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Guest Post & Giveaway: In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson

Please welcome Don Jacobson to the blog today with his latest Pride & Prejudice variation In Plain Sight.

As some of you may be aware, Don was challenged by Lory Lilian to write a D/L love story. Joana Starnes also kept pushing/encouraging him to do the same. Well, he finally did it.

Book Synopsis:

“At the end of the day when we are each of us lyin’ flat on our backs, lookin’ at the ceiling, and the vicar is whisperin’ in our ear, the greatest comfort we shall ’ave is to know that we loved well and were well loved in return.”

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father slides into an early grave, his son is forced to take on
Pemberley’s mantle. Brandy numbs his pain, but Darcy’s worst inclinations run wild. After tragedy rips everything away, he spends years finding his way back: a man redeemed by a woman’s loving understanding.

Elizabeth Bennet is afflicted with a common Regency ailment: observing the world about her but not seeing those beneath her notice. Then a clarifying act shatters the propriety that has denied her heart the transcendent love she craves.

In Plain Sight explores Jane Austen’s eternal love story by flipping social roles on their heads. From their first encounter, Elizabeth Bennet and the convict known as “Smith” must overcome their prejudices and break through their pride. Only then can they share the treasure hidden in plain sight.

Please welcome, Don, to the blog:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me today as I continue through the blog tour for In Plain Sight. This vignette is actually an epilogue which could have been presented after the last chapter of the novel. However, I decided that the ending was so much stronger if I left Darcy and Elizabeth and the Pemberley family outside in the great driveway. We know that all will move into their HEA as they are in their Happily-Ever-Now at that exact moment. Yet, for those who might be interested in what happened to our characters in later times, I offer this selection.

An Epilogue of Sorts

Watson’s Mill, Meryton, August 8, 1819

The bread line snaked past the trestle tables set up by the mill’s chained and padlocked iron gate. The counters were staffed by a patchwork of neighborhood notables leavened by folk whose hands showed the wear-and-tear of daily toil. The continuing economic collapse had left those dependent upon the now-silent spinning jennies and looms on the brink of starvation. Even in the midst of this privation, scarecrow children clad in rags gamboled around the flagged mews laid between the five-story brick edifice and the great millpond. The sturdiest mother’s heart or aunt’s nerves palpitated when youthful exuberance overcame good sense as one little one or another streaked toward the greasy waters that usually fed the great wheel powering the factory. The watercourse was still now, its force unnecessary. On the far side of the pool, the Lea-Mimram Canal was filled with a brackish sludge. The refreshing surges of Mimram water that usually swept
through the channel were non-existent in this time of crisis. Great cauldrons of soup steamed in the morning air. Freshly baked bread contributed a yeasty aroma that spoke of brighter days. Granaries controlled by Meryton’s squirearchy had been thrown open to feed the unemployed. Estate mistresses turned out their attics to fill the levy for Longbourn Chapel’s poor box.

Mr. Benton, an archdeacon for the diocese, and Mr. Tomlinson, the town’s Methodist speaker, policed the queue, collecting tidbits of news from their female parishioners. This was not gossip, but rather a taking of the temperature of the neighborhood. Benton would gather tales of drunkenness, illness, pregnancy, and malnutrition and add them to his own
wife’s burden. Mrs. Mary would take that intelligence and confidently march into Meryton’s four-and-twenty parlors of note and prod ladies to do their Christian duty. She was not above leaning upon her connections. Elizabeth Darcy, Jane Bingley, and Georgiana Cecil often would add their considerable social weight through gently worded invitations to
events in town.

Tomlinson, lately a sergeant in His Majesty’s Army, leaned on his earlier experience to winkle out the scent of discontent. He had opened the Good Book when he had closed his military career. Tomlinson believed that a man served the Lord first, but he could also support the realm in second place. Women this day told of caravans rolling north to hear Henry Hunt speak. He knew that his former master, General Fitzwilliam, would take these threads and weave a tapestry that he would lay before Liverpool’s cabinet. The general was settled on a chair leaned against the bolted doors of the tavern opposite the manufactory. His equine companion, Imperator, was left gamboling in one of Purvis Lodge’s paddocks where four or five of his favorite broodmares competed for his affections. Fitzwilliam snorted as he recalled his old friend, nearly twenty he was, prancing about the stable yard, nipping at youngsters to remind them that he was king.

Like Impy, Fitzwilliam was no country squire, wide across the bottom. His usual bluff demeanor and partial deafness gave him an air of rusticated geniality. Yet, he frequently surprised regimental colonels as he explained the facts of life. No officer would ever forget that the horse-breeder at Purvis Lodge regularly cultivated his connections in town’s rarified high country. The militia never gave Meryton trouble.

