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Giveaway: Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney

Source: the author
Paperback, 75 pgs.
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Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney is a look at the immigration experience from an Irish American. Although many cite economics as the main impetus for immigration, there are always secondary factors that push people to leave the countries where they were born. And many, even after many years of productive lives as Americans, still have that fear that they will be sent home where they no longer have a connection.

From “Introduction”:

“In the dream, my American venture has suddenly failed and now, I must repatriate to rural Ireland where, in middle age, I have no country and no money. The dream startles me awake. As I lie there staring at the ceiling fan above my bed, I wonder how many of us immigrants live with this persistent fear that one day, all that we have built and loved in America will disappear.”

While not an immigrant myself, I can see how this would be a major concern today and before today. Some of my immediate family are immigrants and struggled hard in their jobs to make ends meet. There many stories about their sacrifices — how my grandmother gave the meet to my father and his brother and ate next to nothing herself every evening. These are the stories of our country. The underlying darkness of these struggles is that not only are immigrants working hard, but they also face discrimination and bias at every turn. Whether its the passing comment about an accent or more blatant comments about their work ethic.

Greaney touches on all of these issues based on her own immigrant experience and her “ah-ha” moment when she realized she carries her own biases against other immigrants. But she also touches on how we all strive to hold up a mirror to the life we wish to have, rather than the reality of our lives. This is ever more pronounced in letters home from immigrants who focus on the moments of joy rather than the daily turmoil in factories, restaurants, etc., which are the main focus of their new lives in America. But all of this struggle is to have that dreamed of better life. Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney is a must read — we need more of these voices to educate us about immigrant experiences to dissipate our false perceptions.

RATING: Cinquain

GIVEAWAY:

  • Comment with your own immigrant story or one from your family or books that stuck with you or changed your viewpoint below.
  • 2 winners will be selected to win a copy of this collection.
  • US Entrants Only
  • Deadline is Aug. 30, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST

Excerpt & Giveaway: His Choice of a Wife by Heather Moll

Today, I’d like to welcome Heather Moll to the blog today. She’ll share with us an excerpt from her upcoming novel, His Choice of a Wife. Also, stay tuned for a giveaway, too.

About the Book:

When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves?

After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?

Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?

Read today’s excerpt:

Thank you for hosting a stop on my blog tour Serena and giving me a chance to share an excerpt from His Choice of a Wife with your readers. This is the second part of an excerpt that was posted at Half Agony Half Hope on July 28. This excerpt stands well on its own, but if you want to learn what was going through Darcy’s mind and why Elizabeth is worrying about what he thinks of her, consider checking out that post.

Elizabeth had always been aware that her immediate connections were unequal to Mr. Darcy’s in behavior, but the display he had just witnessed was appalling. If he had been wavering before, he must certainly consider giving her up now. While in London, she had thought his affections and wishes were still unshaken, but she could not now be secure.

They walked towards Lucas Lodge where Lydia and Jane left them. Mr. Darcy had not spoken since he quit the drawing room, and she dreaded what was to come. She feared to speak to him lest her emotions should overmaster her, for her regret at the idea of the loss of Mr. Darcy was formidable now that she had begun to appreciate him. While her regard for him was ever increasing, her power over him must be equally diminished after her family’s behavior.

“Your mother is misinformed.” His steady voice interrupted her silent heartache. “How do you mean?”

“She implied you lack your sisters’ attractiveness and vivacity, and you would therefore not take my notice. I know not what I may do to inform her that you are of frequent notice to me, but I have for many months now considered you to be the handsomest woman of my acquaintance.”

Elizabeth stopped and looked up at him in astonishment.

“Do you not have sufficient confidence in my affections to believe me?” he asked.

She could hardly say, since she questioned the strength of her own precious feelings for him, that of course she could doubt his. “We are so very different. You have splendid property and noble connections, and I cannot offer you the like. My mother’s behavior to you bordered on uncivil, and all your doubts concerning my family’s lack of propriety and inferiority—”

He seized her hand and pressed it fervently into his chest. “I have no doubts about my intentions towards you. I may have considered your family’s situation and behavior, but there was no reason for me to speak of them when I was petitioning for your hand, and I am ashamed. I do beg you to forgive me.”

Elizabeth nodded, but Mr. Darcy was not done.

“I would have you know my every thought and feeling, had I the right to confide them to you. For the present, you need to know that, when I am assured your regard for me matches what I continue to feel for you, I will ask you again to be my wife.”

When Mr. Darcy last made an avowal of all he felt for her, he had no doubt of a favorable response. The way he now looked on her made Elizabeth believe he was truly apprehensive she would ever accept his hand, and she strove to give him an understanding of her intensifying attachment to him.

“I have never been more sensible of your good character. I have a real interest in your happiness, and I want it to depend a great deal on me. I ought to tell you, however awkward it may be, that I feel marriage is much more than an anxious concern for the well-being of one’s companion.”

“After all that has passed between us, I am grateful that you at least now have an interest in my happiness.” Elizabeth’s heart raced while Mr. Darcy still held a gentle grasp on her hand. Whatever feelings she had for him, they were more than simply wishing him health and happiness. She could see him as a devoted husband, a doting father, and a responsible landlord who cared for the happiness of everyone in his care. “What else do you feel an equal marriage of respect ought to entail?”

“I believe that marriage must entail love and depth of attachment.”

“You are a romantic.” It was not a question, and he was not wrong. “Do you—is it possible you could—do I have any reason to hope—”

About the Author:

Heather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing. Check out her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, Amazon Author Page, and GoodReads.

Buy Amazon US
Buy Amazon UK

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife.

ENTER HERE.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid

Let’s give Victoria Kincaid a warm welcome today. She’s been a regular here on the blog, and today we’re sharing a guest post about her latest modern Pride & Prejudice novel, Darcy in Hollywood.

Also, stay tuned for the giveaway below.

About the Book:

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Doesn’t this sound intriguing? I can’t wait to read it, especially since Darcy starts off trying to repair his own reputation.

Here’s today’s guest post:

Hi Serena! Thank you for having me as a guest today!

When writing a modern Pride and Prejudice variation, part of the challenge (and the fun) is finding contemporary roles for the Jane Austen characters we know and love. For Darcy in Hollywood, Mr. Bennet became a movie producer who usually makes B movies. This time he’s making a high-quality indie film which will feature a big Hollywood star, William Darcy, who is trying to rehabilitate his career after a scandal. Caroline and Charlie Bingley are co-stars in movie while Elizabeth is a production assistant behind the scenes.

