Monday, 3 October 2022

Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

I’m very happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to Babblings of a Bookworm with her latest book, which is something quite different for her. Rather than a historical story it’s a modern update. The story is called Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation. I have the blurb to share with you, a guest post from Riana about Preludes, plus an excerpt. Riana is also kindly offering an ebook giveaway. Read on for more details.

Book cover: Preludes: A Pride & Prejudice Improvisation by Riana Everly. Picture shows the Toronto skyline at night. Musical notes float in the air. A couple dancing in silhouette dance in the foreground
Book Description 

A heartfelt and absorbing modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Eight years of heartache…

Anne Elliot is a successful composer, a shining light in the world of music. But her heart still aches for the man who left her eight years ago when she was persuaded to put her career above her heart.

Eight years of anger...

Fred Valore has found fame and glory as a brilliant orchestra conductor. He has studied in Europe, travelled the world, but cannot forget how Anne rejected him eight years ago. And now he’s coming home.

Suddenly, Fred and Anne are living in the same city again, and forced to work with each other. Old feelings are hard to ignore, but now Fred is waltzing about town with an attractive musician, and Anne has caught the eye of a handsome businessman.

When a whirlwind of misunderstandings gets in the way of a tentative reconnection, is their long-lost love doomed to remain a thing of the past? Or can they somehow find a path back to each other to make beautiful music once again?

~ ~ ~

Set in the vibrant and arts-loving city of Toronto, Canada, Preludes is perfect for Austenites and Contemporary Romance lovers alike.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Once Upon a Time in Pemberley by Summer Hanford - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I am really happy to be welcoming Summer Hanford for her first visit to Babblings of a Bookworm. Summer usually releases books with her writing partner Renata McMann, but this latest title, Once Upon a Time in Pemberley is a solo project. Summer has joined us with a guest post explaining how this book came about. There are aspects to this book that I didn’t pick up on from reading the book description so I found Summer’s post a really interesting read and I am sure you will too.  

Summer has also brought a giveaway, plus a nice long excerpt from the book. So, grab yourself a cuppa and settle in for a read! I’ll share the blurb first and then hand over to Summer so she can tell you more.

Book cover: Once Upon a Time in Pemberley by Summer Hanford. Picture shows a young girl, from behind, facing trees with a lake beyond
Book Description

Can the course of a life be altered by the stroke of a pen?

Widowed at a young age, Fitzwilliam Darcy has no reason to think he'll ever find the love his first marriage lacked. Instead, he dedicates himself to his roles as father and co-guardian, determined to excel at both. But when love finally finds him, will he be too mired by the strife of the past to recognize it?

Elizabeth Bennet does not care for the newest addition to Meryton society, no matter how handsome and wealthy Mr. Darcy might be. She is, however, rather fond of his children and his sister. If only Mr. Darcy needn't be so certain of his own worth, she would tolerate him on their behalf, but that change in him seems very unlikely.

Once Upon a Time in Pemberley is a sweet, Regency era Pride & Prejudice Variation of approximately 92,000 words. While this is Summer Hanford's first variation without co-author Renata McMann, it will not be her last. Plus, you can look for more joint Renata McMann & Summer Hanford variations to come.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

The Redemption of Lydia Wickham by MJ Stratton - Character Interview and Giveaway

Today I’m happy to be welcoming a new visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm with their debut novel. MJ Stratton has written an Austensque book which focusses on a character that not everybody is fond of; Mrs Lydia Wickham, née Bennet. I am not super-fond of Lydia due to her selfishness, but I also feel quite sorry for her. Her behaviour has so much that is due to her upbringing, and seems such a shame that a poor teenage decision would have such a lasting impact on her life. 

This means that I am pleased at the title of this book: The Redemption of Lydia Wickham as it sounds like Lydia is getting another chance. Let’s look at the blurb and then I will move on to bring you an exclusive interview – one with Mrs Wickham herself! There’s also an opportunity to win a copy of the book so you can find out more. Read on for details.