Comfortably tilted back next to Fitzwilliam was James Foote. Foote’s invisibility, growing from his time as a Longbourn servant, had served the General well as he stage- managed the dark ballet that kept the Czar, Metternich, and Talleyrand in their respective boxes. Foote was adjusting to fatherhood as his wife, the former Miss Tomkins, had recently birthed their second son. She was seated beneath an oak that shaded the town square. Mrs. Foote, along with Charlotte Fitzwilliam, kept a weather eye upon a dozen children from various branches of the Longbourn family.

Also enjoying the shade were two old friends. The black and white board lay upon a portable table set between them. Moves were made, but both men, widowers now after the fever of in the year seventeen had swept off their ladies, spent more time chatting with each other about things of which old men often do, of the world as it was in their youth.

Michael Hastings, now retired, in the midst of his bereavement, had found himself taking advantage of a long-standing invitation to visit Pemberley. There he met his college friend, Tom Bennet, who likewise was draped in black. The two gentlemen sat side-by-side in the great library, a stack of books and a bottle of port between them. Before long, they
reignited their ancient comity. Realizing that loneliness was the quickest path to the grave for men of their ilk, an unspoken agreement was reached. Hastings closed up his Derby house and moved into Longbourn with Bennet.

The judge’s hand hovered above his castle—a staunch tory, Hastings always favored his bishops and rooks. A snuffling sound distracted him.

Affecting a grim look, he speared the miscreant with a beam from beneath bushy brows. The curly headed youngster, old enough to be out of leading strings but not so grown as to have escaped the nursery table, was unmoved. He had the courage of a child well-acquainted with the fact that the Moon and the Sun revolved around him.

Hastings growled. “Well, son, who do you belong to? All of your cousins look like Mr. Bennet here.”—he waved at his opponent who unsuccessfully tried to stifle his guffaw— “and I find myself at a loss.”

The little fellow stood straight and confidently began, “Of course I take after Mr. Bennet. He is my Grandpapa, after all! I am a Darcy!”

Then Master Darcy leaned in and confided. “My Mama told me that we were not Darcys today, but rather Smiths.” So saying he scurried off.

“And where are the…Smiths?” Hastings quizzed his housemate. Bennet pointed with his chin as his eyes returned to the chessboard. “Last I saw, Lizzy and Will were strolling on the towpath.”

###

The shingle crunched beneath their feet as they left Meryton behind and approached Longbourn. The lady was clearly with child.

Elizabeth looked up at Darcy and smiled. “You know how happy you have made Mary and Edward. They have been feeding and clothing the mill families for months. Usually it is just Charlotte and Richard manning the barricades.

“Mary knows that you would be loath to leave Pemberley in August with my pending confinement. I will own that I would have preferred the cooler Derbyshire climes to semi- tropical Meryton. However, you appeared in our sitting room one morning and stated, ‘You are yet able to travel. Edward wrote me telling of their work at Watson’s, and he is concerned that your sister was wearing herself thin. She could use our help.’

“And, you were correct, dearest. Mary is like a terrier and will just not let go or ask for aid.”

Darcy looked down at his wife. The toes of his worn work boots kicked out from beneath the simply hemmed cuffs of his canvas pantaloons. He shifted his shoulders beneath the red-checked cloth of his shapeless shirt. These clothes rarely saw the light of day except when Fitzwilliam Darcy wished to move about incognito, to be unseen by all except the crowd.

“Elizabeth,” he said, “I approached you because I knew that Mary’s silence was out of love for you. Her fear would be that you would become agitated with the knowledge and immediately rush to the stables to have the carriage horses harnessed.

“My own motivation was in a similar vein. I knew that if you had learned of this situation, you would have worried yourself trying to encourage me to overcome my protective nature and allow us to travel. I stole a march on you by acting first.”

He placed his hand atop hers where it rested in the crook of his elbow. “I knew that Bingley would never leave Thornhill, not with your sister so close to her confinement. I hoped to console myself with the thought that Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Keith would be in town, that we could let this opportunity pass. Then I wondered if the militia had relocated to Brighton.”

Elizabeth nodded, “Your instincts were correct. Kitty, as the Colonel’s lady is installed in her Regency Square house lording it over the regiment’s wives. As for Lydia, she has gone to her house in Bristol to await the Captain’s return from the Orient.”

Darcy smiled. “Acting on impulse was the right thing to do. I vow, Elizabeth, I am becoming more like Bingley every day! Speaking of things Bingley, and I ask this for informational purposes only, have you heard anything about the Soamses?”

Elizabeth peered up at him from beneath her brim. “It has been seven years. Not once in all that time have you asked about that awful man and his wife.”