Below is a scene from near the beginning of the book. The cast has just finished reading through the screenplay of the film they’re about to shoot, and Darcy is eager to escape the room. He’s already had a bad day after nearly hitting Elizabeth with his car on the streets of the studio.

Chitchat was simply intolerable. He’d had to endure it when he was new to Hollywood, but now it was better left for people with time to burn and careers to build. Darcy could tell people what he wanted them to do. Small talk was pointless.

Unfortunately, he got trapped by Tom Bennet, listening to the man drone on about the problems he’d encountered with special effects for War of the Worms.

“Worm genitalia aren’t easy to work with. I bet you didn’t even know they have genitals. Well, let me tell you—”

Someone grabbed Darcy by the elbow; he didn’t resist. Charlie made an apologetic face at Tom. “I’m sorry, I need Will for a minute.”

His friend drew him out of the conference room and into the empty corridor. “This better take more than a minute,” Darcy threatened his friend, “or I will tell your sister what really happened with the EZ Bake Oven and the stapler when you were eight.”

Charlie gasped. “You wouldn’t!”

“As long as you don’t make me go back in there and talk about worm genitalia.” Darcy shook his head in disgust. “Sometimes I can’t believe this is my life.”

He stared disconsolately at the scarred surface of the yellowing hallway. If he’d stayed with the French Resistance movie, he could have been filming in the glorious, state-of-the-art Perspective Pictures studio instead of crammed into Worldwide’s lot—the best that Tom and the
other producers could afford to rent.

“Dude, this is a lot of negative energy. We should go somewhere to lighten the mood.”

Charlie snapped his fingers as if a thought had just occurred to him; Darcy wasn’t fooled. “I know! Peter Moore has a nightclub opening tonight. He’d freak if I brought you.” Darcy’s presence at a new nightclub would give it terrific publicity and draw crowds, while being
Darcy’s wingman would give Charlie the pick of the best booze and the hottest women.

“I don’t know.” Darcy didn’t actually enjoy the club scene all that much. “Josh wants me to stay out of the spotlight.”

“C’mon!” Charlie leaned forward so he could whisper in Darcy’s ear. “There will be Victoria’s Secret models.”

All the attention from women had been heady and exciting when Darcy first achieved superstar status. It was easy to believe you were hot stuff when women were falling at your feet, although he hadn’t taken advantage of what was offered nearly as often as everyone believed.
But he’d soon grown weary of the hot-and-cold running women and everything else that came with that scene. He’d tried longer-term relationships, but it hadn’t been much better. Everyone just wanted the glamour and the proximity to fame. They didn’t know Darcy or want to know him.

Nobody had even caught his eye for the longest time. God, that was a depressing thought; he was too young to be that jaded.

Nobody…except Elizabeth Bennet.

Huh.

She did have intriguing eyes. And she hadn’t fallen at his feet—well, tripping didn’t count.

But she was…difficult and sarcastic. Who wanted that? And he couldn’t imagine walking into a film premiere with her on his arm. No, it was just an idle thought.

“C’mon!” Charlie’s shoulder bumped Darcy’s. “You’re too young to stay home at night.”

What else would he do with himself tonight? Play a video game? Nap? Sit alone with his thoughts? Darcy shuddered. “I’ll think about it. Text me the info.”

“You’re slowing down, man,” Charlie said as his thumbs flew over his phone. “Should we get you a prescription for Viagra?” Darcy didn’t rise to the bait, a bit bored with the teasing.

But Charlie wasn’t finished. As a group of chattering actors pushed their way through the conference room door, he pulled Darcy further down the corridor and lowered his voice. “What do you think of the prospects for hooking up?”

It took Darcy a moment to realize his friend was wondering about the women in the cast.

Charlie managed to get involved with at least one woman on every film. He picked them up and dropped them with alarming regularity, and managed it all with such charm that somehow they were never angry at him. Darcy had no idea how he did it.

“I’ll just be happy if I can steer clear of Caroline,” Darcy muttered. Charlie laughed; his sister’s interest in Darcy was a long-running joke. “Who do you have your eye on?”

Charlie discreetly tilted his head toward a group of departing cast members that included Jane Bennet. “Do you think Tom would mind if I made a move on his daughter?”

Darcy snorted. “I don’t think Tom would notice.”

Charlie rubbed his hands together. “I am on it!” He watched Jane disappear around a corner and then turned to Darcy. “What about you? Identified any hot prospects?”

“What am I? A talent scout?” Darcy joked.

Charlie shrugged. “Aren’t we all?”

A couple of years ago, Darcy would have been scanning the conference room for women who might be interested in a night of fun, but today he hadn’t even considered it. “No. I’m keeping it loose on this set. No hooking up with costars.”

“Man, you are always so serious!”

Darcy stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I’m supposed to be rehabilitating my image. I’m not going to ruin it by being a horndog on set.”

“You know that attitude will not keep the chicks away, don’t you?”

Darcy gave his friend a sly smile. “Nothing I can do about that. It’s my natural alpha dog magnetism.”

“Nah, that’s not it. It’s the brooding thing you’ve got going on.”

Darcy’s eyebrows lifted. “Brooding thing? I wasn’t aware I did a brooding thing.”

Charlie waved a hand impatiently. “Oh, c’mon! You were doing it during the table read—all profound and brooding.”

“I was just sitting there.”

“No, definitely brooding, even if it was unintentional. Which is totally unfair.”

“Why?”

“I can’t brood.”

“Sure you can. Anyone can brood if they try hard enough.” Darcy reflected that this had turned into a bizarre conversation.

“Nah. It’s the face. I look like the guy who skateboards all day. Or who only drinks and smokes weed.” That was not an inaccurate description of Charlie’s lifestyle. “With this face, I’m perpetually stuck in ‘mellow boy-next-door’ mode. And next-door boys don’t brood.”

“That’s deep, man. You should put it on a bumper sticker.”

Charlie punched Darcy’s arm. “Asshole! I’m unburdening the deep existential dilemmas of my life, and you’re mocking me. Now you owe me! You owe it to me to come to the club tonight and help me round up some chicks.”

GIVEAWAY:

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think will happen in Darcy in Hollywood.

Up for grabs is 1 ebook of Darcy in Hollywood.

Deadline to enter is July 8, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Good Luck!

Excerpt & Giveaway: Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley by Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller will share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley.

About the Book:

What will the master of Pemberley do when confronted with the mercurial whims of an all-powerful angel?

