Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Best Part of Love with A. D'Orazio

Good morning everyone. Happy Saturday! I hope you have had a good week. Today, More Agreeably Engaged is the last stop on The Best Part of Love Blog Tour for A. D'Orazio. It has been an amazing couple of weeks with great guest posts, interviews, reviews and excerpts. There have also been some fabulous vignettes and we have one here today! I love vignettes and this one is perfect for closing the tour. Thank you, Amy, for sharing with us and for doing such a great job on your first tour. It's been a pleasure working with you. 


Henry Discovers the Fortune

Pemberley, 1848

They were a loud and merry group that gathered at Pemberley that year; indeed, when they were all together, even the largest dining table could scarcely contain them all. There were scores of Bingleys and Courtenays and Darcys, along with Ellises and du Champs since the marriages of their daughters. The grandchildren ran mad in the Grand Hall — Elizabeth would often scold them for knocking things about but Darcy never quite had the heart to do so. If a broken statue was the price paid for youthful merriment, so be it. He had long ago decided he would much rather be remembered as the good-humoured grandfather than the grandfather with the excellent art. In any case, his grandchildren adored him and he would not have it otherwise. He was never more happy than he was in these wondrous times when Pemberley’s halls bustled with laughter and noise. 

When the ladies withdrew after dinner, Darcy sat with his three sons: Henry, or Lord Courtenay; Thomas Darcy, his heir, and Colonel Edward Darcy. Fine distinguished men, all of them and as dear to one another as any brothers could be. 

“I have a bit of interesting news,” said Henry. “You will all remember the old cipher?”

“The one which concerned the fortune at Warrington?”

“Yes,” Henry said. “I brought it out recently for James.” James was Henry’s eldest and only son. At only ten years of age, he had shown a remarkable aptitude for mathematics and his parents were always seeking little puzzles and codes to divert him. 

“Did he find the fortune?” asked Thomas with a laugh. The fortune which had caused so much trouble to their parents was spoken of often, in the manner of fables and legends. 

“He did not,” replied Henry. “However he found a mistake made by our mother and grandfather Bennet when they deciphered it.”

“Pray do not suggest she made a mistake,” Darcy advised. “Call it an alternate solution if you must but not a mistake.” 

His advisement caused the gentlemen to chuckle; their mother was much beloved but rarely inclined to admit she made mistakes. 

“In any case,” said Henry, “it would seem that there is most certainly a hidden fortune.

For a moment, everyone ceased moving. Darcy had begun to raise a glass to his lips but stopped halfway there. His jaw dropped, and he lowered the drink with a thump on the table. “Can that be so?”

“My son did not find it — but I did.” Henry lowered his eyes, shaking his head. “I can hardly credit it myself.”

“How much?” Edward was, as always, just slightly too bold, but in this case Darcy did not mind. He was, himself, mad to know. 

When Henry named the sum, he did so quietly and the gentlemen around the table immediately gasped and then doubted the veracity of what they had heard. “How could that be!” “From the purses of simple market folk? No, I cannot credit it!”

“The money is there,” Henry replied mildly. “It cannot be denied. My guess is that Lord Strange must have secured a bit of his own coin there as well.”

“He did raise quite a lot of money for his troops,” Darcy acknowledged. As Lord Strange had become the Earl of Derby back then, it had always been a bit of history that interested him. “He did not, perhaps, spend it all.”

“Warrington was dear to him,” Henry added. “They protected him as best they could. I think my father and uncle must have suspected his lordship’s money was in there too, else they should not have been so keen to go after it.”

“Well, good for Warrington then,” said Thomas. “And good for James. It will be to his benefit after all.”

“No,” said Henry. “No, I do not think it shall after all.”

The gentlemen looked at him with varying degrees of surprise marking their faces. Henry grinned and in that grin Darcy saw the little boy who had once sat at his feet and played, who had been so good-natured his life long, and he knew some proud moment was about to transpire. 

“That money came from the town,” he explained. “Whether from their labours or their loyalties, it was theirs and though they are long gone now, I would like the descendants to obtain some benefit from it.”

As his brothers and father looked on, Henry said, “I shall establish a school with a large library for the children in the town to learn to read and write. All of them, such as are able, shall be able to come and learn and the tutors shall be employed by Warrington — none of the families will need to part with a farthing for it.”

A capital idea,” said Darcy. “I have always said that I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library.”

“You have indeed, sir,” Henry replied with a smile.


And so it was that the legacy in Warrington Castle was used to establish the Bennet School in Lancashire where generations of children thenceforth, from the highest to the low, could learn to read and write and, eventually, learn mathematics and science.

*****

I don't believe there could have been a better way to end this blog tour than with a vignette like this one! I hope you all loved it as much as I did. 

Book Blurb:

Avoiding the truth does not change the truth.

When Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet he has no idea that she — that indeed, the entire town of Meryton — harbors a secret. Miss Elizabeth, a simply country girl from a humble estate, manages to capture first his fascination and then his heart without him ever knowing the truth of her past.

When she meets Darcy, Elizabeth had spent the two years prior hiding from the men who killed her beloved first husband. Feeling herself destroyed by love, Elizabeth has no intention of loving again, certainly not with the haughty man who could do nothing but offend her in Hertfordshire.

In London, Elizabeth surprises herself by finding in Darcy a friend; even greater is her surprise to find herself gradually coming to love him and even accepting an offer of marriage from him. Newly married, they are just beginning to settle into their happily ever after when a condemned man on his way to the gallows divulges a shattering truth, a secret that contradicts everything Elizabeth thought she knew about the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. Against the advice of everyone who loves her, including Darcy, Elizabeth begins to ask questions. But will what they learn destroy them both?

Author Bio:

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

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

Contact Info: 

Website  
Goodreads Author Page
Facebook: Amy D'Orazio
Instagram: amydorazio

Blog Tour Schedule:  If you missed any of the stops,  I hope you will visit today and leave a comment if you choose. Thanks.

  6 Jan My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
  7 Jan Just Jane 1813; Review
  8 Jan Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
  9 Jan Every Savage Can Dance; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10 Jan Tomorrow is Another Day; Review
11 Jan Savvy Verse & Wit; Character Interview, Giveaway
12 Jan Half Agony, Half Hope; Review
13 Jan Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
14 Jan Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
16 Jan From Pemberley to Milton; Review  
18 Jan Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review
19 Jan My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice; Vignette, Giveaway  
20 Jan Diary of an Eccentric; Review
21 Jan More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you to everyone who took part in the blog tour. Thanks to all the readers who visited, commented and participated. Good luck to all of you in the giveaway! I hope you will get the chance to read the book soon.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Special Announcement!

This is my first post for 2017! Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it myself. Here it is, already January 20th and I'm just now wishing all of you a very Happy New Year! In a later post, I will tell you what I've been doing the first part of January but many of you already know! lol 

Now, on to the reason for this post!

Today, on many blogs, simultaneously, there is a very exciting announcement being made about an upcoming release! I think you will love it. As you read more about it, you will see why! So rather than me going on about it, I will get right to the interview with Christina Boyd. (Don't forget to check out the giveaway, too! It's awesome!)

*****

“The Darcy Monologues” Announcement!



*****

Interview with Christina Boyd

There are many well-known names behind today’s exciting announcement in the JAFF community and the one person at the center of it all is here today to share this news with us; the lovely Austenesque editor, Christina Boyd.

Christina, there’s a buzz going around the JAFF community that you are heading a new project and it’s a pleasure to have you visit so many Austenesque blogs today to share your big news!

Can you share with us what you’ve been working on behind-the-scenes?

Thank you for hosting and shining your light on this project. I am excited and not a little proud to announce “The Darcy Monologues”—a short story anthology with sixteen of my very favorite Austenesque writers. I doubt anyone will be surprised by my list—authors I’ve either enjoyed working with and admire their work or authors I have simply fan-girl’d over for years: Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, Judy-Lynne, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams.

Wow, that is an exciting line-up of talent!

“The Darcy Monologues” sounds like such a fitting title for this anthology. Would you share with us how it was selected as the title, especially with so many authors involved in this project?

This project is collection of stories all told from Fitzwilliam’s point-of-view—set in Regency, contemporary, as well as other eras. Because the stories are strictly from his eyes, I felt it imperative we find a title that clearly illustrated the book would be more than one tale but all from his point-of-view. In an e-mail from “The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy” author, Sara Angelini, she mentioned how she had long wanted to write a story titled “The Darcy Monologues” or something like… So, in presenting the idea to the group, other ideas were thrown about. After a quick Google search, we learned there was a short story on Derbyshire Writer’s Guild by Judy-Lynne with the same title. She had written a short story described as six “extemporaneous rants” expressed by Fitzwilliam Darcy. Not one to be a copycat, we moved on to other names. But as time passed, nothing resonated with me as much so I felt incumbent to ask Judy-Lynne if she would be offended if we used the same title. Unfortunately, she is rarely on the fanfiction sites anymore and everyone I asked claimed they did not know how to get in touch with her. Finally! Finally, I connected with her through “A Happy Assembly” and asked her about the title use, she accepted, and I asked her if she was still writing and would she be interested in writing a short for the anthology. She said she wasn’t writing but agreed to the challenge. And that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

How does this project differ from anything you’ve worked on before?

I’ve worked on two other anthologies, published in 2015 by Meryton Press: “Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer” and “Then Comes Winter.” Both were set-up as writing contests with a panel of judges reading and selecting the submissions. This project, I am self-publishing and have assembled my own dream team.

