Thursday, 27 February 2020

Elizabeth - Obstinate Headstrong Girl Anthology by Quill Ink Collective - Blog Tour, Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

Book cover: Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl by various authors
Today the blog tour for the latest Quill Ink Collective anthology of stories stops by. We've spent time in Mr Darcy's head with The Darcy Monologues; we've become more closely acquainted with some of the less savoury of Austen's men in Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. The ladies took the spotlight in Rational Creatures and now the short stories focus on my favourite character, the one who made me love Pride & Prejudice more than any other book I'd ever read. Let's take a look at the anthology Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl. We'll take a look at the blurb, then I'll bring you a guest post from Jenetta James, who contributed a story to the anthology, I'll let you know what I thought of the book, and then you have a chance to enter a giveaway!

Book Description

“Obstinate, headstrong girl!” For over two hundred years, Elizabeth Bennet has enchanted and inspired readers by being that “obstinate, headstrong girl” willing to stand up to the arrogance and snobbery of her so-called betters. Described by Austen as having a “lively, playful disposition,” Elizabeth embodies the perfect imperfections of strong-willed women everywhere: she is spirited, witty, clever, and loyal.

In this romance anthology, ten Austenesque authors sketch Elizabeth’s character through a collection of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times. In ELIZABETH: OBSTINATE, HEADSTRONG GIRL, she bares her most intimate thoughts, all the while offering biting social commentary about life’s absurdities. Elizabeth overcomes the obstacles of others’ opinions, not to mention her own flaws, to find a love truly worthy of her—her Mr. Darcy—all with humor and her sparkling charm.

“I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print…” wrote Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, January 1813―and we think so too!

Foreword by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare.

Stories by Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, Joana Starnes, Karen M Cox, Elizabeth Adams, Leigh Dreyer, J. Marie Croft, and Christina Boyd.

Guest Post / Excerpt - Why Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Bennet: Wit, Woman, Observer, Suffragist? by Jenetta James

Ive always had this idea that the story of Pride & Prejudice, cadence, tensions, characters, all, can be picked up and plopped down in a number of different time periods (even places) to great effect. It works especially well when the period in question was one of stringent social stratification but also subject to the pressures on oncoming change. Stories set in the wartime era and the early 20th century (Karen M Cox, Im looking at you) are evidence of that.

I also love all things Edwardian. From Jeeves and Wooster to Howards End, it might actually have been easier for everyone if I had been born into the era of the country house weekend. Oh the tennis parties, oh the ankles, oh the prison of partial release from Victorian codes. All of which would be bookended by that most certain of tragedies: war.

The House Party short story by Jenetta JamesIt was on that basis that I embarked on my latest short story: The House Party. Here, Pride & Prejudice meets Downton Abbey. I have tried to reimagine Elizabeth Bennet in that world. I intend her to be interested and interesting, although not always as knowing as she would like to be. Together with her social ambidextrousness she (I hope!) carries her trademark intelligence. I never even considered the idea that she would not be a sympathiser with the suffragist movement.

And so with that, here is a little sample of the story, the whole of which, I hope readers will enjoy:

She recognised him immediately as the man she had observed arriving earlier. His greeting to his hostess was perfectly polite but wanted for any real enthusiasm.

Caroline. How are you?

His voice was velvety, deep, commanding somehow. Caroline Bingley began to babble, and it was then that his eyes flicked over her shoulder to Lizzy standing there like a lemon with no introduction. Suddenly, she felt the heat of his gaze upon her, a sense of static energy crackling inside. She was furious with herself for reacting thus, even if it was known only to her.

His expression softened only the smallest amount as he held out his hand.

Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Lizzy took it. In the corner of her vision, she saw Caroline smarting.


Hello. I am Elizabeth Bennet.

It sounded plain when she said it out loud like that, but Lizzy had her dreams. One day, who knew what her life could be: playwright, novelist, woman of affairs? The possibilities were boundless. Lizzy felt a current in her hand where he had touched, and she pulled it away.

Caroline found her tongue. Elizabeth is our neighbour. Her family owns the small estate, Longbourn. Awfully pretty, in its way. The Bennets have been there practically since the Conqueror, havent they, Elizabeth dear? We also have Elizabeths sister Jane here. She is over there speaking with Charles. But they also have three younger sisters, maybe a little too giddy for this gathering.

