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The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George

Source: publisher
Kindle, 150 pgs.
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The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George is a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen set in Sin City — Las Vegas, Nevada.  Yes, that sin city! William Darcy is a workaholic and his family is deeply concerned about his health. After his doctor orders him on bed rest, Darcy finds himself smothered by love and concern, and too much attention to his work habits. The walls are closing in on him, and he takes off for America.

There’s an old saying about Vegas: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”

Unfortunately, how Darcy meets Elizabeth is not at all what readers will expect and what happens in Vegas will likely not stay in Vegas if he has anything to say about it. He’s fallen head over heels and he has to break it to his over-protective sister, Georgiana.

“There was no sound coming from England. No breathing, no thudding telephone. It was the quietest his sister had ever been.”

Darcy and Lizzy not only have to come to terms with their quick romance, but also how different their lives are from one another. Will secrets he’s keeping wear their thin connection away or will their love conquer all? Even his condescending and rude sister?

George’s novella shows a delightfully carefree Lizzy living in Nevada, and even though she’s lost much, she’s created her own family from the friends she encounters. Her support system is strong and fiercely protective, like Darcy’s sister. Despite a few editorial misses in the copy I had, the story was fast-paced and full of romance and humor. I particularly loved Thad and Damien and, of course, Lizzy and Darcy. There were a few things that were wrapped up rather quickly, probably because it is a novella, but I wish there had been a few hints dropped earlier about how Georgiana would come around to liking Lizzy.

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George is delightful in its demonstration of how a workaholic can find the balance he needs with the woman he loves by his side.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Amy George is a middle-aged woman who got rid of her old lady/grown up and has since purchased an unreasonably small car. She refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a small town in the Midwest where the bookstore and yarn shop are neighbors and most food is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum. She has been writing since she was a child and ran the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.

Fun fact: My birthday is January 30th so this is like a big birthday party.

Find her on Facebook, GoodReads, Meryton Press, and Twitter.

Giveaway:

8 eBooks of The Sweetest Ruin are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

ENTER HERE

GOOD LUCK, EVERYONE!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Annotated by Sophie Turner (Giveaway)

This is not precisely a review of Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) by Jane Austen and Sophie Turner, as much as it is a look at why this revised edition was created. I’ve read this novel more times than any other, and because I do love it so much, I wanted to take a look at what Sophie Turner found in her endeavor to return the novel as close to Jane Austen’s original as possible. As grammar rules as we know them today were not as established when Austen wrote, there is a sort of free flow with her use of grammar and words.

This is particularly of interest, as the examples cited by Turner indicate how well placed Austen’s commas are in an effort to create a distinct voice for her characters. I also loved that the exclamation points we often think of as part of Mrs. Bennet’s character are not as plentiful as one would assume. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this novel again, as well as Turner’s annotations. As an editor, I’m obviously fascinated with the choices that novelists make in word choice and punctuation.

Check out Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) by Jane Austen and Sophie Turner to find Austen’s more authentic voice.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Book:

The novel needs no introduction. But readers may not have realised that we have been losing “Pride and Prejudice” over the years, particularly digitally. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have eroded significantly from the 1813 Egerton first edition, and many digital copies suffer from poor formatting.

In 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, her “darling Child” has been painstakingly restored to the three-volume 1813 first edition. Adjustments have only been made where there were errors in the 1813 text, and are noted in detailed annotations at the end of the novel.

Please enjoy this beloved story, restored to Jane Austen’s original voice.

About the Sophie Turner:

Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.

She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.

Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.

She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon. Visit her: Facebook, Twitter, Sophie Turner’s Blog, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon.

International Giveaway:

To enter, leave a comment about why you’d like to read this new ebook edition of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, annotated by Sophie Turner.  Enter by Sept. 15, 2017, 8 p.m. EST.

Good Luck, everyone.

Mister Darcy’s Secret by Barbara Silkstone

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 181 pgs.
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These could be read as standalone novellas, as I even read these out of order. I do think it might be a richer read in order.

