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Character Interview & Giveaway: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has been a featured author on the blog before for the Bennet Wardrobe series, and today, we have the final installment in the series: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy

Read more about this book:

“You must throw away notions of what you want. Only then will you be free to accept what you need.” —The Brown Guide to Fitzwilliam Darcy, 1840

Long has the amazing Bennet Wardrobe involved itself in the affairs of Longbourn. Where before its actions have been cloaked in mystery, its purpose now becomes clear. The fey cabinet has molded the universes to strike a balance that can be achieved only by saving the greatest love story ever told.

Follow the paths taken by Pemberley’s master and mistress after their children are grown. See Elizabeth Darcy struggle to rekindle the love glow that has dimmed after a quarter century.

Grasp the unaccountable pain her departure levels upon the entire Derbyshire family. Watch Fitzwilliam Darcy learn that which he must in order to become the best version of himself: worthy of his Elizabeth.

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy closes out the Bennet Wardrobe series. The disparate threads spun by the remarkable women born to a Hertfordshire couple of insignificant fortune are woven together. These lives have become the tapestry that records the destiny of Jane Austen’s lovers, immortal in any here/now or where/when.

Without further ado, please welcome Don Jacobson with today’s character interview:

An Interview with Rachael Weisz, Elizabeth Darcy in The Grail:

A Cambridge graduate, Rachael Weisz quickly stepped from university to television and onto the stage. Cinematic roles followed where her dark eyes, arresting style, and deep authenticity led to a plethora of awards. Her role in “The Constant Gardener” brought her an Academy Award. Her portrayal of Sarah Churchill in “The Favourite” led to a Best Actress BAFTA. On stage, her immersion in the character of Blanche DuBois in Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” led to her carrying home the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress from The Society of London Theater.

Weisz took time from her busy schedule at the Cannes Film Festival to discuss with the View From Here her most recent outing — The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy.

The View From Here: Thank you, Ms Weisz, for joining us to speak about your role as Elizabeth Darcy in the biopic The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy. While her earlier life has been the subject of multiple productions since 1940, this is the first which focuses on a mature Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. I imagine that the obvious question is what attracted you to the character?

Weisz: And there is an equally obvious answer. Elizabeth Bennet Darcy is one half of history’s greatest love story. The world, though, has been captivated by the early months of her relationship with Darcy. That would sideline every single actor over the age of twenty-five. When the chance came along to play Mrs. Darcy as a woman in her forties, I jumped at it. Of course, Daniel, my own Mr. Darcy, was jealous that he could not play opposite me.

TVFH: You are referring to Daniel Craig, of course. I wonder if Pride and Prejudice aficionados would be willing to include Mr. Bond in their Firth/MacFayden debate.

W: Yes, there was some good-naturing twigging going on in our household about just that. But Daniel was occupied with shooting No Time To Die and, even though he was age perfect for this Darcy, he could not contemplate the part. He did strut around the house grimly glowering while muttering ‘My good opinion once lost…’

TVFH: But his lack of availability led to the casting of Ewan McGregor.

W: Ah, dearest Ewan: I so enjoyed being opposite him once again (2005 Red and Black). Of course, he was the right Darcy for me. His eyes smolder and he gets the Darcy growl and grumble just right: probably the Scot in him.

TVFH: The producers sent me some of the rushes. I was astonished at the new depth you found in Elizabeth Darcy. Did you study Ehle and Knightley?

W: We all go to school on our fellow actors. I looked for a through line between their portrayals of an unmarried twenty-year-old woman to my character in her mid-forties. After more than a few cups of coffee and walks in the park, I realized that I could only use their Elizabeths as a starting point. Their films cut off just as the Darcys’ married life was beginning. As a result, the events that would have informed my backstory were not there.

However, I was fortunate in that the Bennet Family Trust had begun opening their archives by the time I was studying for the part. I was able to spend time in a reading room below Lincoln’s Inn reading Jane Bennet Bingley’s journals. Her memories of Elizabeth Bennet and the wedded Mrs. Darcy — both before and after her time in the Wardrobe — laid bare the complexities of this accomplished woman.

Between Mrs. Bingley’s diaries and Lydia Fitzwilliam’s papers, I learned that Elizabeth, like so many of us who have married well, still had to navigate the rocks and shoals of aging. For her it was living with a man who thought too much, worried too deeply, and too often tried to control every event to protect those he loved. If he would have remembered that one part of his life was built on bedrock, he might have been spared eighteen years in the wilderness. His wife was one of our species who loved but once in her life, and it was a fierce kind of love. Although Elizabeth was quick to judge, she was equally quick to forgive if not to forget.

The classic example was the famous insult casually tossed at her by Darcy the night they met. Jane found decades of amusement when her Lizzy would unsheathe that weapon at precisely the correct moment to puncture Darcy’s pretensions.

TVFH: What was the most difficult part of Elizabeth Darcy to capture? After all, she died nearly forty years ago. There are few alive who could reminisce about her.

W: That is not true. One contemporary remained. Although the information is not widely known, one of Mrs. Darcy’s sisters lived until 2019. This film has been in development since before Mrs. Benton’s death. She was gracious enough to sit with me on more than one occasion.

TVFH: And?

W: I will never forget our last meeting. Mary Benton clearly was feeling the effects of age. At that time, she was an objective seventy-three years old. But she had spent the bulk of her life in a pre-antibiotic, heavily-polluted era. She was paying the price the Industrial Revolution exacted, although as Britain’s Conscience would have noted, the toll was heavier on the poor who could not escape the cities. There was a spark, a fire, that burned brightly even in a weary body. Her mind was sharp, and her memories of her times at Kympton Parsonage were crystalline. All of those added texture to my understanding of Elizabeth Darcy and her relationship with her husband, a man who began nine years older than her and ended up almost thirty years her senior.

As I was leaving her rooms, Mrs. Benton grabbed my arm and speared me with those incredible caramel eyes. She distilled Elizabeth Darcy for me. “Lizzy was the best of us because she embodied each of us: Jane’s belief that each person owned inner goodness that could be revealed: my iron jawed determination—some would say outright stubbornness: Lydia’s ability to survey the field as if she were a general: and Kitty’s willingness to sacrifice herself for the good of all. Oh, she also captured our parents, too: Papa’s studied impertinence and Mama’s ability to well love her family.

“The Old One picked the right woman—and the right man—as the epitome of his grand design.”

TVFH: The Old One . . .?

W: Oh dear, look at the time! I fear I must leave you with that.

Weisz hurried off reminding this reporter of his earlier conversation with Charlotte Rampling, who played the older Kitty Bennet in “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn.”

About the Author:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years, from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all nonfiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey.

Since then, Meryton Press has re-edited and republished Keeper and the subsequent six volumes in the series. The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy is the eighth and concluding volume. Other Meryton Press books by Jacobson include Lessers and Betters, In Plain Sight, and The Longbourn Quarantine. All his works are also available as audiobooks (Audible).

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in history with a specialty in American foreign relations. As a college instructor, he taught United States history, world history, the history of western civilization, and research writing. He is currently in his third career as an author and is a member of JASNA and the Regency Fiction Writers.

Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the Austenesque world, Jacobson also enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine, and well-aged scotch whiskey. His other passion is cycling. Most days will find him “putting in the miles.” He has ridden several “centuries” (hundred-mile days). He is especially proud of having completed the AIDS Ride–Midwest (five hundred miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-a-Wish Miracle Ride (three hundred miles from Traverse City to Brooklyn, both in Michigan). When not traveling, Jacobson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and co-author, Pam—a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize. Follow him on Amazon, GoodReads, and Twitter. Subscribe to the Newsletter.

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is giving away 6 eBooks of The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway & Interview with Mimi Matthews, author of The Siren of Sussex

Welcome to today’s tour stop with Mimi Matthews for her latest book, The Siren of Sussex.

Before we get to the interview, read a little bit about this book:

Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?

I just love these kinds of stories about couples kept apart by social expectation and how they can overcome them.

Please welcome Mimi Matthews:

What has your writing journey been like? When and how did you start writing and what keeps you going?

I started writing very young, finishing my first manuscript at thirteen and signing with my first agent at eighteen. After that, my writing career was on hold while I finished college and law school, worked, and traveled a bit. It wasn’t until I suffered a serious neck injury that I returned to writing fiction. I love researching and writing about nineteenth century history. It’s a passion for me as much as it is a job.

How has self-publishing prepared you for publishing with a traditional publisher? How are these journeys similar and different?

I was traditionally published first, for my nonfiction history books. I think that’s part of the reason I had confidence to give the indie world a try. I had received an offer for my novel The Lost Letter from a smaller publisher, but ultimately decided to put it out myself. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The biggest difference between traditional and indie publishing is the level of control the author has over what happens to their manuscript. As for similarities, it really depends how you approach the indie publishing journey. I tend to follow a traditional publishing model, so it actually feels quite similar to me.