Well, he said, seemingly struggling for further words, I know myself enough of younger sisters.

Not as much as Elizabeth! Good heavens, the Bennet girls are quite wild. Everyone says it.

Everyone does, interjected Lizzy, including themselves. In fact, I suspect they would be thrilled to know they were so discussed here this evening.

Caroline regarded her coolly and then looked back at the gentleman called Fitzwilliam. Lizzy thought Fitzwilliam Darcy an odd, rather fusty name. It suited him well.

Of course, they have quite thrown themselves into the womens suffrage movement. There isnt a day goes by when we do not see Kitty and Lydia parading about the village shops, wearing their purple sashes. And your other sister, Mary, called with a petition only yesterday. I must confess, I did not sign it, although, I think she may have softened my sister.

Darcy raised his eyebrows, and Lizzy just caught it, wondering what it meant.
Good for Louisa. I must thank her later, said Lizzy. I cannot see how one could be opposed to votes for women.

Can you not? I say why change the old ways that work perfectly well. It is all the upheaval I cannot bear. All these dreadful incidents of young women who ought to know better, smashing things up and chaining themselves to railings and the like. Good gracious. The problem with young Marys petition is not so much the petition itself. It is that the next step is taking a hammer to the post office window. And then where would we be?

Lizzy took a sip of her sherry and shrugged almost imperceptibly. She was not cross with Caroline; she pitied her.

Or the government could change the law. Give votes to women. Then there would be fairness all round and no broken post office windows.

Darcy looked at her steadily. He said, I am afraid I call that rather unlikely.

Caroline nodded in an annoying fashion, but the man who had spoken was quite inscrutable.

Unlikely?

Yes. Improbable, implausible, not—”

I know what the word means. Its just an awfully strange remark, thats all.

There is nothing strange about it.

Somewhere in his voice, there was a sneer. A frank assessment of whether or not a proposition shall actually take place, or take place in a particular way, is fundamental to its overall evaluation.

No, it isnt.

Caroline moved from appearing discomforted to being all-out alarmed.

Now, now, Elizabeth.

But Lizzy was not listening to her. She was fixed on this Fitzwilliam person.

It isnt. Would you have said that about slaving? Surely not. You either think a thing is right or wrong. One makes ones choice on that basis. We are moral actors, Mr. Darcy. Not cynics betting on horses.

She felt her cheeks redden. If she had been in her own home or a place she knew well, she may have acted differently. If she had been in a room full of friends, would she have said good evening and flounced off? As it was, something in the depths of his eyes kept her pinned down like a moth. They stood there, staring at each other. And it was somewhere between fire-hot and bone-chilling cold. pp.35-37

Thank you for having me:-) You can connect with me via Facebook.

Author Jenetta James
Author Bio


Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad, as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, The Elizabeth Papers, and Lovers Knot.

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Thanks so much to Jenetta for visiting us with this guest post!

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Book cover: Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl by various authors
My Review of Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl

The first time I read Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen, I was a teenager. Even though the book was the best part of 200 years old I instantly felt akin to Elizabeth. She was like me, but better. She had flaws that I could relate to - she was hasty, she made mistakes which she later felt bad about. She wasn't some stupidly perfect character that I was nothing like!

I also loved Elizabeth's honesty and integrity. She stands up for people who she sees as friends, even if it may later prove that she is mistaken. She is also true to herself - turning down two marriage proposals in her financial situation was not sensible, particularly as either marriage would have secured her family's future safety, but Elizabeth would have been utterly miserable if she had entered into either marriage at the times that they were offered. I am not sure how contemporary readers would have viewed this, perhaps they would have seen it as selfish and heedless. As a modern reader, I admired her honesty, self-respect and frankly her optimism in thinking that things would turn out for the best, which of course they do.

