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A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly is a summer read for Austenites and those who want to have fun.  Set in modern day England, Dr. Katherine Roberts works too hard as a professor at St. Bridget’s College in Oxford and sees her role as lecturer at the Jane Austen Conference as a way for her to get away and relax.  She befriends regency romance author Lorna Warwick through letters and hopes that the conference will put a face to the name she’s begun to call friend.  Meanwhile, Robyn is stuck in a relationship with Jace (Jason Collins) and is too worried about his feelings to express her own or to end their relationship.  She decides that she’s not going to think about her life while at the Austen conference, but just enjoy herself before dealing with her fading relationship with her childhood friend.

“She thought of the secret bookshelves in her study at home and ho they groaned deliciously under the weight of Miss Warwick’s work.  How her colleagues would frown and fret at such horrors as popular fiction!  How quickly would she be marched from her Oxford office and escorted from St. Bridget’s College if they knew of her wicked passion?”  (page 2 of ARC)

Women and their passion for Jane Austen’s characters seems never-ending, but does this passion for Austen sometimes prevent these women from living their own lives?  And does it ensure that the men in their lives will never measure up to Mr. Darcy or Captain Wentworth?  Connelly has created a cast of characters that have flaws and find themselves in situations they never expected.  Dr. Roberts is a strong woman with a passion for sexy Regency romances, but her own love life is a disaster until she finds herself in situation much like Captain Wentworth, while Robyn is trapped by obligation in a life much like Edward Ferrars.  It is an interesting correlation between Austen’s characters and Connelly’s female leads, as it demonstrates a new perspective on how these situations would be handled.

Connelly also creates a cast of characters that are fun and outrageous from Dame Pamela to Higgins the butler.  And of course, what Austen spinoff doesn’t have its own Lady Catherine de Bourgh — in this case, it’s Mrs. Soames.  A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly is a great romp in the English countryside with some gal pals and hot men that will make you giggle, squirm, and sit on the edge of your seat.  A quick summer read that will have readers wondering if an Austen-filled weekend should be their next vacation.

About the Author:

Victoria Connelly grew up in Norfolk before attending Worcester University where she studied English Literature. After graduating, she worked her way through a number of jobs before becoming a teacher in North Yorkshire.  In 2000, she got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and moved to London.  She is currently working on a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts.  The first, A Weekend with Mr Darcy, was published in the UK by Avon, HarperCollins, and will be published in the US by Sourcebooks in July 2011.   The second in the trilogy, The Perfect Hero, was published in the UK in April 2011.  She lives in London with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and four ex-battery hens.

 

This is my 34th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

Guest Post: My Craziest Austen-Related Adventure by Victoria Connelly

Has anyone else noticed that Sourcebooks has some of the best Austen-related fiction on the market?  I have.  Victoria Connelly’s work, however, is new to me, and since she writes Darcy-related fiction, I figured it was time to give her novel a try.

Today, I’ve got a treat for you as Victoria regales us with her craziest Austen-related adventure and includes a photo for us to share.  Without further ado, let me turn it over to her.

My Craziest Austen-Related Adventure

When I started writing my Austen addicts trilogy, I soon discovered the wonderful website of ‘Pride and Prejudice Tours’. Run by the amazing Helen Porter, these bespoke holidays take you to the locations used in the film adaptations of Austen’s novels. As a fan of the films, this sounded like a dream come true especially as many of the houses used are privately owned and impossible to find.

I quickly got in touch and started a long conversation with Helen – telling her about my books and swapping stories about our favourite locations and we soon discovered we had a dream in common – of owning a Georgian manor house deep in the heart of the English countryside.

One of the most perfect houses I have ever seen is the house that was used as Barton Cottage in Emma Thompson’s 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. I love the scene where Elinor and Marianne Dashwood arrive at the cottage and both stare at it in wide-eyed horror because they have just left the grand stately home of Norland Park, and Barton Cottage must look like a shack in comparison. This scene always makes me laugh because, to me, Barton Cottage in this film is my idea of perfection and the thought of actually staying there seemed too good to be true.

Without further delay, I booked myself a weekend there with ‘Pride and Prejudice Tours’!

The coach picked me up from Bath where I joined the tour group. They were a lovely bunch mainly from America and Canada, and they were all women bar one solitary man. Leaving Bath, the coach headed south through Somerset and on in to Devon where the roads became so narrow that we almost got stuck at one point!

I’ll never forget my first glimpse of the cottage. Tucked away on a private estate of rolling hills ending in the sea, the three-story stone house rose up from a sloping garden, looking out over a secluded estuary. It was May and cow parsley filled the garden in a lacy froth. There were bluebells in the field beside the cottage and red campion in the wood – all of which appeared in the little bunch of flowers which Willoughby gives to Marianne in the film.

I got up early on my first morning there and walked down the little lane which Willoughby, Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon all the ride along in the film. Of course, it was impossible not to think about handsome heroes on horseback whilst staying at the cottage but, alas, none had made an appearance whilst I was there.

What made the weekend really special for me was meeting the other Austen fans. I think I can safely say that Jane Austen fans are amongst the nicest people in the world and I loved talking to them about their favourite scenes from the books, their favourite heroes and heroines and what it is that makes Jane Austen so special. They all helped to inspire my writing and, although I hated the thought of leaving Barton Cottage, I was excited about getting back home to write my trilogy.

I knew I wanted to use Barton Cottage as a setting for one of my Jane Austen novels and I’m delighted to say that it has a starring role in the third book in the trilogy, Mr Darcy Forever. So, if you can’t visit the house yourself, you can read about my heroine’s adventures there!

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing your adventure with us. Stay tuned for my review of A Weekend with Mr. Darcy tomorrow.