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s well-ordered life is about to become a chaotic nightmare. A man of fortune, property, and social prominence, he has everything he could desire. Blissfully married to his wife, Elizabeth, they have a two-year-old son. With so much to live for, Darcy is shaken by a near-fatal riding accident. After a miraculous escape, he is visited by an otherworldly being: an angel of death named Graham. Threatening dire consequences, Graham compels Darcy to guide him on a sojourn in the world of mortals.

Darcy immediately questions the angel’s motives when he demands to be a guest at Pemberley. Can he trust Graham’s assurance that no harm will come to his wife and child?

And why does Graham insist on spending time with Elizabeth? How can Darcy possibly protect his family from an angel with power over life and death?

In this romantic fantasy, the beloved couple from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice must contend with both human and unearthly challenges. Are the fates against them? Or will their extraordinary love conquer all?

Please give Kelly Miller a warm welcome and stay tuned for the giveaway.

As Graham exited the house, Elizabeth prepared to enter her carriage. Descending the stairs two at a time, he called her name. She stopped and spun around, her features exhibiting surprise and delight.

The woman’s smile was magnificent—such astounding beauty! No wonder Darcy had fallen for her. Could any mortal resist the opportunity to bask in her shining bloom? It was fortunate he was not a mortal; otherwise, he might have been in some danger. He took rapid steps towards her.

“Elizabeth, would you mind if I joined you? I have a great desire to see the town of Lambton.”

Her luminous eyes held a teasing gleam as she greeted him. “I understood you to be keeping company with my husband. Did you not find the interview with a prospective new steward stimulating and informative?”

He displayed a sheepish smile. “Oh, it was informative enough, but the opportunity to travel to a new town with a lovely guide like you is much more tempting.”

Her cheeks flushed with colour, and her visage lost a portion of its mirth. “You are welcome to join me.”

As they rode in the open landau towards Lambton, Elizabeth asked him of his life in Calabria. Pulled out of his study of her long, thick eyelashes, he coughed. Drawing from the memories of the man whose body he had borrowed, he described in scrupulous detail a merry existence with plenty of social engagements and diverse entertainments. Of course, given the Lothario’s proclivities, he could not mention all of the man’s most favoured activities.

The perfect listener, Elizabeth displayed an expression of rapt interest and posed questions that displayed a curious and intelligent mind. As he answered her queries, a peculiar sensation overcame him that hampered his breathing.

In that moment, comprehension silenced him. Without question, the main source of Darcy’s happiness, despite being rich, well connected, rather handsome, and blessed with a healthy son was his captivating wife. With this conclusion came the resolution to spend at least as much time with her as with her husband to comprehend her influence on the man. Darcy might object to this, but that was of no concern; he did not have a choice in the matter.

***

As they walked along the main street in Lambton, followed by two footmen, it was soon obvious that Elizabeth and Graham were the subjects of uncommon interest. More people walked the cobblestoned thoroughfare on this day than on any of her prior visits to the town. It was strange—as if the entire neighbourhood had the same intention at once. Many of the local landowners appeared before them to pay their respects to the mistress of Pemberley and obtain an introduction to her dashing, handsome companion.

The lack of an acquaintance with her did not act as a deterrent. A number of people passed by with the apparent goal of obtaining a closer look at the mysterious and attractive man providing her escort. Not that it would remain a mystery for long. Soon after being introduced to Graham, her neighbours could be seen in close conference with others. Before long, all of Lambton would be aware that Mr. Graham was a good friend of Mr. Darcy, visiting the area from Calabria, and walking out alone with Mrs. Darcy.

About the Author:

Kelly Miller discovered her appreciation for Jane Austen late in life, and her love of writing even later. It was the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice that made her take notice and want to read the actual book. It was many years later that she discovered the world of JAFF. After reading a slew of wildly inventive stories featuring the beloved characters created by Jane Austen, she was inspired to write one of her own. Now, writing is one of her favorite pastimes.

When not writing, she spends her free time singing, playing the piano, and working out. (Yes, like Elizabeth Bennet, she is an excellent walker.) Kelly Miller lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets. Follow her on GoodReads and Facebook.

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley.

ENTER HERE

Guest Post & Giveaway: Nicole Clarkston, Author of Nefarious,

Please welcome, Nicole Clarkston to the blog with her new variation, Nefarious.

About the Book:

He hates everything about her.
She despises him even more.
So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?

Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.

He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore. Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?

Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?

Today’s guest post and stay tuned for the giveaway:

This is the last vignette in the blog tour, and I had to write it at a pivotal moment in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. He has returned from London, patched things up with Bingley (spoiler!) and is now hoping to win Elizabeth’s good opinion.

This same scene is present in the book in Chapter 21, but here it is again, told this time from Elizabeth’s point of view. If you’re wondering whether they understand each other any better by now, perhaps you might try comparing their mutual embarrassment and hopes, as presented in the two accounts. For now, just enjoy Elizabeth in Love.

Thank you to everyone who has followed the blog tour, and thank you so much to Serena for hosting today! It has been great fun chatting with everyone, and good luck in the drawings!

I watched him from across the room as I poured yet another cup of tea. Fitzwilliam Darcy—the man who had been so repugnant and hateful when he first came to Hertfordshire that almost no one could speak well of him. And yet, there he stood now with Sir William, and… I blinked two or three times so I might verify what my eyes told me. He was laughing!

Had I not seen Mr Darcy in his own home or borne witness to the earnest affection with which he regarded his sister, I could not have credited it. I would have assumed his good humour to be a fabrication, designed to please in the moment for some untold purpose of his own. But I had seen him—moreover, I had heard him. I had read his words—honest, heart-felt words that still broke my heart when I read them over again. And I had seen that crushed, desolate look in his eyes when I spurned him.

My hand trembled on the pot when I sensed his gaze sweeping over me again. I looked down, hoping he would not have seen how I watched him. A moment later, when I dared to raise my eyes, I found that my mother had come to stand beside him, and that Sir William had excused himself. When I heard her gushing “Five thousand a year!” my humiliation found new lows.

Yet, Mr Darcy stood patiently speaking with my mother as she lauded Jane’s good fortune in securing Mr Bingley. He praised his friend, spoke warmly of his hopes for my sister’s happiness, and affirmed all my mother’s wishes.

I had to peer at him again. No… I was staring, open-mouthed and astonished. Occasionally, his eyes would rove beyond my mother’s face, but I was spared the mortification of discovery when, at each occasion, my mother moved to stand before him. She seemed determined to have his undivided attention, and he, with a graciousness I would not have supposed him to possess, obliged her.

