Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, my share in the conversation...

It is my pleasure to be the first stop of the blog tour for A D'Orazio's new book, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. I'm so excited to take part in Amy's blog tour and especially to open it with my review of her book. I loved her first book and was anxious to read this new one. But before I get to my review of it, let's learn a little more about the author and the book. Isn't the cover lovely! The red roses on the back (you will see those further down in the post) and red cape are breath-taking!

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Links:

Twitter:  @AllAbtAusten

Buy Links:


Author Biography:

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.

Now it's time to share my thoughts on A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by A D’Orazio.
A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, the newest release by A D’Orazio, begins at Netherfield. In the hopes of helping their friends find the same happiness they share, Charles and Jane Bingley, now married, with a son, are hosting a house party. They have invited an equal number of single men and women, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Darcy, hesitant to attend for fear of seeing Elizabeth Bennet, decides to accept, believing Elizabeth will not be in attendance.

Elizabeth Bennet, living in Cheltenham for the past year, has agreed to make her home with the Bingleys. A changed woman, Lizzy is not the impertinent woman of the past. Her arrival during the house party sets the stage for the events and trials that follow.

Go back a little over a year when Lizzy visits Pemberley with the Gardiners. The misunderstanding that came from the Hunsford proposal has been resolved. Lizzy accepts Darcy’s second proposal and for a short period, they experience exquisite felicity, thus the title. The title is referred to several times throughout the book and those references are apropos.

Lydia’s unfortunate adventure/misadventure with Wickham proves too much and Lizzy calls off the engagement with no explanation. Not only does she call if off, she does so in a letter. Darcy has been jilted and he cannot imagine why. Heartbroken he refuses to attend Bingley’s wedding nor does he visit until the house party. There is much more to Lizzy’s departure than the reader will know until nearer the ending. Lizzy and Darcy struggle while trying to come to terms with what happened, what could have been, what each does not know, and their inability to quit loving each other. Throw into this mix, eligible men and women and some sparks will fly. Oh my, let the fun begin!

Lizzy’s reason for living in Cheltenham is questioned. Rumors fly and one source of those rumors caught me totally offguard. Even Darcy begins to believe some of the rumors. Will they make a difference in those feelings he still has for her or will they put an end to those feelings forever? 

This novel grabbed my attention from the beginning. I felt invested in the characters and the story, but I did get a bit frustrated at times. I wanted to shake Darcy and Lizzy and tell them to please sit down and talk to each other. When they finally did try, they kept getting interference from first one and then the other. The angst was not only caused by Darcy’s and Lizzy’s misunderstanding but also by the so-called ‘help’ of friends and family. Anytime there is angst, the romance, when it does happen, will be all the sweeter. That is certainly the case in this novel.

A D’Orazio is an excellent storyteller, and her novel is well-written. It kept this reader up late into the night. It had some twists and turns that I never saw coming. Amy’s first book, The Best Part of Love, was exceptional and I eagerly awaited the publication of her second. It did not disappoint. Thank you, Amy, for such an entertaining read.

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity Tour Schedule


February 21 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
February 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
February 23 Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 24 My Vices and Weaknesses / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
February 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway
February 26 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
February 27 Savvy Verse and Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 28 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway
March 1 So Little Time / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 2 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
March 3 Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview
March 4 Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway
March 5 Diary of an Eccentric / Guest Post & Giveaway
March 6 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

Giveaway:

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

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to all of you for stopping by. If you have read either or both of Amy's books, will you share your thoughts? I would love to hear them. If you haven't read this new release, be sure and visit all the stops in the tour for a chance to win it. You won't be disappointed. Thank you to Amy for giving us such a lovely book, to Meryton Press for hosting the giveaway and to Claudine Pepe for organizing the blog tour. Best wishes for your book, Amy, and have fun during your blog tour. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Surprise!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you, Dear Readers! My wish for you is a day filled with love and happiness. My Valentine to you is a special treat I'm sure you will enjoy. It's even better than chocolate! Do I have your attention?

Enjoy a short story by Nicole Clarkston starring John Thornton and Margaret Hale! It is utterly delicious! Maybe the best thing to do is have some chocolate while you read! Now that is a good idea!

♥♥♥♥♥

One of the reasons we enjoy variations is because we wish, with all our hearts, that our favourite characters would just figure it out! Period-inappropriate or out of character, sometimes we just want to see them get it right without quite so much angst.