You’ve written historical fiction, what is your favorite time period to write about and why?

The Victorian era is my favorite time period. It was an era of enormous change. I love delving deeper into how people responded to those changes.

Your latest novel, The Siren of Sussex, has a very independent woman in the lead during a time period where women weren’t too much in control of their own lives. Why is it important to shed light on these independent women? How hard was it to keep modern sensibilities in check while writing a woman’s story during the Victorian age?

I love to write female characters who don’t fit the stereotypical Victorian mold—women who are independent minded, who think about bigger issues like race and class, and who manage to carve out unique niches for themselves in a society that exerted unrelenting pressure to conform.

Modern sensibilities don’t even come into because women like this actually existed in the Victorian era.

Tell us a little bit about the Siren’s main love interest, Ahmad Malik, and what some of the obstacles are facing this pair.

Ahmad Malik is a brilliant tailor who dreams of becoming a society dressmaker. Born of a Muslim Indian mother and an English father, he’s spent most of his life as an outsider.

When he meets Evelyn Maltravers, he sees a way to improve both their fortunes. He doesn’t anticipate falling in love with her. To make a success of his work—and his burgeoning romance with Evelyn—Ahmad must face the prejudice of some members of fashionable society; He must also overcome his personal qualms about becoming involved with a lady of a different race and class.

Lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Write what you love. You won’t stick with it otherwise.

Thank you, Mimi, for agreeing to the interview.

It’s wonderful to know that forward-thinking women have not been lost to history and that we can shed light on them through fictional characters.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, BookBub, and GoodReads.

GIVEAWAY: Jan. 4, 2022 to Feb. 7, 2022


Terms & Conditions:
Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited.

The Giveaway Package: ENTER HERE

1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives the following:

  • Signed print copy of The Siren of Sussex
  • Horse scarf
  • Pewter sidesaddle brooch (made in Sussex, England!)
  • The Siren of Sussex tote bag
  • Three candles in scents: Fresh Hay, New Saddle, and Winter Ride
  • Box of Ahmad Tea (60 count, assorted flavors)
  • The Siren of Sussex bookmark

The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog at 8:00 pm Pacific time on Feb. 8, 2022.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Kidnapped and Compromised: A Steamy Pride & Prejudice Variation by Demi Monde

Today’s guest post and excerpt is from Demi Monde. I hope you’ll check out this steamy romance and enter the giveaway. Please welcome Demi Monde.

Hello Dear Readers, it is a pleasure to be here to share more details about my new release, Kidnapped and Compromised. This is a steamy novella and a work of Austenesque fiction.


Available on Kindle December 26th

Abducted and facing ruin, can Elizabeth’s wits save her from a dastardly plot? And will Mr. Darcy find her in time?

When a false friend tricks Elizabeth, she is abducted by carriage from Meryton and carried hours away to a bawdy house. If Mr. Darcy does not rescue and pay her ransom, she will be sold to the highest bidder.

Elizabeth must depend on her wits to survive. But the clock is ticking. Will Mr. Darcy choose to risk his life for the woman he secretly loves but who despises him? And if so, can he rescue her before it’s too late?

This 40,000 word steamy Pride and Prejudice variation features kidnapping, compromise, forced marriage, rescue by Mr. Darcy, double wedding, Christmas holiday ball and a happily ever after.

Enter to win a copy of Kidnapped and Compromised! Five winners will be drawn on December 27th.

***

This book opens near the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, with the militia present in Meryton and Elizabeth Bennet’s opinion of Mr. Darcy set, no matter his opinion of her fine eyes.

***

Chapter 1
Mr. Darcy pulled the reins, bringing his horse to a standstill from cantering, and looked around the Hertfordshire countryside. He thought he had heard yelling. But all he saw was an open field, crops in rows, with no one in sight. Fox pranced forward skittishly, no doubt unnerved by his rider’s stillness.

“Miss Elizabeth?”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet?”

He had definitely heard it this time, over the sound of the horse’s hooves churning the damp earth underfoot. He had not imagined the voices calling for the desirable yet impertinent Elizabeth Bennet. Though she had believed Wickham’s stories about him, and questioned him at the Netherfield ball, he still admired her intelligence and beauty. But he could not have what he wanted. Her social connections and her family’s impropriety would never allow him to be with her in society or even to call on her in Hertfordshire.

He fingered the smooth leather reins as he decided whether to give in to his desire to find the cause of the servants yelling for the Bennet girl or to avoid temptation. The more he was close to her, the harder it was to not speak to her, to make her notice him, to have her admire him.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet?”

Mr. Darcy nudged his chestnut stallion Fox with his heels and headed towards the figures near the forest. Any gentleman would offer assistance in this situation. And Miss Bingley was not here to tease him for paying too much attention to Elizabeth’s fine eyes.

“You there!” He spied a servant walking at the edge of the woodland.

“What is the matter?”

The man pulled at his forelock. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet has not returned from her walk.”

Mr. Darcy had heard of her odd habit of lengthy, daily walks and had seen it for himself when she had hiked three miles to Netherfield to care for her sister. “Surely she cannot be lost? Has she not walked all over this countryside?”

The older man nodded. “Yes sir, but she—”

“How long has she been missing? What is being done to find her?” Mr. Darcy’s horse shook his head and pawed at the ground, eager to return to cantering.

“Miss Elizabeth has been gone since right after the noon meal, sir. Mr. Bennet has all the servants out looking for her.”

Mr. Darcy frowned. That was nearly five hours ago. Even a country girl with a fondness for countryside rambles would have returned by now. His chest clenched at the thought of her injured on the ground, somewhere at the mercy of the local wildlife.

“How many are searching for Miss Bennet? Is anyone on horseback? What is her usual walking path?”

The servant looked back towards Longbourn, the home of the Bennet family. “I do not know, sir. Mr. Bennet is at Longbourn and would answer your questions.”

Mr. Darcy spun his horse and kicked him into a canter. He searched the ground for a beautiful young woman lying injured as he rode. She must have twisted her ankle and was too far away to be heard yelling for help.

It was unconscionable that the Bennet girl was allowed to walk without a maid. Never would he have permitted his sister Georgiana to do the same. Perhaps Mr. Bennet would be more circumspect after this. However, Mr. Darcy doubted it. Control over his family was not one of Mr. Bennet’s strong suits, not with the way his younger daughters behaved at the assemblies or in town, flirting with the officers.

Mr. Darcy guided his horse down the short driveway of Longbourn.

Mr. Bennet looked up at the sound of Fox’s hooves clattering on the gravel path. The family’s patriarch stood in front of the house, directing searchers in his greatcoat and hat. Mr. Bennet turned in Mr. Darcy’s direction.

“Mr. Bennet, I came across one of your servants looking for Miss Elizabeth. May I offer my assistance?”

Mr. Bennet grimaced. “It would be much appreciated Mr. Darcy. However, I am sure my dear Lizzy has just lost track of the time. I have tried to curtail her long walks, but she will not listen to me.”

He chuckled, most likely expecting Mr. Darcy to join in. But Mr. Darcy’s thoughts were far from amused as his opinion of the Bennet patriarch dropped lower. “Men on horseback could cover a greater distance. I am certain Mr. Bingley would provide his servants to help with the search.”

Mr. Bennet widened his stance as he looked up at the younger man who outranked him in every manner. “I thank you for your offer; nonetheless I am sure we will find her quite soon. There is no need to cause alarm among our friends and neighbors.”

Mr. Darcy gathered the reins, biting back the desire to tell Mr. Bennet that a proper search had not been done. He turned, giving his horse the signal to move away from the man and his doddering ways. The eldest two Bennet girls deserved all the credit for their characters. It was a shame they came from such a family.

A young maid darted out from behind the hedgerows lining the lane. Fox reared back in surprise, but Mr. Darcy quickly brought him under control. He turned to the girl, ready to lecture her on not startling horses.

“Oh, Mr. Darcy! I have a note for you. I was going to give it to Mr. Bennet, but since you are here…” She held the stationary up to him.

He plucked it out of her hand with a scowl. It could not be a message from Netherfield. Mr. Bingley would not have sent a young maid alone to find him. “Who is this from?”

“A man in Meryton asked me to give this to you.” The girl gripped her waist, breathing heavily.

He unfolded and read the note, his heart stopping. Mr. Darcy pinned the servant girl with his stare. “How long ago did you receive this? Did you recognize the man that gave it to you?”

“No, sir, but he had a red coat on. He must be one of the militia.”

Mr. Darcy turned his head away to think. The maid curtsied and started towards the house.

“Wait!”

She stopped and looked back, clutching her apron.

“Do not tell anyone. Miss Elizabeth’s reputation is at stake.”

