Wednesday, 13 November 2019

There's Something About Darcy by Dr Gabrielle Malcolm - Blog Tour - Review

Blog Tour: There's Something About Darcy by Dr Gabrielle Malcolm
Today the blog tour stops here for Dr Gabrielle Malcolm's There's Something About Darcy. As you will know, Mr Darcy is something of a remarkable character. Even people who shun 'romantic' novels know his name. He is a by-word for the epitome of the perfect romantic hero - many people are searching for their Mr Darcy in a world of Wickhams.

The vast majority of Austenesque works are based on Pride & Prejudice, and part of that is down to the appeal of its hero. But why is Mr Darcy the chosen one rather than the more amiable Bingley, witty Tilney, dashing Wentworth or gentlemanly Mr Knightley? I have my own theories, as I am sure you do, and I was interested to see what Gabrielle Malcolm's theories are. Let's look at the blurb, and then I will share my review with you.

Book cover: There's Something About Darcy by Dr Gabrielle Malcolm
Book Description

For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. But what is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?

Dr Gabrielle Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.

In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Winner - When Charlotte Became Romantic by Victoria Kincaid

Book cover: When Charlotte Became Romantic by Victoria Kincaid
Recently we were joined by Victoria Kincaid, who came here to share an excerpt of her new Pride & Prejudice-inspired novel, When Charlotte Became Romantic, which as the title suggests, focuses on the famously unromantic Miss Charlotte Lucas. You can read the excerpt here.

Victoria was kindly offering to give away an ebook of When Charlotte Became Romantic. I chose the winner using a random number generator, and the winner selected was...

Buturot!

Congratulations to you. I have your email address so will drop you a line.

Thanks to everybody who read the blog post, and all those who commented. Special thanks to Victoria for the giveaway.

If you weren't the lucky winner and would like to console yourself, why not treat yourself to a copy of When Charlotte Became Romantic? It's available to buy now.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads shelf

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Friday, 8 November 2019

The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall - Blog Tour - Review

Blog Tour: The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall

The blog tour for Diana Birchall's Northanger Abbey sequel, The Bride of Northanger, stops here today for my review of the book. I read Northanger Abbey a few years ago and would heartily recommend it. I was very interested to read this sequel, because so much Austenesque that I read is based on Pride & Prejudice and it's good to have a change. I have also read very few sequels of the stories, so I was intrigued to where Diana Birchall would take these characters. Let's look at the blurb, and then we will move on to what I thought of The Bride of Northanger.

Book cover: The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall
Book Description

A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share - that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real...until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied - events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other ...

Friday, 1 November 2019

The Perfect Gentleman by Julie Cooper - Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

Book cover: The Perfect Gentleman by Julie Cooper
Today the blog tour for Julie Cooper's The Perfect Gentleman stops here. Thank you for joining us!

When I first discovered the world of Austen-inspired novels I stumbled across unpublished fiction. I'm sure a lot of readers do, your book-buying budget will only stretch so far! I don’t read much unpublished work these days but in the days when I could, JulieCoop was one of my favourite authors. I hadn’t read all of her stories, but her modern ones (The Best LightPounds) have made it on to my list of stories that I’ve re-read many times.

I can understand why people are reluctant to publish but I am always so happy when writers I've enjoyed reading online make their work available to a wider audience. Julie Cooper is one such writer and so I was very keen to take part in this blog tour. Let's look at the blurb and then I'll share my review of The Perfect Gentleman with you :)

Book Description

’Tis no secret that Lizzy Bennet has dreams. The uniquely talented daughter of a woman with a dubious reputation, Lizzy knows she must make her own way in a world that shuns her. Fitzwilliam Darcy carries the stains of his family’s disgrace upon his soul and only by holding himself to the strictest standards has he reclaimed his place in society.

Now Georgiana Darcy has gone missing. If his fifteen-year-old sister cannot be found quickly, the scandal could destroy Darcy’s years of perfect behaviour. Lizzy Bennet know just what to do to find Georgiana. She is willing to join the pursuit to get what she wants but will Darcy be willing to trust her with his secrets? And what will they do when the search for Georgiana reveals what neither expected to find?

The Perfect Gentleman is a romantic adventure so big it needs two volumes in one book. Follow the adventure in A Not-So-Merry Chase and discover the surprises and temptations that await at Pemberley in Love Wisely But Well.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Winners of Miss Price's Decision by Eliza Shearer and Jane Austen's Ghost by Jennifer Kloester

I have a double winner's post for you today :)

Book cover: Miss Price's Decision by Eliza Shearer
Recently we were joined by Eliza Shearer, who visited to tell us about her new book, Miss Price's Decision. This book takes characters from more than one Austen novel, but the main character in the story is Susan Price, sister of Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. You can read Eliza's guest post and excerpt here. Eliza was giving away an ebook of Miss Price's Decision to a commenter on the post. The winner was chosen at random, and that person was....

Bookluver88

Congratulations, I will drop you an email.

Book cover: Jane Austen's Ghost by Jennifer Kloester
We were also joined by author Jennifer Kloester. She has written a book with Jane Austen as a character - or if not as a character, as a spirit. Jane Austen's Ghost is a modern day story perfect for this time of year. Jennifer brought us a really informative guest post about the Prince Regent's librarian, James Stanier Clarke, and an ebook giveaway of Jane Austen's Ghost. Again the winner was chosen at random and that person was...

