Monday, 31 August 2020

Sanctuary Volume 1 by Cat Andrews - Guest Post, Excerpt and Review

Book cover: Sanctuary Volume 1 by Cat Andrews

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Cat Andrews here with her debut novel, Sanctuary, which is a story split into 3 volumes. Online readers might have heard of this story before; I first read it posted on A Happy Assembly, but I’m not sure if it was posted on other boards too. It’s a modern, Pride & Prejudice influenced story. I’ll share the blurb with you, and then hand over to Cat for a guest post and excerpt and we will round off with my review of Sanctuary, Volume 1.

Sanctuary Volume 1 Book Description

“Do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time?”

When Elizabeth Bennet left her Massachusetts hometown two years ago and settled on Great Diamond Island, off the rocky coast of Maine, all she wanted was a fresh start, somewhere to forget a past full of heartbreak and trauma—a place that would allow her to rediscover herself and what it felt like to be happy. 

Will Darcy is ready to leave the family drama and noise of New York City behind. He moves to Great Diamond Island in an effort to build a better life for himself and his young son Jack, hoping it will provide a quiet place for them to heal from their grief after a tremendous loss.

Elizabeth meets Will within moments of his setting foot on the island, but the handsome newcomer’s offhanded dismissal of her is anything but a “meet cute.” But as the days pass, Will’s chance encounters with the bright-eyed, pretty young woman—and Jack’s insistence on befriending her—cause Will to see Elizabeth, and himself, in a different light.

But as they draw closer and take tentative steps toward something more than friendship, will they be able to step outside the shadows of their pasts?

Guest Post from Author Cat Andrews - Inspiration/setting

I’m not sure I would call this “inspiration,” but… I really wanted to write a different Darcy and Elizabeth for this modern variation, which was the second variation I’d written. I didn’t want Darcy to be an arrogant, worldly man who had women falling at his feet. I wanted to give him a different background, one that had him overcoming grief and tragedy and dealing with family dysfunction while trying to raise a son. And for Elizabeth, I wanted her to be coming from circumstances that were also tragic, though in a different way. She, too, was starting over and trying to find her way back to her old, true self. Because of their backgrounds, they were vulnerable and in some ways, sort of innocent. Neither was savvy with dating or playing the field, so to speak, and so their progression from friends to something more was very organic and genuine and sweet, and there is very little angst between them as their relationship grows.

As for the setting… When I thought of where to “put” them, I immediately thought of Portland, Maine, for a few reasons. One, it’s close enough to Boston (Elizabeth’s previous home) and New York (Darcy’s previous home), that it would be easy enough to send them to either place when the story called for it. Two, Portland is a small but eclectic and diverse city, and is a stone’s throw from some of the most incredible wilderness you’ll ever see. And three, Portland is on beautiful Casco Bay, which is home to several inhabited islands that are very quaint and extremely unique, and ultimately, I chose Great Diamond Island as the refuge—the sanctuary, if you will—that Elizabeth and Darcy both choose as a place to heal and regroup. I thought it appropriate to put them on an island, a place that sort of isolates and distances them from the rest of the world, yet at the same time, keeps the rest of the world within reach. 

Book cover: Sanctuary Volume 1 by Cat AndrewsExcerpt from Sanctuary Volume 1 by Cat Andrews

Will watched Elizabeth as she took in their surroundings. His gaze traveled from her face to her neck and then to her shoulder, where he could see the strap of her bathing suit peeking out from under the wide neck of her shirt. 

He realized, then, that she’d completely erased his father from his mind. She was like a balm, wiping away his anger and stress as swiftly as his father had brought it on.

Without thinking, he reached up and lightly took hold of a lock of hair that had come loose from her ponytail and was lifting in the breeze, and he gently wrapped it around his finger. “I like the scenery here too.”

Elizabeth turned her head slightly. “Wh–what are you doing?” She faced him fully and her eyes latched onto his.

“I–I’m not sure.” He played with that one lock of hair for another moment before releasing it and dropping his hand. “I shouldn’t have done that, I’m sorry.” He pulled his eyes from hers and let out a ragged sigh.

“No, it’s–it’s okay,” she said softly.

