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.

Guest Post from Author Riana Everly - Resetting a Classic – Persuasion in the Modern World

Thank you so much for hosting me today on this little blog tour for my newest Austen-inspired novel, Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation. It’s always a delight to visit your lovely blog and babble on about my books.

Preludes is a departure from my other novels on several points. The first of these is the novel on which it is based. Rather than Pride and Prejudice, which is a favourite for so many people (and rightly so), Preludes is based on Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final completed novel, published in 1817, six months after the author’s death. Instead of Elizabeth’s arch impertinence and Darcy’s cold arrogance, we have Anne Elliot’s gentle nature and deep regret and Frederick Wentworth’s bitterness and, well, regret. It’s a story about heartbreak and separation and the abiding force of love. It is much gentler than P&P, but it is a moving story, and one that I love.

Toronto - city scape view
Another departure is that Preludes is a retelling of Austen’s classic rather than a variation. I have moved the place from Somersetshire and Bath to Toronto, Canada, and I’ve situated the characters not in the gentrified world of baronets and viscountesses, but in the equally rarefied world of classical music.

And, of course, I have shifted the story from Regency England, 200-some years ago, to the present.

It is a testament to the power and universality of Austen’s novels that they “travel” so well. Her characters, their hopes and fears and imperfections, ring just as true today as they did when they were first born on her pages. They transcend time and place because they are so exquisitely drawn and so fundamentally human. They are easy to work with, because they are so real. My husband, when he read the almost-complete version of my novel, said with an apologetic glance, “It doesn’t read like an Austen novel. It’s just a really good story.” I think he was worried that I would be upset, but I was thrilled. Stripped of the elegant Regency-ese language and the empire waisted dresses and frockcoats, Persuasion is “just a really good story.” And if I did my job and brought it into the present in its essential form, it would be “just a really good modern story.”

But, of course, some changes have to be made for the story to resonate in a modern setting. I could not have Anne sitting around her father’s house waiting for something to happen. That’s not the modern world. And so, I have given her a career, and a very successful one at that. Just because her heart is broken, it doesn’t mean she can’t soar in other ways. My Anne Elliot is a composer of classical music, whose first major piece, “Preludes,” put her in the public eye. She has written movie scores and is sought after, and has recently landed the position of Composer-in-Residence for my fictional symphony orchestra, the National Philharmonic.

Fred is a slightly different person as well, and not only in nature but also in name. Because my story is set in Toronto, and because Toronto has a large and vibrant Italian community, and because of the tradition and love of classical music in that community, I have made my character Italian. (Did I tell you about the pick-up truck at the local Italian supermarket, blasting opera from the speakers? I kid you not.) Being Italian, he needed a new name, since Wentworth is rather, well, English. What did I do? I simply translated it, and the “worth” part of Wentworth become “Valore.” So, Captain Frederick Wentworth is now Maestro Frederico Valore. And yes, Maestro. The big break-up between him and Anne was when he went to study conducting in Europe and Anne was convinced to stay home. Like Anne, Fred has made it big, and has just been appointed the new principal conductor of a local Canadian orchestra—the National Philharmonic. Suddenly, after eight years apart, he and Anne will have to work together.

There are other changes that must be worked around in resituating a classic novel in a different time. The social structure of early 19th-century England simply does not exist here, and so a new sort of hierarchy needed to be developed. Rather than heirs and admirals and social rank, I have many of my characters floating around the board of directors of the orchestra. It gives them a place to come together and engage, while remaining modern and culturally appropriate. Cousin William, for example, is now a businessman who has just joined the board, and who has noticed the pretty, if shy, composer sitting in at rehearsals.

Louisa Musgrove's fall from The Cobb, Persuasion
And what of Louisa Musgrove’s accident, that awful moment when she leaps from the Cobb at Lyme Regis? Let me leave you with my interpretation of that scene, now in placed in a building site where some members of the orchestra are being shown around for publicity.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation.

~ ~ ~

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
Excerpt from Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation

Then a shout came from somewhere behind her. “Louisa, no! Don’t be silly.”

That was Fred’s voice, followed quickly by a laugh. Anne spun around and her eyes widened. A short distance away, Louisa was balancing on one of the metal girders William had warned them about, arms outstretched like a tightrope walker, head thrown back with laughter.

“It’s fun! Come and join me.”

She jumped down, but immediately rushed back around the pile to repeat her climb. All the while, both men yelled to her to come down. She walked to the very edge, a diver about to do a swan dive into a pool with no water. “Come up with me, Fred. You can see for miles. You can keep me safe. It’s fun!”

“Louisa!” Fred called again, his voice tight.

“It’s dangerous! We were told not to get close to those.” Ben’s voice echoed Fred’s, but Louisa laughed again.

“Come down, Louisa.” This was Fred at his most serious, the voice that had student orchestras quaking in their collective running shoes. “Come down now.”