The servant assured him of her silence and continued down the driveway to Longbourn. Mr. Darcy lifted the reins, intending to race to Netherfield and round up his friend Mr. Bingley and servants, but stopped. It was his fault entirely that the honor of Elizabeth Bennet was at risk. The fewer people that knew of this situation, the better.

He needed to move quickly. Mr. Wickham had abducted Elizabeth Bennet.

I hope I have piqued your interest, The book is available for pre-order. Enter the giveaway here.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Mages and Mysteries by Victoria Kincaid

Today’s guest is Victoria Kincaid with her latest release, Mages and Mysteries: A Fantasy Pride and Prejudice Variation.

We’d love for you to check out the fantasy book and the excerpt below. Of course, there’s a giveaway of 1 ebook, so don’t forget to enter.

Book Synopsis:

In Regency England, women are expected to confine their magical acts to mending dresses or enhancing their beauty, but Elizabeth Bennet insists on crafting her own spells to fight goblins and protect the people of Meryton. She even caused a scandal by applying for admission to the magical Academy. When Hertfordshire is beset with a series of unexplained goblin attacks, Elizabeth is quite ready to protect her family and friends. If only she didn’t have to deal with the attitude of the arrogant mage, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Mr. Darcy doesn’t need to be associated with a scandalous woman like Elizabeth Bennet—no matter how attractive she is. But as the goblin attacks accelerate and grow more dangerous, Darcy realizes that he could use her help in identifying the cause—and is forced to recognize her magical ability. Unfortunately, continued proximity to Elizabeth only heightens his attraction to her—which is particularly inconvenient in light of his engagement to Caroline Bingley.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy unravel the mystery of the goblin attacks before more people are hurt? And how can they manage their growing mutual attraction? It’s sure to be interesting…because when Darcy and Elizabeth come together, magic happens.

Please give Victoria a warm welcome:

Thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! I am pleased to introduce my newest book, Mages and Mysteries, a fantasy Pride and Prejudice variation. It’s been a while since I released a book. It turns out that pandemic conditions aren’t conducive to productive writing. But I am very pleased with how the book — my first fantasy variation — turned out.

The scene below takes place after a goblin attack that interrupted the Meryton assembly. Darcy and Bingley are paladins, a kind of fighting mage, so they raced outside to confront the goblin that was trying to enter the assembly hall. Darcy dispatched the goblin (with Elizabeth’s help). But after her departure, he and Bingley are approached by Hurst and Miss Bingley, who stayed safe within the hall during the attack.

I hope you enjoy it!

Hurst sauntered out of the assembly hall, having taken the time to don his greatcoat. Typical of him to emerge well after any danger was past. He was issuing orders to the footman at his elbow — also typical. As his father had served as the archmage before Darcy’s uncle had taken the position, Hurst keenly felt the importance of his family name in Convocation history.

He still believed that he should have been elected archmage after his father’s death — even though his powers were meager, and the Earl of Matlock was far better qualified. The footman scurried back into the hall to do Hurst’s bidding, but the man himself approached Bingley and Darcy. His languid gaze made Darcy even more self-conscious of the mud coating his breeches. “I heard the attack was by a hobgoblin, but that is impossible of course….”

“It was a hobgoblin,” Bingley said.

“Impossible,” Hurst said in a disdainful voice. “Who in Hertfordshire would possess the power to summon—?”

Darcy interrupted. “It was unmistakably a hobgoblin. Six arms, dense blue fur, and quite powerful. It was the largest hobgoblin I have ever encountered.”

“But why would someone send a hobgoblin to attack a ball? It makes no sense. Perhaps you mistook a hogboon for a—”

“I assure you, I did not,” Darcy said in icy tones. “And it is a mystery as to why any goblin would attack a ball.” He gave Hurst his haughtiest stare until the man averted his eyes. He tried to tolerate the other man since he was married to Bingley’s sister Louisa and Darcy’s fiancée did seem to like him. But there were times when Hurst’s arrogance was simply too much to bear. “If you had been out here, you would have observed—”

“I remained in the ballroom so I could protect the others,” Hurst said in portentous tones. “I cast a shielding spell.”

Darcy would have been more impressed if Hurst’s shielding spells were worth anything.

“Charles, what are you—? Your suit! It is ruined!” The shrill, slightly nasal voice emanated from behind Darcy, but he did not need to turn around to identify its owner.

Caroline approached the three men with rapid strides, a pinched, disapproving expression on her face. “And Fitzwilliam!” she exclaimed as she drew closer. “You are quite disheveled!”

Her disdainful gaze raked over both of them. She pulled her shawl around her shoulders. “And goodness knows why we must all stand about in the frigid air!”

Bingley heaved a sigh. “We were fighting a hobgoblin, Caroline.”

“That is no excuse!” she snapped. “You can fight a goblin and still take care with your appearance! You are a gentleman, after all.”

“Caroline—” Bingley started, but he was no match for his sister.

“I was in the ladies’ retiring room. When I emerged everything was in an uproar and you two had disappeared, leaving me alone in the ballroom!”

“We are paladins,” Darcy said sharply. “Our first duty is to protect the people of England.”

Caroline sniffed. “Of course. I am only your fiancée.”

“Hurst was there,” Bingley pointed out reasonably.

Darcy was exhausted and his forbearance was wearing thin. If he remained with Caroline, he would say something he regretted. “Bingley needs to visit the healer,” he said hastily before she could raise another objection. “I must take him there at once.” Pulling his friend’s elbow, he drew them both back toward the hall.

Thank you, Victoria, for a fun post. I can see the tension here already.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

Leave a comment below with an email so we can contact you if you win the 1 ebook up for grabs. Deadline to enter is Dec. 17, 2021.

Follow the rest of the Blog Tour:

December 6: Babblings of a Bookworm
December 7: So Little time
December 8: Savvy Verse and Wit
December 9: My Jane Austen Book Club
December 10: Probably at the Library
December 13: My Vices and Weaknesses
December 16: From Pemberley to Milton
December 28: My Love for Jane Austen
January 10: Austenesque Reviews

Guest Post/Excerpt: What Was it Like to Be a Governess? by Regina Jeffers, author of Pemberley’s Christmas Governness (giveaway)

Today’s guest — just in time for holiday shopping — is Regina Jeffers with her latest book, Pemberley’s Christmas Governess. You’ll get to learn about the role of a governess and read an excerpt from the book.

There’s also a giveaway, so be sure to enter.

Book Synopsis:

Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will the colonel attend, but he is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, for Darcy, upon first sight, he falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife.

Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accused Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.

Without further ado, please welcome Regina Jeffers:

The life of a governess in the Regency period was certainly not a glamorous one. These young women were most likely from a gentile family. They would possess a thorough education. For a variety of reason, they became governesses, hired by an aristocratic family or even a well-to-do middle class family, who wished to provide their daughters a “leg up,” so to speak, in society.

Most of these young women were brought up with a certain degree of indulgence and refinement. They moved in the better circles of society until a sudden loss of fortune, a failed business, or a death reversed the “possibilities” of a fulfilling future.

A governess would possess no expectation of an offer or marriage. She was at the mercy of her employer, receiving room and board and, perhaps, a small salary (allowance). Generally, a governess was neither part of the upper echelon of household servants (meaning the housekeeper and butler) nor part of the lowest positions (meaning maids, etc.). Often, a governess’s life was lonely and isolated.

Mary Atkinson Maurice tells us in Mothers and Governesses [London: John W. Parker, Publisher; Harrison and Co., Printers, M.DCCC.XLVII], a governess is “not a member of the family; but she occupies a sort of dubious position. She is neither the companion of the parents, nor the friend of the children, and she is above the domestics; she stands therefore alone. She has too often to guard against the exactions of her employers—the impertinence, or coldness of her charge, and the neglect and rudeness of the servants, she must be forever on the defensive.”

Enjoy the excerpt from Chapter One when Elizabeth Bennet, working as a governess, is accosted by her employer’s son. Then comment to be in the drawing for one of two eBook copies of Pemberley’s Christmas Governess.

Thanks, Regina, for sharing this information about the role of the governess. Readers, please enjoy an Excerpt from Chapter One and then enter the giveaway below:

Mid-December 1818 – Gloucestershire

“I said to unhand me, sir,” Elizabeth Bennet ordered, as she shoved young Mr. Newland’s hands from her person. Ever since the man had returned home, he had dogged her every step. She had been serving as the governess for his two younger sisters for six months now, but this was the first time the lieutenant had been home since her arrival at his parents’ home.

“I just be luckin’ for a bit of fun,” Mr. Newland slurred as he attempted to kiss her ear, but all she received was a wet lash of his tongue across her cheek. He reeked of alcohol.

