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The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace

Source: Maria Grace
Paperback, 384 pgs.
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The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace (Book 2 in The Queen of Rosings Park series) and Lizzy and Darcy are not the stars of this one.  Lydia is always portrayed as the youngest, silliest sister who gets herself into the worst trouble, forcing Darcy to rescue her and pay Wickham to take her.  What if there were an alternative?  What if she was caught soon enough and could be sent to what is essentially reform school?

Lydia is ungrateful, as she pines for Wickham at Mrs. Drummond’s school, but she soon learns that there is little sympathy among the other students.  She misses Wickham, hates Darcy and Lizzy and her father, and has little love for Mrs. Drummond or Miss Fitzgilbert.  Despite her reluctance to do the chores set before her and the charitable visits to the alms houses and other places in Summerseat, she finds herself growing closer to Miss Fitzgilbert and Juliana, who is even more of a fallen woman than she is.  The lessons on numbers do not stick with her, but her lessons in drawing and painting and music are her saving grace.  Her pencil flits across the page and she creates realistic pictures of her friends and various situations. 

Her new friends are a balm to her loneliness, and she soon finds her place at the school, even though there are a few students who try to make her stay uncomfortable.  As Lydia uncovers her creative side, she begins to see her other friends at the school as less than pleasant, especially when they blame her for things that she did not do.   The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace (Book 2 in The Queen of Rosings Park series) is refreshing and enjoyable, and Lydia grows and evolves in the most wonderful ways, while maintaining her sense of humor and ability to enjoy sisterly interaction.

Rating: Cinquain

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About the Author:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, sewn six Regency era costumes, written seven Regency-era fiction projects, and designed eight websites. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace

Source: the author
Paperback, 378 pgs
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Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace is a phenomenal Pride & Prejudice rendering, and this series is shaping up to be one of the best in the market.  Grace has a firm grasp of Jane Austen’s characters, but she also is not afraid to make them her own.  As she explores the conditions brought about by emotional abuse, readers will see a darker side to the hints of neglect in Austen’s original novel.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh will stop at nothing to save her daughter Anne from her ailments, but her patronage comes with a price — sometimes too high of a price.  Dr. Thomas Bennet gives up his London practice and moves his family to Rosings so he can care for Anne, and Elizabeth dutifully helps him in his ministrations.  Lady Catherine does not stop at telling people who to court and who to seek out as husbands and wives, but she offers her advice in all things from draperies to clothes.  Those who presume to know more, have more experience, or contradict her current statements with her own previous advice best watch out for her unfettered wrath.

“She pushed the window open and gulped in fresh air.  Anyone who saw her would believe her half drowned, and she was — suffocating in pretense and overbearing interference.  At Rosings, she could hardly draw breath without instruction on how to carry it out more properly, more elegantly, more to her satisfaction.” (pg. 66)

Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace is stunning and emotional, and readers will be blown away by the uniqueness of her plot and characterization.  While some may say they deviate too far from Austen’s original characters in some cases, isn’t that the fruit of creativity.  She has taken these characters and made them her own, and in many ways, they are even more nuanced and dynamic that they were in the original, especially those who were more minor characters.  There are some tough emotional issues tackled in this one, beyond the romantic entanglements. It’s the first P&P rendering I’ve given 5 stars to in a long time.

***Giveaway for 2 ebooks***

Open internationally, comment by Aug. 5, 2015, at 11:59 pm EST, about your favorite Jane Austen spin-off, retelling, or continuation.

About the Author:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, sewn six Regency era costumes, written seven Regency-era fiction projects, and designed eight websites. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

Guest Post: Emotional Abuse by Maria Grace

Maria Grace has taken the time to offer a guest post on emotional abuse, which ties into her latest book, Mistaking Her Character.

About the Book:

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is prepared to be very generous when it comes to medical care for her sickly daughter, Anne – generous enough to lure noted physician Dr. Thomas Bennet to give up his London practice and move his family to Rosings Park. But his good income comes with a price: complete dependence on his demanding patroness’s every whim.

Now the Bennet family is trapped, reliant on Lady Catherine for their survival. Their patroness controls every aspect of the Bennet household, from the shelves in the closet to the selection of suitors for the five Bennet daughters. Now she has chosen a husband for headstrong Elizabeth Bennet– Mr. George Wickham.

But Lady Catherine’s nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is not so sure about his aunt’s choice. He is fascinated by the compassionate Elizabeth who seems to effortlessly understand everyone around her, including him. Lady Catherine has other plans for Darcy, though, and she forbids Elizabeth to even speak to him.