Book Cover: The Redemption of Lydia Wickham by MJ Stratton. Picture shows a young woman in period costume looking directly at the viewer
Book Description

I may not be the most book-learned girl in the country, but I would like to think that I am wiser than I was, and much less silly.

Lydia Wickham used to think herself rather clever, having caught a handsome man and being the first to marry of her sisters. Soon, however, she finds herself trapped in a marriage to a man who is not what she thought him to be. Her pride keeps her from revealing her plight to her sisters and family, suffering in silence for years.

Unexpectedly, Lydia is freed from her marriage and begins life away from her misery in Newcastle. The changes in her are apparent to most, but there are those that resist seeing her for who she is and not who she was. As Lydia seeks to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become, she reunites with her loved ones and makes many friends along the way. But will Lydia get what she always wanted? Will she have what her sisters have, that which she craves desperately? Will Lydia Wickham find love of her own?

The Redemption of Lydia Wickham is a full length novel centered on the idea that even a foolish 16 year old girl can grow up and become wiser.

Warning: this book contains brief, non-graphic mentions of spousal abuse and assault

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Monday, 22 August 2022

Mr Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell - Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour Graphic for Mr Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell. Picture shows a young woman in period costume. In the background is a stately house and a large fire phoenix in the sky. The wording for Mr Darcy's Phoenix has a magical swirl around it
Today I’m pleased to be welcoming Lari Ann O’Dell back to the blog as part of a blog tour. I love that there are more Austen-inspired reads with a magical slant, and I am pleased to say that Lari’s latest book, Mr Darcy’s Phoenix is one of them, combining Pride & Prejudice with magic. Read on to learn more on the book, plus have the chance to win an ebook of Mr Darcy’s Phoenix. 

Book Cover of Mr Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell. Picture shows a young woman in period costume. In the background is a stately house and a large fire phoenix in the sky. The wording for Mr Darcy's Phoenix has a magical swirl around it
Book Description

A phoenix brings them together. Will a curse keep them apart?

When the hauntingly beautiful song of a phoenix lures Elizabeth Bennet to the Netherfield gardens, she has a vision of an unknown gentleman. He whispers her name with such tenderness that she wonders if this man is her match. Unfortunately, her gift of prophecy has never been exactly reliable.

Mr. Darcy is a celebrated fire mage, the master of Pemberley, and the man from her vision. But he is not tender; he is haughty, proud, and high-handed. His insult of her during the Summer Solstice celebration makes her determined to dislike him in spite of her love for Dante, his phoenix familiar.

After Mr. Darcy is called away by his duties, Elizabeth’s magic runs wild, and it is only their reunion at Rosings that offers her any hope of controlling it. They are drawn together by their love of magical creatures and their affinity for fire. But Elizabeth soon has another vision about Mr. Darcy, one that may portend a grave danger to his life.

Can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome misunderstandings, curses, and even fate itself?

Friday, 5 August 2022

A Season of Magic by Sarah Courtney - Blog Tour - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour Graphic - A Season of Magic by Sarah Courtney. Picture shows a young woman in period costume standing in front of a relatively grand building. There is an aura of flames around her
Happy Friday everybody! The blog tour for Sarah Courtney's new Pride & Prejudice-inspired book, A Season of Magic visits us for its last stop today with an excerpt and giveaway. As you can tell from the title, it has magic, but to learn more let's look at the book description:

Book cover - A Season of Magic by Sarah Courtney. Picture shows a young woman in period costume standing in front of a relatively grand building. There is an aura of flames around her
Book Description

Everyone knows Elizabeth and Jane’s parents were magical murderers. But blood isn’t everything.

When the girls are forced to reveal their elemental magic, it does not matter to the Mage Council that they did so only to save lives. Their parents were traitors, and the entire magical community is simply waiting for them to descend into evil themselves.

The Council reluctantly admits Elizabeth to the magical university (and unofficial marriage market) called The Season, where she will learn how to control her powers. If she can keep her head down and avoid drawing any untoward notice, she might be able to graduate and finally be accepted as a fire mage.

But fading into the background will be difficult. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, nephew to Lord Matlock of the Mage Council and a student himself, is assigned to observe her and report any misstep. One mistake could send her back to her foster parents, the Bennets—or worse, to prison. Yet when that mistake inevitably comes, he stands up on her behalf. Could he be an ally instead of an enemy?

When pranks between classmates become something more dangerous—and potentially deadly—Elizabeth will be forced to depend upon her friends—including Mr. Darcy. There’s something terrible lurking beneath the surface of the Season, and it will take everything Elizabeth has to survive it.

Friday, 8 July 2022

Colonel Brandon in His Own Words by Shannon Winslow - Guest Post

Well hello to you my dears and happy Friday! I have something nice for you today. Shannon Winslow has brought out a new book, which is exciting, BUT it’s also a Sense & Sensibility book, which is double exciting. Colonel Brandon, in His Own Words is a book looking at Austen’s Sense & Sensibility from the perspective of its most honourable hero. Shannon has also written a similar book looking at Pride & Prejudice from the perspective of Mr Darcy.

Now I am not one for covers but oh my goodness, the cover of this book is something else. Isn’t it wonderful?! And it’s a beautiful companion to the cover for the Mr Darcy story.

Now, let’s look at the blurb, and then I will pass you over to Shannon Winslow for a guest post, which I am sure you will enjoy.

Book Cover: Colonel Brandon in His Own Words by Shannon Winslow - picture is a colour drawing of a man in period dress looking downwards. Bears a striking resemblence to Alan Rickman
Book Description

Colonel Brandon is the consummate gentleman: honorable, kind almost to a fault, ever loyal and chivalrous. He’s also silent and grave, though. So, what events in his troubled past left him downcast, and how does he finally find the path to a brighter future? In Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen gives us glimpses, but not the complete picture. 

Now Colonel Brandon tells us his full story in His Own Words. He relates the truth about his early family life and his dear Eliza – his devotion to her and the devastating way she was lost to him forever. He shares with us a poignant tale from his military days in India – about a woman named Rashmi and how she likewise left a permanent mark on his soul. And of course Marianne. What did Brandon think and feel when he first saw her? How did his hopes for her subsequently rise, plummet, and then eventually climb upwards again. After Willoughby’s desertion, what finally caused Marianne to see Colonel Brandon in a different light?

This is not a variation but a supplement to the original story, chronicled in Brandon’s point of view. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the things Jane Austen didn’t tell us about a true hero – the very best of men.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy by Georgina Young-Ellis - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour Graphic - Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy by Georgina Young-Ellis. Picture shows a close-up of a young man and woman kissing against a backdrop of stars. The man is wearing military uniform.
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Georgina Young-Ellis to the blog for the first time. She has written a WWII Pride & Prejudice-inspired novel called Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy, published by Meryton Press and the blog tour for it stops off here today.

Let’s look at the blurb and then I will hand over to Georgina for a character interview and an extremely exciting excerpt which I am sure you will enjoy.

Book cover - Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy by Georgina Young-Ellis. Picture shows a close-up of a young man and woman kissing against a backdrop of stars. The man is wearing military uniform.
Book Description

The wind ruffled Darcy’s hair. “You’re beautiful.”

Happiness surged through Elizabeth's body like electricity. This moment was as close to perfection as she had ever known.

1943. World War II has torn the continent since 1939 and tested families, the Bennets included. Elizabeth and Jane nurse wounded soldiers and civilians in a London hospital. The other sisters volunteer as best suits their inclinations. Mr. Bennet rattles about Longbourn. Wickham sniffs about the edges of the estate—and the Bennet daughters.

Even the ever-present threat of death from the skies cannot prepare Jane and Lizzy for the most devastating news. The words one never wishes to hear are delivered by two officers, each scarred by years on the front lines. In the dark days that follow, devotion is tested, and affection blooms.

Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy drops Jane Austen’s timeless characters into the midst of the most horrific conflict in human history. Their trail twists and encounters those who would turn sacrifice to their profit. Follow the women of Longbourn as they navigate the rocks and shoals of wartime Great Britain to endure misunderstandings and discover lasting love.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Dance the Tide by Cat Andrews - Blog Tour, Deleted Scene and Ebook Giveaway

Today I am happy to be welcoming Cat Andrews back to the blog with her latest book, a Pride & Prejudice-inspired modern called Dance the Tide. Those of you who read stories on the forums may well recognise the title, as I know this was a popular one, and now you get the chance to own it!

Cat joins us with a deleted scene from Dance the Tide and an ebook giveaway. I’ll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Cat to introduce the deleted scene. 

Book cover: Dance the Tide by Cat Andrews - Picture shows the silhouette of a woman and man holding hands walking towards the sea at sunset. In the foreground there are two outdoor chairs
Book Description

FROM THE BACK COVER:

The higher the wall around your heart, the harder you fall when someone knocks it down.

Wealthy businessman Will Darcy is fiercely protective of his privacy and his family. When his sister is the victim of a violent crime, he takes her away from Boston to their Cape Cod beach house, where he hopes she can heal in peace—and he can restore his equilibrium.

Ecohydrologist Elizabeth Bennet is happily residing in the seaside town where she grew up. Her career, friends, and family keep her busy, allowing her to avoid any romantic entanglements—as those only lead to heartbreak.

A brief encounter on the beach between Elizabeth and Will leads to misunderstandings and lousy first impressions. They go their separate ways, confident they’ll never see each other again. But fate has other plans when Will turns out to be the best friend of her sister’s boyfriend.

When they meet again under more favorable circumstances, Will soon realizes his initial impressions of Elizabeth were unfounded—and really, her eyes are magnificent. And with some dedicated effort, Elizabeth begins to see a different man—the real Will—buried beneath his arrogant, reticent façade.

Romance blossoms as Elizabeth struggles to conquer her insecurities and Will works to overcome his distrust. But every relationship occasionally finds itself in rough waters, and greater forces can tug a couple under the waves. For their love to triumph, Will and Elizabeth will need to have faith in one another, move beyond their fears…and dare to dance the tide.

This novel is a contemporary, non-Canon variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It contains adult content and is meant for mature readers. Miscarriages and a sexual assault occur off-page, but are discussed during the course of the story.

PUBLISHER: Nine Beaches Press

Friday, 20 May 2022

Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel by Natalie Jenner

Blog Tour: Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel by Natalie Jenner
Today I’m taking a bit of a departure from the Austenesque and taking part in the blog tour for Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel by Natalie Jenner. Now, this isn’t an entire departure, as one of the main characters of Bloomsbury Girls was in Ms Jenner’s previous book The Jane Austen Society, which was a fictionalised account based on the setting up of the real society, which secured Austen’s last home in Chawton, which is now the Jane Austen’s House Museum, in Chawton. I really enjoyed that book, so was keen to read this one too. I’ll tell you a bit about the book (which is available now in ebook, hardback and audio) and then I’ll move on to my review of the book.  

Book cover: Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel by Natalie Jenner. Picture shows 3 women walking together with linked arms in a 1940s shopping area.
Book Description

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances--most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time--Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others--these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

BOOK TRAILER

AUDIOBOOK

Narrated by esteemed stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, enjoy the full unabridged edition of Bloomsbury Girls. “Stevenson delivers the satisfying triumph at the end with perfect polish.” —AudioFile Magazine

Friday, 13 May 2022

Born to be a Heroine by Christine Combe - Except

Book cover: Born to be a Heroine by Christine Combe
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Christine Combe to the blog with her new book, Born to be a Heroine. You may recognise this as a Northanger Abbey reference, but this is a Pride & Prejudice variation. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll pass over to Christine for an excerpt from Born to be a Heroine. 

Book Description

When Elizabeth Bennet meets the new residents of Netherfield at Meryton’s monthly assembly, she does not expect to make a fast friend in the perpetually cheerful Catherine Morland -- nor does she expect the surprise of being asked to dance by the proud and haughty Mr. Darcy.

Fitzwilliam Darcy doesn’t care to dance unless he is particularly acquainted with his partner, so no one is more surprised than he when not only does he accept the challenge presented to him by Miss Morland, but he also asks the playful Miss Bennet for a dance as well.

Catherine Morland joined Mrs. Allen in accepting the invitation of Mr. Bingley, great nephew of Mr. Allen, to visit Netherfield for the simple pleasure of making new acquaintances and seeing a new place. She is most delighted to have found in Elizabeth Bennet and her elder sister Jane the kind of dependable friendship she found in Eleanor Tilney.

When an old nemesis of Darcy’s comes to town, trouble quickly brews in which both Elizabeth and Catherine become entangled. While one young lady battles the workings of her heart, the other is caught in a compromise which could damage her respectability in society. Each is forced to look deep inside herself to discover the strength that proves she was born to be a heroine.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The Barrister’s Bride by Suzan Lauder - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Barrister's Bride by Suzan Lauder
I’m happy to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Suzan Lauder’s new Pride & Prejudice variation, The Barrister’s Bride. Suzan has joined us with an excerpt of the book and has brought a giveaway opportunity. Let’s look at the book description and then I’ll hand over to Suzan to introduce the excerpt.

Book cover: The Barrister's Bride by Suzan Lauder
Book Description 

A pact that will change their lives forever…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a successful young barrister with a bright future. His late uncle has guided his career, made him his heir, and even selected a bride for him—sight unseen—whom he’ll meet and marry upon her majority. Who could have predicted that making the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet in Meryton would throw those careful plans into disarray?

Elizabeth Bennet doesn’t know what to make of “Fitz” Darcy, who intrigues and draws her notice like no other. Despite Fitzwilliam’s warnings, she allows Mr. George Darcy, Fitzwilliam’s older brother and master of Pemberley, to charm her. Little does she know that she, too, has been promised in marriage by her late father—to an unknown barrister, no less. What is she to do when her hopes to marry for love disappear in the blink of an eye?

Is George Darcy’s suit in earnest? Can this mysterious bridegroom of her father’s choosing become the husband of her dreams? With the danger of duels and deceit, what will come of the initial attraction between her and Fitzwilliam? Will she become the barrister’s bride?

Note: contains scenes with adult content.

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Friday, 6 May 2022

The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray - Review

Blog tour graphic: The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray
One of my favourite genres to read aside from Austenesque is cosy mysteries.  So when the chance came to read a book that was the two combined I obviously jumped at it. The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray has an enticing title for any Austenesque reader, and when you read the blurb and find out that there are characters from a number of Austen’s novels then it draws you in all the more. I’ll share the book description with you and then move on to my review of the book.

Book cover: The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray
Book Description

A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen's Mr. Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang. 

Friday, 22 April 2022

Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - Review

Earlier this week I posted about a fund raising appeal that author Jennifer Duke is running in order to have her Pride & Prejudice-inspired time travel book Back to the Bonnet converted to audio format. 

Back to the Bonnet is written from Mary Bennet’s point of view because she is the time traveller (most of the time). Mary uses a bonnet with mysterious powers to go back in time and is therefore able to undo some unfortunate events. You can read the previous post here and I’d recommend that you do, as it has an alternate take on the Netherfield ball which Mary has to undo.

I’ve been meaning to read the book since it came out and Jennifer’s fund raising appeal gave me a nudge to read it. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll share my review with you. 

Book cover: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - picture shows a clock dial
Book Description

Matrimony is not a destiny that attracts plain but clever Miss Mary Bennet.

With her family’s fortunes threatened by their own foolish mistakes, deceptive rogues and the inconvenience of male heirs to her family home, the future looks unstable, even bleak. But Mary possesses a secret weapon . . . a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.

In orchestrating events according to her own inclinations, Mary takes an unconventional route to protect her family from ruin. However, she is unprepared for the dark path down which duty and power will lead her.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - Fund Raising for Audio Book Appeal

Book Cover: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke
Some time ago I featured a time travel book about Mary Bennet called Back to the Bonnet, written by Jennifer Duke. It’s a book where Mary can time travel. 