Mister Darcy’s Secret by Barbara Silkstone is the third novella in the comedic mystery series in which Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet in the modern world where Darcy is a man of mystery and Lizzie is a dog psychologist. The novella opens with Lizzie taking Darcy and his sister, Georgiana, to their Christmas gift — a hot air balloon ride — but things don’t go exactly as planned for either Lizzie who hates heights or Darcy who is struggling to win her affections. This is not your usual angst filled relationship, as Silkstone peppers her novella with comedic missteps and downright hilarity.

“I could feel the tension mount as I became a bug drawn to a Venus flytrap.”

Lizzie is still helping Darcy with his dogs, but she’s looking to expand her business to new clients. Luck would have it that there is a new client waiting for her in Darcy’s own building. As the mystery about the surrounding area and a development project continue to press in on them, Darcy has to reveal a secret that put his sister and the woman he loves in danger. Will Lizzie accept his truth and be by his side? Is she ready for the danger the lies ahead, or will she merely stumble into more trouble than she’s ready for?

This modern Lizzie and Darcy are a bit goofy, but Mister Darcy’s Secret by Barbara Silkstone is a fun read.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:
Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series that includes: Wendy and the Lost Boys, London Broil, Cairo Caper, Miami Mummies, Vulgarian Vamp, Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set. Her Criminally Funny Fables Romantic Suspense series includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters; Wendy and the Lost Boys.

Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 90 pgs.
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Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone, book two in the comedic mystery series, has Dr. Elizabeth Bennet, who wants to be the dog psychologist to Buckingham Palace’s corgis, spending Christmas eve with her employer, Mister Darcy at his penthouse.  First she and her sisters want to get a little shopping done, but they stumble across a young girl and her dog near an alley.  It’s blistering cold outside, and they don’t want to return her to a home where verbal and physical abuse seems to be occurring at the very moment they try to return her.

Silkstone draws heavily on the Annie motif for her own Christmas story, but there are enough plausible differences to make this story a worthwhile read.  Lizzie is still unsure about her feelings for the mysterious Mr. Darcy, but it is clear that he’s fond of her.  Meanwhile, Caroline comes on the scene and she’s seeing red — she’s made it her mission to attract Darcy and she’s none too pleased to see he has eyes for Dr. Bennet.

“The pajamas were filed in an alcove on the rear wall.  A six-foot framed mirror on a pivoting stand stood to the left.  An organdy and ribbon-decked dressing table in shades of soft pastels commanded the center of the room.”

Through the eyes of Mary we see a bit of Scrooge and other classics, but Silkstone’s Darcy is not afraid of using his connections and wealth to help those who need it, even if it means doing so in front of others.    It’s also clear he dotes on his younger sister — perhaps a little too much.  Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone is a tale about charity, family responsibility, and love at its core.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series that includes: Wendy and the Lost Boys, London Broil, Cairo Caper, Miami Mummies, Vulgarian Vamp, Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set. Her Criminally Funny Fables Romantic Suspense series includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters; Wendy and the Lost Boys; Zo White and the Seven Morphs.

Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 179 pgs.
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Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone is a modern take on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship.  Lizzie is a dog psychologist starting her own business, while Mr. Darcy is a man of mystery.  After helping her sister Jane out of a jam at a dog show, Mr. Darcy ends up as her client with his two adorable Basset hounds Derby and Squire.  The dogs take an instant liking to her and demonstrate their dislike for a certain red-head — Caroline.  Bingley seems to be chauffeuring people around in this one, at least until his eyes land on Jane.  Lizzie begins to see that Jane is smitten, with her nervous ticks and giggling.  She just wants her sister to be happy, even if all she wants is to focus on her career despite the distraction of Mr. Darcy’s chocolate brown eyes and handsome figure.

“With a noticeably deep sigh, he regained his broom-up-the-butt composure and hooded his eyes.”

