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!

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

Book 1 Book 1 Kindle Book 2 Book 3

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!

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. 


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!

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

Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: Mr. Darcy's Journey by Abigail Reynolds

Mr. Darcy is at his wits’ end. Elizabeth Bennet, the woman he can’t live without, overhears him insulting her family. Now she won’t even listen to his apologies. Then his old friend Sir Anthony Duxbury tells him two of their friends are in terrible danger. If Darcy wants to help them, they have to leave for Yorkshire immediately.

But something doesn’t add up. Elizabeth claims to know Sir Anthony, too – but by a different name. What game is his old friend playing? And is it dangerous?

Even Sir Anthony says the trip is dangerous. The Luddite rebels are on the verge of armed revolt – and he should know, because he’s one of them. Darcy’s cousin Lady Frederica decides she’s going with them anyway, and insists on bringing Elizabeth. Could this be Darcy’s chance to earn Elizabeth’s forgiveness and her love?

Elizabeth would rather face a squad of Napoleon’s soldiers than spend three days trapped in a carriage with Darcy and his headstrong cousin, but she has her own reason for agreeing to come. If she can just manage to keep her temper, she may be able to rescue her uncle from financial ruin.

But when a Luddite riot erupts around them, it’s Darcy and Elizabeth who need rescuing – from each other. 

Long-term readers of The Calico Critic may recall that I’ve had a mixed history with Abigail Reynolds’ Austenesque fiction. While I generally enjoy her writing, at times the amount of adult content has been a frustration for me.  However, one of my very favorite Austenesque novels of all time is her Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, which sounds steamier than it is. That was my latest foray into her writing, almost six years ago now. I loved the book, and to this day I still hold out hope that she will write a follow-up to such a wonderful story. So when Abigail contacted me about reading her newest work, Mr. Darcy’s Journey, I was simultaneously excited but filled with a bit of trepidation. I don’t enjoy giving negative reviews due to content, but I do feel honor bound to be honest I my critiques.

Much to my delight, I can offer a positive reaction to Mr. Darcy’s Journey!  While I can’t say that it will be an all-time favorite as Mr. Darcy’s Obsession is (that would be quite a feat, indeed), I did enjoy this latest work from Abigail.   The story picks up before Darcy’s disastrous first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but not long after his attraction to her is beginning to grow.  He once again stumbles in his relationship with Lizzie, inadvertently insulting her family’s social position as he did in Austen’s original material. True to her original feelings, Elizabeth initially cannot bear Darcy and his haughty attitudes, even despising being in his presence during a carriage ride.

Along with Darcy and Elizabeth’s relational dance, there is much action in regard to the Luddite rebellion that was also breaking out at the same time in England.  Austen is known for glossing over such historical facts, given their political tone and possible implications for her stories.  Abigail Reynolds does not shy away from the issues of the rebellion, equal rights for women, unfair labor practices and other important topics.  While at times I felt that these social problems slowed Reynolds’ story down a bit, I did find them to be very informative.  The riots breaking out in Sheffield also provided several scenes of riveting action, and one opportunity for a very passionate kiss between two characters, a rare moment of sensuality in this otherwise fairly tame romantic tale.

I also enjoyed the amount of time that was spent with Darcy’s cousins, the Fitzwilliams.  Colonel Fitzwilliam is one of my favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice, and I found that his family as a whole to be very diverting.  His mother is quite a character, and I also enjoyed the evolution of his sister as she deals with a love interest who isn’t always who he seems to be. There was much adventure to be had with this crew, and I enjoyed them immensely.

Hobbes, the "Cat Butler"
Lastly, and this has absolutely nothing to do with my overall opinion of the book, I assure you—A while back I noticed that many of my fellow Janeites are also cat lovers.  I began a group on Facebook called “Austenesque Cat Lovers”, and Abigail was one of the first to join.  She has a lovely cat named Snowdrop who is arguably the honorary mascot of our group.  Members of our little society enjoy posting images of our own furry friends, articles regarding cats, books, videos, etc. (come join us if you like).  At some point in her writing, Abigail decided to have a few cameos in the novel.  I have a big orange tabby named Hobbes, and I was thrilled to discover that in this book, Darcy’s butler at Pemberley is named Hobbes, which is not a coincidence!  Not only did Abigail name the butler after my cat, but another character is also named after another group member’s feline, and beautiful Snowdrop makes a showing near the end of the story as well.  Again, this does not influence my opinion of the book.  It was just a nice little treat that was found as I read through Mr. Darcy’s Journey.

Cat cameos aside, I’m happy to give a positive review for Mr. Darcy’s Journey.  While Darcy and Elizabeth may not travel far distances in this novel, they did have quite a journey in their relationship.  You can most likely postulate how some things are ultimately resolved, but the trip along the way is what makes the reading enjoyable.  The romantic tension was perfectly balanced, creating an enticing tone without traversing into overly adult material. There were unexpected obstacles, injuries, joys and celebrations, providing many entertaining scenes which held my attention. I congratulate Abigail Reynolds on this latest work.  Now if I can just get her back to the sequel to Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, all will be right in the world…

Giveaway: E-Book and Pride and Prejudice Throw!

International Prize: E-Book Edition, Gorgeous Cat Not Included

Author Abigail Reynolds has generously offered a wonderful giveaway in association with today's review!   We have TWO prizes to offer.  For our international readers, you may enter to win an e-book edition of Mr. Darcy's Journey.  For the U.S. domestic readers, you have the opportunity to win a fabulous Pride and Prejudice throw blanket!  Utilize the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  The only entry which is required is your contact information.  All other entries are bonus points, increasing your chances of winning. Contest will conclude at 12am EST on Monday, July 18th.

US Prize: Fleece Throw, Cat Not Included
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Abigail Reynolds may be a nationally bestselling author and a physician, but she can’t follow a straight line with a ruler. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Journey, the national bestsellers Alone with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, The Darcys of Derbyshire, and Mr. Darcy’s Refuge. She is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. Her books have been translated into five languages. A lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband, her son and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FREE 14 Day Trial Is Now Available for the Odyssey Adventure Club!


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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Free Clubhouse Magazine Trial


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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review & Giveaway: The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams

The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.

But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.

The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty-one. She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart? 

For those of us in the adult population, we were all teenagers at one time.  For many, those were tumultuous years, full of self-discovery and the beginnings of independent thinking.  Much to our parents’ consternation, we may have presented more than a few challenges as we made our way through the process of maturing. Such is family life, and such is the situation that the Darcy family finds themselves in when a very young Elizabeth Bennet comes to live at Pemberley at the tender age of fifteen, in this Pride and Prejudice variation, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams.  In Jane Austen’s original story, Elizabeth meets the Darcy family (and specifically Fitzwilliam Darcy) at the age of 20, when she had reached a certain level of self-knowledge and maturity. In Williams’ work, young Lizzy has much to learn in that regard.

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet spans approximately six years, wherein we are treated to the development of Miss Bennet as she unexpectedly goes to live at Pemberley after the death of her father. Unlike in Pride and Prejudice, going to this grand home is not a happy occasion for her.  Not only is Lizzy enduring a great loss, but she must also say farewell to her home and the rest of her family as well.  These events were put in motion by her father’s last wishes, in an effort to see that she would be well taken care of by his old friend, George Darcy, father of Georgiana and Fitzwilliam.  She fights going to the Darcy home so forcefully, events are put into motion that will change her life and the lives of the Darcy’s forever.

Caitlin Williams has produced quite an epic tale in her latest work.  While Elizabeth may not travel far from Pemberley or London in this lengthy and enjoyable novel, as readers we are taken on quite a journey through time and Elizabeth’s development over the years.  At the outset of the story, Lizzie almost reminded me of author Winston Graham's Demelza Poldark, in her scrappy, unrefined behavior, determined to be a contrarian almost wherever she went.  Unlike Demelza in Poldark however, she is not as grateful for the opportunity to be living with her new family, and she certainly doesn’t entertain any romantic notions toward young Darcy, who is approximately 6 years her senior.  In truth, I found her somewhat exasperating and a bit of a brat, nothing like the composed, well-spoken Lizzy we’re used to seeing.  But this underdeveloped Lizzy is realistic.  She’s a teenager.  She’s grieving her father and loss of freedom.  In many ways, she’s quite a mess.  (Perhaps the rankling I felt came from my own feelings as the parent of a teenager…?)

One of the few things I didn’t enjoy was the amount of time that Fitzwilliam Darcy spent away from Pemberley.  He was frequently absent on business, often for more than a year.  He did have business to attend to, but he was avoiding Lizzy as well.  As such, she spends more time with the elder George Darcy, Georgiana, and cousin Richard “Colonel” Fitzwilliam. Each time young Darcy returns home, he finds her somewhat altered, more mature with each year gone by.  She resents him greatly for being a part of her new existence, for his judgmental attitude and his propensity to order her around.  For the majority of the novel, they simply do not get along.  While their animosity wasn’t a problem for me, I would have enjoyed seeing them spend more time together over the years.

That being said, Williams’ writing during Darcy’s years away was still very captivating.  She held my attention very well, and I never labored with the pages that didn’t include Darcy.  There was plenty of material for her to work with, not the least of which was the emergence of Mr. Wickham, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s nemesis.  While he doesn’t pull his usual antics with Georgiana as he does in the original Austen work, he wreaks plenty of havoc while present with us in the narrative.  And like in the source material, Elizabeth does get taken in by him to some extent.  Readers will have to discover how far he goes in his efforts to bring mayhem to the Darcy clan.

Of course romantic elements do come into play before long.  This wouldn’t be much of an Austenesque novel if they didn’t!  I enjoyed the romantic tension that was eventually brought into the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth, so much so that I wish those chapters had gone on longer.  I was enjoying the book so thoroughly, I longed for the story to continue into Lizzy’s 22nd year and beyond.  Williams provided tantalizing romantic details without being overly steamy, and I truly appreciated that.  While I wouldn’t recommend this title to very very young readers, it’s one of the more family-friendly Austenesque novels I’ve read in recent years.  The marriage bed is honored, and we are still given a bit excitement as well.

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet was a delight to read and is a quality work.  This is my first foray into Caitlin William’s writing, and I look forward to reading more of her.  She honors the spirit of Austen’s characters very well, and provides an entertaining read for modern audiences.  This Janeite and parent of a teenager gives a hearty seal of approval!

About the Author

Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England, with her family. She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.

Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.

Her debut novel, Ardently, was written as a hobby, usually with her laptop balanced on the kitchen worktop, typing with one hand, a glass of wine in the other, while she also attempted to cook dinner and keep her children from killing each other. The success of Ardently was as much a surprise to her, as it was to anyone else, and she has been thrilled and genuinely thankful for the positive responses and reviews it generated.

Her second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, is a portrait of a much younger Elizabeth, who is thrown into an extraordinary set of circumstances due to the premature death of Mr Bennet, and she hopes you all enjoy it very much.

Connect with Caitlin Williams


Caitlin Williams, author of the highly-praised book, Ardently, tours the blogosphere from June 13- June 26, 2016 to share her newest release, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet. Fourteen book bloggers, specializing in Austenesque fiction and romance stories, will share excerpts, guest posts, an exclusive interview with the author and book reviews from this highly awaited Austen-inspired novel. Eight ebooks are also being included in our giveaways and entry is available to anyone who participates in this blog tour.

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Blog Tour Schedule

June 13/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway

June 14/ So Little Time... / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 15/ Just Jane 1813/An Exclusive Interview with Caitlin Williams

June 16/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway

June 17/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 18/ The Calico Critic/Book Review & Giveaway

June 19/ Babblings of a Bookworm/“The Education of a Young Lady” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 20/ Half Agony, Half Hope/Book Review

June 21/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway

June 22/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice /Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 23/ Liz's Reading Life / “A Nod and A Wink to Austen” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 24/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review

June 25/ Laughing With Lizzie/ “The Young Master” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 26/ A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/ “A Most Scandalous” Guest Post


Only $4.99 on Kindle! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Make Your Children World Explorers


Give your family summer vacation a makeover this year and turn it into a "staycation." Have your kids forget their summer boredom, turn off their screens, and instead circle the globe with Focus on the Family's "World Explorers" summer adventure kit!