Jennifer is currently fund raising to create an audio version of Back to the Bonnet which I wanted to post about, and I thought it’d be a good time to read the book. I’ll bring you my review of that later in the week.

Now I’ll hand over to Jennifer for her to tell you about her fund raising.

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Calling all Janeites! Can you help make this author’s audiobook dream a reality?

Back in 2020, author Jennifer Duke self-published her first novel, Back to the Bonnet, a reimagining of Pride and Prejudice in which Mary Bennet orchestrates events with the help of a time-travelling bonnet. Now she’s hoping to turn her novel into an audiobook read by Lucy Briers who played Mary Bennet in the BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.

Author Jennifer Duke
Jennifer: Back to the Bonnet had been some time in the making and, as most writers have to do when starting out, I invested a lot of time and money into creating the final book and I did this whilst working in childcare and housekeeping jobs, as well as navigating lockdown like most of the rest of the world. Being new to the publishing and marketing side of things, about which I still have much to learn, and being self-published rather than having the backing of a traditional publisher, sales have been on the slow side, though I’m grateful for some lovely reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Actress Lucy Briars
I felt particularly encouraged after actress Lucy Briers got in touch with me via Twitter, having enjoyed Back to the Bonnet, to say that if it were to be made into an audiobook some day, she’d love to narrate it. This was so lovely to hear, though it wasn’t until more recently that I seriously thought I could make this happen. Now I have a team of women who are enthusiastic about creating the audiobook - Lucy Briers as narrator (which is so fitting as the novel is written in first person, it’s Mary Bennet’s narrative), Tamsin Collison as audiobook director (she directed a fairly recent version of Mansfield Park for Audible) and talented sound editor Tshari King.

All I have to do now is raise the funds for the production costs including the fees for these amazingly talented women, then it will get the green light. To do this, I’ve set up a Go Fund Me page in hopes of gaining financial help from people who wish to support the project. If you’re reading this and thinking that you like the idea behind this audiobook and that you might be able to make a donation, however small, to contribute to its manifestation, please know that I would be so grateful for your help. I’m not in a position to do this on my own and so I would be hugely appreciative of having my fellow Austen fans in my corner! 

If I happen to raise more than the required amount for this project, I will be donating additional funds to TreeSisters, a UK registered charity that plants trees in the tropics. I’m hoping to fund the planing of 1000 trees. Together I believe we can create beautiful things.

You can find out more about donating to this crowdfunding project here:

• Go Fund Me page • Jennifer Duke’s website • Email: contact@jennifer-duke.com

 * * *

Lucy Briars as Mary Bennet in the BBC Adaptation of Pride & Prejudice from 1995
How exciting that Lucy Briars might narrate this book if it makes the move to audio! As the book is written from Mary's point of view it would really bring the book to life to have it in a voice we can connect to Mary. I wish Jennifer all the best with her fund raising. 

Please come back later this week to find out what I thought of Back to the Bonnet.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Maria Bertram’s Daughter by Lucy Knight - Blog Tour, Character Interview and Ebook Giveaway

Blog Tour Graphic for Maria Bertram's Daughter by Lucy Knight - picture shows a historical painting depicting two children by a river
Today I am happy to be welcoming a new visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm, Lucy Knight. Lucy has written a book called Maria Bertram’s Daughter, which you will probably realise from the title is Mansfield Park sequel. In Mansfield Park’s Bicentennial year I read quite a few MP-inspired books and found that there were relatively few to choose from, so I am really pleased to bring you news of this new one.

Lucy has joined us with a guest post, and publishers Meryton Press are offering an ebook giveaway to accompany the blog tour. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Lucy for her guest post, which is an interview with the title character, Maria Bertram’s Daughter, Dorothea Rose.

Book cover: Maria Bertram's Daughter by Lucy Knight - picture shows a young woman in period costume looking off to the side
Book Description

She could be mistress of Mansfield Park. But is that what she wants?

An unwanted child—conceived in circumstances her mother would rather forget—Dorothea Henrietta Rose grows up solitary and neglected with her dissatisfied mother and unpleasant great-aunt Norris. Raised without the knowledge that her mother is her mother or that their occasional visitor, Sir Thomas Bertram, is her grandfather, she is forbidden ever to set foot in Mansfield Park.

Dorothea hopes for a happier life when sent away to school, but her difficulties are not over. She is obliged to make her way in the world as a governess and, thus, encounters human frailty, hypocrisy, good, and evil in her travels throughout England.

She meets the Crawfords—Henry and Mary (now Lady Drumroth)—and inevitably does the one thing she must not do: unwillingly makes herself known to the inhabitants of Mansfield Park.

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Monday, 4 April 2022

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll - Excerpt and US Giveaway

Book cover: An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Heather Moll back to the blog with her latest book, An Affectionate Heart. The premise of this book is something I’m really excited about, as this book is based on Pride & Prejudice with flavours of one of my favourite books by another author, The Blue Castle by L M Montgomery.

If you are not familiar with that charming book, by the author of the Anne of Green Gables books, I’d definitely recommend reading it. It’s about a young woman, Valancy, who gets a diagnosis of a heart complaint and is told that she probably only has a short time to live. Valancy is nearing 30 and has never actually lived. She has always been well-behaved, always did what her family wanted rather than what she wanted and still never managed to please them. Now she is dying and, spurred on by compassion for an ailing former friend, Valancy decides the time to worry about what her family will think is gone. Valancy may not have much time left, but she is going to live while she can. It’s really a lovely story.

Now, how this meshes in with Pride & Prejudice in An Affectionate Heart, I am not quite sure, but I am assuming from the blurb that Elizabeth has a similar health worry and makes a similar decision to Valancy, to seize the day while she still can. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Heather for an excerpt. There’s also an amazing giveaway, open to US readers.

Book Description - An Affectionate Heart

ARE LOVE AND AFFECTION ENOUGH TO OVERCOME THE PAIN OF GRIEF AND ANGER?

In the spring of 1812, Elizabeth and Lydia are the only Bennet daughters still unmarried after the death of their father. Elizabeth’s health and spirits worsen as she moves among relations as an unwanted, dependent sister. She returns to Mary and Mr Collins at Longbourn to learn that the neighbourhood gossip centres on the reclusive Mr Darcy.

Darcy and his sister live an isolated life in a small rented lodge near Netherfield after the events at Ramsgate. As Georgiana’s health is failing, Darcy has his own regrets to bear. He tries to keep them secluded, but a young woman arrives who is determined to befriend his lonely, ill sister.

When Elizabeth receives disastrous news, she makes a daring plan to find happiness for herself while she still can. Misunderstandings and secrets abound for them both but in the end, Darcy and Elizabeth will find greater strength together than they ever had apart.

* * *

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog for a guest post, a chance to enjoy an exerpt of her new book, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery, and a chance to win an ebook of it too!

This is the latest in the Miss Mary Investigates series, which sees Pride & Prejudice’s Mary Bennet solving mysteries. Let’s look at the blurb, and then I’ll hand over to Riana for her guest post, excerpt from Death of a Dandy and giveaway.

Book Cover: Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly
Book Description

The worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park meet when Mary Bennet lands in the middle of her third adventure with handsome investigator Alexander Lyons.

The two friends are travelling back to Mary’s home after a visit to the Darcy family at Pemberley when their journey is interrupted by the news that Tom Bertram, the heir to Mansfield Park, has disappeared. Alexander is asked to take the case, and he and Mary find themselves as guests at the estate. The house is abuzz with activity as plans go ahead for a fox hunt and the performance of a play, and Mary sees intrigue in every interaction between the beautiful residents of Mansfield Park and their sophisticated guests.

When the hunt ends in tragedy with the discovery of a body, Alexander’s involvement grows even deeper, but every clue leads to even more questions. The more Alexander digs, the more it seems this death might involve people much higher up than he can reach. And the biggest question of all is who, exactly, was the intended victim of what is surely murder most foul?

Mary and Alexander find themselves hard at work to unravel a web of secrets and dark goings-on that enshroud the elegant estate of Mansfield Park. But Alexander is hiding a secret of his own, one which he knows will forever doom any possible future for him and Mary.

Will they solve the mystery before somebody else dies? And will any hearts remain unbroken if they succeed?

Friday, 18 March 2022

What Happened on Box Hill - Austen University Mysteries - Guest Post & Giveaway from Author Elizabeth Gilliland

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Elizabeth Gilliland to the blog. She has brought out a modern Austen-inspired murder mystery and she’s come here to talk to us about the book. What Happened on Box Hill is Book 1 of the Austen University Mysteries series. Read on to learn more, and have the opportunity to win an ebook of What Happened on Box Hill.

Book cover: What Happened on Box Hill by Elizabeth Gilliland
Book Description

What would happen if you combined all of Austen's characters into one modern-day novel?

Murder, of course.

When Caty Morland's roommate, Isabella, falls to her death on Initiation Night, Austen University is quick to cover up the scandal and call it a tragic accident. But avid true-crime lover Caty remains convinced that Isabella didn't fall; she was murdered. With the help of Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse, Caty organizes a dinner party with the most likely suspects, including familiar faces such as Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley, and Marianne Dashwood. The theme of the night is murder, and Caty has three courses to find out what happened to Isabella—and to try to keep the killer from striking again.

What Happened on Box Hill is Book 1 of the Austen University Mysteries series. It can be read as a standalone novel but will be best enjoyed as part of the series.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life: On Love, Friendship, and Becoming the Person God Created You to Be by Haley Stewart - Review

Book cover: Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life by Haley Stewart
So when you have a to be read list as long as your arm you shouldn’t be looking on Netgalley, but I was, and this title caught my eye. Let’s take a look at the (very long) blurb, and then I’ll let you know what I thought of Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life: On Love, Friendship, and Becoming the Person God Created You to Be by Haley Stewart 

Book Description

Popular Catholic podcaster Haley Stewart insists that there's no better life coach than nineteenth-century British novelist Jane Austen.

In this uniquely Catholic take, Stewart reveals Austen's thoughtful, deeply personal exploration of human relationships--including with God--through her six novels. Stewart's insights take you on a journey that is both literary and spiritual, revealing how Austen's characters and themes can lead to you to discover and become the person God has called you to be.

Stewart draws fascinating connections between Austen's novels and real life and introduces Austen as a capable life coach by how she guides her readers to understand virtue and vice through friendship, love, community, and God's grace. Austen's characters reveal how virtuous habits transform us and help us become who we were meant to be. Each chapter focuses on characters and virtues from a single novel:

·        Do you find yourself swayed by superficial charm and yearn to see others more clearly? Let Elizabeth Bennet teach you how to recognize substance in others and address the pride in your own heart through the cultivation of humility (Pride and Prejudice).

·        Are you stuck in selfishness that wounds others (and yourself)? Let Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley help you develop the compassion to see the world more clearly with the eyes of Christ (Emma).

·        Do you get swept away into poor choices due to a lack of self-control? Let the Dashwood sisters show you the virtue of temperance and guide you to embrace your God-given personality and temperament (Sense and Sensibility.

·        Do you have treasured ideals but struggle to live them out? Follow along with Edmund Bertram's journey toward constancy through the example of Fanny Price (Mansfield Park).

·        Have the disappointments of life grown resentment or bitterness in your heart? Be inspired by Anne Elliot's vulnerable fortitude in the storms of life (Persuasion).

·        Do you struggle to know what to do or who to believe in tricky situations? Join Catherine Morland in learning prudence to know and act on the truth (Northanger Abbey).

Whether you are already an Austen fan or are discovering her works for the first time, Stewart's infectious enthusiasm and captivating spiritual insights will have you digging in to experience firsthand the characters and stories that have captured imaginations in book and film for more than two centuries.

Discussion questions and recommended film adaptations make this book suitable for individual or group use or as a high school classroom or homeschool resource. A free, downloadable leader's guide is available at avemariapress.com.