Sunday, October 25, 2020

Be Your Own Heroine...Sophie and Charlotte Andrews

It has been some time since I had a post on my blog. What better way to return and share some of my thoughts than with the Andrews sisters! It is a pleasure to have Sophie and Charlotte, the authors of Be Your Own Heroine, as my guests. Sophie has been a friend for many years, and I am happy to have her here, along with her sister, Charlotte. Welcome, ladies. I wish you success with your book. It is lovely that you wrote it together. I like the book cover and illustrations too! 

Before I share my thoughts with you, let me give you some background on these two lovely ladies.

Author Biography:

Sophie and Charlotte Andrews are sisters who both love to lose themselves in books. Charlotte’s passion for reading and writing began in her earliest years. She studied Latin American literature as part of her degree at Warwick University, but especially enjoys historical fiction. Younger sister Sophie appreciates many different genres – however her true love is for all things Jane Austen, an enthusiasm that was initially sparked by studying Pride and Prejudice at school. She started her blog, Laughing with Lizzie, in 2012, aged 16, and soon began to participate in Austen events and festivals around the country. As a founder member of the Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society, she organizes house parties, balls and picnics and starred in the 2017 BBC documentary “My Friend Jane”. Her first book, Be More Jane, was published in 2019 by CICO Books. Sophie lives in Berkshire.

Would you like to contact them or visit Sophie's blog? The contact information is below:

Contact Links:

Laughing with Lizzie Blog

Laughing with Lizzie Facebook page

Laughing with Lizzie Instagram page

Laughing with Lizzie Twitter page

Sophie's email: s.j.andrews@hotmail.co.uk

*****

Be Your Own Heroine by Sophie and Charlotte Andrews

My thoughts and impressions:

The life lessons from literature center on six fictional characters or heroines:

1.      Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

2.      Jo March, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

3.      July, The Long Song by Andrea Levy

4.      Eleanor, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5.      Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games, a trilogy by Suzanne Collins

6.      Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowlings

Although I was unfamiliar with some of these heroines, each has her own section where the reader learns a little about her, her life, her strengths, and a memorable moment in her life. How did each of these leading ladies become a heroine? What made each of them? Who contributed? These are just a few of the questions covered by the Andrews sisters. They talk about family, friendships, love, and even bullying. At the end of each section, there are three bullets to stress the important lessons to be gleaned. I liked those and felt they could be beneficial to all readers.

In general, we should learn to love ourselves and know we do not have to be alone. We don’t have to be perfect, but we should strive to improve our less than desirable traits. We should be proud of who we are and where we come from. Who could not benefit from those lessons?

The simple truths found in this little book are good food for thought. The words within can be and should be an inspiration for women of all ages, especially so for those who are trying to find their path in life.

I enjoyed reading quotes from other books besides the six with the chosen heroines. These quotes were scattered throughout the sections in pertinent places. Be Your Own Heroine is interesting and a delight to read. It gave me a few things to ponder and improve. Congratulations, Sophie and Charlotte, on a job well done.

*****

To purchase this book, visit Amazon.com or Amazon.co.UK

*****

My teenage granddaughter is living with me right now, and this is a book that would be helpful to her. I look forward to hearing her thoughts after she has read it. Would you like to read more about this book and its authors? If you do, there is one more stop on the blog tour. Be sure to visit it tomorrow, or go back and visit any you might have missed.


It is giveaway time! Yay! We all like a giveaway, and this is a book you will love having in your library. The publishers, CICO Books, are allowing me to give away one hard bound copy of the book, Be Your Own Heroine, by Sophie and Charlotte Andrews. Leave a comment below to be entered. Have you read it? What are your thoughts? Who are your heroines? Do you have a life lesson learned that you want to share? Please let us know your thoughts below. The giveaway is international and will end on the 29th of October at midnight US Central Time. Good luck to all and thank you for stopping by today!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion...Maria Grace

Maria Grace is my guest today, and she is announcing the release of 
Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion. She is also going to share some "eye-rolling" words with us. :) Maria, you made me smile when I read your post. Of course, there were dragons in Jane Austen's time! (Did I copy part of that from your book banner, or do great minds think alike?) lol 

Dear Readers, please give this lovely lady a chance to explain! Maria, it's all yours!

*****

Thanks for having me Janet!. I’m utterly tickled to announce that the Persuasion arc of my Jane Austen’s Dragons series is complete with the release of

You’re not the first to roll their eyes at me and mutter that—I’ve raised three teenaged sons after all. I’m sure you expect an answer like “Because zombies, vampires and werewolves have already been done.” And while that is utterly true, and the sort of thing I might say if you caught me at just the right—or wrong—moment, it isn’t a very good answer.

You’re rolling your eyes at me again. But give me a chance and hear me out.

Why, you say? (Seriously, stop muttering at me under your breath, I can hear you!)

Even the father of fabled King Arthur has a dragon connection. King Uther Pendragon was said to have seen a dragon shaped comet that inspired the dragons that graced the standards he carried. With dragons just about everywhere in English myth, it seems likely that Jane Austen herself was familiar with many of these dragon legends.

So, what if (A word of caution, when a writer says “what if”, it might be a good time to politely excuse yourself…) those dragon myths contained a large helping of reality and there really were dragons in England? What it they weren’t just a thing of the medieval era, but continued to be a very real presence in British society into the modern era? How might that work? That would require a research trip back Uther Pendragon and his dragon encounter.

So, what if Uther Pendragon was embroiled in battle not just with the Saxons, but with dragons as well and he saw a real dragon who could speak with him, not just a comet as most stories suggested? Would not others have heard it too? Wait, no—what if the dragons had a way of hiding in plain sight that only a select few people could see through and Uther was one of those and made peace with dragonkind…

Suddenly I saw a world, hundreds of years removed from medieval England, where mankind and dragonkind could coexist, governed by the Blue Order, an organization founded by Uther Pendragon himself, on human and dragon partnership, dedicated to protecting the safety and interests of both species while keeping the dragons secret from the very large segment of the human population with hearing insufficient to detect dragon voices.