Often when I have been digging deeply into some of our beloved characters, a scene starring them will pop into my head that has nothing to do with the story I am writing. It doesn't fit, the circumstances are insupportable, but it won't leave me alone. It simply demands to be written. This is one of those scenes.

Enjoy, and Happy Valentines Day!

NC

♥♥♥♥♥

Confession

Margaret Hale stood before the unlocked gates, gazing in at the barren courtyard. It seemed to her that the entire property had been lain waste. The monuments to industry remained in the great stone walls, the shadows of equipment through the windows, but Marlborough Mills was desolate and lifeless.

Her heart lurched. She tried to tell herself that she had come on behalf of the several hundred people who had suddenly lost their employment, that her offer was for the good of their children and even those others whose livelihoods were impacted by the closing of the mill... but it was no good. She could not help searching every window, every corner of the yard, to see if he were there somewhere, exulting her penitent approach.

The excruciating pleasure of seeing him once more, she would gladly bear; but what mortification her presence might cause him, she earnestly lamented. She must present her offer as a matter of business, refusing to let him see the regret she would surely make plain if she spoke one word from personal motive. His lost regard would be hers to mourn after this business had been completed, and she could not wound him by seeming to act out of pity.

She ought to go to the house. Surely that was where he would be, perhaps even removing his belongings at this very moment. She drew breath and her eyes fluttered closed... Mrs Thornton would be there as well. She was already terrified to face the son– much more daunting still was the mother who guarded the way to him! How would she manage to breach the gates?

Her eyes skimmed round the courtyard once more, delaying just a few more seconds as she tested her courage... and then her breath caught. Was that movement in one of the upper windows of the mill? She blinked, hope daring to kindle in her breast. It was.

It took her several minutes to find a door that led to that part of the building. She began walking toward it and then drew up sharply when it opened before her. Expecting it to be Mr Thornton, she wetted her lips and rehearsed the beginnings of the speech she had prepared. The words died when none other than Nicholas Higgins appeared, carting one of the Boucher children at his hip.

"Nicholas!" she cried in joy.

The battered weaver's cap swung in her direction, the grizzled face split into a grin, and he sauntered toward her. "Miss Marg'et," he seemed to sigh in relief. "I knew yo'd come."

"What can you mean, you knew?"

"Well, the mill, 'tis yo'r property. I dinna yo'd come so soon, but I told my Mary we'd be seeing yo' again."

Brendan Coyle as Nicholas Higgins

She smiled sadly. "How is your family, Nicholas?"

He ruffled the child's hair, forcing a bit of bravado. "Well enough, Miss Marg'et." He glanced over his shoulder. "He's up there, Miss. Second floor."

She opened her mouth to protest. Was she so obvious? But Nicholas only set the boy on the ground and took the small hand in his own. "Stop by before yo' go, if yo' will."

She touched his shoulder as he passed by. "I will, Nicholas," she promised. She looked up at the imposing door, steeled her courage, and pushed.

The building was perfectly still, somehow even more dead than during the strikes. From somewhere above, she could hear slow, measured footsteps. Her heart began to pound again, but she would not shrink. She only prayed she would not offend him.

She tiptoed up a narrow iron staircase, her breath coming more loudly than her steps. At the top she stopped, searching the cavernous room for movement but finding none. She scanned the room more carefully... and then she saw him.

He was scarcely ten paces away, slightly concealed by his position half-seated on a loom, leaning his weight against it as he gazed across the expanse of machinery. Her fingers clutched one another tightly and she stepped onto the long wooden planks of the floor.

His head twitched in acknowledgment– not quite turning to see her, but a welcome of sorts. His voice– that deep tone which sent shivers through her even now– resounded in the still of the room.

"I have been a fool, Mother."

Margaret's steps faltered. She gasped, ready to speak, to alert him to her identity, but he interrupted.

"No, do not try to tell me otherwise. I was blinded, by envy and wounded pride. This blow is the harshest of them all, far worse than failure. Many men fail in business, but only a cursed few cut their own hearts out. I was wrong, but I am glad of it."

She swallowed, daring to step softly nearer, but her courage failed when she tried to summon speech. Walking was enough– more than enough.

