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All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 44 pgs.
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All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman celebrates inclusiveness and diversity, sending the message to parents and kids that everyone is welcome in their school, in their class, and even outside the confines of school. The colorful illustrations remind kids that the world is a rainbow and that as individuals come together we are a beautiful kaleidoscope.

The simple rhymes will be easy for younger children to follow as their parents read to them, and reading for beginning learners will be smooth. Although the kids will not see the names of the children depicted, there are kids like themselves drawn in these pages — those with dark skin, light skin, full head coverings, curly hair, straight hair, wheelchairs, and so much more. This is a book that reflects the reality of not only the United States but the world.

It’s not a book that points out differences for inspection, but demonstrates the fun that can be had together in a group even if we are different. The focus is on the things we can do together — games on the playground, art and music created, the class participation when the teacher asks questions, the discoveries that can be made.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman, which emerged from a poster that went viral, is delightful, colorful, and just what kids need to remind them that divisiveness is unnecessary and not the way to live.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Authors:

Alexandra Penfold is the author of Eat, Sleep, Poop (Knopf, 2016) and the forthcoming picture books The Littlest Viking (Knopf) and Everybody’s Going to the Food Truck Fest (FSG). She is also a literary agent at Upstart Crow, where one of her clients is Suzanne Kaufman! Learn more about Alex on Twitter at @agentpenfold.

Suzanne Kaufman is an author, illustrator, and animator. Over the years she’s done everything from animating special effects for Universal Television and the Discovery Channel to animating award-winning video games for children. She’s the illustrator of a number of books for children including Samanthasaurus Rex by B. B. Mandell, the forthcoming Naughty Claudine by Patrick Jennings, 100 Bugs by Kate Narita and her own book, Confiscated! among others. Learn more about Suzanne online at suzannekaufman.com or on Twitter at @suzannekaufman.

Mailbox Monday #487

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Death at the Netherfield Park Ball by Amelia Littlewood, a kindle freebie.

Elizabeth Bennet first encounters Sherlock Holmes at a public ball, where both are intrigued by the other. Although she finds him to be abrasive and uncouth, she cannot help but admire his ability to discover secrets and scandals with nothing more than a glance.
At a private ball, an officer is mysteriously murdered, his killer leaving little evidence behind. Holmes and Bennet join forces to solve the case, and as they dive deeper into the murder victim’s sordid past, they discover truths about those closest to them that they may have preferred to have kept hidden.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling and Virginia McKenna, on audible.

“In the High and Far-Off Times…there was one Elephant – a new Elephant – an Elephant’s Child – who was full of ‘satiable curiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions….”

Rudyard Kipling’s famous Just So Stories provides imaginative answers to the many questions children ask about the world and the animals we share it with.

In this magical audio recording, iconic actress and wildlife conservationist Virginia McKenna OBE brings the best beloved of Kipling’s stories to a brand new audience. The reading is followed by a fascinating hour-long interview in which McKenna talks with Alison Larkin about her life, her work rescuing wild animals, the Born Free Foundation, and how children of all ages can help make a difference. She also reads a few poems of her own inspired by animals she has known!

Just So Stories included are “How the Elephant Got Its Trunk”, “The Cat That Walked by Himself”, “How the Whale Got His Throat”, “How the Camel Got His Hump”, “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin”, “How the Leopard Got His Spots”, “The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo”, “The Beginning of Armadillos”, “The Crab That Played with the Sea”, and “The Butterfly That Stamped”, and from the Jungle Book, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman for review.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

What did you receive?

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner

Source: Purchased
EBook, 342 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner begins when three girls are read the will of their aunt in New York, a place Lizzy Clemente has not lived since the death of her father. They soon learn that they have inherited a prize piece of property in “Snobsville” but to keep it, they must go to confession at church and make other changes.

Her sisters, Gina and Nikki, are eager to open up their own salon in the building and start earning their own money, and Lizzy begrudgingly stays to help them. She’s got her work in Los Angeles as a podiatrist, and she’s hoping that she can return to that life soon before the Italian-American heritage she’s buried for so long sneaks up on her. But her flight back to LA has her thinking about the altar boy she glimpsed at the church when her sisters were making confession.

“Seven figures a year, a body like David with a face like Cary Grant and you resort to selling yourself like a used Mercedes in need of an overdue tune up.”