Here's a little preview of what that world might look like:

_________

August 15, 1814

Laconia, the cat-like tatzelwurm, wound himself around Wentworth’s feet as he walked the stony street to the Blue Order office in Lyme. People bustled about, with all the accompanying noise that did nothing so much as remind one that he was no longer at sea and the master of his own ship. Sunny, bordering on hot, the salty sea breeze clipped the edge off the heat and left the shadows beside the buildings notably cooler, almost chilly. A number of people stopped and stared at the sight, not so much because he was walking with a tatzelwurm, but rather because they saw Laconia as an enormous cat, weaving in and out through his strides.

Though it looked like a difficult, intricate dance, Laconia had been doing it since he was a wyrmling. It had become more difficult as he had grown into a substantial creature, nearly three stones in weight with height and length to match, but Laconia insisted. While he was well able to protect himself now, the scars of his hatching trauma still plagued him. Laconia never felt very comfortable in unfamiliar places, around unfamiliar people—he rarely got much more than an arm’s length away from Wentworth in such situations.

Like most offices of the Blue Order, this one was entirely indistinguishable from the ordinary buildings on either side of it. Far smaller than the great office in London where Wentworth was first presented to and accepted by the Order, this one appeared little different from the first-rate townhouses on either side of it. Four-stories tall, white brick front with black wrought-iron work, balanced, symmetrical windows on either side, with curtains drawn to block the view from the street. Beneath would be several stories of basement levels with connections to the dragon tunnels that passed through all of England.

The corner of his lips turned up. How surprised the other residents would be to learn what was really going on in the house or that the unusual number of large birds of prey perched along the roof were a cockatrice guard company. Frankly, he still was, and he had known about it for years.

Brass door knockers—drake’s heads holding large rings—rose from the great blue doors. That was how one could always tell a Blue Order establishment; the doors were this particular shade of blue. Apparently, the color was made especially for the Order. Order members in the colorman’s guilds controlled it quite carefully, so it might only be sold for use on Blue Order buildings. Naturally they had the help of a few conveniently placed companion dragons to convince stubborn customers that green was really a most fashionable color.

He twisted the signet ring on his left little finger—now that he was beached, it was appropriate he wore it. Order members liked to be able to identify one another.

Wentworth rapped on the door. A blue liveried butler, tall, serious, and foreboding opened it, stepping slightly to the right to completely fill up the doorway and block the entry.

“Mrrrow.” Laconia looked up at him, sniffing the air, tail lashing around Wentworth’s ankle.

The man’s eyes widened just a bit, but he held his ground until Wentworth lifted his left hand and his ring—perhaps a mite too close to the butler’s face.

The butler shut the door behind them. “Come this way.”

They followed him into a large receiving room, facing the mews. Two large windows, sheer white drapes obscuring the view, lined the far wall. It smelt a mite musty, as though the windows had not been open in quite some time. Many places seemed to smell musty these days. Was it just that all buildings smelt that way when one was accustomed to open air? White paper hangings with Order-blue vines or lines or whatever they were called, covered the walls. The occasional pastel fairy dragon peeked around the vines here and there, probably to make it all more interesting, but utterly unrealistic. Had the artist ever seen what the creatures actually looked like? What was wrong with a simple plain color, or even white?

Two tall, oaken bookcases, showcasing books published by the Order, stood proudly flanking the fireplace opposite the windows while a third filled up the wall between the windows. A slightly worn tea table and several similarly serviceable card tables served as focal points for several clusters of lyre-back chairs near the far wall. Couches, covered in something rusty-colored, with dragon-claw-and-ball feet filled up the rest of the space. The whole effect was rather welcoming, and blissfully quiet. The only other occupants were two brown minor drakes wearing Order livery badges, studying a tome at a table near the windows.

“Wait here, please. The Admiral will receive you shortly.” The butler bowed and strode out.

Wentworth took Laconia to a small couch bathed in the sunbeam from the window opposite the drakes. He sat and helped Laconia arrange himself on his lap. “Are you well?”

Laconia grumbled, which to most sounded like a growl. But once one heard Laconia truly growl, one never mistook one for the other again. “I am fine.”

Wentworth stroked his silky black fur and scratched behind his ears. “I know the place smells very odd, but you will grow used to it.”

“That is easy for you to say. You have never had a smell warn you a larger dragon was about to try and make you his breakfast.”

“That was quite the interesting morning, was it not? I would have been consumed right along with you. I do quite remember how that feels.” Perhaps Croft was right, he should write that adventure as a monograph on the territorial nature of sea drakes and submit it to the Order for publication. It was quite the story.

Laconia pressed his cheek into Wentworth’s hand. “But you did not smell it coming.” His tail thumped dully against the cushions as he opened his mouth and flicked his forked tongue in the air.

“You are not accustomed to the smells of land. Anything that does not reek of salt air smells wrong to you.”

“While I much prefer that smell

“As is the term warm-blood—when used by a dragon.”

“When they do not offend my olfaction—”

“Ahh, Captain Wentworth!” Admiral Easterly strode in.

Laconia flicked his tongue against Easterly’s hand. Some of the tension left his shoulders and he rubbed his cheek against Easterly’s palm.

“You have become quite the legend in the Navy—the luckiest ship’s cat you are called. We could have done with a dozen more like you finding prize ships out there.”

“Then why assign so many dragon-deaf as captains?”

Wentworth and Easterly chuckled.

“One can only work with what one has. Come back to my office.” Easterly led them upstairs to a room that faced the mews.