Elizabeth wished she had been more careful when she left her room a few minutes earlier, but she had briefly forgotten how the lieutenant seemed always to be around when she least expected it. She had thought him below stairs with his friends, both of whom had been excessively respectful to her. She shoved hard against his chest sending him tumbling backward to land soundly upon his backside. “If it is fun you require,” she hissed, “join your friends in the billiard room!” Elizabeth side-stepped the man as he reached for her.

Lieutenant Newland attempted to turn over so he might stand, but he was too inebriated to put his hands flat for balance and to rotate his hips. “I don’t be requirin’ their kind of fun,” he grumbled.

Elizabeth edged closer to the steps. She hoped to escape before Lady Newland discovered her with a torn sleeve and the woman’s rascal son doing a poor version of standing on his own. “You must find your ‘fun’ elsewhere, sir. I am not that type of woman.”

She had been a governess for nearly five years—five years since her dearest “Papa” had died suddenly from heart failure—five years since her mother, Kitty, and Lydia had taken refuge with Aunt Phillips in Meryton, and Jane and Mary had moved in with Uncle Gardiner. Elizabeth, too, had been sent to London with Jane and Mary, but it had been so crowded at her uncle’s town house, she immediately took a position as the governess to Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Sample’s daughters, Livia and Sylvia. She had remained with the Samples, who were a wealthy middle-class gentry family and friends of her Uncle Gardiner, for a little over two years before the Samples brought the girls out into society and married them off.

In Elizabeth’s estimation, Livia, barely sixteen, was too young for marriage, but the girl appeared happy with her choice of a husband. Sylvia, at seventeen, had been more reluctant to wed, but the girl had followed her parents’ wishes. Few women had the freedom to choose their husbands, even in the lower classes, and certainly not in the gentry.

Elizabeth had spent an additional two years with another wealthy, but untitled, family, preparing their daughter for an elite school for young women on the Continent. In mid-May, she had answered an advert with an agency to join the Newland household. Although she had often thought Lady Newland was too pretentious, Elizabeth had enjoyed the enthusiasm of her young charges: She had considered them to be very much of the nature of her sisters Mary and Lydia. Pamela wished desperately to please her parents, but to no avail, while Julia was as boisterous and as adventurous as had been Lydia.

Elizabeth sadly missed her family, but, essentially, she knew their current situation was her fault. Such was the reason she had sacrificed herself by going out on her own—removing the responsibility for her care from her family’s hands—one less mouth to feed and to clothe.

Jarred from her musings by Lieutenant Newland’s lunge for her legs, Elizabeth squealed and scampered down the steps before the man could catch her. However, the lieutenant’s momentum sent him tumbling after her and marked with a yelp of surprise—heels over head—to land spread-eagle on the floor, except one of his legs had been turned at an odd angle. A loud moan of pain escaped to echo through the hall.

The sound of running feet filled the open hallway. Instinctively, Elizabeth dropped to her knees to examine the lieutenant’s leg. “Permit me a look at your leg, sir,” she told the man as she swatted away his hands, still attempting to grope her. “Lay back!” she instructed.

Immediately one of the lieutenant’s fellow officers was beside her. “Lay back, Lieutenant,” he ordered in a strong voice of authority. “Permit the lady to examine your leg.” The colonel looked to her, and Elizabeth mouthed, “Bad break.”

After that, the colonel took charge. “Mr. Scott, send someone for a surgeon.” The butler rushed away. “You two, find some sturdy blankets and a board—a door, perhaps, so we might move Lieutenant Newland to his room.”

“Yes, sir,” the footmen scrambled to do the colonel’s bidding.

Before Elizabeth could extricate herself from the scene, she looked up to view Lady Newland’s worried countenance. It was all Elizabeth could do not to groan aloud. There was no hope her ladyship would take Elizabeth’s side in the matter. “Nigel! Nigel, darling!” Lady Newland screeched as she knelt beside her son. “What has happened?” She shoved Elizabeth from the way.

Colonel Fitzwilliam explained, “I have sent for a surgeon and a means to move Lieutenant Newland to his quarters.”

Lady Newland nodded her understanding as she caught her son’s hand to offer comfort. Unfortunately, for Elizabeth, the lieutenant rolled his eyes up to meet hers. “I’m thorry, Miss Bennet.”

Lady Newland cast a gimlet eye on Elizabeth. “Sorry for what, Miss Bennet?” she asked in accusing tones.

Even though she knew such would cost her the position she held in the household, Elizabeth refused to tell a lie. “For the lieutenant’s attempt to take liberties where they were not welcomed, your ladyship.”

Lady Newland stood to confront Elizabeth. “I see how it is. Evidently, you thought one day to take my place as viscountess.”

The colonel stood also. “I believe you are mistaken, ma’am. Both Captain Stewart and I have warned the lieutenant how it is inappropriate for a gentleman to take favors with the hired help. Your son’s ‘infatuation’ has been quite evident to all who chose not to turn a blind eye to his thoughts of privilege.”

Lady Newland pulled herself up royally. “I shall not listen to anyone defame Nigel’s character. I realize you are my son’s commanding officer, but I am the mistress of this house, and I say who is and is not welcome under my roof. I would appreciate it if you removed yourself from my home by tomorrow.”

Captain Stewart joined them then. “Your ladyship, surely you realize the colonel is the son of the Earl of Matlock,” he cautioned.

For the briefest of seconds, Lady Newland’s resolve faltered, but she looked again upon Elizabeth’s torn sleeve and stiffened in outrage. “You may stay, Colonel, if you wish to condemn the real culprit in this matter.”

The colonel’s features hardened. “Although it provides me no pleasure to say so, for the British Army holds a standard for its officers, even those of a junior rank, but I have named the culprit, ma’am.” He bowed stiffly. “I thank you for your prior hospitality. I, for one, will depart in the morning after I learn something of your son’s prospects for recovery so I might properly report the surgeon’s prognosis to my superiors. Captain Stewart may choose to stay or depart on his own.” With that, he extended an arm to Elizabeth. “Permit me to escort you to your quarters, Miss Bennet.”

Though in the eyes of Lady Newland, Elizabeth’s doing so was likely another mark against her character, she gladly accepted the gentleman’s arm, for she did not think her legs would support her without his assistance. She was without a position and had no place to go.

Wasn’t that thrilling and shocking?

GIVEAWAY:

If you’d like to be entered to win 1 of 2 ebook copies, please leave a comment below by Dec. 10, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Why Lady Susan by Alice McVeigh, author of Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel

Welcome everyone to today’s latest guest! Alice McVeigh has written a different kind of Jane Austen story, and I love that she chose to write about Lady Susan!

Here’s a little about the book:

Familiar characters abound – Frank Churchill, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy himself – but Susan – mischievous and manipulative – is the star. This is Austen that even Austen might have loved, with a touch of Georgette Heyer in the romantic sections. Fans of Bridgerton will also relish this classic regency romance, the first in a six-book series.

Sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson – pretty but poor, clever but capricious – has just been expelled from a school for young ladies in London.

At the mansion of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she attracts a raffish young nobleman. But, at the first hint of scandal, her guardian dispatches her to her uncle Collins’ rectory in Kent, where her sensible cousin Alicia lives and “where nothing ever happens.”

Here Susan mischievously inspires the local squire to put on a play, with consequences no one could possibly have foreseen. What with the unexpected arrival of Frank Churchill, Alicia’s falling in love and a tumultuous elopement, rural Kent will surely never seem safe again…

Please welcome Alice:

Thanks so much, Serena, for inviting me to write about my new novel, Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel. In her note Serena wrote, “Lady Susan is so interesting! And I so rarely get offered anything to do with Austen’s other works.”

Some of you will probably read that last sentence twice. I did not – not because I’m hugely clever but because I too have Pride and Prejudice fatigue.

Now before I get brick-batted, I should say that, in common with every other writer I know, I love P&P. I simply object that it is actually more “searched for” on Google than Jane Austen is.

Yes, you read that right. P&P is more famous than Jane Austen, herself. It has also inspired more film adaptations, theatre productions, spinoffs, zombies and graphic novels than every other book she wrote – all put together – not only once, but several times over.

Of course, it isn’t as complex as Emma or as autumnal and elegant as Persuasion – it really is as light and liquid as Austen herself jokingly complained (“it is too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade…”) Also, unlike all her other books, it can be read as straight romance, despite Austen’s trademarked ironic social commentary. And yes, so outrageously rich is Mr Darcy that – in today’s terms – it even qualifies as “billionaire romance”!

Yet its sparkle is so rare, enviable, and skilful that I know of no serious academic who would wish her – were she still around – to alter a single word.

Despite this, I think that P&P worship has got out of hand.

The first time I noticed was when I received a disgruntled review of my new novel from an Amazon reader whose only beef was that – to her limitless grief – Mr Darcy did not appear.

My retort – which of course I never penned – would have been, “That’s because Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel is, um, a prequel to Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, and not a sequel to P&P. Mr Darcy never appears in Austen’s Lady Susan.”

