Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rational Creatures...Caitlin Williams


The Rational Creatures Blog Tour stops by More Agreeably Engaged today and the spotlight is on the talented author, Caitlin Williams. It is such an honor to have Caitlin visit and tell us about her short story., but before we get to Caitlin's post and excerpt, here is a bit more about this anthology filled with stories by some fabulous authors!

Book Description
“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft


Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser
*****
CAITLIN WILLIAMS is an award-winning author of Ardently, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, When We Are Married, and The Events at Branxbourne, that all spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.
*****
It is my pleasure to welcome Caitlin Williams, whose short story features Harriet Smith from Emma

*****
Thank you, Janet, for hosting me at your lovely blog. I had the pleasure to write a story in Rational Creatures, that is based on Harriet Smith, a character that I find most intriguing. I can’t wait to read the comments from your readers!
The Rise and Fall, and levelling out of Harriet Smith, is a story
within a story in Emma. When I was asked to pen a tale in this anthology, I had
to consider her within the context of Austen’s 19
th Century England. Her Illegitimacy, though not an uncommon
circumstance at the time, would have been a strangulating force for any girl
hoping to marry well. While our dear author, and her creation Emma Woodhouse,
play with Harriet, her fate, if we are to be realistic, is never in doubt.
Snobbery still exists today and will never go away, but the actual
social boundaries, the invisible walls which stood tall in Austen’s day, have
crumbled away to almost nothing. For us, it can be hard to imagine the
difficulties Harriet would have faced. We live in a world where Megan Markle, a
divorced, American actress has married into the Royal Family. Welcomed
wholeheartedly, the new Duchess of Sussex is adored by the British public. In
2018, diversity was celebrated at the wedding of the year, and she and her
prince were woven together in a beautiful blend of modernity and tradition
Yet, if we go back only fifty years, we see a stark contrast in
the story of Princess Margaret. The Queen’s sister was faced with an almost
impossible choice when she fell in love with a divorced man, an employee even!
Rather than following her heart, which would have meant giving up her titles,
privileges and income, and living in exile from her family—Margaret forsook
Group Captain Peter Townsend. She remained Her Royal Highness Princess
Margaret, but many suggest it was a decision she bitterly regretted for the
rest of her stormy, turbulent life.
And, in the 1930’s, King Edward VIII had to abdicate his throne in
order to marry the woman he loved, another divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
So how difficult was life for Harriet Smith in the early 1800’s?
She would have lived by a set of incredibly rigid, unwritten rules.
Mr Knightley, older and more worldly-wise than Emma, is full of
caution in the novel. He warns Emma against matchmaking between Harriet and Mr
Elton. He knows the ambitious Mr Elton will never consider Harriet, and that
his tenant, Robert Martin, would make a far more suitable husband. Emma is too
carried away by her own fancies and convinced of her dubious talents to pay him
any heed. She gives not enough thought to social mores and prejudice, and
encourages Harriet to fall in love with the parson. Mr Knightley tells her it
is cruel, and he is right, because it is doomed.
In the hands of a lesser author this might have been a ‘rags to
riches’ tale, with Harriet Smith being the heroine; a sweet girl with a kind
heart who overcomes her humble beginnings to marry the rich landowner.
 Jane Austen, however, was cleverer than most, and perhaps also cynical
and sly, and what she gives us is a more believable tale, with a troubling
moral that is definitely not correct.
Having lived humbly and quietly, often in a kind of genteel
poverty, Jane Austen was mostly dependent on the charity of her relations, but
she was also connected, on her mother’s side, to high society. This gave her
the opportunity to see the world from all angles. Her novels are not simple
romances, or light comedies, they are important historical documents which give
us an invaluable understanding into Georgian country life.
So, in this very practical novel—written by the most rational
creature of them all—the undeserving, meddling Emma, ends up with the
swoon-worthy Mr Knightley, while Harriet seemingly has to settle for Robert
Martin.
What Austen understood is that life is a series of compromises,
and that we fight constantly between our heads and hearts, between practicality
and desire. How often do we have to wash the dishes when we’d rather run among
the daisies? Nevertheless, I like to believe that Harriet did find happiness;
that her farmer became her prince, and her farmhouse was her palace.
Harriet was probably not very rational at all, even though she met
with a rational end. But because I’m more of a Harriet than a Jane, in my
story, her ending is a loving one too.
*****
RATIONAL CREATURES excerpt
IN GOOD HANDS
CAITLIN WILLIAMS
The reason for Robert Martin’s presence in the Knightley’s hall was made clear later when they were taking afternoon tea. Mr. Knightley, who had just arrived home, explained his brother had sent Mr. Martin to Town to deliver some papers. Mr. Martin had called at the house first but, upon being told Mr. Knightley was at his chambers, had gone there instead.
“Robert Martin is a level-headed, clever young man who deserves a great deal more than he has got,” Mr. Knightley said. “I think the young girl he sets his cap at will be very fortunate indeed.”
“Well, he has gained George’s good opinion,” Mrs. Knightley added. “He places a good deal of trust in him.” She poured her husband’s coffee. “Should we ask him to join us for dinner, do you think, before he returns to Highbury?”
“Oh, I am sure there is no need for that!” Harriet exclaimed before she could stop herself. “He would not expect to receive such notice from you.”
“No need for it, certainly,” Mr. Knightley replied, “but I did enjoy talking to him. Would you not like to see him, Harriet? He might give you news of all your friends in Highbury.” 
Mr. Knightley’s sardonic tone gave Harriet little clue as to whether he was serious or attempting to tease her. Was there a mischievous glint in his eyes, or had they just been caught by the late afternoon sun that streamed in through the windows? Its rays were bouncing off the crystal bowl that held the sugar lumps. 
Harriet put the biscuit she had been eating back on her plate, fearing she would not be able to swallow it. Her mouth had become dry, her appetite gone. 
She was suddenly lost in remembrances of the bright days she had enjoyed at the Martin’s farm. They were long summer days, yet they had flown quickly by, made shorter by wonderful company and a good deal of laughter. She thought of the time when they had spoken of books. Robert Martin had not mocked her for her taste in romantic novels. Instead, he had smiled shyly at her and told her that his land took up much of his time but that he would like to be better read. 
“It is not for me to say whether he should come or not. I should not decide it,” Harriet said quietly, realising she had left too long a pause, caused a gap in the conversation. “You must do what pleases you, Mr. Knightley.”
“But do you object to him, Miss Smith?” Mr. Knightley asked, leaning forward. 
“No,” she said. “I have not the least objection to Mr. Martin.” 
The problem was that he might have objections to her! But she did not say that, or that every one of his scruples were well justified. 
“Well, we had best ready ourselves for Astley’s, if we are to arrive in good time.” Mrs. Knightley got to her feet. 
Her hosts had kindly arranged some entertainment for Harriet, now that she was recovered. They were to go to the famous amphitheatre on Westminster Bridge Road to see the circus, the two eldest Knightley children accompanying them. 
It was the sort of outing that might have given Harriet great cause for excitement a year ago, but all pleasures were dull to her now. Flowers did not smell so sweet, colours were not so bright, and music not so uplifting.
Her encounter with Robert Martin that afternoon had further distressed her. She had run away from him, like a child. She ought to have been more civil and tried to express, in some small way, her regrets. Not because she wanted to bring on a renewal of his addresses—she did not deserve his attentions— but because she was truly sorry for any pain she had given him.
Besides, she had resolved to live a life of goodness and simplicity. She would not think of romance.
“Yes, let us go out” said Mr. Knightley, standing up beside his wife, “and consider Robert Martin no more. I shall not feel compelled to have him for dinner if Harriet does not like the idea. We shall send him back to Highbury hungry and never see him again.” 
But an hour or so later, they did see him again.