At this point, what can you share about your experiences working with so many talented Austenesque writers?

I feel lucky! Blessed. Not only that these talented writers have all graciously committed to this project—some having not written anything Austenesque in years—but have over a short period of time become so dear to me on a personal level.

What can readers expect from this anthology?

The authors have all committed to write a short piece from Darcy’s point-of-view, between 5000-15,000 words, and must have romance—but no scenes that I wouldn’t be able to share with my teenage daughter or eighty-year-old mother-in-law. Even with that last tenet, I am amazed how these writers can turn up the heat in a room. Have your fans handy—and even a few tissues!

It seems like we just can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy! What’s his appeal, Christina, 200 years later?

“Pride and Prejudice” is told in the third-person narrative, limited omniscient, from Elizabeth Bennet’s point-of-view. In my fiction, I have always had a weakness for the rich, powerful, noble, and handsome man who changes his ways for love, and a woman worthy of his efforts. I’ve long dreamt of putting together a collection of stories all from my favorite Austen hero’s eyes. Yes, “Pride and Prejudice” has been told before from Darcy’s point-of-view by the talented Pamela Aidan, Stanley Hurd, Amanda Grange, Janet Aylmer, and Mary Street, to name a few—but with all the amazing “Pride and Prejudice” re-imaginings out there, I wanted to read alternate stories in his own words.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today about The Darcy Monologues?

The anthology is scheduled for release May 22, 2017 and we have a few promotions planned in the coming weeks as we finish the editing process to spit and polish the collection.

Before we part, Christina, I hear you have some rather thrilling news to share with us on a personal level, which was just announced early this week. Care to divulge the details here too?

Well… I can barely believe it myself but…I won—I WON, the Omaze “Champagne Toast with Henry Cavill on the London Eye" experience! (Fundraiser to benefit the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.) You read that right. I won. I’m flying to London to meet my all-time favorite book boyfriend, the very talented British actor, Henry Cavill. I have never been to England, except layovers in Heathrow—which doesn’t count—so I feel like the French teacher who has never been to France. And here I get to go, stay in a luxury hotel, explore London, and have a champagne toast with Henry Cavill. Pinch me! And yes, if he is willing, I do hope to have him sign some swag for “The Darcy Monologue” giveaways—after all, he is my book boyfriend.

*****

I love the video of Christina finding out she won. If you get a chance, click the link below to take a look for yourself.
Christina's Winner Reveal Video

*****

Biography

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist under her own banner, Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

*****

We are giving away some really fun prizes to three lucky winners! One winner will receive a stash of gifts to enjoy with his/her own significant other. These treats include assorted British food and beverage snacks and a Mr. Darcy quote mug.
(This prize is open to a winner with a U.S. mailing address only)



Another winner will receive two stories form the anthology; a Regency story and a contemporary or alternate era short story. The winner will choose his/her prize stories based on the authors in this anthology. These stories will be distributed to the winner on March 15, 2017.

 Our third prize winner will receive a walk-on role in one of the stories in this anthology. That’s right…This winner will have a piece of the action in one of our stories, which means having a character in one of these stories in the anthology named after her/him.
 This is something every JAFF reader dreams about, isn’t it?

These giveaways are open for entries from Friday, January 20 until midnight, ET, on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

The winners will be announced on Sunday, January 29, 2017.

*****

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*****

Isn't this great?! I can hardly wait. This anthology has a fantastic group of authors. Take a look at that line-up!  Wow! It will be such fun to get my hands on this one! Yes, I'm going for the paperback when it is released and probably the eBook too! :)


On another note, Christina, congratulations on winning the trip to London to share a Champagne Toast with Henry Cavill on the London Eye. Sigh!  How neat! I'm thrilled for you and can hardly wait to hear all about it when you get back. I do hope you get to visit more of England, too.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for stopping by today. Keep a watch out for The Darcy Monologues. There will be a blog tour later so we will have lots of opportunities to hear more about this anthology! Yay!
Once again, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Very Darcy Christmas with Victoria Kincaid

Available at Amazon
Happy Holidays to all of you. I hope you are enjoying the season with all the hustle and bustle of this joyous time of year. I love all the lights, the decorations and the Christmas music. It all makes for such a festive atmosphere. I haven't decorated my house yet - don't even have my tree up, but that is about to change!

I also love reading Christmas stories and especially those involving Darcy and Elizabeth. My guest today has such a book and is sharing the blurb and an excerpt with us. She is also giving away one book! Please welcome Victoria Kincaid with the excerpt from her book, A Very Darcy Christmas! You are going to laugh as you read about this dinner! 