The office was small by the standards of landed accommodations, but spacious to any ship’s captain. Stark white walls, bare as the clean and polished wood floor; their footsteps echoing off both. Tidy and efficient. Shelves near the window held a sextant, a telescope and books on navigation and nautical dragons—oh! There was one he had not read:

“Might I borrow that?” Wentworth pointed to the volume.

In a single movement, Easterly pulled the book from the shelf, handed it to Wentworth and pointed to a chair near the worn, dark oak desk that occupied the center of the narrow room. “Ever hungry for learning, aren’t you! Of course, you can. In fact, I would even recommend it, given what I have to talk with you about. Sit, sit, be comfortable

Laconia chirruped a sound of approval. Coiling his tail to use like a spring, he launched himself to the desktop. He circled the pillow, sniffing it deeply, fanged jaws half-open and eyes a little glazed. What—rather who—had been there before?

“Do not worry, she does not mind sharing this particular perch. Mina is resigned that my office is a public place.”

“I did not know you had a Friend once again.” Wentworth drew the wooden armchair close to the dragon pillow and sat down.

“She befriended me when her previous Friend died, another old Admiral. She likes sea-faring men, after they have retired. Mina does not like to sail herself.” Easterly looked over his shoulder toward the bookcase.

A fluffy grey head peeked out from behind the bookcase. “Meyrrrrow.” High and feminine, it was almost as though she spoke with an accent.

“Pray come out and be introduced.”

Mina slither-crept into the light and looked up at Easterly. Perhaps only half Laconia’s size, she seemed small, though by feline standards she was certainly substantial. Long and lithe, the silver fur of her front, feline half blended seamlessly into gleaming silver scales on her serpentine tail. Stars above, she was a gorgeous creature. Intelligent deep blue eyes stared up at him, searching his character, his worthiness to be an acquaintance—or at least it looked very much that way.

Laconia chirruped at her. She regarded him a moment, eyes growing very large. Her jaw opened slightly; her fangs evident as she breathed deep. “Mrrroww!” She sprang to the desk near Easterly.

“Mina, may I present Laconia and Wentworth, Friend of Laconia.”

Wentworth bowed from his shoulders to Mina and Laconia dipped his head slightly, but not below Mina’s. Ah, yes, dominance, it was always dominance with dragons.

She regarded Wentworth a moment longer, then turned to Laconia. She leaned toward him and sniffed rapidly. Laconia mirrored her. He stepped forward to sniff her neck. When she admitted the attention, he slithered closer, drawing his nose down her entire length as she did the same for him, flowing in a large draconic circle on the desktop. The circle stopped, and she ducked under him, rubbing the top of her head against his belly. He purred and pressed down a mite as though to embrace her as she did.

She slithered around to face him. Wide eyed and blinking, was it possible for a tatzelwurm to be drunk? Dragon thunder! Laconia wore the same expression.

“Yourrr visit is welcome.” She pressed her cheek to Laconia’s.

Laconia licked her face and rubbed his cheek against hers. “Your scent … is right.” He purred and sighed and licked his lips.

 She purred and hopped on the pillow, curling into a dainty ball with her chin resting coyly on her tail. Laconia followed, curling around her and resting his chin on her shoulder. By Jove, that was an awfully friendly arrangement.

Easterly lifted his eyebrows and shrugged.

Your

“Yes, yes indeed.” Easterly tugged his jacket straight and sat down. “I am not sorry to hear you have been beached for the foreseeable future. I know that is anathema to many Captains, but truly, we need men like you for the Order.”

“Like me?” So many things that could mean, and not all of them complimentary.

“Proven dragon-hearing men who can follow orders, who can manage themselves in a crisis, and make good decisions on their own. Exactly what the Navy has trained you for.”

Laconia’s ears pricked, and he fixed his eyes on Easterly, wrapping his tail a little tighter around Mina.

“What is happening?”

“Where dragons are concerned, there are always a great many things happening. But, since the revolution in France and most recently the war with Napoleon has affected the continental dragons, times are especially turbulent.”

“What has that to do with English dragons?” Wentworth crossed his arms and leaned in, heart beating faster. Damn battle reflexes kicking in.

The tip of Laconia’s tail twitched and his forked tongue flicked. He felt it, too.

“Major dragons along the coast, both land and the few marine ones we have relations with, have been on edge watching for signs of invasion. I will tell you privately, it is a good thing that never happened. The Pendragon Accords were never written to consider the ramifications of an invading foreign army from the continent.”

“Why not? The Romans—”

Easterly lifted open hands. “Yes, yes, just chalk it up to arrogance. It is a problem that is being addressed in London even now. A joint committee of dragons and Blue Order Officers, including representatives of both the Army and Navy, is attempting to draft new provisions to deal with the matter. But in the meantime, we must soothe ruffled scales as it were, and I need Dragon Mates like you to do it.”

“Whose scales are ruffled?” Laconia’s tail twitched faster.

“Have you met Cornwall?”

“The Prince Regent or the firedrake?” Prickles started at Wentworth’s scalp and raced down every limb.

“Either, both? They are not exactly dissimilar.” The admiral snorted. “Of course, I never said such a thing.”

“Of course not,” Wentworth muttered.

“In any case, we have received a number of complaints from minor dragons of the Cornwall Keep. Cornwall has been unusually restive of late. They fear there is something seriously the matter and, worse still, Cornwall is contemplating handling the matter himself. It is rarely a good idea to permit major dragons to manage affairs on their terms.”

“Is that not what the Accords are for?” Blood roared in Wentworth’s ears. He fought the urge to spring to his feet.

“It is precisely why there are Keepers assigned to the major dragons, charged with handling issues for the dragons. While I have known a great many hotheaded and stubborn men, I have yet to meet one who rivals the amount of damage an angry dragon can cause.”