*****
Giveaways:

Rational Creature SUPER Giveaway: The Random Name Picker winner review all blog comments and select one winner from these blog stop comments during the tour for all 21 prizes: Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks), our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle; #20, a brick in winner’s name to benefit #BuyABrick for Chawton House; and #21, the Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook.

The giveaway ends November 15, 2018 and is open to international winners.









This sounds like such an awesome anthology. I look forward to reading all the stories. Thank you, Caitlin, for telling us a bit about Harriet and for sharing an excerpt. I did like it and am ready to read the rest of it. I'm happy to read that you gave Harriet a happy ending. I would like to think she had one too. Special thanks to Christina Boyd and Claudine Pepe for including me in this tour.

Monday, October 22, 2018

And the winners are...Jennifer Redlarczyk

It's giveaway time! I always love announcing the winners,
and I have two to announce this time! 

The winners of Darcy's Melody
by Jennifer Redlarczyk are: 


eBook Winners

Suzan Lauder
Tgruy

Congratulations, ladies. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. We appreciate your support
and hope you enjoy the book.

Thank you, Jennifer, for hosting the giveaway and for being my guest. I look forward to having you visit again soon.
Best wishes with Darcy's Melody.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Darcy's Melody...Jen Red


Available on Amazon

I have been looking forward to today's post for quite some time. Jennifer Redlarczyk is with us this Wednesday, and it is her first visit to More Agreeably Engaged as a guest. She often stops by to comment on other posts but she is the visiting author today! I'm thrilled to have her here. I forgot to mention that today is the three month anniversary of the release of Darcy's Melody. Happy Book-iversary.