*****

Blurb:


Elizabeth and Darcy are preparing for their first Christmas at Pemberley when they are suddenly deluged by a flood of uninvited guests.  Mrs. Bennet is seeking refuge from the French invasion she believes to be imminent.  Lady Catherine brings two suitors for Georgiana’s hand, who cause a bit of mayhem themselves.  Lydia’s presence causes bickering—and a couple of small fires—while Wickham has more nefarious plans in mind….The abundance of guests soon puts a strain on her marriage as Elizabeth tries to manage the chaos while ensuring a happy Christmas for all.

Meanwhile, Georgiana is finding her suitors—and the prospect of coming out—to be very unappealing.  Colonel Fitzwilliam seems to be the only person who understands her fondness for riding astride and shooting pistols.  Georgiana realizes she’s beginning to have more than cousinly feelings for him, but does he return them?  And what kind of secrets is he hiding? 


Romance and merriment abound as everyone gathers to celebrate a Very Darcy Christmas.  

*****

Exerpt:

William had issued dinner invitations to Mr. Peters, the local curate, and his wife, Lord and Lady Pippinworth, and the dowager viscountess Lady Agatha, Lord Robert’s mother.  Perhaps he had believed that the presence of strangers would encourage family members to be on their best behavior.  If so, Elizabeth thought, he was sadly mistaken. 

Lady Catherine complained loudly to Lady Agatha about the shades of Pemberley being polluted.  Mr. Worthy completely occupied Georgiana’s attention with a discussion of manure output, apparently under the mistaken impression that such a subject was a part of traditional courtship rituals.  Meanwhile, the viscount glared at Mr. Worthy but was too well-bred to interrupt.  Lydia consumed everything on her plate, belched loudly, and then brashly asked for more.  Whenever her wineglass was in danger of running dry, she demanded that the footmen refill it.  Elizabeth’s mother was having a quiet conversation with Mrs. Peters, but Elizabeth could hardly hope such civility would last.

Lady Catherine examined her wine glass.  “There is a spot on my glass,” she announced loudly during a pause in the conversation.  “I require another one.”  A footman rushed to take it from her.  She addressed Elizabeth despite having more than half a table between them.  “Your staff has overcooked the roast.  I will need to speak with them about it.”

“I thought it was delicious,” Richard said stoutly.

“How kind of you to take an interest,” Elizabeth said to her mother without glancing up from the meat she was cutting. 

Mrs. Bennet’s vivid portrayals of a French invasion were, unfortunately, beginning to whip Mrs. Peters into a frenzy.  After a particularly lurid portrayal of streets running with blood, the poor woman grabbed her husband’s arm.  “Did you hear, John?  Perhaps we should remove to my parents’ house in Newcastle.”  She turned quickly to Mrs. Bennet.  “Do you suppose we will be safe there?”  Elizabeth’s mother blinked, not sufficiently versed in English geography to offer an opinion.

“Mrs. Peters,” William intoned, “I do not believe there is any cause for alarm.”

“But would it not be prudent to ensure our safety?”  She addressed William, but her eyes implored her husband. 

Mr. Peters gently disengaged his wife’s hand from his arm.  “I cannot flee to Newcastle, darling.  I must remain here and tend to my flock.”

“But I cannot leave you here!” she cried, drawing the eyes of everyone at the table.  “I could not bear the thought of you spitted at the end of a French bayonet—or blown into pieces by a cannonball.”

Suddenly not quite so hungry, Elizabeth set down her fork. 

Elizabeth’s mother patted Mrs. Peters’ hand.  “There, there, my dear.  He is a clergyman.  Certainly the French would not kill him.”  The woman’s shoulders sagged with relief as Mrs. Bennet continued.  “At most they would put him in a lice- and rat-infested prison.”  Mrs. Peters’ face took on a greenish tinge.

Both William and Georgiana also laid down their forks.  Lady Pippinworth took a hasty sip of wine.  At this rate no one would finish their meal except Elizabeth’s mother…and Lydia. 

“Mrs. Bennet,” William said.  “I hardly—”

“This beef is tremendous!” Lydia declared to no one in particular.  “I would like some more.”  All the eyes at the table turned toward her. 

“It is ham,” her father, seated next her, whispered loudly.

Lydia frowned and peered at her plate where only a few shreds of meat remained.  “Hmm…I thought the taste of the beef was a bit off.”  She turned around in her seat, presenting the rest of the table with her back, and addressed the footman behind her.  “Are you certain it is ham?”

The man did his best not to laugh.  “Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, I would like some more.”  Lydia turned back toward the other diners, producing a little giggle for no discernible reason.  In the middle of the table, Lord and Lady Pippinworth talked to each other in hushed tones; Elizabeth could only imagine what they were saying.

“And when fed the right kind of hay, each cow can produce up to sixty-five pounds of high-quality manure a day!”  Mr. Worthy’s voice broke through the sudden silence.  “Can you imagine?  Sixty-five pounds!”

Mr. Peters and Mr. Bennet set down their forks almost simultaneously.  Georgiana, to whom this remark was addressed, covered her mouth with her napkin, but the crinkles around her eyes suggested that she was suppressing a smile.

