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!


Book Description

Book Cover: The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams
“Whatever else happens, and we may expect dark days ahead, never doubt that in this moment, beneath this perfect blue sky, on this warm September day, you are loved as no other woman has ever been loved before. You are loved for all that you are, for all you once were, and for all that you will come to be.” – Fitzwilliam Darcy

Lady Lambert, or Elizabeth Bennet as she was once known, appears to have made the perfect match. Having refused Mr Darcy’s proposal of marriage at Hunsford, she is now married to a viscount. Yet beneath her fine clothes beats a heart filled with regrets. Dark secrets lurk in every corner of her elegant London townhouse, and while she might have at her disposal many excellent and numerous carriages, they all seem to take her places she does not truly want to go.

Into her, now desolate, existence comes Mr Darcy again, a changed man, a better man, the very best of men, and still very much in love with her. Is it all impossible? She ought to resist him, yet she cannot stay away. Theirs is a dangerous, scandalous love.

In an age when women are owned by their husbands, can a wife escape a husband she has come to loathe, and when there is blood on her hands, how will Elizabeth explain herself?

***** 

A Pride and Prejudice variation from the author of ‘The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet,’ ‘Ardently’ and ‘When We Are Married.’


My Review

I was very pleased to take part in the blog tour for The Events at Branxbourne, having read one of Caitlin’s previous books, When We are Married. This one is hugely different to my previous read, and although I knew there was a mystery, I wasn’t quite prepared for how different the tone would be. This story is a Pride & Prejudice variation. It picks up a few years after the events of P&P but the storyline diverged after Hunsford. Elizabeth didn’t travel North and visit Pemberley, due to some family events, and therefore didn’t meet with Mr Darcy again. Lydia didn’t visit Brighton, and never eloped with George Wickham. Elizabeth is married (boooo!) while Darcy has remained single. However, it takes a little while for us to learn this, as the novel opens on a train wreck of a scene, which immediately arrests the reader’s attention. It’s a scene of a violent altercation; and Elizabeth fully expects to hang for the murder of her husband:
Hanging is merely falling, after all, and I have been falling for quite some time now. I am heartily sick of the sensation, of hurtling out of control, tumbling deeper and deeper, unable to stop. Something was bound to break at some stage – be it my spirit or my will.
What on earth could have set this scene in motion? Well, we learn that despite having married another, Elizabeth has feelings for her former spurned suitor, Mr Darcy:
Mr Darcy was my downfall, yet he was well worth it. I would do it all again. To have felt the strength of his unyielding love, I will willingly hang. How can I fear Hell, for I am already there, and I will not miss Heaven, for I have felt it. Heaven is him.
The story then flashes back 6 months, to when the paths of Lady Lambert (formerly Miss Elizabeth Bennet) and Mr Darcy crossed again after their parting in Kent, and the story unfolds of the journey to this shocking scene of violence. Alternating chapters from Elizabeth and Darcy’s points of view, we learn of some of their feelings and the events that have led to this point.

There is a strong theme of abuse in this story. Mostly emotional abuse but also non-graphic physical abuse. Emotional abuse and controlling is something that has been around for many hundreds of years, but is only now being seen as a problem by society, and addressed. In older times, such as when this story is set, a husband would have such power over his wife that she was basically his property. The law wouldn’t necessarily protect her from physical abuse for another 150 years, and emotional manipulation and abuse leaves even less visible evidence. It is no wonder that a woman of these times, particularly one without an influential family to back her, would have to try and manage the situation as best she could; treading on eggshells to prevent an outburst, trying to hide the problem from family and society alike, while slowly dying inside:
I was once impudent and brave, but my courage has been stolen from me. I would confront the culprit and ask for it back, but I suspect the thief is me.
It is sad to think of any person living in such a situation, but particularly  to see a character you are already fond of having to repress their personality and actions in such a way, knowing that they could have been loved for who they were if they’d made different choices, is particularly melancholy.

So, the intervening time has taught Elizabeth the truth of the adage ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure’. She has changed quite a lot – though at her core she is the same, her control over her thoughts and behaviour has had to be different, and she has learned a lot about herself from her mistaken choices. But what of Mr Darcy? Well, he has devoted himself to his estate. His withdrawal from high society has meant that in essence, he hasn’t changed much at all, and in one particular his affections and wishes are unchanged:
Her smile is sweet and genuine; such a pretty sight! It should have the power to break my heart if that poor organ was not already shattered into a thousand pieces.
The question is, is there any chance of a happy ending from such a tangle?