As Anne’s health takes a turn for the worse, Darcy and Elizabeth are thrown together as Dr. Bennet struggles to save Anne’s life. Darcy can no longer deny the truth – he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. But Lady Catherine will do anything to stop Darcy from marrying her – even if it means Elizabeth will lose everything she loves.

Please give Maria Grace a warm welcome:

In my latest book, I ended up tackling the issue of an emotionally abusive family relationship. I say ‘ended up’ because I honestly can’t say I set out to deal with the topic when I started the book. The entire family dynamic I had envisioned when I started ended up turned upside down and a far darker, more complex one emerged as several emotionally abusive characters moved to the forefront. Their behavior was so subtle that my readers were the ones that pointed out to me how abusive the characters were. This goes to show how very difficult emotional abuse can be to identify.

Emotion abuse is a difficult and often misunderstood issue. Very often, neither the abuser nor their victim recognize the abusive nature of the relationship. To both of them, it is just the way things are. Often the abuser never learned healthy coping mechanisms for the normal challenges of healthy, positive relationships. They respond to the normal ups and downs with an offensive pattern of verbal threatening, bullying, and criticism, with more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming, humiliation, isolation, and manipulation thrown into the mix for good measure. The goal, conscious or not, is to control and subjugate the other person into obedience and even dependence in the relationship.

Although emotional and verbal abuse does not leave physical marks like physical abuse, its victims often assert that physical abuse would have been easier to bear because then, they and others around could more easily have recognized that abuse was happening. As the abuse continues and the emotional wounds deepen, abuse victims feel so emotionally unsafe that they begin to doubt their own feelings and abilities, their senses, opinions, memories, and even their judgement. To prevent negative reactions from their abusers, they will refrain from expressing their opinions and wants, leading to increasing feelings of vulnerability, and insecurity as they are trapped and powerless against the emotional control of their abuser. They become hypervigillant, guarding against anything that might trigger a bad response from the abuser as they accept the maxim that they are at fault for any and everything that disturbs their abuser. In the long run, depression, anxiety disorders and even post-traumatic stress disorder can result.

Abusers often share in a set of common characteristics, often beginning with having been abused themselves or witnessing abuse in their family of origin. Not all abuse victims or witnesses go on to be abusers themselves, though. Abusers often have explosive tempers, fed by possessiveness, jealousy and an intense desire to control the other person. Abusers tend to have low self-esteem and extremely rigid expectations of relationships. The other person and only the other person must compromise to meet expectations. More difficult still, the abuser projects blame for their own bad mood or behavior on the other person. They are never at fault, only the other person. Despite all this, they are able to project a very charming and likeable persona to the world around them.

Many behaviors qualify as emotional abuse. These may look normal, even innocuous in a one-off situation, and in truth, they might be excusable if they were to happen only on very rare occasions. However, one of the things that makes them abuse is the frequency with which they occur. Abusive behaviors include (but ae not limited to) verbally abusive speech like name calling, putting the victim down with constant criticism, yelling and screaming, and intentionally embarrassing the victim in front of others. Abusers often seek to control their victims, isolating them from friends and family, determining what they may or may not do, even what they might wear. Abusers frequently blame their own anger and bad behavior on the victim—‘if you didn’t make me so angry…’. If the victim does not capitulate, the abuser may progress to threatening to damage or destroy the victim’s possessions, to harm the victim or people the victim cares about, or even commit suicide themselves. The list goes on, but taken together, the abuse leaves the victim feeling helpless, powerless, worthless, and wondering if they have any worth apart from their relationship to the abuser.

Consequently, recognizing and breaking free from an abusive relationship is very difficult. Chances are, if one is wondering if their relationship is abusive, there is a good chance it is, especially friends and family hate the way one’s significant other treats them.

Can an abuser change? Very, very rarely, if there is a very deep commitment to change and to an accountability system, like a therapist or group, that will help them along the way. But an abuse victim should not rely upon the abusers promises to change. Ultimately, most victims find that leaving the relationship is their only option to stop the abuse.

If you believe you might be in an abusive relationship, here are some online resources that may be of help: Out of the Fog; Love is Respect

author 7_2014_rbf copyAbout the Author:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six more novels in draft form, waiting for editing, seven published novels, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and tries to run at least ten miles a week.

She can be contacted at by email: [email protected]; Facebook; Google+; Amazon author page; Random Bits of Fascination; Austen Variations; English Historical Fiction Authors; Twitter; and Pinterest.

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Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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