“Then why is the Prince Regent not managing the matter?”

Easterly glowered.

That had been a stupid question.

“The key issue here is that a particular kind of diplomacy is needed—”

“You think Laconia and I are suited for that?” Wentworth sneaked a quick glance at Laconia.

“I need a man who has had dealings with nautical dragons, as the matter involves sea hold property.”

Now he had to move! Wentworth jumped up and paced the length of the far too short room. “

“That is the heart of the current debate. Here.” Easterly plucked a thin red leather-bound volume—a monograph perhaps—off the shelf and handed it to Wentworth as he strode past. Determining the Boundaries of Major Dragon Holdings: The Implications and Complications of Instinctive Dragon Territorial Determinations Intersecting with Human Traditions and Law.

Damn, that looked complicated.

“Unfortunately, the legal codes have not been rendered very clearly. In the current situation, I am not even certain Blue Order codes cover the situation.”

“And what precisely is the situation.” Wentworth fell into his seat with a dull thud.

“Cornwall has laid claim to something off his coast that we are not even sure exists.” Easterly pressed his temples hard.

“So, the dragon might be mad?”

“Some have entertained that possibility.”

“You want us to go and confront a fire drake—a royal firedrake—who may well be touched in the head—as mad as the king himself?” Wentworth dropped the monograph on the desk.

Mina started; Laconia glared at him.

“In short, yes. And, the Prince Regent might also be very interested in the matter, should the news reach him directly.”

“The Prince does not know the nature of the situation?”

“He has not informed us of any problem and the Order has not contacted him regarding the complaints—yet.”

“You must be joking? That amounts to keeping secrets from the crown!” Wentworth threw his head back and huffed. “I might be beached, but I am hardly dicked in the nob myself, and I am quite certain Laconia—”

“We have dealt with worse.” Laconia lifted his head slightly, glancing from Easterly to Wentworth. “You recall that sea drake who tried to refuse to grant us passage through her territory? She had an entire battalion of sea drakes and marine wyrms ready to do battle for the territory.”

“What has that to do with—”

“Or the herd of hippocampi who thought you violated their fishing ground?’

“Again, what has that to do—”

Laconia stood and walked across the desk to look Wentworth in the eye. “What else are you going to do until you find a mate?”

Wentworth’s jaw dropped and he sputtered. “Dragon’s blood and sea foam!”

“You will mind your language around my mate.” Laconia glanced back at Mina and chirruped.

“Your mate?” Wentworth and Easterly said simultaneously.

“Yes.” The tatzelwurms hissed.

 ot be at loose ends right now. You must have a way of keeping yourself occupied until …”

Wentworth slapped his forehead. “How do you intend for us to get to Cornwall?”

________________________


Is it a little off the beaten path for Austenesque fiction? Absolutely! But what better time to try out something entirely new and different than a year like 2020?

 

If you’d like to have a peek at more previews, check them out on my website, RandomBitsofFascinaion.com.  The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion

 _______________________

Dragons of Kellynch  

 In order to secure her future, a young lady must marry well.

One would think Anne Elliot, a baronet’s daughter, would find the marriage mart far easier to navigate than a more ordinary woman. One would be wrong.

After refusing a poor, but otherwise perfect sailor, on the advice of her friend Lady Russell, Anne finds an unhappy choice before her: marry deathly dull Charles Musgrove or hope against hope that another suitable proposal might come her way before she becomes a spinster on the shelf.

Anne’s disgracefully independent choice to refuse Charles’ offer turns her world entirely arsey-varsey and not in the expected

And once one sees dragons, one talks to them. And when one talks to them, nothing is ever the same again.

Must a young lady marry well if she hears dragons? 