At the end of the table, William took a very deep breath and closed his eyes.  He opened his eyes and continued in a deliberate, reasonable tone.  “Perhaps we could—”

His words were eclipsed by his aunt’s voice.  “In its acute phase, Anne’s illness requires that she be bled at least one or two times a day,” she explained to Lady Agatha.  “The doctor prefers to use leeches.  He is rather old-fashioned.”


The footman had offered the platter of ham to an enthusiastic Lydia and then Elizabeth’s mother, but all of the other diners appeared faintly nauseous.  Georgiana’s complexion was quite pale while William’s face had turned red.  Mrs. Peters’ hand covered her mouth.  Lord Pippinworth eyed the clock as if wondering when he could politely depart.

*****

Isn't this delightful! I could envision all the looks on the faces of the guests. Poor Darcy. I think he was a little frustrated but then, I would have been too. Thank you, Ms. Kincaid, for sharing such a fun teaser with us. The story sounds like it will be an enjoyable read and your cover is lovely! Thank you for being my guest and for having such a generous giveaway. Yes, dear readers, it is that time. Victoria Kincaid is giving away one copy of an eBook or a paperback of A Very Darcy Christmas, winner's choice, and the giveaway is international! Please leave a comment to be entered. Don't forget your contact info to be sure you can be reached. This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 23rd of December, a little earlier than normal. Depending on the choice, the winner just might get the book for Christmas! :) Good luck to all. In your comment, let us know something that you love about the holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill Blog Tour...Julie Klassen