Maria Lucas drew near, and I offered to fill her cup for her. She cast a glance over her shoulder, then whispered, “Lizzy, is that the same Mr Darcy we saw before?”

“Of course, it is, Maria. Did you suppose him to be a changeling?”

“No,” she hissed softly. “But I thought perhaps it was a relation. He looks like the same Mr Darcy, but then, he does not. Are you certain this is not Mr Darcy’s younger brother?”

“Quite certain, Maria. He greeted us all when he arrived, and we were not strangers to him.”

“I suppose.” She looked doubtful, then brightened. “Why, if it is the same Mr Darcy, that means he is vastly wealthy, is he not? Perhaps I ought to try to catch his notice.”

I chuckled quietly. “I wish you success, then.”

“Oh, I fancy I shall be far beneath his notice, but no more will Lydia be able to please him. Look at her, Lizzy! She has smeared some of Kitty’s paints on her gown. Oh, dear, what will your mother say when she sees it?”

I set my teeth grimly and looked down. “Likely it is Hill who will make the complaint about the stain.”

“Why, Lizzy, whatever is the matter? You look put out over something. Have I said something wrong?”

“No, Maria,” I apologised. “Do forgive me. I am not quite feeling myself this evening, that is all.”

“Oh.” She lifted her shoulders. “You must be falling ill. I suppose you will be in bed all day tomorrow with the head ache. That is how it comes on for my mother, and it is always due to some great disappointment. Are you sorry that Jane is to marry?”

“How could I be? No, Maria, I am perfectly happy for her. See how she smiles? Why, she is radiant! I shall miss her, I will confess, but I could not be more delighted for her.”

Maria looked and nodded agreeably, then found something more diverting. After she went away, I turned my ears to catch Mr Darcy’s words again when I heard my mother speaking my own name. “… But I am afraid my poor Lizzy is not quite in looks these days,” she was lamenting.

My cheeks flamed, and I gripped the sides of the tea cart for support. How could she say such a thing of me, and before him, of all people? But then, Mr Darcy’s voice lifted in my defence, and I heard his answering praise with a hope flickering in my bosom.

“Miss Elizabeth is looking exceptionally well,” he said, and I, who had come to know his tones so well, could discern a thickness to his voice that had not been present before.

“Oh, but she was so greatly diminished when she came away from London,” my mother protested. “It was the news of poor Mr Wickham going that did it, I am sure. Else she is overcome with concern for my brother, Mr Gardiner. Do you know, it is likely that he will lose his warehouse! Oh, but you mustn’t be interested in that. Surely, you need more tea. Lizzy, dear, look sharp! Mr Darcy’s cup is cold.”

My stomach was twisted into knots. How dare she slander my uncle, and in the same breath, ascribe care for that scoundrel to me! And then to pronounce her beliefs to Mr Darcy, claiming some affection for Mr Wickham!—a man I could not think of but with disrespect—it was everything intolerable. But she had tasked me to perform to our guest now, and I could not refuse with good grace—nor did I wish to permit her to continue bending his ear.

I lifted my head and steadily met his eye, but then, my mother was leaning confidentially towards Mr Darcy. She was whispering something to him, gesturing apologetically towards Lydia while directing him to receive a fresh cup from me. I saw the pained look cross his face, the dimple of his brow as he glanced once more to Lydia… and then the desperate relief when she at last permitted him to step away.

I dropped my gaze as he approached, pouring studiously, but then I thought better of the cup I had meant to serve him and drew out another. I swirled the pot so the dark richness would rise from the bottom, then poured it for him. Then, recalling how he preferred only a hint of sugar, I began to break a lump for him, but he surprised me by staying my hand. I watched in fascination as he took the whole lump and dropped it unceremoniously into his cup.

“Would it be gluttonous of me to ask for a second lump?” he asked.

I hid a smile from him—did I dare tease and jest with him as we had done in London? I glanced up once in curiosity, then looked instantly away as I gave him the sugar. Was it possible that he no longer savoured the bitter as he had once done? I wondered if that meant something more consequential than a simple alteration in his culinary tastes.

“Am I unwelcome, Miss Elizabeth?” that voice, rich as molasses, enquired. “I had dearly hoped that would not be so.”

I looked back up. “Unwelcome, sir?”

“Yes, I have been here half an hour, and you have spoken to me only once, when I first arrived. I hope my presence does not distress you.”

Distress me… oh, how it distressed me! But not in the conventional way. My tongue was an insensible mass behind my teeth, my stomach was a useless snarl of nerves, and my head felt full of light flashes and irrepressible memories of better days and worse days. I swallowed and lied, “Not at all, Mr Darcy.”

“You did encourage me to write to Mr Bingley,” he added, as if he credited me with his entire presence here in Hertfordshire.

“I did,” I confessed slowly, “and I am glad you have done so. It has made him very happy.”

My hands itched in their idleness, so I began preparing a second cup without knowing precisely who was to drink it. Perhaps I ought to be so bold, to step away from the cart and draw near to the mantel with Mr Darcy so that we might talk…

“Dare I hope he is not the only one to be made happy?” Mr Darcy asked, with a faint hitch in his voice.

I stopped pouring and caught my breath. “We ought always to rejoice when a friendship has been restored,” I answered carefully.

I wanted to say more… to welcome him with open pleasure, to call him my friend—or perhaps something infinitely more dear—but my eye happened to catch my mother across the room, as she was swatting at Lydia’s fichu and fussing that it was too low. Oh, I could not speak of lovely, important things with my own family’s impropriety forever in my mind! Best not to speak at all, or to wait… yes, perhaps I would defer the pleasure.

And so, I said all I knew to say. I tried to distract him, to dismiss him, and I ached as I said the words. “Is your tea strong enough, Mr Darcy, or would you like a different cup?”

I looked up to him again, and I could not quite read what was in his eyes. Hurt, surely. Doubt… insecurity… but there remained a flicker of hope there.

“Thank you, Miss Elizabeth, it is perfectly satisfactory,” he replied, slowly backing away.

I dipped my head. “You are welcome, Mr Darcy. Quite welcome.”

He stopped in the midst of turning away, and I offered him a careful smile. Not too revealing, not too warm, but enough, I hoped, that he might resume the conversation another day.

I stared at his back as he found my father and engaged him in a discussion about poetry. Another day… perhaps the morrow. I glanced at the window, where the sky was already beginning to grow dim for the day. If the rains did not come overnight, I would walk towards Netherfield in the morning, and hope.