"Aye, you must wonder what I can mean! Yes, I am glad. Mother, I judged her wrongly. She never once traded her dignity. No shame ever touched her but that which I tried, in my own arrogance, to cast her way. She has a brother! I never knew...." he heaved an agonised groan, as if his chest were rent in two. "And I was so quick to condemn her who could never care for me. There, now you know the whole measure of my vanity."

Margaret felt her cheeks burning with a conscious guilt at listening to the heartfelt confession meant for another's ears. Yet her spirit had begun to soar. He did not despise her! And somehow, he knew the truth that she had wished but never dared to disclose. Eagerly, she came to stand behind his shoulder, her eyes brimming with tears and her throat now too tight for speech.

"You need not fear for me, Mother. I will content myself with allowing myself now to remember her as my heart wished to, with no shadow of recrimination. I know not yet where we will go, but I go with my conscience clear, save for one thing. I have done all I could, I have paid all men, failed with my honour intact. I could wish..." he drew a ragged breath, bit his lips together, and forged on.

"I could only have asked for the chance to see her once more, to beg her forgiveness. Aye, I go to London to give up my lease, but I will not force her to speak with me. Her agent will settle the matter, and that will be the end, but I could wish for her to know the truth of my humility. Pray for me, Mother, that in this, too, I will guard against disgrace and have the strength to walk away as I must."

He awaited an answer now, but she had none to give him. She ought to speak, to pardon herself, to apologise in her turn, but all she could think to do was to offer him the sort of tender consolation she herself yearned for. She reached to touch his shoulder, and as she did, the shadow of his lashes fell low upon his cheek and his head turned slightly to her. She reached, instead, beyond his stiff white collar, her fingers brushing hesitantly over his chin.

She felt his jaw flex, then drop into her hand. He tipped his head slightly, as if drawing courage from the caress before he opened his eyes. Margaret choked back a sob.

A rush of air warmed her thumb, so near his mouth, and those brilliant blue eyes that had haunted her dreams fluttered open. He blinked again in disbelief, his lips slightly parted as he huffed in astonishment. "Margaret!" he whispered.

She allowed her fingers to fall, but her gaze, unable yet to meet his, remained fixed on the mouth which was again speaking her name.

"Margaret!"


His own hand had raised, longing to touch, and he caught hers as it fell. He was shaking his head in glad disbelief. "Margaret, forgive me," he murmured.


"There is nothing to forgive," she answered softly, and deliberately twined her fingers with his. His chest filled sharply, then he abruptly bent and his warm lips caressed hers.


Margaret stiffened in mild surprise, but closed her eyes and savoured the taste of him for a few sweet seconds. When he pulled away, she tottered forward, her natural balance following him and her eyes still closed. He leaned back down and kissed her again, as if he could not deny himself this one indulgence, and his arms slid hungrily about her waist. He was pulling her against him, and she could feel him trembling through his thin cotton shirtsleeves.










Margaret's lips teased his in answer to every gentle stroke, her mouth opening slightly more. She was standing on her toes now, her breath was growing ragged, her head light as the room seemed to spin. He released her, his own shoulders heaving as his hand raised to cup her cheek. "I am sorry," he rasped, his eyes roving lovingly over her face.


She shook her head with a bashful smile as he breath slowed. "I am just not accustomed to... I had not expected, and I have never...."

"Nor have I. I hope I have not frightened you."

"No!" she answered quickly. "Please do not apologise. I did not come here to cause you any distress."

His hand slid down to capture hers again and he pulled it to his chest, gently stroking each of her fingers. "Why did you come? It was not for this," he touched his forehead to hers.

"I came on an errand of business, but perhaps it is unimportant now."


He pulled back to look at her. "It cannot be ignored. I will not manipulate you, nor will I be in your debt."

"I would not have considered you so. I came to offer an... an investment, if you will. One that would permit you to go on working the mill. But... I did not know that... that matters could be different than I had imagined."

His mouth lifted into a roguish half-smile. "You speak of a personal end now?"

"I thought... well, yes," she faltered.

He touched her chin, lifting her lips within inches of his own until she could feel his breath on her cheek. "Would you have a failed tradesman, Margaret?" he asked, his tones low and uncertain. "Would you have a man who does not even deserve a kind word from you, who gave his heart away and thereafter swore like a fool that he never had one?"

"I would have John Thornton," she whispered back. "

He smiled and tugged her close, clasping her to his heart. Margaret wound her arms around his neck and drank in his presence, free at last to confess her love.

