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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.

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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.

Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match by Kelly Miller

Today’s guest is Kelly Miller who is here to talk about her latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match.

Before we get to her guest post about the ghosts in the Tower of London, let’s learn a little bit about the book.

About the Book:

When secrets are revealed and a family agenda works against him, can Fitzwilliam Darcy recover his damaged spirits and find happiness?

Following his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London from Kent broken-hearted and dejected. One bright spot penetrates his sea of despair: his sister, Georgiana, has finally recovered her spirits from the grievous events at Ramsgate the previous summer. She has forged a new friendship with Miss Hester Drake, a lady who appears to be an ideal friend. In fact, Lady Matlock believes Miss Drake is Darcy’s perfect match.

Upon Elizabeth Bennet’s arrival at the Gardiners’ home from Kent, she finds that her sister Jane remains despondent over her abandonment by Mr. Bingley. But Elizabeth has information that might bring them together. She convinces her Uncle Gardiner to write a letter to Mr. Bingley providing key facts supplied to her by Mr. Darcy.

When Mr. Bingley discovers that his friend and sisters colluded to keep Jane’s presence in London from him, how will he respond? Given the chance, will Darcy and Elizabeth overcome their past misunderstandings? What will Darcy do when his beloved sister becomes a hindrance towards winning the lady he loves?

Without further ado, please give Kelly a warm welcome.

In Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, the primary characters visit The Tower of London, a location with a grisly and controversial history. A number of ghosts have been associated with this famous tourist attraction. Luckily, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth do not encounter them in my story, yet I thought it would be interesting to examine the ghostly reports that have been made over the years.

The White Tower, from which the Tower of London got its name, was built in 1078 on orders of William the Conqueror. A total of 133 confirmed executions were performed at the Tower of London. The first of these executions was of Sir Simon Burley on May 5, 1388, for the crime of “Supporting the King’s struggle for absolute power.”

One victim of the most common method of execution employed at the tower, beheading, was a Darcy: Lord Thomas Darcy of Templehurst, who met his end on June 30, 1537. His alleged crime was noted as “Treasonable Correspondence with Robert Aske re Pilgrimage of Grace (a widespread uprising against Henry VIII).”

The last confirmed execution was of Josef Jacobs on August 15, 1941, by firing squad for the crime of “Spying.”

A number of former inhabitants of the tower have reportedly been seen over the years in ghostly form. King Henry VI, who had been imprisoned in 1465 by his cousin Edward IV, is believed by historians to have been killed at Edward’s command. Henry VI lost his life on the evening of May 21, 1471. It is said that Henry VI’s ghost appears each year at the anniversary of his death in the Wakefield Tower where he met his end.

The two princes, Edward V and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, were imprisoned in the tower by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester in 1483. The so-called Lord Protector had declared his nephews to be illegitimate, and ascended to the throne as Richard III. The two princes were never seen again after the summer of 1483 and were presumed murdered by Richard III. Richard III had already ordered the deaths of the boys’ uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl of Rivers, and half-brother, Sir Richard Grey. Ghostly sightings of the two princes have been reported since the 15th century. Many have seen the ghosts clinging to one another and sobbing, but a more recent sighting in 1990 described the ghostly princes to be giggling.

Queen Anne Boleyn was charged by her husband King Henry VIII of treason, adultery, and incest (with her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford), and imprisoned in the tower. She was found guilty on May 15, 1536. George Boleyn and other men accused of being the queen’s lovers were also found guilty and executed. Queen Anne Boleyn met her end on May 19, 1536, a beheading accomplished with the single stroke of an expert swordsman. The following poem is thought to have been written either by Queen Anne Boleyn or her brother George Boleyn as they awaited their fate:

“O Death Rock Me Asleep”

O death! rock me asleep,
Bring me on quiet rest;
Yet pass my guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast:
Toll on the passing bell,
Ring out the doleful knell,
Let the sound of my death tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy,
For now I die
My pains who can express?
Alas! they are so strong,
My dolor will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong:
Toll on the passing bell, etc.
Alone, in prison strong,
I wail my destiny,
Wo worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery:
Toll on the passing bell, etc.
Farewell my pleasures past,
Welcome my present pain;
I feel my torments so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now the passing bell,
Rung is my doleful knell,
For the sound my death doth tell,
Death doth draw nigh,
Sound my end dolefully,
For now I die.