GIVEAWAY: (Choose your option and leave a comment)

  1. Signed Paperback of winner’s choice (US only)
  2. $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice (International)

Deadline is June 21, 2019 by 11:59 PM EST

Giveaway: President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 11+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Lucy Emerson, explores what would happen if Mr. Darcy was a single man from a wealthy family who became president with an agenda that Elizabeth Bennet and her family support, but then he slights her by calling her unintelligent and ugly. Kincaid has created an untenable situation for Darcy in which he has vowed not to date while president and professes not to be lonely, even though he is. When he misjudges Elizabeth and it becomes fodder for the Twitterverse, how can he overcome his ill-timed statements about Elizabeth and get her out of his heart and mind for the good of the country and his presidency?

Kincaid’s narrative is in deft narrative hands with Lucy Emerson, whose portrayal of both male and female characters is spot on throughout the book. Darcy is proud and snobbish, as well as quick to judge, but Elizabeth is stubborn and oh so oblivious to his attraction to her when he clearly takes his time to greet her warmly, apologize for his previous words, and have her favorite wine waiting on Air Force One.

I love how Kincaid navigated the restrictions of being the president in this one, even if there is one moment when protocols were thrown right out the window. The scandal that ensues makes it all worthwhile, even if it is wrapped up neatly. The scandals in this book are pretty tame compared to our daily news reports.

President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Lucy Emerson, is my favorite of Kincaid’s books so far. I love modern variations, so if you are a puritan in the world of Austen, this is not for you. There’s humor, moments of sexual tension and release, and a lot of miscues between Darcy and Elizabeth. And Lydia….oh, Lydia…you’ll like her even less in this one.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Victoria Kincaid is the author of several popular Jane Austen variations, including The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, Pride & ProposalsMr. Darcy to the Rescue, When Mary Met the Colonel, and Darcy vs. Bennet. All of her books have been listed in Amazon’s Top 20 Bestselling Regency Romances.  The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was nominated for a Rone award and Pride and Proposals was recognized as a top Austenesque novel for 2015 by Austenesque Reviews.

Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, an excessively energetic dog, two children who love to read, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy.  A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

***GIVEAWAY***

Victoria Kincaid is offering 1 audiobook copy of President Darcy to one lucky reader.

Leave a comment below with your email by March 13, 2019, at 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway: The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy by Victoria Kincaid

The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy by Victoria Kincaid is the latest audiobook from the author and, today, she’s sharing with us an excerpt from the book and a giveaway. I really cannot wait to listen to this one, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the other audiobooks from Kincaid’s novels.

Please give Victoria a warm welcome and stay tuned for the Audible giveaway details:

Hello Serena and thank you for having me to visit! I’m so excited to finally share The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy audiobook with my readers, particularly since I’m so pleased with how it turned out. The narrator is Stevie Zimmerman, who did such a wonderful job with The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth as well as many other JAFF books.

You can hear a sample of her narration here.

Below is an excerpt from early in the book: Darcy has learned about Elizabeth’s death and is talking to Colonel Fitzwilliam about going to France to avenge it. I hope you enjoy it!

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford. To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage. Deep in despair, he travels in
disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband. However, they have even bigger problems. As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network
of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home. Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

“Surely there is something to be done…” Darcy said slowly, an idea forming in his head. “You could send me to France. I will find him and bring him to London for justice.”

Richard’s shock would have been comical under other circumstances. “What are you about, Darcy?”

“I can visit the area in disguise and make contact with your agents. They can help me find the man.” The more he spoke, the more he warmed to the idea.

“No, it is too risky. The moment you open your mouth—”

“I speak fluent French, as you well know. Adele served as my governess until I was ten and Georgiana’s after that; she and I spoke nothing but French.”

Richard waved his hand in acknowledgement of this fact. “Still, it is too dangerous. You have responsibilities—”

“I had a responsibility to Elizabeth!” Darcy roared, startling his cousin. He took a deep breath, trying to regulate his tumultuous feelings; Richard did not deserve his ire. “If I had courted her properly, this would not have happened,” he said in a hoarse voice.

“You are not a gypsy fortune teller. You could not have foreseen what would happen.”

Darcy scowled. “If I had not proposed in such an offensive manner, she might have accepted my offer and would now be living safely at Pemberley.”

Richard snorted. “You can find a reason to take responsibility for anything. Tell me, how is the Peninsular War your fault?”

“Richard, I must do something.” Darcy paced the length of the room. “I need employment—a purpose. I am not fit for civilized company as I am. I must do something before I run mad.” He stopped and stared at his cousin. “I may do nothing for Elizabeth now, but if I can bring her murderer to justice, it would mean something to her family.” Darcy ran both hands through his hair. “And perhaps I might gain some measure of peace.”

His arms crossed over his chest, Richard regarded Darcy skeptically.

“Send me to France,” Darcy pleaded. “I may help the crown—at no cost.”

“No, merely at the risk of my dearest friend’s life.” Richard’s tone was scathing.

His cousin’s skepticism would not deter him. From the moment Richard had mentioned the Black Cobra, Darcy’s course had been clear.

“You hope to find her body.” Richard’s words were a statement, not a question.

The thought had occurred to Darcy. If he could bring her remains home to Hertfordshire, it would salvage a little solace from the tragedy. But Richard would never see it that way, and Darcy had no desire to argue the point.

Instead he leaned across the table, holding Richard’s eyes. “I can travel to France with the blessings of the War Office, or I can go on my own. You cannot stop me.”

Richard glared. “Damnation, Darcy!”

Finally, Richard looked away with a heavy sigh. “Very well, I will discuss your offer with my superiors, but they may not agree to send you.”

Darcy shrugged. Their disapprobation would present only a small obstacle. One way or another, he would go to France.

I hope you are as intrigued as I am about this take on Darcy and Elizabeth. If you’d like to win an Audible copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, please make a comment below and enter an email address so you can be contacted if you win.

Deadline to enter is March 4, 2019, at 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway: Love_Is_Love: An Anthology for LGBTQIA+ Teens edited by Emma Eden Ramos

This anthology contains a wide range of art from essay to poetry (including 3 of mine) to story, as well as drawings and other art to spread a message of love and hope.

Each sale of Love_Is_Love: An Anthology for LGBTQIA+ Teens edited by Emma Eden Ramos are donated to The Trevor Project.

We are hosting a giveaway sponsored by editor Emma Eden Ramos. Learn more below:

Love_Is_Love is a  collection of poems, short stories, and visual art for LGBTQIA+ teens. All of the proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project, an organization that has been saving the lives of LGBTQIA+ teens since 1998.