Available on Amazon and other book stores
Hello, dear readers, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Julie Klassen's new novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. I was thrilled to be invited to take part in Ms. Klassen's tour and today I will be spotlighting her new book, the first in a series of books. Although it is not JAFF, it is set during Regency times. The cover is gorgeous and if the story is like Julie's other works, I'm sure the book is fantastic too. Please enjoy the spotlight, and be sure to watch the video later in the post. You will get to meet Julie Klassen as she tells you, in her own words and at location, a bit about the book, her first ever series and Ivy Hill. There is a great giveaway too. :)

~~~~~~~~~~
Book Description

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

Visit talesfromivyhill.com to find a map of the village, character profiles, a book giveaway, and more!


Author Bio

JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Her books have been honored with the Christy Award for Historical Romance, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Midwest Book Award, among others. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.


Schedule


The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill Blog Tour Schedule
December 5: Author Q&A on Pemberley to Milton
December 6: Excerpt on My Love for Jane Austen
December 8: Review on Laura's Reviews
December 9: Book Spotlight on More Agreeably Engaged
December 10: Review on A Bookish Way of Life
December 11: Review and Excerpt on Delighted Reader Book Reviews
December 12: British Show Inspiration Guest Post on Living Read Girl
December 13: Historical Background Guest Post on English Historical Fiction Authors
December 14: Review on Calico Critic
December 15: Excerpt on So Little Time
December 16: Review and Author Q&A on My Jane Austen Book Club
December 17: Review on Just Jane 1813
December 18: Excerpt on Babblings of a Book Worm
December 19: Review on Austenesque Reviews
December 20: Guest Post on Jane Austen in Vermont
December 21: Review on Luxury Reading


Click on this link to watch the YouTube video by Julie Klassen as she introduces her first ever series. Enjoy!

Giveaway

Be sure to enter the giveaway before you leave—the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will be notified on December 22.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 28, 2016

Joana Starnes and Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter

Available on Amazon
Happy Monday to all and to those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope you had a lovely holiday. Mine was nice and enjoyable with my family.

Dear Readers, we have a treat today! I've been looking forward to this post for weeks! This is my stop for Joana Starnes and the Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter Blog Tour. We are most fortunate in that we get an exclusive vignette for our visit! Isn't that wonderful! Oh my! Be still my heart! Wait until you read it! 

Not only do we have this touching and heartfelt vignette, but Mrs. Starnes gives us some enlightening background for it, too.

Goodness, Joana Starnes, I do love your writing! Thank you for sharing your talent with us and welcome, once again to More Agreeably Engaged. It's always so nice to have to pop in. (The painting for your cover is so fitting and you know how I love for covers to help tell the story!)


****

Thank you, Janet, for your ever so kind welcome at More Agreeably Engaged on the blog tour for my latest book, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. As the title suggests, this is an ‘early marriage’ scenario, where Elizabeth accepts Mr Darcy’s first proposal on account of her father’s sudden illness. There are no heated exchanges in the Hunsford parsonage and no explanatory letter either, so Elizabeth and Mr Darcy begin their life together with the full baggage of prejudices on both sides, as well as his unchecked pride. The differences they did not get the chance to reconcile before the wedding gradually come to light in the first months of their marriage. One of them is centred on Darcy’s views of Mr and Mrs Gardiner. He had brought himself to just about endure the Bennets with minimal grumbles, but he draws the line at Elizabeth flaunting relations in trade. Lady Catherine and several others have already demonstrated that it would be a great challenge for Elizabeth to be accepted into the highest circles and, as he bluntly puts it, “With added millstones, it would be insurmountable.”

Needless to say, Elizabeth is horrified. Ever since their marriage she had grown to discover a number of encouraging facts: that he is much kinder and considerate than she had originally thought; that he is very much in love with her, however self-absorbed and flawed the sentiment; that he had already done a great deal for her family and is prepared to do more. But that does not extend to welcoming relations in trade.

The revelations that emerge after Mrs Gardiner’s visit to the Darcy townhouse spark open conflict, and Elizabeth can barely contain her shock:

“But my Gracechurch Street relations are not welcome?” she incredulously asked. “When Mr Bingley’s own fortune was made in trade?”
Darcy gave a gesture of impatience.
“His grandfather was the last of the Bingleys to live within sight of his own warehouses.”
Elizabeth gripped her hands together in her lap, overcome with anger at the hopelessness of the situation.
“So in the face of that, affection, loyalty, family, they count for nothing!” she bitterly exclaimed.
“You have daily proof it is not so,” Darcy retorted, just as bitterly. “You have my affection, my loyalty and everything that is in my power to give. But it is not in my power to give you safe passage in the world if you persist in hampering your own progress by every means possible! Elizabeth, we have had this discussion once before, and I will not endure it again,” he cut her short, when she opened her lips to harshly comment on how much she valued the progress he was speaking of. “Against my better judgement I have conceded to having your mother and younger sisters visit us in town on occasion, although goodness knows why you should wish it when you could spend more than enough time with them at Netherfield and Pemberley. At least they have some claim to gentility, in name if not in substance. Must you expose yourself to further censure by flaunting connections in trade?”

Predictably, this does not go down well. The shock is so much greater for Elizabeth because she had tentatively begun to warm up to her husband as she had discovered some of his well-hidden good qualities and witnessed his kindness to her. But this makes her feel they are poles apart, each unable to understand the other as they heatedly debate the issue over a couple of days – when her husband is at home, that is. He had taken himself away after their first bitter disagreement, and the pattern keeps repeating itself.

Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is very much from Elizabeth’s point of view as she tries to make sense of her new life and understand her husband. She can barely guess what he is thinking, and she often guesses wrong. When Claudine suggested that one of the blog tour posts could be an exclusive vignette from Darcy’s point of view, I leapt at the opportunity. So here he is, the gentleman himself (if you have already read the book, this belongs at the end of Chapter 16). Mr Darcy has just spent another evening away from home rather than repeatedly arguing with his wife. He is as distressed as she about their disagreement, even though he can’t see any flaws in his reasoning. But his head and his heart have agreed to disagree a long time ago…