“’Tis a time I would prefer to forget, dearest,” he softly replied, focusing his eyes toward where the arrow-straight ditch crossed onto Longbourn. His wife sighed and answered, “Sir Thaddeus’ son is at Cambridge. His eldest daughter turned seventeen in February. Jane tells me they wished to launch Miss Soames into society this past Season but had to wait until May. They took a house in Portman Square.

“Matlock wrote to say that she assisted, not wishing to punish the daughter for the sins of the parents. The countess found one of her friends to sponsor the girl at court. That acquaintance also threw a small soiree where Miss Soames played and sang. Apparently, that and her £22,000 dowry landed her an offer from a viscount’s second son.”

Darcy nodded as they continued walking. After several minutes he continued, “Lady Soames must had been thrilled with her stepdaughter’s success.”

Elizabeth could feel her husband’s arm tense beneath her hand. “William, it is ancient history. We have three darling children and another on the way. We are done with them.”

Darcy relaxed. “And how many children has Sir Thaddeus gotten upon his wife?”

Surprised at the sudden change in direction, Elizabeth replied, “Five.”

Darcy’s voice rumbled, shivering her entire being. “Hmmmpf. Five to your three, Mrs. Darcy. Miss Bingley, or should I say Lady Soames, is undoubtedly more accomplished than you.”

Elizabeth squeaked and slapped his arm in faux outrage.

He recaptured her errant hand.

Then husband and wife, convict and housemaid, moved down the path toward the manor house, its gables barely visible above a copse of oaks.

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series—

  • The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
  • Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
  • The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
  • Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
  • The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
  • The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
  • The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South, released in 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman” (2016). Lessers and Betters (2018) offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing. He is a member of the Austen Authors Collective and JASNA. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, Pam.

Mailbox Monday #537

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

The Meyersons of Meryton by Mirta Ines Trupp, a Kindle freebie.

When a new family, thought to be associated with the House of Rothschild arrives in Meryton, a chain of events are set in place that threaten the betrothal of Miss Elizabeth Bennet to her beloved Mr. Darcy.

Rabbi Meyerson and family are received at Longbourn. This inconvenience leads to misfortune, for when the rabbi disappears from the quiet market town, Mr. Bennet follows dutifully in his path. Her father’s sudden departure shadowed by the Wickhams’ unannounced arrival has Elizabeth judging not only her reactions to these tumultuous proceedings but her suitability as the future Mistress of Pemberley.

A sensible woman would give her hand in marriage without a second thought. Can Elizabeth say goodbye forever to the one man who has captured her heart?

The Meyersons of Meryton is a Pride and Prejudice variation. The narrative introduces Jewish characters and history to the beloved novel and, although there are some adult themes, this is an inspirational and clean read.

Of Fortune’s Reversal: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Don Jacobson, a Kindle freebie.

A brisk early November Hyde Park morning is shattered by a child’s scream. How two adults react in those next few desperate moments sets the plot in motion in this “Pride & Prejudice” alternative focusing on twenty-one year old Kitty Bennet.

“Of Fortune’s Reversal” is a novella-length tale based upon an inversion of Mrs. Bennet’s exclamation that with one good marriage, the other girls will be thrown in front of rich men. For more than two centuries, the Jane/Bingley: Lizzy/Darcy tetrarchy has been portrayed as the solution to Mary and Kitty’s marriage difficulties, not to mention Mrs. Bennet’s housing requirements. But, what if that was not the case?

What if Mr. Bennet dies just as Jane is receiving the Bingley sisters’ invitation to dinner?

No rainy day horseback ride. No cold for Jane. No Elizabeth coming to Netherfield to nurse her elder sister…so no links forged in any way with Bingley (beyond what he felt for Miss Bennet at the Assembly) and Darcy (no fine eyes, no walk around the library, etc).

No Netherfield Ball.

No proposal from Collins because he was already wed to a shrew who convinced him to evict the Bennet women. So no trip to Hunsford cottage for Lizzy because Charlotte remains a spinster at Lucas Lodge.

Rather, the Bennet women are forced out of Longbourn—the older girls to Gracechurch Street and ultimately taking up employment away from the city. The two younger girls remain in Meryton with their mother, to be sent away to seminary for some much-needed formal education. But, the death of Thomas Bennet has changed more than the family’s financial fortunes. It has also bent the arc of the P&P universe.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #495

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Musing of a Netflix Binge Viewer by Kateema Lee, which I purchased after hearing the poet read from the collection pre-publication.