Once I stopped grinding my teeth, I made cracks about how I should have included Darcy, within my own book club… At least, I did until Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel received its first Kirkus review.

I had perhaps got my hopes up a little, as Susan had already won First Place in the Global Book Awards, a gold medal in the PenCrest Book Awards, an IndieReader gold medallion, and – most amazingly – been rated 10/10 in Publishers Weekly.

The Kirkus reviewer, however, described it as “spirited but ultimately unsatisfactory”. And why? – you’ve already guessed. Because Mr Darcy and Eliza Bennet never appear. How could it be called a prequel, she or he argued, when only Lady Catherine, of all the P&P characters, really feature in my book at all?

Yes, even Kirkus, the premier source of reviews, possesses at least one reviewer who assumes that every Austenesque prequel has to be a prequel to P&P, the only book she ever wrote.

To be fair to Kirkus – once I’d stopped kicking the furniture long enough to complain – they seemed mortified. They instantly offered me a second review, free of charge, and the second reviewer really liked it. (“An intelligent prequel packed with enjoyable Austen references… McVeigh displays a brilliant, spot-on command of Austen’s diction and tone.” Thank you, Kirkus Reviews!)

But my point still stands. P&P first… the rest nowhere! ☹

And this is a terrible thing for all of Austen’s other works of utter genius. It can even be a pretty terrible thing for the stars of its numerous adaptations, with actor Colin Firth being Example A. He has publicly complained that – grateful as he was for having been cast as Mr Darcy – it had so identified him to most filmgoers that he had missed out on interesting roles afterwards. The curse of P&P!

Anyway, on to Lady Susan!

So, why did I choose to write a prequel to Lady Susan? Why didn’t I simply join other Austen-struck writers doing spinoffs of P&P?

First, because Lady Susan represents Austen’s only attempt at showcasing serious villainy. Austen’s Lady Susan makes Mrs Norris of Mansfield Park look almost civilized – and even the wickedly passionate Maria Bertram like some kind of a Girl Scout. When not amusing herself by seducing married men – or by wrecking the peace of her family by attempting to seduce their rich young heir – Austen’s Lady Susan is trying to force her gentle daughter into marrying a man she loathes. Why would anyone wish to write a book about Lady Susan?

Well, partly because I became fascinated in how she became so villainous, at 35 – her age in Austen’s Lady Susan. In my own novel she’s still just sixteen and – though certainly self-interested and notably manipulative – is also witty, engaging and affectionate. There are hints as to her ultimate character – if anyone’s character is set by their mid-thirties – but the reader is certainly hoping that her machinations will triumph with regard to her cousin Alicia’s love match – in fact, the reader’s pulling for young Susan all the way.

Yes, I give clues – she remarks at one point, “It was a very pretty letter. It was almost too pretty to burn” – but it would take an alert reader to spot them.

Why isn’t “my” Susan closer in character to Austen’s Lady Susan? – It isn’t just because I’m saving most of the character development for the sequel. It’s really because I simply find it impossible to imagine that any sixteen-year-old could be truly villainous – I don’t see how they could manage it in the time. I was also too charmed with the idea of her engaging with Frank Churchill, and with her taking the fancy of Lady Catherine de Bourgh… In fact, the whole idea of the prequel had been percolating in my brain for ages. It just took me about fifteen years to get up enough nerve to write it! (My agent was also against it, as being too close to genre fiction.)

But now I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, I’ve done Jane Austen a tiny favor. I know many people who have gone back to Lady Susan and read it, mostly for the first time, having read Susan, A Jane Austen Prequel.

Of course, Susan would be selling still better had I only been smart enough to instead scribble Darcy as the Bloodthirsty Vampire Headmaster of Hogwarts or Eliza Bennet: Buttered Scones with Strawberry Jam (A Cosy Mystery).

Hmm. Now there’s a thought…

Thank you, Alice, for sharing why you wrote about Susan!

About the Author:

Alice McVeigh’s Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel is the first in a series of six Austenesque books published by Warleigh Hall Press (it is now available in audiobook). The second in the series (Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation) will be published in January. Alice has previously been published in contemporary fiction by Orion/Hachette and in speculative thrillers (using a pen name) by UK’s Unbound Publishing. You can contact Alice here.

Enter the Giveaway: (1 ebook and 1 audiobook – 2 winners)

Leave a comment and let us know if you prefer an ebook or audiobook by Nov. 5 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Helen Williams, author of In Essentials

Welcome to today’s guest Helen Williams, author of In Essentials: A Pride & Prejudice Variation. She’s going to share some of her favorite fall recipes with us, but let’s check out the book.

Synopsis:

Five months after Darcy’s disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, he discovers that the woman he ardently loves is suffering from a grave illness. Despite an affliction that has left her altered, Elizabeth Bennet is still the same person in essentials: witty, sanguine, and obstinate. However, her future is uncertain, and she struggles to maintain her equanimity—especially when Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to Netherfield and seems determined to improve her opinion of him. Now she must decide whether she is brave enough to trust him and embrace happiness, however fleeting it might prove to be.

Please welcome, Helen:

Thank you for hosting me at Savvy Verse and Wit, Serena. I’ve really enjoyed my blog book tour for In Essentials, but particularly writing this post, as books and food (and rugby!) are my great loves in life.

Anyone who has read any of my previous stories will know that I have Welsh roots. My Dad’s family are from Wales – a little village outside Cardiff called Tongwynlais – and I always include some sort of Welsh reference in my stories. In Essentials was no different. Dydd gwyl dewi hapus (Happy St David’s Day) was the first thing I learnt to say in Welsh, so it seemed fitting that Darcy would do the same. I can also sing the National Anthem quite well, but couldn’t think of a plausible excuse for Darcy to learn it…

Anyway, I digress. Serena asked for me to write a post including my favourite fall recipes that also tied in, if possible, with the era and story. Immediately I knew what I had to write about – Bara Brith!

Google tells me that the origins of Bara Brith may trace all the way back to the 600s but that “modern” Bara Brith comes from the 1800s. Bara Brith means “speckled bread” as it is spotted with fruit, and it is a true Welsh classic. Made with dried fruit, sugar, spices and tea, it is utterly delicious and a real, warming treat on a cold day. I love it with melted butter but my Dad likes his plain and dunked in a mug of tea!

The recipe below is my grandmother’s and has been passed down our family tree for generations; I’m very happy to share this slice of Welshness with you.

Ingredients

  • 300ml hot tea (make it strong, probably at least three teabags)
  • 400g mixed fruit (e.g. sultanas, raisins, currants)
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg

Method

1. Mix the tea and fruit together and soak overnight, or at least six hours.
2. Mix in the sugar until dissolved, then the egg, spices and the flour (you’ll probably want to sift in
the flour). The mix will resemble a thick cake batter.
3. Pour into a prepared standard loaf tin and cook for an hour and fifteen minutes at 150C.
4. Enjoy!

If Bara Brith isn’t quite your thing, I’m sure everyone loves a bit of cheese on toast and Welsh Rarebit is the undisputed king of cheeses on toasts.

According to legend, the name is a sort of pun – everyday Welsh folk could not afford rabbit, and so used cheese as a substitute. No-one knows exactly when Welsh Rabbit became Welsh Rarebit, but the name has stuck. Rarebit has been around since the 1500s and if you’re from the United Kingdom or have visited, you may have seen Rarebit on the menu of a couple of traditional pubs. It’s comfort food at its best and perfect on a cold day.

Ingredients

  • 250g cheddar cheese – you want it strong enough to stand up to the beer and mustard
  • 70ml ale or beer
  • 1.5tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 20g unsalted butter melted
  • 1tbsp English mustard (or Dijon or wholegrain – up to you!)
  • 4 thick slices of bread, toasted

Method

1. Mix together the grated cheese, beer or ale, butter, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.
2. Spread over each slice of toast, ensuring it covers the crusts too.
3. Transfer each slice onto a baking tray and place directly underneath the grill for five minutes or so, until golden brown and bubbling.
4. Carefully remove from the oven, cut each slice in half and serve hot.

So there you have it, Bara Brith and Welsh Rarebit – two Welsh classics that were both around at the time of Jane Austen and are still loved today. Can you imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy tucking into a slice of Bara Brith and practising their Welsh pronunciation? I can!

Thank you, Helen, for sharing these recipes with us, and what a treat to know a bit of the history. My husband loves cheese on toast, so we’ll be trying Welsh Rarebit!

About the Author:

Helen lives in Cambridge, United Kingdom, where she works for the University of Cambridge. She has been writing as a hobby for around 15 years and has written several novel length stories based on the work of Jane Austen. Helen has Welsh roots so her stories will often include a couple of references to the land of her fathers, in addition to her two other loves – dogs and rugby. In addition to writing, Helen’s hobbies include cooking, hiking, cycling and campaigning for green initiatives. Having been diagnosed with pituitary growths in 2015 and 2020, Helen is also an active member of the Pituitary Foundation and her experiences with chronic illness inspired her latest story. Visit her Facebook page.