Jennifer has some great things in store for you, Dear Readers. She shares two fun scenes from her new release, Darcy's Melody, one from Chapter One and one from Chapter Two. I think you are going to love both. I certainly did. Next, if you check out her links at the end of this post, she has a fabulous Pinterest Page that follows her book by chapters. That took some work and time. Last is her YouTube channel link. This one is very special, if will notice on the end credits. Wonderful job, Jen. I loved both of these as well as your Chapter excerpts. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

*****

Greetings! I am pleased to be here on More Agreeably Engaged with my new release, Darcy’s Melody, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In the year 1811 the war with France continues to rage, sending many injured men home to England where accommodations are limited. Raising funds to build an additional structure at the London Hospital for the wounded has become a top priority for Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock. She has not only enlisted members of the ton to assist with her committee, but women who are well-known throughout the trade community. It is within this endeavour that Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana Darcy first meet through a mutual love of music. In this particular scene, however, Darcy and Elizabeth encounter each other under very different circumstances.


FROM CHAPTER ONE



London

Tuesday, 21 May 1811

Early afternoon


Ballard’s was an eclectic treasure trove of rare first editions and unusual books located on the thoroughfare of Piccadilly. Although it appeared somewhat dingy and dimly lit from the outside, inside the ageing building the atmosphere was inviting, and a vast array of literature beckoned lovers of the written word.


Promptly at one o’clock, Fitzwilliam Darcy entered the bookshop and walked directly towards his favoured section. While paging through a military war journal, he instinctively glanced toward the back of the shop. Even with several patrons milling about the establishment today, Darcy’s eyes were drawn to a young lady who appeared to be examining a small book in the poetry section.


Closing the journal, Darcy ambled over to where the woman stood and began perusing the titles on a nearby shelf. After taking a book in hand, he purposely turned his head towards the young lady. Captivated by her large, dark emerald-green eyes sparkling with mischief, he felt his lips curve into a half smile when she spoke.


“Pray, sir, may I trouble you to hand me the book of Cowper poetry on the upper shelf?”

     
Darcy nodded. “With pleasure. Cowper is an excellent choice.” 


As he reached for the book, she continued, “One poem in particular reminds me of Oakham Mount in Hertfordshire. I find I am rather desirous of its solace today if only through the eyes of the poet.”

     
Handing her the book, he answered in kind. “I understand your sentiments for I, too, am from the country and have longed to return to Derbyshire.”

     
Arching an eyebrow in his direction, she inclined her head and said, “I thank you, sir.”  
    

“You are most welcome.”

     
As she turned the pages of her selection in search of the poem, Darcy heard the young lady gasp when both of her books slid out of her hands and onto the floor. “Oh dear,” she sighed, stooping down to retrieve them. 
    

“Allow me,” he immediately offered. Both reaching for the books, Darcy felt her small, warm hand carefully slip a folded piece of paper into the palm of his own. The young lady had not replaced her glove after perusing her own book, and her skin was soft to the touch. Leaning closer, the faint scent of lavender seemed to strengthen, causing his chest to tighten and his heart to quicken in response.


Feigning innocence, she looked up at him and said, “Again, sir, I am in your debt. Perhaps I should make my purchases before I have another mishap.”


“Permit me to carry these to the desk for you.”


Acknowledging his offer with a slight curtsey, the young lady whispered, “Sir, I think we are being observed.” Then speaking louder, she added, “Thank you again. You are most kind.”

  
“Your servant.” He bowed. With his senses heightened from being forewarned of impending danger, Darcy spoke softly in return, “How did you come? I would not have you leave here unescorted.”


“There is a carriage waiting, sir. A manservant is nearby and a maid is within.”


“Then leave now and be careful.”


So now that Darcy and Elizabeth have met each other, let’s see what happens after they are properly introduced. At this point in the story, Mrs. Gardiner, Jane and Elizabeth have all been invited to Darcy House at Lady Matlock’s instance. Their purpose is to present Georgiana with the workings of her hospital charity and to invite the young woman to participate.


Since meeting Elizabeth at the bookshop, Darcy has learned more about her standing in society. Needless to say, he was not particularly happy at the prospect of his sister interacting with three women who resided in Cheapside. Shall we observe?

FROM CHAPTER TWO



Darcy House


Walking back into the room, Darcy returned to his former position near the mantelpiece, where he quietly resumed his previous demeanour. Taking note of him, Elizabeth retrieved a large envelope from her satchel and excused herself from the rest of the group.


“Mr. Darcy, may I have a moment of your time?”  

    
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” He nodded.

    
“Sir, at your aunt’s suggestion, I have prepared some documentation detailing our proposals and projected expenditures to date. May I leave them for your perusal?” Holding out the envelope which he promptly took, Elizabeth gifted him with one of her mischievous smiles. Then quickly donning a more serious face, she whispered, “Sir, I must warn you, it might be a rather boring read since it does not contain any errant pages from my uncle’s War Journals.”


