Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Jack Caldwell

The worlds of Jane Austen and the Baroness Orczy combine in a swashbuckling tale from the author of The Three Colonels. Captain Frederick Tilney, dashing cavalry officer and rakish heir to Northanger Abbey, is interested only in fencing and enjoying himself. That is, until he meets the girl of his dreams, the lovely and intriguing Violet Blakeney. However, her father is not convinced of Frederick's pledge to reform and the officer is banished from Violet’s presence. The baronet has a will of iron, for he is none other than Sir Percy Blakeney—the retired Scarlet Pimpernel! Now, during the Hundred Days Crisis, an evil from the Pimpernel's past menaces the Blakeney family while Sir Percy is crippled by age. Frederick must convince the baronet to accept his assistance in accomplishing the impossible—take on an entire country to recuse the girl they both love.




Four years ago I had the pleasure of reading Jack Caldwell’s novel, The Three Colonels. Many characters from multiple works of Jane Austen were brought together in a singular delightful tale, one that was quite original and entertaining.  Caldwell has now followed Colonels with another mash-up of sorts, The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Again, various Austen characters are used within the story (including the colonels from the previous work), but we also find creations from the mind of the writer Baroness Emma Orczy, namely the Scarlet Pimpernel himself, Sir Percy Blakeney.  As a Janeite I was familiar with the backgrounds of many in The Last Adventure, but my knowledge of Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel was negligible to say the least.  So this foppish, conniving and brave character is a new one for me, one that I have only begun to discover in this creation from the mind of Jack Caldwell.

In addition to getting to know the Scarlet Pimpernel better as a character, I also was given much time with an unlikely choice of protagonist for this tale, namely Frederick Tilney of Northanger Abbey fame. I’ve always thought of him as a bit of a flirt and playboy, in consideration of how he is known to treat women and his storyline in Austen’s novel. But in The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel, we see quite a transformation in this man. Indeed, due to the love of a woman—true love, mind you—he works diligently to become worthy of her hand. When her safety is in jeopardy, it takes Captain Tilney in league with the Pimpnernel to come to her rescue.  The Pimpernel is not as young or as nimble as he once was, so victory is not assured.  He’s also aware of Tilney’s reputation, which becomes a problem as the Captain desires to court his daughter.  Somehow Tilney must not only rescue his beloved, but he must win over her father’s good opinion as well.

So in The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel, we have a bit of an adventure story, but we also have a bit of a romance.  Although the titular character is the Pimpernel, this really was the Captain’s story. His journey is a long one, from a man of somewhat ill repute to possibly hero and man of honor.  The novel has moments of excitement, intrigue, and of course a touch of romance.  The villain was delectable in his own way, obsessed as he was with the ruination of his nemesis, the Pimpernel.

My negative thoughts on the novel are few. While not my favorite of Caldwell’s works (that would be Pemberley Ranch), it was a fun, enjoyable romp that is very family friendly. I wish that less time had been spent focusing on the history and politics of the period (the Hundred Days Crisis of 1815) and more pages spent building the relationship of Tilney and Violet Blakeney.  In addition, there were moments when I had trouble keeping track of all of the characters, but Caldwell solves this problem with a listing of the cast at the opening of the book. I referenced it several times.

Once again, as in the previous work, I enjoyed seeing so many Austen characters interacting with each other. My two favorites, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy make more than one appearance, and we also spend some time with the former Caroline Bingley and her new husband, Sir John Buford.  I also relished the story arc between Buford and Captain Tilney, as their relationship goes through an ebb and flow that I found compelling and interesting.

Overall I found The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel to be another unique moment of Austenesque fiction from author Jack Caldwell.  Thus far he has not failed to disappoint in this genre, and I hope he continues this series of Jane Austen’s fighting men.



GIVEAWAY

Author Jack Caldwell has graciously offered to give away a copy of  The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel to one of our readers!  The contest is open internationally.  If the winner is in the U.S., they may choose between paperback or eBook.  If an international name is chosen, they will receive the eBook.  Content ends on September 1, 2016 at 12am EST.  Utilize the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  Good luck!


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About the Author

Jack Caldwell, born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook.

His nickname -- The Cajun Cheesehead -- came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)

Always a history buff, Jack found and fell in love with Jane Austen in his twenties, struck by her innate understanding of the human condition. Jack uses his work to share his knowledge of history. Through his characters, he hopes the reader gains a better understanding of what went on before, developing an appreciation for our ancestors' trials and tribulations.

When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.

Jack's blog postings -- The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles -- appear regularly at Austen Variations.



Connect with Jack Caldwell






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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Excerpt and Giveaway (US): A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle’s and others’ lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.



