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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: 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.

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.

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.

Guest Post: Curiosity in Writing and Medicine by Dr. David Sklar, author of ‘Atlas of Men’

About the novel, Atlas of Men:

Dr. Robert Thames, an infectious disease specialist who travels the world in search of new antibiotics, has just learned that his government job is about to be cut when three boxes are unexpectedly delivered to his home in Washington, D.C. Inside them are files of a long lost secret research study conducted at his prestigious prep school when he was a student there. Robert has repressed all memories of this degrading “study,” particularly the naked photos. He learns that the research intended to explore the relationship between body type and leadership qualities–and it shocks and infuriates him. He decides to track down his four closest friends from Danvers Academy, and together they uncover the terrible truth of what was buried by the faculty, the school, and the boys themselves.

Please welcome, Dr. David Sklar, author of Atlas of Men.

Whether I am working in an emergency department or writing, I feel like I am walking along a beach noticing the shells, rocks, broken glass and pieces of bones that have washed up onto the sand. I will bend down and pick up the most interesting objects and examine them more closely. I am curious about the forces that brought them to me, transformed them into their current state and the journey they have taken.

In medicine, the object of my curiosity is a person with an illness or injury. I use my curiosity to delve into the medical history and understand what pathology has disturbed the previous health of the person in front of me, what information I need to find the answers and how I can best help. In writing, the object of my curiosity is usually a problem that has caused confusion or differences between people.

I allow my curiosity to take me where it will, and describe what I see and what it means to me. I write editorials for a medical journal every month and try to find some resolution to the questions and problems I pose at the beginning because I know that the readers of the journal are looking for some guidance and have a limited amount of time to do their own investigation of the problem. I often incorporate a personal story in my essays to provide context for the readers and authenticity so that they know where I’m coming from when I provide suggestions or recommendations at the end of my essay.

When I am writing fiction, I am less concerned about finding a resolution to a problem I have posed and instead encourage the reader to engage and pursue the questions I raise. I am also an entertainer providing pace, tension and surprise. I want the readers to come along with me on the journey and do not want to lose them. I want them to relate to the characters and be able to share their emotions.

In my current novel Atlas of Men, I begin with an actual event, the taking of nude photographs of myself and my classmates when we were 14 and 15 year old students at a New England prep school. The event was disturbing and asking why it happened could have been an interesting non-fiction investigative story. But I chose to use the event to understand the culture and philosophy of life that supported the event and other related events, some real and some imagined through the eyes of characters who would be memorable to the reader.

I asked myself the question, “what if,” as I was writing rather than “what happened and why” which would have been my driving question if this were a non-fiction book. In Atlas of Men, the photos of the boys show up years later when the boys are now grown and assessing their lives and in some cases facing illness or death. They have to put the photos and why they were taken into the context of their lives and the decisions they made along the way, about who they would become what sacrifices they would make to get there and what they meant to each other.

Writing fiction for me was both liberating and terrifying because I had the freedom to pursue the various threads of the story but I was never sure where I’d end up. I felt like I was driving a train down a mountain and adding additional cars ; the train was becoming increasingly difficult to control as we added the cars and picked up speed. It was exhilarating and in the end I did make to the station, though it was not where I thought we’d end up when I started.

About the Author:

From 1965 to 1968, David Sklar attended a prep school where he was the unwitting subject of a research study that attempted to link body type to leadership potential. This disturbing experience inspired Atlas of Men (Oct. 16, 2018). Sklar’s previous book, a memoir, explores his experience as a volunteer in a rural Mexican clinic prior to medical school and how it shaped his later career in healthcare. “La Clinica” was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2008. An emergency physician, researcher, editor of a medical education journal, and a Professor of Medicine at both Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico, Sklar currently lives with his wife in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit his website. Find the book on Amazon and add it to your GoodReads shelf.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Syrie James’ Summer of Scandal

Today, Syrie James has stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Summer of Scandal. And there will be a giveaway at the end of the post for her first novel in this series.

First, about the new book, Summer of Scandal:

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?

