Monday, 27 July 2020

The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion by Maria Grace - Excerpt and Giveaway

I’m happy to be welcoming Maria Grace back to the blog. As you may know, Maria has written some stories weaving Dragons in with Austen’s stories, and she has two books which cover Persuasion, The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion. The story picks up Anne and Wentworth’s stories from five years before the start of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and covers the entire Persuasion novel. The second of the two books release earlier this month and to celebrate Maria has been having a blog tour. She’s stopped by here for a guest post and giveaway. Let’s take a look at the blurbs for both books and then hand over to Maria Grace.

Blog Tour: Jane Austen's Dragons - Persuasion

Book Descriptions

Book cover: Dragons of Kellynch by Maria Grace
Dragons of Kellynch  

In order to secure her future, a young lady must marry well.

One would think Anne Elliot, a baronet’s daughter, would find the marriage mart far easier to navigate than a more ordinary woman. One would be wrong.

After refusing a poor, but otherwise perfect sailor, on the advice of her friend Lady Russell, Anne finds an unhappy choice before her: marry deathly dull Charles Musgrove or hope against hope that another suitable proposal might come her way before she becomes a spinster on the shelf.

Anne’s disgracefully independent choice to refuse Charles’ offer turns her world entirely arsey-varsey and not in the expected  turned upside down sort of way. She begins to see things … hear things … things like dragons.

And once one sees dragons, one talks to them. And when one talks to them, nothing is ever the same again.

Must a young lady marry well if she hears dragons?

https://books2read.com/DragonsofKellynch

Book cover: Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion by Maria Grace
Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion

Keeping a hibernating dragon should have been a simple thing.

Should have been, but it was not. Apparently, nothing involving dragons was ever simple, at least not for Anne Elliot, junior Keeper to dragon Kellynch.

With the estate in debt, Anne’s father in denial, and the dragon’s treasure missing, Kellynch’s awakening was shaping up to be nothing short of catastrophe. Not to mention there was the pesky matter of her own broken heart and resentment against the old friend who had caused it.

Captain Frederick Wentworth had spent his life making something of himself in the Navy. With the  war that kept him employed at an end and a small fortune in prize money, he found himself beached and at loose ends. What was he to do with himself now—take a wife like Laconia, his dragon Friend, insisted? Not when none compared to the woman who had broken his heart.

Working as an agent of the Blue Order, managing dragon matters across England, seemed a much better alternative. At least until investigating one such matter sent him directly in the path of Anne Elliot, the woman who had ruined him for all others.

Now a royal dragon rages, a sleeping dragon lurks, and too many treasures have gone missing. Can Anne and Wentworth lay aside resentment, pride, and heartbreak to prevent Kellynch’s awakening from ending in bloodshed—or worse?

Jane Austen meets Pern in a fantastical regency romp bound to delight readers of Jane Austen and Anne McCaffrey alike.

https://books2read.com/KellynchDragonPersuasion

Guest Post from Maria Grace

Thanks so much for letting me share my new project with you, Ceri. I’m utterly tickled to announce that the Persuasion arc of my Jane Austen’s Dragons series is complete with the release of Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion.  Now wait, I can hear you muttering and rolling your eyes, “Dragons? Really? Seriously—dragons?  Why—just why?”

Trust me, you’re not the first to roll their eyes at me and give me that look, expecting an answer like “Because zombies, vampires and werewolves have already been done.” (While that is utterly true and the sort of thing I might say if you caught me at just the right—or wrong—moment) it honestly isn’t the best answer.

But believe it or not, I really do have an excellent reason. You’re rolling your eyes at me again, but give me a chance and hear me out. If you take a glance at English mythology, it is FULL OF DRAGONS. Seriously, they are everywhere.

Throughout Britain’s history, the lands were settled by peoples who brought dragons, their symbolism, and imagery from their homelands. The Britons, Gauls, and Germanics peoples (just to name a few) brought myths with them that mingled with indigenous ideas, reinforcing and modifying them into new and unique versions of dragons. Moreover, the influence of Byzantium and the Crusades added to the influx of draconic influence, once again altering the understood ways dragons might look and behave. These ancient dragons did not resemble today’s image of a four-footed, winged, fire breathing lizard. The earliest dragons were often more snake-like (hence the reference to ‘worms’ in many myths) and often aquatic. 

Dragon stories and legends were passed down through oral tradition, both in story and ballad form until literacy became a thing. Once it did, along about the late 1600’s, those traditional ballad lyrics were published in “broadsheets” or “broadside ballads” and in newspapers.   People knew these songs and stories and kept them alive through the ensuing centuries.

That means it’s likely that Jane Austen herself was familiar with many of these dragon legends. If mash-ups had been a thing in her day, I’d be quite willing to bet that dragons would have been one of her first thoughts simply because they were so prevalent in local imaginations.

So I present for you, what Persuasion might have been had Jane Austen considered dragons a part of the world as she knew it, with an excerpt from Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion.