Painting on wood by Natascha Woolf

It is our hope that Love_Is_Love will help lend support to LGBTQIA+ teens who are struggling to deal with today’s pervasive homophobic and transphobic rhetoric that can make the world feel like a terrifying and unsafe place.

In addition to dedicating this collection to The Trevor Project, We would also like to dedicate Love_Is_Love to the young adults whose lives were cut short because of bigotry, cruelty, and ignorance. Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, Lashai Mclean, Paige Clay, Mollie Olgin, Tiffany Gooden, Gabriel Fernandez, and countless others, these words are for you.

The editor of Love_Is_Love will be giving away three copies of this new anthology!

To participate, please type a message of support you’d like to extend to a struggling LGBTQIA+ teen. While only three contestants will win, all of the posted messages will go out to the LGBTQIA+ community via Twitter.

Thank you so much for participating!

Deadline to enter will be Feb. 14, 2019 — a day of love.  Spread the love, everyone. Leave comments below.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Embolden by Syrie James and Ryan James


Hi, dear readers. It’s that time again to welcome back to the blog Syrie James, but this time, she’s got an excerpt from her second novel in a series she’s writing with her son, Ryan James. The first novel, Forbidden, will be up for grabs after you hear about Embolden, which will come out Oct. 30 but is available for pre-order now.

About the Book:

The world is trying to tear them apart.
Will they stand together and fight back?

After a season of psychic visions and super-powered drama, Claire Brennan and her angel-gone-AWOL boyfriend Alec MacKenzie can finally be together. Under the protection of Claire’s grandmother, they are trying to lead a normal life, going to high school at Emerson Academy and hanging out with their friends.

But jealous teenagers, vengeful enemies, the city’s new Watcher, and even the school play threaten to break them apart. Not to mention Claire’s surprising second power, which could sabotage the trust of everyone she holds dear. And just when they need to stick together, they finally get a lead on where Claire’s missing father might be.

The threats, which come not only from without but also from within, will test the strength of Alec and Claire’s relationship. Is the love they share enough to keep them safe? If they want to stay together … can they learn to fight together?

Here’s an excerpt from book 2 in the series from Chapter 6:

Six

“I wish Brian would get his head out of his ass.” Claire was standing with Alec by his vintage car in the junior parking lot, his arms around her.

“Is that what you really want? The two of them together?”

“She’s my best friend. I want her to have what she wants.”

“If it’s right, it’ll happen.”

“Since when did you become Dr. Phil?”

Alec smiled into her eyes. “I’m not. But I’m learning. Slowly.” He kissed her. Also slowly.

It was a lovely kiss. As always, Claire’s heart fluttered. When the kiss ended, she gallantly opened the door to his Mustang and waited until he was seated inside. “Drive safe.”

“You too. We’ll talk tonight.”

As Alec drove off, Claire crossed the lot to where her own car was parked, unable to hold back her smile. Having Helena in their lives had certainly come with some great benefits.

Besides having her long-lost Grigori grandmother around all the time, which Claire loved, money was no longer a problem. Claire’s tuition was paid in full (no more stressing about her grades to keep a scholarship), and they’d moved into a luxury condo in Brentwood, just a five-minute drive from school. That meant a little extra sleep every morning, which Claire really appreciated after her late-night video chats with Alec.

And with Helena’s seemingly limitless bank account, Claire could at last have a car of her own, like everybody else at Emerson. But not just any car. It was a brand-new Acura hybrid with a garnet metallic finish, a top-notch sound system, and all the bells and whistles a girl could want.

Claire unlocked the door, heaved her backpack into the rear, and settled on the smooth leather seat behind the wheel. The space was so snug and the instrument panel so cool, it felt like she was in the cockpit of her own private airplane. The car—her car—made her feel grown-up, which was both exciting and intimidating.

As she stuck her key in the ignition, the sound of a man clearing his throat beside her was so startling, she shrieked. She turned her head to find a man sitting in the passenger seat. A man who had definitely not been there a second before.

“Holy shit!” Claire’s stomach jumped in fear as her hand moved to the door handle. “Get out of my car!”

“I’m sorry if I frightened you, Miss Brennan. I’m not going to hurt you. There’s no need for a fuss.”

Claire hesitated, some instinct making her think he was telling the truth. Maybe it was the man’s eyes: they weren’t menacing, but rather appraising, reassuring, and very, very tired.

She struggled to control the beating of her heart as she studied him. He was slender, with a long, smooth face augmented by a hint of a goatee, and everything about him was pale, from his white skin, to his blond hair, to those eyes, which were the gray of an overcast sky. He wore a white turtleneck with a beige blazer and washed-out jeans. His legs were so long that they looked cramped in her car.

“Damn right, there’s a need,” Claire said. “Who are you? What do you want? How did you get in here?”

“Locks aren’t a problem for me.”

That wasn’t exactly an answer to her questions. “You weren’t here when I got in the car.”

“Oh, but I was. I’ve been waiting for you for the past half hour.”

“That’s impossible.”

He gave her a small smile. Suddenly, all the color drained from his body, until it looked like he was made of ice, at which point he faded entirely from view.

Claire gasped, staring at the empty space where the man had been. He had totally, utterly vanished. Yet she sensed that he was still there. Definitely some Fallen witchcraft. “You’re one of them! Did Celeste send you?”

He reappeared. “No, child. I fight for the other side. I am the Watcher for this city.”

Claire nodded slowly. She remembered hearing Alec talk about the Grigori who watched over Los Angeles, policing its Fallen, and initiating newly awakened Nephilim. The one Vincent had temporarily replaced during the horrible events of last fall, when she had awakened. The authority figure Helena had to constantly check in with to confirm that Claire was walking the straight and narrow.

But far worse: the person most likely to discover Alec and ship him back to their Grigori brethren. When Claire spoke again, her voice was no more than a whisper. “You’re Zachariah.”

“So, you’ve heard of me.”

Claire’s heart pounded, but she just shrugged her shoulders, hoping to appear casual as she carefully chose her words. “Helena may have mentioned you once or twice.”

“I see.” Something buzzed in Zachariah’s pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and began texting as he spoke. “Please forgive my dramatic greeting, Miss Brennan, but as Emerson is a closed campus, I had little alternative.”

Claire studied him, aware that she had to keep this man on her side. “Am I in trouble?”

“Not at all. I’ve had you on my mind ever since I resumed my post, but this is the first time I’ve been able to fit you into my schedule. I’ve been meeting with Helena telepathically with regard to your progress, which is all positive. Well done.” He glanced at her. “But I thought it important that I meet you for myself, face-to-face.”