Here’s the excerpt from the new novel, Summer of Scandal, Ch. 10, in the Dare to Defy series:

Charles’s heart began drumming to a different cadence as he made his way across the golden expanse of sand. The ocean setting in all its fresh, morning glory was a fitting backdrop for the woman who, in a peach-colored dress that clung to her perfect figure like a second skin, resembled a goddess newly risen from the sea.

“Miss Atherton!”

Charles wasn’t certain if his voice had carried over the crash of the waves and the raucous calls of the gulls. He tried again.

This time, she turned in surprise. Good lord, she was beautiful. The wind brought out the roses in her cheeks and whipped through her skirts and the loose tendrils of her upswept hair.

He ventured closer and tipped his hat. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.” Her eyes and voice held a note of reluctance, as if undecided as to whether or not she was pleased to see him.

“Collecting seashells?”

“I am.” She held up a small cloth bag. “And stones. For Julia and Lillie. They are fond of them.”

“What a nice gesture.” Standing this close, looking down at her lovely face, he realized he had been wrong about the color of her eyes. Under the bright morning sun, they were more cobalt than indigo.

Stop waxing poetic about her eyes.

He drew a line in the sand with the toe of his boot. “I understand you are leaving us today?” Despite himself, he couldn’t disguise the remorse he felt at the prospect.

She hesitated, as if surprised by his tone and what it implied; yet her guard was still visibly in place. “A carriage is coming for me in a little over an hour.”

“I am glad, then, that I caught you before you left. I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say farewell.”

“That was thoughtful of you.”

He gestured for them to walk on together. As they strode across the hard-packed sand, he groped for words. “I hope you did not suffer a chill from our little adventure in the rain the other day?”

“Thankfully, no.”

He darted a glance at her. Their eyes briefly met and held. He saw her cheeks grow rosy. Was she thinking about the horseback ride? The near-kiss? Or both? She looked away without further comment.

“I know you felt uneasy about riding astride,” he commented. “I hope you have not berated yourself for that.”

“I haven’t. It was the sensible thing to do at the time.”

“I hope, as well, that you will forgive me for joining you on Tesla’s back. It was not, perhaps, the most gentlemanly thing I have ever done . . .” He broke off.

“It’s all right. It was pouring cats and dogs. We had to get back to the house as quickly as possible.”

“And so we did.”

“And so we did,” she repeated.

Her eyes met his again, now visibly and unexpectedly on the edge of mirth. They both let out a laugh, relieving the tension between them. A seagull squawked overhead, then swooped down to collect some unseen tidbit from the wet sand nearby.

“If it helps, I promise to never breathe a word of it to anyone,” he told her.

“Well. Just so you know: I saw a curtain fluttering when you rode off. I’m pretty sure Woodson saw us.”

“How do you know? Did he say something?”

“Just that he understood why we had both missed tea. And he gave me . . . a look.”

“Ah. A look from Woodson can speak volumes.”

“He didn’t seem to be passing judgment, though.”

“As well he shouldn’t. We were the bedraggled survivors of a downpour, returning to home and hearth.”

“Indeed we were.” Miss Atherton laughed again. “He also mentioned that he is married. To Martin! I had no idea.”

“They are the heart and soul of our household, and have been these many years. I cannot imagine what we should do without them.” The morning sun was growing hotter.

Charles lifted his hat, running his fingers through his hair to cool his head, wishing this moment could last forever.

“They are certainly devoted to your family,” Miss Atherton agreed. “I have been meaning to ask. Is there any news about your father? He has been indisposed almost the entire time I have been here. I worry about him.”

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Runaway Heiress to U.S. mailing address; comment by Sept. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST

About the Author:

Syrie James is the critically acclaimed author of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance including the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel, Library Journal); Nocturne (Best of the Year, Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews); Dracula, My Love; The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen; Jane Austen’s First Love; Forbidden; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the Harrison Duet (Songbird and Propositions). Her work has been translated into 18 languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves all things 19th century. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and England.

About Runaway Heiress:

When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…

Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her–even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.

Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.

Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford’s home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra’s been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she’s ever loved.