♥♥♥


♥♥♥

Hannah Thornton had searched the premises, and had begun to think her son might have already left for London without speaking again to her. She feared for him, for the shame which should never be his, for the heartbreak and trial he had yet to endure. One moment of encouragement was all she had wished to bestow, but he was not to be found.

On her final pass through the mill buildings, just before she was set upon giving up, she saw him... but he was not inclined to notice her. His coat was gone, his hair disheveled, but his face, what she could see of it, bore the most blissfully content expression she had ever known upon his features. And the cause of such a feeling, certainly, was the woman cradled to his chest, whose fingers even now raked through his hair, and whose slim neck arched to meet his ardent caresses.

The mother gasped aloud, but neither her son nor Margaret Hale– for it could be no other– were deterred from their occupation. Their hapless observer was then treated to a shocking display of forfeited decorum, of propriety thrown over in favour of a greater prize. Lips and hands moved in frantic expression, bodies swayed in concert, and two hearts appeared to be learning to beat as one.

She backed softly from the room and descended the stairs as quietly as she might. There would be time enough for explanations later. For now, one thing was sure: John had everything he needed.

♥♥♥♥♥

'Sigh' So, what do you think about this Valentine's Day treat? Isn't it absolutely swoon-worthy?! Do you think I got carried away with the kissing scenes? lol  This short story or scene is one to read slowly and savour! :)

I love John and Margaret from North & South, by Elizabeth Gaskell. If you haven't read this book yet, what are you waiting for? It is excellent! Nicole Clarkston has some excellent N&S fanfiction, too...No Such Thing as LuckNorthern Rain, and she is writing another one now. :) Nicole is the author of three JAFF novels, Rumours & Recklessness, The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, and These Dreams, with another P&P variation in progress.

Thank you, Nicole, for letting me post your story at More Agreeably Engaged. Happy Valentine's Day to you and to all my readers!


The pictures in the post are stills I photographed from the 2004 North & South miniseries starring Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A More Engaging Guest Review...Henry Fitzwilliam's War

As promised, Sophia Rose's review for the novella, Henry Fitzwilliam's War is posted below. As Sophia states, this novella falls between Volume 1, The Keeper, Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey and Volume 2, Part 1, The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque, by Don Jacobson. Thank you, Sophia. I will now turn it over to you. Oh, before I go, there is a giveaway! :)

Henry Fitzwilliam’s War by Don Jacobson
#1.75 The Bennet Wardrobe
Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Publisher:  Self-Published:
Published:  8/25/16
Pages:  57
Source:  Purchased
Sellers:  Amazon

GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31689611-henry-fitzwilliam-s-war?ac=1&from_search=true

GoodReads Blurb:

Time is once again bent in 1883 as Viscount Henry Fitzwilliam, the heir to the Earldom of Matlock, uses the remarkable Bennet Wardrobe to seek his manhood through combat as suggested by his great friend, Theodore Roosevelt. But, as Henry’s Great Grandmother, Lydia Bennet Wickham Fitzwilliam, noted, “The Wardrobe has a strange sense of humor.” The lessons the young aristocrat learns are not the ones he expected.

Henry travels over 30 years into the future to land in the middle of the most awful conflict in human history—World War I. His brief time at the Front teaches him that there is no longer any room on the battlefield for heroic combat. Rather he discovers the horrors of “modern” warfare—the machine gun, high explosive artillery and poison gas—and the incredible waste of young men’s lives.

But, it is his two weeks spent recuperating at the Beach House in Deauville, after being temporarily blinded by chlorine gas that irrevocably changes his life forever. There he encounters an incredible woman, one who will define his near 10-year search for the love of his life after he returns to his own time.

This novella grew from the author’s efforts to sketch the events that shaped the life of one of the central characters prior to his introduction in the upcoming work “The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque,” Volume II of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.


Review:

After just savoring, The Keeper: Mary Bennet's ExtraordinaryJourney, the first book in the Bennet Wardrobe series, I was eager to press on with this tweenie novella that is meant to augment the story of the hero (and heroine, for that matter) in the upcoming second book in the series.