https://books2read.com/DragonsofKellynch

 

 ~~~~~

Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion

Keeping a hibernating dragon should have been a simple thing.

 

Should have been, but it was not. Apparently, nothing involving dragons was ever simple, at least not for Anne Elliot, junior Keeper to dragon Kellynch.

 

With the estate in debt, Anne’s father in denial, and the dragon’s treasure missing, Kellynch’s awakening was shaping up to be nothing short of catastrophe. Not to mention there was the pesky matter of her own broken heart and resentment against the old friend who had caused it.

 

Captain Frederick Wentworth had spent his life making something of himself in the Navy. With the

 

Working as an agent of the Blue Order, managing dragon matters across England, seemed a much better alternative. At least until investigating one such matter sent him directly in the path of Anne Elliot, the woman who had ruined him for all others.

 

Now a royal dragon rages, a sleeping dragon lurks, and too many treasures have gone missing. Can Anne and Wentworth lay aside resentment, pride, and heartbreak to prevent Kellynch’s awakening from ending in bloodshed—or worse?

 

Jane Austen meets Pern in a fantastical regency romp bound to delight readers of Jane Austen and Anne McCaffrey alike.

 

https://books2read.com/KellynchDragonPersuasion

 



Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

 

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. Her books are available at all major online booksellers.  

 

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com

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Pinterest


*****

 

Maria, before I say anything else, I have tell you how pretty and eye-catching all your dragon covers are. I think they are so neat! 

Your post was delightful. Thank you for stopping by and explaining to my readers and me about your dragons. I also enjoyed the excerpt. I hear many good comments about your dragon books. I wish you the best on this new one as well. Persuasion is my second favorite Jane Austen book so this one is perfect. 

Maria Grace is giving away one eBook of Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion.

Friday, July 17, 2020

And the winners are...

I have some winners to announce. All have been informed and probably already have their eBooks. They will have some good reading hours. For those of you that entered, but didn't win,
please stop and comment on the future giveaways.

Nicole Clarkston gave away three eBooks of Tempted
The three winners are:

Cyndy Henry

Unknown (Madenna)

Rosa

*****

The next giveaway was for one eBook of Victoria Kincaid's Rebellion at Longbourn
The winner is:

BCherrington

*****

Bronwen Chisholm also gave away one eBook of Missing Jane. That winner is:

J. W. Garrett

*****

Congratulations to each of you!

We appreciate your support of all the visiting authors, and I especially, appreciate your support of my blog. I hope to see you visit the other authors making guest appearances in the future. Later on this month, Jayne Bamber is my guest. Be sure to watch for that post on Tuesday, the 28th of July.

Thank you Nicole Clarkston, Victoria Kincaid, and Bronwen Chisholm for visiting More Agreeably Engaged. You are always welcome to stop by anytime. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Murder at Northanger Abbey...Shannon Winslow

Good evening to you. I'm happy to have you stop by my blog today! Shannon Winslow is my guest, and she is sharing an excerpt from her latest release, Murder at Northanger Abbey. I'm excited about this novel, Shannon. I have always enjoyed Northanger Abbey, and your book sounds awesome. I hope it is doing well for you. Thanks for sharing this excerpt. Enjoy, Dear Readers.

Thanks so much, Janet, for inviting me to stop by More Agreeably Engaged on my blog tour with my latest novel. This time I’ve come up with something a little different – a tongue-in-cheek murder mystery, full of intrigue, humor, and of course, romance!

I love ALL of Jane Austen’s novels, and hope to write at least one book related to each of hers. So I’m thrilled to now share my salute to Northanger Abbey – my interpretation of what happens next with Catherine and Henry Tilney in my sequel Murder at Northanger Abbey. This is a never-before-seen excerpt from chapter 2, where the main action of the book is set into motion by the arrival at Woodston parsonage of a very unexpected invitation. I hope you will enjoy this bit of banter between the newlyweds!

~~*~~

“What do you make of it, Henry?” Catherine asked.

They were standing in the hall, both staring in wonder at the invitation Henry held in his hand, as if it might have come from another planet, when in fact it had originated less than twenty miles away.

“It is about the last thing I expected,” said he. “I am amazed enough that my father should contemplate such a thing at all – giving a fancy-dress ball on All Hallows Eve – let alone that we should be invited to it.”

“Perhaps this time he has decided to really forgive us for marrying,” Catherine said brightly. “Perhaps the invitation is his way of showing we are now truly welcome to Northanger Abbey again.”

“I suppose it is possible,” Henry said, sounding dubious. “It would be more like him than a straightforward apology or an admission that he had been wrong in any way, which I should never expect from him in an hundred years. Still, I cannot be quite easy about it either. I wonder…”

“Do you think Eleanor will be there?” cried Catherine of a sudden, interrupting her husband. “Although I know I should call her Lady Astley, now that she is married and a viscountess. Oh, how I should love to see her again!”

Henry laughed. “Your mind leaps ahead so rapidly, my darling, that I cannot keep up. While I am still considering if we should accept this invitation, no doubt you have already decided what costume you shall wear to the event and what feats you shall perform to amaze the crowd.”

“I have done no such thing, Henry! It is only that I so long to see your sister, as I daresay you do just as strongly, if only you would admit to it. We owe so much of our happiness to her, and we never had the chance to thank her properly!”

“My dear Catherine, although I agree that my sister is everything that is virtuous and kind, you should not imagine she married a man of title and fortune just to throw my father into a more charitable humor for our sakes. You know yourself that she had long been partial to Jonathan.”

“Yes, but that is even more to the point, Henry. Cannot you see that? For Eleanor to remember us at such a time of long-awaited personal jubilation, to think of speaking to your father on our behalf when her head could have easily been too full of her own concerns and happiness for anything else… That shows how truly amiable she is.”

“Is that what it shows? How stupid of me not to have seen it. You must forgive my thick-headedness, my love. Men are so dense when it comes to social niceties. These things are far beyond me. Once again I say what I told you long ago in Bath, that no one can think more highly of women’s superior understanding than I do. As you will recall, it was (and still is) my opinion that nature has given women so much understanding, in fact, that they never find it necessary to use more than half of what they possess.”

Catherine crossed her arms and gave her husband a stern look. “I remember it very well. But you said it only because you liked to tease me.”

