Quantcast

Exclusive Excerpt from Christmas with Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly

If you’re anything like me and you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, you just love the oodles of fan fiction, spinoffs, and continuations that are flooding the market and feature Mr. Darcy . . . and of course the Bennets.  There also are the modern day retellings as well that keep me coming back for more, and Victoria Connelly, author of A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, is one author that doesn’t seem to disappoint with her renditions.

Her current novella, Christmas with Mr. Darcy, is a sequel to her Austen Addicts Trilogy (A Weekend with Mr Darcy, Dreaming of Mr Darcy, and Mr Darcy Forever) in which characters from the trilogy meet again at Purley Hall in Hampshire for a special Jane Austen Conference. But when a first edition of Pride and Prejudice goes missing, there is only one thing for them all to do . . . find out where it has gone.

Connelly has a quick wit and some great characters, who always need a little extra help from Austen to get down the romantic path.  I’m sure this novella, first available on Kindle, will be no exception.

Today, she’s offered my readers and exclusive excerpt from the novella to whet your appetites, but first a note from the author:

I have always wanted to write a Christmas book and, this time last year, I had the idea for Christmas with Mr Darcy. All the main characters from my Austen Addicts Trilogy would come together when they attend a very special Jane Austen conference at Purley Hall in Hampshire – the setting of A Weekend with Mr Darcy. Throw in a badly behaved lost brother, a marriage proposal, and a missing first edition of Pride and Prejudice and the stage is set for a fun-filled festive season!

I really hope you enjoy finding out what happened next to my characters. It might be a little early for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas but I have to confess that writing this novella made me want to unpack all of our glittery baubles and start decorating our home!

Thanks, Victoria. We hope that you enjoy your holidays. And now the excerpt from Christmas with Mr. Darcy:

Robyn Love Harcourt was writing the last of her Christmas cards. She’d left it horribly late this year but she’d been so busy organising the Christmas conference with Dame Pamela that her own private little Christmas had been put on hold. Still, it had all been such enormous fun. She’d been working happily as Dame Pamela’s PA since accepting the job offer after her first weekend at Purley and had fallen into the new role as if she’d been performing it her whole life.

Together, they had pored over hundreds of magazines and websites for inspiration for the Christmas conference and, Robyn couldn’t help thinking with a laugh, perhaps they’d spent a little too much time discussing colour schemes.

“Is pink and purple a bit too much?” Dame Pamela had asked at one point, having found a company that sold pink glitter-ball baubles.

Robyn had been swept along by the idea of Purley Hall decked out in romantic shades of pink and lustrous shades of purple but had then come back down to earth.

“I think we’d better keep things traditional,” she’d said at last, secretly craving the pink baubles they’d discovered. Perhaps Dan would let her decorate their own tree with them. She could just imagine how pretty Horseshoe Cottage would look. She’d already secretly purchased a couple of gingerbread garlands and two ropes of multi-coloured fairy lights which baby Cassie had loved when Robyn had switched them on.

Once again, Robyn felt the warm glow of pride when she thought about her little girl. She still couldn’t believe how her life had changed since coming to the Jane Austen Conference. She’d fallen madly in love with her host’s younger brother, Dan Harcourt, and she couldn’t believe that he’d returned her feelings. It had all been such a whirlwind. She’d given up her job in North Yorkshire and had driven herself and her hens all the way down to Hampshire to start her new life. She smiled as she remembered that dreadful journey with Lizzie, Lydia, Mrs Bennet, Lady Catherine, Miss Bingley and Wickham the cockerel. Named after characters from Pride and Prejudice, Robyn had since added three ex-factory hens to her flock: Elinor, Marianne and Emma. They’d arrived at Horseshoe Cottage with pale combs and threadbare breasts but they had embraced their new free-range life and had bloomed into beautiful birds.

Robyn would often laugh with Dan at the life they’d created for themselves. There were dogs, horses, hens and a baby. It was permanent chaos but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Past reviews:

Some Long Awaited Winner Announcements

Congrats to all of you. 

And there is still time to enter the National Poetry Month giveaways through the end of TODAY!

Winner is Anna of Diary of an Eccentric

Winner is Heather of The Maiden's Court

Winner is Sophia Rose

Winner is Dawn from She Is Too Fond of Books

Winner is Janel from Janel's Jumble

Winner of Dr. Seuss Giveaway is The Girl from Diary of an Eccentric; check out that hat.