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Book Cover: Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion by Maria Grace
July 10, 1814

Wentworth settled himself into the seat in the dark corner of the dark pub, pulling his deep brown coat a little closer. How odd and uncomfortable it was, being out of uniform—and without Laconia, who hated places like this. The moonless night made the place even darker.

Dark.

Yes, that was what he felt. Dark.

Cramped, crowded and common; this same pub, currently in Portsmouth, existed in every port town. The name of the place never mattered; the same saucy serving maids, the same watered-down rum, the same greasy grey food stuffs on the same battered pewter plates made one indistinguishable from another.

Though there were advantages to being back on land, there were some things about being at sea one missed. On the ocean, one felt a sense of community with shipmates perpetually at one’s elbow. Yes, at times it was dreary indeed, the same faces, sometimes even the same conversations day after day. But the reliableness of it all, that was a good thing, especially at times like this. Times when the need for company to silence the annoying clatter in his head overrode the need for the company to be good or of any quality at all, except loud.

Reeson, a tall, gaunt, but seasoned lieutenant from the Laconia, waved to him from the far side of the room. His blue coat hung off him like something handed down to him from an elder brother, and his unruly hair drooped over his eyes—he would rather shove it out of his way than manage it in any fashion, lazy sot. He approached with swaggering steps, a pint in his hand, waving to the plump serving girl with a stained apron, who followed him, a tankard in each hand. He fell into a chair across the roughhewn table from Wentworth.

If his walk had not given it away, his breath did. Gah! The lad surely had several—no, many—pints already. But as drunks went, Reeson was harmless enough. He waxed nostalgic for home and his girl when fuddled. Rather mawkish really, but it was better than belligerent and looking to have a brush with someone. And Reeson’s company was still better than being alone with his own thoughts.

“Cap’n,” Reeson motioned the girl to set down the mugs.

She slid one toward Wentworth with a saucy wink. He nodded at her. Not the sort of company he favored, or even wanted right now.

“It’s been water bewitched ya’ know, but what can ya’ ‘spect in a place as this?” Reeson rocked side to side as though he had not yet got his land legs back.

Wentworth sipped the tankard. Weak and watery—how many had it taken to get Reeson in that state? He must have been here most of the day. “Much better barley broth to be found on the Laconia.” He laughed and lifted the mug.

“Aye, that there was. I tell ya’, sir, I’m not sure ‘bout being beached, ya’ know. Can’t be anything good come of it.”

“I thought you were going to make up for lost time with your wife.”

He swayed a bit faster, bushy brow pulling low over dark eyes. “That were the plan, no. It were.”

“And now?”

“I’m worried, Cap’n, I be worried.” Reeson parked his elbows on the table and pressed his face into his hands.

“Whatever for.”

“I ‘eard about Benwick’s lass, and I can’t get the damn thought outta me ‘ead now.”

Wentworth nearly dropped his tankard and set it hard on the table. “Benwick’s lass? Fanny Harville?”

“That be the name me thinks.” Reeson emptied the drink he had brought with him and reached for the next. “I dread to think I could be the next to get such news.”

“What news?”

“You ‘aven’t ‘eard?”

“Damn it man, tell me what you know.” Wentworth balled his fists under the table. Shaking the man in a public house would probably not get the information out any faster.

“A letter come to Blake from Harville ‘imself, and it said Fanny Harville were dead.”

“Dead?”

“Said she slipped the wind with a churchyard cough near the last full moon, or were it the one before? I can’t ‘member, but do it matter when it ‘appened, if she won’t be there when ‘e return?” Reeson dragged his grimy sleeve over his eyes. “Don’t know what I’ll do if I get such news.”

Wentworth rose and shoved his pint toward Reeson. “There is no reason to think you will hear such a thing, too. Chin up, you will see. Have you written to her yet?”

“I can’t, I just can’t. What if she never writes back?”

“Don’t be a fool man. Consider it an order, write to her in the morning, and you will have good news by the end of the week.” Wentworth rolled his eyes. He used to have to force Dick Musgrove to write to his family, too. That was not an exercise to be repeated … what was he, some sort of schoolmaster to force his men to practice their correspondence?

He nodded at Reeson and rushed out into the cool embrace of the darkness. A flickering street lamp across the dusty street from the pub offered him a meager refuge within its circle of pallid light.

Dead? Fanny Harville was dead? She had always been so healthy, so strong. A beautiful girl, vibrant, with a quick wit and ready smile. How could she be dead? He clutched the lamp post, knees weakening.

Who else had died since he had been to sea? Croft and Sophy were well—at least as of the last letter he had received. Edward had written to him recently and claimed to be hale and hearty. Bad news from any family he cared about was not likely.

Edward had said nothing about the families near Monkford, though. He usually did, even though he was in Shropshire now. Why had he not offered some report on the Elliots? He always found it great sport to poke fun at them. With good reason, of course.

Had something happened among them? Had the baronet died and the heir taken over? Had he thrown Anne and her sisters out of their home? Laconia still thought him bitter, but even he was not bitter enough to wish that fate upon them.