Vesper

Congratulations to you! I will email you too.

Thanks to everybody who visited the blog posts and commented, and of course thank you to our authors and publishers for the giveaways.

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Monday, 28 October 2019

When Charlotte Became Romantic by Victoria Kincaid - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: When Charlotte Became Romantic by Victoria Kincaid
Victoria Kincaid is visiting us today to tell us about her latest story, When Charlotte Became Romantic. This is focusing on Charlotte Lucas, who, as we all know was prudent rather than romantic... but what if things had been different? Let's take a look at the blurb and then hand over to Victoria, who has brought an excerpt of the book for us to enjoy and a giveaway.

Book Description

In the original Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s friend, Charlotte Lucas marries the silly and obsequious clergyman, Mr. Collins.  But what if fate—and love—intervened?

Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature.  But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision. 

James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man.  Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton.  Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms.  If they are to be happy, Charlotte and James must contend with her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s nastiness, and dangerous figures from James’s past. 

Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?

Monday, 21 October 2019

Winner of Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions by Maria Grace

Book cover: Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions by Maria Grace
Recently we were joined by Maria Grace with her latest book, Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions. You can read Maria's post here, including an excerpt.

Maria was kindly giving away an ebook of Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions to one of the commenters on her post. A winner was chosen at random, and that person was....

Lily Bernard!

Congratulations to you! I will be in touch.

If you weren't lucky enough to win this time, Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions is available to buy now! - Universal Buy Link / Add to Goodreads Shelf

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Jane Austen's Ghost by Jennifer Kloester - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: Jane Austen's Ghost by Jennifer Kloester
Today I'm welcoming a new visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm, Jennifer Kloester.  I've read Jennifer's work previously - she  has written books relating to my second favourite writer, Georgette Heyer, one of which I read in my pre-blogging days. Obviously, a person who admires Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer is a person of good taste, so I was very pleased to take part in the blog tour for her new book, Jane Austen's Ghost. Jennifer joins us today with a guest post and giveaway. So let's start with the blurb and then I'll hand over to Jennifer.

Book Description

A masterpiece of wit, ingenuity and impeccable style, Regency maven Jennifer Kloester brings the great Jane Austen into the modern world in this enchanting, exhilarating adventure of love, literature and life everlasting...

With her life a mess, Cassandra Austin seeks refuge in Winchester with her eccentric great-aunt – but Aunty B has problems of her own. Ghost problems.

Cassie doesn’t believe in ghosts but she’ll do anything to help the only person who’s ever loved her. Besides, a simple spell in the cathedral crypt couldn’t do any harm, could it? Well, except for the two-hundred-year-old curse on Jane Austen, that is.

Overnight, life is suddenly a whole lot weirder and it’s up to Cassie to save the day with the help of a dour Bishop, two literary geniuses, a couple of wise-cracking geriatrics and the enigmatic Oliver Carling.

Magic and mystery abound in this genre-bending contemporary-historical paranormal romance with a Regency twist.

ADVANCE REVIEWS,

“Jane Austen's Ghost is a fabulous, fun read full of fantastical twists - mind-candy for anyone who has heard of Jane Austen. Meticulously researched, this work is nevertheless a tour de force of the imagination. Although steeped in all things Austen, due to its imaginative presentation, this work will appeal to readers everywhere – from Austen scholars to the man in the street. This is a work that transcends genres, incorporating a contemporary-historical paranormal adventure, a sweet romance, and a female protagonist in a coming-of-age arc. A truly not-to-be-missed read destined to become a classic.”
-- STEPHANIE LAURENS

“Jennifer Kloester’s meticulous research frameworks an intriguing, complex fantasy, as well as a gorgeously intimate insight into a concept of the Jane Austen we’d love to have at our dinner table. The characters are marvelous, the friendships warm and deep, and the plot holds us spellbound until the end. A truly fabulous read.”
-- MARION LENNOX

“Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter in this fast-paced romp from Georgette Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester. There are laugh out loud moments but genuinely scary moments, too, in this diverting tale. Supernatural elements mix with Regency manners as Jane Austen finds herself grappling with the twenty-first century in Jane Austen’s Ghost.”
-- AMANDA GRANGE

Friday, 18 October 2019

Miss Price's Decision by Eliza Shearer - Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Miss Price's Decision by Eliza ShearerI'm very happy to be welcoming Eliza Shearer back to the blog today. Eliza visited us previously with her book, Miss Darcy's Beaux, which focused on the sister of Pride & Prejudice's Mr Darcy, but also included characters from other Austen novels such as Persuasion and Mansfield Park. This latest book, Miss Price's Decision relates to Miss Susan Price, sister of Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. Both books are stand-alone, so you don't need to have read the first to dive into the second.

I am so happy that a book has been written featuring Mansfield Park characters. Firstly, because I like to see books other than P&P get some love, and secondly, I am particularly happy that Susan Price gets to be the main character, because I struggled to like Fanny Price when I read Mansfield Park until she went to Portsmouth, widened her views and became a more compassionate character, thanks to her appreciation of Susan's efforts to improve herself.