“Why? So you can see if my grandmother’s been telling the truth about me the past three months?”

Zachariah silently resumed texting, his expression betraying nothing.

I guess that answers that. Claire sighed. Clearly, he’d cornered her in her car so he could give her the third degree without Helena there to influence or protect her. “Okay. Great. We’ve met. Now what?”

He put his phone away and rubbed his eyes wearily. “Let’s take a little ride. I hope you don’t mind if I accompany you home?”

Claire’s jaw clenched. This was the last thing she wanted. A cold fear gripped her as she thought of all the times Alec had come over since Zachariah had returned to L.A. Thank God Zachariah had been too busy to worry about her until now. Otherwise, he could have been lurking (invisibly!) at school, in her old apartment, or the new condo. He would have recognized Alec on the spot and busted him. Good thing Alec hadn’t made plans to come over today.

Aloud, she said, “Do I have a choice?”

GIVEAWAY: 1 ePub copy of Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James; please comment by Oct. 30, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

About the Authors:

Syrie James is the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels translated into eighteen languages. Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things English and 19th century. Her books have been Library Journal Editor’s Picks and won numerous awards including the Audiobook Association Audie for Romance, Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, B&N Romantic Read of the Week, Best Snowbound Romance (Bookbub), Best of the Year (Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews), and Best First Novel (Library Journal). Syrie thoroughly enjoyed working with her son Ryan on Forbidden and Embolden, her only forays into novel co-writing. Syrie is a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and JASNA, and has addressed audiences as a keynote speaker across America and England. A theater enthusiast, she has also written, directed, and performed in numerous stage productions. Her new Dare to Defy series of historical romances are now available from Avon Impulse.

Ryan M James has enjoyed co-writing not only Forbidden and Embolden with his mother Syrie, but also two screenplays as well. By day he works as a performance director, lead editor, and co-writer for the video game industry, recently being honored by the Writer’s Guild of America award for his work on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. By night, he conjures stories for print, screen, and web, including an independent feature, a handful of short films, and the machinima webseries A Clone Apart. He, his brilliant wife, and their vertically-challenged corgi live in Los Angeles within walking distance of Syrie.

Syrie and Ryan both welcome visitors to their websites syriejames.com and ryanmjames.com, and invite you to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Forbidden:

When Claire Brennan begins to get psychic visions and mysterious warnings that she’s in danger at the start of her junior year, she isn’t sure what to think. But the truth is stranger than anything she could have imagined.

Alec MacKenzie has fled his duties as a Watcher angel and come to L.A. in search of normalcy. He never dreamed he would find a half-angel at his school, or that he would fall in love with her.

Giveaway & Review: Pride & Proposals by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

Source: the author
Audible, 9+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

**There will be an Audible giveaway**

Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, places Mr. Darcy in an untenable situation, his Elizabeth engaged to Colonel Fitzwilliam. How can he reconcile the loss of the woman he loves to his beloved cousin and his need to see her happy? Could he endure it in silence? Would he run away? Would he fight to win her?

Elizabeth is unaware of Darcy’s feelings and seems to love Colonel Fitzwilliam and their like manners and easy way with one another makes their pairing endearing, even as Darcy is thrown into despair. Erin Evans-Walker does a commendable job of narrating the story, though there are moments where she makes Darcy seem very angry where the author may not have intended. There are moments where the action stalls and Darcy drinks overly much and scenes seem to repeat sentiments already expressed — Darcy’s despair at his loss of Elizabeth or Elizabeth commenting on how puzzling Darcy’s behavior is. While I love an independent Lizzy, I do wish she was a bit softer in this one, at least toward Darcy.

The entrance of Wickham kicked up the plot and made it much more engaging. Wickham is even more evil in this variation, and that makes the results of his machinations all the more satisfying. Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, is a bumpy ride of loss for both Darcy and Elizabeth. An early death, a life as a wealthier single lady targeted by Wickham, and Darcy still unable to articulate his feelings, make this version a roller-coaster ride of emotion.  Darcy in this version is a bit tough to take and Elizabeth is a bit obtuse, though her struggle with her feelings for Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are genuine.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

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.

GIVEAWAY:

For those who wish to enter the giveaway, there will be 2 winners. One will receive an Audible of  Pride and Proposals and the other will receive The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth

Leave a comment and email below and a winner will be selected on Oct. 25, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST.

Good Luck!

Guest Post & Giveaway: Denver’s Progressive and Colorful Past by Elaine Russell

Today, I have a guest post from Elaine Russell, author of Across the Mekong River (my review) and Montana in A Minor (my review), who has a new novel forthcoming this month, In the Company of Like-Minded Women.

About the novel:

In the Company of Like-Minded Women explores the complexities of bonds between sisters and family at the start of the 20th century when women struggled to determine their future and the “New Woman” demanded an equal voice. Three sisters are reunited in 1901 Denver following a family rift many years before. Each sister faces critical decisions regarding love, work, and the strength of her convictions. The story is set against the backdrop of the fight for women’s rights.

Doesn’t this sound interesting? I love books that have roots in history, and this sounds dramatic.  Please give Elaine a warm welcome and stay tuned for a giveaway:

The increasingly shrill discourse and events of 2018 have heightened political divisions and revealed the distasteful behavior of many men in America. As a result, women are speaking out, running for political office, and fighting for social justice in greater numbers than ever before. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back over a hundred years to write about another generation of brave women, who fought for women’s suffrage and other basic rights for women and children. These progressive advocates faced incredible opposition from men in power and moneyed business interests—just as women do today.

The inspiration for my new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, originated with my paternal great grandmother, Dr. Elizabeth B. Russell. In 1907 she became one of the early women doctors in Denver, Colorado. In researching the era, I discovered Denver’s rich and colorful past, full of outspoken and accomplished women, along with others involved in more unsavory activities. A number of these famous and infamous women stood out, demanding a role in my story.

I chose to set the novel in 1901 at the start of a new century, a time of tremendous change and promise. More and more women were earning college degrees and entering male-dominated professions—not without considerable resistance from the men, of course! This mirrored the mounting fight for the women’s vote and major reforms to protect women and children from the grave injustices of the time. The industrial revolution had brought a number of time saving inventions for the home, such as washing machines and electric lights. Middle and upper class women had more free time and turned their attention to other endeavors. Women’s clubs thrived, organized for everything from literary and music appreciation to providing aid to the needy and advocating for social change.