Momentarily caught off guard, Darcy purposely scowled at her tease. Even though he had avowed to remain distant, he could not resist challenging this self-assured young lady from Cheapside. In response, Darcy decided he would purposely provoke Elizabeth, testing her ability to hold her own against his remarks.


“Frankly, Miss Elizabeth, I find it rather odd a young woman with so little formal education could have much knowledge of the financial workings in matters such as these.


Elizabeth, obviously surprised by his response, squared her shoulders and looked directly into his eyes. “Mr. Darcy, in Hertfordshire, where I come from, I am considered to be my father’s son with regard to these types of matters. I must inform you I have been thoroughly trained in the affairs of my father’s humble estate, having assisted him since the age of sixteen.”


Darcy schooled his face into an expression of disbelief. “Come now, Miss Bennet. Surely you do not expect me to believe such assertions.”


“Sir, I have often acted as my father’s secretary, studying his financial ledgers and formal documents. With his encouragement, I have settled disputes with our tenants and attended to their needs. I can assure you I do comprehend a great deal in this respect.”

     
Yes, that did raise her ire, he thought with the intent of continuing to annoy her. “I must confess I am curious to know what sort of man your father is. It is highly unusual for any gentleman to entrust the running of his estate to his young daughter.”

     
“Mr. Darcy.” She glared at him in defiance. “My father may not have had the means to educate me in the manner of the more affluent, but I must defend him in saying I was given every advantage a young man under his care and tutelage would have had.”


While she waited for his response, Darcy studied Elizabeth’s face, taking delight in the fire he saw in her eyes. “You are very singular, indeed!”


“Pray, Mr. Darcy, have you never encountered any ladies of the ton who are bold enough to invade a gentleman’s domain in this fashion?”  


Rubbing his chin for a moment before responding, he finally answered, “With the exception of my aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I would definitely have to say … no.” Then giving her a patronizing grin, he continued, “Where many ladies of my acquaintance are well educated, I find most accomplished women choose to devote their time to more refined activities, such as music or drawing. They have studied the modern languages and have sought the improvement of their minds through extensive reading. They do not take pleasure in the invasion of a gentleman’s domain in this manner, as you have intimated.” 

    
“An accomplished woman!” declared Elizabeth, looking rather indignant.

  
Before she could further respond, he put the envelope on the mantelpiece and said with another attempt to provoke her, “I must say I am looking forward to examining your work, Miss Elizabeth, and I shall bring forth any pertinent comments, should I find something amiss.”  

     
Amiss?” Her eyes sparkled as though she were accepting his unspoken challenge. “Mr. Darcy, I shall eagerly await your evaluation. Of course, I should warn you, sir, all of my efforts have been reviewed and met with the approval of your aunt’s very own solicitor.” Turning up the corners of her mouth in a self-assured smile, she attempted to mock him.


Darcy was exhilarated by her response, but continued to give the appearance of indifference. “So be it, Miss Elizabeth, I shall endeavour to give these documents my full attention.”  


“Thank you, Mr. Darcy.” Elizabeth curtseyed then turned with the intention of re-joining the ladies. 


“Miss Elizabeth,” he said, halting her with his words. She boldly looked back at him arching her brow. Darcy would not placate Elizabeth with an apology for annoying her since he had purposely meant to unnerve her and she bore it well. He would, however, offer up his thanks where Georgiana was concerned.

    
“If I may, I would like to extend my gratitude for the kindness you, Miss Bennet, and Mrs. Gardiner have shown to my sister this afternoon.” His face relaxed, revealing a half smile. “It is greatly appreciated.” He bowed.


Surprised by his sincerity, Elizabeth softened her own expression and replied, “Mr. Darcy, your sister is a lovely, sensitive, young woman. It has been our privilege to speak with her today.




So what do you think? How did you like this second meeting? Did Darcy behave as you might have expected. Please let me know in your comments and you will be entered in the giveaway for two eBooks of Darcy’s Melody. Thanks for stopping by and thanks so very much to Janet Taylor for hosting me and my new book today. Jen Red

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Jennifer Redlarczyk

I am a private music instructor living in Crown Point, Indiana where I teach voice, violin and piano and work as an adjunct music professor at Purdue University Northwest. As a teen, I was introduced to Jane Austen by my mother who loved old books, old movies and old songs. In the summer of 2011, I stumbled upon Jane Austen Fanfiction at a Barnes and Noble store and became obsessed with this genre. From there, I met several talented JAFF authors and devoted readers who were active on social media and eventually became a moderator for the private JAFF forum, DarcyandLizzy.com. It was there that I first tried my hand at writing short stories. I have the greatest appreciation for the creative world of Jane Austen Fanfiction and am thrilled to be a part of the JAFF community. 

