Monday, November 28, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

In this riveting sequel to the national bestseller The Queen of the Tearling, the evil kingdom of Mortmesne invades the Tearling, with dire consequences for Kelsea and her realm.

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

In this dazzling sequel, Erika Johansen brings back favorite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery, and a fierce young heroine.

Because I enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling so thoroughly, I felt that author Erika Johansen had quite a task in front of her in the follow-up to her exciting first novel in this series. When dealing with sequels, it’s often the case that a second act tends to pale in comparison to the first.  Not so with The Invasion of the Tearling.  It picks up not long after the conclusion of the first tale, as Queen Kelsea is dealing with the repercussions of her actions in the days surrounding her crowning. She faces the prospect of the massive Mort army descending upon her modest kingdom.  If history is any indication, she is in for massive slaughter on an epic scale.  How is she to thwart such a formidable enemy?

While The Invasion of the Tearling does deal with the political ramifications of these events, there is so much more going on.  Magic weaves in and out of the story, changing Kelsea physically and bringing her even more confidence as a leader. She continues to grow in strength, all the while trying to understand the forces that are working in her and through her.  A most notable event in her life is the introduction of a new character, Lily.

When Lily first came on the scene, I temporarily thought I’d been transported into another novel.  She was residing in a not-so-distant-future America, dealing with very non-magical, domestic issues.  Her story is at times gut-wrenching, and not for the faint of heart. She endures graphic spousal abuse, so I once again note to my conservative readers that while an enjoyable series, this one is not for children.  Should it be put on film, The Invasion of the Tearling could easily garner an “R” rating.

This is not to discourage my adult audience, however.  If you can look past some measure of violence and blue language, there is a riveting story here.  Lily’s connection to Kelsea is remarkable, and I highly enjoyed the alternating moments between their two worlds. They both are dealing with seemingly insurmountable odds, and the courage they exhibit is extraordinary. That comes with a price, however, and sometimes it’s brutal.

Author Erika Johansen once again had quite a few thoughts in regard to social issues—women’s rights, privacy laws, the nature of technology and other topics.  The Church still plays a vital role in the tale, and I wish that Kelsea’s society had a better model for what it means to be the Body of Christ.  However, there is a character who seems to defy much of that church’s hypocrisy and shows the love of Christ to others. I enjoyed him very much.

The Invasion of the Tearling comes to an end at a logical stopping point, but it’s clearly not the true conclusion of the story. There’s a bit of a cliffhanger as to the fate of Queen Kelsea and her kingdom, and I am eager to get on to the next entry in this series, The Fate of the Tearling.  If it’s anything like its predecessors, I should be in for a great ride!

Giveaway:  The Invasion of the Tearling

(US Entrants Only)

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Learn more about The Invasion of the Tearling HERE

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.

Follow the Tearling series on Facebook and Tumblr.

Paperback $1.99 Kindle Book 2 Book 3

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

In the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein's enormous shadow. This is the story of Einstein's wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.

Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.

Albert Einstein
Like many in our society, when I hear the name "Einstein", my thoughts immediately go to the Nobel prize-winning intellectual with wiry hair and revolutionary theories of how our universe is held together. Through Albert Einstein's studies, the understanding of time itself has been altered irrevocably. In Marie Benedict's novel The Other Einstein, we are given a peek into the personal life of such a revered figure, and come to see him for the human he truly was. Not only that, Benedict gives voice to that of Albert's first wife, Mitza Maric, an accomplished student of physics in her own right, whose perspective has largely been unrevealed, until now.  Through thorough research and a bit of artistic license, Marie Benedict crafts a sweeping tale of a remarkable woman who traverses the difficult waters of academia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mitza Maric was not a typical woman of her era.  Beset with a limp as well as a keen intellect, it was assumed by her father that she would go on to never marry, yet also achieve things most women would not.  Given an excellent education, she eventually finds herself in class with none other than Albert Einstein, who at the time was just another physics student like herself. Charming and keenly smart, they become friends and later, lab partners.

Mitza Maric Einstein
At this point in the story, I expected a typical boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-regains-girl type of narrative, albeit infused with occasional mentions of physics, mathematics, and even a bit of philosophy.  Fortunately, I was ignorant of Mitza's biography, so I was taken by surprise at the course her life took.  I won't reveal the extent of her journey and transformations, but suffice it to say, they were remarkable.  Marie Benedict's writing was effortless and had me quickly upending pages to determine where Mrs. Einstein's life would end up next. As a Christian I appreciated Mitza's interest in finding God's hand within mathematics and physics.  As a wife and mother I was heartbroken over so many of the trials she had to face.  Mrs. Einstein was a truly unique character, yet she had many aspects of her personality that I found imminently relatable.

