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

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

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

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

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

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

Please welcome Brigid as she talks about her writing process:

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENTER the Giveaway:

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

About the Author:

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

Excerpt & Giveaway: Letters of the Heart by Kay Bea

Today’s guest is Kay Bea, a debut author in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction universe. She’s eager to share her first book, Letters of the Heart, and I’m eager for you to read this excerpt that will leave you wanting more.

Don’t forget to enter the generous giveaway from Quill & Quartos, her publisher.

Book Synopsis:

The Bennet sisters of Longbourn lack both decorum and connections and do not possess a decent dowry between them. Even the best of the them is in every way unsuitable for a man whose income is as a good as a lord. But love is not so easily set aside and in January 1812, Mr Darcy persuades Mr Bingley to reopen Netherfield Park, the country estate from which they both fled only two months before. On returning to Hertfordshire, they discover a near tragedy took place three days after the Netherfield Ball and has changed the lives of the Bennet family forever. Mrs Bennet’s relentless fear of losing her place in society has led her to condemn her least favourite daughter to a life of isolation and pain that will greatly complicate Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey to happiness. Old bonds are strengthened, family ties are severed, and unlikely allies emerge as each of them struggles to make sense of the changes they face.

Please give Kay a warm welcome and enjoy the excerpt below:

It was several minutes later that a question from Lydia shattered the fragile peace of his mind. “Did my sister and her odious husband travel with you?” There was a half-hearted admonishment of “Lydia! That was unkind,” from one of the sisters. Miss Bennet, he thought, but was not certain. Lydia simply ignored the reprimand and continued, “We were expecting Lizzy two days ago, but she has not come, and we thought perhaps they delayed their travel.”

Mrs Bennet chose that moment to join in, “Of course, it is just like that ungrateful girl to break her poor sister’s heart when my Jane has been so looking forward to seeing her after all this time. And not even a note to explain her absence. She has no consideration for my nerves, but I shall not complain.”

He ignored Mrs Bennet in favour of replying to her youngest daughter. “No, Miss Lydia, they did not. Your sister and her husband were in Kent when I returned to London. Like you, I believed they were to arrive here yesterday. I said as much in my letter to Bingley.” Darcy struggled to keep his composure. Unlike his first return to Hertfordshire, he could not hide his distress behind a display of taciturn incivility. These ladies were no longer strangers to him; they were his dear sister’s intimate friends, and ignoring them would be disgraceful.

He was drawn from his introspection with the announcement that Mr. Bennet, in fact, had recovered enough to escort his eldest daughter to her wedding. The news was bittersweet. For though he was glad to know the master of Longbourn was returning to health, he could not help but think how pleased Elizabeth would be at hearing the change. That thought took him directly back to considering all the reasons she might have for a late arrival, and none of them were pleasant.

Two days after the wedding, Darcy and Georgiana made a final call at Longbourn before beginning the journey to Pemberley. While his sister made her farewells to Lydia, Catherine, and Mary, Darcy requested an audience with Mr Bennet. He congratulated himself when he did not scoff at Mrs Bennet’s raptures over which of her younger daughters he had chosen to marry. He was admitted to Mr Bennet’s book room and found the older man sitting quietly, staring at a miniature of a young girl who could only be Elizabeth.

The silence had just begun to grow uncomfortable when Mr Bennet carefully placed the portrait on his desk and raised his eyes to meet those of his guest. “I am told my family and I owe you a great debt, Mr Darcy. Before she married, Jane informed me that the change in my care and, therefore, the improvement in my condition were due solely to your intervention. I would offer my thanks if only I understood your motivation.”

Darcy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I can assure you, sir, that my only motive was to see you restored to health for the comfort and well-being of your daughters.”

Mr Bennet gave the younger man a piercing look. “Nonsense. You made your opinion of my daughters quite clear when you first visited the neighbourhood.”

Darcy could not deny it. “I was wrong. Your daughters are very lively and their manners not fashionable, but they are good girls, all of them, and I had no right to judge otherwise.”

Mr Bennet nodded his acceptance and returned his gaze to the miniature on his desk. “Lizzy was always my favourite. Did you know? No, I suppose you would not. When I learnt of your insult at the assembly, I called for my horse and was ready to ride out before she stopped me. She said you were not worth her tears or my anger. I am her father, and I know she was not being entirely truthful. Your words wounded her, no matter that she tried to laugh them away.” His eyes never lifted from the image of Elizabeth.

“I should not have spoken them. I did not behave as I should have when I was first in Hertfordshire. I have since tried to be a better man, the man I ought always to have been,” Darcy confessed.

Mr Bennet inclined his head in acknowledgement and said, “Then I wish you success. Perhaps you will not wait, as I did. Perhaps you will not fail your sister as I failed my Lizzy. They told me she was visiting friends of her Aunt Gardiner’s in London. I knew, of course, it was a lie. But not in my wildest imaginings did I conceive of the truth, and now my Lizzy is bound to a man I know was raised without an ounce of kindness by my illiterate and miserly cousin.”

He finally raised his eyes to meet Darcy’s. “Still, you owe us nothing. You were under no obligation to return or to offer your assistance. So why are you come, Mr Darcy?”

“I made her a promise, Mr Bennet, and I mean to keep it,” Darcy answered solemnly.

I hope that leaves you ready to read more. I know I’m eager to read it.

About the Author:

Kay Bea is an administrative assistant and Jane Austen lover living in Kansas City with her husband of twenty-five years, her mother-in-law, and her fur kids. She has written several short stories and drabbles on fanfiction.net as “I Found My Mr. Darcy” and on A Happy Assembly as
MrsDarcy2032.