Henry Fitzwilliam's War takes place a few generations and many years forward from the events of book one telling the story of a young man from the late Victorian era desirous of being a hero.  He chooses to use the Wardrobe to make this happen and learns the magical device can be rather whimsical in its interpretation of wishes.  Henry is landed into the brutal raging WWI trench warfare where individual heroism isn't possible and one battle puts him out of the action and recovering in a mysterious lady's home in Deauville.


There is a poignant, bittersweet quality to this shorter tale that draws in the reader and does the job of leaving a desire to press forward into the next installment even while revealing something of the characters who will be met there.  Well worth stopping off and getting this in between tale.

*****

For the author info for Don Jacobson and bio info for Sophia Rose, refer to Sophia's review of The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey.

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, Volume 2, Part 2, of The Bennet Wardrobe was recently released. The blog tour for the book begins on February 14th. Don has some great guest posts and character interviews lined up so be sure and pop in. He has a fabulous giveaway for the tour, too. The blog tour is set up a little differently this time. There will not be a stop every day, and the tour is spread out over a three week period. 


Blog Tour Schedule:                                                     

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 24 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA

Have you read any of the books in The Bennet Wardrobe series? If you have, we would love to hear your thoughts!

I'm giving away one eBook of The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey. I highly recommend these books. Don Jacobson is a brilliant author and I think you will be fascinated with his story-telling. The giveaway is international. On Friday, I posted Sophia's review of The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey, Volume 1 of The Bennet Wardrobe. Comments left at both reviews will increase your chance of winning. Be sure and leave me contact info if you would like a chance to win the eBook. Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 12th of February! Good luck to all!

Friday, February 9, 2018

A More Engaging Guest Review...The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey

Hello to all of you. I hope you've had a good week. Are you looking forward to the weekend? Yes, I guess that is a pretty silly question. Most of you probably are. Me too! :)

Sophia Rose is back with a guest review of Don Jacobson's The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey. This book is Volume 1 in The Bennet Wardrobe Series. I will be posting Sophia Rose's review of Henry Fitzwilliam's War, a Bennet Wardrobe novella on Saturday so watch for it.

Thank you, Sophia, for sharing this review with me and my readers here at More Agreeably Engaged. I'm sure the readers will like reading your 'take' on this book in The Bennet Wardrobe series.

*****

The Keeper:  Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey by Don Jacobson
#1 The Bennet Wardrobe
Historical Romance, Time Travel Romance

Publisher:  Self-Published

Published:  5.16.17

Pages:  356

Source:  Purchased

Sellers:  Amazon
               Barnes&Noble


GoodReads Blurb:

Lizzy gripped Mary’s hands and began her speech.

“Now is the time for you. Heal now. Future only, my dearest sister.”

Mary Bennet has spent her entire life fighting to be herself. If only she knew just what that was. For years she buried her nose in the musty musing of Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women trying to be exceptional. She hid her light brown eyes—and herself—behind useless spectacles.
With both Jane and Lizzy married, it is time for Miss Bennet to emerge from her cocoon. Learn how a young woman of deep faith and inquisitive mind emerges. Yet, even as Mary Bennet overcomes her troubled teenage years, she is challenged by her sudden and total love for a man who mysteriously appears on the night of a great calamity. And his secret grows out of a remarkable device—The Bennet Wardrobe!

The Keeper follows the life of Mary Bennet as she matures from the prosy, moralizing caricature found in Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice into a confident young woman looking to make her mark in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. And, discover how the amazing Bennet Wardrobe makes life interesting for all Bennets.
Review:

There are books that come along and seem imbued with magic.  Whether it is the world of the story, the characters, the connections between characters, or just that little something extra, there is magic.  Now, wasn't I pleasantly surprised when The Keeper turned out to be something of all this and had actual time-travel magic for good measure.

The Bennet Wardrobe much in the spirit of other great literary means of magical travel offers one family an opportunity to experience the world of the future just by making a wish and stepping forward.  There are regulations and it all isn't roses and unicorns just because they can sally forth into the future through their magical wardrobe.  Quite the possibilities, though...

In essence, this first book had the ponderous job of introducing the reader to a new world, the characters, and bring home a solid story.  The Keeper managed to do all these things.  It took a bit to get going as it wove through the history of the wardrobe and set up the family situation for the moment the heroine appeared on the scene.  It was something of a telling rather than showing in the early pages, but I didn't mind.  It suited things to bring over a hundred years of history and the backdrop together in this way and I was still able to emotionally connect and, yes, gulp back a few tears for some of the sorrows of the past.