Guest Post: Romantic Comedies Ooze Love and Laughter by Victoria Connelly

Yesterday, I reviewed Victoria Connelly’s third book in the Austen Addicts series, Mr. Darcy Forever, which is a more serious look at the bonds of sisters among Janeites.  Sarah and Mia Castle are friends and sisters and while friends shouldn’t like the same man, it is even worse when the same sisters like him.

Like most Austen-inspired novels, there is misconceptions, misunderstandings, and downright fun in those pages.  Connelly, however, has a gift for creating Austenesque characters with modern sensibilities and troubles. 

Today, Victoria is stopping by to share with my readers her favorite genre of books and why they’re her favorites — and by now, you should have guessed its romantic comedies.  Without further ado, please give her a warm welcome.

I grew up watching the films of Doris Day, Gene Kelly and Marilyn Monroe so I’ve always been a great fan of romantic comedies and it’s no surprise that I longed to write them myself. It’s a genre that blends two of the most important things in life: love and laughter.

I also love reading romantic comedies and some of my favourite authors are Sophie Kinsella, Deborah Wright, Ruth Saberton and Raffaella Barker. I adore their lightness of touch and their zany, larger-than-life characters. Sophie Kinsella never fails to make me laugh out loud. Her first-person narratives are highly addictive and really let you get close to her heroines, and her heroes are irresistible – of course!

One of my favourite books of all time he is H E Bates’s The Darling Buds of May. It was first published in 1958 and I think it’s really stood the test of time. It’s full of warm humour and has at its heart two love stories: that of the awkward tax inspector, Cedric ‘Charley’ Charlton, who falls under the spell of young Mariette Larkin and never returns to the tax office and his dreary old job. There’s also the more mature love story of Pop and Ma Larkin and their ever-increasing brood of children. Whenever I needed a pick me up, I turn to this book and the wonderful TV adaptation made in the early 90s. It is romantic comedy at its very best.

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing your favorites with us.

If you’d like to win a copy of the book, leave a comment below.

Giveaway is open to U.S./Canada residents and will end on April 13, 2012.

Good Luck!

Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly

Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly is the third book in the author’s Austen Addicts series (to be published in April by Sourcebooks), though each book can be read as a stand alone.  Sarah and Mia Castle could not be more different, and while they compare themselves to Austen’s famous sisterly pair Marianne and Elinor from Sense & Sensibility, they are far more complicated.  Mia is a wanna-be actress/singer who is struggling to find her niche in her career and who readily sticks her foot in her mouth, while Sarah is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and can barely eat in restaurants without first examining their cleanliness.  These sisters are like best friends and both love Jane Austen and the yearly festival in Bath, but what happens if a man comes between them?

“But it wasn’t his face Sarah was trying to get a good look at, but the cover of his book.  She was always fascinated by what other people were reading and couldn’t help wanting to know what the handsome stranger was reading.”  (Page 58 ARC)

While both sisters are seeking their very own Mr. Darcy, they end up with a Willoughby and broken hearts.  Sarah and Mia spend three years without speaking, a sisterly relationship that seems irrevocably broken, but Jane Austen comes to the rescue when both cannot resist the Regency period and all of the celebration Bath has to offer.  Can Austen repair this damaged relationship and help them find true love and a happy ending?

Connelly peppers her prose with wit and fun, but she also tackles tough issues when Sarah and Mia fall for the same man.  Her characters react in real ways to the hurts they endure and they react with anger and passion when the situations warrant it.  Readers will be swept away by Mia and Sarah’s story as Connelly alternates between the present when they are not speaking and three years prior when the incident that tears them apart happens.  From the side characters Connelly creates to the reappearances of characters from the previous two novels in the series, she weaves an intricate story that Austen lovers will be unable to put down.

Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly is about love and forgiveness between sisters who are swept up in Austen’s fairy tale-like world of happy endings, only to find that the happiness they thought they would have was fleeting.  A more serious, modern Austen that explores the bonds between sisters and the power of the love they share to overcome anything.