He leant closer so their faces were just inches apart. “That is another thing that has not changed, my dear. Whatever makes you blush must prove irresistible to me, for you are irresistible to me when you blush.” He soundly kissed her to confirm his point.

Afterward, Catherine paused a moment to catch her breath and clear her head. “Very prettily said, sir. But now we are married, you have other more pleasant ways of making me blush.”

“I know!” Henry said with a lift of his brows and a significant gleam in his dark eye.

“So you may safely leave off teasing me so often as you were used to doing.”

“Hmm. There is some merit in what you say, I suppose. But now, as for this invitation,” he said, tossing the card carelessly onto the hall table, “I am inclined to ignore it. I do not trust my father, and my instincts tell me he has something more in mind than generous hospitality and restoring family harmony.” 

~~*~~ 

Henry is right; General Tilney does have something more in mind. But of course, Henry and Catherine go to the ball anyway. If they had not, there would have been no story! Besides, as it says a little further along in this same chapter, It had been ordained. Events that absolutely required their presence were soon to unfold at Northanger; that was the material point. Catherine and Henry’s days of heroism were not over and done with yet. And so, the young couple is off on a grand and potentially life-changing adventure. I hope you’ll go along for the fun!

Well, what do you think? Do you like Northanger Abbey? Do you like the sounds of an actual murder there for Catherine to solve? I do. I'm quite fascinated. If you've read it, tell us in the comments what you think about it. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for stopping by, Shannon, and for including More Agreeably Engaged in your blog tour. It is always such a pleasure to have you visit. I hope you will stop by when you release your next new novel.

 Do you want to know more about the book? Read the back cover copy and then check out Shannon's website for all the stops on her blog tour. She has some lovely posts and excerpts to share with everyone. Thank you, Shannon.

Murder at Northanger Abbey

Sequel to Jane Austen’s Spoof on the Gothic Novel

Newly married to her beloved Henry, Catherine’s eyes are now open to the grownup pleasures of wedded life. Yet she still hasn’t quite given up her girlhood fascination with all things Gothic. When she first visited Northanger Abbey, she only imagined dreadful events had occurred there. This time the horror is all too real. There’s been a murder, and Henry has fallen under suspicion. Catherine is determined to clear her husband’s name, but at the same time, she’s afraid for her own safety, since there’s a very good chance the real murderer is still in the house.

This delightful sequel reprises the mischievous spirit of Austen’s original spoof on the Gothic novel, while giving Catherine a genuine murder mystery to unravel.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Missing Jane...Bronwen Chisholm

Good morning or afternoon, depending on where you are! I'm happy to have you drop by and share some time with us. 

Bronwen Chisholm is my guest and is sharing a bit about her book, Missing Jane, a deleted scene, and a giveaway! Don't you just love to read deleted scenes? You are going to like this Charlotte immensely. I already do. I bet it was hard to cut this scene from the book! 

Thank you for visiting my blog, Bronwen. I'm glad to have you again, and I think your book sounds great! Welcome to More Agreeably Engaged.

Hello! I am so pleased to be here with you today at More Agreeably Engaged. My latest novella, Missing Jane, releases tomorrow and I wanted to stop by and share a deleted scene with you. Before we begin, here is a bit about the book.


Mr. Bennet is dead; his daughters “scattered to the winds,” according to Mrs. Bennet.

And the eldest Miss Bennet? No one really knows.

Poor Mr. Bingley is led to believe she is no more, but her sister swears she is alive.

Can Mr. Darcy and his friend find her and, in turn, their own happily ever afters?

 

When I began writing this story, it started out from Elizabeth’s point of view. I reworked the first chapter several times before I realized that it just wasn’t needed and decided Darcy and Jane would tell the story for once. That said, this scene at the beginning of Chapter Two was hard to cut. I think you will understand why. (Since it was deleted, it was not edited; so please forgive my errors.)

Elizabeth moved about the book room in a daze. She had done as her father instructed, removing anything of sentimental value from the room and locating the names and directions of family members they had never met. Now all that was left would be passed on to Mr. Collins.

She shuddered. The odious man was expected to arrive today. Mr. Phillips, her uncle and father’s attorney, had notified him of his inheritance. Even now, her sisters waited in the drawing room to greet the Collinses when they arrived. Her mother had not yet left her rooms.

A soft knock on the door interrupted her thoughts and she turned to find Mrs. Hill watching her with a sad look in her eyes.

“Mr. and Mrs. Collins have arrived, Miss.”

“Thank you, Hill,” she replied before taking one final look about. “I will be there directly.”

“Yes, miss. Tea will be served promptly.” The loyal housekeeper slipped soundlessly from the room.

Elizabeth turned and looked at her father’s chair. “Oh, Papa, how ever am I to deal with that man?” Her lips tugged upward as her eyes filled with tears. “I am certain you are looking down at us in expectation of the ridiculous, but I do not share your amusement this time.”

She took another deep breath and left the room. Pausing outside the doors, she was able to hear her cousin lamenting the loss of Mr. Bennet at so young an age, while expressing his gratitude for the size of Longbourn as Charlotte had only just informed him she was increasing. The mumbled replies of her sisters gave her the necessary motivation to enter the room.

“Charlotte,” she said as she approached her friend and they embraced. “I am pleased you arrived safely.”

“How are you, Eliza?” Charlotte asked as she clasped and held Elizabeth’s hands. “You look tired.”

Mr. Collins cleared his throat. “Cousin Elizabeth,” he said as he moved toward her.

Elizabeth held out a hand which he grasped, drawing it close to his chest and causing her to step closer to him.

“I was just expressing my condolences to your sisters on your father’s passing.” He shook his head as he clucked his tongue. “So young. Who would have known when we were all together just a few short months ago that he would be taken so quickly? The things we might have done differently.”

Elizabeth drew her hand from his grasp and linked arms with his wife, taking the seat beside her and causing him to find another. “Did I hear you have news to share?” she asked her friend.

A warm blush covered Charlotte’s cheeks. “It is full early to announce, but I have been ill in the mornings and explained to my husband the possible cause.”

“Is it not wonderful?” Mr. Collins beamed from his seat a short distance away. “Hopefully it will be a son and my wife and other children will be secure in the knowledge they will continue at Longbourn for many years.”

Elizabeth’s jaw dropped open as she stared at the man. Before she could think of a response, Charlotte stood and marched toward her husband.