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is giving away 6 eBooks of In Essentials.

Enter through Rafflecopter.

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Blinded by Prejudice by KaraLynne Mackrory

Book Synopsis:

Into what kind of hell had I emerged from under those ruins?

Elizabeth Bennet anticipated nothing more than a pleasant day among friends and relations when the pleasure trip to the ruins of Bodden chapel commenced. But what began as mere diversion turns frightening when the walls of the ancient church tumble down around them, endangering lives, demolishing pride and propriety, and bringing a hero into focus.

As the earth begins to tremble, Fitzwilliam Darcy sees Elizabeth Bennet is in mortal danger and acts on instinct to save her. But when the dust settles, there are unforeseen consequences to his actions, including a serious injury to his eyesight.

I could not be married to a man who could need me the rest of his life, but never love me. Bound together under the most strained circumstances, Darcy and Elizabeth embark on a future neither one of them saw coming. Time can heal all wounds but will time allow them to see through hearts made clear and eyes no longer blinded by prejudice?

Oh, fate has played a major role here, and what will bring these two together in our Happily Ever After?

Please give KaraLynne a warm welcome and stay to the end to enter the giveaway:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me today at Savvy Verse & Wit. Bloggers provide an essential element to a book’s successful launch, and I am thankful to SVAW for participating in the release of Blinded By Prejudice. Written in the first-person point of view from Elizabeth, this excerpt is from early on when Elizabeth first realizes she is trapped under the rubble of Bodden Chapel with the last man in the world she would have wanted: Mr Darcy. Any one of us might have rejoiced, but Elizabeth has nurtured her dislike and prejudice against him for some time. Read along as we see her struggle with the fact that he saved her life, and with a budding attraction she does not wish to acknowledge either.

Excerpt from chapter 2:

“Help.”

The word was barely a prayer on my lips. I repeated it, trying to draw breath to give it some power. Still, it was but a whisper, and not entirely due to Mr Darcy’s body upon my chest. My panic prevented me from uttering with more conviction. I began a fevered repetition of the word, still a nearly silent plea on my lips, over and over again. “Help, help, help!”

I pushed against Mr Darcy’s shoulder—all solid muscle and inert mass—and to my relief, he shifted the slightest bit. This small movement caused soil and debris to fall upon me, choking any satisfaction I might have gained by being able to draw in deeper and just a fraction easier. A large stone rolled off the back of the gentleman’s neck onto my hand and then landed with a dull thud upon the ground beside me. I wondered briefly whether this was the stone that dealt the killing blow. Shivers ran through me.

With hope surging through me from my nominal success, I mustered all my strength and pressed again on Mr Darcy’s shoulder while I tried to extract myself from under his body. My entire frame screamed with the effort, bruised muscles protesting the exertion. The space was too limited for me to take much triumph from my efforts, but eventually, I was able to push Mr Darcy onto his side; my battered lungs cried at the release of the weight upon them. My eyes filled with tears as a roaring agony gripped my chest. The restriction of the gentleman’s weight being removed was no blessing at first. I still felt as though I could not truly breathe, for every movement wracked my body with shards of pain. I nearly lost consciousness from it all despite the freedom from Mr Darcy’s weight.

For several minutes, I lay there trying to regulate my heart and slow my breathing, for while I could now breathe deeply, the irony was that it hurt too much to do so. In the quiet, I heard a sound I had not expected that both terrified and thrilled me. A low moan escaped Mr Darcy’s lips, and I froze, wondering whether it had been imagined.

Oh mercy!

Could he be alive?

“Mr Darcy, sir?” My voice cracked due to my parched throat; it was barely audible even to my own ears.

Tentatively, I reached out a hand to that same shoulder. I could not see it, yet I knew about where it ought to be. There was only so much space, and I was still virtually pressed against his side. Trembles danced down my body, for despite the circumstances, I was not accustomed to touching a gentleman outside the social graces in dances.

I made contact with Mr Darcy, but it was his chest I encountered. I drew my hand back immediately—the feel of it put me to blush—and raised it sufficiently to reach his shoulders. With effort, I gently shook his shoulder while calling his name again. Mr Darcy groaned in response, and I was relieved as I felt him begin to shift on his own. His efforts were clumsy, and each movement caused him to brush against me, for we were in almost a coffin of sorts. There was no space for one comfortably, let alone two. His accidental contact was too much for me, and I knew I must still his movements.

“Mr Darcy, sir, please…,” I began to plead, trying to put some distance between us.

I could hear him collapse into stillness once again, but this time I could tell he was drifting into unconsciousness. I knew I must say something, but before I could compose the words, I heard his hoarse voice.

“Miss Elizabeth…are you…have you…hurt?”

Mr Darcy, speaking into the abyss, wrapped around me like a too-warm blanket, and I could tell my cheeks heated. It was startling how intimate it felt to see nothing but hear his voice near my ear. His mumbling indicated he was not entirely lucid.

He would have taken the brunt of the collapse.

“I am well, sir. And you? Are you very injured?’

Mr Darcy once again moved such that I felt his arm brush past mine as he inspected his person. The protest clawed up my throat and died there; our position robbed me of coherent thought and permeated me with maidenly awareness.

“My head. I believe I have sustained…a blow.”

“Is it bleeding, sir?”

No enticing voice returned my query, though my companion groaned in the affirmative, the vibrations penetrating my bones. Mr Darcy was battling the same seductive call for sleep that I had earlier.

I retrieved my handkerchief from my pocket. I knew from experience that head wounds could bleed dreadfully. I had had my share of falls from trees when I was younger. Tentatively, my hand ventured between us, “Here, sir. You must press this against the wound to stop the bleeding.”

I felt his hand clumsily connect with mine to receive the cloth, but then our hands were pressed into the ground between us, his a dead weight upon mine as Mr Darcy lost his fight with consciousness. I pulled my hand out from under his and quaveringly tried to wake him once again.

Oh, for goodness’ sake! Feeling ill-humoured yet unequal to the impropriety of the situation, I knew I must endeavour to discover Mr Darcy’s wound myself and press on it. With careful movements, I tried to sit up and was pleased to find that I could just barely fit in the space if I tightly tucked my knees against my chest, my head against them.

Still, the top of our tomb was low and the space notably tight. My faltering hands reached towards where Mr Darcy was, and I cursed the blackness that prevented my movements from being sure and precise. I wished to touch very little of him, but I knew that without being able to see him, I would have to fumble until I could discern where on his person I was touching.

“I apologise, sir, for I must touch you,” I whispered aloud even though I knew he could not hear me. “I am going to try to…I do not mean to…”

My throat closed on me as my hands encountered the warmth of his neck. They stilled upon the skin there, shocked at the feeling. My mind was blanketed with sensation. I could think only about the fact that I had never once touched a gentleman’s neck and the skin there felt impossibly soft. My hands lingered there long enough that it was the detection of his slow pulse that woke me to my task, and with careful movement, my hands journeyed blindly up Mr Darcy’s head.

Rough stubble tickled my fingertips, then the rigid strength of his jaw. I withdrew slightly, swallowing thickly. The dryness in my throat felt unbearable. I was forced to lean closer to reach his injury, but before I did, I tried to draw breath again. Feathery hair caressed my fingers, thick and curling around them. It was velvety despite the grit I felt on his scalp from the soil that had fallen on us both. Tentatively, I allowed my hands to explore upward, the hair parting for my fingers as they brushed through it.

Mr Darcy moaned faintly and my hands retracted sharply.

My heart bolted in my chest, and I felt all the shame of a naughty child caught by nanny. I shook my head slightly, dispelling the silliness of the notion with vigour when I heard no more from Mr Darcy. He was injured, and I was merely attempting to help. Nothing of which to be ashamed. Anticipation coiled in a spring under my breast. It demanded my breath to still. I was further disgruntled to find that contact with the luxurious curls brought a pleasure I did not want to acknowledge.

Phew, that was awkward and steamy! Who’s ready to read this one?

GIVEAWAY:

Commenters at each blog stop will be eligible for an ebook copy of Blinded by Prejudice. International. Winners will be announced at the Quills and Quartos Facebook and Instagram pages a week after the blog tour is over.

About the Author:

KaraLynne began writing horrible poetry as an angst filled youth. It was a means to express the exhilaration and devastation she felt every time her adolescent heart was newly in love with “the one” and then broken every other week. As her frontal lobe developed, she grew more discerning of both men and writing. She has been married to her own dreamboat of a best friend, Andrew, almost 20 years. Together they have the migraine inducing responsibility of raising five children to not be dirt bags (fingers crossed), pick of up their socks (still a work in progress), not fight with each other (impossible task) and become generally good people (there’s hope). She loves escaping into a book, her feather babies (the regal hens of Cluckingham Palace), and laughter.