About the Author:

Victoria Connelly grew up in Norfolk before attending Worcester College where she studied English Literature. After graduating, she worked her way through a number of jobs before becoming a teacher in North Yorkshire.

In 2000, she got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and moved to London. Five weeks after their wedding, her husband, a television news cameraman, was sent to Israel. Convinced something terrible would happen to him, she came up with the idea for a novel about a young widow who starts seeing angels on her desk at work, but was scared to write it in case she tempted fate. It was only years later that her husband admitted to having a bullet graze his shirt sleeve whilst filming in Israel!

Mailbox Monday #161

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is the At Home With Books.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, which I received for my TLC Tour stop in March.

2.  Vampire Knits by Genevieve Miller, which came unsolicited from Random House.

These I won from BookHounds and some of these will find homes with my mother (who just loves mystery novels) and some other friends:

3. Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes

4. Day by Day Armageddon Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne

5. The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham

6. Bet Your Bones by Jeanne Matthews

7. Swift Justice by Laura DiSilverio

8. Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey

9. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

10. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

11. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

BACK to the review copies and the book buys from the weekend:

12. The Unauthorized Biography of Michele Bachman by Ken Brosky

13. The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell for review from Sourcebooks

14. Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly for review from Sourcebooks

15. Catalina by Laurie Soriano for consideration in the Indie Lit Awards Poetry category

16. If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien, which I bought at the book club meeting at Novel Places for $1.50 to complete by collection of O’Brien books.

17. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore, which I also bought at the book club meeting at Novel Places for $1.99 because I loved this book when I first read it and want my own copy.

18. Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos, which I also bought at the book club meeting, since Anna told me it was hilarious.

What did you receive this week?

Interview with Victoria Connelly, Author of Dreaming of Mr. Darcy

I recently read and reviewed and loved Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly, which is the second book in her trilogy for Jane Austen addicts — just like me.  If you’re looking for drama on and off the movie set in Lyme Regis as an adaptation of Persuasion is filmed, this book fits the bill and even offers more Austen fun.  Characters resemble Emma, Darcy, and the other characters we know and love, but the story is modern and fast-paced as Connelly’s cast makes their way in the world and take ahold of their passions.

Connelly was kind enough to answer some interview questions about her writing and the book, so please give her a warm welcome and feel free to join in the conversation.

1. Tell us about your writing space. Do you have a specific place that you prefer to do your writing? 

We have just moved to a little cottage in rural Suffolk and I now have my very own study which I love!  From my window, I can see fields full of horses.  It’s lovely and peaceful and I’m surrounded by books and photos for inspiration.  My desk is a big old Victorian pine table, cluttered with pen pots, photo frames and mugs.  I love my desk and I’m very happy working there but I’m equally happy working with my laptop when we go away.  I can work in most places as long as it’s quiet and there aren’t too many distractions.

2. What does a normal writing day look like? 

I like to get a bit of writing in first thing in the morning before walking our dog and taking care of our hens.  Then I work until lunchtime, walk the dog again and then write until the middle of the evening.  I try to write about 1,000 words a day and – if it’s not going well – I can still be writing late into the evening.  The joy of working from home is that you can set your own timetable and make your own rules so, if it’s a lovely sunny day, you can down tools and have a day out or work right through the weekend if you want to.

3. What sorts of things inspire you?  

Well, for the last few years, Jane Austen has been my big inspiration.  I’ve been rereading her books, watching the glorious adaptations and visiting the Austen locations of Hampshire, Lyme Regis and Bath which all helped inspire my trilogy about Austen addicts.  Other things that have inspired past novels have been junk mail (which inspired Molly’s Millions), Venetian masks (inspired Unmasking Elena Montella) and my husband being sent to a war zone inspired my novel Flights of Angels!  Inspiration comes from all around me: people, places, other books and films – I’m never short of ideas which is really exciting.

4. Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process? 

When I start a new novel, I like to get a new coloured A4 file and I put all sorts of things inside it like photographs, maps, leaflets etc.  But the very first thing that goes inside it is a spider diagram with all my characters’  names on it.  I can’t begin a new novel until that is in place!