A cold wave washed over him. He leaned hard against the lamp post. Was Anne dead? Is that why Edward did not mention her, thinking to spare his feelings?

Wentworth snorted and grumbled under his breath. Edward need not have worried. What did it matter? She was hardly his concern now. If she was dead, why would he dread the news?

He leaned his forehead against the cold iron post. Why indeed, why indeed?

The Elliots, none of them were any concern of his.

But Benwick was. Poor sot had just moved onto the Grappler, his first command. To be beached right after making captain, now this? How could a man have such a run of bad luck? One that he surely did not deserve.

Granted, Benwick was not exactly a popular man. Serious and bookish, he lacked a certain charisma that marked most captains of his acquaintance. Seamen often found him difficult to approach, and Laconia claimed a ready dislike for him, as he did for many of the dragon-deaf. But none of that changed the fact that Benwick was a good man. Faithful, loyal and dependable as the day was long. A man of his word whom one could trust to have one’s back. The kind of friend one did not turn away from easily.

The sort of man who would be crushed when he heard the news. He had been persuaded not to marry Fanny before he shipped out in the hopes of returning with sufficient prize money that they could be well settled.

Benwick might never forgive himself for that decision.

A man should not be alone, without his friends, at such a time. And he should hear the bad news from someone who cared for him, not a drunk in a pub.

Tomorrow, he would seek out Blake and confirm Reeson’s story. If it was true, then he would go to Portsmouth to find the Grappler himself and deliver the news to Benwick.

Then what? He stared into the night sky, stars looking down on him, demanding answers.

Damn it all. He had been planning to take some time and visit with Harville and his family. Laconia liked the man well enough and had been instrumental in Harville’s survival from those horrible bullet wounds. Wentworth shuddered. Grisly, horrible, bloody… one more testament to the Laconia being the luckiest ship in the fleet.

He could not impose himself upon a family that might still be in mourning—when exactly had Fanny passed?— Harville’s wife had been very close to Fanny, they all lived together whilst the men were out to sea.

Now where would he go?

He leaned against the lamp post, staring into the dark, rocking slightly as if with the sway of the sea.

Where indeed? He had been out at sea so long now that few places on land felt like home. Edward would surely welcome him in Shropshire. That was certainly an option. Sophy’s last letter suggested she and Croft were looking to let an estate—a nice one. They were planning to enjoy this spell on land whilst it lasted. And he was very welcome to spend some time with them when he was able.

Laconia liked them and their Friend White, although how or even if the hippocampus would adapt to life on land was an interesting question. One that might be worth answering.

Perhaps it was time to do just that. Start fresh in an unknown place. Contact the Blue Order like Laconia and Croft suggested, see about work with them. That would certainly be interesting—dragons always made life very interesting.

Perhaps he might even follow Laconia’s advice and look for some reasonably agreeable female to make his wife, settle down and begin his life anew. A woman nothing like Anne, of course. Someone with a strength of will and purpose, who knew her own mind and would not be persuaded away from it. Certainly, there must be a dragon-hearing woman like that somewhere in England.

Sophy might know one. Yes, she would be an excellent person to consult on the matter.

If nothing else, Sophy would probably enjoy the opportunity to renew her acquaintance with Laconia. They were rather fond of one another.

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Is it a little off the beaten path for Austenesque fiction? Absolutely! But what better time to try out something entirely new and different than a year like 2020?

If you’d like to have a peek at more previews, check them out on my website, RandomBitsofFascinaion.com.  The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion

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Author Maria Grace
Author Bio

Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. Her books are available at all major online booksellers.  

She can be contacted at

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com  Facebook  TwitterRandom Bits of Fascination  Austen Variations   English Historical Fiction Authors  Pinterest

Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion by Maria Grace
Buy Links

The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion are both available to buy now in Paperback or Kindle.

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Giveaway Time!

Maria Grace is very kindly offering to give away a copy of each The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion, open to international entrants. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day worldwide on Sunday 2 August.

Note about comments: I’ve had some spam comments lately, so will be turning on comment moderation, which means that your comment won’t appear straight away. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

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9 comments:

  1. I have read the other books and do want to read this one. Thanks for chance to win a copy. I will read it...win or not. It is just a matter of time.

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    1. Hope you enjoy these books when you read them, Sheila!

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  2. I do appreciate a good dragon story so I'm so glad that Maria Grace went out on a limb and created this fab series and continued with this second season set in Persuasion's world.

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    1. I like the idea of the dragon stories but haven't read any of them yet, Sophia.

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  3. So glad the dragons have come to Persuasion.

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    1. Hope you enjoy the books when you read them Darcybennett!

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  4. I'm delighted that the Persuasion arc in the dragon series is completed. I would love to read both books though I've never tried reading the other books in the series yet.

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    1. I haven't read them yet either, so many books! These sound like a fun concept, don't they.

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  5. Winner chosen: http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com/2020/08/giveaway-winners-victoria-kincaid.html

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