Lizzie is hired to help Mr. Darcy ready his dogs for a faux fox hunt in which dogs chase the scent of a fox but are not allowed to kill a live fox under government rules.  She’s a bit out of her element and has little to no experience with fox hunts or riding horses.  Silkstone’s Darcy is still haughty, but by the end he softens toward Lizzie, even though she wants to remain a steadfast career woman.  Even George Wickham makes an appearance here to stir up trouble for Darcy and the Bennets.

Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone is a fun romp in the fields with two basset hounds and their master, as Darcy strives to uncover the true nature of the fox hunt.  Lizzie is along for the ride and hopeful that this chance with a new client will lead to more business.  Silkstone has modernized the story and left a lot of room for humor.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series that includes: Wendy and the Lost Boys, London Broil, Cairo Caper, Miami Mummies, Vulgarian Vamp, Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set. Her Criminally Funny Fables Romantic Suspense series includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters; Wendy and the Lost Boys.

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

Footprints in the Forest by Jeannette Katzir

Source: giveaway win from Diary of an Eccentric
ebook, 247 pgs.
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Footprints in the Forest by Jeannette Katzir, which I received from a giveaway and is an advanced reading copy, tells the tale of Chana Pershowski a young girl not yet fifteen who’s family is forced into a ghetto in Poland during WWII. Her brother Isaac loses his new wife and child, and that becomes a catalyst for the life they eventually live among the partisans. Fleeing Poland has to be the hardest decision Chana is forced to make, though she really doesn’t make it. As a young girl, she has little choice but to follow the orders of her mother and follow her brother into the wintry forest.

Her brother vows to protect her, as does his childhood friend Saul, who Chana views as strong. She’s had a crush on him for a long time, but he sees her as a little sister, and nothing in the forest is certain when the Nazis are looking for you. Running under cover of night and breaking camp when the Russian partisans decide to whether or not everyone is present makes life unpredictable at best. Being sent on missions when you don’t know how to shoot or make bombs can be deadly, even when you have protectors around you.

“I worked with gunpowder and straw, and was amazed to find how fearless I felt.  In a strange way, putting together a bomb reminded me of making sugar cookies with Mama.”

Katzir takes the reader on a journey through the forests with Chana the partisan and in the United States after the war with Chana the young woman finding her way in a world she still fears. Paranoia left over from the war threatens to keep her from happiness, and readers will wonder how far her PTSD will hinder her. Along the way, she learns to trust some of the partisans even against her mother’s ingrained advice, and she even learns to love.  But the war is far from done with her, and she needs to prepare herself for the ultimate sacrifice.  Chana is equal parts strong and weak, child-like and mature, and it is her makeup that leaves her at the mercy of others on a few occasions, especially when she makes rash decisions.

Three things bothered me to prevent a 5-star review: one that she wore a red coat in the snow-white forests when more than likely it would have made her a target, the resolution at the end seemed too rushed, and I’m hoping that many of the typos and grammatical and story line errors I saw were corrected in the final book.

Footprints in the Forest by Jeannette Katzir provides readers with a well-rounded look at what life in the forest during WWII looks and felt like for a young girl who hasn’t had time to find herself, let alone dream of how she wants her life to be in the future.  It also doesn’t gloss over partisan life and how women were perceived in those freedom fighting bands.

RATING: Quatrain

 

 

 

 

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

Giveaway: The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston

Source: the author
ebook, 219 pgs.
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The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston is a prequel to Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and it features two of its most beloved characters, the Gardiners.  Edward Gardiner has had his heart broken and when Thomas Bennet calls for his aide, he’s happy to oblige if it gets him out of London and away from his dashed hopes.  He’s a businessman on the rise, and while his sisters may be less than tactful, he’s a perfect gentleman.  I’ve always loves the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt, and Clarkston gives us more insight into how that bond may have formed.

