Monday, 13 April 2020

The Bennet Affair by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway!

Book cover: The Bennet Affair by Riana Everly
Today I’m happy to be welcoming author Riana Everly back to the blog with an excerpt from her new book The Bennet Affair. This book sounds very mysterious – there’s definitely something going on! First we will share the blurb with you and then I’ll hand over to Riana for a guest post regarding automata (early mechanical devices) in the 19th century, and an excerpt from The Bennet Affair. Riana has also brought a giveaway!

Book Description

A tale of secrets, sweethearts, and spies!

Elizabeth Bennet’s bedroom in the ancient tower of Longbourn has always been her private haven. So what are those footsteps and shuffling noises she’s now hearing from the room above her head? Drawn from her bed one dark summer night, her clandestine investigations land her in the middle of what looks like a gang of French spies!

William Darcy’s summer has been awful so far, especially after barely rescuing his sister from a most injudicious elopement. Then he is attacked and almost killed nearly at his own front door in one of the best parts of London. Luckily his saviour and new friend, Lord Stanton, has a grand suggestion—recuperate in the countryside and help uncover the workings of a ring of French spies, rumoured to be led by none other than country squire Thomas Bennet!

Drawn together as they work to uncover the truth about the Frenchmen hiding in their midst, Elizabeth and Darcy must use all their intellect as they are confronted with an ingenious code machine, a variety of clockwork devices, ancient secrets and very modern traitors to the Crown. And somewhere along the line, they just might lose their hearts and discover true love—assuming they survive what they learn in the Bennet affair.

The Bennet Affair is a full-length JAFF novel of about 112, 000 words.

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Guest Post from Riana Everly - Automata in the Eighteenth Century

In The Bennet Affair, Lizzy and Darcy are confronted with a sophisticated machine designed to encrypt secret messages. This is the machine the French spies are trying to make work when Lizzy discovers them in the attic at Longbourn one summer night.

This code machine is my own creation, but based on the technology of the time, it might very well have existed.  Music boxes were popular trinkets amongst the well heeled, with moving creatures that danced or spun around as the protruding pins on a metal cylinder plucked the vibrating prongs of a resonant comb, thus producing music. However, much more sophisticated devices existed as well, some of which are still awe-inspiring nearly three hundred years later.

Here’s a video describing three of the most amazing such automata, created by the Jaquet-Droz family between 1768 and 1774. These videos are well worth watching, since no text can describe the sheer awe-inspiring nature of these old devices.

Automaton - The Writer
The Writer

The Writer is an automaton of a boy who sits at a desk with a pen and ink pot, and who writes out simple messages. The exact message can be changed by rearranging some of the pins in the workings of the machine, thereby making this remarkable figure programmable. He is the most complicated and the most famous of the three surviving androids. Link to video.

Automaton - The Musician
The Musician

The Musician is another of the Jaquet-Droz creations, and is the inspiration for Mr. Mendel’s piano-playing figure. She breathes, balances her torso to play, and yes, her fingers actually strike the keys on the little organ before her. This is no simple music box! Link to video.

Automaton - The Silver Swan

The Silver Swan

The Silver Swan dates from 1773, and is the creation of John Joseph Merlin (1735–1803) in conjunction with the London inventor James Cox (1723–1800). It is life size swan made of a clockwork-driven device that includes a music box and devices that move the bird itself as it sits in a stream. The stream is made of glass rods and is surrounded by silver leaves, and contains silver fish that “swim” about. Link to video.

Automaton - The Peacock Clock

The Peacock Clock

The Peacock Clock is another creation of James Cox. It was a gift from Grigory Potemkin to Russian Empress Catherine the Great in 1781. It is a large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds, each of which moves independently, but in synchronicity with each other, as well as a working clock. A moving dragonfly on the mushroom that holds the clock counts the seconds. Today it is a prominent exhibit in the collections of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. Link to video.

Book cover: The Bennet Affair by Riana Everly
Excerpt from The Bennet Affair

Mr. Mendel’s workshop was a place of marvels and amusement, a paradoxical jumble of chaos and order. Three large windows illuminated the space, before each of which sat a long table, the better to catch the brightest light. The tables were strewn with a bewildering assortment of tools and pots of paint and magnifying glasses and trays of springs and cams and flywheels, as well as clocks small and large, in varying stages of completion. The remaining wall space was filled with shelves and tall cabinets of tiny drawers, much like an apothecary might have, each labelled in a meticulous hand, describing what was contained within. Along the expanse of the interior wall sat a small forge, also surrounded by a plethora of tools and unfamiliar implements, and set beside it was a worktable with some pieces of metal that would, Darcy imagined, one day become the inner pieces of clocks or delicate bird wings or elaborate cases in which to house whatever creations the artisan saw fit to render.

Not knowing where to look first, Darcy cast his eyes all over the sizeable space. There were examples of Mr. Mendel’s craft everywhere. Larger pieces were scattered around the room, some on the floor if they were of a suitable size, some on small stands and tables. Darcy was drawn at first to a globe very much like the one Mr. Gardiner had shown him the previous evening, but his attention was soon captured by a remarkable life-sized figurine of a young woman seated at a keyboard, a wistful smile painted upon her porcelain face.