His eyes flew to hers again, and it seemed a dozen thoughts went through his mind in the space of a heartbeat. He wanted to do more than touch her hair—he wanted to run his fingertips along the curve of her cheek to feel the softness of her skin. He wanted to press his mouth to hers, curious if her lips were as soft and lush as they appeared.

He swallowed roughly, knowing his desire was about more than the tactile and physical. He wanted to make her laugh, just to see her eyes sparkle again. He wanted to talk to her, confide in her, share himself with her, and he wanted her to do the same with him. He wanted to know all there was to know about Elizabeth Bennet.

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Author Bio

Cat Andrews has always been an avid reader, but didn’t discover Jane Austen until her love of a certain British actor led her to the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, because she just had to know—why all the fuss over this Darcy guy? What followed her viewing of that glorious miniseries was an inhalation of and immediate fixation on all of Austen’s novels, though Pride and Prejudice remains her favorite (and that certain British actor will always be, to her, the quintessential Darcy).

Her discovery of Jane Austen Fan Fiction opened up a whole new world, and thus began her addiction, and months and months of sleep deprivation, as she immersed herself in JAFF. After reading a modern Pride and Prejudice variation that she fell in love with, she was inspired to begin a cautious but earnest foray into the world of writing. 

In real life, Cat has spent thirty-plus years working in healthcare. She is a confirmed thalassophile and enjoys life on the shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where she grew up, fell in love with her own Mr. Darcy, and raised a family. More often than not, you can find her at the beach with a book in her hand and her toes in the sand.

Sanctuary is her debut novel.

Author Links - Website - Facebook - Goodreads 

Note from Ceri – in case you don’t know what a thalassophile is I looked it up; it’s somebody who loves the sea, which makes me a thalassophile too!

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Sanctuary: Volume 1  My Review

I was so pleased to see this gem of a fanfiction was being published to make it available to a wider audience. Sanctuary is a story which I would say is more Pride & Prejudice-influenced than a modern adaptation, because the story is in a lot of ways quite different to Austen’s tale. 

Here, Fitzwilliam (Will) Darcy is a young widower with a 5 year old son, Jack. Although he stayed working for his father’s company in New York since his wife died following an accident 3 years ago he really needs to go away and start afresh and has moved to an island off the Maine coast to do this. There he meets a divorcee, Elizabeth Bennet, who suffered an abusive marriage and moved to the island, also needing a fresh start. 

When Will first meets Lizzy, she throws him off kilter a little – he feels quite drawn to her which throws him, as he’s not expecting or looking for love. As for Lizzy, she isn’t looking for love either, that didn’t work out so well last time! She finds Will attractive, but definitely gets the impression that he doesn’t like her:

‘Her smile faded from her lips, even though she tried to keep it pasted there. “Have a nice day, Mr. Darcy.” She paused—wait for it—and there it was.

The nod.

“Ms. Bennet.”

However, due to the smallness of the island it’s hard to keep avoiding each other, especially when little Jack Darcy is so keen to make friends. Elizabeth begins to reassess her first impressions.

“Do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time?”

“Is—is that what we’re doing?” she asked softly.

He smiled again, dimples and all and her stomach did a funny little dance that she felt all the way down to her toes.’

Given the situations that these two have found themselves in, it’s quite a slow moving relationship as naturally they are both quite hesitant as they are lugging along their emotional baggage. Having things moving at a slow pace really adds to the romance though. There is one scene of a sexual nature but it’s not very graphic.

There are other characters to enjoy, too, some with names you’d recognise from Austen’s story and others which are new. The particular original character to enjoy is Will’s son Jack. He’s just lovely, and very naturally written. Jack also gives us the chance to see Will being a lovely Dad, which is obviously an extremely attractive quality! Some characters in this story share similarities with their P&P namesakes, and some are quite different. I will let you discover which ones by yourself, but some of the characters are not the trustworthy, supportive people you might be expecting and might try to put a spanner in the works of the budding relationship.

Other characters are closer to what you’d expect, such as Charles Bingley, who also lives on the island. His enthusiasm and friendliness soon see him befriending Will and he’s another character I became fond of very quickly.