You can find me at: DarcyandLizzy.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on YouTube. On my Pinterest page I’ve posted inspiration pictures for each chapter of Darcy’s Melody, and on my YouTube channel you can listen to the recordings I made of Lizzy’s songs. ~ Jennifer Redlarczyk (Jen Red)


Available on Amazon



It's giveaway time! Isn't that wonderful! As Jennifer  already mentioned, she is giving away two eBooks and the giveaway is international. Be sure to leave your contact info, if I do not already have it, for your chance to win. I always feel bad when I'm unable to contact a winner and have to choose another. I hope that will not happen this time. Leave us a comment and tell us if Darcy behaved as you expected. What do you think of these scenes, the Pinterest page and the YouTube video.  Do you have a favorite? Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck to all. Giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 21st of October, Trafalgar Day.
Jennifer, thank you for being my guest today. It has been such a pleasure to have you stop by. I enjoyed your post. The scenes were delightful, and your Pinterest page was awesome. I liked how you had it set up by chapters. Your video was lovely, too. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of viewing it and listening to it. Last but not least, I really like your book cover. It is so pretty. Congratulations and best wishes with Darcy's Melody.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Recognizing Love...Lizzy Brandon

Lizzy Brandon visits More Agreeably Engaged today as part of her blog tour for her new release, Recognizing Love. I'm so glad to have you here, Lizzy. I see you are having great reviews for your book and you've had some wonderful posts for your blog tour. Congratulations on your success, and thank you for allowing me to be part of your tour. Lizzy shares an entertaining excerpt and has a lovely giveaway.

By the way, I'm so glad that you did not change sections of your British Literature course! Think what a difference that would have made for you and for us fans! Now I'll give the floor to you! :)

*****

I didn’t read Jane Austen until I was forced to do so in college.  Pride and Prejudice – sounded depressing and I actually considered changing sections of my British Literature course when I saw it on the reading list.  After I read the book, I was hooked.  For Thanksgiving break, my roommate and I were both staying on campus, so we borrowed my professor's VHS set of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice that we binge watched twice.  
Like a good dealer, I got my next roommate addicted as well. Days where one of us was sick or having a really bad day we would pop tape #4 into the VCR, curl up in our pajamas, and watch Colin Firth dive into a lake.  
I had never heard of fanfiction and was wandering Target one day when I discovered Linda Berdoll's Darcy Takes a Wife.  I devoured the book, then proceeded to continue my dealer-like tendencies by passing it on to everyone I had already hooked on Pride and Prejudice.  As I was ordering my 4th copy of the book on Amazon, the site suggested some variations by Abigail Reynolds.  After ordering a few of her books I started getting more suggestions and finally realized Pride and Prejudice variations were a genre all their own. Since then, I've been hooked.
As I was writing the epilogue to Recognizing Love I discovered the heart of why I love variations so much.  Not only do they provide an opportunity to spend more time with my favorite characters from all fiction, the stories provide a plethora of ways for Elizabeth and Darcy to find happiness.  No matter how wrong things go, there is some way they can find each other in the end.  In this mini excerpt Elizabeth is talking to her Aunt Gardiner. 
“When I think of all the whims of fate, I feel positively faint. How very different my life would be if we had come to Pemberley the day before, or if Mr. Darcy had not ridden ahead of his party. I wonder if we ever would have met again.”
“You would have come together again, Lizzy. Some things are simply meant to be. If you had not seen him at that time then you would have seen him at Jane and Bingley’s wedding or run into him on the streets of London. I cannot believe life to be so fragile that we have only one moment in which to find and seize our happiness. You might as well ask what would have happened had you not told him of Lydia’s plight or had he not chosen to join us in our search for her. Still, the two of you would have found one another again.”
“I hope that you are correct and there is some master plan for our happiness that offers multiple chances. Much as I am determined to act of my own free will, I would not mind having a safety in reserve.”
If they can do it, maybe there is hope for the rest of us to find a happily-ever-after, no matter what shape our lives may be in at the moment.  I certainly hope so.