She has written five books, a novella and participated in many anthologies. Her works include: Falling For Mr. Darcy; Bluebells in the Mourning; Haunting Mr. Darcy: A Spirited Courtship; Yours Forevermore, Darcy; BeSwitched; The Darcy Monologues; Rational Creatures; & Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer.

Interview with Stephen Ord, author of Pemberley by Moonlight

What makes the Jane Austen-inspired fiction world so delicious? The imagination of its authors to take beloved characters like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and place them in unusual situations.

Pemberley by Moonlight by Stephen Ord pushes that envelope further. I can’t wait for you to read my interview with him, but first check out the book:

WHAT HAS HAPPENED to Fitzwilliam Darcy?

IT HAS BEEN NEARLY A YEAR since the master of Pemberley disappeared, leaving behind his distraught young sister and a family in turmoil. But clues to his whereabouts are scarce and it soon seems there will be nothing to do but see Georgiana married and have him declared legally dead.

ELIZABETH BENNET, ON HOLIDAY with her aunt and uncle, visits Pemberley and soon finds herself drawn into the mystery of the missing gentleman. But what secrets are hidden within the gardens of Pemberley? And what is the strange attraction she feels towards the statue of the man she has never met?

Powerful forces want to keep them apart, but true love will overcome even the most fearsome evil.

Aren’t you just eager to read this one? I am. But let’s check out the interview with Stephen, but don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Welcome, Stephen!

Hi Serena. Thank you for opening up your blog to me today.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer and who inspired you to take the plunge?

I think most people have a story within them, the issue often is that it becomes so known to them that they forget how special their voice is. I’m certain we can’t all be Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, but I love to read Pride and Prejudice and JAFF variations where people have put their own spin on them. Often the influences, life experiences, and even sources of fascination and inspiration come across in what the JAFF writers produce. It was from reading these stories during the first COVID-19 lockdown that I became inspired enough to contribute some of my own work.

Tell us a little bit about your novel, Pemberley by Moonlight?

Pemberley by Moonlight combines my fascination with Ancient Cultures with my love of JAFF. In common with many of my favorite books it has a feeling of wonder within it, as it’s not just based on a straightforward interaction between Elizabeth and Darcy.

In fact, it avoids much of the ‘old ground’ that we all know and love, but can quote by heart already, in favor of a new tale for our beloved couple.

What is your favorite Jane Austen novel and why?

Pride and Prejudice, it has such strong voices within it and tells a tale of coming of age that many of us can identify with. Elizabeth suddenly has her horizons expanded and moves beyond her initial book-smart, but naïve, to something more aware and worldly. Many of us go through this exact journey as we ‘leave the nest’ and find the massive diversity of people in the wider world (and sadly learn not to take them all at face value at times).

The themes within the novel are still relevant today, which is simply amazing.

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

Knowing my personality, I would be someone’s (perhaps Darcy’s) estate manager —hardworking, organized and making a positive difference, but without taking center stage or craving undue attention, as my family comes first. I know that it would be fine form to admit that my disposition holds more common ground with Darcy than Collins, Bingley, Wickham, or Colonel Fitzwilliam, but I’m certain that I would be happier holding the pen, than fascinating the audience.

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.

My favorite advice received on writing (as part of the brilliant support I’ve had from Quills & Quartos) was to always do the research, because readers (especially JAFF readers) are clever and know the subject that they’re interested in very well.

If I could go back in time and offer one piece of advice to myself, it would be to write down every scene that comes to mind and make notes of all ideas, regardless of if the story is ready for them. It’s amazing how often those notes and scenes become something more.

Photographer Stephen Ord

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

Living in Scotland I have on my bucket list to climb every Munro. A Munro is any of the 277 mountains in Scotland that are at least 3,000 feet high (approximately 914 meters). To those who do it, it is known as ‘Munro Bagging’ and climbing with my dogs and my camera has led to many excellent views and experiences.

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.

From my attempts to walk around Scotland whenever possible, I am often surrounded by photos I have taken. This helps me with my day job, when stuck at my desk, and when writing too as they inspire me.

Photographer Stephen Ord

What’s your next project? Any hints?

After such a long time stuck at home, I think many people need the escapism of books and stories. I would love to offer a unique Darcy to the world, still strong and moral, but with a greater dash of wonder. Perhaps I could bring him to Scotland and have Elizabeth emerge from our legends and folk tales to beguile him once more.

Thank you for your time, Stephen, and sharing those beautiful photos.

On my bucket list is visiting Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. These photos will have to tide me over until I get there.

Enter the Giveaway:

Commenters are eligible to win an ebook of Pemberley by Moonlight.

Leave a comment speculating on what forces are keeping our lovers apart!

One winner per blog stop. Winners will be selected one week after the blog tour ends. Open internationally.

About the Author:

Stephen Ord discovered Jane Austen during his teens, and then found the treasure trove of works inspired by her as he reached forty. Becoming part of the JAFF community inspired him to contribute his own stories, and now he doesn’t believe he can stop writing (and indeed, does not want to).

Stephen reads a lot of everything and has done so from early childhood. When he was around eight years old, he bought a book on unsolved mysteries. One of the mysteries was around the life and times of Lord Byron, and several of the others were around Ancient Egypt. This was the seed that grew into an ongoing fascination with Regency times, ancient cultures and mythology.

Stephen has read a lot on the cultures and histories of Britain, Rome, Ancient Greece
and Ancient Egypt (amongst others). These histories have joined works from Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and books of just about every other
genre, inside his rather active imagination. He knows it is time to write more when his
ears begin to whistle.

Stephen lives and works in Bonny Scotland, where his lovely wife and two kids keep his feet on the ground, while supporting him to have his head in the clouds on occasion too.

Escape Velocity by Kristin Kowalski Ferragut and Giveaway

Source: Purchased/GBF
Paperback, 90 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

***full disclosure: Kristin is a member of my poetry writing workshop group***

Escape Velocity by Kristin Kowalski Ferragut forces you into motion with each poem, starting with “You Say We’re Like Magnets.” She illuminates the tension — the push and pull of magnetism — between lovers even if the relationship is not quite in sync. There’s a joy in the tension, the figuring out how pieces fit, how they push each other to grow, and so much more. Ferragut’s poems have a ton of depth, but they are equally smart, beautiful, and witty (with a bit of dark humor).

from "Intermittentamorous" (pg. 20)
...
Identifying as intermittentamorous is exhausting
The on and off, yin/yang, dream
of love versus hope of freedom.

Feels like a long practice to learn to be done,
a sigh and unplugging. Skin intact, space for sleep
and a nod to the vast possibilities in silence.

The first section focuses on reactions and the movement that results from those reactions. Ferragut’s poems are intimate and relatable, whimsical, and a spiraling kaleidoscope of science, love, frustration, and moving forward in life. “A Twenty-Four-Year-Old Getting Two Dozen Roses at Forty-Nine: A Dialogue with Myself,” is a delightful examination of aging and changing perspectives.

from "Drowning" (pg. 39)

What was the cause of death?
What is the difference? When
life is terminal and living on
                  so 
                          long.

Ferragut doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff of life; she meets it head on. “Escape and Loss” explores the sadness and regret that comes with the passing of family and friends. “Guilt hides beneath fingernails;/sorrow clings to laughs’ underbellies,/they will escape despite you./But you might leave regret…” (pg. 41) Her poems will turn the world upside down for you, force you to look through a new lens to find the beauty even in darkness. There is an undercurrent of joy and hope in her poems, and perhaps this is what gives her collection the velocity it needs to let readers escape into the real world and see it through Ferragut’s eyes.

Escape Velocity by Kristin Kowalski Ferragut is a journey through life but it’s a window into the darkness to find hope and a way forward when things don’t quite go according to plan. There’s magic in these pages, and I beg you to discover the worlds created in these poems.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut teaches, plays guitar, hikes, supports her children in becoming who they are meant to be, and enjoys the vibrant writing community in the DMV. She is author of the full-length poetry collection Escape Velocity (Kelsay Books, 2021) and the children’s book Becoming the Enchantress: A Magical Transgender Tale (Loving Healing Press, 2021). Her poetry has appeared in Beltway Quarterly, Nightingale and Sparrow, Bourgeon, Mojave He[Art] Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fledgling Rag, and Little Patuxent Review, among others. Visit her website.

To Enter the Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post with an email so I can contact you if you win a copy of Escape Velocity. Deadline to enter is Sept. 10.

Excerpt & Giveaway: A Learned Romance by Elizabeth Rasche

Welcome to another great Jane-Austen inspired novel guest post, excerpt, and giveaway.