(Photo: BBC)

* * * *

‘In His Head – In His Heart’


His raised hand, poised to knock, fell away from the polished wood and Darcy rubbed his mouth and chin instead, in a half-nervous, half-frustrated gesture.

The nervousness, once recognised as such, only served to fuel the frustration. Not long ago he would have scoffed at the merest intimation that he would come to this – pacing in his chambers like a schoolboy confined for some misdemeanour; loitering on this side of the wretched door in all devils of a quandary over the most ludicrous of matters: whether he should knock on his own wife’s door – or not.

His friends and foes alike would laugh themselves into a fit to see him thus – tied into knots over a slip of a girl, eight years his junior. Bewitched body and soul by this mesmerising, fiery and sometimes downright infuriating woman who just so happened to be the love of his life.

The frustrated scowl gave way to an unexpected smile. Fiery. She was that. Had always been, from the earliest days of their acquaintance. A fire that had drawn him like the hapless moth to the proverbial flame.

He sighed. Her father’s illness and subsequent demise had sadly dimmed the fire he relished and feared in equal measure, but could not extinguish it. Not in someone as vibrantly alive as her. It had sparked again in the least likely, indeed the very worst of circumstances: their bitter disagreement over her unsavoury relations. For two days the sudden discord had poisoned every moment – yet even as the most hurtful words had shot between them he had recognised the old sparks with a jolt. Had welcomed them, even!

Darcy’s lips tightened into a grimace of exasperation. What did it say of him, for goodness’ sake – and worse still, of her power over him – that he should desire her all the more when she was fiercely rebellious rather than softly spoken and amenable to reason? That, ever as she argued the most preposterous and untenable of positions, as far removed from his ingrained sense of right and wrong as it could be, he should still want nothing quite as much as to stride forth and silence her absurd suggestions with a forceful kiss?

The mental picture was doing him no favours whatsoever, and with a muted oath Darcy stepped back from the door linking his bedchamber with hers. He stood in no need of further proof that he could barely trust himself around her, and keeping his distance over the last couple of days had been the only means of not having her see him as either a savage or a fool. Yet all he had achieved was to miss their time together all the more – miss her – as he had resigned himself to spending the previous night at his club and the best part of tonight at Fanshawe’s townhouse. In both instances seeking not companionship, but sanctuary.

Even had he sought it, there was no companionship to be had among the assortment of men in various stages of inebriation. In order to escape them, on the first night he had availed himself of a bedchamber at White’s, little as he had imagined he would sleep – and he had not. He could not bear to exile himself to the soulless solitude of yet another restless night there. He needed to come home. He needed her.

The thin sliver of light under the interconnecting door had caught his eye from the very first step into his darkened chamber. It was very late – yet she had waited up. Hope swelled, and a fresh wave of tenderness threatened to undo him. She had waited up!

His valet was dismissed in no time at all. Darcy had neither the patience to be helped out of his apparel, nor any thought to spare for their habitual exchanges and arrangements for the morrow. It was all that he could do not to glance too often at the tantalising strip of light in his man’s presence, like the veriest mooncalf. And now Weston was gone – he had left as bid a quarter of an hour ago, or more. Yet here he was, still in his shirtsleeves and still battling with all manner of maddening indecisions.

Enough! Although still quiet, Darcy’s footsteps grew suddenly firmer as they brought him back to the confounding door. She had waited up. Bless her guileless heart, she never was one to hold a grudge. She always dealt fairly, as honest in her loyalties and affections as in giving voice to her displeasure. She loved him. And she must be pained by this artificial distance as much as he. Enough!

The least he could do was to assure her he did not cling to resentments either. Surely he could trust himself to walk in and bid her good night!

Darcy rapped with his knuckles – two taps, light and quick – and before he could even strain to listen for an answer the door moved away on well-oiled hinges. It had been left open – by a hair’s breadth, but open – and another surge of hope rushed to flood his heart.

The door was still moving, and the widening gap allowed him to finally grasp why his knock had yet to be answered. She was asleep. Not in her bed, but curled up in a wingchair. Waiting for him to come home to her.

There was such overwhelming joy in that simple thought that Darcy did not dwell on the wasted hours as he pushed the door open until the gap was wide enough to permit him to walk in. A couple of floorboards creaked under his footsteps, yet she did not stir. Not even when, crouched beside her, he reached for the book in her lap, to lift it and noiselessly place it on the table.

It was not the first time he had watched her sleep. It had happened before – most notably, and most blissfully too, on the first morning of their marriage – when out of habit he had awakened much earlier than she and had remained precisely where he was, cherishing the joy of waking up beside her and finding her beloved features softened in repose, rather than clouded with concern or sorrow.

More often than not he could scarce credit the good fortune that she was his wife. This was one of the occasions as he sat on the floor, elbow on one knee and chin in hand, revelling in every detail of her appearance. The tremulous light from the three low-burning candles played on her cheek, the moving shadows now and then creating the illusion of fluttering lashes. Yet it remained nothing but illusion. She was still asleep when Darcy stood to slide an arm behind her back and the other underneath her, to lift her off her seat, then straightened up with her warm weight cradled to his chest.

Her head fell on his shoulder and naturally found its place, nestling under his chin as she gave a sleepy little murmur of contentment – and he remained stock-still, his heart overflowing. She loved him. And nothing else mattered in this world.

The longstanding yet nebulous notion that he would do anything for her suddenly came into the sharpest focus. He knew then that he would relent; that he would put an end to their destructive disagreement. He would do anything to make her happy – accede to her every wish, just for the joy to see her lips curl into a smile. It should have frightened him, that certainty, yet it could not. Not now, when she was in his arms, soft, warm and trusting, nestling against him; instinctively knowing this was where she belonged. She was his, and she loved him. Everything paled before that; every concession ceased to be a sacrifice.