Colorado led the charge on many fronts. Denver had transformed itself from a rough and tumble, Wild West center for Rocky Mountain mining towns into a mostly civilized city, known as the Queen of the Prairie. Progressive women from the three major political parties banded together to win a stunning victory in 1893, convincing a majority of the State’s men to approve a constitutional amendment granting women the vote—a full twenty-seven years before passage of national suffrage in America. Only the Territory of Wyoming had preceded Colorado in this bold move in 1869.

By 1901, the rest of the country watched with interest to see how women’s suffrage was playing out in Colorado, challenging women leaders to defend their accomplishments since obtaining access to the ballot box. I found it particularly heartening to learn how Republican, Democrat and Populist women continued to work together for national suffrage and social reform, often in opposition to their political parties.

In June 2016, I made my first ever visit to Denver. At the History Colorado Center’s Research Library and Denver Public Library’s Western History Section I poured through everything from newspapers, city directories, magazine articles, theater programs, and restaurant menus to individual collections of well-known women leaders, such as Ellis Meredith and Minnie Reynolds. What a thrill to read the original letters to Ms. Meredith from Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucy Stone. I visited the Molly Brown House Museum (the Unsinkable Molly Brown of Titanic fame) and toured neighborhoods where houses from that era are still in use.

My research revealed a treasure trove of fascinating people, places, and events, a wealth of material for my story. Denver had a booming red light district with houses of ill repute run by notorious madams like Mattie Silks. Denver police and city officials turned a blind eye after receiving generous “donations” from the madams. Denver’s Chinatown was known for its laundries where many Denver residents brought their washing. But the small community was better known for Hop Alley—hop being a term for opium—attracting many of Denver’s well-to-do men and women to opium dens and gambling parlors. Denver’s more refined side included, among others, the grand Tabor Opera House (unfortunately long gone), the still popular Brown Palace Hotel, and the Union Railroad Station.

The biggest task was figuring out how to integrate the diverse elements of Denver’s past into a story that painted an accurate picture of the era and the lives of my characters. For me, the writing process is a bit of magic, as pieces suddenly fall into place in ways I never anticipated.

About the Author:

Elaine Russell is the award winning author of the novel Across the Mekong River and a number of children’s books, including the young adult novel Montana in A Minor, the Martin McMillan middle grade mystery series, and the middle grade picture book, All About Thailand. Her new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, comes out this month. Elaine lives with her husband in Northern California and part time on the Island of Kauai. See her website.

GIVEAWAY:

Please leave a comment below with an email so I can contact you. Leave your comment by Oct. 24, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST. You can win 1 Kindle copy of In the Company of Like-Minded Women.

**For another chance to win, visit Diary of an Eccentric.

Q&A and Giveaway: The Tourist Trail by John Yunker

Ashland Creek Press has a giveaway for my dear readers after the Q&A with John Yunker. I hope that you’ll give him a warm welcome and check out his new environmental thriller, The Tourist Trail.

About the Book:

The Tourist Trail is a literary thriller about endangered species in the world’s most remote areas, and those who put their lives on the line to protect them.

Biologist Angela Haynes is accustomed to dark, lonely nights as one of the few humans at a penguin research station in Patagonia.

She has grown used to the cries of penguins before dawn, to meager supplies and housing, to spending most of her days in one of the most remote regions on earth. What she isn’t used to is strange men washing ashore, which happens one day on her watch.

The man won’t tell her his name or where he came from, but Angela, who has a soft spot for strays, tends to him, if for no other reason than to protect her birds and her work. When she later learns why he goes by an alias, why he is a refugee from the law, and why he is a man without a port, she begins to fall in love—and embarks on a journey that takes her deep into Antarctic waters, and even deeper into the emotional territory she thought she’d left behind.

Against the backdrop of the Southern Ocean, The Tourist Trail weaves together the stories of Angela as well as FBI agent Robert Porter, dispatched on a mission that unearths a past he would rather keep buried; and Ethan Downes, a computer tech whose love for a passionate animal rights activist draws him into a dangerous mission.

Please welcome, John Yunker:

The Tourist Trail was released by Ashland Creek Press in 2010. What has and has not changed in the past eight years in terms of animal protection in the regions you write about?

Sadly, not very much has changed. Japan still hunts whales, as does Iceland. Fortunately, the Sea Shepherd Society, the inspiration for the Cetacean Defense Alliance (CDA) organization in the book, continues to fight back. As for the penguins, Argentina has made some efforts to protect them at sea, but their numbers continue to decline. The fishing industry continues to extract entirely too much from the oceans, including penguins that are caught up in nets and on longlines.

You’ll be going to Argentina with Adventures by the Book in October to take readers to visit the Magellanic penguin colony that inspired the novel. What are you looking forward to sharing with readers on this journey?

I’m most looking forward to the sounds the penguins make. They (and a few other penguin species) are often referred to as “jackass” penguins for the noises they emit. And it can be quite a chorus during breeding season. Seeing them in their element — standing in or alongside windswept, dirt burros — is an experience that will stick with you. It certainly has with me.

You write in many genres — fiction, nonfiction, plays — and yet your works usually focus on animals. Why are you drawn toward animal themes?

Humans have used animals for thousands of years — for food, labor, entertainment. It’s time the animals got much-deserved break. Much of what I write centers around the conflicted and slowly evolving relationships between humans and animals, and I’d clearly like to see that relationship continue to evolve, and rapidly. I’d like to see animals, and not just the animals we keep in our homes, treated with empathy. They’ve earned it.

The Tourist Trail is set in some of the most remote places on earth — Antarctica, Arctic Norway, the Patagonia region of Argentina. For readers who love the animals and their human heroes in your novel, what can they do from where they live to help animals and the planet?

First, stop eating seafood. The only way to put an end to fishing is to put an end to demand. It’s simple, really. And, honestly, seafood is no good for anyone. The oceans are polluted, fishing practices are dangerous, and you can’t even be confident that the seafood you purchase, no matter what the label says, is sustainable. Due to 90 percent of the oceans having already been depleted, here is no such thing as sustainable seafood. Second, try to give up eating meat. I know it’s not easy for many people — I certainly never imagined I would one day give it up. But once
you do, it’s really not a big deal, and it does so much good for the planet and for the animals. There are plenty of health benefits for doing so as well.

The sequel to The Tourist Trail, WHERE OCEANS HIDE THEIR DEAD, comes out in February. What can readers expect from this new novel?

This book picks up where The Tourist Trail leaves off, with Robert in Namibia searching for Noa. But there are new characters as well, and a story that will transport readers from Africa to Iowa to New Zealand to Australia. It is a darker novel than the first, but more ambitious, and I
hope readers will enjoy the journey.

Thank you, John.

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