Kateema Lee‘s Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer is full of surprises: sonic playfulness, encounters between pop culture icons and figures from childhood, insights spoken with a sharp tongue. These poems disarm you with familiar references and then take unexpected turns inward with the guidance of an introspective speaker. Lee tricks you into feeling wistful and then hits you with “something to cut the bullshit.” These poems are skillfully dark. From page one, this collection orients you within the disorienting experience of having too many choices, but Lee’s wild imagination knows exactly what to do with them. –Jonterri Gadson, author of Pepper Girl and Blues Triumphant

In “Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer”, Kateema Lee streams poems, image by image, where pop-culture meets the reality of daily life. She explores “the imported sparkling water in a long-stemmed glass”. Lee is a poet juggling contemporary Netflix culture with humor and charm.
–Naoko Fujimoto, The winner of Oro Fino Chapbook Competition, “Home, No Home”

Even in moments as mundane as binge-watching prime-time dramas, we find ourselves interrogating the current states of our lives. In Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer, Kateema Lee’s poems speak through the ambient sounds of the late-night television screen, offering deceptively quiet musings on love, loneliness, and grief. And, in the breaks, creatures of nature and myth appear, serving as apt metaphors for a mind flipping through the myriad channels of its existence. Although Musings couches the bulk of its activities in the passive—watching television, observing women in public, or petting a dead father’s cats—it is a complex work that begs of us to look beyond the veneer of the ordinary and into the many frequencies of ourselves, the myriad ways in which we remain unknown and unseen to everyone around us. –Destiny Birdsong, Poet, MFA, PhD

The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin, which came as a surprise in the mail.

MG Martin lives and breathes geek culture. She even works as a writer for the comic book company she idolized as a kid. But despite her love of hooded vigilantes, MG prefers her comics stay on the page.

But when someone in LA starts recreating crime scenes from her favorite comic book, MG is the LAPD’s best—and only—lead. She recognizes the golden arrow left at the scene as the calling card of her favorite comic book hero. The thing is…superheroes aren’t real. Are they?

When too-handsome-for-his-own-good Detective Kildaire asks for her comic book expertise, MG is more than up for the adventure. Unfortunately, MG has a teeny little tendency to not follow rules. And her off-the-books sleuthing may land her in a world of trouble.

Because for every superhero, there is a supervillain. And the villain of her story may be closer than she thinks…

Nevertheless We Persisted essays with a foreword from Amy Klobuchar for review from the publisher.

“Aren’t you a terrorist?” “There are no roles for people who look like you.” “That’s a sin.” “No girls allowed.” They’ve heard it all. Actress Alia Shawkat reflects on all the parts she was told she was too “ethnic” to play. Former NFL player Wade Davis recalls his bullying of gay classmates in an attempt to hide his own sexuality. Teen Gavin Grimm shares the story that led to the infamous “bathroom bill,” and how he’s fighting it. Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr tells of her harrowing time in Aushwitz, where she watched her family disappear, one by one.

What made them rise up through the hate? What made them overcome the obstacles of their childhood to achieve extraordinary success? How did they break out of society’s limited view of who they are and find their way to the beautiful and hard-won lives they live today? With a foreword by Minnesota senator and up-and-coming Democratic party leader Amy Klobuchar, these essays share deeply personal stories of resilience, faith, love, and, yes, persistence.

Walk to Run One Mile by Jaime McFaden free from Audible until Sept. 5.

Brand new to running? Tackle that first mile with the help of expert Aaptiv trainer and fitness industry veteran Jaime McFaden.

Achieving a new goal is all about taking the first step and with the help of certified personal trainer Jaime McFaden those first steps will lead to a successful first mile. In this four-week program you’ll complete 20 total classes in outdoor running, treadmill, strength, and stretching. These workouts are designed to increase your physical stamina and mental toughness. Each class is 25 minutes or less so you can train even on your busiest days.

Jaime’s encouraging and inspiring training style will have you feeling strong and confident.

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid purchased from Audible.

What if Darcy and Elizabeth were plunged into the war between England and France?

It is 1803, and a treaty has allowed England and France to enjoy a brief moment of peace in the midst of the Napoleonic wars.

Darcy is despondent over Elizabeth’s refusal of his proposal at Hunsford, so Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes a trip to Paris as a distraction. At a ball, Darcy unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth, who is visiting Paris with the Gardiners. He sees this as his opportunity to court Elizabeth properly and rectify past mistakes.

Before he can make much progress, however, England declares war again, and Darcy must help Elizabeth flee France. As they make their way to the coast, Elizabeth and Darcy must battle brigands, French soldiers, illness, and their own mutual attraction – all without a chaperone.

When they return to England, Elizabeth and Darcy have their own secrets to conceal – even from those closest to them.

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey by Don Jacobson purchased from Audible.

Lizzy gripped Mary’s hands and began her speech.

“Now is the time for you. Heal now. Future only, my dearest sister.”

Mary Bennet has spent her entire life fighting to be herself. If only she knew just what that was. For years she buried her nose in the musty musing of Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, trying to be exceptional. She hid her light brown eyes – and herself – behind useless spectacles.