The foreword for this book is written by author Tessa Dare, who clearly has the same view as me on this:
To paraphrase Jennifer Lynn Barnes, an academic psychologist who studies fandom, readers are drawn to characters who feel "just like us, but awesome." That was Lizzy for me. I identified with her opinionated nature, her impatience with the world around her, and --of course-- her love of books. I also envied her fearlessness in speaking her mind, her unshakeable belief that she deserved respect, love and happiness, and her unwillingness to settle for anything less. 
She was just like me, but awesome.
Although I am very fond of Mr Darcy, the character that made me love the book more than any other was Elizabeth. Reading the Austenesque genre, where Austen's characters (most often the ones from P&P) take different paths and are put into different scenarios, the ones I like best are the ones that keep the characters as true to Austen's creations as possible. This means that I don't like a perfect Elizabeth, who is super-talented, and a Mary-Sue paragon of all the virtues. I like an Elizabeth who I can relate to and who I would have wanted to be friends with. The title of this book highlights what the Elizabeths of these short stories all have in common - they are obstinate, headstrong girls, and as long as this characteristic is not taken to excess, that is no bad thing!

To give you a quick insight into the type of stories in this book, I will give you a very quick rundown. 

Book cover: Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl by various authorsResolution by Amy D’Orazio is a Regency set tale which sees Elizabeth, a few years after Lydia's marriage, about to be married herself, in a scenario where Darcy didn't come back to Meryton. Don't worry too much at the hands of the queen of angst, it will be ok! We then take a jump in time to The House Party by Jenetta James, which transports the characters we know to a 1920's house party, with mentions of the suffrage movement. 

Atmospheric Disturbances by Christina Morland takes us right back to Longbourn in 1812, and a disagreement during the courtship of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth where Elizabeth deals with her fear that she might one day share the fate of her mother in having a husband who no longer loves her. Love in Limelight by Beau North whisks us to Hollywood in the early part of the 20th Century, where Miss Bennet is an actress making the transition from stage to movies.

Back in the 1800s again, we visit The Uncommonly Busy Lane to Longbourn by Joana Starnes where Elizabeth finds out the truth of her favourite, Mr Wickham and we see the difference that could be made by Mr Collins' clumsy dancing. We then go to the 1980s, where Beth Bennet is a rare female Electrical Engineering university student in Resistive Currents by Karen M Cox.

In Something Like Regret by Elizabeth Adams we take a look at what Elizabeth's thoughts might have been as she toured Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, reflecting that if her answer to Mr Darcy's marriage proposal had been different, she could already have been mistress of Pemberley.  The Last Blind Date by Leigh Dreyer sees a modern student/waitress Elizabeth unwillingly going on a blind date to an American football game with Will Darcy. 

The Age of Nescience by J. Marie Croft sees Elizabeth reflecting on what she has and hasn't managed to learn in her run up to meeting Mr Darcy. The final story, A Mate for Life by Christina Boyd takes us to the Victorian era, where Elizabeth reflects on the courtship of herself and Mr Darcy, while giving advice to their granddaughter, who is expecting to receive an offer of marriage.

I found it really beneficial that the time periods were alternated in this way, as it made it easy to switch the mind to a new story, rather than combine story threads, which can happen if short stories have similar settings.

Another thing I really enjoyed was that we visited periods other than early 1800s and contemporary. I really enjoy stories set in the early 20th century so I was pleased to see that this anthology includes some in this setting.

As with any story anthology there were some stories I preferred to others but all of these stories were of a high standard, and all have a good dash of romance.  There were no sex scenes in any of the stories. I would recommend this anthology to all obstinate, headstrong girls (and boys) who enjoy Austenesque stories and would rate it as a 4½ star read.

4½ star read


Book cover: Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl by various authors
Buy Links

Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl is available to buy in paperback and pre-order in ebook (for release on 2 March). Treat yourself! 



Giveaway Time!


Giveaway: The #OmgItsOHG (Oh-my-gosh, it’s Obstinate Headstrong Girl) Blog Tour began February 18 with announcement and cover reveal at Austenesque Reviews, and we hope you will continue to join us and connect with each author about their “Elizabeth” story. We’ve included a Grand Prize package giveaway (a book of your choosing from each of the eleven author’s backlist)

Giveaway


Plus an additional giveaway: my Silly Austen-inspired blank note cards and coordinating coffee mug. Open worldwide, so be sure to participate. 

Notecards


Mugs

How to Enter the Giveaway

1) Enter the Rafflecopter for the Grand Prize package of books, and 2) comment on the blog stops to be counted for the additional giveaway (you need not comment everywhere to be entered in that drawing but we hope you’ll have your share of the conversation.) Ends March 31. 

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 :)

Blog Tour Schedule

Check out the other stops on the blog tour to find out more about the book and gain additional chances to win the prize.

Blog Tour - Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl by various authors

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49 comments:

  1. Thanks, Ceri, for reading and reviewing! I'm glad you found the anthology enjoyable. I love Jenetta James's story -- a brilliant adaptation of the P&P characters to the early 1900s.

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    1. Thanks Christina that's a lovely remark glad that you enjoyed

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    2. Hi Christina, thanks for commenting. I really enjoyed Jenetta's story. I love seeing the characters in different eras. I loved your story too, the conversation they had after the argument.

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  2. Glad to know that there are no sex scenes in any of the stories

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    1. Hi Vesper. Glad this info was useful for you. I always try to let people know as while I don't mind such scenes, I know some people really dislike them, so it's good to know whether they are in a book or not!

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  3. Wonderful review and excerpt. I loved Jenetta James story. In fact, I fell in love with the entire collection. I will be reading again and again! Congratulations ladies!!!!!

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    1. So glad you liked it - I received the paperback a couple of days ago and it is *so* pretty!

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    2. Glad you enjoyed the book so much, Becky. There are definitely a few stories in this anthology that I think I will re-read, though goodness knows that I don't have time to re-read, considering how many other books I want to read!

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  4. I read and enjoyed this book. Thank you for a chance to win other prizes. Great review.

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  5. What a fantastic posting! Loved your review, Ceri, that gives nothing away but entices us even more! I loved Jenetta's excerpt and you can just 'feel' the electricity between Elizabeth and Darcy. I will be ordering the paperback next week as part of my March book order! Just love the cover!!

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    1. Hello Carole! The paperback is particularly lovely

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    2. Oh yes, I can’t wait to know what you think as you flip through the pages. Author Karen M Cox did the interior layout; I think it looks beautiful and the full page images add a lot to the overall reading experience.

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    3. Hi Carole! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I am tempted to get the paperback myself. It's just soooooo beautiful!

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  6. Sounds fabulous and I have it on my wish-list. That was an interesting excerpt. I wonder if Caroline could see the interest between D&E and could she preceive Lizzy pity? Bless her heart. Caroline is always a good foil for our Lizzy. Congratulations to all the authors involved in this launch. I wish you much success. Good luck to everyone in the drawing. Also, I do appreciate a good cover and that one was to die for. Great choice.

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    1. Glad you like the cover. One day I would like to write a story about Caroline but I am building up ideas. I don't think she is a stupid character - I think she knows exactly what is going on. J

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    2. Thanks so much for the comment, Jeanne. We don't get a huge amount of Caroline in this story, but she is true to character. I hate to see Caroline drawn as a stupid or evil character, because I don't see her as either... I don't love to hate her exactly, but I enjoy a little schadenfreude when she is bested!

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  7. This was lovely to see first thing this morning! So glad you enjoyed the collection. And thank you for spotlighting Jenetta James’s story! I loved “The House Party”. Loved.

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    1. Thanks Christina! Jenetta's story was one of my favourite ones in the collection.

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    2. I'm so glad! I felt like "The House Party" had a very Edwardian vibe. Like Jenetta could have developed this short into at least a novella length book.

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  8. Thanks so much for featuring and supporting this lovely anthology Ceri. It has been such an honour to be involved. Thanks for having me as a guest xx

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    1. It was a pleasure to read this book! Thanks so much for visiting and joining in with the comments :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these stories.

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    1. Thank you for coming by to read my thoughts on them! I hope you enjoy the anthology as much as I did when you get to read it :)

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  10. I'm reading it now so I skipped your review, but yay for the high rating. :)

    An Edwardian era P&P sounds fun, Jenetta!

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    1. I am wondering if you are reading them straight through or one a day or jumping around... Looking forward for reading your review.

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    2. I am the same, Sophia, I avoid reviews of a book if I'm shortly going to be writing my own!

      I don't know how you will read it but I read it in two sittings, straight through. I liked how the eras were intermingled, so you could go from one story straight to another one that was quite different, and therefore wouldn't get mixed up and combined in my head!

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  11. I always value your opinion Ceri and I am glad to see that you enjoyed this new anthology. Quill Ink has made quite a name for itself with Austen-inspired anthologies and I am glad to see that their success continues. The author line-up and the theme are amazing. Who wouldn't want to read a book entirely devoted to one of literature's finest heroines? I rejoice with everyone who adores her.