“My wife requested me to make this one,” Mr. Mendel’s voice interrupted Darcy’s wonderment. “Allow me, if you please, sir.” He shuffled to the figurine and wound some mechanism under her gown at her back, then stepped aside to watch his guest. Darcy stood, curious, as nothing happened for a moment, and then gasped in astonishment as the figure began to move. At first she seemed merely to be breathing, her chest rising and falling regularly under her gown, and her head swaying gently upon her neck as her eyes roved across the room. “Attend, sir,” the clockmaker winked, and Darcy found himself quite lost in astonishment, for at the moment, the artificial woman’s fingers began to move up and down upon the keys before her.

“By Jove!” he gasped. He knew this piece, this short air that his sister had played many years before when first she was learning the pianoforte. He swung his head around towards Mr. Mendel, who gestured with a hand, inviting Darcy to approach the fantastic machine. The counterfeit pianist’s fingers were moving up and down, striking the keys, which produced their tones. This was no music box with pins on a rotating cylinder and metal teeth on a tiny comb, but a complicated and sophisticated piece of machinery that actually played the keyboard. Darcy touched one of the keys and the discordant note sounded with the melody the automaton was performing.

He felt his eyes must be as wide as saucers, and surely his mouth hung agape. “By Jove!” he repeated, “This is the most astounding thing I have ever been privileged to see. It is remarkable, miraculous, even. You are a genius. There is no other word for it!”

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Author Bio

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!

Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

You can visit Riana's website, follow her blog,  and join her on Facebook and Twitter. She loves meeting readers!

Buy Link

The Bennet Affair is available to buy now! It's available in various ebook formats - see the buy link for details. You can also add the book to your Goodreads shelf.


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Giveaway Time!

Book cover: The Bennet Affair by Riana Everly
Riana Everly is giving away one eBook on each stop on this blog tour. To enter, just make a comment and leave an email address so Riana can contact the winner. If you don’t want to publicly put down your email address comment that you've sent your email address to me and I will pass it on to Riana for you. See the contact me page for how to get in touch with me. 

Riana will enter names into a random number selector to pick the winner. The deadline for entering will be five days after the blog is posted.

Note Regarding Comments: I love to read your comments, but a few blog visitors have reported difficulties in commenting, particularly while using the Safari browser. If you are unable to comment, please try using another web browser, such as Google Chrome, or please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

Book cover: The Bennet Affair by Riana EverlyBlog Tour Schedule

Check out the other stops on the blog tour!



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30 comments:

  1. Gotta love intrigue!! And that is a gorgeous cover.

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    1. It's a lovely cover isn't it! All of Riana's covers are pretty.

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    2. Thanks! I'm always so happy with what my cover artist sends me.

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  2. The automata are interesting, I have not come across them before.

    meikleblog(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I was just fascinated by some of the things that were built back then. And they're beautiful as well, not just technically brilliant.

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    2. I am surprised that they are so old! I have only seen such things on the Antiques Roadshow tv programme, mostly Victorian ones.

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  3. Thank you for the excerpt. Amazing creation. However, I don't think I will ever own an automata. It gives me the creeps! I think Chucky messed me up.

    eanoba@yahoo.com

    Thank you for the chance

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    1. Oh yes! I can see that. I wouldn't say no to a little music box, though. Good luck in the draw.

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    2. Chucky was pretty scary to be fair!

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  4. The automation are truly fascinating. Congrats on your latest release. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Aren't they amazing? I could watch that little boy write for hours. I hope you enjoy the novel.

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    2. Hi Dung! Glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it.

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  5. Beautiful cover. What a graceful hand! I love automata. Incredible works of art and technology.
    mstron2(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you. The whole paining (of a young girl holding her pet parrot) is so pretty.

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    2. Graceful is just the word isn't it!

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  6. This sounds intriguing. Thanks for the chance to win. odara7rox@rcn.com

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    1. I hope you enjoy the story. Good luck in the draw.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by Sheila!

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  7. When I watched the video... my reaction was the same as Darcy's... an initial gasp and my mouth hanging open. OMG! Oh-My-Gosh it is hard to believe some conceived the idea, designed it, and then created it. Fabulous concept to incorporate into a JAFF story. I can't wait to read how you did it. Thanks to Ceri for hosting and thanks to Riana and her publisher for the generous giveaway. I have this on my wish-list. Good luck to all in the drawings. Blessings and stay healthy and safe, everyone. jwgarrett13(@)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. I was stunned when I started exploring these automata some time ago. They're just amazing! Good luck in the draw.

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  8. I love the automaton incorporation into the story - they have always fascinated me. I do enjoy a bit of intrigue/mystery in Darcy’s and Lizzy’s relationship. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. Best of luck on your blog tour. I will leave my email with Cheri.

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    1. Aren't they fascinating? To build those things just with clockwork is amazing. Pure genius.

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    2. It's a different twist isn't it!

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  9. Oh, Riana, this sounds marvelous. Congrats. Sharon Legg. I will forward my email.

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  10. To have a music box like that...those are works of art. Thank you for sharing more of your research. My reaction mimics Darcy's.
    skamper25 (at) Gmail (dot) com

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  11. I've been looking forward to this book. Thank you.

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