“Mr. Collins, may I have a word with you in the hall, sir?”

His confused expression was nearly comical and, for a moment, Elizabeth imagined she heard her father chuckle.

“Of course, my dear,” he finally replied and rose to follow her from the room.

Though they intended to close the door, the latch to that room was tricky and sometimes slipped. The door drifted open enough that words could be heard coming from without. The Bennet sisters, well the eldest three, attempted to appear as though they could not hear what was being said, but the younger two moved closer in order to fully understand.

“But Lady Catherine…” Mr. Collins whined.

“I care not what Lady Catherine thinks or says. We are no longer at Hunsford, and we are no longer required to kowtow to her. You are a landed gentleman, the heir to Longbourn. You owe that harpy nothing.”

“Charlotte, I am shocked.” His voice conveyed his emotions fully. “The lack of respect…”

“I respect those who earn it. Lady Catherine has done nothing but order people about and force her opinions on others. She cares not for those who serve her or the people under her protection.” There was a pause and Elizabeth suspected her friend was attempting to regain her composure. “I hope you will not oversee Longbourn as she does Rosings Park for I fear you will quite disappoint me.”

Mr. Collins was apparently shocked into silence.

“Now, Eliza, her sisters, and their mother are in mourning. We shall retire to Lucas Lodge. My father has offered for us to stay there until the Bennets are ready to make other arrangements.”

A moment later, the couple reentered the room as Kitty and Lydia rushed back to their seats. Charlotte approached Elizabeth and took her hands once more.

“We will not force you out. This is your home as long as need be.” Mr. Collins began huffing and she turned back to him. “Sir, it is time for us to leave,” she picked up her reticule and left the room.

Mr. Collins appeared torn. He looked at Elizabeth then turned to Jane. “Please tell your mother I shall return tomorrow to review the books.”

Jane nodded, a look of shock covering her features as Mr. Collins turned and followed his wife.

Elizabeth released the breath she had been holding. She looked about at her family. Charlotte had given them a reprieve, but she knew they must make arrangements and leave Longbourn as soon as possible.

 

Isn’t Charlotte wonderful? Missing Jane is quickly becoming my favorite story that I wrote. Certain scenes bring a smile or laugh when I think about them. The Kindle version is available for pre-order HERE and will be released on July 10th. I hope you will pick it up and love it as much as I do.

 

And now, a GIVEAWAY! Just make a comment on this blog and Janet will pick 1 lucky winner to receive an ebook copy of Missing Jane. Good luck! And I hope you enjoyed our visit as much as I did. I can’t wait to read your comments.

 Bronwen Chisholm began her writing career working on suspense romance, but finally became a published author with her Pride and Prejudice variations. She takes great pleasure in searching for potential “plot twists” and finding the way back to a happy ending.

Her love of writing has led her to several writing groups, and she is currently serving as the vice president of the Riverside Writers and organizes the Riverside Young Writers.

For more information, visit her at www.bronwenchisholm.com.




Thank you so much for sharing your deleted scene and for hosting a giveaway for my readers, Bronwen. I know they are happy with both! Congratulations on your release, and I hope it does really well. I am anxious to read more about this Charlotte. I can see why this may be your favorite of the books you have written to date! 

AS you read above, Bronwen is giving away one eBook copy of Missing Jane. If you don't want to wait, you can pre-order today for delivery to your eReader tomorrow, July 10th. If you decide to take a chance on being the winner, the giveaway will end on the 13th of July at midnight central time. Leave a comment below to be entered. Tell us what you think of Charlotte? What did you think of Mr. Collins? lol Good luck to everyone, and thank you, Dear Readers, for your support.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Victoria Kincaid...Rebellion at Longbourn

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all staying well. 

Visiting today, we have the lovely Victoria Kincaid, who is always a pleasure to host. I know you will enjoy reading what she has to tell us, as well as reading an excerpt from her release, Rebellion at Longbourn. We all enjoy those excerpts, don't we!

Welcome, Victoria. I'll turn the floor over to you. :)

*****


Hello Janet!  And thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! 

Jane Austen is rightfully celebrated for her depictions of romance, but I also appreciate her for those moments when she details the bonds between women—particularly sisters. I think the best example of this is Sense and Sensibility. 

While the novel is about Elinor and Marianne’s search for love and security—as well as Austen’s barbed social satire, it is also a touching depiction of a love between two sisters. Even though they are quite different, they obviously care deeply for each other, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Austen has them marrying men with homes that are quite near each other. She obviously liked the idea that the sisters would not be separated.

Pride and Prejudice also pays attention to the relationships between sisters, although (like Persuasion) it also emphasizes how sisterly ties can sometimes go sour.  But Jane and Elizabeth enjoy a relationship that is somewhat similar to the one in Sense and Sensibility: the two women are quite different in temperament, but they enjoy a deep and loving relationship. 

I always thought it was significant that Jane is the only person whom Elizabeth informs of Mr. Darcy’s first proposal—as well as the contents of his confidential letter.  Not only does she trust Jane to keep these secrets, but she also has confidence in Jane’s ability to give her good advice.  As in Sense and Sensibility, Austen makes a point of telling us that these two sisters end up living near each other in Derbyshire (after Bingley gives up the lease on Netherfield).  The author herself obviously doesn’t like the idea that marriage will separate the sisters.

I’ve always thought it was a shame that Elizabeth didn’t enjoy such a close relationship with her other sisters, although it wouldn’t be very realistic to have five sisters who all loved each other dearly and never quarreled.  But when I started writing Rebellion at Longbourn, I wondered how Collins’s ownership of Longbourn would affect the relationships among the sisters.

I thought shared adversity might bring them closer together. In addition, at the beginning of the book, Elizabeth concocts a scheme to make life at Longbourn more tolerable for the tenants—by improving the estate’s agricultural techniques (without Collins’s knowledge). She recruits her sisters to help, particularly Mary, who has a special interest in agriculture.  I really enjoyed writing that aspect of the book and imagining how the sisters would support each other.  I think Austen would have approved.

The excerpt below comes from an early chapter, when Elizabeth and Mary are trying to convince Collins—to no avail—to adopt new agricultural techniques so his extravagant expenditures won’t bankrupt the estate.