This is a compelling read; I didn’t want to put it down as I was eager to know how the story would progress, even though part of me didn’t want to keep reading because I felt so sorry for Elizabeth. An abusive relationship is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Other characters we know from P&P were also in sad situations so the tone of this book is on the darker side.

I am always interested to see an author’s take on the character of Mr Darcy; this Darcy seemed more flawed than the character often is. I was expecting him to have some of the flaws exhibited, such as sometimes being abrupt in speech, and being somewhat businesslike in his approach to women, aside from Elizabeth, of course. Both Darcy and Elizabeth were pursuing a course that that was dishonourable and I’m not sure how I felt about that. There were instances of his behaviour that I found a little disappointing because I hold him to a higher standard. On the one hand, it’s easier to forgive trespasses if they are done against characters you don’t like but on the other hand I see Darcy’s honour as being a fundamental part of his character. The lapses were romantic, but I admired his character less.

Talking of romance, there is plenty of it in this book. What could be more sadly romantic than star-crossed lovers? It’s also a very exciting read. Elizabeth’s husband is extremely controlling, and just to talk to Darcy, to explain some of the events since the last time they met Elizabeth will have to resort to subterfuge. Knowing the husband's probable reaction to his wife meeting with and confiding in another man kept me on tenterhooks. I found this a gripping and emotion-inducing read. I would recommend it, but with the proviso that you don’t go in expecting a light and fluffy read! I’d rate it at 4¾ stars, but I’ll round it up to five. It’s a really gripping read.

5 star read


Author Biography

Author Caitlin Williams
Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England.

She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.

Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.

She has written four variations of Pride and Prejudice, 'Ardently', 'The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet', 'When We Are Married' and 'The Events at Branxbourne'.

‘The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet’ was a best-seller and was voted the readers favourite at Austenesque Reviews in 2016.

Author Links: Goodreads Author Page - Austen Variations

Buy Links

Book cover: The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams
The Events and Braxbourne is available to buy now, or read through kindle unlimited - Amazon UK - Amazon US.

You can also add it to your Goodreads Shelf.

Giveaway Time!

Caitlin is offering a giveaway of a $100 Amazon gift card to accompany the blog tour. To enter, use the rafflecopter.

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

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


Blog Tour Schedule

June 2 /  Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post Launch & Giveaway
June 3 /  Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
June 4 /  Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 /  Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway
June 7 /  From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
June 8 /  Obsessed with Mr Darcy / Book Review & Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams

51 comments:

  1. Caitlin Williams4 June 2018 at 09:37

    Great, thoughtful review, Ceri.

    Thanks for inviting me onto the blog. It was wonderful to visit. No tea and biscuits, but still lovely.

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    1. Thank you Caitlin. It gave me a lot of food for thought, actually. Women had so little power in those days. Makes me glad I live now, even if I have very few diamonds :)

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  2. “Heaven is him”! Some great quotes there, can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing ❤️

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    1. Thanks Claire. I think Ceri picked out some great quotes.

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    2. I'm glad you liked the quotes I picked, Claire! These are all from very early on in the book, so nothing too spoilery.

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  3. Great review Ceri! I agree with you regarding trespasses with Darcy & Elizabeth. I do hold them to higher moral values, but will keep an open mind when reading.

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    1. I think he tries to be honourable, but is too much in love and faces too much temptation.

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    2. On the one hand it's very romantic that their love overcomes their principles (to an extent - boundaries are overstepped, but not as badly as you may have thought from my review). I tried to keep an open mind too.

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  4. Love the idea of a murder (I'm a murder mystery fan) and its JAFF, so a good book for me

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    1. The murder is actually a small part of it. It's really a story of forbidden love. Thanks vesper.

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    2. I hope you enjoy it, Vesper. The mystery here is not who clonked the victim over the head but what drove her to that course of action and if there is any chance of her getting a happy resolution.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your review. It sounds like a great read and I loved the quotes that you shared.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and Ceri did a wonderful job picking out the quotes. Good luck in the giveaway.

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    2. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

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  6. I've been trying to imagine how Elizabeth came to be married to this viscount. We know that she wants to marry only for love. So did she love this guy? If so, his behavior must be especially hurtful. Did she finally give up on her principles and marry him because she felt she wouldn't get any other offers, a la Mr. Collins' prediction? Then she's definitely regretting her choice. I hope the book explains the beginning of their relationship.

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    1. Hi Ginna. Yes, Elizabeth's choice of marriage partner is explained, so you won't have to wonder too much about that.