Like Miss Darcy's Beaux, Miss Price's Decision also features characters from other Austen novels, and Eliza Shearer has brought us an excerpt that gives us a peep at some of these characters. Let's look at the blurb and then I'll hand over to Eliza for a guest post and excerpt. She's also brought an ebook giveaway!

Book Description

Pretty, talented and hungry for adventure, young Susan Price is secretly thrilled when the poor health of Lady Bertram, her aunt and protector, forces a departure from sedate Mansfield Park. London and Bath offer a world of possibilities and new friendships, such as the Allens and Miss Moreland, or Mr Bingley and his mysterious friend, Mr Darcy. However, with momentous decisions on the horizon, new enemies that threaten her place in the Bertram household and an unexpected encounter from her Portsmouth past, will Susan's self-belief and unlikely allies be enough to secure her happiness?

Friday, 11 October 2019

Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions by Maria Grace - Excerpt and Giveaway

We are joined by Maria Grace today, with her latest book, Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions. Maria has brought us a lovely long excerpt and an ebook giveaway too! Let's look at the blurb and then hand over to Maria.
Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions by Maria Grace

Book cover: Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions by Maria GraceBook Description

Darcy is at his wits end.

As guardian to his younger sister, he wants her to become a properly accomplished woman--she is coming out soon, after all. But Georgiana steadfastly refuses despite the encouragement of Elizabeth Bennet, long time Darcy family friend.  Darcy invites a few guests to Pemberley in the hopes of encouraging Georgiana's improvement with a taste of society.

Unexpected additions to the party prove dangerously distracting, leaving the Darcy family on the brink of disaster. Elizabeth holds the key to their restoration, but she has fled Pemberley, unable to tolerate another day in the Darcys' company.

Will Darcy relinquish his pride and prejudice to seek out a woman below his notice before his family is irreparably ruined?


Monday, 7 October 2019

A Case of Some Delicacy by KC Kahler - Blog Tour, Guest Post and Giveaway

Today I'm welcoming KC Kahler back to the blog. She visited here a long time ago with Boots and Backpacks, a modernisation of Pride & Prejudice. She's just released a new book, A Case of Some Delicacy, which is a Pride & Prejudice variation. KC joins us for a guest post as part of her blog tour, and there's a giveaway too! Read on for more details.

Book Cover: A Case of Some Delicacy by KC Kahler
Book Description

A secret alliance grows when an unwanted suitor arrives at Longbourn...

When rumours of Jane Bennet’s impending betrothal to her father’s heir begin spreading at the Meryton Assembly, Elizabeth vows to save her dearest sister’s happiness from being sacrificed in marriage.

She finds an unlikely accomplice in Mr Darcy, the taciturn man whose heroics on the cricket field have managed to turn Lydia Bennet’s infatuation away from redcoats. Upon overhearing a heated exchange between Elizabeth and Mr Bennet, Darcy is stunned not only by her devotion to her sister, but also by her defiant words to her father. An inexplicable desire to help Elizabeth draws Darcy into the match-breaking scheme, despite knowing that he should want nothing to do with a family like the Bennets.

As the new allies work together, their friendship deepens into mutual admiration. But they must navigate a complicated web of sisters, parents, friends, cousins, and aunts, some of whom may be attempting their own manipulations and romantic schemes. Eavesdropping and jealousy abound, cricket balls go astray, and love blooms in spite of Mrs. Bennet’s misguided matchmaking.

Guest Post from KC Kahler

Hey there! Thanks to Ceri for hosting a blog stop for my new book A Case of Some Delicacy, and thanks to you all for checking it out!

Today I’d like to discuss our favorite fictional family, the Bennets. I’m going to use some visual aids I created. You may have seen some of these memes combining headlines from the satirical “newspaper” The Onion with stills from various Austen adaptations. They went viral a few years ago, which was very strange and fun for me.

But back to those Bennets… In A Case of Some Delicacy, I tried to fill in some of the gaps, so that by the end they seem like a real family.

I’ll start not with any character, but with the dreaded entail of Longbourn, which has a huge effect on the family dynamics. Only Mr. Bennet stands between the Bennet girls and disaster. One hopes he has a very long life.

Meme - Mr Bennet's Age

As all Austen fans know, this precarious situation has made Mrs. Bennet rather nervous and obsessed with getting her daughters married off.

Meme: Mrs Bennet's Nerves

Mrs. Bennet’s nervous condition is even more pronounced in A Case of Some Delicacy because Mr. Collins comes to visit sooner. She has to entertain the heir of her home in her home. Luckily he expresses interest in marrying Jane, which would save them all from displacement and genteel poverty.

But Mr. Collins isn’t anybody’s dream husband. For this reason, Elizabeth knows she can’t let Jane sacrifice her happiness for the family’s security. She tries to interfere in his courtship of Jane, and thus endures his many irksome speeches praising Lady Catherine.

Meme: Mr Collins is a bore

Mr. Bennet also finds his cousin annoying, so why doesn’t he intervene instead of Lizzy? Well, Mr. Bennet would rather find sanctuary in his library than deal with his cousin, wife, and daughters. He’d rather avoid conflict. But he reforms his indolent ways over the course of ACoSD.