Excerpt:
Darcy had not partaken of a meal at Longbourn before but he suspected Mrs. Bennet had set her best table for him. While he would have rather sat next to Elizabeth, he was content to have her directly across from him where he could look upon her face. He could only be grateful they sat next to Mr. Bennet instead of his wife, leaving that pleasure to Bingley and Miss Bennet. 
As Mrs. Bennet and Miss Kitty discussed a recent call upon Lady Lucas, taking great care to describe her gown, Mr. Bennet shook his head before turned to Darcy and muttering, “Welcome to the family.” The gentlemen shared a look as Elizabeth covered a laugh with her napkin. Darcy had been largely ignoring them, a skill he imagined Mr. Bennet had mastered long ago.
Elizabeth rejoined the ladies’ conversation, laughing at some comment, and Darcy marveled at the complete change in expression that came over her whenever she did so. This picture was how he envisioned her when they were apart, face glowing with diversion, and her eyes a bit saucy. The dining room of Pemberley would be a lively place from the day he brought her home. Far too often it was a quiet room where he and Georgiana might discuss events of the day. In the future he expected laughter to become commonplace. 
“Mr. Darcy? Are you woolgathering?” she asked and finally broke his reverie.
“My apologies. I suppose I was. Forgive my inattention.”
“And what weighty thoughts consume you so?”
“You are mistaken. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.” The eyes in question glowed in response. 
Mr. Bennet chuckled, reminding Darcy they were not without an audience. He wished, not for the first time since they sat down, that she was beside him so he could speak words only she might hear. Soon enough.
Talk turned to Pemberley and Bingley described his latest visit with his sisters.
“I cannot say that I was surprised when I received Darcy’s letter informing me of his engagement and intention to come to Hertfordshire. We had all noticed a change in him after Miss Elizabeth’s visit.”
Mrs. Bennet sighed dramatically. “And never did any of us have an idea of his attachment while he was here.”
“How did Miss Bingley respond?” Miss Kitty asked with a wicked grin, and her sisters all sent her quelling glares.
“They do enjoy being the first to have any on dit,” Bingley said quickly as he fidgeted with his napkin.
“We are advised to accept God’s will for our lives and not covet what is outside our reach,” Miss Mary said with her usual solemnity. “Disappointment may be inevitable, but one can find comfort by adhering to one’s duty.”
“Thank you, Mary,” Mr. Bennet said with a sigh as an awkward silence descended upon the group. Mrs. Bennet was not one to allow silence to reign at her table for long.
“Lizzy has ever been a dutiful child,” she said to Darcy. Unable to think of a response, he looked to Elizabeth who was staring at her mother in abject incredulity.
“Come now Mrs. Bennet, that is hardly true,” Mr. Bennet said with a sardonic chuckle, “and you must be glad she does not heed all your instruction, else she would now be Mrs. Collins.” Elizabeth frowned at her father.
“Never would I have done so had I any idea she had caught the eye of someone better,” Mrs. Bennet cried out in alarm.
“When was this?” Darcy asked.
“She did not tell you?” Miss Kitty asked. “’Twas the day after the Netherfield ball. Lizzy flatly denied him but he persisted until she had to leave the room. Then Mamma demanded she go back and accept him.”
“That is enough, Kitty,” Elizabeth said as her color rose.
Darcy’s horror must have been evident as Elizabeth quickly reassured him, “I tried to make my refusal as plainly and gently as I could, but Mr. Collins is not a man of great comprehension.”
“Nor would I have ever allowed that buffoon to marry you. Let that serve as a lesson for your matchmaking, Mrs. Bennet. At least you need never fear, Mr. Darcy. Lizzy is well able to refuse a proposal she does not desire.”
Elizabeth’s pleading look to her father and the twinkle in Mr. Bennet’s eye told Darcy that her father knew of his first proposal. That he shared company with Mr. Collins in being a recipient of her refusal was mortifying. That she had been kinder in her refusal of Mr. Collins allowed humor to finally break through his horror.
He looked to Elizabeth who appeared mortified by the conversation. “Yes, Elizabeth knows her own mind and would not be persuaded into accepting less than is her due.” He sent her a teasing grin as she met his gaze. “I must be grateful she accepted me.” Elizabeth visibly eased and grinned back.
“As if Lizzy would ever dare refuse an offer from you,” Mrs. Bennet said with a laugh.
Elizabeth smirked at her mother’s words and sent him a challenging look, seeming to dare him to share their tale. He blinked and feigned ignorance, an expression he had seen Elizabeth use often enough. She shook her head playfully as she laughed once more into her napkin.
They did not need words to converse after all.
Recognizing Love Blurb
Secrets will surface...

Accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal and allowing him to assume a love she does not yet feel pains Miss Elizabeth Bennet but she is certain she can love him…in time. After all of the miseries he endured to salvage her youngest sister’s reputation, how could she not come to love such a man?

Unfortunately, Lady Catherine arrives, bringing even thornier complications. With the many objections Darcy’s family will have regarding his marriage to the daughter of an unremarkable country squire, what more trouble can Lady Catherine stir up should she learn Elizabeth’s secret? 
In this Pride and Prejudice romance variation, what will Mr. Darcy do when he learns his beloved has accepted him although her heart is not engaged?

About the Author

Lizzy Brandon once attempted to switch sections of a Brit Lit course after seeing Pride and Prejudice on the reading list.  How could a book with such a boring title possibly compete with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Frankenstein?  Luckily, her request was denied and she was introduced to Jane Austen’s amazing world of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Years later, Lizzy was thrilled to discover the world of Pride and Prejudice sequels and variations where her favorite characters could live on with countless adventures.  After enjoying reading variations for years, she decided to try writing her own. 