Mr. Gardiner soon finds out how different Lizzy and Jane are, as young Lizzy (age seven) is boisterous and curious and very eager to engage with everyone she meets, even if they are aloof and rude.  In the  town of Lambton, Madeline Fairbanks helps her ailing father and her devotion to him demonstrate her loyalty and love for family, and even when she’s roped into caring for a sick Jane Bennet.  Clarkson really does well creating believable minor characters with their own concerns and trials, including Mrs. Porter and her husband, Mr. Lawrence, and others.  And Thomas Bennet’s sarcastic wit is ever present and enjoyable.

“While the lady was still within earshot, Thomas Bennet sang out, ‘I applaud your ladyship’s caution.  One never knows when vagabonds will take on the guise of eight-year-old girls!'”

Readers will enjoy the courtship of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in the midst of the chaos, as Clarkson teases out the best qualities of both Jane and Lizzy Bennet and entwines them with Madeline Fairbanks’ wiser and forthright personality.  To image a younger Lizzy and see her interact with a young man who is trying his level best to impress his father, care for his very young sister, deal with the death of his mother, and wrap his teenage mind around his duty is fascinating to watch.

There is a lot of teasing in these pages, blushes, smiles, laughter, and awkward moments that make young love so innocent and appealing.  The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston is simply lovely and she’s an author I look forward to reading more from.

RATING: Cinquain

International GIVEAWAY:

Nicole Clarkston would like to offer one copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner on each stop of the blog tour. The format is readers’ choice (eBook or paperback) and is international.

Leave a comment on this post about your favorite Jane Austen minor characters. And if you share on Facebook or elsewhere, leave a link for more entries.

Deadline: Nov. 4, 2016, 11:59 PM EST

nicole-clarkstonAbout the Author:

Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools.  She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don’t ask).

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.  Check out her website and look her up on Facebook.

Follow the rest of the blog tour:

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Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds

Source: the author
ebook, 293 pgs.
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Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds is a wildly imaginative variation that takes place during the Sheffield food riot of 1812 when the Luddites begin to rail against those aristocrats in power, as their food sources and funds grew scarcer as machines began to show up in mills across the northern parts of Britain. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet become swept up in the chaos even as they struggle with their own feelings for one another and the multiple misunderstandings that happen between them.

“He crumpled up his first attempt and tossed it in the fireplace. He never had to rewrite letters; it was something he prided himself upon. But Elizabeth would hold this note, her elegant fingers touching the same paper he touched now, and she would think of him. It must be perfect.”

Unlike many other variations, the Fitzwilliam clan (Lord and Lady Matlock and their children) take center stage, and Colonel Fitzwilliam has a surprise in store for his parents that could rock the family to the core. His sister Frederica needs Darcy’s shielding as the ton has begun to shun her after being jilted, while Elizabeth tends to her sister at Gracechurch street following Bingley’s abandonment. These parallel story lines reinforce one another, showcasing how little recourse women had during that time should a man choose to abandon a lady without explanation, even if they are wealthy. In line with that, the cause for the Rights of Man taken up by Darcy’s friend from Cambridge, Sir Anthony Duxbury, who somehow knows Elizabeth — his Elizabeth.

Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds provides an excellent glimpse into the politics of the time, and it also exposes Darcy to concerns beyond Pemberley and how those concerns can impact the nation. While the journey North is dangerous, Elizabeth and Darcy prove to be strong enough to withstand the riots, but can they withstand the machinations of the Fitzwilliam clan and overcome their own prejudices to find their way into each other’s arms? Reynolds has taken on a lot in this variation, and readers may wish it had been longer.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds has spent the last fifty years asking herself what she wants to be when she grows up. This month she is a writer, a mother and a physician in a part-time private practice. Next month is anybody’s guess. Originally from upstate New York, she indecisively studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school, a choice which allowed her to avoid any decisions at all for four years.

She began writing Pride & Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her very favorite characters. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to seven other Pemberley Variations and two modern novels set on Cape Cod.