The Other Einstein was a compelling and thought-provoking novel, one that I read in just a few sittings. The chapters flew by quickly, and I was almost sad to see them end.  I wish that there had been a bit more about Mitza's life in her latter days, but I understand that Benedict was doing her best to stay true to history, and I assume there isn't much material related to those later years.  I also enjoyed the romantic early days of the Einsteins', and appreciated the fact that intimate details were kept to a minimum.  A steamy love scene or two could have easily been inserted into the plot, but Marie's writing is strong enough that such material wasn't needed. Although there are adult situations in her story (and one mere curse word that I can recall), The Other Einstein would make an excellent read for my conservative readers, as well as those with even a mild interest in science or mathematics.

A few years ago I read another book of Marie Benedict's, Brigid of Kildare, written under the name Heather Terrell.  While I enjoyed that novel, I think I relished The Other Einstein even more.  I applaud Marie in her continuing work, and give her latest novel an enthusiastic recommendation.


Sourcebooks has generously offered a giveaway of three copies of The Other Einstein! Utilize the Rafflecopter widget below and enter to win.  Good luck!  Also take note of the Kindle sale that's going on this week (see graphic below).  If you prefer the ebook edition, now's a great time to grab a copy!

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About the Author

MARIE BENEDICT is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in history and art history and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

A #1 Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Selection

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling is the first volume in an epic fantasy series by Erika Johansen. It follows the life of Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, born a royal in the kingdom of Tear but ferreted away for most of the first nineteen years of her life for safety, not unlike the legendary "Sleeping Beauty", who was raised in secret for sixteen years. As she grows, there are forces out to obliterate her, most notably her uncle Thomas, the Raleigh Regent who wants to retain his power on her throne, previously occupied by her deceased mother Elyssa. Kelsea manages to survive until her coming of age at nineteen, raised in seclusion by the caring Barty and Carlin Glynn, who gave her an academic education as well as one of survival. Since an infant she has worn a magical pendant, a blue sapphire with otherworldly properties. When the Queen's Guard comes to fetch her, she takes the throne, but not without struggle. She grows from a naive girl in the woods to a powerful royal not seen in decades, facing down an even greater threat in the Red Queen, who has oppressed the Tearling from her position in Mortmesne for many years.

The Queen of the Tearling is a captivating novel, filled with adventure, magic, and enduring social issues. Religion and politics are infused throughout, set in a future world beyond the one we know now. I found it interesting that this story was not set in a completely fantastical realm, but on our Earth, just set far in the future. Few modern conveniences have survived the historic “Crossing", from generations before in their time. Books are a rarity, there are no electronics, and medical knowledge has receded into a pre-modern state. Christianity still has a presence, and this provides an interesting perspective, although sometimes a troubling one.  We see a pseudo-Christian church represented, warped by greed, power and corruption. It is a shadow of the Body that Christ intends, with its toleration of human trafficking and an almost theocratic influence on government. This provides interesting conflict within the narrative, but I was disappointed to see the Church once more portrayed in a negative light within literature.

That being said, Johansen’s writing is captivating, and it is no surprise to know that the novel garnered so much pre-publication buzz that the story has already been optioned for the screen. Although others have been considered for the role, I could see Hailee Steinfeld as the lead, with Gerard Butler as the strong and powerful Lazarus. Carlin could be played by Helen Mirren, with Wallace Shawn as Barty.

Along with thematic elements as seen in fairy tales like the ones by the Brothers Grimm, I also noticed hints of King Arthur, Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games. This is not to say that it's a derivative tale; it simply feels like a classic narrative that has been crafted in a similar fashion to these epic stories. The human drama, magic and cast of characters kept me enthralled through every chapter.  Erika Johansen has begun quite the series, and I look forward to the upcoming titles.

Notes to conservative readers and/or parents: The content in this novel is not for small children. While not overwhelmingly prevalent, there is enough adult material to earn a soft R rating. I'm sure the content will be toned down in order to achieve a PG-13 rating when it comes to theaters, but this book is not as tame as the fantastical likes of Harry Potter or the Brothers Grimm, which in their own right do indeed have interesting content. And as mentioned, the views of the Christian church are not exactly stellar. Despite those caveats, I enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling very much and eagerly anticipate to the cinematic version and the sequels, The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling.

Giveaway: The Queen of the Tearling

(US Entrants Only)

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Learn more about The Queen of the Tearling HERE

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.

Follow the Tearling series on Facebook and Tumblr.

Paperback $1.99 Kindle Book 2 Book 3

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Austenesque Spotlight and Giveaway: Darcy's Hope by Ginger Monette

Today The Calico Critic welcomes Ginger Monette and her latest work, Darcy's Hope: Beauty from Ashes.  We'll be featuring lots of great material today, from spotlight information, to an interview, a giveaway, and more!  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this little foray into the World War I era with some of our favorite Austenesque characters!

*          *          *

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War I alongside literature’s iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences amidst the carnage of war.

1916. World War I has turned French chateaux into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth Bennet's life in tatters.

Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!

But when an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until he arrives....

Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”

But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy.

With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent? Darcy can only hope….
  • Cameo appearance by John Thornton (of Gaskill’s North & South).
  • Rated PG. Clean romance, mild language, some war scenes.
  • Darcy's Hope has a happy ending but will continue in Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey, coming in February 2017. In the sequel, readers will experience the full resolution of the mystery, and our beloved couple's love will face a new, tragic test.

Interview with Ginger Monette

Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, a Great War Romance

Q: What inspired you to catapult Darcy and Lizzy’s story from the early 1800’s to the early 1900’s?

A: Downton Abbey! Julian Fellowes’ creations have numerous similarities with Jane Austen’s characters: a house full of girls with no heir, an entailed estate, a landowner living in a grand house, a crotchety female matriarch, and high society characters falling in love with, well, those not so high society. It was remarkable to me how little British culture had changed in 100 years. I could see Darcy dining with Lord Grantham with little change in decorum. Besides, the turbulence of the Western Front seemed a fitting and colorful setting for a romance between two characters known for clashing. And so a plot was born.

Q: Most Americans know nothing more about World War I than trench warfare and trench foot. How did you research such a broad topic?

A: With the only sources I could trust as historically accurate—diaries. What made research difficult was that diaries aren’t written to instruct a future audience (complete with topic headings and index). Consequently, their vantage point assumes an acquaintance with their present culture—social mores, current news, general ways of doing things, gender roles, etc. Since I am not from that era, all those little details had to be gleaned from hints here and there—and that required hours and hours of reading. I read six hours a day for nine months and compiled over 200 pages of typed notes.

Q: That’s a lot of reading! Didn’t you tire of such tedious research?

A: No. Actually I became obsessed. Those folks back then were a lot smarter than I’d given them credit for. In addition, I found the history fascinating and the people inspiring!

Q: How were they inspiring?

A: Machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, and tanks made their debut in WWI inflicting destruction and horrific wounds on an unprecedented scale. Men lived in squalid trenches and saw their comrades dismembered and slaughtered on a daily basis, yet they remained cheerful and self-sacrificing.

And everyone did something to aid in the war effort. Hundreds of women volunteered as nurse’s aides, others wrote letters, sent care packages, and knitted socks. Men too old to serve as soldiers became stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. They fashioned splints from scrap metal, turned church halls into hospitals, and emptied bedpans. These small acts of kindness repeated over and over made an enormous difference. As a result, I am challenged to be cheerful amidst trying circumstances and to offer my own small acts of kindness even when they seem insignificant.

Q: Did you face any particular challenges in writing Darcy’s Hope?

A: Yes! Weaving a romance into a complex setting unfamiliar to most readers, with both the hero and heroine experiencing significant character evolution, all in the context of a mystery was a HUGE challenge. I’ll never try to combine that many elements again.

Q: I hear you've put together a special photo album to accompany Darcy's Hope. Can you tell us about it and why you compiled it?

A: Most Americans know almost nothing about WW1. I was no exception. But after researching, it dawned on me that my own understanding of the Great War had been greatly enhanced by photographs. What if I shared some photos with my readers?

After combing through a thousand or more WW1 photos, I selected nearly a hundred that not only represented the culture and technologies of the war and era, but also of the people and places depicted in the story. I dressed them up like an old fashioned album, and I’m really pleased with how Lizzy's Scrapbook turned out.