As Anne watched in horror, Louisa called out, “Spoilsport!” and leapt off the metal beam from a much higher point than she had before. But rather than landing neatly on her feet, she caught her hand on something as she jumped and she twisted terribly in the air.

Once again, the world slowed into that dreadful, fatal loop where action slowed but help was hopeless. Anne watched in horror as Louisa’s body seemed suspended in midair for a moment, quite off-kilter, impossible to correct, and then, just as suddenly, plummeted to the ground below. She landed in a pile on the hard stone-strewn earth, her head making a sickening sound as it made contact. 

The horn player didn’t move.

Somewhere by the tables, somebody screamed, and the horror of Dylan’s accident rushed back at Anne, threatening to drown her. The world swam, the sound of her nephew’s head and Louisa’s merging into one dreadful cacophony that turned black and pulled Anne’s stomach to her feet. 

No! This could not happen again. She had to act. Memories of Marie’s friend, the doctor, filled her mind, and almost without thinking, Anne reached into her pocket and fumbled for her phone. Numb fingers stabbed at the screen until the number pad appeared and she dialled 911 for emergency services. …

A presence at her side coalesced into a most welcome shape. Fred. He said not a word, but held out his arms and she fell into them, feeling his distress and his strength in his embrace. There was nothing intimate about this; it would cause no knowing glances. These were two friends comforting each other. But oh, how she needed this comfort.

“You okay, Annie? You were fabulous. I heard you answer those questions, as calm as I’ve heard anybody. You knew exactly what to say and what to do. We were all standing around too shocked to move, and you acted. There’s no one as level-headed or reliable as you.”

“I didn’t feel level-headed at all. I felt about to dissolve into dust.”

“You held us all together. Is this what happened with Dylan?” She nodded, and he gave her another squeeze. 

“It was all in my head. It all came back, like I was watching Dylan’s accident again. I was afraid of falling apart again.”

“But you didn’t. You’re a rock, Anne. You might have saved her life. I’m proud of you.”

 * * *

Author Bio

Award-winning author Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back. 

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Website • Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Amazon

Buy Links

Preludes is available for purchase at Amazon, and is free to read on Kindle Unlimited. A paperback will be available very soon! You can also add the book to your Goodreads shelf. 

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
Giveaway Time

Riana is offering a gift copy of the eBook of Preludes, selected randomly from people who comment on this post within five days of it going live. Comments up to midnight EST (North America) on October 7 will be included. Please ensure you leave your name in your post, as sometimes it posts as anonymous.

If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

* * * 

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  1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it as much as early readers have. :D

  2. This looks wonderful! I love that it is set in Toronto. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway. Best wishes and congrats on the new release!

    1. It was fun setting a story in a place I know so well. I was running some errands this morning, thinking, "that's where Anne and Fred had dinner," and "That's where Ben went biking."

    2. Thanks for commenting, Robin. Hope you enjoy the book when you read it.

  3. sounds delightful. love the cover.

    1. Thank you! I was thrilled with my cover artist's design. I hope you enjoy the book.

    2. The cover is lovely isn't it.

  4. Sounds wonderful, thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  5. Congratulations on you new book. I was holding my breath.. I can feel the height and the fall. Thank you for sharing an excerpt from your new story and the chnace to win a copy

    1. (This is Buturot)

    2. Thank you! This was an interesting part to move into the modern world and keep the tension high.

    3. Congrats! You were selected at the winner of a copy of Preludes in a random draw through RANDOM.ORG
      Please send me a message at so I can get you your book.

    4. I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Buturot. Congratulations on your win!

  6. PATRICIA FINNEGAN5 October 2022 at 07:00

    As a theatre geek I love the music part of this!

    Patricia Finnegan

    1. My daughter is a theatre geek as well. I'm just an enthusiastic audience, but the performing arts are such a central part of my life. :-)

    2. Glad it's caught your fancy, Patricia!

  7. Hi Riana, I'm Teresa. I appreciate you set this story in the world of music and I like how you got to "Frederico Valore" from Frederick Wentworth, it's such a fun change!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Working out names was one of the trickiest parts of moving this into the present. I wanted to keep as much to the original as I could, while still moving the story into a realistic version of Now. Music is such a huge part of this story, both because Anne is a composer, and because she talks to Fred about the pieces the orchestra is playing. I hope you love the novel. Good luck in the draw!

    2. Thanks for commenting, Teresa, hope you enjoy the story.

  8. I have done a random sort of the lovely folks who commented above at RANDOM.ORG, and the machine gave me BUTUROT as the lucky winner of an eBook of Preludes.
    Congrats! Please contact me at to let me know where to send you prize.

    1. Thanks so much for the giveaway, Riana, and all the best with this book!

  9. Hope you enjoy it, Colleen :)


If you're not logged in to Google please leave your name in your comment or it will post as anonymous. Thanks! - Ceri