Today we welcome to The Calico Critic author Cat Gardiner.  She offers some thoughts, an excerpt of her novel A Moment Forever, and a nice prize package as well.  Enjoy today's post, and don't forget to enter to win below!  Every comment is entered for the giveaway of an E-Book, Vintage-style picture frame and triple-milled gardenia soap swag gift. (US)  For extra entries, follow on Facebook, Twitter or the Cat Gardiner blog.  Be sure to submit your entries through the Rafflecopter widget so that we can compile all entries and select a random winner.  Good luck, and enjoy!


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Thank you, Laura for inviting me with A Moment Forever to The Calico Critic. I’m so happy to be here and to share some thoughts with your readers and a giveaway. So, I’ll get right to it!


THE WIDOWER

Growing up, I knew a few families that had widow/widower parents, and guess what – they remarried! I’m sure you remember the song about one particular family: “Here’s the story of a lovely lady …” Yes, the Brady Bunch. And let’s not forget, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and My Three Sons. Sixties and seventies television shows were rife with this situation, and I, as a child, thought nothing of it. The Bradys hooked up, Eddie tried to hook his father up, and Steve Douglas, father of three sons hooked a bride. Society, as a whole, encouraged remarriage. It was more widely welcomed by family. Perhaps it was because the world viewed marriage as essential to one’s happiness – and also because two back-to-back wars had left us with the too common occurrence of men killed in action, resulting in fatherless children, unskilled women having to enter the workforce, and just plain and simple – loneliness. Maybe that would explain remarriage rates at an all time high in the late 1960s.

The eighties gave us more widowers in TV: Full House, Diff’rent Strokes, and more recently Arrested Development. Did they all remarry? No, most likely society has changed. In American real life, some of today’s dominant objections in keeping seniors from remarrying after the death of a spouse are from family. In this Millennial era, adult children are more protective – and territorial. They worry about someone new in their family, pre-nups and finances, inheritances, being taken advantage of, and the plaguing question of “who will I bury them with?” Personally, I do think I would have a difficult time. My parents have been married 61 years. They’ve been a “couple” for 75. Yet, my mother states time and again to my father, “When I’m gone, find someone to care for you.” It’s very hard for some children to accept that. No one can take the place of my mom or dad and what they mean to each other, but it’s not my call.

This issue is a prevalent theme in 1992 in A Moment Forever and it touches at the heart of the novel. A secondary character, Louis Martel, is responsible for compelling his granddaughter to find her past and the people he and his deceased wife hid from her. His son has just died, two years after his wife, and he’s living in a senior community. Once a “doll dizzy” man during the 1940s, he’s filling his loneliness at night with the help of some lovely ladies. But in 1992, his granddaughter is having a tough time accepting that he isn’t “faithful” to her deceased grandmother, Lillian (Mimi.) She fails to recognize his need to be loved, touched, cared for, soothed, and have steady companionship in his waning years. Things he wants to give someone special in return, too. Romantic love isn’t a one-shot deal and it’s not restricted only to the young – and Juliana must come to learn that. He hasn’t forgotten Lillian. On the contrary, he still grieves and misses her, and he must deal with the guilt he has about seeking companionship, maybe not marriage, but a relationship.

This scene shows us what Louis is up against.

*          *          *

“Grandpa, are you still asleep?”

She could hear the shower running inside his master bath. “Grandpa. It’s only me. I’ll put up some coffee. We need to talk.”

To her surprise, it wasn’t Vera who came through the bedroom door but another woman wearing a beige towel wrapped around her torso. Ginger-haired, buxom, attractive and in her sixties, she greeted Juliana’s shocked expression with a pleasant smile.

“Oh, hello. You must be Lou’s granddaughter, Julie. I’ve heard so much about you. Everyone has told me what a beauty you are. Why, you’re as cute as a button.”

The offending stranger squeezed Juliana’s cheek just as Mimi used to do. Unable, unwilling to welcome the woman with even a cordial acknowledgment or smile, she stammered.

“Um, er … and you are?”

“I’m Louise but everyone calls me Lou. Your grandfather is in the shower at the moment.”

Lou and Lou, oh isn’t that just too cute. Not.

“Can you please let my grandfather know that I’ll be in the kitchen preparing breakfast for me and him?”

“Of course. Make yourself comfortable, dear.”

Fuming, Juliana walked to the galley kitchen.

How could he? What happened to Vera? And who the hell does this stranger think she is telling me to make myself comfortable!

Already the morning was off to a bad start. Her anger was about to explode to the surface, but she shamefully had to admit that this Louise person, unfortunately, found herself in the line of fire. Perhaps if the woman had answered the door wearing actual clothing that might have helped, but the thought of her grandfather in some shag fest with a sixty-year-old was too much to handle. Pinching my cheek! Only Mimi gets to pinch my cheek! Oh, that’s right … Mimi’s dead and this one obviously thinks she can fill her shoes!

