 4 Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway
March 5 Diary of an Eccentric / Guest Post & Giveaway

March 6 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway