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Excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s Clan by Lari Ann O’Dell & Giveaway

I just love the supernatural and well-written vampire novels, so when I heard about this P&P variation, I couldn’t resist hosting. Today’s guest Lari Ann O’Dell is going to share with us a scene from her new book, Mr. Darcy’s Clan for today’s blog tour stop. Please check it out and enter the giveaway.

About the Book:

The upper echelon of English society—comprised of vampires, or Firstborn Sons—is a world Elizabeth Bennet has no desire to join. She has little exposure to Firstborn Sons until Mr. Bingley arrives in the neighborhood and falls in love with her sister Jane. His mysterious friend, Mr. Darcy, attracts Elizabeth’s attention but she is convinced he is hiding a dark secret. In spite of this, powerful feelings draw her to him. She learns a shocking truth when Mr. Wickham appears and disaster strikes at Netherfield. Forced into Mr. Darcy’s supernatural realm, a confusing new world of danger threatens their deepening love. How can they find eternal happiness when members of his illustrious clan are plotting her demise? Can Mr. Darcy rise beyond his past to save her or will he lose her for all eternity?

Please welcome, Lari Ann O’Dell:

Hello dear readers and followers of Savvy Verse & Wit. I am grateful to be here today to share an excerpt from my newest release, Mr. Darcy’s Clan.

The scene I am sharing today is one of the first scenes of my book to exist and immediately became my budding inspiration for this untraditional rendition. When I was watching the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time, the line “Your hands are cold,” jumped out at me. Recently, I had just finished rewatching all the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so naturally, I thought, what if Mr. Darcy was a vampire? The idea continued to intrigue the muse.

In this excerpt, we find Darcy and Elizabeth alone in the Netherfield gardens. It is early on in their acquaintance, and instinctively, Elizabeth becomes suspicious when she sees him out in the middle of the night. She is currently unaware of his true identity as a vampire, and her suspicions that he is hiding something are only further aroused when she discovers that his hands are cold.

Elizabeth could not sleep. Jane was slumbering in the room next to hers, and the book Elizabeth had chosen was not diverting. She changed from her nightgown into a dress, and put on her pelisse. The Netherfield gardens were beautiful, and she had not seen them in many years. Perhaps some fresh air and a bit of exercise would help her sleep.

A full moon hung in the velvet sky. A slight breeze rustled the trees and the two fountains in the garden gurgled softly. Elizabeth walked beneath a rose-covered arbor and down an immaculate promenade. The gardeners at Netherfield were certainly talented.

She was startled by a noise behind her and turned to discover she was not alone. Mr. Darcy stood several feet away, fully dressed but rather disheveled. A trail of blood ran down his chin and dripped onto his starched cravat.

Elizabeth longed to escape. Civility did not allow that yet propriety demanded it. She could not be discovered alone, in the middle of the night, with Mr. Darcy. Even so, she stood rooted to the ground as he approached.

He wiped away the blood before speaking. “Miss Elizabeth, forgive me for startling you. I did not expect anyone to be in the garden at this hour.”

“Nor did I,” Elizabeth said, eyeing him suspiciously.

Darcy seemed to sense where she was looking. “I fell on my way back to the stables.”

“Perhaps you should not be riding in the middle of the night then, sir. If you will excuse me …” Elizabeth was intent on brushing past him and running back to her room before her reputation could be tarnished … but she stumbled on a stone.

Darcy grabbed her hands and caught her, helping her to right herself.

Elizabeth was startled, for neither of them wore gloves. His hands were like ice. It was an unseasonably warm night, so the weather did not account for it.

“Your hands are cold,” she said.

Darcy seemed to remember himself and quickly released her hands. “I apologize. Is your sister showing any signs of improvement?” he said, looking rather abashed.

“She is asleep; and we should be as well. Good night, Mr. Darcy.” With that, she hurried back into the house.

Darcy’s blood pounded in his veins, urging him to follow her. He had not been sure until he had taken her hands, but it was undeniable now—his blood cried out for her, and he longed for her in a visceral manner. Elizabeth Bennet was meant to be his Eternal Partner. Darcy was mortified. What chance did they have? She was undoubtedly beneath him. Pride, honor, and duty revolted against such a match.

He should not have come into Hertfordshire.

Oooh, what a titillating moment for this duo. I cannot wait to find out what happens next. Enter the giveaway below.

About the Author:

Lari Ann O’Dell first discovered her love of Pride & Prejudice when she was eighteen. After reading a Pride & Prejudice variation she found in a closing sale at a bookstore, she said, “This is what I want to do.” She published her first novel, Mr. Darcy’s Kiss, two years later. Born and raised in Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Creative Writing. After graduating college, she wrote and published her second novel, Mr. Darcy’s Ship. Her third novel, Mr. Darcy’s Clan, is her first supernatural variation, and she is working on two more fantasy variations. She is now back at school and pursuing a degree in Nursing. She adores her two beautiful nephews, Hudson and Dean. She currently works at a middle school and writes whenever she can. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

GIVEAWAY:

Lari Ann O’Dell is giving away 8 eBooks of Mr. Darcy’s Clan. The giveaway is international.

ENTER HERE.

Deleted Scene from When Duty Calls by Belén Paccagnella & Giveaway

Writers can write entire scenes or even more than one scene that they have fun writing, but soon discover it has no place in the novel they are writing. When this happens, authors are left with delightful deleted scenes. Thankfully, Belén Paccagnella is one of those writers who saves her deleted scenes.  She’s going to share with us one such scene from her new book, When Duty Calls for today’s blog tour stop. Please check it out and enter the giveaway.

About the Book:

The Netherfield ball brings about many changes for the population of Meryton, and more so for the female residents of Longbourn. Mr. Bingley’s departure leaves the eldest, Jane Bennet, heartbroken whilst Mr. Collins’s proposal induces Miss Elizabeth to make a hasty escape. During her flight, she happens upon Mr. Darcy, a gentleman she despises. A moment of solitude in the woods leads to rather improper behavior, and the couple departs with the promise they will tell no one about their minor indiscretion. When their secret is finally uncovered, marriage becomes the only solution to saving Elizabeth from social disgrace. Her other grudges against Mr. Darcy are amplified by resentment and the prospect of spending her life with a man she can never respect. Nonetheless, the marriage takes place, forcing the young couple to deal with their pride and prejudices as husband and wife.

Please welcome, Belén Paccagnella:

Thank you, Serena, for having me at Savvy Verse and Wit. It’s always a pleasure for me to share new material with the readers. For today’s post, I selected a scene that I had a lot of fun writing but that I finally decided to cut. I think it’s perfect for this stop of the blog tour.

With all matters concerning Miss Lydia’s elopement settled, and the special license obtained, Miss Lydia’s wedding to Lt. George Wickham finally took place. The couple was married on a rainy Friday morning of April in a discreet and simple ceremony with only the Gardiners and Mr. Darcy in attendance. Mrs. Wickham’s displeasure for not having the entire regiment present at her wedding was great, but of short duration. Her spirits were restored when she was informed that she would spend her first night as a married woman in a fancy hotel in London, courtesy of her wealthy brother-in-law.

“You have been too generous with them, Mr. Darcy.” Mr. Gardiner commented that night during dinner. “After all you did for the Wickhams, sending them to a hotel is a much better wedding present than they deserve.”

“I fear I was not being generous to them, but to you and to your family. You have endured Miss Lydia’s presence in your home for an entire week, and I thought best to spare you from the displeasure of receiving her husband here as well, even if for only one night. Of all the expenditures I made on Mrs. Wickham’s behalf, this is by far the most pleasurable one.”

“Still, I do believe it is unfair that you should carry the entire financial burden of this wretched business upon your shoulders.” Proceeded Mr. Gardiner. “Mr. Bennet ought to know, as well as Lizzy, that it was you who found Lydia and the one who granted her a better future. I cannot agree with your decision to withhold this information from them.”

“Please, grant me this favour, if you may. I feel highly responsible for Mrs. Wickham’s fate. Had I exposed Wickham’s true character before, none of this would have happened. By helping the Wickhams and securing them a better future, I am also preserving the harmony of my own home. Elizabeth had suffered enough because of this and knowing the extent of my dealings might only add to her distress.” Darcy was determined. “The Bennets must not know, nor should Elizabeth. I trust that you will never tell her.”

“You have my word, sir.” Mr. Gardiner sighed, clearly disapproving of Darcy’s decision.

“I do not think Lydia has come to realize the trouble she had brought upon herself —to all her family!” Mrs. Gardiner interjected, addressing Darcy. “Such an unfortunate match!”

“It was prone to happen sooner or later. She should be happy and grateful that she has a generous brother-in-law to come to her rescue,” said Mr. Gardiner while cutting his meat. “I have always found reproachable the liberality and general permissiveness my brother and sister bestowed upon their children. Lydia has always been a reckless child, spoiled by her mother and ignored by her father. She would have benefited from more restraint and discipline in her upbringing.”

“Your children are still small, my friend. You will soon learn the difficulties of educating an adolescent lady. Sometimes all the discipline in the world cannot preserve a girl from making the wrong decision.” Darcy offered smilingly. After what happened to Georgiana,
who almost suffered Lydia’s fate, he was not in the place to judge his father-in-law for his want of severity and parental guidance.

“Your hand looks much improved now,” Mrs. Gardiner changed the subject, much to the younger man’s relief. “The swelling is almost gone. Does it hurt?”

“Not at all,” Darcy replied. “I can move my fingers quite well.”

Mr. Gardiner chuckled. “You did what many other men would have liked to do: punch George Wickham in the face! Pity it cost you a broken hand.”

“Watching that scoundrel bite the dust was worth the inconvenience. He certainly got some of what he deserved,” Darcy laughed along.

“It was such a charming wedding,” Mrs. Gardiner observed while passing the bread to her husband. “And Lydia looked so pretty! Even though we had little time to find her something suitable for the occasion, I think she was a lovely bride. Do you not think so?” The question was meant for Mr. Gardiner, who was sitting across from her at the table.

“Yes, I do.” It was Darcy who was the one who replied, much to the Gardiners’ amusement. “I must say that I was impressed with her gown. The colour of choice was very convenient. It matched perfectly with the purple on Wickham’s eye.”

Wasn’t that delightful?! I hope you enjoyed the deleted scene. Please leave a comment below and enter the giveaway for When Duty Calls.

About the Author:

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working in the development and administration of shopping centers.

In 2001, she began writing both Regency and modern stories, adapting the Pride and Prejudice storyline to different backdrops, merging drama, humor, and adventure while creating characters with unique traits. Almost two decades later, she published Obstacles, a modern variation released in 2018 by Meryton Press.

Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires where she shares her home with her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of When Duty Calls.

ENTER HERE.

 

Giveaway & Interview with Sue Barr, Author of Georgiana

Please welcome author Sue Barr. We’ll be talking about her latest Pride & Prejudice continuation and her writing habits and workspace in our interview today. Stay tuned for some goodies too.

About Georgiana:

She longs for true love…
A dowry of thirty thousand pounds places a hefty weight upon the shoulders of Miss Georgiana Darcy. Her tender heart has been broken before by a cad who cared not one whit for who she was, but as a prize to be won, and she fears no man will ever see the worth of her heart.

Duty and honor…
These are the stalwart columns which hold up the life of Maxwell Kerr, Fifth Duke of Adborough. After rescuing Miss Darcy from an inescapable compromise, an offer of marriage is as natural to him as breathing air. When he discovers this is not the first compromise she has evaded, anger becomes his faithful companion and threatens their tenuous bonds of love and respect.

Doesn’t this sound intriguing? I know I’m curious to see what happens for Georgiana.

Thanks, Sue, for agreeing to our interview:

If you were to live in Jane Austen’s novels, which character would you be and why?

This is a HARD question! I know most people say Elizabeth Bennet, but there are times I want to shake her. Obstinate, headstrong girl! That said, I’d want to be her because of the deep love she and Darcy eventually find. Like her, I’m not in awe of someone’s rank (ask hubby, he was in the military and almost died when I approached the Base Commander at a function and asked him if he’d like to dance), and I appreciate great conversation that’s not ‘fluffy’.

What inspired you to give secondary characters like Georgiana, Caroline, and Catherine their own novels?

It all started with one little question. ‘Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy got engaged to a Bennet sister?’ The series sprang from there and I never hesitated in taking on the secondary characters with the usual suspects delegated to minor roles.

Georgiana carries a heavy burden of expectation and duty for her Darcy family; Explain the process of creating this character harmed by a cad who has all of these expectations for her coming out into society and her eventual marriage, especially given so little is known about her from Austen’s original novel, Pride & Prejudice.

I decided that while Georgiana regretted her mistake, she did not regret the ideals she’d held when contemplating marriage and family. Elizabeth is a strong influence and from her Georgiana gains much strength of character, which she draws upon during the course of this story.

Do you have novels outlined/percolating in your mind for other Austen characters, such as Mary or Lydia Bennet or Anne de Bourgh?

Yes! I’m working on Mary right now. I haven’t thought of the others too much, although Anne de Bourgh would be a delicious character to sample.

Offer one piece of writing advice that you wish someone had told you and one piece of writing advice you did receive that you found helpful in your career.

Writing advice I’ve given and received.

BICHOK: Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard, or as one of my fellow writers said, “vomit” words onto the page. The visual is disgusting but the advice is pure gold. You cannot edit a blank piece of paper, but you can work with drivel.

When not writing Jane Austen-inspired novels, what do you love to do? Special/unique hobbies?

I love canning/preserving food. I want to know what I’m eating and so I make almost everything from scratch. The only programs I watch are Classic movies, cooking shows, News, and Survivor (don’t judge). I also read – voraciously and as grandma to seven kids ranging from newborn to twelve, I don’t have a lot of down time.

When and where do you most often write? Do you have special totems on your desk? Music playing in the background? Paint a picture of your writing space and day, or include a couple of photos.

I retired in 2015 and one year later hubby and I moved into our dream home where I have my own office space. No totems and no sound. I wake fairly early and start my bread. While the dough is rising, I go through e-mails and social media. Put bread in oven and check out A Happy Assembly to see if new posts have been added to stories I follow. Bread is done and now I can focus on my manuscript and try to get in a few words. I’m an extremely SLOW writer. The rest of my day is taken up with light housework, grocery shopping if required, three demanding cats, and meal prep. I could not be happier. Well, I could, but hubby doesn’t retire until next year.

I love learning about writers and their writing spaces, their hobbies, and their writing advice. I hope everyone enjoyed learning about Sue’s new book and is ready for the giveaway!

About the Author:

“The prairie dust is in my blood but no longer on my shoes.”

Sue Barr coined that phrase when once asked where she came from. Although it’s been over thirty-seven years since she called Saskatchewan home, her roots to that straight-lined province and childhood friends run deep. The only thing strong enough to entice her to pack up and leave was love. When a handsome Air Force pilot met this small-town girl, he swept her off her feet and they embarked on a fantastic adventure which found them settled in beautiful Southwestern Ontario when hubby retired from the military and began his second career as an airline pilot.

Sue started writing in 2009 and sold her first manuscript in 2010. For four years she was published under the pen name of Madison J. Edwards, and in 2014 began to write sweet contemporary romance under her own name. Always a reader of Regency romance, she discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction through a childhood friend who writes under the name of Suzan Lauder. Almost immediately a question popped into her head, “Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy became engaged to a Bennet sister?” and the “Pride & Prejudice Continued…” series was launched.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and its satellite chapter, The Beau Monde. She is one course away from achieving her Professional Creative Writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario’s continuing study curriculum. In her spare time, she cans and preserves her own food, cooks almost everything from scratch and grows herbs to dehydrate and make into seasoning. Hubby has no complaints other than his trousers keep shrinking. At least that’s what he claims…. Oh, the kids and grandkids don’t mind this slight obsession either. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.

GIVEAWAY ALERT:

Sue is also gifting three e-copies of GEORGIANA to three lucky winners via Rafflecopter.

Open internationally through March 12.

If you can’t wait, here are the BUY LINKS:

Two More Days at Netherfield by Heather Moll

Source: Publisher
ebook, 406 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Two More Days at Netherfield by Heather Moll finds Elizabeth Bennet and her sister at Netherfield like they were in Jane Austen’s novel, Pride & Prejudice.

While at Netherfield nursing her sister back to health, Elizabeth comes to realize that her first impressions of Mr. Darcy may have been wrong. At the same time, through teasing, she makes him realize that he may have been hasty in his opinion of her. As they continue to be in each other’s company, will they come to realize that they are more alike and complementary to one another than they initially thought?

These two begin to share their love of poetry and intellectual conversation. They start to view one another as friends, even if they do continue to verbally spar. Mr. Wickham arrives on the scene and their friendship, which is blatantly obvious to the scoundrel, hatches a plan.

“She has no beauty! I have twenty thousand pounds!”

Moll’s Elizabeth is outspoken and braver than the Lizzy in Austen’s novel. She makes the first move in some situations where she should be reserved. This, however, is not to say that she diverges too far from Austen’s character. The machinations of Mr. Wickham and Miss Bingley, though not in concert, are even more devious. I love that Moll made Wickham and Bingley more evil than in Austen’s book. Both of these characters know what they want and what their motivations are and they are committed to the last. Watch out Elizabeth and Darcy.

Bingley and Jane find their happiness more quickly but little else has changed, though there is no chance meeting at Hunsford for Darcy and Elizabeth. All of these changes are well done and not missed when Moll’s book unfolds.

Unfortunately, after Darcy and Lizzy get together and past all of their misconceptions and worries, the pace quickens. The novel fast forwards to when they are already married. As these chapters propel the reader into the future of their lives, I felt as though I was missing some great moments of connection between them. Aside from that, Darcy and Lizzy have a balance in their relationship that they hadn’t had before. Two More Days at Netherfield by Heather Moll is a heartwarming novel that brings Darcy and Elizabeth together in a way that makes them partners in all things. Partnerships in love are the best kind.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Heather Moll is an avid reader of mysteries and biographies with a master’s in
information science. She found Jane Austen later than she should have and made up for lost time by devouring Austen’s letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era. She is the author of Two More Days at Netherfield and His Choice of a Wife. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether to clean the house or write. Connect with her on Facebook,
Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ecopy at each blog stop of the Two More Days at Netherfield blog tour. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose one random winner after Feb. 21, 2020. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match by Kelly Miller

Today’s guest is Kelly Miller who is here to talk about her latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match.

Before we get to her guest post about the ghosts in the Tower of London, let’s learn a little bit about the book.

About the Book:

When secrets are revealed and a family agenda works against him, can Fitzwilliam Darcy recover his damaged spirits and find happiness?

Following his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London from Kent broken-hearted and dejected. One bright spot penetrates his sea of despair: his sister, Georgiana, has finally recovered her spirits from the grievous events at Ramsgate the previous summer. She has forged a new friendship with Miss Hester Drake, a lady who appears to be an ideal friend. In fact, Lady Matlock believes Miss Drake is Darcy’s perfect match.

Upon Elizabeth Bennet’s arrival at the Gardiners’ home from Kent, she finds that her sister Jane remains despondent over her abandonment by Mr. Bingley. But Elizabeth has information that might bring them together. She convinces her Uncle Gardiner to write a letter to Mr. Bingley providing key facts supplied to her by Mr. Darcy.

When Mr. Bingley discovers that his friend and sisters colluded to keep Jane’s presence in London from him, how will he respond? Given the chance, will Darcy and Elizabeth overcome their past misunderstandings? What will Darcy do when his beloved sister becomes a hindrance towards winning the lady he loves?

Without further ado, please give Kelly a warm welcome.

In Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, the primary characters visit The Tower of London, a location with a grisly and controversial history. A number of ghosts have been associated with this famous tourist attraction. Luckily, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth do not encounter them in my story, yet I thought it would be interesting to examine the ghostly reports that have been made over the years.

The White Tower, from which the Tower of London got its name, was built in 1078 on orders of William the Conqueror. A total of 133 confirmed executions were performed at the Tower of London. The first of these executions was of Sir Simon Burley on May 5, 1388, for the crime of “Supporting the King’s struggle for absolute power.”

One victim of the most common method of execution employed at the tower, beheading, was a Darcy: Lord Thomas Darcy of Templehurst, who met his end on June 30, 1537. His alleged crime was noted as “Treasonable Correspondence with Robert Aske re Pilgrimage of Grace (a widespread uprising against Henry VIII).”

The last confirmed execution was of Josef Jacobs on August 15, 1941, by firing squad for the crime of “Spying.”

A number of former inhabitants of the tower have reportedly been seen over the years in ghostly form. King Henry VI, who had been imprisoned in 1465 by his cousin Edward IV, is believed by historians to have been killed at Edward’s command. Henry VI lost his life on the evening of May 21, 1471. It is said that Henry VI’s ghost appears each year at the anniversary of his death in the Wakefield Tower where he met his end.

The two princes, Edward V and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, were imprisoned in the tower by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester in 1483. The so-called Lord Protector had declared his nephews to be illegitimate, and ascended to the throne as Richard III. The two princes were never seen again after the summer of 1483 and were presumed murdered by Richard III. Richard III had already ordered the deaths of the boys’ uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl of Rivers, and half-brother, Sir Richard Grey. Ghostly sightings of the two princes have been reported since the 15th century. Many have seen the ghosts clinging to one another and sobbing, but a more recent sighting in 1990 described the ghostly princes to be giggling.

Queen Anne Boleyn was charged by her husband King Henry VIII of treason, adultery, and incest (with her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford), and imprisoned in the tower. She was found guilty on May 15, 1536. George Boleyn and other men accused of being the queen’s lovers were also found guilty and executed. Queen Anne Boleyn met her end on May 19, 1536, a beheading accomplished with the single stroke of an expert swordsman. The following poem is thought to have been written either by Queen Anne Boleyn or her brother George Boleyn as they awaited their fate:

“O Death Rock Me Asleep”

O death! rock me asleep,
Bring me on quiet rest;
Yet pass my guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast:
Toll on the passing bell,
Ring out the doleful knell,
Let the sound of my death tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy,
For now I die
My pains who can express?
Alas! they are so strong,
My dolor will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong:
Toll on the passing bell, etc.
Alone, in prison strong,
I wail my destiny,
Wo worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery:
Toll on the passing bell, etc.
Farewell my pleasures past,
Welcome my present pain;
I feel my torments so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now the passing bell,
Rung is my doleful knell,
For the sound my death doth tell,
Death doth draw nigh,
Sound my end dolefully,
For now I die.

Although the ghost of Anne Boleyn has been sighted many times in or around the church near the tower, at times carrying her head under her arm, a famous sighting occurred in 1864 by General Dundas. The general reported seeing a ghostly white figure floating towards a guard in the courtyard of the tower. The guard charged her with bayonet raised and moved right through her. At the realization that he had seen a ghost, the guard fainted.

Margaret Pole, the former Countess of Salisbury, was imprisoned in the tower for being a part of the Pilgrimage of Grace two and a half years before her execution on May 27, 1541. Warring testimony accounts for the brutal manner of her death. One witness stated that an inexperienced axeman took eleven blows to affect her death; another claimed that the extra blows were due to Lady Salisbury’s attempt to run away from her fate.

The following poem had been carved upon the wall of the countess’s cell:

For traitors on the block should die;
I am no traitor, no, not I!
My faithfulness stands fast and so,
Towards the block I shall not go!
Nor make one step, as you shall see;
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

Over the years, Lady Salisbury’s screams have been heard and her ghostly form seen on the tower green; others have reported seeing the giant shadow of an axe coming down at the site of the countess’s execution.

Some visitors to the White Tower have reported a most disturbing crushing sensation while in the room where Henry VIII’s armor is displayed. Fortunately, this frightening sensation disappears once they leave the room.

Lady Jane Grey and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley were sentenced to death by Mary I and were killed on February 12, 1554. Lord Dudley is said to haunt Beauchamp Tower by weeping in his cell late into the night, and is thought to be responsible for the word “Jane” etched upon the wall. Lady Jane’s ghost has been seen wandering the battlements alone.

Lady Arabella Stuart was imprisoned in the tower and died in 1615. She may have been murdered but others say she succumbed from her own refusal to eat. She is said to haunt the Queen’s house and has often been seen weeping.

Even the animals from the Royal Menagerie have reportedly haunted their former living space. Visitors have reported hearing the cries of animals long dead. In 1815, a sentry was outside the jewel house when he was approached by the ghost of a bear. The incident was supposed to have so traumatized the man that he passed away weeks later.

I love a good ghost story! 🙂 I would love to visit the Towers of London to see some. 😉

And now, for that moment you’ve been waiting for — an excerpt from Miller’s latest book, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match.

In this excerpt, Darcy meets Georgiana’s new friend Miss Hester Drake for the first time at
the Darcy town home in London.

At the faint knock upon the door of his study, Darcy called out, “Enter.” He stood and the line of his mouth softened into a smile as his sister slipped into the room and stood before his desk. “Yes, Georgie?”

She skimmed the papers on his desk before facing him. “I wanted to remind you that my friend Miss Drake is due to arrive in thirty minutes. You did say you wished to meet her today.”

A depth of compassion swelled within him at the sight of his sister’s slumped posture and hesitant tone. His introduction to her friend meant a great deal to her. Darcy had been trying, for her sake, to act as though all was well. Had he been successful? With luck, his sister’s new friend would distract her from noticing anything amiss. “I have not forgotten. I shall join you after she arrives.”

Georgiana responded with a brilliant smile. Her words rushed out. “Thank you, Fitzwilliam. I need to go now and prepare.” His sister dashed from the room.

***

Darcy timed his appearance in the east sitting room for ten minutes into the call. The ladies and their companions rose at his entrance.

With a grin, Georgiana came forward to stand beside him. “Miss Drake and Miss Green, please allow me to present my brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Brother, this is my friend Miss Drake and her companion, Miss Green.”

After he bowed to their curtsies, Darcy surveyed the young lady and her companion.

Both displayed smiles and were well dressed with Miss Drake in the more expensive, stylish cut of gown as appropriate for her station. “Miss Drake, Miss Green, it is a pleasure to meet you both.” Both ladies replied in the usual way and took their seats at his urging.

Darcy forced himself to smile. Miss Drake was a pretty, poised young lady with reddish-brown hair, flawless, ivory skin, and an oval face. Her piercing green eyes—not as fine as Miss Elizabeth’s brown, expressive eyes but still quite attractive—seemed to indicate a keen mind. The lady had an admirable, full figure though not as light and pleasing as Miss Elizabeth’s form. What was he doing? Blast! He had to cease referring to Miss Elizabeth! He turned away, ran a hand through his hair, and took a seat across from Miss Drake. A moment later, his smile was back in place. “I hope your family is well. I attended university with your brother James, though we have not spoken in a long while.”

Miss Drake’s dulcet voice was infused with esprit. “Yes, Mr. Darcy. My family is exceedingly well. My brother James and his wife recently returned from an extended stay in Margate.”

He nodded and broadened his smile; it was the expected response. “I have been to Margate several times. It is a lovely town. When you see him, please pass on my best wishes.”

The young lady’s eyes held a vivid sheen. “I thank you. I shall do so.”

Darcy continued to chat with Miss Drake, but he also directed a couple of polite questions to Miss Green. At his first query, the companion sputtered in her response and her eyes widened; she had not expected to be addressed by him. And why would she? He would not have done so in the past—not before Miss Elizabeth’s chastisement. Blast and damn—he was not to think of her! Yet it was due to her alone that he strove to make improvements in his conduct. It was a shame she would never know of it.

After a few more minutes of conversation, Darcy rose. “I shall leave you ladies to yourselves. It was very nice to have met you, Miss Drake, Miss Green.” With a bow, he retreated from the room and made his way back to his study.

About the Author:

Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano (although like Elizabeth Bennet, she is errant when it comes to practicing), singing, and walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets.

Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match is her second novel published by Meryton Press. Her first was the Regency novel Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice romantic sequel with a touch of fantasy. Her third novel, Accusing Mr. Darcy, will be released later in 2020. Visit Kelly’s blog page, her on Twitter, and on Facebook.

GIVEAWAY: 8 ebooks; Enter HERE:

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Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match Blog Schedule

January 27 Austenesque Reviews

January 28 My Jane Austen Book Club

January 29 Austenprose

January 30 So Little Time…

January 31 Babblings of a Bookworm

February 3 More Agreeably Engaged

February 4 Savvy Verse & Wit

February 6 Donadee’s Corner

February 7 Diary of an Eccentric

February 10 From Pemberley to Milton

February 11 My Vices and Weaknesses

Guest Post & Giveaway: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom

I have relatives in Finland, and I often find Finish perspectives in fiction fascinating. This is probably the main reason I wanted to host Ms. Sjöblom and her book for this blog tour. It’s rare that I find a variation that’s written by someone outside the United States and Britain. I cannot wait to read this book myself, but today, I have a Character Interview to share from the author.

Stay tuned to enter the giveaway as well.

About the book:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one false step can involve a lady in endless ruin. On a rainy November day in 1811, Miss Elizabeth Bennet finds herself wondering why no one ever bothered to tell her about this.

A few blithe steps on a morning walk, taken after a succession of rain, lead to unexpected events that irrevocably change the course of Elizabeth’s life, placing her fate in the hands of the haughty and conceited Mr. Darcy – the last  man in the world she had ever thought to marry.

As long winter days slowly pass, she writes letters to her loved ones, trying to come to terms with her new role as a wife and the Mistress of Pemberley. But can she ever learn to love her husband? Will he overcome his arrogant notions of rank and circumstance?

And most importantly – will the shades of Pemberley ever recover from being thus polluted?

Without further ado, please welcome Anniina Sjöblom:

Hello everyone—I’m glad you’ve found your way to Savvy Verse & Wit today! And thank you to Serena for inviting me to stop by here as a part of the blog tour for my new novella, Thaw!

Thaw is very much Elizabeth’s story, so to balance things out, today’s post is an interview with Mr. Darcy. When I first posted Thaw online, I wrote some spoofy diary markings by Mr. Darcy in the comment thread of the story to accompany each post. As the online versions of Thaw have since been removed, the diary markings are also a thing of the past. For today’s post, I’ve resurrected a few of them from my archives.

They’re (very) silly, rather modern and quite full of expletives—and in no way reflect the tone of the actual story. Consider yourselves warned!

****

Dear readers, with us today is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, of Pemberley, Derbyshire. In the wake of the recent release of a collection of private letters by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, Mr. Darcy has agreed to give us an exclusive interview and share a few markings from his personal diary to shed light on his perspective to the events that have unfolded.

Welcome, Mr. Darcy, and thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk to us today. You are known to be a very private man. Do we have your wife to thank for the privilege of taking a peek at your private diary markings?

Well, yes. She thought it might lighten my public image. It seems she has had a bit of a difficult time convincing her friends and family that I am, in fact, someone worth her good opinion. I have not the least idea why.

Well, we thank you heartily. It seems you and your wife had some trouble communicating in the early days of your marriage? In her letters, she describes numerous occasions when you were alone in a room together but barely said a word to each other. Could you tell us of your thoughts at the time?

It is true that our marriage did not have the most auspicious of starts. At first, it seemed like even the most mundane of topics could lead to an argument. Less than two months into our marriage, I admit we were barely talking—though by that time, I found myself very much hoping that we would. But after weeks of silence, how is one to start? Here is one of my diary markings from that time:

January 25th, 1812. Made a bloody fool of myself. Again. Just stop stalking about like a useless dimwit and say it, you big idiot! How hard can it be? It is not as if things could get any worse, is it? Dear wife, have had the hots for you since I first saw you at that godforsaken assembly, and would very much like to throw you over my shoulder and carry you to bed. Plus, am reformed and love you. Most ardently. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

At the time, your sister Georgiana and your cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, were with you in Pemberley. Is it really true that you accused your wife of flirting with the colonel?