With both Jane and Lizzy married, it is time for Miss Bennet to emerge from her cocoon. Learn how a young woman of deep faith and inquisitive mind emerges. Yet, even as Mary Bennet overcomes her troubled teenage years, she is challenged by her sudden and total love for a man who mysteriously appears on the night of a great calamity. And his secret grows out of a remarkable device – the Bennet Wardrobe!

The Keeper follows the life of Mary Bennet as she matures from the prosy, moralizing caricature found in Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice into a confident young woman looking to make her mark in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. And discover how the amazing Bennet Wardrobe makes life interesting for all Bennets.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #486

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Shelf Life of Happiness: Stories by Virginia Pye from Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity for review in October.

In these bittersweet, compelling stories, Virginia Pye’s characters in Shelf Life of Happiness long for that most-elusive of states: happiness. A young skateboarder reaches across an awesome gap to reconnect with his disapproving father; an elderly painter executes one final, violent gesture to memorialize his work; a newly married writer battles the urge to implode his happy marriage; and a confused young man falls for his best friend’s bride and finally learns to love. In each case, Pye’s characters aim to be better people as they strive for happiness–and some even reap the sweet reward of achieving it.

They Gathered at Rosings by Margaret Lynette Sharp, a free kindle book.

There’s excitement afoot when the Darcys gather with their peers for the grand ball organised by Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her husband Hubert. Will Her Ladyship’s grandson John meet the girl of his dreams, or has unrequited love stifled his ardour? Does Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jr win the hand of his true love, Emily? Has Lady Catherine had a change of heart about her feelings towards her grandchildren and their futures?

Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare by Daniel Charles

FRITZ HABER — a Nobel laureate in chemistry, a friend of Albert Einstein, a German Jew and World War I hero — may be the most important scientist you have never heard of. The Haber-Bosch process, which he invented at the turn of the twentieth century, revolutionized agriculture by converting nitrogen to fertilizer in quantities massive enough to feed the world. The invention has become an essential pillar for life on earth; some two billion people on our planet could not survive without it. Yet this same process supplied the German military with explosives during World War I, and Haber orchestrated Germany’s use of an entirely new weapon — poison gas. Eventually, Haber’s efforts led to Zyklon B, the gas later used to kill millions — including Haber’s own relatives — in Nazi concentration camps.

Haber is the patron saint of guns and butter, a scientist whose discoveries transformed the way we produce food and fight wars. His legacy is filled with contradictions, as was his personality. For some, he was a benefactor of humanity and devoted friend. For others, he was a war criminal, possessed by raw ambition. An intellectual gunslinger, enamored of technical progress and driven by patriotic devotion to Germany, he was instrumental in the scientific work that inadvertently supported the Nazi cause; a Jew and a German patriot, he was at once an enabler of the Nazi regime and its victim.

Master Mind is a thought-provoking biography of this controversial scientist, a modern Faust who personifies the paradox of science, its ability to create and to destroy. It offers a complete chronicle of his tumultuous and ultimately tragic life, from his childhood and rise to prominence in the heady days of the German Empire to his disgrace and exile at the hands of the Nazis; from early decades as the hero who eliminated the threat of starvation to his lingering legacy as a villain whose work led to the demise of millions.

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, a free kindle download.

After World War II, orphaned Kettle faces prejudice as a Japanese American but manages to scrape by and care for his makeshift family of homeless children. When he crosses paths with the privileged but traumatized Nora, both of their lives are forever changed…

Lauren Nicolle Taylor’s Nora & Kettle is a heart-wrenching historical fiction novel that will appeal to fans of books by John Green and Ned Vizzini, novels such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Beginning of Everything, Eleanor & Park, The Book Thief, and classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.

Remember When by T. Torrest, a free kindle download.

** Author’s Note: Remember When is the first book in a trilogy series but most people believe it can be read as a standalone. This romantic comedy novel is intended for mature teen readers and immature adult readers due to some high school sex scenes, underage drinking, questionable language and 1980s flashbacks. **

Head back to the 80s with this coming-of-age romantic comedy about a pre-fame Hollywood movie star and his high school sweetheart!

Years before Trip Wiley could be seen on movie screens all over the world, he could be seen sitting in the desk behind me in my high school English class.

This was back in 1990, and I cite the year only to avoid dumbfounding you when references to big hair or stretch pants are mentioned. Although, come to think of it, I am from Northern New Jersey, which may serve as explanation enough. We were teenagers then, way back in a time before anyone, himself included, could even dream he’d turn into the Hollywood commodity that he is today.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who Trip Wiley is. But on the off chance you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, just know that these days, he’s the actor found at the top of every casting director’s wish list. He’s incredibly talented and insanely gorgeous, the combination of which has made him very rich, very famous and very desirable.

Rise of the Fallen by Donya Lynne, a free kindle download.