Throughout the next two months, travel our colorful, diverse world, visiting 27 different countries on six continents. Part of the fun will be figuring out where the next stop is, using five clues that reveal interesting facts about the next country. Once you've determined where you're going, use the games, activities and faith lessons to give your kids a glimpse into that country's unique culture.


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Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway : Love & Friendship by Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman has taken Austen’s never-finished epistolary novella, Lady Susan, reimagined it as a straight narrative, and added the hilarious new character of Rufus, Susan’s apologist nephew, who aims to clear Susan’s good name come hell or high water (even if he is doing it from "the ignoble abode" of debtors’ prison ). Despite many indications to the contrary, Rufus insists that Susan is, “the kindest, most delightful woman anyone could know, a shining ornament to our Society and Nation.” Rufus then appends his earnest tale with a collection of his aunt’s letters, which he claims have been altered by Austen to cast the estimable Lady Susan in a bad light.

Impossibly beautiful, disarmingly witty, and completely self-absorbed, Lady Susan Vernon, is both the heart and the thorn of Love & Friendship. Recently widowed, with a daughter who’s coming of age as quickly as their funds are dwindling, Lady Susan makes it her mission to find them wealthy husbands——and fast.

But when her attempts to secure their futures result only in the wrath of a prominent conquest’s wife and the title of “most accomplished coquette in England,” Lady Susan must rethink her strategy.

Unannounced, she arrives at her brother-in-law’s country estate. Here she intends to take refuge——in no less than luxury, of course——from the colorful rumors trailing her, while finding another avenue to “I do.” Before the scandalizing gossip can run its course, though, romantic triangles ensue.

With a devoted Austenian sensibility and absurd theological commentary, filmmaker and writer Whit Stillman ingeniously reimagines and completes one of our greatest writers’ unfinished works. As much homage to its muse’s perennial influence as testament to its author’s brilliance, Love & Friendship is a sharp comedy of manners, and a fiendishly funny treat for Austen and Stillman fans alike.

Love & Friendship
brings a healthy helping of scandal, along with lots of laughs, to Georgian and Victorian London. Whit Stillman has also created a film version of Love & Friendship, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, opened in select theaters on May 13th.

Like many fans of Jane Austen, I’m happy to see most Austenesque films come to the cinema (with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being an exception).  When I learned of Whit Stillman’s cinematic and literary adaptations of Austen’s Lady Susan, I was thrilled!  Ashamedly, I’d never read the original epistolary novel and set about tending to that task straightaway.  As it was an unfinished work, I don’t know that Jane intended for this version to be the final edition, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when I was not overcome with enjoyment of this title.  I found it odd and sometimes hard to follow.  That being said, I’m glad to have read it, and especially glad to be somewhat familiar with the source material before taking in Stillman’s version, Love & Friendship.

In this new publication, the novel is a short piece of about 150 pages, followed by a reprint of Austen’s original work.   I actually began reading on page 155, wanting to read Lady Susan first, as mentioned. In addition to her text, Stillman has supplemented it with commentary from “Rufus”, a nephew who is bound and determined to rebut almost everything that “the spinster authoress” Austen has to say about Lady Susan Vernon.  Stillman’s character in a sense is “real”, and Austen has done a “libelous” work in besmirching the also “real” Lady Susan.  It’s an interesting literary device that is ripe for humor and amusement.