It is. Not my finest hour, to be sure. I have since come to know the error of my ways. An utterly absurd notion on my part, really. But at the time, I must admit I was quite tired and rather blinded by jealousy. I am not proud of the diary markings I made at the time:

January 27th, 1812. Burned my fingers because my damnable flirt of a cousin dared me into playing bloody snap-dragon. Wanted to throw the damn raisins at his face, but tried to act cool because the wife was present—she already smiles too much at him and not enough at me. Note to self: next time Richard comes to visit, hide the brandy. And the raisins. And the wife.

Your false assumptions led to a rather substantial disagreement between you and Mrs. Darcy, did they not?

To put it mildly. In retrospect, I have come to understand that I should have stayed at Pemberley after our fight, but I confess it was all rather too much for me. I wrote my wife a letter and fled to Chesterfield, on what I let her understand was a trip of business—but perhaps it is now time to confess that, in truth, I sat alone in an inn for a week and moped like a world champion.

January 30th 1812. Urgent business in Chesterfield, must leave immediately. Wrote the wife a letter to explain myself. Perhaps I should wait by the front door until she reads it? Maybe she will come running after me, begging me not to go? ‘Where will I go, what will I do?’ she will say. And I will coolly reply: ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a crap.’ Not likely.

Well, I must say we are glad that you did not stay in Chesterfield for long. As I am sure is your wife. After your return, it seems things started to look up?

Indeed, they did. As my diary markings of the time will testify, it was not long after my return that I started to appreciate the power of a simple, honest conversation:

February 11th, 1812. Finally talked with the wife. Thank goodness. Nearly dropped off my chair when she smiled at me. At me! In your face, Richard! How could I ever think that having the wife as the mistress of Pemberley would be a bloody degradation? Badly done, Darcy. Badly done. Without her, this place would be just a pretentious, lonely pile of bricks.

Your solicitor has advised that you do not wish to talk about the ordeal between Mr. Wickham and his wife. Your wife, too, is rather vague on the subject. But could you perhaps tell us, even just briefly, what it took to solve the unfortunate situation?

I am afraid not. My wife has addressed the topic in her letters and we have agreed that it is all we wish to say on the topic. Suffice it to say that I can be quite persuasive when I want to:

March 17th 1812. Bending it like Beckham on Gracechurch Street—kicked That Bastard so hard in the butt that he flew all the way to Grosvenor Square and back. Hurt my foot in the process, but maybe that’s a good thing? If the wife sees me coming home, limping like a war hero returning from battle, maybe she’ll forget all about how much my damned pride has cost her and come running to me?

Very well, we understand. One last question, Mr. Darcy: do you still keep a diary?

Ahem. I do not. I was quite an avid writer during the early days of our marriage—and perhaps sometimes rather too outspoken and a tad too colourful—but I have since given it up. There was a bit of an incident, you see, after a particularly spirited entry on a rather private topic, that made me reconsider the wisdom of keeping a diary. I do not quite know how to explain it, but perhaps the very last marking in my diary will offer some indication of the nature of the incident:

April 1st, 1813. Dear Husband. Found your diary. I think we must talk.

Sincerely,
The Wife

P.S. If your gig really is so much better hung than the colonel's, why is it that we always use the barouche?

Thank you, everyone, for stopping by today to take part of the blog tour! If you have any wise words to Darcy, do leave them in the comments—the poor guy’s diary leaves me suspecting he might be in need of a few. Also feel free to ask me any questions—and if you want, you can look me up on Facebook.

Thank you so much, Anniina Sjöblom, for joining us today on the blog. Doesn’t this sound delightful?! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

About the Author:

Anniina Sjöblom lives in the beautiful but cold Finland and works in university administration. She has an MA in History and enjoys a long-standing love affair with the works of Jane Austen.

Her previous works include titles such as Thirteen Days, Fix You and When He Comes Back, published in various online Austenesque forums under the pen name boogima. The new novella Thaw, expanded from the original version of the story first published online in 2011, is her first commercially published work.

When not writing, Anniina spends her time hanging out with friends, binge-watching TV dramas and re-reading her favourite books while the stack of new ones still waiting to be read piles higher on her nightstand. She can ride a unicycle, and once, after losing an unfortunate bet, ate a bowl of ice cream with green dish soap as dressing. She does not recommend attempting it to anyone.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of THAW per blog tour stop.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on January 22. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Making of a Memoir-in-Conversation by Robert Jacoby and John Robinette

We have some local authors today on the blog who will talk about the memoir, Never Stop Dancing.

For those in the Washington, D.C., area, our memoirists will be at the 11th Annual Takoma Park Book Fair on Dec. 14, 2019. I encourage you to go.

If you can’t make it to the festival, you will have an opportunity to win a copy of the memoir if you live in the United States. But you’ll have to read this guest post and leave a comment by Dec. 19, 2019.

About the book:

Born of a year’s worth of candid interviews, Never Stop Dancing avoids clichéd takeaways about grief and healing to chart a deeper, thornier examination of loss and regret. Robert and John are transformed through their shared experience, too, emerging strengthened and with an abiding male friendship that cuts against the grain of pop-culture trends of quick fixes and easy answers. This memoir-in-conversation provides hard-won reassurances that one can and does go on after loss.

Without further ado, please welcome John and Robert:

Never Stop Dancing: A Memoir is an unusual book, not only in its subject matter but also in how it came to be. The book results from a collection of interviews captured after John’s wife, Amy, was killed in a pedestrian traffic accident April 29, 2010, on a street in Washington, D.C.

By 2010, we had been friends for about eight years and enjoyed deep and wide-ranging conversations over every imaginable subject. And so it was, in July, about two months after Amy’s death, Robert asked John to sit together and talk about, and record, John’s experiences as they unfolded. For John, as he describes it, sitting in conversation seemed a natural part of the grieving process.

We met on eight different occasions over the first year after Amy was killed. As the interviewer, Robert helped steer the conversations, which usually started and grew organically. He would ask John how he was doing or what was on his mind. Other times John wanted to talk about something specific.

Sometimes during the sessions, talking became too difficult, for John, for both of us, and we had to stop. The recorder was turned off, and we would take a break.

Sometimes we cried, other times we laughed. Can you believe that? Yes, sometimes we did laugh together. And that’s okay. We were two close friends talking, and even in something heavy like death and grief, we knew that it was okay to find things to laugh about.

Robert started work on the raw transcripts immediately, in the fall of 2010.

May 2011 is the earliest occurrence of Never Stop Dancing as a possible title in our email exchanges.

In August 2011, Robert sent John the first draft of the book, and its working title was After Amy. In October John wanted to write an Afterword, and he completed that a few days after New Year’s Day, 2012.

Throughout 2012 we revised the book and started sending it out to book agents. Robert had a very short introduction, and the book included some blog posts John had written interspersed; we included some back-and-forth of our conversations from our interview sessions to give it that “interview” feel, too.

During 2013 and 2014, we experienced more changes. John re-married (teaser: the origin story of this marriage is in the book), and the manuscript seemed to be idling. In May 2014, Robert reached out to his book editor, Robyn Russell, for help. It was her suggestion to us to choose to keep Robert entirely out of the book, or entirely in the book. Her vote was definitely in. We talked and decided quickly: Robert needed to be in the book. Robyn also suggested the seasonal divisions. Up to then we had chapter divisions that were a bit unwieldy. We also finally settled on the book title as Never Stop Dancing.

In February 2015, our second book editor took over for Robyn. This was her colleague, Jason Bucholz, who also happens to be a novelist. We worked with him until early 2017.

John and I both worked off of Robyn’s and then Jason’s suggested revisions. John trimmed about 20,000 words from the manuscript, and Robert had to add an entirely new Introduction, all of his introductory pieces for each season, and then more text pieces for our “breaks” during the interview sessions. It was challenging for Robert to go back in time to place himself in those interview sessions and re-live those moments. Every new read became a new trauma. As we worked through the revisions, John expressed similar feelings to the point where he now never again wants to read the first 50 pages.

In 2018, we started querying our lists of agents and publishers. We had some interest, but no takers.

In early 2019, we decided to do it ourselves. Proofreading the text with a professional editor, working with the book designer.

John and I started this project to document his journey through his grief experience and out into new life. At the beginning, we couldn’t know what that life would be. And here we are, these many years later, sharing our story with our readers: John’s story of his grief journey through that first year after losing Amy; Robert’s story of being John’s friend through that time; and the story of us together, two male friends, in deep conversation.

Thank you, John and Robert for sharing your story. I can’t imaging how hard it must have been to write about this experience and relive it with each edit.

Please see their appearance on the show Good Morning Washington.

GIVEAWAY:

To win a signed copy of the memoir, Never Stop Dancing, please leave a comment and email by Dec. 19, 2019.

You must be 18 years of age and have a U.S. address.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jessie Lewis, Author of Speechless, Talks About Historical Buildings and Inspiration

Today’s guest is someone new to the blog — Jessie Lewis — and she will share with us some of the inspirational historical buildings she’s used to write her novels. First, please read what her new novel, Speechless, is about:

Could anything be worse than to be trapped in a confined space with the woman you love? Fitzwilliam Darcy knows his duty, and it does not involve succumbing to his fascination for a dark-eyed beauty from an unheard of family in Hertfordshire. He has run away from her once already. Yet fate has a wicked sense of humour and deals him a blow that not only throws him back into her path but quite literally puts him at Elizabeth Bennet’s mercy. Stranded with her at a remote inn and seriously hampered by injury, Darcy very quickly loses the battle to conquer his feelings, but can he win the war to make himself better understood without the ability to speak?

Thus begins an intense journey to love and understanding that is at times harrowing, sometimes hilarious and at all times heartwarming.

Being trapped in a confined space with Mr. Darcy, who wouldn’t love that? This sounds delightful, doesn’t it? If you agree, stay tuned for the giveaway. Please welcome Jessie Lewis.

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new novel, Speechless. I love the Regency era and am lucky enough to be surrounded by historical buildings and places here in England, many of which have been inspirational to my writing. I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures of those that inspired the setting for this particular story.

In Speechless, Darcy and Elizabeth are stranded together at an inn called The Dancing Bear, owned by the kindly Mr Timmins. The inn boasts a large stuffed bear at the foot of the stairs, which Elizabeth nicknames Mr Collins. You would be forgiven for thinking this is a little odd, since bears are not native to the UK—or if they ever were, it was a really long time ago. In fact, I based The Dancing Bear on a real pub called The Bear of Rodborough, situated in the Cotswolds. It’s so called because it famously has a large stuffed bear in its foyer. (The bear was presumably hunted and imported at some point in the past, the ethics of which I shall not venture to discuss here!) A big scary bear just seemed to suit the location of Mr Timmins’ inn—on the outskirts of a village, surrounded by woods—as well as the events that take place there, which are, at least at the beginning, pretty frightening for our dear couple. Thus, The Dancing Bear was conceived.

The room in which Darcy and Elizabeth spend most of their time in the story belongs to Mr Timmins’ sister, who acts as a housekeeper-come-cook. Her role is pertinent because it demanded certain features be in the room that were essential to the story. I took the inspiration for this room from the housekeeper’s apartments at the beautifully restored Regency Townhouse in Brighton (a visit to which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in Regency life). The room at the townhouse (pictured) differs from the one in Speechless in that it is bright and airy as opposed to dark, dingy and cluttered—but it was the design of the space that really interested me.

Purpose-built for a housekeeper by the C19th architect, it has a large walk-in cupboard where she would have kept all the most expensive domestic items carefully locked away. You’ll have to read the story to find out why this was such an important feature to have in the room, though…

The taproom at The Dancing Bear is themed around the interior of a wonderful old hotel in my own hometown of Hertford. The Salisbury Arms (originally The Bell) is a coaching inn dating back to the fifteenth century. It has two front parlours, a taproom and a restaurant; three more rooms than I gave The Dancing Bear, which only has one taproom. The gorgeous old room in this picture shows the mixture of bricks, plaster and timber frame that I imagine made up the walls of Mr Timmins’ humble inn.

In complete contrast to all of this is Darcy’s townhouse. I admit, I have never visited the place in this picture. I’m not even sure where it was taken—it’s an image I stumbled across on the internet a long time ago—but I used it to help me envisage one of the most pivotal scenes in the story. Not, as you might think, for the splendour, though it is beautiful. In fact, it was, again, the layout that inspired me. The logistics of where things are in whatever imaginary world I’m writing about can prove problematic if I don’t have a clear idea of that space. Characters can end up whispering to someone too far away to hear, walking through a door that wasn’t there moments before, sitting down in a chair where another character is already perched … the potential for pitfalls is endless. I find that having in mind a particular room I’ve visited or seen in a photo, or even sketched out on paper, helps me better inhabit the space I’m describing, thereby ensuring that what I write makes sense. The way the furniture is arranged in a circle around this particular room, with one chair closest to the door, from which a person might hold a quiet conversation with someone half-in and half-out of the room whilst everyone else talks amongst themselves, proved remarkably useful to a certain gentleman protagonist in Speechless.

Of course, I also like to think of Darcy’s houses as tastefully and gorgeously decorated, so this photo was no hardship to work with.

So, there is a small glimpse of the world I lived in while I was writing Speechless. I hope your readers have just as much fun imagining their own setting for Darcy and Elizabeth if they have the chance to read the story themselves.

Thanks, Jessie, for sharing all of these glorious, inspirational buildings with us.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of Speechless per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on December 19. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

About the Author:

Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken and The Edification of Lady Susan, enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English language. She has always been particularly in awe of Jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s
regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.

You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on her Facebook page, JessieLewisAuthor.

Guest Post & Giveaway: When Charlotte Became Romantic by Victoria Kincaid

I love reading Austen-inspired novels about secondary characters, and Victoria Kincaid offers readers a new take on Charlotte Lucas. Check out the book synopsis and an excerpt below before entering the international giveaway:

Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature. But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision.

James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man. Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton. Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms. If they are to be happy, they must face her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s disapproval, dangerous figures from James’s past…and Charlotte’s nagging feeling that maybe she should just marry Mr. Collins. Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?

Please give Victoria a warm welcome:

Hello Serena and thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! I always thought that Charlotte Lucas got a raw deal, marrying a man who was so unpleasant and less intelligent than she was. I had long wanted to write a story where Charlotte got a happier ending. Imagine my surprise when that story, When Charlotte Became Romantic, turned out to contain spies, vengeance, a mysterious man from the past, and a broken engagement. I knew my vision of Charlotte would be more romantic, but I hadn’t realized how much more romantic her story would be! Below is an excerpt from near the beginning of the book. I hope you enjoy it!

After a moment, James roused himself. “My congratulations,” he said stiffly. His expression was unreadable, although his countenance was quite pale. “I wish you both happy.” He nodded briskly. “Now, if you will excuse us, my aunt is quite parched, and I promised to obtain some punch for her.” He barely gave his aunt enough time to clutch his arm before he whisked them both into the crowd.

Elizabeth and Charlotte stared after them. “My goodness,” Elizabeth said. “What did you do in Bath to offend them? Did you insult Mr. Sinclair’s favorite waistcoat or put too much sugar in his tea?” She gave Charlotte an impish grin.

If you only knew.

What could Charlotte say without revealing too much? “We did not part on the best of terms.” That much was true. Elizabeth regarded her with a raised eyebrow. “He departed from Bath under something of a cloud.” Also true, although certainly not the whole story.

Now both of Elizabeth’s brows were raised. “Indeed? How intriguing.” She paused, but Charlotte divulged no further information. She avoided gossip as a general rule, and this was one story she was especially loath to share. “That does not account for why he would be so disturbed at the particular news of your engagement.”

Charlotte silently cursed her friend’s powers of observation. Why could James not have encountered her in the hall with Jane Bennet or Maria? They would have remained oblivious to the undercurrents in the conversation.

“I do not take your meaning,” Charlotte responded.

A smile played around her friend’s lips. “If you say so.” She gave Charlotte a sly look. “I will only observe that he has obviously been thinking of you over the past three years. The question is…have you been thinking of him?”

“No, never,” she replied instantly. Fortunately, Charlotte had great practice in presenting an impassive face. “It was all so long ago.”

This was mostly the truth. Charlotte had a policy: she only allowed herself to think of James in her bedchamber during the last few minutes before she fell asleep. There she could indulge fantasies about what might have been without anyone being the wiser. Throughout the rest of the day, she worked ceaselessly to catch any stray thoughts about him and lock them carefully inside a box within her mind. Only at night—alone in bed—did she unlock that box and allow herself to examine those thoughts.

Glancing down, Charlotte found that her hands were still shaking. But how could she shut away her thoughts of James when he was here in Meryton? The Christmas season was full of dinner parties and balls of all sorts; no doubt they would be thrown together again and again. How could she police her thoughts of him while he was standing a few feet from her in the same room? She had no strategy for such a situation. She had never expected—allowed herself to fear or hope—that such a thing might come to pass.

She took a deep, soothing breath, reminding herself that the thoughts themselves were not the danger; it was the accompanying emotions. The perturbation of spirits, the endless regrets, and the forbidden longing. She might think about James without allowing herself to be dragged back into that emotional tumult. She had the armor of a betrothal now, relying on thoughts of Mr. Collins when thoughts of James threatened her equanimity.

Or … perhaps thoughts of the life she might have with Mr. Collins…the children …

I am in trouble.

She had only one recourse tonight, and she would discover other methods of coping tomorrow. Charlotte took her friend’s hand. “My head aches abominably. I must…retire to my bedchamber.” With her eyes, she implored Elizabeth not to ask too many questions.

Her expression instantly turned sympathetic. “Of course. Would you like me to accompany you?”

Bless Elizabeth for her tact and understanding; however, one person could slip away unnoticed far more easily. “No. I thank you. I pray you, remain and enjoy the party.” With a quick squeeze of Elizabeth’s fingers, Charlotte slipped out of the room and up the stairs.

Enter the Giveaway: (international)

1 ebook is up for grabs.

Leave a comment below with an email to enter.

Deadline Nov. 15, 2019 EST

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Perfect Gentleman by Julie Cooper

I love modern Pride & Prejudice spinoffs and continuations, but I also love Regency stories in which our romantic partners are forced to trust one another with secrets and it blossoms into something more.

Julie Cooper’s book, The Perfect Gentleman, fits the bill. Check out the book below and stay for the guest post and giveaway, too.

About the Book:

’Tis no secret that Lizzy Bennet has dreams. The uniquely talented daughter of a woman with a dubious reputation, Lizzy knows she must make her own way in a world that shuns her. Fitzwilliam Darcy carries the stains of his family’s disgrace upon his soul and only by holding himself to the strictest standards has he reclaimed his place in society.

Now Georgiana Darcy has gone missing. If his fifteen-year-old sister cannot be found quickly, the scandal could destroy Darcy’s years of perfect behaviour. Lizzy Bennet know just what to do to find Georgiana. She is willing to join the pursuit to get what she wants but will Darcy be willing to trust her with his secrets? And what will they do when the search for Georgiana reveals what neither expected to find?

The Perfect Gentleman is a romantic adventure so big it needs two volumes in one book. Follow the adventure in A Not-So-Merry Chase and discover the surprises and temptations that await at Pemberley in Love Wisely But Well.

Doesn’t this sound exciting? I love when Darcy and Elizabeth have adventures together. What better way is there to build trust when you have to trust the person you’re with on an adventure?

Check out how Cooper balanced this great societal gap and more below and please enter the giveaway.

In The Perfect Gentleman, our heroine begins life as the daughter of Fanny Bennet, a demimondaine supported by wealthy lovers. My original idea for this story was actually a challenge—to make the social gap between Lizzy and Darcy as wide as possible while not hopelessly stretching the bounds of believability. In order to do this, I had to create circumstances in Darcy’s past giving some leeway to support a gap the size of the Grand Canyon.

Of course, there are contributing factors to Mrs Bennet’s membership in The Real Regency Housewives of Ramsgate. Like canon, she is not clever—and an early, brief affair with a baron leaves her with a child, Jane, before she ever meets Mr Bennet. It is a fact of Regency life that a man might have mistresses, and any number of affairs, while a woman could be ostracized for a broken engagement. Fanny’s lies, and the baron’s unwillingness to stay out of Jane’s life, essentially doom Our Dear Girl Lizzy to social poverty and a fatherless existence. Nevertheless, she goes on to develop her talents with the goal of never being forced to repeat her mother’s choices. Through hard work, resourcefulness and determination, she is a fair way down the path of artistic competency before ever meeting Mr Darcy.

Early on in our novel, Lizzy is given a chance to write a letter to the father who abandoned her, and she experiments with different wording. However, due to space limitations, these letters were cut from the final version of The Perfect Gentleman. I believe that reading them, however, will give insight into her wit, the force of her personality, and her devotion to her dreams.

Excerpts from The Perfect Gentleman:

Dearest Papa,
It was kind of you to remember the bothersome fact of my existence. I hear it took a deathbed prompt, but I suppose fear of meeting your Maker with a possible daughter—for whom you never troubled to take any notice or make any provision—weighs on your conscience. By the by, if you supposed your baby’s mother to be a vile sinner, why would you leave an innocent child in her care?
Doubtfully,
Lizzy.

“Hmm. Too hostile?” she mused aloud. “I am not bitter. He is nothing to me.” Mentally she revised it.

Dear Sir,
It was kind of you to send an emissary. I hear you have been ill, and I hope you are on the mend. Unless, of course, I would now be an heiress if you had gone to meet your reward.

Possibly not that either. But why should she pretend an interest in the father who rejected her? She had shocked Mr Darcy, but truthfully, her only aim was to avoid her mother’s fate and lead a life she could control. Safety and peace. For that end, money was a requirement. A man such as he, spoilt with excess, could never understand. Even if he was unreasonably handsome.

Now, where had that thought come from?

Just a simple observation, she assured herself. One would have to be blind not to notice. I may be wicked enough to wonder what he looks like without his cravat, artistically speaking, but that does not mean I am dashing down the Path of Repeating Fanny’s Choices!

End excerpt.

As you can probably tell, Lizzy understands that small decisions can
have big consequences, and she stays true to her dreams and sense of
self throughout. It was probably my favourite part of writing The Perfect Gentleman—penning a heroine who truly believes in herself.

No matter the expectations of a rigid, unforgiving society, there is a
stubbornness about Lizzy Bennet that never can bear to be frightened at
the will of others. At its heart, The Perfect Gentleman is a story of her courage.

About the Author:

Julie Cooper, a California native, lives with her Mr Darcy (without the arrogance or the Pemberley) of nearly forty years, two dogs (one intelligent, one goofball), and Kevin the Cat (smarter than all of them.) They have four children and three grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and adorable, with the pictures to prove it. She works as an executive at a gift basket company and her tombstone will read, “Have your Christmas gifts delivered at least four days before the 25th.” Her hobbies are reading, giving other people good advice, and wondering why no one follows it.

Giveaway:

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on November 13.

To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops and Quills & Quartos will select a random winner from the comments. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.

Please check the Quills & Quartos Facebook to find out about winners.

Guest Post & Giveaway: A Case of Some Delicacy by KC Kahler

I’m always intrigued when the boundaries of society are pushed to their limits and in this one we have Darcy and Elizabeth working together toward a common goal. How wonderful. Please check out the book and the excerpt. You’ll be rewarded with a giveaway.

Book Synopsis:

A secret alliance grows when an unwanted suitor arrives at Longbourn…

When rumours of Jane Bennet’s impending betrothal to her father’s heir begin spreading at the Meryton Assembly, Elizabeth vows to save her dearest sister’s happiness from being sacrificed in marriage.

She finds an unlikely accomplice in Mr Darcy, the taciturn man whose heroics on the cricket field have managed to turn Lydia Bennet’s infatuation away from redcoats. Upon overhearing a heated exchange between Elizabeth and Mr Bennet, Darcy is stunned not only by her devotion to her sister, but also by her defiant words to her father. An inexplicable desire to help Elizabeth draws Darcy into the match-breaking scheme, despite knowing that he should want nothing to do with a family like the Bennets.

As the new allies work together, their friendship deepens into mutual admiration. But they must navigate a complicated web of sisters, parents, friends, cousins, and aunts, some of whom may be attempting their own manipulations and romantic schemes. Eavesdropping and jealousy abound, cricket balls go astray, and love blooms in spite of Mrs. Bennet’s misguided matchmaking.

Please check out this awesome excerpt from Ch. 7:

Elizabeth was so tired—tired of listening to Mr Collins’s inanities, tired of this terrible rift with her father, tired of keeping secrets. In fact, she realised with no little astonishment, the only person from whom she kept no secrets was Mr Darcy. No one knew of her clandestine meetings with
him, for she could not tell Jane about such impropriety, and though she was eager for Charlotte’s opinion on the matter, they had had no privacy to discuss it. Yet Mr Darcy knew all of Elizabeth’s secrets. Mr Darcy, who disapproved of her family and found entertainment in her struggles. Mr Darcy, whose surprising dimples had been revealed that morning. Mr Darcy, who, via his unforeseen ability to say exactly what she needed to hear, had provided her only bit of sanity over these last two days. Mr Darcy, whose visit she eagerly awaited now. How had this ever happened?

So lost was Elizabeth in her thoughts that she failed to notice Mr Collins’s uncharacteristic silence and absorbed stare at Jane. Usually, this was precisely the moment when Elizabeth would employ him on some topic of interest. But in this instance, she allowed him to ruminate for too long—a huge error.

Mr Collins stood and cleared his throat. “If I may be so bold as to request the honour of a priv—”

“Mr Collins!” Elizabeth almost yelled his name before subduing herself. “Sir… I had hoped… you would tell us more about… Miss de Bourgh. Yes, Miss de Bourgh sounds like such an admirable young lady and we all wish to know more of her.”

“I would be most gratified to elaborate on her many charms, Cousin, but as I was saying, it is a very pleasant day out and—”

“Oh yes, do let us go into the garden where you can tell me about her! Does she play the pianoforte? Does she draw? She must have had excellent masters to teach her, for Lady Catherine would be ever so conscientious of the advantages offered by such an education.”

Elizabeth was certain her volley of questions and her last observation in particular had served the purpose of engaging him on his favourite subject, but then Mrs Bennet interfered. “Let poor Mr Collins finish a sentence!”

Lydia and Kitty snickered at the absurdity of such a command. Mrs Bennet ignored them. “What on earth has come over you, Lizzy? Why are you not out rambling in the woods on this fine day? Leave Jane and Mr Collins to their own conversation for a while, will you not?”

Elizabeth was truly in a panic.

Mr Collins suddenly remembered why he had stood up. “Oh, yes, I was about to request the honour of escorting Miss—”

“Mama!!” squealed Lydia from the window. “He is come! Mr Darcy is come with Mr Bingley!”

“Oh excellent, my dear Lydia! Here, pinch your cheeks—yes, just so. Lizzy, pinch your cheeks.

Go on… that will have to do.”

The next few minutes were spent pinching cheeks, smoothing hair, arranging skirts, and stowing away ribbons and bonnets. Even Mr Collins checked his cravat and smoothed his waistcoat.

“Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy, ma’am,” announced Mrs Hill as the two men stepped into the room, the former with a wide smile and easy greeting for all assembled, and the latter with an assessing look at Elizabeth. She knew she must appear positively wild, between the fright she’d had a few minutes earlier and all that ridiculous cheek-pinching.

“We are very glad you have come, Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley. Is that not so, Lydia, Lizzy?”

Elizabeth would have grimaced at Lydia’s enthusiastic, lash-fluttering affirmations, but she was too relieved by the sudden appearance of the gentlemen. She caught Mr Darcy’s eye as she replied, “Indeed, our moods are considerably lightened with your timely call, gentlemen.”

“We are pleased to be of service.” Mr Darcy glanced about the room, seemingly taking stock of the players. If he sought entertainment, he was bound to get it today.

“Yes, indeed!” said Mr Bingley as he looked at Jane, who, Elizabeth noted, had an uncharacteristically flushed face. Mr Bingley paused before addressing Mrs Bennet again, “We wished to inquire about Miss Lydia’s health. Darcy and I have been most concerned for her.”

Mrs Bennet was pleased by this admission. “How kind of you to worry for dear Lydia! As you can see, she bears her injury well. Lydia has always been full of vigour and good cheer, never one to complain.”

“Yes, but I’ve been ever so bored cooped up here, Mr Darcy,” complained Lydia. “Oh! But I wanted to thank you for carrying me off the cricket field! I was quite astonished to hear of it from my sisters, for I do not remember a thing from when that ball knocked me down to when I sat
with Jane in the shade. Lord, but my head hurt then! And you warned me about playing too silly not an hour beforehand! What a laugh!”

Everyone looked to Mr Darcy for a response. Elizabeth decided to intervene on his behalf. It was the least she could do for the poor man. “I suspect Mr Darcy is too much of a gentleman to say he told you so.

About the author:

KC Kahler lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and works in online education, after having dabbled in sandwich making, bug collecting, and web development. She discovered Jane Austen fan fiction in 2008 and soon began dabbling in writing her own.

KC blogs about Austen and other pop culture topics. In 2015 and 2017, her popular Austen + The Onion Headlines meme was featured in The Atlantic, Flavorwire, and AV Club. In 2017, she made the requisite pilgrimage to Jane Austen country, where she took the waters in Bath, walked the lanes of Steventon, didn’t fall off the cobb in Lyme Regis, and stood awestruck in Chawton.

KC’s first novel, Boots & Backpacks, was published in 2014. Her second, A Case of Some Delicacy, released in 2019. Visit her KC’s social links:
Blog, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Giveaway:

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on October 18. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.

Giveaway & Guest Post: A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods by Brigid Huey

Please welcome Brigid Huey today with her debut novel, A Chance Encounter in the Pemberley Woods. First, let’s check out the synopsis of the book before we get to the giveaway and excerpt.

A surprise meeting
A baby alone in the woods
And a second chance at love

Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to his beloved Pemberley with one thing on his mind ̶ to forget Elizabeth Bennet. Riding ahead of his party and racing a storm, he happens upon the very woman he wants to avoid. To his astonishment, she is holding a baby whose name and parentage are unknown.

Elizabeth Bennet never dreamed she had wandered into Pemberley’s Woods on her afternoon walk. But when she finds an infant alone in the storm, she turns to the last man in the world she wants to see ̶ and the only one who can help them both.

As the mystery of the baby’s identity intensifies, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy to be quite the reverse of what she expected. But when the child’s family is discovered, will the truth bring them together, or tear them apart?

Please welcome Brigid as she talks about her writing process:

Thank you, Serena, for welcoming me to your blog! I’m so happy to be here as part of my blog tour! Today I thought I would share a little bit about my writing process.

I do the bulk of my writing at my local coffee shop, White Oak Coffee House. It is the perfect spot for me! It’s less than a mile from my house, so I can walk up in good weather, and the place itself is delightful. There are huge windows that let in lots of natural light, and warm, darkwood tables that seem to call out for a writing session. Plus, the food and drinks are yummy!

My writing day is Thursday. I have two kids that I homeschool, so it’s a bit hard to squeeze in writing on any other day! On Thursday, my husband is home from work, so he takes on the homeschooling duties, and I head to White Oak Coffee House. I chat with the lovely folks that work there, order my drink, and head to a table. Once my Chromebook is set up, I plug in my headphones and bring up my soundtrack for whatever writing project I’m working on.

Yes, I create soundtracks! For A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods, the music consisted mostly of scores from my favorite period films, plus a bit of Chopin and Mozart. I was particularly enthralled by the music from the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre. Dario Marianelli is one of my favorite composers!

I find music helps my mind get into writing mode. If it’s a good day, the music and the space get me going and my fingers fly! If not, there’s always a yummy bagel to eat 🙂

Thanks, Brigid. I personally love pairing music with writing.

ENTER the Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Brigid Huey’s A Chance Encounter in Pemberley WoodsENTER HERE.

About the Author:

Brigid has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids, and spends her free time reading and writing. This is her first Pride and Prejudice variation, though many others live in her imagination. Visit her Website, Facebook, and Twitter. Buy the book on Amazon UK and Amazon US.