With some stories in volumes, each volume can be a story in itself, but Sanctuary is not like that, we are left, not quite on a cliffhanger, but at a point where you will need to read on to volume 2, which is due out soon, to find out what happens. 

I would definitely recommend this book. Sanctuary Volume 1 is a slow growing romance; the pace is slow but not too slow, it’s like a flower unfurling, any quicker would feel rushed. I look forward to following the story into Volume 2 and I’d rate part 1 as a 5 star beginning.

5 star read

Buy Links

Book cover: Sanctuary Volume 1 by Cat AndrewsSanctuary Volume 1 by Cat Andrews is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.  

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf


Book cover: Sanctuary Volume 2 by Cat Andrews

Sanctuary Volume 2
– out 9 September 2020

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA Add to Goodreads shelf


Book cover: Sanctuary Volume 3 by Cat Andrews

Sanctuary Volume 3
– out 23 September 2020

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf


I’ll be bringing you reviews of Sanctuary Volume 2 and Volume 3 next month.

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

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30 comments:

  1. This has become one of my all-time favourite books. The story is simply so wonderful I have a hard time expressing just how much I loved it. The three main characters are so well-written you cannot help but love them dearly. Do read it. It’s definitely a winner.

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    1. Thanks for your continued support Marie!

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    2. Hi Marie. I've read the whole story online but only part one of the published version so far. I know just how you feel about the story, it's one I loved reading too. Goodness knows I don't have time for re-reads but I've re-read this one multiple times!

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  2. I’m really liking the premise of this series. I was concerned about Darcy having a son but I’m over that (wink, wink)
    I don’t like starting a book until I know I can continue so I will wait until all three are available before I think of buying them. (I have an amazingly short memory span nowadays!)
    Thank you for this lovely excerpt Ceri.

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    1. I promise, Glynis, you'll fall in love with Jack Darcy. I hope you enjoy the story! Thank you!

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    2. Hi Glynis. I think it's wise to wait for all the parts of the story to be available as I think you'll want to read on to find out what happens next. Luckily they are being released in quick succession to no need to wait long.

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  3. Thanks so much for hosting me, Ceri! It was a pleasure to visit your wonderful blog!

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting, Cat! I'm so pleased that you are publishing Sanctuary so that more people will be able to enjoy it!

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  4. This series sounds interesting. I am not a modern fan but this one has piqued my interest. I enjoyed the excerpt very much.

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    1. Thanks, Deborah Ann! I hope you take a chance with it!

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    2. It's a very romantic story. I hope you enjoy it if you give it a chance :)

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  5. I am about one-third of the way through this story. Yes, I had to look up that word also. Great review, and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Sheila! I hope you're enjoying the story.

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    2. Glad it wasn't just me, Sheila! Thanks for commenting. I hope you are enjoying the story.

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  6. It does sound 'influenced' more than a retelling. It also sounds beautifully emotional and well-developed. Great review, Ceri!

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    1. It's definitely 'influenced.' Of the three stories I've written, this one strays furthest from Canon. Thanks Sophia!

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    2. Sophia, you are bang on the nail with your comment. It's certainly not a retelling but I can forgive it for that because it is so well developed.

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  7. That was not only a nice except but also some useful background info. I think the Portland area should be my next vacation destination...

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    1. Portland is just lovely, especially in the fall! My husband and I visit regularly. Thanks Jen!

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    2. It really made me want to visit the area, I have to say. I want a golf cart and a choice of beaches close to home!

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  8. Sounds like a great read! Excellent review.

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  9. Thank you for the excerpt. Wonder what FD said when he first met EB? Is she still EB or she just changed back to EB?
    Intrigued how he is gonna woo. Hard escaping an abusive relationship and forming another

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    1. No spoilers here! But let's just say...Mr. Darcy didn't say a whole lot when he met Elizabeth! And yes, she's back to EB from her married name. As far as wooing her...he has no idea how to do that! And Elizabeth is a bit timid at first, but she's had a few years on her own to slowly heal. Thanks so much!

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    2. It takes a while for the idea to even enter his head, bless him. He is just looking for a home where he can have some quality time with his little boy. This Darcy is very loveable.

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  10. Congratulations on your new book. Cover are lovely. Excited to read this modern P & P variation story.

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