Little does Lizzy know that her dreamboat has a conniving grandmother who is after Villa Fortuna, which she claims is rightfully hers and stolen by the Clemente sisters’ long dead mob-tied relative. Stella De Luca is a grandmother no one wants meddling in their lives, and Dr. Mike Garin is no exception. Gardiner has a flare for the dramatic in this variation of Pride & Prejudice, which strays far from the original as it must given the modern setting. I loved the characters, particularly Toni(y) the cross-dressing salon receptionist with a heart of gold and Rusty (the rival hair stylist) at Halo. These characters are hilarious, as are the situations they find themselves in. But readers will love the heat between Dr. Garin and Dr. Clemente.

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner is a modern love story with mobster vendettas, over-the-top drama, and salon gossip to get you in trouble if you believe it. Lizzy and Dr. Garin must use their heads to lead their hearts, but sometimes assumptions can lead to trouble, especially when there are Machiavellian strategies afoot.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. Austenesque, from the comedic Christmas, Chick Lits Lucky 13 and Villa Fortuna, to the bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventures Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience, and Without a Conscience, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers, who don’t mind a deviation away from canon and variations.

Cat’s love of 20th Century Historical fiction merges in her first Pride & Prejudice “alternate era,” set in a 1952 Noir, Undercover. Her most recent publications are time-travel WWII P&P short stories: A Vintage Valentine, A Vintage Victory, and A Vintage Halloween as part of the Memories of Old Antique Shop Series.

Her greatest love is writing Historical Fiction, WWII–era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever was named a Romance Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel in the Liberty Victory Series.

Married 24 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world—their orange tabby, Ollie and his sassy girlfriend, Kiki. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

Happy Independence Day 2018!

I hope that everyone takes the time to relax, take time to share fireworks and good food with friends and family, and to really think about the liberties our nation provides us. We need to protect them and cherish them.

Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

Source: the author
Audiobook, 5+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Emma Lysy, is the audio version on Kincaid’s delightful re-imagining. I’ve reviewed the paperback version previously and found it delightful. Unlike traditional tropes in which women need to be captured from dire circumstances, Kincaid creates a scenario in which Darcy does ride to Elizabeth’s rescue, but soon finds that he is the one in need of rescuing.

Lysy is a wonderful narrator; she pulls her listeners into the story as she takes on the roles of Lady Catherine, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Collins, and Elizabeth. Her inflections and intonations, effectively capture the mood of each scene and the emotions of Kincaid’s characters.

I loved revisiting Kincaid’s version of an in-love Darcy and an Elizabeth caught up in the horrifying reality of her decision to marry Mr. Collins. Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Emma Lysy, is just delightful on audio.

***Please do check out the guest post from Victoria on the rescue trope found in many romance novels.***

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

The author of numerous best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria Kincaid has a Ph.D. in English literature and runs a small business, er, household with two children, a hyperactive dog, an overly affectionate cat, and a husband who is not threatened by Mr. Darcy. They live near Washington DC, where the inhabitants occasionally stop talking about politics long enough to complain about the traffic.

On weekdays she is a freelance writer/editor who specializes in IT marketing (it’s more interesting than it sounds) and teaches business writing. 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 version of Pride and Prejudice. Visit her website. View her blog, visit her on Facebook, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

Mailbox Monday #486

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Shelf Life of Happiness: Stories by Virginia Pye from Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity for review in October.

In these bittersweet, compelling stories, Virginia Pye’s characters in Shelf Life of Happiness long for that most-elusive of states: happiness. A young skateboarder reaches across an awesome gap to reconnect with his disapproving father; an elderly painter executes one final, violent gesture to memorialize his work; a newly married writer battles the urge to implode his happy marriage; and a confused young man falls for his best friend’s bride and finally learns to love. In each case, Pye’s characters aim to be better people as they strive for happiness–and some even reap the sweet reward of achieving it.

They Gathered at Rosings by Margaret Lynette Sharp, a free kindle book.

There’s excitement afoot when the Darcys gather with their peers for the grand ball organised by Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her husband Hubert. Will Her Ladyship’s grandson John meet the girl of his dreams, or has unrequited love stifled his ardour? Does Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jr win the hand of his true love, Emily? Has Lady Catherine had a change of heart about her feelings towards her grandchildren and their futures?

Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare by Daniel Charles

FRITZ HABER — a Nobel laureate in chemistry, a friend of Albert Einstein, a German Jew and World War I hero — may be the most important scientist you have never heard of. The Haber-Bosch process, which he invented at the turn of the twentieth century, revolutionized agriculture by converting nitrogen to fertilizer in quantities massive enough to feed the world. The invention has become an essential pillar for life on earth; some two billion people on our planet could not survive without it. Yet this same process supplied the German military with explosives during World War I, and Haber orchestrated Germany’s use of an entirely new weapon — poison gas. Eventually, Haber’s efforts led to Zyklon B, the gas later used to kill millions — including Haber’s own relatives — in Nazi concentration camps.

Haber is the patron saint of guns and butter, a scientist whose discoveries transformed the way we produce food and fight wars. His legacy is filled with contradictions, as was his personality. For some, he was a benefactor of humanity and devoted friend. For others, he was a war criminal, possessed by raw ambition. An intellectual gunslinger, enamored of technical progress and driven by patriotic devotion to Germany, he was instrumental in the scientific work that inadvertently supported the Nazi cause; a Jew and a German patriot, he was at once an enabler of the Nazi regime and its victim.

Master Mind is a thought-provoking biography of this controversial scientist, a modern Faust who personifies the paradox of science, its ability to create and to destroy. It offers a complete chronicle of his tumultuous and ultimately tragic life, from his childhood and rise to prominence in the heady days of the German Empire to his disgrace and exile at the hands of the Nazis; from early decades as the hero who eliminated the threat of starvation to his lingering legacy as a villain whose work led to the demise of millions.

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, a free kindle download.

After World War II, orphaned Kettle faces prejudice as a Japanese American but manages to scrape by and care for his makeshift family of homeless children. When he crosses paths with the privileged but traumatized Nora, both of their lives are forever changed…

Lauren Nicolle Taylor’s Nora & Kettle is a heart-wrenching historical fiction novel that will appeal to fans of books by John Green and Ned Vizzini, novels such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Beginning of Everything, Eleanor & Park, The Book Thief, and classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.

Remember When by T. Torrest, a free kindle download.

** Author’s Note: Remember When is the first book in a trilogy series but most people believe it can be read as a standalone. This romantic comedy novel is intended for mature teen readers and immature adult readers due to some high school sex scenes, underage drinking, questionable language and 1980s flashbacks. **

Head back to the 80s with this coming-of-age romantic comedy about a pre-fame Hollywood movie star and his high school sweetheart!

Years before Trip Wiley could be seen on movie screens all over the world, he could be seen sitting in the desk behind me in my high school English class.

This was back in 1990, and I cite the year only to avoid dumbfounding you when references to big hair or stretch pants are mentioned. Although, come to think of it, I am from Northern New Jersey, which may serve as explanation enough. We were teenagers then, way back in a time before anyone, himself included, could even dream he’d turn into the Hollywood commodity that he is today.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who Trip Wiley is. But on the off chance you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, just know that these days, he’s the actor found at the top of every casting director’s wish list. He’s incredibly talented and insanely gorgeous, the combination of which has made him very rich, very famous and very desirable.

Rise of the Fallen by Donya Lynne, a free kindle download.

After an immortal life that’s been more agony than joy, Micah wants his endless suffering to be over. So he seeks out a ruthless enemy who’s more than happy to end his life, only for his death wish to be thwarted by a beautiful, gun-toting female who looks more angel than human.

Samantha is hiding from her abusive ex-husband, dancing for men’s favor–and their money–in a swanky gentleman’s club in order to pay the bills. While leaving her nightly shift, she stumbles upon a group of thugs beating a helpless man to death. She charges into the fray, guns blazing, determined to save the handsome stranger, only to discover he’s no man, and she’s thrust herself into a dangerous, paranormal world she never knew existed.

In Sam, Micah finds a reason to live, but now that she’s put a target on her back, he’ll have to go to extreme measures to protect her. But with her obsessive ex-husband closing in and an enemy who will stop at nothing to exact revenge, are the odds stacked too heavily against Micah? Or will finding something worth fighting for be enough to give him the advantage?

Chocolate and Conversation by Jennifer Griffith, a free Kindle download.

Mormon girl Susannah is ready to take a big risk. Suddenly unemployed and unmarried, Susannah puts everything on the line to open up downtown Salt Lake City’s first all-chocolate café, The Chocolate Bar. It all starts out sweetly. Susannah even catches the interest of the city’s most eligible bachelor, a charismatic attorney.

But when Susannah’s first love, John Wentworth, returns to town, her heart goes sideways. He’s rich. He’s handsome. And he’s got intentions of marrying anyone but Susannah.

Chocolate and Conversation is a light and frothy, chocolate-filled romp. An adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, it’s filled with to-die-for recipes, hilarious situations, and swoony kisses. This delicious romance throws a wholesome girl into an impossible love triangle between her longing for her former Mr. Right and her Mr. Maybe-Right-for-Now.

The Secrets of Pemberley by Rose Fairbanks, a free Kindle download.

To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He’s the young master to one of the kingdom’s oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect façade lies the truth: he’s the product of his mother’s affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

Henry Fitzwilliam’s War by Don Jacobson, a free kindle download.

Time is once again bent in 1883 as Viscount Henry Fitzwilliam, Viscount of Matlock, uses the remarkable Bennet Wardrobe to seek his manhood through combat as suggested by his great friend, Theodore Roosevelt. But, as Henry’s Great Grandmother, Lydia Bennet Wickham Fitzwilliam, noted, “The Wardrobe has a strange sense of humor.” The lessons the young aristocrat learns are not the ones he expected.

Henry travels over 30 years into the future to land in the middle of the most awful conflict in human history—World War I. His brief time at the Front teaches him that there is no longer any room on the battlefield for heroic combat. Rather he discovers the horrors of “modern” warfare—the machine gun, high explosive artillery and poison gas—and the incredible waste of young men’s lives.

But, it is his two weeks spent recuperating at the Beach House in Deauville, after being temporarily blinded by chlorine gas, that irrevocably changes his life forever. There he encounters an incredible woman, one who will define his near 10-year search for the love of his life after he returns to his own time–and how his personality was shaped by their emerging relationship…one that was impossible on a number of levels.

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Fear of Being Eaten by Ronald J. Wichers

Welcome to today’s stop on the spotlight book tour for The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart by Ronald J. Wichers.

What if you married a man who didn’t care about you? What if there was a child in the neighborhood for whom you developed a special fondness but was nine when you were nineteen and twenty when you were thirty with two children and a husband who still didn’t care? And what if you were a boy whose only happy memories were a few soft words uttered now and again by a beautiful neighbor ten years your senior and whose voice and face and figure, back-lighted by the golden light of the setting sun, were all that would sustain you when your life was threatened every minute of every day in the mire of a squalid war nobody wanted?

This is the story of Jacqueline and Tommy, their lives stubbornly paralleling with no convergence in sight until one cold night she sees him starving to death on a crowded street filled with happy tourists.

What would you do if you saw him there almost unrecognizable, just another mass of neglected, invisible wreckage? Turn the pages of The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart and find out what happened to Jacqueline Rhondda and Tommy Middleton.

To follow the tour, please visit Ronald J. Wicher’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Please welcome Ronald as he shares a bit about his Vietnam War connection and how it inspired his book:

“Writing about the Vietnam War” by Ronald J. Wichers

I don’t want to bore anyone with too personal a perspective but I wrote this one to give myself something meaningful to do at a time of grief so deep as to be threatening. Since the year 2000, there had been, in my life, an uncanny string of deaths of significant others, ending with those of my wife and my father.

It seemed the whole world was dying. I had no one to care for, nothing to do but read, write, maintain my property.

I felt as if I were floating in space, literally. The weave of stories created in The Fear of Being Eaten -A Biography of the Heart are episodes in my life and those of old friends that I had wanted to describe for many years but were of a type too dark to attempt. How I could put it together at a time so painful is a mystery to me. But it helped.

The Fear of Being Eaten – A Biography of the Heart. It is biographical and autobiographical, written mostly from memory and cast as an imaginary construction, a simple episodic novel.

With the exception of Lotus in a Sea of Fire by Thich Nhat Hanh, I haven’t read any books about the Vietnam War. I’ve written honestly and I don’t concern myself with how different The Fear of Being Eaten might or might not be. I have no control over that.

 

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the book trailer.
Meet the Author:
 
 

Ronald J. Wichers was born in Lake Ronkonkoma New York in 1947. He attended Catholic School until 1965, studied History and literature at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas until being drafted into the United States Army in 1970. He was assigned to a rifle company in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and, after sustaining severe wounds in a gun battle, including the loss of his left arm, was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism and the Bronze Star Medal. He later studied theology full time at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley California. He has published several short stories about the Vietnam war. The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart is his fifth novel.

Connect with the author:
Enter the Giveaway!
Win an ebook copy of The Fear of Being Eaten (open to USA & Canada – 2 winners)
Ends July 28, 2018

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The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 376 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

A shadowy mist of sin plagues this wagon train led by the Donner family as a group of families make their way west to California. The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a story that creates an unsettling atmosphere as the pages turn, and as the party nears the mountain range where most of us know they became trapped by an early and heavy snowfall, readers will feel the darkness closing in on them even as the bonfires are lit to keep the darkness at bay.

“Everyone agreed it had been a bad winter, one of the worst in recollection.” (pg. 1)

“It was untrustworthy, that snow: It hid crevices, steep drop-offs. Snow kept secrets.” (pg. 2)

Throughout the novel, Katsu draws in her readers with the tales of woe that follow many of the wagon train’s members, including Charles Stanton, James Reed, and Tamsen Donner. These characters are integral to the success and failure of the wagon train, but they also enable Katsu to weave in her supernatural element with roots in Native American myth. Even the trail becomes a character, offering false paths, danger, and hope.

Katsu has a deep understanding of how humans act and react in scary situations, particularly those in which a wrong move could lead to death. From a man so eager to lead even when he doesn’t have the necessary experience to the man on the outskirts of the group because he is a single man in a wagon train of families, Katsu’s characters are nuanced, dynamic, and struggling internally as much as they are with the harsh environment they agreed to take on. Her writing just gets better and better with each book; this is one of her best written to date.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu creeps into your soul, searching for the wisps of guilt that hide in our own shadows and whispering dark thoughts that will leave you awake at night. This is suspenseful and horrifying, and it’s not just the expected cannibalism that will eat away at you.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker, The Reckoning, and The Descent. She has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several US agencies and is currently a senior analyst for a think tank. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband.

Mailbox Monday #485

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received this week:

Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully for review from TLC Book Tours.

When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.

Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.

Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, on Rescued Women

I want to welcome Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, to the blog today to talk about the theme of rescuing women in women’s fiction. Stay tuned for a giveaway.

But first, let’s read a little about the book:

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…

How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

Hi Serena. Thanks for having me visit, and thank you for suggesting the topic of “Rescuing in women’s fiction.” It sparked all kinds of ideas for me.

I think it can be problematic in romance and other traditionally “female” genres if the female protagonist is always in need of rescue. It’s a common trope; I can’t tell you how many romances I’ve read in which the heroine is kidnapped and must be rescued by the hero. There are legitimate reasons why this trope works. Good stories need conflict, suspense, and high stakes; being kidnapped or threatened with violence creates a suspenseful, high-stakes environment that keeps the reader turning the pages. Also, romance readers generally like their heroes to be strong and forceful; when the heroine is in danger, it gives the hero a chance to show his skills and courage. That’s why so many of today’s romantic male protagonists are cops, spies, SEALs, etc. who encounter dangerous situations as part of their jobs.

However, it puts the female protagonist in a weaker position if she is frequently in need of rescue. She can appear helpless, lacking in strength and skills, and even stupid (if she does something dumb to get herself into the situation). This may not bother all readers, but I prefer stories in which the male and female protagonists are on a more equal footing, which can be a problem in a genre where the men are always taller, older, and richer than their female counterparts. This is particularly true in a story like Pride and Prejudice where Darcy always has the upper hand because of his wealth and the greater power afforded to men in the Regency time period.

And yet, I still wrote a story called Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. However, I intended the title to be a bit ironic. The premise is that Elizabeth accepts Mr. Collins’s offer of marriage. When Darcy hears about this, he rushes to Longbourn to “save” her from the engagement by offering his hand instead. In other words, Darcy casts himself in the role of rescuer. But when he arrives at Longbourn, he discovers that Elizabeth does not like him and has no desire to be rescued by him. Darcy resorts to trying to break up the engagement by subversive means, but he only makes Elizabeth’s situation worse and must work to clean up the mess he has made. The situation looks dire, and Darcy is in danger of losing Elizabeth forever. He needs Elizabeth to rescue him from a lifetime of loneliness.

I think my slight subversion of the tradition of rescuing women fits in well with the spirit of Pride and Prejudice. Austen does not usually put her heroines into physical danger—eschewing the haunted mansions, shipwrecks, and dastardly villains of many of her contemporary colleagues. Instead, their plights tend to be more societal—facing the loss of reputation or heartbreak. The only rescuing Darcy does in P&P is to “save” Lydia from the consequences of her own stupidity—a mission which is only partially successful. He does help to isolate the Bennets (and Elizabeth) from imminent scandal, but this is a much more indirect kind of rescuing that retrieving the victim of kidnapping or saving someone with a gun to her head. Indeed, Darcy’s primary motivation for rescuing Lydia is to correct his own faux pas when proposing to Elizabeth. In effect, he is rescuing himself from a lifetime of loneliness. I’d like to think that my rewriting follows in Austen’s very big footsteps.

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing this story with us.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY by leaving a comment on your favorite unconventional rescue story by June 30 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to U.S. residents only. One audiobook.