If it meant so much to her to maintain a close connection with the Gardiners, then so be it. Let them call. He would even go as far as dining with the man who, for all he knew, might have supplied the wine for his table or the silks for his sister’s dresses. Since Mr Gardiner was clearly able to keep command of a successful business, hopefully he had more sense than Mrs Bennet. And, to give credit where it was due, Mrs Gardiner was nothing like her sister by marriage. Surely he could survive the more decorous aunt, if he had brought himself to endure the mother!

His fashionable acquaintances had no say in this. No one – very likely not even Elizabeth herself – would expect the denizens of Mayfair to dine with her Cheapside relations, and while she was still in mourning they would not be entertaining anyway. As for his relations, should they quibble – and quibble they doubtlessly will… Darcy suppressed a shrug so as not to wake her. Let them quibble. What fool would choose to please them over her?

This was all he had ever wanted anyway: to protect her from malice, keep her safe, make her happy. It might well border on insufferable presumption to claim he knew what would make her happy better than she.

He bowed his head a fraction to press his lips into her hair as he turned to carry her to her bed. Everything about her was intoxicating. Her scent. Her warmth. The softness of her skin. And, much as he had endeavoured not to wake her a few moments earlier, claiming that he did not wish she would awaken now, as he settled her against the pillows, would have been a grievous falsehood. As would have been to claim he was not sorely tempted to slide beside her under the bedcovers. She might unthinkingly wrap her arms around him in her sleep, or awake to welcome him in the spirit of the truce she had so sweetly offered before dinner – and yet, however tantalising those prospects proved themselves to be, he knew full well that he wanted a great deal more. Not sleepy habit. Not conciliation. And, heaven forefend, not placid compliance. So for now he merely brushed his lips over her cheek and whispered, “Sleep well. I love you,” before reaching to cover her with the counterpane. Then he blew out the candles and quietly walked out.

* * * *

The pruning scissors closed across the stem with a muted snap, releasing the perfect bloom into his keeping. Walking into the orangery in the middle of the night in search of floral offerings might well have been so out of character with him as to border on the juvenile or the quixotic, yet Darcy was very far from seeing it as such as he returned to Elizabeth’s bedchamber to place the token on her nightstand. A single red rose, as beautiful as she, and as vibrant as his restless heart.



****


Author Biography
Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. A medical graduate, in more recent years she has developed an unrelated but enduring fascination with Georgian Britain in general and the works of Jane Austen in particular, as well as with the remarkable and flamboyant set of people who have given the Regency Period its charm and sparkle.


Joana Starnes is the author of:
* 'From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley', a 'Pride & Prejudice' sequel
* 'The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice & Persuasion'
* 'The Second Chance', a 'Pride & Prejudice' ~ 'Sense & Sensibility' variation
* 'The Falmouth Connection', a 'Pride & Prejudice' variation where Jane Austen's beloved characters are compelled to leave their tame and reasonably peaceful lives in the south of England and travel to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril, where few - if any! - are what they seem to be...
* 'The Unthinkable Triangle', a 'Pride & Prejudice' variation that dwells on the most uncomfortable love-triangle of them all. What if Mr. Darcy's rival for Miss Bennet's hand and heart is none other than his dearest, closest friend? And how can they all find their 'happily-ever-after'?
*'Miss Darcy's Companion' - a variation that explores what might have happened if the warm-hearted Miss Elizabeth Bennet were employed instead of the scheming Mrs Younge.

****
Author Links

****
Book Description
When Colonel Fitzwilliam’s disclosures are interrupted by the bearer of distressing news from Longbourn, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is compelled to consider an offer she would have otherwise dismissed out of hand. An offer of marriage from the all-too-proud Mr Darcy.

Yet how is she to live with a husband she hardly knows and does not love? Would she be trapped in a marriage of convenience while events conspire to divide them? Or would love grow as, day by day and hour after hour, she learns to understand the man she married, before she loses his trust and his heart?

Purchase Link:  Amazon
****

Blog Tour Schedule


November 17/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
November 18/Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
November 19/Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 20/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt's Guide to Life/Guest Post & Giveaway
November 21/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 22/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 23/Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
November 24/ Happy Thanksgiving
November 25/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway
November 26/ Just Jane 1813/Interview with Joana Starnes & Giveaway
November 27 / My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Guest Post & Giveaway
November 28/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Vignette & Giveaway
December 1/ My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
December 2/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway
Claudine Pepe, of Just Jane 1813, thank you for organizing such a great blog tour. You always make it easy on us bloggers!

****

Well, everyone? What did you think of this special treat - our exclusive vignette? I sighed at the depth of feeling and the thoughts that accompanied them. delivered so beautifully by Joana Starnes. I'm not sure why but I also felt a bit of apprehension. I'm fearing for the gentleman and what might be yet to come. No, I have not read the book, but do I ever want to read it! What I wouldn't give to have the next couple of days to sit and relish this story, savoring every morsel! For those of you who have read it, what are your thought? (Please, no spoilers, though) :)

Thank you, Joana. I keep hearing people say they feel this is your best yet. As much as I have loved your other books, it is hard for me to imagine one better than any one of them! I will happily let all my readers know my thoughts once I have had the opportunity to read and decide for myself...best of all or ranking at the top with the rest! 

Now I have the extreme pleasure to tell you about a giveaway for Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter. Ms. Starnes is giving away one eBook to one of you, and the giveaway is international! Leave a comment below and please leave me your contact info. I don't want any of you to miss this opportunity because I find you. That would be a shame! Thank you all for visiting and a special thanks to you, Joana. I hope this book continues to be successful, (I'm sure it will), and please, keep writing! :)

The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 4th of December, 2016. Good luck to all of you!