The coup de grĂ¢ce was pulling open the refrigerator door and finding two different Pyrex designs and four different Corning Ware patterns, all dating between the 1960s and 80s, none of which he actually owned. Apparently these were the modern day, senior citizen equivalent to a calling card. Perhaps the pattern names suggested some subliminal message to the recipient from the giver, potentially a physical trait or a promise of dessert to come: Cornflower, Balloons, Floral Bouquet, Country Festival, Autumn Harvest, and the ever-present Spice O Life that seemed to sum up his playboy behavior toward them all! She wondered if Louise had brought Strawberry Sunday.

She harrumphed. “Six casserole dishes, all different designs. My seventy-three year old grandfather is a total Don Juan!”

She poured a mug of coffee, grabbed her blue Tiffany box, and walked to the balcony to wait for her grandfather’s expected shit-eating grin to arrive. Today, she would find it neither cute nor endearing.




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Thank you so much for joining me today. I’d love to hear your thoughts about Louis and Juliana or someone you may know or even the beautiful idea of finding love again - at any age.




About Cat Gardiner:

Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.

She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™. Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat’s WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.

She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/40sExperience
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cat.t.gardiner
Follow her blog: http://www.cgardiner1940s.com/#!my-40s-experience/c112v
 


PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY

Cat Gardiner has generously offered a nice prize pack for our U.S. readers!  One randomly chosen winner will win a package that includes an eBook of A Moment Forever, a vintage-style frame and gardenia soaps (my favorite scent!).   Simply fill out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. The only required entries are your contact information and making a comment to this post.  Contest will conclude at 12am EST on Saturday, August 27th.  Good luck to all the entrants!
















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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

“It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world,” said Elizabeth Bennet at the conclusion of Pride & Prejudice—but was it true?

Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.

Together they become entwined in a Regency tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. As if traveling back in time, a story unfolds within their story. All was not as it seemed in the private lives of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but how can they ever uncover the whole truth?

How could they know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?

Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?

The Elizabeth Papers is a tale of romance and intrigue, spanning the Regency and modern eras, reminding us how the passions of the past may inspire those in the present. 





Although I’ve hosted author Jenetta James on The Calico Critic in the past, her latest work The Elizabeth Papers is the first novel of hers that I’ve read.  Prior to the day that she contacted me for this review, I’d noticed the book’s arrival throughout social media and other blogs.  The cover art completely drew me in—yes, I’m that kind of reader.  The premise sounded interesting enough, but I must say the amazing art was what sold me.  Jenetta assured me that the content wouldn’t be overly steamy for my readers, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this for you!

Unlike many titles, The Elizabeth Papers can indeed be judged by its cover.  I absolutely adore this book!  James’ writing is superb, confident and strong.  She deftly handles the multiple time periods of the narrative by giving each its own distinctive voice.  I was completely drawn in, and in truth, I could not read this book fast enough.  I loved the voice she gave to Elizabeth Darcy. It was almost modern in tone, without being too anachronistic. Darcy has his unique timbre within his letters and is very faithful to Austen’s original view of him.  He is strong and regal in public, tender and sincere in private. Their marriage is very real; they’ve been together for six years, and the newlywed sheen has worn from their relationship.  As a woman who has been married for over two decades, I loved how Jenetta handled the vicissitudes of the marital relationship.  One passage almost took my breath away.  While my husband and I are doing well as of late, there have been periods during our relationship when my heart has echoed these emotions of Elizabeth Darcy's:

“Now, if she [Lydia] is in his presence and causing him annoyance, I find I do not care. Is this how love dies? Does it falter on the road of complacency and acquiescence? If I do not tend to him as once I did, is it not he who has made me feel thus? A feeling of darkness and loneliness is welling up inside me, and I know not how to push it down.” (Chapter 13)

With this style of writing, it is no surprise that each chapter left me grasping for the next, especially with the format that James chose, alternating time periods with each chapter. She had me wondering which era I preferred—the Regency time period in which the Darcy's were so compelling, or the modern era in which the characters were so interesting.  It truly was a great combination of a traditional Austenesque novel and a contemporary tale.

Jenetta also crafted romantic storylines that I found to be a touch steamy, but not over the top. She kept the content within the PG or light PG-13 range, with plenty of opportunities to go further with the private details of the bedroom without doing so.  Most of the sensual moments were between the married Darcy's, with just a tad from other sources.  Her writing is very strong; she has no need to become overly sensational in this area.  I applaud her choices in this regard.

Overall I cannot recommend The Elizabeth Papers highly enough.  It’s the best Jane Austen Fan Fiction I’ve read in quite some time, and truly stands apart with its quality writing.  I think my only major complaint is that at just over 200 pages, I wanted it to be longer! We could have heard more from Darcy’s letters, for example. I in no way felt cheated—I simply enjoyed the novel so much I didn’t want it to come to an end! Jenetta James has completely won me over, and I look forward to reading more of her in the future!