Meme: Mr Bennet's Indolence

So we’ve covered Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Elizabeth and Jane. But what about the remaining Bennet girls who aren’t fully fleshed out in P&P?

Meme: Lydia is Boy-Crazy

Lydia has her own subplot in A Case of Some Delicacy. Yes, I know: nobody likes Lydia! Of course, she starts out as a silly, selfish, stubborn, boy-crazy teenager. But in ACoSD she does some serious character growth, and you may even like her at the end!

Mary and Kitty also play smaller but crucial roles in the plot of ACoSD. Mary starts out as studious and pious, but by the end you may think there is more to her than meets the eye. Kitty is silly and boy-crazy like Lydia, but her heart’s in the right pace.

Meme: The Other Bennet Sisters

Some of my favorite scenes to write in ACoSD were scenes where all five sisters interacted with each other. They argue and bicker as all siblings do, but they also help each other.

Thank you for reading! I hope you too will feel like you know the Bennet family better after reading A Case of Some Delicacy.

Author KC Kahler
About the Author

KC Kahler lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and works in online education, after having dabbled in sandwich making, bug collecting, and web development. She discovered Jane Austen fan fiction in 2008 and soon began dabbling in writing her own.

KC blogs about Austen and other pop culture topics. In 2015 and 2017, her popular Austen + The Onion Headlines meme was featured in The Atlantic, Flavorwire, and AV Club. In 2017, she made the requisite pilgrimage to Jane Austen country, where she took the waters in Bath, walked the lanes of Steventon, didn’t fall off the cobb in Lyme Regis, and stood awestruck in Chawton. 

KC’s first novel, Boots & Backpacks, was published in 2014. Her second, A Case of Some Delicacy, released in 2019.

KC’s social links


Book Cover: A Case of Some Delicacy by KC Kahler
Buy Links

A Case of Some Delicacy is available to buy now in paperback, kindle and kindle unlimited - Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

You can also add it to your Goodreads shelf.


Giveaway Time!

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on 18 October. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.

Note Regarding Comments: I love to read your comments, but a few blog visitors have reported difficulties in commenting 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 :)

Make sure you check out the other blog stops! Here are the details.

Blog Tour Schedule for A Case of Some Delicacy by KC Kahler

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Sunday, 6 October 2019

Winner of By Time Divided by Elaine Jeremiah

Recently we were joined by Elaine Jeremiah, who had come to tell us about her time travel book, By Time Divided, which is a follow up to Love Without Time.

Book covers for Elaine Jeremiah's Love Without Time and By Time Divided


Elaine was kindly giving away ebooks of both books to one lucky commenter on the post. I chose a winner using a random number generator, and that person was....

Teaguide!

Congratulations to you! I think we are Facebook friends so I will message you now.

Thanks so much to Elaine for the generous giveaway, and Teaguide, I hope you enjoy your books.

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Monday, 30 September 2019

The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson - Blog Tour, Guest Post and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson - Blog Tour
Don Jacobson visits us today with the latest in the Bennet Wardrobe series.

If you're new to this series, let me explain a little about it:

What is the ‘Bennet Wardrobe’? Well it’s literally a wardrobe, but it’s no ordinary piece of furniture. It can transport people of the Bennet bloodline forward in time for a period, and then transport them back to their original time. The time traveller doesn’t get to choose when they travel to; it’ll take them to a period that will teach them something they need to know.

This story is Lydia's.

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Book cover: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson
Book Description

“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.”
Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister
Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.

Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.
Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.

In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.

 “Multifaceted and nuanced, The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion, speaks to the verities of life. Once again, Don Jacobson has combined the essence of Pride and Prejudice with an esoteric story line and the universal themes of redemption and forgiveness in this well-crafted narrative.”
Mirta Ines Trupp, author of The Meyersons of Meryton

Guest Post from Don Jacobson - Roses in the Bennet Wardrobe’s World

It all started with Sir William Lucas.

Seriously.

For some reason I latched onto the old shopkeeper’s introduction of the Bennet sisters at the Meryton Assembly as alluding to their beauty. In the Bennet Wardrobe’s universe, those words were “the Five Roses of Hertfordshire.” My mind has its own way of processing information.

In my house, carnations are considered the more beautiful bloom. Yet, the scent of roses are incomparable. And, I have a veritable forest (Vita Sackville-West would have words with me about pruning if the good lady were still in this world) of rosebushes lining my front walk. But the rose imagery came to the forefront early in 2016 when I was working on the first novel in the Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey.

Yellow rose
I began considering the rose hagiography early on. For me, it was ascribing a flower to be an emblematic ideal. For instance, many authors have idealized Pemberley’s gardens as being the enduring legacy of Lady Anne Darcy. I imagined that the family memorialized her by naming the delightful sunshine-colored cultivar, the yellow, as the Lady Anne.