Once, Mary Bennet that more obscure and pedantic third Bennet daughter of Pride & Prejudice fame entered stage left, I was fully engaged with the story.  I've always had a soft spot for our Mary so I enjoyed seeing the duckling to swan routine take place before my eyes as Mary finds herself and settles comfortably in her own skin and within her own family. 

The timing of this one when it becomes Mary's story is right after the events of Austen's Pride & Prejudice so its something of a sequel variation.  There are a blend of Austen's characters and the author's original ones.  The author's take on Austen's characters are rather original without going too far so that I couldn't recognize them.  I loved that balance.  There is a blend of sequel story taking the reader through the events of lives living the events of history in Napoleonic then Industrial Revolution era England.  Historic details are there and added flavor and color to the setting without taking over and distracting from the plot.

There are plenty of pages to The Keeper that allow for the narration to develop not only the story of
the family legacy with the Wardrobe and Mary, herself, but further to the whole family and its extending connections into a family saga. 

I enjoyed the time of Mary making her own family connections for the first time, particularly as a daughter with her father and then strengthening her relationship with sisters and friends.  Her epiphany moment on top of Oakham Mount was marvelous and so her remaking was believable as was the woman who emerged from then on.  She has a romance that stays in the background as she matures into a woman of inner strength and beauty while pondering the secret her Edward is keeping.  I loved seeing her stand up for herself and for others.  Mary taking on Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins was a particularly triumphant.  And speaking of that pair?  They gave me the heebie jeebies like a good villain will do.

As I said, this felt more like a family saga and it most certainly was the foundation story to launch a series.  Mary's story is there, but other stories are more than hinted at.  I look forward to getting each of those fascinating younger Bennet sister's stories.  I was taken with the blend of magical time travel and Austenesque sequel.   The Keeper was engaging, emotionally touching, and well-written making me eager to push forward with what comes next.  I can heartily recommend this book to those who love a little magic and a good grasp of historical context in their Austenesque.

Author’s Bio:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.

He now exclusively writes Regency Romance fiction. In 2016, he published “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey” which began the Bennet Wardrobe saga. He also published the paired books "Of Fortune's Reversal" and "The Maid and The Footman" which examine the same event from two different perspectives: that of the gentry and that of the servants.

He holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of the Jane Austen Society of Puget Sound (JASNA). He is also a member of the Regency Romance writers' collective Austen Authors.

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear. Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking (Poulet au vinaigre is a particular favorite), dining out, fine wine and well aged scotch whiskey (Oban 18 Year Old single malt).

His other passion is cycling. Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills). He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days). Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Author’s Social Media:
 
Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate. Writing has been a compelling need since childhood.


GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13418187.Sophia_Rose

*****

Thank you, Sophia Rose, for your willingness to let me post your reviews on my blog. I enjoy reading your thoughts and especially so on this book. I love this series by Don Jacobson, and I was eager to see what your thoughts would be. I look forward to reading the rest of your review of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. If any of you have been thinking about reading the series, I feel Sophia's review will give you a boost to go ahead and jump in. I highly encourage you to do so.

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, Volume 2, Part 2, of The Bennet Wardrobe was recently released. The blog tour for the book begins on February 14th. Don has some great guest posts and character interviews lined up so be sure and pop in. He has a fabulous giveaway for the tour, too. The blog tour is set up a little differently this time. There will not be a stop every day, and the tour is spread out over a three week period. 


Blog Tour Schedule:                                                     

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 24 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA

Thanks for stopping by. We would love to hear your thoughts.

To encourage more of you to give this series a try, I'm giving away one eBook of The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey. The giveaway is international. On Saturday, I will post Sophia's review of Henry Fitzwilliam's War, a Bennet Wardrobe novella. Comments left at both reviews will increase your chance of winning. Be sure and leave me contact info if you would like a chance to win the eBook. Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 12th of February! Good luck to all!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Amy George...The Sweetest Ruin

The Sweetest Ruin

Today is my stop for Amy George's blog tour for her latest release, The Sweetest Ruin. I'm so glad to have you visit this morning, Amy. Your post on marriage in Vegas was interesting. I knew of a few of the celebrity marriages that took place there but not all of them. I enjoyed reading about those and seeing your pictures. Thank you for sharing with me and my readers today. I wish you the best with your new release. The cover is awesome! Ellen, as always, did her magic. Readers, be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post! 