Since he would not decrease his spending, she had hoped at least he would embrace the idea of increasing the estate’s income.  But now Collins gave her a patently false smile.  “Your concern for Longbourn does you credit, Cousin.  However, as a woman, you naturally do not understand such things.  It is all accounted for in the ledgers.”  He gestured vaguely toward his desk, which was entirely empty.  “It has to do with credits and debits…profits and so on.”
Elizabeth suspected she understood Longbourn’s ledgers better than Collins did or he would not be purchasing gold pocket watches. 
“You, my most exquisite cousins, should concern yourself with domestic duties—where you are doing an admirable job—and allow me to worry about the finances and such.”
Perhaps the time had arrived when Elizabeth needed to remind him why additional income was desirable.  “Of course, Longbourn is your estate and you may decide what happens here, but it is clearly in need of additional funds.  The tenants’ houses—”
Collins sighed and rolled his eyes; the tenants had raised these matters before.  But Elizabeth pushed forward.  “The tenants’ houses are in need of repair.  Longbourn needs greater profit.”  Standing, Elizabeth tapped one of the books on the desk before Collins.  “I implore you, sir, to at least read the passages Mary has marked.  It is your duty to Longbourn to be the best landowner you can be!”
She knew instantly that she had pushed too far.  Collins had quite a temper, although he liked to pretend he did not—one of many lies he told himself. 
Red in the face, Collins clambered to his feet.  “You and Mary should not concern yourselves with these matters when there are many household tasks waiting to be performed.  These journals appear to be a distraction from your ordinary duties; I shall cancel the subscriptions, and you will return these books to the library.  After all, they belong to me.”
Mary’s face was a picture of anguish.  “But surely there is no harm in—”
Collins lifted his chin.  “You both live at Longbourn on my sufferance,” he intoned.  “I ask little in recompense.”  That was a lie but not one Elizabeth could dispute with any success.  “However, I do insist that you leave the running of Longbourn to me.  I know everything that happens on the estate and, therefore, am in the best position to make decisions.”
Mary blinked back tears as Collins gathered journals and books from the table and tore still more from her arms, setting them on the floor behind his desk. 
Elizabeth put her arm around her sister as she gave Collins a cold stare.  “Indeed, sir.  We will trouble you no longer.” 
Mary raised her chin as if she would object, but Elizabeth shook her head slightly.  They could accomplish nothing more at the moment.  She held herself rigid and straight as she escorted Mary from the room.
Kitty and Jane awaited them in the kitchen, the one room that Collins would never visit.  Polly was helping Hill prepare dinner; both strained to overhear the conversation. 
“What happened?” Kitty asked, running up to them as they descended the stairs.
Elizabeth shook her head.  “He would not listen to a word we said.”  Kitty’s face fell.
“Worse, he confiscated the books and said he would suspend the journal subscriptions,” Mary moaned.
“My sincerest apologies.” Elizabeth gave her sister a comforting hug.  “I did not foresee that possibility.  But I have no doubt we can sneak the books from his study when he is not at home.  He will never notice their absence.  And I believe Sir William Lucas subscribes to at least two of those journals.  He would happily lend them to you.”
Mary’s face brightened. 
“Your conversation was extremely enlightening and proper,” Elizabeth assured her sister.  “You can do nothing if Collins is a fool.”
Mary’s smile widened. 
At least I brightened someone’s day, for I have accomplished little else of worth.  Maybe Sir William would hire Mary to be his steward; at least then one of the Bennet sisters would not be dependent on Collins’s largesse.  Elizabeth smiled at her own whimsy.  If only women could be stewards, Mary would excel at it, and Elizabeth would not worry about that sister’s future.  She had hope that eventually Jane and Kitty would make respectable—if not spectacular—marriages.  But Mary had shown little interest in marriage, and Elizabeth doubted her temperament was well-suited to becoming a governess or lady’s companion.
“What will we do now, Lizzy?” Kitty’s words drew Elizabeth from her reverie.  Everyone regarded her expectantly, making Elizabeth yearn for a good response.  But she had pinned her slim hopes on persuading Collins to adopt more modern agricultural methods.  Nothing happened on an estate without the landowner’s cooperation.  They were virtually powerless.  Already the effects of Collins’s bad management were being sensed by the tenants and demonstrated by the estate’s productivity.
Her hands balled into fists as she stared at the five women in the kitchen.  Their lives—and the lives of all the other inhabitants of Longbourn—were scarcely less important than Collins’s.  And certainly far more important than Collins’s waistcoats. It was unfair that they should have so much less control over their own lives than he did. 


Summary:

 Elizabeth Bennet’s father died two years ago, and her odious cousin Mr. Collins has taken possession of the Longbourn estate. Although Collins and his wife Charlotte have allowed the Bennet sisters and their mother to continue living at Longbourn, the situation is difficult. Viewing Elizabeth and her sisters as little more than unpaid servants, Collins also mistreats the tenants, spends the estate’s money with abandon, and rejects any suggestions about improving or modernizing Longbourn. After one particularly egregious incident, Elizabeth decides she must organize a covert resistance among her sisters and the tenants, secretly using more modern agricultural methods to help the estate thrive. Her scheme is just getting underway when Mr. Darcy appears in Meryton.

Upon returning from a long international voyage, Darcy is forced to admit he cannot forget his love for Elizabeth. When he learns of the Bennet family’s plight, he hurries to Hertfordshire, hoping he can provide assistance. Sinking into poverty, Elizabeth is further out of Darcy’s reach than ever; still, he cannot help falling even more deeply in love. But what will he do when he discovers her covert rebellion against Longbourn’s rightful owner?   

Falling in love with Mr. Darcy was not part of Elizabeth’s plan, but it cannot be denied.  Darcy struggles to separate his love for her from his abhorrence for deception.  Will their feelings for each other help or hinder the Rebellion at Longbourn? 

*****

What do you think? Does this whet your appetite for more? It does mine. Have any of you read this book yet? I haven't but will be reading it soon, I hope. I always enjoy reading Victoria's books, so I know this one will be no different. 

Thank you for stopping by More Agreeably Engaged, Victoria. I appreciate you including us in your tour. Best wishes with Rebellion at Longbourn, but I am betting it is already doing really well.

Victoria is giving away one eBook, and the giveaway is worldwide. To be entered in the giveaway, have your share in the conversation in the comments below. Giveaway will end at midnight central time on the 6th of July. Good luck to all!