Guest Post: ‘Set Europe Ablaze’ by David Gilman, author of Night Flight to Paris

War Through the Generations has been a bit dormant in the last couple of years, but I still read WWII related fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. There’s a new one that just hit the shelves and it has everything a reader could want from codebreakers to one man’s determination to save his family.

Today, we have the pleasure of a guest post from the author. Please welcome David Gilman, author of the new book Night Flight to Paris.

‘Set Europe ablaze.’ Churchill’s order in July 1940 when he gave the task to the Minister of Economic Warfare to form the Special Operations Executive. It was to be broad in scope, daring in its planning and execution, and created initially to specifically harass the Nazis in occupied Europe.

Night Flight to Paris was inspired by the men and women from all walks of life who volunteered for some of the most dangerous missions in the Second World War. Few had military experience, many did not. They were landed by Lysander aircraft at night or parachuted in on a supply drop from a Halifax bomber, and when on the ground they operated alone in hostile territory. Their life expectancy was short. Most were usually sent to organise, and often train, locals for resistance against the occupiers.

The French Maquis was riven with jealousies and differing political ideology and these conflicts made the life of an agent even more tenuous. And, of course, there were informers and traitors. Men and women betrayed members of the Resistance, agents and wireless operators because of fear of German reprisals, from being tortured or for personal gain. Letters of denunciation against a neighbour sent to the authorities were not uncommon. France was a nation turned in on itself in bitter rivalries, and the Nazis played to that. They used French gendarmes to round up Jews, and other undesirables for deportation and the French paramilitary unit the Milice was formed to fight against the French résistants. The French considered these men more dangerous than the Gestapo because they could operate in their communities, were familiar with the countryside where the Maquis operated and could quickly pick up an accent or dialect unfamiliar to that specific area. These units worked closely with the SS, and the feared SD (the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst – the SS intelligence agency). All these elements appear in Night Flight to Paris, making challenging demands on Harry Mitchell and the people around him.

Obituaries in contemporary newspapers recount men and women of that generation who fought the silent war behind enemy lines. Many did not speak of their exploits during the remaining years of their lives. There were only twenty-one years from the end of the Great War and the beginning of the Second World War. Young men and women who had served in the first were veterans by 1939, too old to serve for active military service (in the case of soldiers) but who could face their enemy in the most dangerous circumstances by joining SOE. When writing my books, I prefer flawed characters to make the challenge they face even more difficult. In Night Flight to Paris, I chose Harry Mitchell, a middle-aged, quiet, studious code-breaker at Bletchley Park, the British government code-breaking centre fifty miles north-west of London. He was no man of action given that he had once served as a rear echelon junior officer in the First World War. It was during this time that he was caught up in the heart-stopping horror of that conflict and became unable to inflict violence.

Not, it seemed, an ideal candidate to be trained in violent tactics and sent into France to uncover a traitor and rescue his family.

Mitchell taught at the university in Paris before it was occupied in 1940, and he and his wife had helped set up escape routes for downed airmen and those civilians persecuted by the Nazis. His contacts in Paris made him a valuable asset to SOE, and they bring pressure to bear. Mitchell carries the burden of knowing that he and his wife and daughter were separated when they attempted to escape and, for the past three years, he has been unable to make contact with them. The SOE give him the terrible news that his wife and daughter have recently been captured by the Gestapo. He has the opportunity to return clandestinely in an attempt to save them and unmask the traitor who betrayed them and others in the Resistance. Mitchell’s conflicting emotions about inflicting violence are soon put to the test when the flight to Paris goes terrifyingly wrong.

Research for Night Flight to Paris was aided somewhat by my time spent in the Parachute Regiment. The experience of jumping from a perfectly serviceable aircraft and the fear it instilled at the time is something that is easy to remember and write. Thankfully, though, what happened to Harry Mitchell was not part of my experience.

I had also reconnoitred the French countryside to seek out locations for my medieval series Master of War, and this helped take Mitchell on his journey north to Paris. Books written about code-breakers were invaluable as were autobiographies of those who had served in SOE. And for anyone interested in digging deeper into these exciting times, there is a vast amount of recently released material at the Public Record Office where information about both personal and training details of the men and women is held.

Thanks, David, for sharing the inspiration behind the novel. To think of ordinary men and women in these situations and making decisions that could affect everything in their lives is scary.

About the Book:

Paris, 1943.

The swastika flies from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Soldiers clad in field grey patrol the streets. Buildings have been renamed, books banned, art stolen and people disappeared. Amongst the missing is an Allied intelligence cell.

Gone to ground? Betrayed? Dead? Britain’s Special Operations Executive need to find out. They recruit ex-Parisian and Bletchley Park codebreaker Harry Mitchell to return to the city he fled two years ago.

Mitchell knows Occupied Paris – a city at war with itself. Informers, gangsters, collaborators and Resistance factions are as ready to slit each other’s throats as they are the Germans’. The occupiers themselves are no better: the Gestapo and the Abwehr – military intelligence – are locked in their own lethal battle for dominance. Mitchell knows the risks: a return to Paris not a mission – it’s a death sentence.

But he has good reason to put his life on the line: the wife and daughter he was forced to leave behind have fallen into the hands of the Gestapo and Michell will do whatever it takes to save them. But with disaster afflicting his mission from the outset, it will take all his ingenuity, all his courage, to even get into Paris… unaware that every step he takes towards the capital is a step closer to a trap well set and baited.

About the Author:

David Gilman has had an impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for an international publisher. He has countless radio, television and film credits. From 2000 until 2009 he was principal writer on A Touch Of Frost. He has lived and traveled the world gathering inspiration for his adventure series along the way.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing as Surgery by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

Last year, I read one of the most well-crafted short stories collections out there, and it was written by Caitlin Hamilton Summie, who many in the blogging world know for her marketing savvy for indie authors.

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts is one year old today. It was on my best of list last year, and I still love it today. It is a collection that is poetic and holds imagery to a higher standard as each story is pregnant with emotion, particularly different forms of grief. Read the full review.

After reading short stories by Chekhov this year, I’m beginning to think that Caitlin Hamilton Summie is our modern Chekhov.

We often have guests talk about their writing process or their writing spaces, but we rarely hear about the after-publication process. In honor of this book’s anniversary, I asked Caitlin if she’d like to write up a guest post about her after publication experience as a short-story writer.

I think you’ll love this guest post and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Please give Caitlin a warm welcome:

Recently, in work correspondence, a reviewer let me know that she had wanted once to work in publishing or to be a surgeon. What came to my mind was how much surgery and creative writing have in common: they share a focus on precision, on cause and effect, on getting to the root of things. I imagine, though I cannot know, that there is an artistry in performing surgery that echoes the artistry in writing.

I have never wanted to be a surgeon, but I do believe in the power of stories to heal and connect, to make us empathize and reconsider.

In the year since I published my first book, a collection of short stories called TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, I have received a number of reviews that speak to the root-level emotional engagement the stories provide, to how deeply-felt they are. One reviewer said my stories made him/her feel less alone. I’ll never forget that review or cease to be overwhelmed by it.

I do write straight from the heart, and this is where I think many readers live, too— valuing stories that get to our very cores, get to the heart of the matter. We want characters we love as much as we want a gripping tale. We want to connect.

One year past publication, with reviews and interviews still coming in, with events still being offered, I am deeply grateful—for the connections with people I will never know over matters of the heart that are shared in my stories, written like a surgeon might operate, carefully excavating through each character the love and forgiveness that gets them—and us—through the days.

Enter the Giveaway by Aug. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST.

About the Author:

Caitlin Hamilton Summie earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, Mud Season Review, and Long Story, Short. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Our Heroine Elizabeth Bennet by Ann Galvia


Welcome to the What’s Past Is Prologue blog tour!

We’re the first stop on the blog tour, and I’m very excited to welcome Ann Galvia to talk about her version of Elizabeth Bennet. Stay tuned for the giveaway details at the end of the post, and don’t forget to comment.

First, I wanted to share a bit about the book with you. I hope to find time to read this one someday soon. It sounds wonderful.