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 288 pgs.
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Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede, which was our July book club pick, is a retelling of a fairy tale.  In this rendition, the tale is set in England, and the characters are a bit modified.  Wrede says in the afterword that the original fairy tale had gaps and characters appeared and disappeared, leaving their motivations out of sight for the most part.  Here, Wrede contrives to make motivations fit the story, which mirrors the original very closely.

The language used here to mimic Elizabethan times but, in so doing, the dialogue was very stilted and hard to engage with for a good portion of the book.  While the language may have been to authenticate the time period, some of it was off in terms of usage and slowed the pace of the tale considerably.  However, her use of John Dee and Edward Kelly as the wizards in the town of Mortlak, who cause harm to the world of Faerie, was inspired, though even just Kelly would have been enough here.

Rosamund (Rose Red) and Blanche (Snow White) are the daughters of the Widow Arden (forest) who live on the outskirts of town near the land of Faerie, and while they tend to stay outside the forest and only use the herbs found within its borders for good, they have skills that other townsfolk only speculate about.  It is there in the woods that they find all manner of plants, including elecampane, which is native to central Asia.  Is this the work of the fay?  Or a miscalculation on Wrede’s part?  It’s unclear.

Wrede also relies on the continuation of “work” over several dayson more than one occasion without going into depth about the failed experiments, etc. This also slows the pace of the fairy tale down.  Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede is a satisfactory retelling of a well-known fairy tale, but what is unclear still is the motivations of one set of evildoers — the fay.  While the mortals clearly seek fame and fortune in their magic renderings, the fay involved in the spell-casting seem to have muddy reasoning for their part in it.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Patricia C. Wrede was born in Chicago, Ill., and is the eldest of five children. She started writing in seventh grade. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in Biology and managed to avoid taking any English courses at all. She began work on her first novel, Shadow Magic, just after graduating from college in 1974. Patricia received her M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1977.  Patricia finished her first novel in late 1978, and she has since published 12 books.

Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe

Source: Author Jane Odiwe
ebook, 275 pgs.
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Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe requires readers to suspend disbelief, and those fans of Jane Austen who wish she had written more than her 6 novels will surely have no problem doing that.  Her death is averted by her physician, who has discovered the secret to immortal life with the help of the Turritopsis dohrnii in 1817.  When Austen awakens she is in 1925, just after The Great War.  Many families, including rich families, have fallen on hard times and experienced great loss as many lost sons, brothers, and husbands in the war.  Times have changed for women, and Austen is able to get work outside the home to support herself, and although her family has passed on and she’s effectively alone in the world, she pulls up her hem and gets to work as a governess to five girls at Manberley Castle near the sea in Stoke Pomeroy.

“Having lived cautiously, and under strict rules and regulations for so long, Miss Austen felt the winds of change blowing across the Devon landscape.”

Cora, Emily, Alice, Mae, and Beth are a bit more to handle than Austen expects, especially as she is a little younger than she had been before the procedure.  Upon her arrival, Austen is faced with staff who are eager to gossip, which rubs her the wrong way because she prefers to make up her own mind about people.  The heir to the castle, William Milton, is one person who keeps her on her toes, and as Austen gets caught up in the drama of others, she begins to realize that her life would be empty without the Miltons in it.

Odiwe is one of the best writers of Jane Austen-related fiction, and it shows as she weaves in Austen’s own novels into her own novel.  Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and more are illustrated in a variety of situations here, and Austen is at the center of them all.  However, readers should be warned that Odiwe is not rehashing these plots point for point.  Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe is her best novel yet, and if there were something to complain about, it would be that it could have been longer.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and three children in North London.  Check out Jane Odiwe’s blog here.

Other Reviews:

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

Source: Purchased
ebook, 296 pgs.
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A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest is a short novella in which Sophia Claremont is kidnapped by vampires and brought to The Shade to become a slave. She’s given to Prince Derek Novak as a gift from his siblings, though his brother Lucas has already claimed her in his mind. Sophia has had a rough time growing up and was finally settled with a neighboring family and her best friend Ben, whom she’s had a crush on for some time. But she also has debilitating anxiety in crowded spaces, almost like she’s on sensory overload.  However, when she finally awakes on this vampire island, very little is seen of her disorders, until she’s attacked one evening.