Contact Info



Blog Tour: September 13-28

From Pemberley to Milton:   September 13
Jane Austen Book Club:   September 15
Babblings of a Bookworm:   September 17
Just Jane:  September 18
So Little Time:   September 20
My Love for Jane Austen:   September 22
Diary of an Eccentric:   September 24
Austenesque Reviews:   September 26
More Agreeably Engaged:   September 28

Rafflecopter Giveaway: September 13-30

Prizes:
3 Paperback copies of Recognizing Love
3 $10 Amazon eGift Cards

Open worldwide.  Winners will need to provide email or physical address to receive prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for being my guest today. It was such a pleasure reading how you "hooked" so many of your friends on P&P! A close friend of mine hooked me in the same way and I'm so glad she did! :) Several sentences in your post resonated with me! I feel similar to the lines below.

"As I was writing the epilogue to Recognizing Love I discovered the heart of why I love variations so much. Not only do they provide an opportunity to spend more time with my favorite characters from all fiction, the stories provide a plethora of ways for Elizabeth and Darcy to find happiness...If they can do it, maybe there is hope for the rest of us to find a happily-ever-after, no matter what shape our lives may be in at the moment. I certainly hope so."

I love reading stories with lots of Darcy/Lizzy time together. I am also a fan of falling action where they spend some time together after finally "getting together."

Thank you for visiting my blog today and best wishes with your book. I look forward to what you have in store for us in the future. Please know you are welcome to come back anytime.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

And the winners are...In Good Conscience

This is a fun giveaway to announce! Cat Gardiner had 2 eBooks of In Good Conscience, and a fabulous swag up for grabs. Shall we get on with it and announce those winners? Lets do it!

Swag:



RS


******

eBooks:



ChristinaTaylor

Deborah Ann

******

Congratulations to all of you! Thanks to everyone for visiting my blog
and supporting the authors and guests. 

Thank you, Cat Gardiner, for this fabulous giveaway for my readers. Best wishes with this last book in the series. Please come back and visit More Agreeably Engaged anytime.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Obstacles...Belén Paccagnella

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Obstacles Blog Tour and have Belén Paccagnella, Meryton Press's newest author, visit More Agreeably Engaged. Belén already has quite a following in the fan world. She posted her stories at A Happy Assembly and was much loved. After reading her book, I can see why. I hope you get a chance to read it soon. It captured my attention from the first page! 

Belén is answering some questions for us today. I'm sure you will find her answers as interesting as I did. If you would like to ask a question yourself, please leave it in the comments below. Without further ado, I give you Belén Paccagnella!

Interview:


Belén, as a new JAFF author, I am sure you have a lot to share with us about your love for Austen and the steps you took from going from aspiring writer to a published writer. Would you share with us some of your background and tell us about the person behind this story.


I was born in Buenos Aires, which is Argentina’s capital. There was a brief period in my youth where my family moved to Brazil, and I attended high school there, in the city of Curitiba. My family owned a farm outside of the city, where we had cows, horses, and other animals. This helped shape the foundation of my love for horses, as well as rural life. I have a grown-up daughter and I’m still working full time.

My love for Jane Austen began when I saw the movie Sense and Sensibility. I didn’t initially know the author of the book, but I fell in love with the story as well as the characters and the portrayal of English society in Regency times. Then I watched the 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, which took my obsession to a whole new level! After re-watching the series over and over again, I found several fanfiction sites and read everything that was published on the boards, both stories set in Regency and modern times. It wasn’t long before I started imagining my own stories until one day I gathered the courage to post my first piece. Although I studied in a bilingual school, I was quite insecure about my English at the time, so I was very apprehensive about posting my stories. I was lucky that everyone was so kind and encouraging and welcomed my stories, despite their flaws.

Please share with us the premise of your new release, “Obstacles,” including what helped you decide to publish this story.

The story was originally written in 2002 and then revised and re-posted a couple of times. I knew that several authors were pulling their stories from these sites and publishing them, so one day I decided to do the same thing.  I occasionally received emails from readers asking about the story and even received emails telling me that they would buy my story if I ever decided to publish it, but, for one reason or another, I never took that final step. For many years, publishing was just a dream I always had, but wasn’t sure I would ever fulfill. Then, in 2016, everything changed. I had breast cancer and when all of my treatment was over, I made the decision to finally become a published author. I contacted the lovely ladies at Meryton Press, and here I am, publishing my story.

I love the idea of a story set in the world of competitive horse jumping. How did you get to become so knowledgeable about this sport and what led you to write a “Pride & Prejudice” story within this setting?