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    1. Thank you, Laurel Ann, for your kind words. Am all anticipation to hear what you think of this latest!

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    2. Thanks so much for your comment, Laurel Ann! Once I settled in and started to read I wondered why the idea of an Elizabeth-centred anthology hadn't come up before. Though I love Mr Darcy, the thing that made me fall in love with P&P was Elizabeth, and I am sure I'm not alone in that!

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    3. Ceri, It has been on my mind since at least the day after The Darcy Monologues release in 2017 but as you know I wanted to explore Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues and Rational Creatures... Since P&P is mostly 3rd person limited from Elizabeth's POV, and so much JAFF is already out there, I wasn't sure if it was really necessary. But the idea kept poking at me until I floated the idea out to some of the authors last year, and when they were enthusiastic about the idea, I got the ball rolling. These stories have been in my computer since last spring--it's just taken that long to get everything choreographed and polished to publish almost a year later. I am glad you enjoyed it. So glad.

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  12. I can't wait to read this new anthology and add it to my collection!

    P.S. Ceri, I also have difficulties posting a comment on mutliple browsers on my smart phone. Not sure why that happens. :(

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    1. Strangely, I do too but only when I try from my browser... But when I click on the link from a Facebook post, no problem. I can comment easily. I am not a tech person at all so I don’t understand why but this is what usually works for me.

      Dung, I can’t wait for you to read it. I think you are going to really like this one!

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    2. Thanks for the feedback, Dung. I am afraid I will have to make the move over to another platform and goodness knows I am lacking the tech knowledge and time to do that, but I need people to be able to comment! If you happen to see this comment, could you let me know whether you have an iphone? I have a feeling that the problem might be some incompatibility between blogger and Apple.

      Thank you so much for commenting, particularly as it's extra effort to be able to do so! I hope you enjoy the anthology too, and get to read it soon :)

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    3. Hi Ceri, I do have an iPhone. I don't go on Facebook as often, but it's also a hit and miss when I try to comment via Facebook link. The only way I'm sure it would work is on my labtop.

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  13. I enjoyed this excerpt. Waiting until blog over before buying

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    1. Hi Patty. There is a lot more to come in the blog tour :)

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  14. I loved your story, Jenetta! The best kind of headstrong Lizzy :) Thanks for hosting us on the blog tour, Ceri, and glad you enjoyed the stories!

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    1. I really did. Thanks so much for commenting, Karen :)

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  15. Many thanks for a great review, Ceri. I love this anthology so much! I have a vague recollection of people calling for an Elizabeth-centred one after The Darcy Monologues was published and now we have it. The cover design of OHG certainly matches and contrasts with it beautifully. It'd be lovely to see them both sitting side by side on a shelf, facing forward. Another physical thing that's very appealing about OHG is the individual "cover" that each story has.

    Of course, as with all of the Quill Collective anthologies, it's the content within the covers that's the most amazing thing about it. I genuinely can't pick a favourite. The stories all fit so well within their chosen eras and settings. I must, however, give a shout out for Christina's debut as an author. I won't say anything, other than that it might be a good idea to have a tissue handy.

    P. S. I use Safari on the iPad I'm reading and commenting on right now and don't seem to have any problems with it.

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    1. I had a remark about the sad element in my review but removed it so as not to give a hint. It did bring tears to my eyes. Poignant!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Anji! I had 4 favourites, I found it very hard to choose just one :)

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  16. This is such a hard-head EB!!!(obstinate nd headstrong)Eager to know her views/convictions/drives.Lokking ofrward to the stories

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    1. Hi Buturot. She was varying degrees of obstinate and headstrong in the stories, for differing reasons; I am sure you will enjoy seeing what drives her in each!

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  17. I loved this anthology, and I loved Jenetta's story, it was so romantic. I can so see Netherfield in the Edwardian era with a gravel drive full of luxury motor cars arriving for the weekend house party. I've watched too many old movies. :/ This one was so visual, though.

    Here's a lovely pink Champagne cocktail to the success of this launch. It has everything in its favor, the cover and list of wonderful writers.

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    1. I loved it too, it was a real treat to have a story from this era. I enjoyed the inclusion of the suffragette element in this one as well.

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