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.


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.

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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.

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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


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

Books by Joana Starnes at

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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Sunday 15 September 2019

Winners' Post - Victoria Kincaid Audio Books and Abigail Reynolds' Ebooks

Lately we have been joined by some authors who have been so kind as to offer giveaways to commenters here on the blog.

Firstly, we were joined by Victoria Kincaid, who was celebrating the audio releases of Darcy vs Bennet and When Jane Got Angry by giving away an audio copy of each. I chose the winners using a random number generator and they are as follows:

Book cover: Darcy vs Bennet by Victoria KincaidTraci King is the winner of an audio version of Darcy vs Bennet

Book cover: When Jane Got Angry by Victoria KincaidAlexandra Rivers won When Jane Got Angry

Congratulations both! Traci, I don't have contact details for you, so please can you contact me by the end of the day on Tuesday 17? If I don't hear from you by then I will choose another winner.

Alexandra, I'm pretty sure we are friends on Goodreads, so I will drop you a message.

Edited to add: Unfortunately, Traci didn't get in touch, and Alexandra's first choice was Darcy vs Bennet so I chose another winner for When Jane Got Angry. That person was:

Eva Edmonds!

You can learn more about the books in the post - and there is still time to win the audio books elsewhere on the blog tour. Details of the schedule are also in the post.

Abigail Reynolds also joined us with her new book, A Matter of Honor. You can read the guest post and excerpt here. Abigail was kindly offering ebook copies of the book to two commenters. Again, I chose the numbers using a random number generator. The names chosen were as follows:



Sheila L Majczan

Ladies, I have both of your email addresses, and will drop you a message. 

Congratulations to the winners! I'd also like to give a big thank you to everybody who dropped by to read the posts and comments, and of course, a huge thank you to Victoria Kincaid and Abigail Reynolds for visiting Babblings of a Bookworm and providing the generous giveaways!

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Friday 13 September 2019

A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods by Brigid Huey - Blog Tour, Guest Post and Giveaway

Blog Tour: A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods by Brigid Huey
I have the pleasure of welcoming a new visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm today; Brigid Huey joins us for the blog tour for her debut novel, A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods. Publishers Meryton Press are also offering a giveaway!

Let's look at the blurb and then we can enjoy a lovely excerpt from the book :)

Book cover: A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods by Brigid Huey
Book Description

A surprise meeting

A baby alone in the woods

And a second chance at love

Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to his beloved Pemberley with one thing on his mind ̶ to forget Elizabeth Bennet. Riding ahead of his party and racing a storm, he happens upon the very woman he wants to avoid. To his astonishment, she is holding a baby whose name and parentage are unknown.

Elizabeth Bennet never dreamed she had wandered into Pemberley’s Woods on her afternoon walk. But when she finds an infant alone in the storm, she turns to the last man in the world she wants to see ̶ and the only one who can help them both.

As the mystery of the baby’s identity intensifies, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy to be quite the reverse of what she expected. But when the child’s family is discovered, will the truth bring them together, or tear them apart?

Monday 9 September 2019

Letters from the Heart by Kay Bea - Blog Tour, Guest Post and Giveaway

The blog tour for debut author Kay Bea's Letters from the Heart stops by at Babblings of a Bookworm today. I'm really pleased to welcome Kay here for a guest post. There's a giveaway opportunity too! Let's take a look at the blurb and then hand over to Kay.

Book cover: Letters from the Heart by Kay Bea
Book Description

The Bennet sisters of Longbourn lack both decorum and connections and do not possess a decent dowry between them. Even the best of the them is in every way unsuitable for a man whose income is as a good as a lord. But love is not so easily set aside and in January 1812, Mr Darcy persuades Mr Bingley to reopen Netherfield Park, the country estate from which they both fled only two months before. On returning to Hertfordshire, they discover a near tragedy took place three days after the Netherfield Ball and has changed the lives of the Bennet family forever. Mrs Bennet’s relentless fear of losing her place in society has led her to condemn her least favourite daughter to a life of isolation and pain that will greatly complicate Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey to happiness. Old bonds are strengthened, family ties are severed, and unlikely allies emerge as each of them struggles to make sense of the changes they face.