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  7. Just started this one a couple of days ago, and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds. So well written. ❤️

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    1. So glad you are enjoying it, Pamela. You are far more patient than me, when I am reading I like to keep going until there is no book left to read :)

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  8. Thanks for such a thoughtful review, Ceri. The quotes you've chosen are so poignant and heart-wrenching. This sounds so different to When We Are Married, which I loved, so I'm intrigued to see how this darker story works towards what I assume/hope is a HEA.

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    2. Hi Anji. Yes, it's very different from When We Are Married, but still so good!

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  9. Carole in Canada5 June 2018 at 00:23

    Loved your review Ceri! This is such a compelling story that I am looking forward to reading...I really want to read the paperback!!! I have all of Caitlin's books in paperback! So I'm holding out until then...unless I win one!! Thank you for a chance at the amazing giveaway!

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    1. Hi Carole. I think Caitlin's books are worth buying the paperback too. This is excellent.

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  10. Ah yes, abuse of any stripe is tough to read about and such a turn in the story is a fascinating exploration. Loved getting your thoughts, Ceri!

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    1. I really struggle with reading stories with abuse, Sophia. It's just so abhorrent for one person to weild that much power over another. I know that in those days a husband did have huge power if he chose to exercise it, and the thought is quite frightening. It's one of the things that makes me glad to live in these days rather than back then.

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  11. I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I could not help but have empathy for our characters, especially Elizabeth, as I read through this tale.

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    1. I completely agree, Jen, I felt so bad for Elizabeth. To be living constantly on a knife edge must be exhausting.

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  12. OMG! I wanted to cry when I read those quotes. I don't know why? I will have to prepare my emotions before I start this. Man, this angst will be tough, horrible, and wonderful. I love a good Darcy and am concerned about his honor. I'll reserve my thoughts until I read the story. I am so looking forward to reading this. Thanks Ceri for hosting and to Caitlin for the generous give-a-way. Blessings on the success of this launch.

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    1. Hi Jeanne. Going in prepared is the best thing. I didn't want to spoil things by explaining exactly what happens, and as a result my review may have made behaviour seem worse than it was! To be clear, there is no physical affair between E & D, but there's an emotional one, certainly.

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  13. Very thorough review, Ceri. Loved it!

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  14. Looks like an interesting read -- whatever *did* people do in the days before divorce when they realized they had made a mistake?

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    1. I think divorce was possible... for the man to obtain. If you were the woman you just had to put up with whatever happened. It's scary!

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  15. A very detailed review, Ceri. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and preparing us on what occurred in the story, at least the main plot. I hope Elizabeth and Darcy get their happy ending.

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    1. Thank you Luthien. I was reading this story wondering how it would be possible that any kind of happy ending could come from the situation!

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  16. Hi Ceri,

    It seems like you walked every step along the way with Darcy and Lizzy as they tried to disentangle themselves from the mess they'd inadvertently made of their lives.
    Emotional abuse? Lizzy suffering under such a psychological strain......the vibrant and effervescent Lizzy we all know and love?
    Gosh! The angstometer is turned up quite high in this story. Nevertheless,I'm looking forward to reading it.
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts! ☺️

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    1. Thank you so much Mary! I really did get emotionally involved in this one.

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  17. Great review Ceri, I so much want to read this boos as I love Caitlin's stories. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you KateB. It's definitely worth a read.

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  18. love a good star-crossed lovers story

    denise

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    1. Hi Denise. You know they are destined to be together, but have no idea how it can come about.

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  19. Oh, my favorite couple ever, as starcrossed lovers sounds amazing!! Would like to read it :D

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    1. Hi Jo's Daughter. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it.

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  20. I have bought and read this amazing book already! I thoroughly agree with your review! Bravo Caitlin! Brenda Webb, Author

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it too, Brenda! And thank you for posting your praise, I'm sure it must be wonderful for Caitlin to know that authors enjoy her work too :)

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  21. This sounds wonderful! Thank you for the excellent review.

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    1. Thank you Eva! I hope you enjoy it when you read it too :)

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  22. Thank you for the review! It sounds like the new story might be upsetting to sensitive natures!

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    1. Yes John, people like me! It was very well written though, and the characters aren't being put through the mill for the fun of it, but exploring a theme, which made it easier for me to accept.

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  23. Wow! Great review & introduction for a new-to-me author & book! :) This looks like such a good read!

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    1. It was such a good read! I hope you enjoy it if you read it. If you want something less-angsty, then I can recommend When We Are Married, which is by the same author, but very different in tone!

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