I am impressed with the beauty of a pure yellow rose…and so are we all by Jane Bennet’s classic looks. Thus, the Lady Anne became her flower.

red rose
As for Elizabeth…we become aware of Darcy ordering a vase of deep red roses…Lizzy’s Own Red Bourbons…placed daily on a table outside of her chambers, unused after those awful days in 1836. Of course, these had been her favorites—and, thus, his—throughout her life. The crimson petals complemented her chocolate, near black eyes and rich brunette locks. Thus, the classic Red Bourbon variation created by Lydia Fitzwilliam was inscribed on Elizabeth’s escutcheon, matching her impertinent statement for impertinent statement.
Of course, flowers also have their own symbolic meanings.

Once I became enamored of using the roses to represent the Bennet women (ah-hah! Not Daughters, but Women), I had to consider the others.

My cover designer and artistic muse, Janet B. Taylor suggested using white to represent Mary’s purity of spirit. You have no idea how that changed my perspective. I had been considering Mary as the bush in winter from which summer’s beauty would spring. Brown canes are not very appealing and tended to confirm the hidebound point-of-view that most in the #Austenesque world had been taking of the middle daughter.

White rose
Giving Mary her own flower allowed me to visualize the beauty that was resting inside of her. No longer the root plant (although as The Great Keeper, Mary Bennet Benton ensured the Wardrobe’s integrity and the health of the Bennet Family Trust.), Mary now could be transformed into the woman she was truly meant to be.

Inside of the character study of the man who would become Kitty’s love interest after she translates to the future, Henry Fitzwilliam’s War, we encounter the young Viscount recalling his time as a little boy walking with his Great-Grandmother, the Dowager Countess. He asked her about the roses. Lydia recounts the roses for each of her sisters as I have above. Then the child asks about Aunt Kitty. Lydia replies:

“All of them. Every plant and bloom here in Selkirk, over at Thornhill and Pemberley, down at Longbourn, and most especially on the fieldstone wall in front of the House at Deauville reminds me of my most beloved sister.”

The cult of the rose, I discovered as I worked with the Wardrobe, did not originate with the Bennets but rather with the Gardiners. As we discovered in The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament, Mrs. Bennet brought roses to Longbourn shortly after her marriage to Thomas. She was replicating her mother’s plantings behind the Gardiner home on Meryton’s High Street.

rosa chinensis
The bushes Fanny brought to Longbourn included cuttings from the original plants (rosa chinensis) brought from China by her three-times great Grandfather. That Mr. Gardiner was a trader’s clerk and settled in Meryton following his master, Christopher Bennet, in abandoning the Honorable East India Company for the gentle climes of Hertfordshire. The tangerine hued r. chinensis flowered (sorry for the greensman’s pun) in the person of Frances Lorinda Bennet.

blush rose
Given her sensual nature, Lydia’s rose required a bit of thinking. The “usual” colors were already serving her elder sisters. I was at a quandary. Except that each morning I strolled past my rosebushes. The blossoms were entrancing, particularly the blush-colored ones. Those, I imagined, were redolent of Lydia’s cheeks when well-loved by Wickham, Richter, or Fitzwilliam. Its fragrance was delightfully potent, filling my kitchen after I clipped a few and reminding me of the powerful woman the Wardrobe’s Lydia was destined to become.

Blush it was for her.

There is one bit of floral arrangement I would wish to address…the garlands that stretch across the bottom of the front cover (print and e-book) and the wreath surrounding the volume number on the print book spine.

I will admit that there are breadcrumbs scattered all over the covers for the Bennet Wardrobe stories. Sometimes they can be found in the covers themselves—for instance, the garland on Henry Fitzwilliam’s War is made of red poppies, the everlasting symbol of the sacrifice made by the soldiers of WWI.

The wreaths surrounding the volume numbers (there is none on Henry Fitzwilliam’s War as it exists only as an e-book) are either incomplete or complete. In some cases—where the life of the character is barely started—as in Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess—the garland has but two or three roses. Otherwise the garlands are broken (as on The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque) or complete (as on The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn) depending on how far the reader is able to follow the title character’s life.

Blog Tour: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don JacobsonThe cover garland for The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion offers other variations. Three roses in the garland are larger, representing the men in her life. Several of them have tear droplets showing the veils through which the youngest daughter had to pass.

The rose iconography in the Bennet Wardrobe stories offers, I hope, a subtext which enhances the overall experience readers have with the arc.

Please enjoy this excerpt from The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion, the seventh book in the arc of the Wardrobe stories.

Full Book Cover: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson
Excerpt from The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion

Hauptmann Hans Richter, having lived at the Beach House for over one year, has begun to explore rising feelings for the widowed Mrs. Wickham. His affection for her son, Georges Henri, has helped smooth his path. Having been given Lady Kate’s blessing to court, the couple has left the Beach House for an outing in the ancient fortress city of Caen.