Thursday 5 September 2019

A Matter of Honor by Abigail Reynolds - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

As long time visitors to the blog may know, I am a huge fan of Abigail Reynold's books and she's visited the blog many times. Therefore I am thrilled, and consider it a matter of honour ;)  to be hosting her on launch day for her newest book, A Matter of Honor. It looks fantastic and I can't wait to read it! Abigail joins us today with a guest post, excerpt and giveaway. Let's look at the blurb first.

Book cover: Mr Darcy's Honor by Abigail Reynolds
Book Description for A Matter of Honor

Pride & Prejudice goes to Scotland!

When Fitzwilliam Darcy, still smarting from Elizabeth Bennet’s rejection, discovers she was forced to flee her home in disgrace owing to his actions, his course is clear. He must marry her. It is a matter of honor. All he has to do is find her and propose. Surely that will be simple enough.

But Elizabeth does not want to be found, especially not by Darcy. From the moment he entered her life, he has caused disaster after disaster. Now he has followed her all the way to Scotland, foolishly certain it’s within his power to fix all her problems. But far more is at stake than Darcy knows.

Darcy’s quest takes him from backstage at Edinburgh’s Theatre Royal to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, where mysterious Highlanders prove both friend and enemy. And now his search risks exposing long-hidden secrets that threaten his happiness and her future.

On the run and in danger, Elizabeth is forced to make impossible choices to protect those whom she loves – including Darcy. Her growing attraction to him is at war with her need for caution, and the stakes are impossibly high. Can she trust him to continue to fight for her protection when he knows the whole truth? And if he does, will it be for love… or will it be merely a matter of honor?

Guest Post from Abigail Reynolds

I’m so excited to be launching A Matter of Honor! Giving Darcy and Elizabeth to a new country to explore has been challenge and a delight. After all, what could be more fun than digging into Scottish history and being forced – forced! – to spend hours staring at pictures of the Highlands. It’s a sacrifice, I tell you. 😉 It’s been particularly interesting because of the amazing online records, especially the digital collections of the National Library of Scotland. I found everything from records of the weather for any given day to the original playbills for the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh. Period maps, gazetteers, and travel guides gave me an amazing virtual tour of Scotland in 1812.

Playbill from Scotland
All but the first two chapters of A Matter of Honor takes place in Scotland, starting with several chapters in Edinburgh. Those playbills came in very handy as the Edinburgh Theatre Royal became a focus of activity for many of the characters. As an old theatre techie, I’ve always wanted to write backstage scenes, but English Regency theatres attracted pretty disreputable characters, and the people likely to show up backstage wouldn’t be the sort I could put in my books. Imagine my delight when I discovered the theatre in Scotland was forced into a sort of respectability lest the Church of Scotland force them to close!

Loch Ard
But as Darcy becomes a little too close to Elizabeth’s secrets, she flees from Edinburgh into the Highlands. I’m embarrassed by how much time I spent choosing the perfect Highland hide-out for Elizabeth. There were so many wonderful possibilities! In the end, I put her in the midst of the Trossachs, on the shores of Loch Ard, not far from Loch Lomond. I didn’t want her too far from Edinburgh in the days when travel on Highland roads was painfully slow, and it put our dear couple right in Sir Walter Scott country, just as his The Lady of the Lake was taking society by storm. And that turned into a plot twist by itself!

I hope you’ll enjoy visiting Scotland with Lizzy and Darcy in A Matter of Honor. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Book cover: A Matter of Honor by Abigail Reynolds
Excerpt from A Matter of Honor

Mrs. Graham excused herself for a few moments after an informal dinner in the drawing room, leaving Darcy alone with Elizabeth for the first time that day. Elizabeth had been particularly attentive to him at dinner, perhaps trying to distract him from the pain in his leg, which was nothing to the ache in his heart. But the laudanum-laced wine had relaxed him enough that he could drink in the lively expressions that crossed Elizabeth’s face and the way her hair shone in the candlelight without too much thought of the future, as if intimate dinners with her were something that could be a natural part of his life.