Elizabeth Rasche’s latest novel, A Learned Romance, focuses on Mary Bennet, the most practical and religious sister. Read about the book:

“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning”–Jane Austen, Persuasion, chapter 4

MARY BENNET HAD NEVER WISHED for anything more than to be known as the meek and pious Bennet sister, the one who sweetly brought peace to her family.

BEING THE LAST UNMARRIED BENNET SISTER, the pressure to partake of a London Season with the nouveau riche Wickhams was considerable, no matter how little she desired it; but, her young sister Lydia would not hear a refusal. Mary hoped she could pass her days as quietly as a mouse and maybe encourage her still-wild sister to become a more demure wife and stop quarrelling so much with her husband.

BUT WHEN LYDIA’S FLIRTATION with scientist begins stirring gossip, Mary discovers it is not enough to stay meek and quiet. She must protect Lydia’s reputation by drawing the man’s attentions her way, and convincing the world it is Mary, not Lydia, who attracts Mr Cole. If she fails, Lydia’s disgrace will taint every family member connected with her—Bennet, Bingley, and Darcy alike—and Mary will have no hope for her own future. But alluring a gentleman is hardly the sort of practice Mary has a knack for. Though it goes against every fibre of her being, Mary must turn aside from the peace she craves and uncover the belle within—all while finding her heart awakening in the illusion of romance she has created.

Don’t you just want to know what happens? I love to see wallflowers come into their own.

Now, for today’s excerpt! Enjoy and give Elizabeth a warm welcome:

Hi Serena!

I am so honored to be share this excerpt of A Learned Romance with you and your readers and to connect with readers who also love Jane Austen’s characters. I hope you’ll enjoy A Learned Romance, especially if you’ve been speculating what Mary Bennet’s life might have been like once Jane, Lizzy, and Lydia were married.

Mary accepted her sister’s invitation, sensing Lizzy wanted more than a discussion of what books to purchase. Sure enough, as the Darcy carriage launched into the flood of coaches and carts swelling the road, Lizzy’s brow furrowed with worry.

“I want to talk with you about Lydia. She is as heedless as usual with this Mr Cole. If she goes any further, her respectability as a married woman will be at serious risk.”

Mary twisted the strings of her reticule on her lap. It was nice to feel her sister deemed her worthy as an ally, and Mary felt a small satisfaction that her predictions of grave results might yet prove true, but in her heart of hearts she dreaded interfering. She liked the idea of being the patient consoler in the aftermath of a great scandal, but she had no desire to be an active participant, not even in preventing it. “I fear the same, although I do not see what I can do about it. Lydia does not listen to me.”

Lizzy’s tone was sympathetic, but firm. “You are living in their household. Should Lydia be deemed less than respectable, you will share in that judgment more than the rest of us. That is a great disadvantage—but being in their household also means that you are uniquely placed to help avert a catastrophe.”

Mary slouched a little in her seat. “I cannot do anything. Lydia always goes her own way. She will not do anything just because I tell her.”

Lizzy took her hand. “I have thought of that. You cannot disassemble this flirtation of Lydia’s from her side. Anything we do to try to persuade her will only spur her on more recklessly.”

“Then what?”

“You must work on Mr Cole instead.”

Mary blinked in surprise. “But I do not know him. Why would he listen to me?”

Lizzy leaned back a little. Her increased ease made Mary wary; it meant Lizzy thought she could bring Mary round to her way of thinking. And Lizzy is usually right. Mary squared her shoulders and tried to look imperturbable as Lizzy said, “He may be a sensible man; perhaps all you will need to do is drop him a hint, or tell him outright it would be better for him to stop flirting with Lydia.”

“And if he is not so sensible?” Experience had taught Mary that Lydia’s friends usually were not sensible people.

“Then you must draw his attention away—split it between you and Lydia. There will still be gossip, but it will mean less if the world is not sure who Mr Cole favours. Indeed, if they think she was only paying him attention for your sake, it will be very respectable indeed.”

Mary’s dry laugh hurt her chest, as though it scraped against an old wound. “Attract a gentleman myself? And worse, one who likes Lydia first? Lizzy, this is a poor joke.”

“You can do it. We are a handsome family, every one of us. You think you are not pretty because you wear old clothes and compare yourself to Jane. None of us are anything compared to Jane.” Lizzy’s eyes crinkled in a rueful expression, showing she had had similar feelings.

“You think that because you have made a brilliant match, we are all capable of it. I assure you, I am not.”

“You are pretty and intelligent, and you have a good heart. You can turn this Mr Cole about your finger if you so choose,” Lizzy insisted.

“Nonsense! I could not, and I would not if I could.” Mary’s chin jerked down. “It is wrong to engage in idle flirtation.”

“Is it idle when it saves Lydia’s reputation?”

“The ends do not justify the means.” Mary knew she sounded sententious, but she clung to her idea of virtue to avoid being swept away by Lizzy’s intensity—and a secret gleam of interest of her own. Was it true? Could Mary be the sort of person Lizzy imagined, a wily, charming belle who snatched men from the grasp of her sister? It seemed a ridiculous dream, but one with a glamour that intrigued her despite herself.

“Are there not examples in the Bible of women laying out to attract men for the greater good?” Lizzy said.

Mary could not resist the opportunity to display her scriptural knowledge. “I am no Esther, nor am I Ruth.”

“I am only saying that your morals need not cavil at such a project.” When Mary hesitated, Lizzy made the most of it, bearing down with an entreaty Mary found hard to resist. “Please, Mary. It is for the good of the whole family, and Lydia’s as well. Surely you do not wish to see her scorned and shunned?”

A sliver of guilt slid into Mary’s gut. She had entertained thoughts of some disaster befalling the Wickhams, and readied herself to deal with it—was that not wishing ill on them? Of course I do not really wish to see Lydia hurt. But the thought meant little when she compared it to her self-righteous imaginings of the last few weeks, and she felt she had no real evidence of sisterly kindness to prove her heart pure. Doing what Lizzy asked of her would be proof, though.

“I will speak to Mr Cole, then. I cannot promise more.”

“Thank you, Mary. You have relieved Mr Darcy and me of a weighty burden of worry.”

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing this excerpt.

About the Author:

After acquiring a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arkansas, Elizabeth taught philosophy in the U.S. and co-taught English in Japan. Now she and her husband live in northwest Arkansas, which is over 4,000 miles from Derbyshire. (Doesn’t everyone measure distance from the center of the world, Pemberley?)

She dreams of visiting Surrey (if only to look for Mrs. Elton’s Maple Grove), London, Bath, and of course, Derbyshire. When she has a Jane Austen novel in one hand, a cup of tea in the other, and a cat on her lap, her day is pretty much perfect.

Elizabeth Rasche is the author of Flirtation and Folly, as well as The Birthday Parties of Dragons. Her poetry has appeared in Scifaikuest.

GIVEAWAY:

The giveaway is international and for an ebook copy of A Learned Romance. One winner per blog stop, and winners will be announced a week after the blog tour ends on the Quills & Quartos Facebook page. Good Luck!

Frank: Sonnets by Diane Seuss (giveaway)

Source: Graywolf Press
Paperback, 152 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Frank: Sonnets by Diane Seuss is a collection that, at times, tried my patience with its contradictions. But isn’t that what life is — a bucket of contradictions? She says in one of her opening sonnets: “The problem with sweetness is death. The problem/with everything is death. There really is no other problem/” Death is a final stop, and it toys with many of us, taking our friends or family too soon, putting us in situations where death could take us but doesn’t, and it looms in the close distance for us to get there.

Seuss pulls no punches in this collection and remains forthright in her depictions of giving birth, aging, abortion, abandonment by a drug-addicted son, and so much more. Aging is a central theme, even when she speaks of her childhood self. Poetic subjects waste away with AIDS, fade into the distance of space or recollection, or remain behind the larger death that pierces the happiness or contentment she seeks. She explores the falseness of faith in Catholicism, the nationalistic scourge that America finds itself consumed by, and the undercurrent of poverty and it’s traumatic scars. She sees the “undershirt” of it all.

“We all have our trauma nadir,” is the sonnet that guts us. We are her and she us. We all have trauma; we are told to lock it away (get over it); but what place is big enough to hold all of that trauma away so that it will no longer affect us? She adds in a later sonnet, “I can’t live up to normal.” Isn’t normal a fallacy? What exactly is normal and how can you be expected to achieve it when no one knows what it is? Despite these dark topics, it is clear that to live is to live with “sharp things.” Without these traumas and disappointments, where would we be?

Frank: Sonnets by Diane Seuss is a winding trail of darkness that teaches readers about the beauty in that darkness. It is an exercise in owning our own disappointments and traumas and learning how to let them go and move forward with our lives. It is a tough medicine to take, but Seuss is confident that we can take it or nearly die trying.

RATING: Quatrain

To Enter the giveaway: Leave a comment with your email address by June 30. Must be age 18+ and have a U.S. postal address.