After reading Austen’s words with Stillman’s commentary from “Rufus”, I went on to read Love & Friendship.  How amusing this story is!  In a Facebook post I referred to Lady Susan as a “hot mess”, and that she is!  Gloriously beautiful despite her advanced age (!) of the mid-30’s, she is also hopelessly prolific in all of her manipulative ways.  She has had more than one man wrapped around her little finger in her time, and she knows how to handle them in such a way to get what she wants.  She has her enemies, but there are also many who fawn over her in admiration.  She claims to adore her daughter Frederica, but she seems more concerned about either having her away or marrying her off as soon (and as well as) possible. The widow Lady Susan’s main interests seem to lie in continuing to live in the luxury to which she had become accustomed prior to her husband’s death, and ensuring the security of her daughter as well.  At the same time, she loved to skirt the lines of propriety, having a reputation for being an outrageous flirt, to both bachelor and married men alike.  The dance that she seemed to be performing in society was occasionally dizzying, and I marveled at the characters as they spun around her, sometimes completely unaware of her maneuverings.

I found myself highlighting a number of passages in this amusing tale, and I just have to share some of them:

“Partial truth is Falsehood’s most potent bodyguard.”

“Perhaps we all have a spinster authoress in our lives, even if just that inner demon which mocks and denigrates all we do.”

“That’s the parent’s lot! We bring these delightful creatures into the world-- eagerly, happily-- and then before long they are spying upon and judging us, rarely favourably. Having children is our fondest wish but, in doing so, we breed our acutest critics. It is a preposterous situation-- but entirely of our own making...Of course when the little ones are very small there's a kind of sweetness which partially compensates for the dreadfulness which comes after..."

“Among the habitually malicious, kindness and gentility are often mistaken for simple-mindedness.”

“’Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’ No, not at all, it is not the sincerest. That would be mocking contempt and physical battery—a lesson I learned, rather painfully, over a number of years.”  (I don’t agree with all of these quotes—I just find many of them incredibly amusing in some of their absurdities.

“Those who fall from virtue first cause injury, then cast blame.”

“This often happens: The individual who identifies a truth earlier than others is then bitterly mocked by those attached to erroneous convention.”

These are just a few moments of Whit Stillman’s wit that I enjoyed very much.  His writing is clear, yet seems very faithful to the tone of other 19th century authors like Austen.  He has taken her writing and turned it on its ear somewhat, but he has done a masterful work.  I encourage readers to follow my lead—read Lady Susan first, and then enjoy what Stillman has done with his retelling. While short and sweet, Love & Friendship was a delight, and I eagerly anticipate viewing the cinematic version as well.  Oh to see the lovely Kate Beckinsale in this delicious role—I can only imagine how fun this will be!

About the Author

Whit Stillman was born in Washington, D.C., and attended Harvard, where he was an editor of the Harvard Crimson before working in book and magazine publishing. He has written and directed five films, including the award-winning Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco, and Damsels in Distress, as well as the TV show The Cosmopolitans. His first novel, The Last Days of Disco, won the 2014 Prix Fitzgerald. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Harper's, The Guardian, Vogue, and other publications. Visit his unofficial website for updates on this latest Amazon series The Cosmopolitans, and follow him on Twitter as @WhitStillman and on Facebook.

Award winning writer-director-filmmaker Whit Stillman tours the blogosphere June 13 through June 24, 2016 to share his latest release, Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated. Thirteen popular book bloggers—card carrying Jane Austen fans one and all—will feature interviews, book excerpts and reviews of this highly acclaimed novel. A fabulous giveaway contest, including hardcopies of the book will be open to those who join the festivities.  


June 13        AustenBlog (Interview)
June 14        The Calico Critic (Review)              
June 15        Diary of Eccentric (Excerpt)  
June 16        Laura's Reviews (Review)
June 17        My Jane Austen Book Club (Review)
June 17        Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)          
June 20        Austenesque Reviews (Review)
June 20        Austenprose (Interview)          
June 21        So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)
June 21        Luxury Reading (Review)          
June 22        Just Jane 1813 (Review)                  
June 23        Savvy Verse & Wit (Excerpt)          
June 24        Austenprose (Review)          


In celebration of the release of Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated, Mr. Stillman’s publisher, Little, Brown & Co has kindly offered a chance to win one of three hardcover copies of the book!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on the The Love & Friendship Janeite Blog Tour starting June 13, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, June 30, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Austenprose on July 1, 2016. Winners have until July 07, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!

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