The road from Deauville to Caen trended south and west through farmland separated by great hedgerows thickened over the centuries. A sunny day, the great orb warmed their backs as the KW roared down the track, sparsely populated with lorries, other military vehicles, and the odd civilian auto. The whine of the engine and the rush of the wind around the open cab precluded conversation.
That did not mean that Lydia could not look at and appreciate the man next to her. Unlike his companion, her head wrapped in one of Kitty’s brilliant Hermes scarves and her body protected by a scarlet car coat, Hans Richter had pulled on a leather jacket which remained unzipped as they bounced along. His unstarched shirt collar points snapped up and down in the slipstream, offering a creamy counterpoint to cheeks ruddied above his preternatural tan.
His long fingers wrapped the Bakelite steering wheel, securely guiding the bucking four-seater over the bleached tarmac. Lydia watched, one eyebrow rising when his lanky frame, jack-knifed into the bucket seat, flexed and shifted as the vehicle responded to the bumps inherent in Normandy’s indifferently-maintained roads. From time-to-time, his left leg stabbed into the well as he worked the clutch to down-shift as they were forced to slow for traffic or move the transmission into top gear to launch the KW when the road cleared.
She resisted the urge to stroke his right thigh as the muscles tensed and relaxed, bulging his powerful, paratrooper quadriceps.
Lydia’s eyes, often focused upon the scenery as it flew past, would, however, drift back to caress him with their velvet fingers. For his part, Richter would turn her way and, from time-to-time, throw a brilliant grin, his even teeth blinding in the midday sun.
Oh, to be young and without care, if only for a moment.
Mrs. Wickham had taken both Kitty’s lessons as well as her own ruminations to heart. She would be that calm center—no, not like Jane as seen by Darcy, but rather the soaring mistress of the drawing-room, Miss Bennet of the calm and still waters running deeply as she quelled a fractious crowd—that would draw Richter into deeper communion. She would neither entice him nor use her arts and allurements to bend him to her will.
He would move from storge to agape without the need for either the Fifth or Sixth Loves…or he would not. Eros would come eventually.i
Or it would not.
Too much time devoted to wondering what could be would ultimately detract from the immediacy of what was.

* * *

Caen was impossibly ancient. The Dukes of Normandy long called the city home, consolidating their power around the old port built where the Orne had poured into the Channel. Now, however, with a thousand years of sediment filling in the estuary, Caen like its old trading partner, Bruges, further north was land-locked, ceding its pre-eminence to the aptly-named metropolis of Le Havre.
Much as Vienna was an imperial city without an empire, Caen was a warlord’s domain without his august self, lands, knights, or peasants. Yet, the Château de Caen attracted crowds of German tourists—mostly day-tripping Wehrmacht non-coms—who were stunned by the inherent power of Duke William’s massive castle. If they were not able to travel to Berlin or Nuremberg to delve into Albert Speer’s architectural musings, German soldiers could, none-the-less, marvel at a structure that had already endured 900 years, a scant century shorter than the Führer’s promise for the Reich.
Lydia and Hans parked the KW near the Caen Kommandantura before crossing into the center of town to climb up to the fortifications built on a rise, once remote and now overlooking encroaching houses and shops. They passed through the great gatehouse—the Porte des champs—that had overlooked the sprawling grain fields that fed William’s cavalry.
Massive blocks of granite and limestone could only hold so much appeal to a pair of young people using sightseeing as the medium to learn more about one another. Lydia eventually expressed weariness and begged a demitasse et petits fours before they searched out a suitable spot to dine al fresco. They retraced their steps back into town.
Blog Tour: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson
As they entered the place de la ville, two sides of which were occupied by a great church and the hôtel de ville, they spied several cafés huddled beneath the eaves of old, but well-maintained, buildings. As t’was just past the noon-hour, most tables were taken by businessmen, merchants, and others who navigated around the edges of Occupation France’s officialdom.
Lydia cast a worried look at the busy restaurants and said to Richter, “Hans, this seems to be an idea doomed to fail. I cannot see any open seats. Perhaps we should just get the car and head down the river road.
I did so wish to rest my feet, though.”
Her weary appeal set Richter’s head to swiveling as he scanned the terrace. His eye caught a small two-seater in the far corner, directly against the building. Tactically, this would have been the table he would have chosen if the entire café had been empty. While not the most obvious, this little table had a commanding view of the entire place.
Better to see than be seen.
Firmly gripping Lydia’s hand, Richter made his way to the tiny two-top, weaving around protruding elbows and bowed chairbacks. He did not bull his way across as would many of his kind living and breathing the assumption that they had greater rights than others thanks to their successful conquests. He was polite: numerous utterances of pardonnez-moi, m’sieur or ‘schuldigung mein Herr floated behind the couple as they did their best to avoid unduly disturbing others.
Once settled at their table, Lydia and Hans placed their order, the same as they would have at Villet’s…café et deux macarons et deux eclairs…ample food to keep Richter’s Fallschirmjäger and Lydia’s farmgirl appetites at bay.
The conversation, after all, was what was important. Much of what passed between them would have been accounted as bordering on meaningless little nothings. T’was true that, if exchanged between two persons who only had met this day, such bon mots would have been accounted as idle chit-chat. However, this courting couple would—and did—discover even idle words would illuminate their understanding of the object of their affection. Mrs. Wickham and Hauptmann Richter were oblivious to all persons surrounding them in the café or passing by in pursuit of their business in the old town. Their heads were bent together as they chatted and nibbled and sipped.
In their newfound bliss, Lydia and Hans ignored that which would have been obvious to any observer. The streets of Caen were not those of Deauville. What was accepted as perfectly normal in the pâtisserie Villet rankled, disgusted, and left the bitter taste of incipient collaboration within the breasts of those who only saw a filthy bosche and his consort whiling away an afternoon.
Two pairs of eyes grimly watched the man and the woman. When the couple rose to leave, the men, near-identically dressed in shapeless umber pants and jackets, their caps pulled low to hide their observational focus, tailed them, walking beside bicycles ever-present in a petrol-starved world. Their hearts were hardened by the exigencies of war. Keen deep-set eyes were narrowed in hate. The watchers carefully noted which Kübelwagen ferried the blonde woman and the equally tow-headed German away from Caen and down the Orne River Road.
They did not follow: neither had ridden the Tour de France. Besides, they did not know if the bosche in mufti was a big fish or small fry. The woman was unimportant, likely a whore who would be purged once the nation’s soul was cleansed of the stain of June 1940. They had questions which needed answers as these were new and unfamiliar players on the invisible board where black and white pieces only left the field through death and destruction. Surprise and indiscriminate terror were their tools.
One of the men approached a motor pool Unteroffizier and exchanged a few friendly words, a bottle of something labeled Monnet cognac but almost certainly not the bonafide nectar, and two packages of American cigarettes, the leavings from a late-night gift launched from a low-flying Stirling. Stranded in the Autolaager for long hours with nothing to see but greasy crankcases and leaking gaskets, the corporal became gossipy, especially with those who fed his smoky alcoholism.
The two maquisards walked away knowing that the suspect KW belonged to the Deauville Kommandantura. Its most frequent passenger, a blue-chip target, was a full-blown German Oberst, a Graf of the old blood.