I used to ride a lot in my youth (on the farm), I took riding lessons, and I attempted some jumping, but I never really competed beyond the novice level. Yet, I absolutely loved the sport, so I went to every show near my home, and I watched every tournament I happened upon on TV.  My knowledge about international competition was a bit limited when I started writing the story, so I did a lot of research and talked to friends who were involved in grand prix tournaments. It’s much easier now; you can find everything online—from interviews with top riders to how they fly the horses for the Olympics—but at the time, and especially in my country, information was scarce.

Choosing this setting was a no-brainer. Growing up among horses and going to riding clubs gave me a fairly good idea of how this world worked. People with resources owned the best horses, and paid to take lessons with the most exclusive teachers, while the rest of us took our lessons on the club’s old horses. As an enthusiastic 12-year-old, I didn’t care if the horse I was riding was one-eyed, but many years later, I understood the differences and applied them to my story.   Show-jumping is a highly competitive sport, as well as one of the most expensive and exclusive ones. Now it’s a huge industry, but it’s still a practice associated with wealth and aristocracy. Therefore, I thought it was the perfect backdrop for a Pride & Prejudice adaptation.

As a writer of a modern JAFF story, why do you believe Austen’s characters and themes resonate so well within a modern-day setting?

Austen novels are very character driven, and most of their conflicts are timeless and can be easily adapted to modern times.

Was your entry into Jane Austen Fan Fiction as a reader, and if so, how do you find JAFF stories that you’re interested in reading?

I’m the kind of reader that either gets hooked and won’t leave the book until I finish it, or I just drop it at the third page if the plot doesn’t interest me. If it’s well written and the characters are interesting, I’ll read it. Also, when I like an author, I read all their stories because I know I won’t be disappointed. Since I’ve been away from the boards and published JAFF for some time, I have a lot to catch up right now.

I loved imagining the character that I would cast in the role as the “England’s Hottest Horseman,” which is a nickname for the Darcy character in your story. Do you have any actors in mind who you would cast in this role?

Originally, Darcy was based on a gorgeous picture of Olivier Martinez I found online. Now he looks a lot like Tom Ellis.

I can certainly see Tom Ellis as Darcy! Click on the two names above and it will take you to a Bing page full of each man! :) What do you think? Okay, back to the interview since we must move on, what can readers do to support your work and stay in touch with you?

I love to have feedback from my readers! I used to post my stories chapter by chapter, and one of the things I liked most about that process was to read the comments made by readers and their interpretations about how a certain scene developed. They were so passionate and sometimes their analysis of the situation surprised me, because I didn’t think of it from that perspective. It’s very rewarding. Even now, many years later, I still receive emails from people who read my stories, asking me when I’m going to publish them. Readers can reach me at my personal email: bpacca2000@yahoo.com.

Thank you for stopping by to visit with my readers and good luck with the new release!

Thank you for having me and for all you are doing to support fan fiction and fan-fiction writers.

Book Description:
Not all obstacles are restricted to the show-jumping arena… Though Elizabeth Bennet lives an uneventful life instructing young equestrians at Longbourn, the family farm, she dreams of winning a show-jumping competition on Liddy, her spirited mare. But her life is upended when a team of world-renowned riders arrives at Netherfield, the neighbouring estate, and uses it as their training headquarters. As she assists the newcomers and their prize-winning mounts, she meets William Darcy, a wealthy and arrogant—albeit talented—rider with Olympic aspirations. He first insults and then ignores Elizabeth, and her feelings teeter between disgust at his hauteur and admiration for his equestrian prowess. As she discovers first-hand the rigors of a world for the elite, will Elizabeth change her perspective about love, trust, and the foibles of her own family?


Originally known as “Obstacles to Overcome,” Obstacles pays homage to Pride and Prejudice in the highly competitive world of equestrian show jumping.
Biography:
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane
Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.
In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due
to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she
studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working
in the development administration of shopping centres.


In 2001, she started writing both Regency and modern stories adapted from the
Pride and Prejudice storyline, merging drama, humour, and adventure while creating
characters with unique traits.


Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where she shares her home with her
daughter and her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing.

Obstacles Blog Tour Schedule:

September 17 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post September 18 / Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post September 19 / Austenesque Reviews / Vignette Post September 20 / More Agreeably Engaged / Author Interview September 21 / So Little Time / Excerpt Post September 22 / Just Jane 1813 / Guest Book Review September 23 / My Love for Jane Austen / Character Interview September 24 / From Pemberley to Milton / Excerpt Post September 25 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review September 26 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Vignette Post September 27 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review September 28 / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review

Giveaways:
Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of Obstacles.
The giveaway runs until midnight, September 30, 2018.

Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you, to Meryton Press, for the awesome giveaway, and to Claudine Pepe, for organizing the blog tour. I'm happy to have been included. Belén, I wish you much success with your new release.