I'm offering free access to Lizzy's Scrapbook as a special blog tour bonus to anyone who orders the book during the tour, Nov. 1-22. All they have to do is purchase Darcy's Hope, then visit my website ( and follow the prompts for Lizzy's Scrapbook.

Q: Your last book, Tree of Life, Charlotte and the Colonel, had a Christian theme. Can we expect that again?

A: Not this time. But the story does have themes. The primary theme is deception—people, circumstances, and situations are not always what they initially appear to be. Even the subtitle, Beauty from Ashes is a paradox, a form of deception. Another theme, the barriers one erects to protect him or herself from pain, are also a kind of deception. They end up delivering more pain than protection.

Q: Now that you’ve done so much research on World War I, can we expect more novels set in this era?

A: Yes. Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes has a happy ending but will continue in Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (yes, that’s the home of George and Emma Knightley’s descendants), now available for pre-order. In the sequel, readers will experience the full resolution of the mystery, and our beloved couple’s love will face a tragic test.

In addition, I’m planning a Great War Romance series. Several of the characters that readers encounter in Darcy’s Hope will have stories all their own including Colonel Fitzwilliam, John Thornton (yes, John Thornton from North & South), Robert Knightley and a few more. Stay tuned!

Q: Is there a way readers can get updates on future releases?

A: Yes. They can sign up at my website to receive email updates and “like” my Facebook page, Ginger Monette Author.

Q: Anything else you would like readers to know about Darcy’s Hope?

A: As you can guess, historical accuracy was important to me. And although I tried to keep the romance between Darcy and Lizzy the story’s primary focus, I hope readers will finish Darcy’s Hope with a taste of what it would have been like at a field hospital near the Front.

Readers may also be interested to know that the chateau-turned-field-hospital in my story is based on one that actually existed, even down to the swans in the water feature! The Messines Ridge blast and Darcy’s “going over the top” at the Battle of the Somme were actual events. Also, chaplains really did occasionally assist in the operating room, and the two outlandish stories told by the colorful Scotsman are true as well.

But most of all I hope readers will love the story!

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog : )

Giveaway - Perfect for Downton Abbey Fans!

The ornament giveaway is open to US residents in the continental US.
The prize for residents of the continental UK is a Downton Abbey mug.

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About the Author

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she's hooked—on writing and World War I.

When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Connect with Ginger

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy Excerpt and Giveaway

After Fitzwilliam Darcy finds his suit rejected by the only woman in the world he would ever marry, he looks to make a quick exit out of Kent and go back to his life before he met Elizabeth Bennet. Yet, when he wakes the next day he discovers that getting back to everything he still holds dear may be more challenging than he ever imagined. What if finding his way back means getting another chance to win Elizabeth’s love? 

Beau North and Brooke West, co-authors of Holiday Mix Tape from the Meryton Press winter anthology, Then Comes Winter, tour the blogosphere from October 8-October 19, 2016, to share their latest collaboration, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Thirteen book bloggers, specializing in Austenesque fiction and romance stories, will share excerpts, guest posts, an exclusive interview with the authors and book reviews from this highly anticipated Austen-inspired novel. Four ebooks and four paperbacks are also being included in our giveaways and entry is available to anyone who participates in this blog tour.

Today we welcome authors Beau North and Brooke West, with an excerpt from their new book, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy. In addition, we also have a couple of fun things for you!  Beau and Brooke are giving away 8 copies of their book, which includes 4 ebooks and 4 paperback copies. To win a paperback copy, the winners must have a U.S. mailing address.  So be sure to hop down to the Rafflecopter widget near the end of this post and enter to win.

In addition to this contest, we're having a little fun with three images of some modern-day Darcy types.  Which one would you cast as your favorite? On October 20 the winning Darcy will be announced at the conclusion of the blog tour.  That final stop is at So Little Time...So Much To Read.   Click HERE to vote!

And now, without further ado, is the excerpt from The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy!

Hello to the readers of The Calico Critic! We are so excited to be here for our blog tour. When we set out writing this unusual little story, we had no idea much it would snowball into something bigger than a simple idea, more than a simple “what if?” Without giving too much away, we can say that this excerpt, part of one of our favorite scenes in the book, comes along as Darcy getting a crash course in what it truly means to be selfless. He has a lot of hard lessons that come to him very quickly over the course of this book, and this is one of the key turning points for him. Anne de Bourgh is a bit of a hidden gem in this story, and has no problems enlightening her cousin—no matter how painful the truth may be! We hope you enjoy it!


While he had no purpose, he decided the library was at least distraction enough, though it was woefully out of date. Lady Catherine had certainly not added to it in the years since Sir Lewis’ death. There were a few volumes of Gibbon that Darcy took a sudden interest in—he found he enjoyed the man’s satirical style. It reminded him in a strange way of Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy took his selection to one of the leather chairs near the fireplace and settled in, wriggling around to get comfortable.

Try though he might, he could not force his mind upon the page. It drifted inevitably back to his present circumstances. It was a strange sensation, to have chosen such an ordinary activity as reading in the library when his entire reality had been put on its head. Darcy had decided, he knew not when, that if he were going to survive there must be some measure of acceptance. If he did not bend, he might well break.

A shuffling sound, a light step nearby told him he was no longer alone in the library—his refuge had been encroached upon. He sat up, curious to see who the interloper was, when Anne’s slight form appeared. He froze in place, watching as she made her way to one particular corner of the library, moving several books aside to reveal one volume tucked away, hidden behind the others.

“Good morning, Cousin,” he said, breaking the silence.

A startled yelp escaped her and she spun around to see him sitting there, dropping her purloined book. Her hand covered her chest, as though she were trying to keep her heart from escaping.

“Good Lord, Will! Announce yourself next time!”

Darcy stood and approached her. She protested as he leaned down to pluck her book from the floor. 

“Please, give that to me at once!”

Darcy smiled. “Has anyone ever told you that you resemble Her Ladyship when you frown so?”

He looked down at the volume in his hands, feeling genuine shock at the title.

“Good heavens, Anne! What are you about? The Monk? Here I was expecting the bloody Romance of the Forest and you’re reading The Monk!

Anne snatched the book from his hands, her face crimson. “It’s none of your concern what keeps me warm at night!”

He bowed, trying to master his expression. “I acknowledge that and beg your pardon. Come, sit with me. I should be glad of the company.”

She cast him a suspicious look before sitting primly in the chair near his. He wondered for a moment what would happen if he confessed all to Anne as he had to Fitzwilliam once. He knew she was prone to fits where she could not catch her breath, at times causing her to faint. He decided against it; it would not do for him to cause her to be ill.

But perhaps… An idea blazed through his mind, swift and brilliant as a falling star. It was a mad notion, but it was one of the few things he had not yet tried to break the cycle.

“Anne, perhaps it is good that you found me here. There is something I would discuss with you.”

He stood and began pacing, as was his wont when he had difficulties expressing himself.

“As you know, I am of an age where I ought to be securing the future of my estate.”

Anne’s expression quickly shifted from curiosity to alarm. “Will, dear…”

“I know it has been your mother’s wish since we were babes in the cradle, and while I have opposed this scheme, I now see there is some sense in it. We could be combining two great estates, securing the Darcy legacy for generations to come.”

“Will, please—”

“And we get on fairly well. It is true that I care for you as I would any relation but that does not own that we would not be well-matched in matrimony.”

“Fitzwilliam Darcy, I beg you will cease this now!” Anne cried, clutching the arms of her chair as if they were the only things keeping her upright. He gave her an indulgent smile.

“You are overwhelmed. Surely you can see this would be the most sensible plan for the both of us.” 

“Oh, sensible indeed!”

He was surprised by the ferocity in her voice, which was usually so quiet he often had to lean in her direction to make her out.

“You…you are not refusing me, surely?”

Her reply was a laugh he could only categorize as astonished.

“Indeed, William, I am! Why you have chosen to ask me now, I can only suspect, for I know this sensible plan has never been your wish nor mine. I do not love you. You do not love me. We are both privileged enough to be at liberty to marry for love, and I intend to do so or not at all. And, even if I fancied myself so unmercifully practical, I think a little more highly of myself than to accept such an inelegant proposal as the one you just offered.”

Darcy’s heart sank. “What do you mean?”

Anne sighed heavily. “You must hear yourself! Surely you cannot be so dim as to think you can insult a lady to her face and expect that she will accept you.”

He sat down carefully.

“I insulted you?”

“Recollect what you just said.” Anne lowered her voice in what would have been in different circumstances an amusing imitation of himself. “‘While I resisted the scheme.’”

“Anne, it was not my intention to—”

“I know…which is what makes it so awful, Darcy. You are not callous but ignorant.”

“I must once again beg your forgiveness,” he said stiffly.

Anne sighed heavily, sitting back in her chair. “I accept your apology, Darcy, but not your proposal.” 

“I would not have believed you to be vulnerable to flattery and appeals to vanity.”

Anne smiled thinly. “There are moments when flattery is a pleasant necessity, and I believe a marriage proposal is one.”

About the Authors

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, a pop culture podcast and website, and a contributor at the San Francisco Book Review.

Brooke West is a contributing author to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Brooke has a naturally creative soul that pulls her into myriad artistic endeavors.  While writing fiction always has been her life's passion, Brooke also finds joy in silversmithing, sculpting, and costuming. Between projects, she runs and practices yoga.  She lives in South Carolina with her husband, son, and three cats.

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy!

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Blog Tour Schedule

October 8/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
October 9/ Just Jane 1813/Interview with Beau and Brooke
October 10/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
October 11/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt's Guide to Life/Guest Post
October 12/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway
October 13/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
October 14/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
October 15/ The Calico Critic/Excerpt & Giveaway
October 16/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Guest Post
October 17/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
October 18/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Book Review & Giveaway
October 19/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Fitzwilliam Vignette
October 20/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway

Friday, October 7, 2016

Download Your Free How-To Guide for Bring Your Bible to School Day


Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are preparing for Hurricane Matthew to hit. For students in hurricane-affected states who are facing school closures but still want to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day, the alternate date is Thursday, October 20.

This brings about a good point: Any day can be a day you organize your friends to bring your Bibles to school together!

By signing up during the month of October for Bring Your Bible to School Day (even if you missed the official celebration), you can download a free how-to guide for teens, parents, pastors, and elementary students. It's full of helpful information that will help you organize a day to take a stand for religious freedom and bring your Bible to school with your fellow classmates.

(Sign-ups must be received by midnight (MT), Oct. 7, in order to be automatically entered into the Newsboys giveaway.)

Plus: Bring Your Bible to School Comes to
Adventures in Odyssey


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Take the Bible Challenge with Odyssey Adventure Club

How much do you know about the Bible and its influence on our culture, history–and the whole world? Focus on the Family and Bring Your Bible have teamed up to create a quiz to test how much you and your kids know about the Bible. Take the quiz to find out!

Don't forget to mark your calendars to celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.


By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: Darcy by Any Other Name by Laura Hile

At Netherfield, a glorious evening of music and dancing...

But out in the garden two men are arguing, while a ferocious rainstorm swirls round. And then the unthinkable happens: a lightning bolt from heaven strikes. In that instant everything changes.

Jane Austen’s heartthrob hero becomes the bumbling Reverend Collins.

Shorn of his fortune, his social standing, and his good looks, Mr. Darcy is trapped in Mr. Collins’ body. And Mr. Collins wakes up to discover that he is master of Pemberley. Could there be anything worse?

But the inner man is still Darcy. He is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. And now he is living in her house.

Discover the Pride and Prejudice ‘body swap’ that has readers laughing in surprise and delight.

I’m not one for strange Austeneque story premises.  In recent years the genre has seen everything from vampires to zombies, sea monsters to rock stars.  In general, I don’t gravitate towards them. The most outlandish title I’ve read (and enjoyed very much) was Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview. This was a rare exception in my habits.  So the premise of a body-swap story is a bit of a departure.  Why the interest? One name: Laura Hile. While I’ve never read any of her books, I’ve interacted with her quite a bit online and have enjoyed her posts at the website, Jane Started It. Given her wit and intelligence, I’d be open to just about anything she publishes.  Darcy and Collins switching bodies?  Really?  Okay…sure—I’m game! I put it on my Goodreads list, and assumed I would get to it…one day… preferably after the completion of a graduate school class I was about to start.  Darcy by Any Other Name is 662 pages. At this point in my life, I’d begun saying “no” to most review requests in order to clear the decks for academic pursuits. Starting a novel of such length was not in my plans.

Then Laura contacted me, asking if I’d be willing to read her book.  I was thrilled!  And although I wasn’t sure it was the right decision, I said “yes” to her request.  With such a high page count, I wasn’t certain I’d be able to juggle reading it and tending to my graduate class.  Boy, was I proven wrong!  Darcy by Any Other Name might have a quizzical premise, but I was riveted!  I couldn’t believe how fast I flew through this novel, even though I was saving its reading for my limited free time away from kids, work, and school duties.

As in Jane Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice, Laura Hile’s Fitzwilliam Darcy is somewhat of a prideful man, holding much wealth and respect.  When he is transported into the body of the lowly vicar William Collins, he finds himself in a completely different position in life.  No longer revered and respected, he has the reputation of being a fool and an idiot. Collins experiences quite the opposite, as he is transferred into Darcy’s world. No longer a portly, powerless and almost penniless man, he inherits a body and an existence that many would envy.  In each man’s case, there are many lessons to be learned in living within the other’s life.

Laura Hile’s work may not be my usual traditional Austenesque fiction, but she kept me entertained throughout her novel.  She filled it with humor, excitement, and of course, romance.  I was also impressed at her ability to sprinkle a bit of Christian faith into the story without having it feel too forced or inappropriate. Darcy as Collins was so interesting—seeing him revolutionize Collins’ life further emphasized how pitiful Collins truly had been, how much more he could have been doing with his existence and ministry.  Collins as Darcy was rife with humor, as I pictured this statuesque, handsome man become the fool and begin to squander so much of the respect that Darcy had made for himself. Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship with “Collins” (who was really Darcy) becomes completely altered, as this chubby, sophomoric man changes before her very eyes. Not only does he begin to take care of his body and lose weight, but his manner is remarkably different, and shockingly, he becomes attractive.  Mr. Collins, attractive?!?  How is this possible?  Author Laura Hile makes it so, and does so handily.  Her narrative makes it very clear—our looks will only take us so far in being attractive to others.  Ultimately, it’s what’s inside that counts.  Our heart, our personality, how we treat others—this is far more important than the clothes we wear or how photogenic we are.

While I admit to beginning this novel with a positive prejudice toward the writer, ultimately it was up to Mrs. Hile to hold my attention and keep me entertained for so many chapters.  Never once did I feel bogged down in the story, and the pages flew by.  This is not a taut, tense thriller by any means.  It’s simply a well-told story with classic themes that many of us can relate to.  I applaud Laura Hile’s work, and am so glad I said “yes” to reviewing Darcy by Any Other Name!


Thanks to Laura Hile, one of YOU will be able to read this fabulous novel!  Fill out the Rafflecopter widget below and enter to win an ebook copy of Darcy by Any Other Name. Open internationally. Contest ends at 12am EST on October 8, 2016.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

See the Newsboys in Concert with Adventures in Odyssey


Want to be entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, the award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas? Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations: Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends on October 6.

By completing the information on this page, you're automatically entered to win the chance to see the Newsboys with Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. Don't miss out on the chance to see a fantastic band with your family!

Plus Sign Up for a Free Two-Week Trial of Odyssey Adventure Club


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Peak 10 Fit Body Challenge

It's been a while since I've done a health or workout posting, but I'm excited to announce that I'm going to once again join Michelle Dozois in a fitness challenge!  Michelle is my favorite fitness instructor, and I've been doing her home workout videos for years.  Unfortunately, for the last year I've put on a significant amount of weight due to a medicine change (and the low motivation stemming from that) but I'm ready to fight back and put this period of my life behind me.  Through Michelle's new Peak 10 Fit Body Challenge, I'm looking forward to taking control of my health and weight.

Michelle's program is available online-- tons of workouts, plus nutrition helps, motivational videos, printables and more!   Check out this message from Michelle:

Believe it or not, my goal is to lose 100 pounds.  Yep, you read that right.  One. Hundred. Pounds.  It might take me years to achieve this goal, but that's okay.  I'm not looking for a quick fix, such as losing 50 pounds in 90 days.   My sights are set on revamping my menu, and doing the best I can with Michelle's tough workouts.  I'm not in a place right now where I can do high-impact moves like burpees or jumping lunges.  I'll be taking this at my own pace, challenging myself where I can.

If I get brave enough, I'd like to post photos of my progress.  Perhaps I'll take pics for every 10 pound weight loss.  We'll see how I'm feeling about that.  To be honest, I'm nervous about even going out in public these days, so posting photos online for all the world to see is a bit daunting.  But if I can get there, hopefully I can inspire others in my situation.  So many of us struggle with weight, and it's nice to know there are others out there fighting the good fight.

If you're interested in joining me in this venture, check out Michelle's site here, and sign up today!


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