After an immortal life that’s been more agony than joy, Micah wants his endless suffering to be over. So he seeks out a ruthless enemy who’s more than happy to end his life, only for his death wish to be thwarted by a beautiful, gun-toting female who looks more angel than human.

Samantha is hiding from her abusive ex-husband, dancing for men’s favor–and their money–in a swanky gentleman’s club in order to pay the bills. While leaving her nightly shift, she stumbles upon a group of thugs beating a helpless man to death. She charges into the fray, guns blazing, determined to save the handsome stranger, only to discover he’s no man, and she’s thrust herself into a dangerous, paranormal world she never knew existed.

In Sam, Micah finds a reason to live, but now that she’s put a target on her back, he’ll have to go to extreme measures to protect her. But with her obsessive ex-husband closing in and an enemy who will stop at nothing to exact revenge, are the odds stacked too heavily against Micah? Or will finding something worth fighting for be enough to give him the advantage?

Chocolate and Conversation by Jennifer Griffith, a free Kindle download.

Mormon girl Susannah is ready to take a big risk. Suddenly unemployed and unmarried, Susannah puts everything on the line to open up downtown Salt Lake City’s first all-chocolate café, The Chocolate Bar. It all starts out sweetly. Susannah even catches the interest of the city’s most eligible bachelor, a charismatic attorney.

But when Susannah’s first love, John Wentworth, returns to town, her heart goes sideways. He’s rich. He’s handsome. And he’s got intentions of marrying anyone but Susannah.

Chocolate and Conversation is a light and frothy, chocolate-filled romp. An adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, it’s filled with to-die-for recipes, hilarious situations, and swoony kisses. This delicious romance throws a wholesome girl into an impossible love triangle between her longing for her former Mr. Right and her Mr. Maybe-Right-for-Now.

The Secrets of Pemberley by Rose Fairbanks, a free Kindle download.

To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He’s the young master to one of the kingdom’s oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect façade lies the truth: he’s the product of his mother’s affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

Henry Fitzwilliam’s War by Don Jacobson, a free kindle download.

Time is once again bent in 1883 as Viscount Henry Fitzwilliam, Viscount of Matlock, uses the remarkable Bennet Wardrobe to seek his manhood through combat as suggested by his great friend, Theodore Roosevelt. But, as Henry’s Great Grandmother, Lydia Bennet Wickham Fitzwilliam, noted, “The Wardrobe has a strange sense of humor.” The lessons the young aristocrat learns are not the ones he expected.

Henry travels over 30 years into the future to land in the middle of the most awful conflict in human history—World War I. His brief time at the Front teaches him that there is no longer any room on the battlefield for heroic combat. Rather he discovers the horrors of “modern” warfare—the machine gun, high explosive artillery and poison gas—and the incredible waste of young men’s lives.

But, it is his two weeks spent recuperating at the Beach House in Deauville, after being temporarily blinded by chlorine gas, that irrevocably changes his life forever. There he encounters an incredible woman, one who will define his near 10-year search for the love of his life after he returns to his own time–and how his personality was shaped by their emerging relationship…one that was impossible on a number of levels.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #447

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

A Less Agreeable Man by Maria Grace for review from the author.

Dull, plain and practical, Mary Bennet was the girl men always overlooked. Nobody thought she’d garner a second glance, much less a husband. But she did, and now she’s grateful to be engaged to Mr. Michaels, the steady, even tempered steward of Rosings Park. By all appearances, they are made for each other, serious, hard-working, and boring.

Michaels finds managing Rosings Park relatively straight forward, but he desperately needs a helpmeet like Mary, able to manage his employers: the once proud Lady Catherine de Bourgh who is descending into madness and her currently proud nephew and heir, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose extravagant lifestyle has left him ill-equipped for economy and privation.

Colonel Fitzwilliam had faced cannon fire and sabers, taken a musket ball to the shoulder and another to the thigh, stood against Napoleon and lived to tell of it, but barking out orders and the point of his sword aren’t helping him save Rosings Park from financial ruin. Something must change quickly if he wants to salvage any of his inheritance. He needs help, but Michaels is tedious and Michaels’ fiancée, the opinionated Mary Bennet, is stubborn and not to be borne.

Apparently, quiet was not the same thing as meek, and reserved did not mean mild. The audacity of the woman, lecturing him on how he should manage his barmy aunt. The fact that she is usually right doesn’t help. Miss Bennet gets under his skin, growing worse by the day until he finds it very difficult to remember that she’s engaged to another man.

Can order be restored to Rosings Park or will Lady Catherine’s madness ruin them all?

Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess: A Bennet Wardrobe Novella by Don Jacobson from the author

The universe was shaken once again on Midsummer’s Day in 1801. The Bennet Wardrobe’s door to the future was opened in the bookroom at Longbourn. This time the most impertinent Bennet of them all, Elizabeth, tumbled through the gateway. Except she left not as the grown women with whom readers have become so familiar, but rather as a ten-year-old girl who had been playing a simple game of hide-and-seek.