i After January 1815, with Mr. Bennet’s death, Lydia had become her mother’s companion and had listened to the lady expound on all Six Loves.

* * *

Author Don Jacobson
Author Bio

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series—

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South due out in the Fall of 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman.” (2016) Lessers and Betters offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don

Website    

Buy Links

The Pilgrim is available to buy now in paperback, kindle and kindle unlimited:


Giveaway Time!

Book cover: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson
Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. To enter, please use the rafflecopter below.


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Blog Tour Schedule: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson

Blog Tour: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion by Don Jacobson
Blog Tour Schedule:
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Friday, 27 September 2019

By Time Divided by Elaine Jeremiah - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: By Time Divided by Elaine Jeremiah
Elaine Jeremiah is visiting us today with her new book, By Time Divided. This is a follow up to Love Without Time. You can read more about the first book on the previous post. Elaine has an excerpt from By Time Divided (which doesn't have spoilers for the first book), a guest post on Bath, where Jane Austen lived for a while, and a giveaway of both books in ebook format. Read on for more details!

Book Description for ‘By Time Divided

Having accidentally time travelled to Regency England, Jane Austen fan Cassie Taylor finds herself unexpectedly back in the twenty-first century. But everything has changed. She’s been missing for three weeks and her parents are upset and disbelieving when she tells them where she’s been. The police aren’t too pleased either.

Cassie’s best friend Mia doubts the story, yet stands by her friend. And then the unthinkable happens when both of them end up in Regency England. Now Cassie has an even bigger problem: Mia is mixed race and they’re stuck in an era where the slave trade has only just been abolished. Cassie must somehow explain herself to her Regency friends – why she vanished and who her friend is. She also needs to find Ted, the love of her life.

How will Cassie manage to protect Mia from the insults of Regency people who see her as worthless? And how will she ever find a way for her and Ted and Mia to finally return home?

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

The Journey Home to Pemberley by Joana Starnes - Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

As long time visitors to this blog may know, I am a big fan of Joana Starnes' books, so I was very excited when I heard she had a new one out. I am pleased to say that the blog tour for The Journey Home to Pemberley visits here today for me to share my review of the book, and offer you a giveaway opportunity. Let's look at the blurb!

Book cover: The Journey Home to Pemberley by Joana Starnes
Book Description

A chance encounter in the wilds of the North brings more joy to Elizabeth and Mr Darcy than either of them dared hope for. But her world is rocked by blow after blow – and the truth would only cause him pain. ‘I must be cruel only to be kind’ is Elizabeth’s guiding precept, and she chooses her path. Yet time, circumstances and new acquaintances teach her she had made a terrible mistake.

How can she regain what she had lost and rebuild a future with the only man she will ever love, but for whom disguise of every sort is his abhorrence?

You can view the book trailer on YouTube.

My Review of The Journey Home to Pemberley by Joana Starnes

This Pride & Prejudice variation opens with Darcy on his way home to Pemberley from his Uncle's house. Instead of travelling to Derbyshire with Bingley, as in canon, he is alone. Not wishing to stay at a particular inn he decides to press on for home but meets with an accident when he parts company with his borrowed steed. Luckily the horse returns to the inn, where some travellers from down south are not paying the abbreviated visit North as in canon, but are taking a more leisurely tour, as had been originally planned. A search for the rider sees an unconscious Darcy returned to the inn, where he is identified by the woman who last saw him in Kent, following his disastrous marriage proposal to her.

Elizabeth has had so many readings of Darcy's letter that she practically knows it by heart and feels vastly differently towards him than she did at their last meeting:
It had crept upon her oftentimes before, over the last four months, whenever thoughts of him had crept upon her. For she had thought of him. She could not help it.
Darcy, however, feels much the same as he did a few months previously, as Elizabeth very soon comes to realise:
It was no wonder that it should be the most insistent one which kept coming to the fore: the incontrovertible proof that, after all this time and despite everything, he still loved her and kept her in his thoughts.
When Darcy realises that Elizabeth and her relatives are actually headed to Lambton, they travel as one party, seeing the sights and becoming better acquainted. With a new understanding seemingly on the horizon, our dear couple seem to be zooming towards an angst-free happy ever after as they make their meandering way towards Pemberley. The story is light hearted and romantic, the couple are very much on the same page and their biggest obstacle to overcome would appear to be easily surmountable.

Until... the inn at Lambton has two letters for Elizabeth, one of which arrived quite a few days before the Gardiner party did. This means that matters are all the more hopeless than in canon as they have moved on. Elizabeth decides on the course of action that she feels is best, though it's a difficult one which brings her only despair:
Under the thick ice of her trance, anguish squirmed and twisted. It was neither silenced nor subdued. Just frozen for a while. Frozen and sluggish. Yet she knew full will it would revive, savage and deadly, to pierce through the ice and tear her apart.
When Elizabeth returns to Longbourn her family landscape is very changed, and her feelings have been turned upside down. She can see no hope of ever making the Journey Home to Pemberley herself.

This story is a very romantic tale, with a lot of interaction between Elizabeth and Darcy. It's a story very much focused on them and their relationship and all the other characters take a back seat. We go through harmony, acrimony, misunderstandings, silences, arguments, regret, compassion and passion. It's one of those stories where the action is in the thoughts and feelings of the characters. We go through highs and lows of emotion on the inside while far less is happening outwardly. I enjoyed this; sometimes you read a story where there is a lot of unlikely events and dastardly characters but this was dramatic in a much more understated way.

I felt very sorry for Elizabeth, and could certainly understand the motives that prompted her actions, because the disgrace which touched her family was dire. However, sometimes I wanted to give her a talking to! The story is written in the third person but very much from Elizabeth's perspective, which gives the reader a more sympathetic view of her character's thoughts and feelings than you would have had if it had been written from a more neutral perspective.

Canon Darcy may say that he has a resentful temper, but aside from his feelings towards Wickham we don't see evidence of it and this Darcy is almost as skilled as Jane Bennet in his capacity to forgive. It put the balance a little off for me, because I felt that all the misery to both Elizabeth and Darcy was caused by the events and Elizabeth's choices. Darcy did absolutely nothing wrong and he probably suffered the most, poor man!

I liked the characterisations in this story very much. The focus is very strongly on Elizabeth and Darcy, but I thought the other characters were well-drawn.

If you like a very romantic read and a rollercoaster of emotions I would certainly recommend this book. I very much enjoyed it and read it in one bonanza four hour sitting! There are some passionate scenes, but nothing too graphic. I'd rate this as a 4½ star read.

4.5 star read


Book cover: The Journey Home to Pemberley by Joana Starnes
Buy Links

The Journey Home to Pemberley is available to buy now in ebook. In some countries it's also available in Kindle Unlimited. I think a paperback will follow - Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Goodreads

Author Joana Starnes
About the Author

Joana lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats – physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst – but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination, and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine.

She is the author of eight Austen-inspired novels (From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley; The Subsequent Proposal; The Second Chance; The Falmouth Connection; The Unthinkable Triangle; Miss Darcy’s Companion; Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter and The Darcy Legacy) and one of the contributors to the Quill Ink anthologies (The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know and Rational Creatures). They are all available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and some in Audible too: Joana’s Amazon Page.

Joana Starnes has visited this blog with many of these works:
  • From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley ~ A Pride & Prejudice sequel - My review
  • The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion - My review
  • The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation - My review
  • The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set where Jane Austen's beloved characters are compelled to leave their tame and reasonably peaceful lives in the south of England and travel to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril, where few - if any! - are what they seem to be... - My review
  • The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation that dwells on the most uncomfortable love-triangle of them all. What if Mr. Darcy's rival for Miss Bennet's hand and heart is none other than his dearest, closest friend? And how can they all find their 'happily-ever-after'? - Guest post
  • Miss Darcy’s Companion ~ a variation that explores what might have happened if the warm-hearted Miss Elizabeth Bennet were employed instead of the scheming Mrs Younge. - Guest Post / My review
  • Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter - a Pride & Prejudice variation that sees Elizabeth marrying for the good of her family - but the bridegroom isn't aware of her feelings - My Review
  • The Darcy Legacy ~  a Pride & Prejudice variation with some 'spirit' - My Review

They are available on all Amazon sites.

Books by Joana Starnes at Amazon.com

Books by Joana Starnes at Amazon.co.uk

Books by Joana Starnes on Goodreads

You can connect with Joana Starnes on Facebook, her website, Twitter, Instagram or Austen Variations.

Book cover: The Journey Home to Pemberley by Joana StarnesGiveaway Time!

Joana is kindly offering an ebook giveaway to accompany her blog tour. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below:

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Blog Tour Schedule

Please check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Blog Tour: The Journey Home to Pemberley by Joana Starnes


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