Now Elizabeth walked past him toward the bookcase, the slight sway of her hips almost hidden by her woolen dress, the curve of her neck outlined by the moonlight from the window. A surge of desire nearly overset Darcy, the longing to run his hand along that silver-lit skin so strong that he had to fight to keep himself on his chaise longue, broken leg be damned. In that moment, being lame forever seemed a small price to pay for being able to touch Elizabeth, to feel the silk of her skin, the little shiver she would give at his touch.
Then she turned and met his gaze, and he knew he was not alone in his desire. She wanted him, too. There was hunger and yearning in her fine eyes, and, as they stared at one another in silence, a hint of despair.
She bit her lip and shook herself, as if waking from a reverie, and looked away. She picked a book from the shelf at random, clutched it tightly, and hurried back to her seat by the fire, never looking his way.
The ache in his chest was like a burning coal he could not ignore. “Elizabeth,” he said softly.
She hesitated before raising her head. “Yes?” Her voice was weighted with resignation.
You cannot deny what is between us. Surely there must be some way we can work together to overcome whatever stands in our way.” He did not know why she might answer differently this time, but he could not remain silent.
Her hands tightened into fists. “Do you think I have not tried to find a way? But there is no answer. And trying to pretend otherwise only makes it worse.” Her voice caught. “Perhaps you have never before been denied something you wanted desperately, but there are very few in this world who have that privilege.”
His face burned at her reproof. “I have been fortunate, but I have faced adversity. It is not stubbornness but the strength of my sentiments which will not be denied.” Even as the words left his mouth, he knew it was the wrong approach.
As she looked at him, her pain evident in the lines of her face, she opened her mouth to say something, but apparently changed her mind. Instead, she rose to her feet and hurried from the room, her skirts swishing around her.
Elizabeth!” he called after her, but there was no response, just the sound of her feet on the steps.
Devil take it! He could not follow her, could not do anything but wait for her to return. If she did return. He pounded his fist on the arm of the chaise longue, wincing at the pain as the movement jostled his leg. Damn it! Why could she not have stayed and talked to him?
He heard someone outside the door, but it was Mrs. Graham’s quick footsteps, not the soft sound of Elizabeth’s slippers. The older woman hesitated in the doorway, looking back in the direction Elizabeth had gone, and then turned to Darcy with an exasperated expression. “I canna leave the two of ye alone for even a few minutes!”
It is nothing,” he said automatically. Another reproof was the last thing he needed.
From what I saw of Lizzy’s face, it did not look like nothing,” she said tartly. “I will give ye one piece of advice, whether ye like it or not. When a lass says nae, ye must take her at her word. Show her that much respect.”

I have the greatest of respect for her,” he said stiffly. But he had not shown it. She had begged him not to press her, and he had not listened. What a fool he had been!

Author Bio

Author Abigail ReynoldsAbigail Reynolds may be a nationally bestselling author and a physician, but she can't follow a straight line with a ruler. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a way to retain her sanity during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen's novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment, Conceit & Concealment, Mr. Darcy’s Journey, and Alone with Mr. Darcy. Her books have been translated into six languages. A lifetime member of JASNA, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband, her son and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.

Buy Links

A Matter of Honor is available to buy now - in paperback, kindle and Kindle Unlimited Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Goodreads

Giveaway Time!

Book cover: A Matter of Honor by Abigail Reynolds
Abigail Reynolds is kindly offering a giveaway. Two lucky commenters on this blog post will be selected to win an ebook of A Matter of Honor. To enter, just leave a comment on this blogpost by the end of the day worldwide on Thursday 12 September. Please ensure that you leave your name. You can gain an extra entry to the giveaway by tweeting about this post, but please make sure you tag me @Frawli1978 to make sure I see it.

Note about 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 :)

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