Good morning, Janet, and thank you for hosting me at More Agreeably Engaged
for the blog tour for my newest release, “The Sweetest Ruin.” This story is a modernization
of Pride & Prejudice that has Darcy and Elizabeth finding love in Las Vegas, Nevada,
of all places!

Let's talk about marriage.

More specifically, let's talk about celebrity marriages in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Quickie marriages became a thing in Las Vegas in the 1940's because there was no
waiting period or blood tests required. Because of this ease, many a couple have
chosen Vegas as their wedding destination. Sometimes they plan ahead, sometimes
they do not. (See Britney Spears' 55 hour marriage to some dude that was later annulled.)




The first celebrity pairing of note is Mickey Rooney to Ava Gardner (!!!!!)
on January 10, 1942. It didn't last. Rooney married 7 more times and Gardner,
I assume, married somebody attractive down the road.

On May 28,1954, Kirk Douglas wed Ann Buydens at the Sahara. They are still married
and they gave the world Michael Douglas, so I'd say things worked out well for everybody.




Movie stars Paul Newman (*sigh*) and Joanne Woodward were married
at the El Rancho hotel-casino on January 29, 1958. They were married
until his death in 2008. Said Newman of his professional collaborations with his wife:
"You should see us when we get back to the bedroom."  (*pant*)

National treasure and ardent animal lover Betty White married game-show host
Allen Ludden at the Sands hotel-casino in 1963. They remained married until Ludden's
death in 1981. Allen let Betty have as many animals as she wanted. I bet he'd have let
her have goats if she'd wanted them. I want goats. Mister George won't let me have
goats. Stupid Mr George.



What is probably Vegas' most famous wedding took place on May 1, 1967 when Elvis Presley
married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel. Beaulieu had famously lived with Presley since
she was fourteen and they married when she was 21. It was the first marriage for both, though
it ended in divorce, and it produced Elvis' only [legitimate] child.

On April 29, 1989, rock star, actor, and Superman enthusiast Jon Bon Jovi
married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea Hurley, at the Graceland Wedding Chapel.
They are still married.




Having already doomed the union by having "Billy Bob" tattooed on her upper arm
(NEVER BREAK THE BOYFRIEND TATTOO OR SWEATER RULE, PEOPLE!),
Angelina Jolie wed Billy Bob Thornton in a 20-minute ceremony at the Little Church
of the West. The squicktastic couple (admit it, their PDA was SO gross) both wore
blue jeans for the ceremony that took place on May 5, 2000. The marriage,
the fifth for Thornton and second for Jolie, ended in divorce in 2003.

Other celebrities of note include Michael Jordan, Mary Tyler Moore, Frank Sinatra,
Tommy Lee & Pamela Anderson (the less I say about this the better), Ann-Margret,
and Corey Feldman (you should have expected that).

Where do you stand? What's your favorite celebrity Vegas wedding?
Let me know on my Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/authoramygeorge/
















Meet Amy George:

"Amy George is a middle-aged woman who got rid of her old lady/grown up and has since purchased an unreasonably small car. She refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a small town in the Midwest where the bookstore and yarn shop are neighbors and most food is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum.

She has been writing since she was a child and ran the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site."

Fun fact: My birthday is January 30th so this is like a big birthday party.

Contact Info:

Amy George Facebook Page
Amy George's Goodreads

Buy Links:
The Sweetest Ruin Blog Tour Schedule:
January 29   Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Giveaway
January 30   My Jane Austen Book Club; Excerpt Post, Giveaway
January 31   Of Pens and Pages; Guest Post, Giveaway
February 1  More Agreeably Engaged; Guest Post, Giveaway
February 2  Babblings of a Bookworm; Excerpt Post, Giveaway
February 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Book Review, Giveaway
February 4  My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, Giveaway
February 5  Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
February 6  Margie’s Must Reads; Book Review, Giveaway
February 7  From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt Post
February 9  Just Jane 1813; Guest Post, Giveaway




Giveaway:

8 eBooks of The Sweetest Ruin are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers.
Terms and conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you Claudine Pepe for your work in organizing the blog tour. Thanks to Meryton Press for the giveaway. Best wishes, Amy. Happy Belated Birthday!