5. Anything else you’d like to share! 

Last year, I released some books on Kindle including three magical romantic comedies that were all published in Germany.  One – Flights of Angels – was even made into a film but this is the first time the novels have been available in the English language and they’re all doing really well as ebooks.  I also plan to write a novella sequel to my Austen addicts trilogy where the main characters from each of the books return to Purley Hall in Hampshire for a special Christmas Austen conference.  It should be available in time for next Christmas so watch out for that!  I think Kindle is a really exciting way forward for books.

Thanks, Victoria Connelly, for answering my questions.

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly is the second book in her Austen Addicts trilogy, and is a must have in any Austen fan’s collection for its unique set of characters and the clear references to Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, and more.  Starring Kay Ashton, who works in a dead end and thankless job, and she’s surrounded by a unique cast from her mother’s friend and fellow Janeite to the cast of actors that invade her new Bed and Breakfast in Lyme Regis.  Kay finds herself playing Emma Woodhouse on one occasion, only to find her results end up much the same as Emma’s, but all the while, she’s looking for her own dashing hero and trying to rekindle the passion she has for painting.  Beth is the prototypical actress diva who wants all of the attention for herself, and she surrounds herself with the rest of the cast, including the dreamy Oli Wade Owen.  But Gemma is not the typical actress — she’s shy and often in the shadow of her mother, a famed television and movie actress whose career is practically non-existent until she weasels her way into the production of Persuasion, produced and written by Adam.

“It was funny that she should be dreaming about Mr. Darcy, because she’d been drawing Captain Wentworth for the last few weeks now.  Darcy had been the main subject of her last book — a collection of drawings in pen, and watercolour paintings of scenes from Pride and Prejudice.” (page 5 ARC)

There are moments in the novel when Connelly tells the reader of the Austen connection, which could have been left up to the reader to discover, but that is not bothersome when readers are swept away by the antics of Beth to get Oli’s attention or when Kay is berating herself for falling for an actor like Oli when she knows she shouldn’t.  Nana Craig, Adam’s granny, is a hot little ticket with her poking and prodding of Adam in the right direction to get his love life moving, and she has some choice advice for Kay as well.  Living in Lyme is not as romantic as Kay imagined, but her imagination sometimes runs away with her and gets overblown in more ways than one.  Readers will get the idea that she hasn’t lived much of her life outside the covers of an Austen novel the way she goes on, but its always in fun and helps liven up the interactions she has with her star guests.

“Kay settled back into her seat and adjusted the red hairpiece above her left temple.  It felt like it was slipping.  She looked in the wing mirror.  She wasn’t all that sure about herself as a redhead.  She’d had visions of being transformed into a beautiful pre-Raphaelite nymph, but she believed she looked more like a slightly baffled red Irish setter.”  (page 174 ARC)

Connelly creates characters that are lively and fun, and readers will love hanging around with them as they gossip, maneuver, and fall flat on their faces looking for romance.  While Austen characters and stories do play a role here, they aren’t necessary, as the novel and its characters could stand on their own.  There is a mix of arts here from screenwriters to actors/actresses and painters, which is juggled well by Connelly.  With the number of heroes, heroines, and secondary characters and subplots, it would be easy to get lost if it weren’t for the author’s ability to juggle those story lines and ensure that readers never miss a beat or feel bogged down by one story or another.  On a deeper level, the novel is about making dreams come true, following your passions, and living life to the best of your ability even if it means making a giant leap of faith to do it.  If you’re looking for fun, Lyme is the place for you and Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly is an excellent read to take you on an escape by the seaside.

Mailbox Monday #151

First, I would like to congratulate (Ryan) on winning My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due (my review) from the last Mailbox Monday giveaway.

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is the Mailbox Monday tour blog.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  You Are My Only by Beth Kephart; finally my 5 pre-ordered books arrived (so the two of you readers who have won a copy should receive them soon from me) and 1 autographed copy from Beth after I won her Treasure Hunt, which I will treasure forever.

2.  Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly for review in January from Sourcebooks.

3.  Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers for review in December from Ulysses Press.

4.  Henry Tilney's Diary by Amanda Grange for review in December from Berkley/Penguin.

5.  The Unexpected Miss Bennet by Patrice Sarath for review in December from Berkley/Penguin.

6. Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov, which I won from Unabridged Chick!

7. All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson from Library Thing Early Reviewers.

What did you get in your mailbox?

A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

 

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

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

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

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

My Craziest Austen-Related Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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