Although the ghost of Anne Boleyn has been sighted many times in or around the church near the tower, at times carrying her head under her arm, a famous sighting occurred in 1864 by General Dundas. The general reported seeing a ghostly white figure floating towards a guard in the courtyard of the tower. The guard charged her with bayonet raised and moved right through her. At the realization that he had seen a ghost, the guard fainted.

Margaret Pole, the former Countess of Salisbury, was imprisoned in the tower for being a part of the Pilgrimage of Grace two and a half years before her execution on May 27, 1541. Warring testimony accounts for the brutal manner of her death. One witness stated that an inexperienced axeman took eleven blows to affect her death; another claimed that the extra blows were due to Lady Salisbury’s attempt to run away from her fate.

The following poem had been carved upon the wall of the countess’s cell:

For traitors on the block should die;
I am no traitor, no, not I!
My faithfulness stands fast and so,
Towards the block I shall not go!
Nor make one step, as you shall see;
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

Over the years, Lady Salisbury’s screams have been heard and her ghostly form seen on the tower green; others have reported seeing the giant shadow of an axe coming down at the site of the countess’s execution.

Some visitors to the White Tower have reported a most disturbing crushing sensation while in the room where Henry VIII’s armor is displayed. Fortunately, this frightening sensation disappears once they leave the room.

Lady Jane Grey and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley were sentenced to death by Mary I and were killed on February 12, 1554. Lord Dudley is said to haunt Beauchamp Tower by weeping in his cell late into the night, and is thought to be responsible for the word “Jane” etched upon the wall. Lady Jane’s ghost has been seen wandering the battlements alone.

Lady Arabella Stuart was imprisoned in the tower and died in 1615. She may have been murdered but others say she succumbed from her own refusal to eat. She is said to haunt the Queen’s house and has often been seen weeping.

Even the animals from the Royal Menagerie have reportedly haunted their former living space. Visitors have reported hearing the cries of animals long dead. In 1815, a sentry was outside the jewel house when he was approached by the ghost of a bear. The incident was supposed to have so traumatized the man that he passed away weeks later.

I love a good ghost story! 🙂 I would love to visit the Towers of London to see some. 😉

And now, for that moment you’ve been waiting for — an excerpt from Miller’s latest book, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match.

In this excerpt, Darcy meets Georgiana’s new friend Miss Hester Drake for the first time at
the Darcy town home in London.

At the faint knock upon the door of his study, Darcy called out, “Enter.” He stood and the line of his mouth softened into a smile as his sister slipped into the room and stood before his desk. “Yes, Georgie?”

She skimmed the papers on his desk before facing him. “I wanted to remind you that my friend Miss Drake is due to arrive in thirty minutes. You did say you wished to meet her today.”

A depth of compassion swelled within him at the sight of his sister’s slumped posture and hesitant tone. His introduction to her friend meant a great deal to her. Darcy had been trying, for her sake, to act as though all was well. Had he been successful? With luck, his sister’s new friend would distract her from noticing anything amiss. “I have not forgotten. I shall join you after she arrives.”

Georgiana responded with a brilliant smile. Her words rushed out. “Thank you, Fitzwilliam. I need to go now and prepare.” His sister dashed from the room.

***

Darcy timed his appearance in the east sitting room for ten minutes into the call. The ladies and their companions rose at his entrance.

With a grin, Georgiana came forward to stand beside him. “Miss Drake and Miss Green, please allow me to present my brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Brother, this is my friend Miss Drake and her companion, Miss Green.”

After he bowed to their curtsies, Darcy surveyed the young lady and her companion.

Both displayed smiles and were well dressed with Miss Drake in the more expensive, stylish cut of gown as appropriate for her station. “Miss Drake, Miss Green, it is a pleasure to meet you both.” Both ladies replied in the usual way and took their seats at his urging.

Darcy forced himself to smile. Miss Drake was a pretty, poised young lady with reddish-brown hair, flawless, ivory skin, and an oval face. Her piercing green eyes—not as fine as Miss Elizabeth’s brown, expressive eyes but still quite attractive—seemed to indicate a keen mind. The lady had an admirable, full figure though not as light and pleasing as Miss Elizabeth’s form. What was he doing? Blast! He had to cease referring to Miss Elizabeth! He turned away, ran a hand through his hair, and took a seat across from Miss Drake. A moment later, his smile was back in place. “I hope your family is well. I attended university with your brother James, though we have not spoken in a long while.”

Miss Drake’s dulcet voice was infused with esprit. “Yes, Mr. Darcy. My family is exceedingly well. My brother James and his wife recently returned from an extended stay in Margate.”

He nodded and broadened his smile; it was the expected response. “I have been to Margate several times. It is a lovely town. When you see him, please pass on my best wishes.”

The young lady’s eyes held a vivid sheen. “I thank you. I shall do so.”

Darcy continued to chat with Miss Drake, but he also directed a couple of polite questions to Miss Green. At his first query, the companion sputtered in her response and her eyes widened; she had not expected to be addressed by him. And why would she? He would not have done so in the past—not before Miss Elizabeth’s chastisement. Blast and damn—he was not to think of her! Yet it was due to her alone that he strove to make improvements in his conduct. It was a shame she would never know of it.

After a few more minutes of conversation, Darcy rose. “I shall leave you ladies to yourselves. It was very nice to have met you, Miss Drake, Miss Green.” With a bow, he retreated from the room and made his way back to his study.

About the Author:

Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano (although like Elizabeth Bennet, she is errant when it comes to practicing), singing, and walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets.

Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match is her second novel published by Meryton Press. Her first was the Regency novel Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice romantic sequel with a touch of fantasy. Her third novel, Accusing Mr. Darcy, will be released later in 2020. Visit Kelly’s blog page, her on Twitter, and on Facebook.

GIVEAWAY: 8 ebooks; Enter HERE:

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Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match Blog Schedule

January 27 Austenesque Reviews

January 28 My Jane Austen Book Club

January 29 Austenprose

January 30 So Little Time…

January 31 Babblings of a Bookworm

February 3 More Agreeably Engaged

February 4 Savvy Verse & Wit

February 6 Donadee’s Corner

February 7 Diary of an Eccentric

February 10 From Pemberley to Milton

February 11 My Vices and Weaknesses

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.

The Child by Jan Hahn (audio)

Source: Meryton Press
Audiobook, 8+ hrs.
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The Child by Jan Hahn, narrated by Neil Roy McFarlane, imagines that Mr. Darcy is so heartbroken by Elizabeth Bennet’s rejection of his proposal at Hunsford that he drags Mr. Bingley on a European tour to forget about her. Upon his return, things have changed for the worse for the Bennet family and an illegitimate child has been born. He assumes that Elizabeth Bennet is the mother when he sees her on the streets of London with the child. It is this child that has driven a deep wedge between them, and Darcy must not only address Elizabeth’s assessment of his character, but also just how much, if at all, he had changed.

The narration was well done, and McFarlane was a convincing Darcy, as well as other characters. I loved that he brought a passion to Darcy’s inner thoughts. Something that is rarely seen or heard in other novels.

Told from Darcy’s point of view, we get an inside look at how heartbroken he was when he was rejected and how hard it is to see his unrequited love with a child that is not his own. He must learn to suppress his renewed desire for her, as he also strives to eliminate the blight on the Bennet family name. Unfortunately, in doing so, Darcy sinks to disguise (something he abhors) and in many ways falls below Elizabeth’s already scathing assessment of him. This was a bit tough to like, as was his sudden proposal at a time when his own reputation would be harmed. I do see how he was desperate, and those in love will do foolish things.

The Child by Jan Hahn, narrated by Neil Roy McFarlane, was a treat in terms of ingenuity on the part of the author and her rendering of the characters given the situation they found themselves in. Without giving too much away, Elizabeth and Darcy have even more obstacles to overcome, especially as Wickham plays a pivotal role in what could keep them apart forever.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Jan Hahn is fascinated by Jane Austen, 19th Century England, and true love. Having spent years in the world of business, she is now content to leave it behind and concentrate on writing about Austen’s characters finding true love in 19th Century England. A storyteller since childhood, she’s written skits and plays for local organizations and owned a business recording, writing and publishing oral histories. Jan is a member of JASNA and began writing novels based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 2002. Jan’s first novel, An Arranged Marriage, won the award for Best Indie book of 2011 from Austen Prose.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Fun Facts of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D’Orzaio

Today’s guest post is from Amy D’Orzaio, author of Jane Austen fiction A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.

First, here’s a little about the book:

Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him.

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given.

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept.

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?

Please give A. D’Orzaio a warm welcome:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me here at your wonderful blog for the launch of my new release, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. Today, I am sharing a post about the time period in which this story is set. Most of us who regularly read Austenesque stories are pretty well versed on the
years in which canon takes place, 1811-1812.

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, however, is set a little bit later, from autumn 1813 into spring 1814 and because I am a research-loving writer, I naturally set about to learn all I could about that time. I thought it might be fun to talk about some of the things which were happening in England at this time, to give everyone a little flavor of the world of my D&E. This list isn’t comprehensive by any means — but it is a list of things which have relevance to my story!

1. 1814 was one of the coldest years ever

From the end of December 1813 into January 1814, temperatures averaged -0.4◦C (24◦F) making it one of the five coldest winters in recorded history (up to that time — England has suffered worse since) Temperatures fell as low as -13◦C (8◦F), and the Thames froze solid enough to host a fair and provide support for an elephant to traverse it. It was also the most snow that England had for three centuries prior and for some time, drifts of snow 6 feet high blocked roads and halted the mail service.

There was an unexpected warming trend at the end of March and April proved uncommonly warm, almost summery (personally I am hoping for the same this winter!)

2. Lord Byron published his wildly successful book The Corsair

Le Corsair sold 10,000 copies in its first day of release (Dang!) In comparison, Pride and Prejudice, which was released only the year before, sold 1000-1200 copies in its first year and was also considered an enormous success.

3. Aladdin was onstage at Covent Garden Theatre.

While previously it had been performed as a juvenile pantomime, a new version of Aladdin debuted in 1813. It was touted as “a grand romantic spectacle” to differentiate itself from the prior, failed performances.

4. That red cloak!

Okay so this one doesn’t just pertain to 1814 but it’s on the cover of my book, so I thought it was worth a mention.

I will be honest and say I had previously thought red cloaks were the style of younger, more brazen type of women, an opinion which probably formed when I saw Kitty and Lydia Bennet sporting them in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.

A little research proved me entirely wrong! The red cloak was a staple of any fashionable English lady’s wardrobe for many decades, beginning in the latter part of the 18th century. Made of double-milled wool (to improve weather resistance) and lined for functional use and warmth. Some women had them for evening wear as well, made of light, unlined silks or velvet.

Why red? It was likely that the ladies were, in some sense, adapting the style of the military, as is often seen in war times, regardless of what century you live in. Red was considered a symbol of power and wealth, as well as patriotism — it was the red of the cross of St George, and the red
which dominated the crest of the House of Hanover, King George’s ancestry.

The extended reign of the red cloak lasted well into the 19th century, finally considered outmoded somewhere around 1830.

5. The Flu

Most of us who think of Regency England think of the Napoleonic Wars, but there were over 60,000 British soldiers (regulars and militia) who were in North America fighting the War of 1812.

The young men who traveled to North America from their homes in England faced danger not only on the battlefield but also from disease. North America and its people (including Native Americans) had particular strains of illnesses like the flu and pneumonia to which the young men from England had no immunity. Most historians believe it was disease, more so than battle, that killed the men who died in the War of 1812.

Those who did not succumb to the disease themselves were often sent home where they exposed people in England to these diseases. As a result, there was a near-epidemic of pneumonia and fever in London and in the towns and villages which hosted military units.

Thanks, Amy, for these interesting facts. I cannot wait to read this one.

About the Author:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pa.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

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

International Giveaway:

8 eBooks of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on Feb. 21 – until midnight ET on March 8, 2018. ENTER HERE.

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.

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis

Source: Meryton Press
Ebook, 424 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis is a Pride & Prejudice variation that will take Mr. Bingley to task for his easy-going manners that allow others to influence his decisions and will demonstrate how mistaking another’s actions can lead to disaster.  Misunderstandings in Jane Austen are nothing readers are unused to by now, but Lewis amps up the miscues and the drama in her variation.

“Life was muted in her absence.” (from Mistaken)

Much of the story from Austen remains intact here and Lewis shows readers what may have happened behind Austen’s scenes.  She also engages Austen’s characters in new ways and creates her own subplots. What worked well was the main love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and his demonstrable grief and her anger are tangible in Lewis’ deft hands.  Their romance is believable, despite the obstacles, and his fierce protection of Lizzy rings true.

“‘Cease hiding behind the Titan and admit it. You agreed with him.’

‘I did?’

‘Aye! He did not make you leave. You chose to do it.'” (from Mistaken)

However, in ramping up the misunderstandings, we see a side of Jane, Lizzy’s sister, that is less than pleasant as jealousy and resentment consume her to the point where her relationship with Lizzy appears altered forever. As Jane’s behavior dragged on and worsened to the point where this reader no longer liked her, it was hard to watch Lizzy deal with not only her new responsibilities, but also the absence of her best friend and sister and the repeated flirtations of men she had no interest in.  It read a little too much like a daytime drama in some instances, but the scenes where the ton are gossiping was exactly as readers would imagine it to be and demonstrates how fragile a woman’s reputation was in those times.

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis is unique in the number of misunderstandings that occur and how they are resolved in a series of puzzles that are laid out in pieces for the reader.  Lizzy is still headstrong and lively, but it is clear that this personality could get her in loads of trouble among upper society.  Readers of Pride & Prejudice will recognize various differences in their beloved characters, and the lack of resolution at the end for one plot may leave the door open for another part to come. Lewis’ novel is engaging and terrifying all at once, especially if you’ve grown attached to the Bennets and their new husbands.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

Mailbox Monday #429

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 I received:

Stronger Even Than Pride by Gail McEwen, a gift from Anna.

For Mature Audiences

“…in his behaviour to me there were stronger influences even than pride.” When George Wickham speaks these words to an impressionable Elizabeth Bennet, she can have no idea how true they will turn out to be. Stronger Even than Pride, Gail McEwen’s latest novel, explores whether love can survive the biggest obstacles that Fate and a most ruinous stubbornness-can conjure up to separate two people destined to be together.

After Elizabeth refuses to read the faithful narrative of Darcy’s dealings with Mr Wickham, this Pride and Prejudice variation takes an unexpected turn when she chooses to exonerate the wrong man. Events quickly spiral out of control, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to watch helplessly as the woman he loves slips further and further from his grasp.

Can there be a happily ever after for them? Can a love, stronger than pride, redeem even the worst mistakes?

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe was a surprise in the mailbox from Gallery Books.

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.

What did you receive?

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

Source: the author
Ebook, 229 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

In The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James, Evie Pemberton has realized part of her dream with her first art show. Despite the trials of her life, she is unaware that a storm is brewing, one that has been forming for generations as rumors have rippled up into a tidal wave set to overtake her. Enter the confident London-based private investigator Charlie Haywood, he finds himself awed by her beauty at the art show and he’s unable to craft a new persona through which he can uncover the truth of her family. Even though he is tongue-tied, Charlie still learns about the Darcy Trust and the possibility that Evie’s ancestors may not be entitled to its endowment.

“We live in a world, Galbraith, where a woman has only that which fortune has given her. She cannot shift for herself as a man can, and I have come to fear, that in time, and in future generations, the largesse which I gave them may be diminished.”

James creates a novel in which readers can see how newly married Mr. and Mrs. Darcy interact with one another, how her family impacts her relationship with her new husband, and the insecurities that plague her as a new mother, wife, and lady of Pemberley. While Darcy and Lizzy still tease each other and remain happily married, there are pressures from society that seep in the cracks, causing discord for them. Charlie and Evie’s story is a straight forward mystery, and as Charlie and Evie grow closer to the truth of a generational mystery, they also grow closer to one another. While the modern story seems a bit rushed in places, their romance is believable. James’ portrayal of a married couple and pregnancy is very realistic, and will have readers wondering how anyone survived pregnancy in the Regency period.