Kay grew up in Wyoming, enjoyed a two-year adventure in Maryland, and now calls Missouri home. When she isn’t writing, Kay enjoys photography, cooking, and spending time with her adult children and three granddaughters. Visit her on Facebook and GoodReads.

Giveaway:

  • Up for grabs is a $50 Amazon gift card
  • To enter comment on any of the blog tour stops to earn one point per stop.
  • Giveaway ends on Sept 19.

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

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

About the Book:

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

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

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

Read today’s excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth stopped and looked up at him in astonishment.

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

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

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

Elizabeth nodded, but Mr. Darcy was not done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

Buy Amazon US
Buy Amazon UK

Giveaway:

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

ENTER HERE.

Guest Post: Writing as a Team Sport by Susan Hamilton

With 20 enthralling stories by up-and-coming writers from The Writing Bloc, ESCAPE! is an anthology with a theme that appeals to anyone. It examines the urge humans have to leave the circumstances they’re currently in and how that impulse both helps and hurts us.

Please welcome one of the writers, Susan Hamilton:

All you need is a little help from your friends

Think back to when you were in school and you had to work on a group project. Did that memory make you break out in a cold sweat? I bet a lot of you did. Group projects can be hard, frustrating and anxiety-inducing. There are always a few people who aren’t invested, don’t show up for meetings, or miss deadlines.

Now imagine trying to collaboratively write a book with a bunch of authors you’ve never met before.

Impossible, you say? I’m here to tell you its not.

In 2018, indie author Michael Haase, along with five other writers he’d become acquainted with — Cari Dubiel, Becca Spence Dobias, Robert Batten, Jacqui Castle, and Christopher Lee — formed the Writing Bloc (www.writingbloc.com) an online community of writers with the goal of helping indie authors by fostering connection and providing the support necessary to navigate the often overwhelming world of publishing.

I became involved in Writing Bloc not long after it was founded, and shortly after that, the group came up with a new challenge: It was great to have formed an engaged, supportive writers’ community, but how cool would it be for the group put out an anthology of short stories?

The idea of an anthology is nothing new, but Writing Bloc applied its idea of community and collaboration to the project. The plan was simple: Select 20 stories from all of the submissions, and then have all of the writers edit collaboratively.

You heard me correctly — 20 authors, most nearly complete strangers, critiquing each others’ work first in pairs and then as a full group. Every story reviewed and critiqued by each individuals over the course of a few months. And once that was done, the founding members of Writing Bloc would do a final line edit, create the cover, and publish the anthology.

Some of you are having group-project flashbacks, aren’t you? You’re thinking this project was an implosion waiting to happen.

It wasn’t. It didn’t implode — it took off.

All 20 of us — with a few bumps in the road along the way — successfully contributed stories, edited, and published the Writing Bloc’s ESCAPE! anthology. And now we are all helping to market and promote it in our own distinct ways.

I think our success is 100 percent the result of two things. First, the vision and determination of Writing Bloc’s core team. And second, the enthusiasm, generosity, and trust shown by the entire group. We all wanted to see each other succeed; we all wanted the anthology to succeed; and we were willing to put in the work. We were willing to give honest, constructive critiques, and we were all open to receiving those critiques, too. And that can be hard, as any writer knows.

As founder Haase notes in the book’s foreword, “Twenty of us formed a team to write, edit, produce, design and release this book. It was a ton of work but we did it all together as a cooperative. … I have yet to find another compilation constructed quite like this one. We all had a say in the process.”

I was fortunate enough to have had my own story, “Chrysalis,” selected to be included, so I was able to experience the collaboration first-hand. It wasn’t perfect. There were lots of questions, some fits and starts in some areas, and a few technology glitches (Those, I confess, were user error on my part; I have fondly dubbed myself the group’s technological problem child.).

I’ve talked a lot about the creation of the ESCAPE! anthology, so you’re probably wondering by now, what is ESCAPE! all about? I’ll let the book synopsis speak for itself:

ESCAPE! It’s something that we all crave. Life in 2018 is loaded with stress, worry, and regret so, of course, these themes are old friends of the independent writers of the Writing Bloc Cooperative. In the first collection of shorts presented by Writing Bloc Publishing, twenty up-and-coming authors illuminate the varied nuances of ESCAPE! The result is nothing short of pure alchemical gold in the form of the written word.

These twenty gripping tales, running the gamut from science fiction and fantasy to political satire and literary fiction, illustrate the many faces of escape, escaping, and escapism. In a curiously deep look into the human psyche, they examine the urge to leave our present circumstances behind as well as how that instinct both aids and hinders our lives.

The stories in ESCAPE! are eclectic, fascinating, and engaging, and there really is something in there for everyone. I’m proud that my work is included alongside these other writers who not only do I respect but consider them to be colleagues and friends. But what I’m proudest of is having been part of a group effort that could have failed but ended up being a tremendous success because of the dedication, determination, and trust shown by everyone involved.

In fact, we had so much fun creating ESCAPE! we’re doing it again. The process for producing Writing Bloc’s next anthology, DECEPTION! is already underway. It has stories from many writers who debuted in the first anthology, plus some wonderful new voices. The new anthology should be out later this year, so keep an eye out!

Interested in the ESCAPE! Anthology? Look for it on Amazon. Learn more about the Writing Bloc.

About the Author:

Susan K. Hamilton is the award-winning author of epic, dark, and urban fantasy books including “Shadow King,” “Darkstar Rising,” and “The Devil Inside” (releasing 2020). She’s also dipped her toe in the short story pond and had her work included in the ESCAPE! and DECEPTION! anthologies (forthcoming) from Writing Bloc.

Horse-crazy since she was a little girl, she also loves comfy jeans, pizza, great stand-up comedy, and pretty much every furry creature on the planet (except spiders). Susan lives near Boston with her husband and a cat that runs the house like a boss.

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.