About the Book:

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

Please welcome Ann Galvia:

I want to thank Serena for kicking off the “What’s Past Is Prologue” blog tour here at Savvy Verse and Wit! This is a particularly auspicious place to start because I want to focus today on WPIP’s heroine and central character, the witty Elizabeth.

And by talk, I mean….break out your pen and paper, folks, it’s time for a pop quiz! It’s not for a grade. You don’t even have to turn it in (but I think the comments section will be more fun if you do) because no one is taking attendance. It’s all essay questions (boo!), but you can use the book (yay!), Jane Austen’s incomparable “Pride and Prejudice!”

1. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s greatest virtue, and why?
2. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s largest flaw, and why?
3. How does growing up with such role models–wait, that is too  respectful–with such “ “ “role models” ” ” as Mr and Mrs Bennet affect the perspective of someone who grew up with them and a questionable amount of experience beyond their neighborhood?

Now, your answers may vary (and really, that’s what makes this an interesting exercise) but when you go playing with someone else’s toys, first we have to look at how they set up the shelf. Gotta put ‘em back when we’re done.

Me, I think Elizabeth’s greatest virtue is her compassion. She has an incredible ability to just not care about her own problems. The entail? She feels no urgency to try and secure her future through a marriage. Losing Wickham to Mary King? She doesn’t feel too bad, decides that means she never loved him and breezes forward. Elizabeth doesn’t start losing any sleep until she’s lost Darcy and Lydia both in the span of an afternoon. Now, other people’s problems? Other people’s problems hurt. She made herself sick over Jane’s heartbreak.

“The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned brought on a headache; and it grew so much worse towards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really unwell, did not press her to go, and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her; but Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine’s being rather displeased by her staying at home.”

Charlotte cautioned her to not make an enemy out of Darcy over Wickham, but damn if her righteous indignation on Wickham’s behalf didn’t lead her to try!

He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance, when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton? She answered in the affirmative; and, unable to resist the temptation, added, “When you met us there the other day,
we had just been forming a new acquaintance.”

The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features, but he said not a word, and Elizabeth, though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not go on. At length Darcy spoke, and in a constrained manner said, “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.”

“He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship,” replied Elizabeth with emphasis, “and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.”

Refusing Darcy wreaks havoc on her.

The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour.

And, of course, we know she’s someone who doesn’t think twice about walking through three miles of mud because her sister has a cold.

Now, what leads her astray?

Well, she tends to do this Thing where she formulates a snap judgement and refuses to re-evaluate after learning new information or hearing the opinions of other people.

Consider, for example, the clues that Darcy liked her that she simply never picked up on…

Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange. She could only imagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present.

Yes, Elizabeth, men stare at women because they are reprehensible.

More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions — about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins’s happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings, and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.

Sure, Elizabeth, he wants to hang out at your favorite places and talk about you and the things you like — and also let’s rate how happy your married friends are and fyi, next time you visit, you’ll stay with his family, probably — because someone else wants to marry you.

Which leads me to the Elizabeth we find in What’s Past Is Prologue. She made a choice rooted in compassion — marry Darcy instead of turn him away a second time. She knows her ideas of who he is were wrong, but has not had much opportunity to replace with it with something better. She has only his own account to go by. How does he describe himself to Elizabeth?

“No,” said Darcy, “I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding — certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.”

So she’s compassionate; he’s resentful, and once you’ve lost him, you’re not gonna get him back. Not that he has anything to resent her over —

His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

Oh.

Oh, right.

And she jumps to inaccurate conclusions without folding new information into her ideas until really forced to do so.

And she comes from a family where the husband regretted his choice.

Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.

What is a girl to do when her future happiness and respectability lies in the hands of husband who owns he is resentful, and has been verbose in the past about some reasons why you might incite his ire? Elizabeth loves to ignore a problem, but this is a big one and she’s gonna have to solve it…

About the Author:

Ann Galvia started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Connect with Ann at the following places Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks of What’s Past is Prologue

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good LUCK!

Rest of the Blog Tour Schedule:

August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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