Which Where/When was her destination? What needs could a young girl, only beginning to learn to make her way in the Regency, have that could be answered only by the Wardrobe? Or were the requirements of another Bennet, one who began as younger, but had aged into a beautiful, confident leader of Society, the prime movers behind Lizzy’s journey? Is the enigmatic Lady Kate the force that shaped the destiny of Lizzy and her younger sisters left back in Hertfordshire? How do the visions of the future brought home by young Lizzy help shape her world?

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: Narnia and Bennet Wardrobes: The Same Thing Only Different by Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson is visiting the blog today to talk about his series of books, The Bennet Wardrobe series. Of course, there are 8 ebooks up for grabs as well.  Stay tuned for the giveaway!

About The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque:

Longbourn, December 1811.

The day after Jane and Lizzy marry dawns especially cold for young Kitty Bennet. Called to Papa’s bookroom, she is faced with a resolute Mr. Bennet who intends to punish her complicity in her sister’s elopement. She will be sent packing to a seminary in far-off Cornwall.

She reacts like any teenager chafing under the “burden” of parental rules—she throws a tantrum. In her fury, she slams her hands against the doors of The Bennet Wardrobe.

Her heart’s desire?

“I wish they were dead! Anywhere but Cornwall! Anywhere but here!”

As Lydia later said, “The Wardrobe has a unique sense of humor.”

London, May 1886.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Marie Bennet tumbles out of The Wardrobe at Matlock House to come face-to-face with the austere Viscount Henry Fitzwilliam, a scion of the Five Families and one of the wealthiest men in the world. However, while their paths may have crossed that May morning, Henry still fights his feelings for another woman, lost to him nearly thirty years in his future. And Miss Bennet must now decide between exile to the remote wastelands of Cornwall or making a new life for herself in Victorian Britain and Belle Époque France.

The Exile follows the story of Kitty Bennet as she grows from the coughing follower of her younger sister, Lydia, into a bright and engaging young woman living in the exciting world of the late 19th Century. However, she must pass through many trials before she can fully understand why the Wardrobe sent her 75 years into the future—and for her to become one of the most important fixtures in the Bennet Wardrobe Universe.

About the series:

The Bennet Wardrobe Stories have grown out of Don’s interest in the side characters found the in majestic “Pride and Prejudice.” He feels that the three younger sisters have been left to languish these past two centuries as readers…and writers…have focused on the eternal love story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Recognizing that, perhaps, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia as well as their father, Thomas, need to resolve their inner personality issues, much as both Lizzy and Darcy did in the original, to become characters in full.

And, that is where the Bennet Wardrobe comes in. Perhaps remaining on the original P&P timeline (which ends in 1811-12) would not be sufficient for the three young ladies to realize their mature futures…or for Thomas to finally take a stand on his daughters’ behalves (note…archaic use). Hence the Bennet Wardrobe…a remarkable device created by the great cabinetmaker, natural scientist, and contemporary of Isaac Newton…which can transport those of the Bennet genome into futures which will meet their needs (not desires). Of course, as with any good time machine/magical transport, as Lydia Bennet Wickham Fitzwilliam put it, “The Wardrobe has an unusual sense of humor.”

Please give Don Jacobson a warm welcome.

The Bennet Wardrobe Series is an alternative history in the Pride & Prejudice Universe. While the lead characters are familiar to all but only as secondary personalities, I have endeavored to provide each of them (Mary, Kitty, Lydia, and Thomas) with an opportunity to grow into three-dimensional persons, although not necessarily in the Regency. If they were shaped or stifled by the conventions of the period, the time-traveling powers of The Wardrobe helped solve their problems, make penance, and learn lessons by giving them a chance to escape that time frame, if only for a brief, life-changing interlude.

The Wardrobe underlines my conviction that each of these characters could enjoy fulfilling lives once they had overcome the inner demons holding them back.

Would it have been possible for them to do so staying on the Regency timeline?

Perhaps. However, something tickled my brain—maybe it was the intersection between my youthful fascination with speculative fiction and my mature appreciation of Austen—that suggested that it would be fun to try something different. How about time travel? Not unknown in JAFF … but usually played for farce rather than something more profound. With careful treatment, though, protagonists could be immersed in different futures to learn that which they need in order to overcome the limitations preventing them from realizing their potential as people. In the process, they carry the eternal story of love and life forward even to the 21 st Century.

The saga of The Bennet Wardrobe begins with The Keeper: The Extraordinary Journey of Mary Bennet. The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque is Volume 2, Part 1. Four more novels will complete the story of the Wardrobe’s agenda. Three novellas have previously been published. More will be written to enable me to understand the manner in which the Wardrobe and the Bennet family interact. These will give readers insight into my process.

Astute bookworms, upon encountering The Bennet Wardrobe will immediately leap up and cry, “Ah-hah. I’ve got this. Jacobson has taken Narnia and tossed it back into the Regency.” Yes and No.

1. Yes … same physical manifestation for the portal

2. No … travel to the future in current world not to another reality

Obviously there is a relationship between Lewis’ Wardrobe and The Bennet Wardrobe in that they are both portals to other places or times. But, that is where I believe it ends—these devices are both Wardrobes, but have different properties.

I subscribe to the idea that the act of imagining characters (and the Wardrobes certainly are characters) brings them into reality. I follow Robert A. Heinlein who believed in … “World as Myth” — the idea that universes are created by the act of imagining them, so that all fictional worlds are in fact real and all real worlds are figments of fictional figures’ fancy …1 For instance, in Chapter XXIII of The Exile, Holmes refers to Pride & Prejudice as if it is a nonfiction book.

Thus, The Bennet Wardrobe, the Narnia wardrobe, The King’s Roads, the TARDIS, and the flue network do exist because their universes have been created through their authors’ imaginations. But, I needed to place The Bennet Wardrobe within the context of a rather fertile field of British Magical Transport. As I have written novellas to understand characters, so, too, did I compose a mock academic article (which appears in The Keeper) exploring the place of The Bennet Wardrobe within the spectrum of British magical transportation.

A Monograph/Imaginary Journey Exploring the Wardrobe’s Power

Humans have traditionally found security in dim and enclosed spaces, from the caverns of 150 generations ago to more modern architectural innovations like the closet. These have one common thread…they are sealed off and dark, safe; wrapping a person seeking sanctuary in a womblike cocoon and capable of transporting one to other worlds—real or imaginary.

So, it came as little surprise when I discovered that the closet’s predecessor, the wardrobe, offered similar characteristics. Just as a child may inherit a mother’s nose or a father’s eyes, the closet may yet carry some special properties held by what had once been a fixture throughout the homes of the well-heeled classes of post-Restoration Britain and ancien regime France. With the Industrial Revolution, wardrobes eventually became quaint relics. But, they did not lose their capacity to transport users across time or space.

Professor C.S. Lewis incisively revealed the power of the wardrobe with his groundbreaking Chronicles of Narnia. The knowledge of this capability stunned post-World War II audiences. Further research discovered other avenues over and through which properly attuned mortals and immortals could pass.

Ms. Rowling highlighted the unique nature of the flue network used by witches and warlocks. Another excellent study of Britain’s magical transportation network can be found in Susanna Clarke’s stunning work, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Her discussion of the King’s Roads that were hidden behind Britain’s mirrors revealed the extreme age of Britain’s magical transport. Another important mode was the wonderful looking glass described by Mr. L. Carroll.

The British King’s Roads were rooted in pre-Roman and medieval powers obscured after the 15th Century. The rising powers of late 18th Century wardrobes may have been a response to a need caused by the disuse of the King’s Roads. Both the Narnia Wardrobe and The Bennet Wardrobe are considered prime examples of classic Wardrobes. Researchers have cursed the Luftwaffe for destroying the Narnia Wardrobe in the Blitz.

While Wardrobes were not a perfectly safe mode of travel, they, none-the-less, seemed tamer. Potter’s more modern and dependable flue network (splitching aside) may have been implemented by Britain’s magical beings as, with the introduction of the closet, the wardrobe passed from common use and availability.

Even so, each network had its own properties and rules that governed its use. Lewis, for instance, explored the “need based” nature of the wardrobe. For the children of wartime Britain, they had to escape from the horrors of the events that swept over them. Hence, the doorway to Narnia led to another world where these youngsters had complete agency over themselves as the heroes in the epochal battle between good and evil.

The Bennet Wardrobe has been discovered to be equally potent, but in a different manner. Rather than transporting users to another world, this remarkable cabinet discerns the true needs of the Bennet user and ascertains what is required to meet that need. Then the Wardrobe transports the Bennet to a future time where that requirement can be fulfilled, but only to a frame of reference upon wardrobe’s timeline—a point in time and space where the wardrobe itself exists.

Because of its unique construction, the Wardrobe is attuned to the peculiar vibrations of those born of the lineage of Mr. Christopher Bennet, the first Bennet Master of Longbourn Estate. No non-Bennet has ever directly taken advantage of the properties of the Wardrobe. Mrs. Fanny Bennet could only use the Wardrobe to hang a pelisse or store a hat—if Mr. Bennet would let her in the library!

Thank you, Don Jacobson, for sharing your inspiration for the Bennet Wardrobe.

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