Giveaway: The Elizabeth Papers
(International)

Jenetta has generously offered to give away two copies of The Elizabeth Papers to our readers!  Simply use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  The winners may choose between a Kindle edition or paperback copy.  Open internationally. Contest period closes on August 13th at 12am EST.  Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway






 
 
About the Author

Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University 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.  





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The Elizabeth Papers Kindle Suddenly Mrs. Darcy Kindle

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Forever Yours by Robin Helm

In Forever Yours, the third and final volume of the Christian Regency/Modern Yours by Design series, both Will Darcy and Fitzwilliam Darcy seek to overcome the obstacles threatening to separate them from their respective Elizabeths. 

Could it be possible for people who grew up in time periods over two hundred years apart to be happy together? Can a Regency man love a modern woman? Can a modern man adjust to a Regency woman? 




As mentioned in my previous review of Sincerely Yours, author Robin Helm concludes the second title in her Yours by Design series with a pair of cliffhangers, deliciously leading into the start of this final installment, Forever Yours.  The 19th century Fitzwilliam Darcy, transported through time into the body of the modern Will Darcy, experienced some growth in Sincerely Yours, so in addition to the anticipation of the resolution of the cliffhangers, I was eager to witness how he would develop as a newly-minted modern man. 

Mild spoiler alert:  The cliffhangers involve each Fitzwilliam/Will character divulging his great secret to the Elizabeth of his era.  How will she respond to such an outlandish tale? Time travel? After he utters a prayer? Into another man’s body? Is this even possible? Perhaps the Elizabeths will think him delusional or worse. But as each man begins to fall more and more in love with his respective Lizzy, he knows that she ultimately must know the truth of his existence.  Nevertheless, it’s an act of faith to share such a phenomenal concept with someone.

In addition to the revelation of each man’s state of being, a major crisis erupts on each end of the timeline. In the Regency era, George Wickham is up to his usual antics, causing trouble and threatening the good name of the Bennet family, and by extension, the Darcy family as well.  In the modern day, a Wickham-like character also runs afoul, doing much more than slandering a family name.  He is involved in illegal and morally decrepit practices that turned my stomach on multiple occasions.  He was more than just a pest—he is the embodiment of evil.  These storylines with the Wickham characters were a very exciting way to end the trilogy.  It raised the level of the narrative above a mere tale of romance; there was much at stake for the families involved, and indeed, potential families of the future.  As the chapters alternated between the past and the present, I found myself eager to get to the next scene to determine what would happen in the lives of the characters.  Robin Helm has written a captivating tale that built suspense in a realistic way.

While all of the drama was occurring with the Wickham characters, the romances between the Darcy and Lizzy characters were growing as well. As in the first two volumes of this series, the Regency-era plotline continues to be enjoyable and well-written. The most distinctive change was found in the modern day chapters, as Fitzwilliam continues to adapt and mature into his 21st century life.  He is transformed from a pretentious, spoiled, prat of a man as seen in Accidentally Yours to a caring, more selfless, giving individual in Forever Yours.  His transformation was so complete, it was hard to believe he was the same person, but I enjoyed his new characteristics such that I was comfortable in suspending my disbelief.

As expected, Forever Yours wraps up with two happy endings, but not without having to withstand much drama and conflict, both from the Wickham characters and from relational issues.  Robin Helm has done a fine work in this series, incorporating our favorite Pride and Prejudice characters, family-friendly romance, realistic issues and captivating drama.  This trilogy was a fun read, and sure to delight fans of Austenesque fiction and time-travel novels alike.






Giveaway!

Author Robin M. Helm has graciously offered two copies of Forever Yours.  One copy will be a Kindle edition for our international readers, and a U.S. winner may choose between an autographed paperback or the Kindle edition.  Contest period ends on August 12th at 12am EST. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below for your contest entry.


a Rafflecopter giveaway






About the Author


Robin M. Helm is the author of a modern Christian fantasy fiction series, The Guardian Trilogy, which includes Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy. She has also published the Yours by Design series, a Christian Regency/Modern Romance with a paranormal element. Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours are all available for purchase in both e-book and print formats.

Mrs. Helm shares a blog, Jane Started It, with the other writers of the Crown Hill Writers' Guild, and is one of the founders and administrators of BeyondAusten.com, a website for readers with common interests. She also has published three Regency short stories, "First Kiss," "The Prize," and "Treasure Chest," which can be read on Jane Started It on her author's page or at BeyondAusten.com. She has one husband, one granddaughter, two daughters, two sons-in-law, four family dogs, five part-time jobs, and six published books.

Mrs. Helm is the Associate in Music and Music Academy Director at her church, the interim choir director, a piano teacher, and an elementary music teacher. She formerly taught high school English.

She graduated with a BA from Piedmont International University. She is a member of the Delta Epsilon Chi honor society, the American Legion Auxiliary, JASNA, and the scholarship faculty of the United States Achievement Academy.





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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Pride and Joy by Monica Fairview

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are engaged at last, and Mr. Darcy is preparing to take out a special licence to get married quickly. But, just when everything seems to be going just right, he encounters opposition from an unexpected quarter. Then, when his engagement is announced – to someone else – Elizabeth, understandably, begins to doubt his sincerity.

Perhaps their love is doomed after all…

Find out more in this third part of the Darcy Novels series, a Pride and Prejudice variation. 




Diving into this third installment of the Darcy series by Monica Fairview, I had a few expectations.  Its predecessor, Mr. Darcy’s Challenge ended on such a high note, I assumed there would be no obstacles to Lizzy making it to the altar with her beloved.  In fact, I half expected the story to pick up not long after their honeymoon!  One would assume I’d already read the short plot summary for this novel, but I had deliberately kept myself 100% spoiler-free on this one.  I’d enjoyed the first two so much; there was no need for a preview on my part.  I speculated that the titular “pride and joy” would possibly be referring to one of their children, in fact!  I was certainly off track in my assumptions.  For those of you who prefer to be almost as in the dark as I was, you might want to return to my review on another day.  Come back and leave your comments, but don’t let these thoughts intrude on your enjoyment of the book.  As for the rest of the audience who isn’t particularly concerned about a few spoilers, read on!

At the conclusion of Mr. Darcy’s Challenge, all seems right in the world with our two Austenian characters, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.  While out for a walk, Darcy is so enraptured with joy, he fails to notice that he has wondered into a shady part of London.  From there we have an exciting episode which kicks off the novel with a bang.  In truth, I would say that it was the most riveting moment in the entire story!  This event is one in a long string of obstacles that emerges, keeping Darcy and Lizzy from tying the knot.  Time after time, circumstances present themselves in such a way that even I began to doubt if the wedding would ever happen.  As the chapters flew by, there seemed to be no “Happily Ever After” (HEA) in sight.  I found myself saying to the author, “Monica, you’re almost out of pages!  Darcy and Lizzy are not together!  What in the world are you up to?!  I need my HEA!”


Suffice it to say, Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy has a satisfying ending.  The “pride and joy” mentioned in the title is a reference to Elizabeth, whom Darcy loves with all his heart. Despite all of life’s obstacles, he is determined to be with her, no matter what the cost.  Even he has moments of doubt, thinking he might be duty-bound into a marriage with someone else, but he never truly gives up hope.  The same goes for Elizabeth.  Despite moments of questioning, she loves him fully and is willing to sacrifice much in order to be his wife.


In addition to the entertaining story, I also enjoyed the amount of time spent with a secondary character, Miss Anne de Bourgh of Rosings Park.  While frail in constitution, her character was much spunkier than I’ve seen in the past, and I found her to be quite intriguing.  She desires to remain true to herself, but she is constrained by limitations put on her by her mother and society at large.  She ultimately is liberated, and I reveled in that moment with her.


While this is a review of Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy, it’s also a commentary on Fairview’s Darcy series as a whole.  This trilogy has been a delight to read, and the best I’ve seen from Monica in quite a while.  While Mr. Darcy’s Challenge can somewhat stand on its own, the first and final titles are somewhat dependent on the others.  I would encourage readers of Austenesque fiction to begin with Mr. Darcy’s Pledge and take in the entire trilogy.  Each title is a fast read, very enjoyable, family-friendly and romantically delectable.  Congratulations to Monica Fairview on an excellent collection!






Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Pride & Joy Ebook!
(International)


Monica Fairview has graciously offered to give away an ebook copy of Mr. Darcy's Pride and Joy! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below to win.  Open internationally. Giveaway period ends on July 30th at 12am EST.  Good luck to all the entrants!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




About the Author


Monica Fairview is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's wit. She loves to laugh, and she is convinced that her cats can understand everything she says. She is the author of several Austenesque novels: two traditional Jane Austen sequels, one post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek Jane Austen spin-off, one multi-author novel THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring Mr. Darcy’s rakish brother Theo, and now the trilogy, THE DARCY NOVELS. She has also written a Regency Christmas novel, A VERY MERRY CHASE, which was published as part of The Regency Quintet anthology and will be coming out soon on Amazon.

Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, in the days when it was faded and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood.

Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims. She has lived in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Massachusetts. By some quirk of fate, she now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area, within a stone's throw of Jane Austen's picnic spot in EMMA, Box Hill. She loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.



Connect with Author Monica Fairview





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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Challenge by Monica Fairview

In this humorous Pride and Prejudice variation, Mr. Darcy is determined to win Elizabeth Bennet's hand in spite of her rejection and he has a strategy worked out. He will rescue Lydia Bennet from Wickham and will return to Longbourn to convince Elizabeth to marry him. But when a chance encounter prompts Darcy to propose once again to Elizabeth before he has rescued Lydia, his plans go horribly wrong.

Broken hearted, disillusioned and bitterly regretting his impulsive action, Darcy sees no point in assisting Miss Bennet. After all, rescuing Lydia might save Elizabeth’s reputation, but why should he care when they have no future together? His code of gentlemanly conduct, however, demands that he fulfill the terms of his promise to her. Once again, Darcy finds himself faced with impossible choices: helping Elizabeth when she is certain to marry someone else, or holding onto his dignity by turning his back on the Bennets once and for all.

Pride and love are at loggerheads as he struggles to choose between his mind … and his heart.




Monica Fairview continues her Darcy series with the second title, Mr. Darcy’s Challenge.  The narrative picks up right from where Mr. Darcy’s Pledge left off, addressing the cliffhanger that had me eagerly anticipating the continuation of the story.  The scenes that follow it are on occasion cringe-inducing (due to Darcy’s ineptness as a suitor) and at times were almost comical.  I was wincing, laughing and enjoying it all at the same time.  As Georgiana thinks in chapter 15, “Her normally sensible brother had been driven to complete irrationality.”  The stoic Fitzwilliam Darcy is internally insecure and at times almost desperate to marry Elizabeth Bennet, but he faces obstacles at seemingly every turn.  He has moments of resignation, even pursuing another marriage option, but his love for her never wavers.  The question of the day is:  Will Elizabeth ever return his affections?
 

I enjoyed the novel’s brisk pace, as it brought in much more excitement and drama than the first installment.  Particularly interesting were the disappearance of Lydia Bennet and the possible involvement of Mr. Wickham, Darcy’s nemesis.  A kidnapping and ransom are involved, and I was riveted to see how this particular conundrum would work itself out.  Fairview took me completely by surprise during one rescue scene, when a certain individual is found to not be present at all.  I gasped audibly and my hand flew to my face!

Darcy’s little sister Georgiana is also featured quite a bit in this series, and I’ve enjoyed watching her grow and mature along the way. She has been somewhat sheltered for most of her life, and her interactions with Wickham have changed her considerably.  Georgiana is also quite invested in proving “once and for all…that she was not a child to be pushed aside and forgotten”.  I was proud of the choices she’s begun to make as a young woman coming up in the world.
 

Mr. Darcy’s Pledge was an enjoyable read, and I wasn’t sure how Monica Fairview would improve on it with Challenge.  I expected a simple continuation, a second volume that would be similar to its predecessor.  I was surprised to find that this second portion was more entertaining than the first!  I reveled at Darcy’s behavior, cringed at Lydia’s ridiculousness, enjoyed Georgiana’s development, and I especially loved the ending.  It doesn’t conclude with the same type of cliffhanger that the first title presented, but it was simply delicious!  In fact, I could easily see Mr. Darcy’s Challenge being read as a stand-alone novel.  With all of this, I eagerly anticipate the next offering of this series, Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy.  I’m sure we will be in for a treat!




Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Challenge Ebook!
(International)


Monica Fairview has graciously offered to give away an ebook copy of Mr. Darcy's Challenge! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below to win.  Open internationally. Giveaway period ends on July 23rd at 12am EST.  Good luck to all the entrants!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




About the Author


Monica Fairview is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's wit. She loves to laugh, and she is convinced that her cats can understand everything she says. She is the author of several Austenesque novels: two traditional Jane Austen sequels, one post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek Jane Austen spin-off, one multi-author novel THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring Mr. Darcy’s rakish brother Theo, and now the trilogy, THE DARCY NOVELS. She has also written a Regency Christmas novel, A VERY MERRY CHASE, which was published as part of The Regency Quintet anthology and will be coming out soon on Amazon.

Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, in the days when it was faded and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood.

Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims. She has lived in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Massachusetts. By some quirk of fate, she now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area, within a stone's throw of Jane Austen's picnic spot in EMMA, Box Hill. She loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.



Connect with Author Monica Fairview





Book 1 Book 1 Kindle Book 2 Book 3

Monday, July 11, 2016

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Chaos Comes to Longbourn by Victoria Kincaid

While attempting to suppress his own desire to dance with Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy flees the Netherfield ballroom only to stumble upon a half-dressed Lydia Bennet in the library.  After being discovered with her in a compromising position, Darcy is forced to make her an offer of marriage.

Fearing the Bennets will attempt a similar “trick” with their brother, Mr. Bingley’s sisters convince him to leave Hertfordshire without any intention of returning.  After Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins, a heartbroken Jane Bennet accepts his proposal.

Having resolved to propose to Jane, Bingley returns to Longbourn; but when he learns of her betrothal, he makes an offer to Elizabeth instead.  She accepts, with the hope that Jane will change her mind if Bingley remains at Netherfield. 

Meanwhile, Sir William Lucas is aware that Wickham had actually compromised Lydia in the Netherfield library and blackmails him into proposing to Charlotte Lucas, who is in danger of becoming an old maid. 

Hertfordshire has become a tangled web of misbegotten betrothals.

Although Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, he feels honor bound by his promise.  Elizabeth is also developing feelings for the master of Pemberley, but he has never seemed so far out of her reach.  How can Darcy and Elizabeth unravel this tangle and reach their happily ever after? 




Today we welcome author Victoria Kincaid!  Her latest novel Chaos Comes to Longbourn is now available, and we have an excerpt for you to whet your appetite, as well as a giveaway.   I haven't read this title, but the idea of Darcy proposing to Lydia sounds very entertaining at the very least!  Can you just imagine the two of them?!?  Well, Victoria Kincaid has contemplated such a matching, and it'll be interesting to see where the story leads next.  Enjoy the excerpt, and best wishes on the giveaway!


Excerpt: Chaos Comes to Longbourn
(From Chapter 2)

If Darcy failed to propose now, Elizabeth and the other onlookers would think him without honor.  But the thought of proposing was…profoundly distasteful.  Of course, a proposal was not a marriage.  If he proposed under duress now, Darcy might later find a way to escape the obligation.  The Bennet family might agree to a monetary settlement, but they could hardly discuss such a compromise here, in front of witnesses.

Yes, he would find the means to escape the situation later.  For now he need only scrape together the remains of his dignity and live to fight another day.  Devil take it! 

He turned to the disheveled, red-faced, sobbing fifteen-year-old.  “Miss Lydia,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Y-yes?”  She granted him a quizzical smile and a hiccup.

“Would you do me the honor of being my wife?”  Darcy was proud he did not choke on the words.  He did not have the slightest hope the chit would reject him; his fortune was too tempting.

“M-marry you?”  Lydia laughed. 

Laughed!

Darcy failed to see any humor in the situation.  “W-why would I want to marry you?”  She giggled, swaying a bit on her feet. 

Was the girl touched in the head?

A frowning Mr. Bennet advanced on his daughter and took her arm.  “Lydia, you must accept him,” he explained in a low voice.  “Your reputation has been compromised.”

“But look at him!”  She waved wildly at Darcy.  “He’s so stuffy and formal and dull.  And he does not even possess a red coat!”  A couple of onlookers tittered.  Even Mr. Bennet’s lips twitched. However, Elizabeth’s glare did not relent.

Darcy rubbed the back of his neck.  This was a farce in every possible way. 

“That may be true, my dear,” Mr. Bennet spoke gently to his daughter while staring daggers at Darcy, “but you must accept him anyway.”

“I don’t want to!”  Lydia stamped her foot like a child denied a sweet.

“You must.”  Mr. Bennet’s voice now held a hint of steel.  “You would not wish to experience a decrease in your allowance for hats and gloves.”

Lydia glared at her father.  “Papa, that is unfair!”  He crossed his arms and regarded her sternly.  Finally, she stepped backward and slumped into a chair with a huff.  “Very well!  Yes, Mr. Darcy, I accept.”  Her face arranged itself in a very unattractive pout.

Darcy wondered if there had ever been a less romantic marriage proposal in the history of the world.  However, if Lydia possessed that little enthusiasm, perhaps they could reach some sort of agreement which would not leave him leg-shackled.  Never before had he been grateful for being considered dull!  Of course, he had never before encountered a woman who thought ten thousand a year was dull.

Bingley began to direct guests—all chatting excitedly—toward the library door.  Lydia returned to sobbing into her hands.  With a scowl at Darcy, Mrs. Bennet swept across the floor to take the chair next to Lydia’s.  “It will not be so bad, my dear.  Mr. Darcy is very rich.”  Standing next to Lydia, Elizabeth colored at her mother’s tactlessness.

Darcy closed his eyes.  This could not possibly be happening.

“Rich?”  Despite being muffled, Lydia’s tone was definitely interested.

“Yes!” Mrs. Bennet trilled.  “You will have many fine dresses and carriages!”

Lydia peeked through her hands.  “More than my sisters?”


“I daresay.  They are not liable to find wealthier husbands!”

Lydia clapped in excitement.  “La!” she squealed.  “How droll!”  She certainly recovered from her mortification quickly.

Darcy could almost see the hope for an agreement with Lydia slipping further away.  Why would the girl accept a fraction of his fortune when she believed she was entitled to all of it?

But there was nothing he could accomplish tonight.  Perhaps he could convince Lydia to break off their engagement tomorrow, once she had sobered.  Darcy spun on his heel and strode toward the hallway.

He needed a brandy.  Or two.  Or ten.

Mrs. Bennet’s shrill tones followed him as he hurried away.  “I daresay you will like being his wife.  Mrs. Darcy!  Oh, how well that sounds!”

“Yes, indeed!” Lydia agreed with a giggle.

Lydia might like being Mrs. Darcy, but Darcy could not conceive how he would survive Lydia.






Giveaway - Chaos Comes to Longbourn

Author Victoria Kincaid has generously offered a copy of her novel Chaos Comes to Longbourn for one of our readers!  The contest is open internationally, and the winner may choose between a print edition or ebook copy.  The giveaway period ends at 12am EST on July 23, 2016.   Utilize the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  Good luck! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 
 
About the Author

The author of best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she is a freelance writer/editor who teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, two children who are learning how much fun Austen’s characters can be, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice.
 



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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview

Torn between his heart and his mind… Mr. Darcy must make a choice.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has always been able to keep his emotions under control. That is, until he falls under the spell of Elizabeth Bennet and surprises himself by blurting out a proposal to her like a moonstruck youth. Stung to the quick by her rejection, his pride in tatters, and left with no possibility that she will ever love him, Darcy determines to put all thoughts of Elizabeth behind him. But not even Town with its boundless opportunities for amusement can keep the image of Elizabeth Bennet from pursuing him everywhere he goes.

By the time Darcy leaves Town to travel up to Pemberley, he has learned one thing. There is only one way of overcoming Miss Bennet’s bewitching hold over him and Darcy is desperate enough to try it. The solution is to get married. And this time, he is not going to choose a wife by allowing his emotions to lead him by the nose.

His choice will be entirely rational…

In Volume I of this Pride and Prejudice variation, Monica Fairview traces Mr. Darcy’s journey as he struggles to come to terms with the upheaval Elizabeth Bennet has caused in his life…and his heart.






Monica Fairview begins her Darcy Novel series with Mr. Darcy’s Pledge, a diversion from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  In this vision of the story, we catch up with Fitzwilliam Darcy not long after his dreadful marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet.  Acting on emotion, impulse and with little planning, Darcy brought to the object of his affection a pitiful proposition indeed.  Elizabeth is nothing short of insulted, and despite his elevated position in society, wisely and firmly declines his offer.  Darcy returns home licking his wounds, determined to hide away his heart and make a rational decision when next choosing a future bride.  He almost makes a pledge to himself, resolving to “marry sensibly and not to allow emotion to dictate his future”.

This line of thinking leads him to craft an unusual document, a list of attributes for the ideal Mistress of Pemberley.  As he encounters a number of possible candidates, he edits the list accordingly, adding desirable and distasteful qualities—women to be on the lookout for, and women to avoid.  I found this device to smack of immaturity somewhat, and it garnered too many lines of text in my opinion.  I understood the point of the list, but after a while I tired of its use.  That is just a minor criticism, however.

Fairview stays very true to the characters Austen created, and much of the focus is on Darcy’s inner turmoil.  In her vision, he is somewhat self-conscious and insecure, but you would never perceive this in the manner in which he carries himself. As in the original work, he is somewhat stiff and can come across as snobbish.  He sometimes has trouble relating and communicating to others, and this brings him no end of frustration as he deals with his relatives and acquaintances. Not only are members of society angling to snare him as a husband, but others are also working to find his sister Georgiana a mate as well.  He spends much time in frustration over his choices, pining for Elizabeth, and directing matchmakers away from Georgiana.

I felt that Mr. Darcy’s Pledge was a pleasant, family-friendly start to a delightful series.  As it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, we will need to continue on to Mr. Darcy’s Challenge to determine how the story progresses.  On its own, Mr. Darcy’s Pledge is a fun diversion from Pride and Prejudice, with moments of excitement as well as humor.  There was one scene with Darcy’s valet and a cravat that had me laughing out loud, in fact.  At 200 pages and with Monica’s brisk writing, you’ll be flying through the twenty chapters in no time. This was a fun read, and I look forward to the next volume in the series!



Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Pledge Ebook!
(International)



Monica Fairview has graciously offered to give away an ebook copy of Mr. Darcy's Pledge! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below to win.  This is a fun start to the series, and I know you'll be hooked into wanting to read the whole trilogy after reading this one.  Giveaway period ends on July 16th at 12am EST.  Good luck to all the entrants!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




About the Author


Monica Fairview is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's wit. She loves to laugh, and she is convinced that her cats can understand everything she says. She is the author of several Austenesque novels: two traditional Jane Austen sequels, one post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek Jane Austen spin-off, one multi-author novel THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring Mr. Darcy’s rakish brother Theo, and now the trilogy, THE DARCY NOVELS. She has also written a Regency Christmas novel, A VERY MERRY CHASE, which was published as part of The Regency Quintet anthology and will be coming out soon on Amazon.

Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, in the days when it was faded and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood.

Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims. She has lived in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Massachusetts. By some quirk of fate, she now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area, within a stone's throw of Jane Austen's picnic spot in EMMA, Box Hill. She loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.


Connect with Author Monica Fairview





Book 1 Book 1 Kindle Book 2 Book 3

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