“I am tired and my back aches like the low moan of an orchestra tuning up.”

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James is a wonderful mystery that unravels, tugs at the emotions, and realistically portrays marriage and motherhood. James knows Austen’s characters, and she explores a number of societal norms from inheritance of estates by male heirs to familial bonds that go beyond biology.

RATING: Cinquain

jenetta-james-author-picAbout the Author:

Jenetta James is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy which was published by Meryton Press in April 2015. The Elizabeth Papers is her second novel.

Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North

Source: Meryton Press
ebook, 300 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North, set in post-WWII America, touches upon the Deep South’s continued segregation, and the desire to maintain the old ways where women are concerned even though they stepped up in may cases to fill men’s jobs when they were away at war.  North has created a complex novel through which Will Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have very different lives and expectations.  Lizzie has locked her heart away after her time away at school in Charleston, while Darcy has struggled to keep his own passions in check as he builds his textile empire.  North has focused less on the class expectations and differences, and more on the societal changes and the implications of those changes on the Deep South.

Lizzie is as strong-willed and teasing as ever, and Darcy is as mysterious and aloof, bumbling around in society. However, dark secrets lay beneath Mr. Collins piousness, Charlotte’s practical nature, and Bingley’s ever-sunny disposition.  North goes deeper into these characters motivations, pulling out the truth behind the facade.

While there were things that seemed a little out of place — maybe just by a few years — they did not detract from the story.  Lizzie is a songstress with a captivating voice, and Darcy is at a disadvantage and is captured in her nest before either realizes how things have changed between them.  But North knows how to keep readers interested by blowing up the Austen world, rearranging it satisfactorily, and making it her own.  Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North is a wonderful addition to the Austen world, but it’s also much more than that.  It delves into the issues of segregation, women’s place in society, the rights of minorities, and post-traumatic stress disorder that accompanies so many soldiers home from war.

About the Author:

Beau North is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with English Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, an internet collective focused on pop culture. This is her first novel.  You can connect with Beau on Twitter, Facebook, or via http://beaunorth.merytonpress.com. If you’ve enjoyed this book, we welcome your fair and honest review on Goodreads and Amazon.

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Mailbox Monday #349

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, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North for review from Meryton Press.

In the autumn of 1948, young millionaire Will Darcy comes to the sleepy, backwater town of Meryton, South Carolina to visit his best friend, Charles Bingley. When Darcy becomes enchanted by a local beauty with a heavenly voice, his business dealings with Longbourn Farms may close the door to his romantic hopes before they are given a chance to thrive.

Still healing from heartbreak, Elizabeth Bennet takes solace in her family, home, and the tight-knit community of Meryton. That foundation is shaken when Will Darcy makes a successful offer to buy the family farm. Blinded by hurt, will Elizabeth miss the chance to find in him the peace and comfort her heart truly needs?

Confronting the racial, economic, and social inequalities of the times, Longbourn’s Songbird is an imaginative romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and told through the lens of postwar America, a story layered with betrayal and loss, love, and letting go.

Happy Birthday, Cupcake by Terry Border from Vicki at I’d Rather Be at the Beach for my daughter.  Thank you!

What’s a cupcake to do when she needs to plan her birthday party? In this hilarious, kid-friendly homage to food and birthdays, Cupcake runs through tons of ideas while her best friend, Blueberry Muffin, finds reasons why they won’t work: Soup gets seasick; Donut melts in the sun; someone might get squashed during musical chairs; and Cupcake is not very good at limbo (her icing might get sliced off!). Just as Cupcake is ready to crumble, Blueberry Muffin has one last idea that just might save the day.

With laugh-out-loud visual gags (like a band made up of beans–the musical fruit, of course), this book is sure to put a birthday smile on any kid’s face (and on adult faces as well).

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton for review from Penguin.

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing.

What did you receive?