“She was beautiful because, at a time when she had every right to be terrified, she managed to show comfort to another person who needed it.”

Derek, who has awakened from a 400 year long sleep, cannot stay away from Sophia and he keeps her like a caged bird in his treetop penthouse.  Her humanity has captured his attention, and even though her blood calls to him, he makes every effort to battle his desires.  As she teaches him about technology and he begins to show her respect, their bond intensifies.  Sophia is a naive character who is led by her emotions easily, and in many ways, she falls for the guy who acts like her protector — whether its teenage Ben at home or Derek the powerful vampire on The Shade.

“I know an excuse when I hear one.  Don’t you dare deceive yourself into believing that you’re the victim.”

A mantra that Ben has used many times to snap her out of her anxiety trances, Sophia finds it can be useful in more ways than one, but even as she tames Derek’s inner beast, she fails to see how she is a victim and needs to take action.  One failed escape attempt is all it takes for her to become complacent, which does little for the tension in the book.  While the characters, setting, and world are intriguing, there is little back story, which can leaving the feud between Derek and Lucas seem empty and can leave the lore of this vampire series feel incomplete.

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest provides an engaging way to spend the afternoon, but unless there is more back story in the subsequent novels less telling, rather than showing, it would be hard to sustain interested beyond two more books.  There are 18 books in this series.  It boils down to wanting more from the setting and lore beyond the main characters who are dynamic and troubled.

About the Author:

Bella Forrest is the million-bestselling author of the “A Shade of Vampire” series.

Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe

Source: Jane Odiwe
ebook, 148 pgs
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Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe is part of the the Jane Austen Jewel Box series and it is a quaint novella to pass the holidays with, especially as all of Pemberley prepares for the Christmas Ball.  Set shortly after Elizabeth and Darcy get married, Elizabeth is just getting to know what her role is as mistress of Pemberley and the staff seem to admire her, even if Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine does not.  In addition to Lady Catherine and the Bennets, Darcy’s French cousins Antoine de Valois and his sister Louise are also to attend on the invitation of Lady Catherine.  These distant cousins are barely known to the Darcy family, but Georgiana is quite taken with them and their exotic culture.

“Lady Catherine, now purple about the gills, opened and closed her mouth like the trout he fished in the Pemberley streams”

Odiwe has created a full novella in that it doesn’t feel too short, and it will satisfy readers looking for more Jane Austen fiction.  She has a firm grasp on characterization, particularly how Lizzy and Darcy would act with one another behind closed doors (though nothing too graphic) and in front of family, the servants, and society.  All of these faces of the Darcys provide a round picture of their societal obligations as well as how different they are from many other aristocrats.  Lizzy’s mother is the same as always, looking for suitors for her last daughters, Kitty and Mary, and still trying Mr. Bennet’s nerves.

“The Longbourn servants were already running hither and thither whilst Mrs. Bennet emerged from the breakfast parlour flapping her arms like a demented bird, barking instructions, scolding her daughters and generally not being very useful to anyone.”

Odiwe’s Austen fiction is among the best every time, and readers will always find that they are engaged from the onset in the plight of the moment.  In this case, one of the Darcy Diamonds goes missing, and with the ball coming up and the guests arriving, it is imperative that the new mistress of Pemberley find it.  But beyond the missing diamond, the Darcy name could be scandalized as a mysterious man is set about dragging their name through the mud.  Will Darcy find the mysterious man before its too late? Will the diamond be found?  Readers will want to spend part of the day reading to find out!

Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe is a lovely novella that will have readers rejoining Darcy and Lizzy in their happiest moments, while they still navigate the early days of a new marriage and plan a societal ball.  Readers will thoroughly enjoy the company in this novel and revisiting old friends.

About the Author:

Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and three children in North London.  Check out Jane Odiwe’s blog here.

Other reviews of this author’s work: