Thursday, December 31, 2015

My share in the conversation...Sketching Character

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and will have a safe and enjoyable New Year's Eve tonight! I will stay up and usher the new year in but without all the fanfare. I think my night will be a quiet and cozy evening of reading with a bit of hot tea and milk! Speaking of reading, I am posting my review of a wonderful book by Pamela Lynne, that I recently finished. It is delightful and I hope those of that have not yet read it, will put it on your 'to be read' list for 2016.


Book Review Sketching Character
by Pamela Lynne

Once in a while I read a book that leaves me with a sense of complete satisfaction…a warm fulfilled feeling that the book was everything and more than what I had hoped for. Sketching Character by Pamela Lynne is that kind of book. That’s not to say that it contains no misunderstandings or angst because it does but all is resolved in such a way that everything felt perfect and as it should be, a truly feel-good novel.

The story begins with a prologue of much importance. The incident that occurred will have implications throughout the book and will influence the behavior and actions of several of the characters. It will completely change one of the characters and eventually for the better.

Chapter one starts with Lizzy preparing for her visit to Charlotte Lucas at Hunsford. A carriage accident in the rain and a rescue by Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam set in a motion some of the changes that follow. There is no botched first proposal but Darcy is still Darcy and hesitant to declare himself for reasons completely different this time around. His reasons were justified in my eyes and for a good cause. It was not so easy for Elizabeth especially when she was fed tiny bits of misinformation…just enough to make her doubt the man she had come to ‘know and understand’.

I liked the Viscount but not so much Colonel Fitzwilliam. He did redeem himself later in the story but he was not the affable and loyal cousin that I have come to expect. I loved Anne and the way she was portrayed. Her plans and strength of conviction were a force to be reckoned with. Lady Catherine – watch out!

Jane was such a sweet and gentle Jane as one would expect but she does ‘see’ more than usual. I liked that and found her ‘change’ to be a surprise but a pleasant one. Mr. Bennet was, well, Mr. Bennet. He continued his negligence of a serious situation and as a result, some of the respect previously held by his favorite daughter, was lost. Lydia has a significant role and her character grows into a better person, one which I came to like.

Encouraged by his cousin, the Viscount, Mr. Darcy learns to fight or box instead of fencing. I loved how some of the characters that he met while residing at the boxing club played a significant part later in the story. It was very well done! Readily available is Caroline Bingley…and she is as obnoxious as ever! There seems to be no limits to her rudeness and her presumptuousness. But then comes Lydia and Miss Bingley gets the best ‘set-down’ I think I have ever read. It was subtle but oh, so effective!

This was such an entertaining book and one that I highly recommend. There were several unexpected twists to the narrative that I found very agreeable. Pamela Lynne is a skilled author and tells a fantastic story. Her book kept me reading and ‘held me captive’ until the last words on the last page. I will be rereading Sketching Character!


Thank you for stopping by to read my review. My desire is that it enticed you just enough to make you want to read it for yourself. It is well worth your time and I hope that it will leave you with the same feelings of warmth and satisfaction that I experienced upon its completion.

Once again, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I look forward to many great author visits and giveaways in 2016 and hope you will continue to visit and participate. I appreciate the support that you have given my blog over the past few years. I always love reading your share in the conversations. Thank you for being a part of my life and my blog world.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Since this is the birthday of Jane Austen, I thought we could celebrate the day with an update on the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation and their Christmas Campaign. This is the best way I can think of to honor a most loved author. If you still have gifts to buy and cannot think of something for that special friend on your list, please consider donating to the foundation and gifting a bookplate in your friend's name. That way, you are giving twice and what a wonderful gift that is! Below is more information, sent to me by Caroline Jane Knight, on this excellent campaign.

We are registered not for profit organisation run by volunteers with no wages or commissions paid to anyone.  You can be confident that donations made to Jane Austen Literacy Foundation appeals are used to buy books and writing materials for communities in need.  For example, we buy ‘School in a Box’ literacy kits to be used in temporary schools set up by UNICEF in Syria.  We also buy books for disadvantaged remote indigenous children in Australia to support the fantastic literacy programs of the ALNF (Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation).

As you know, we give every donor their very own bookplate personalised with their name in Jane’s own handwriting.  Bookplates were popular in Jane’s time and are used to label books with the owners name so they didn’t get lost when lent out or read by others.  We have a news article on our website that talks all about the bookplates that Jane (and I) knew from our family library), see

Here's a picture of the bookplate! 


We have recently completed some development on our website so the donor can now specify what name goes on the bookplate so they can now be given to other people as gifts.  The bookplates are produced every few days and are emailed in pdf with the donation receipt to the donor for themselves or for them to email or print and give to their friend.

We would like people to give twice this Christmas, i.e. donate to give a child in need the gift of literacy and get a bookplate as a gift for a friend.    We are calling the campaign #LabelYourLibrary as this is what bookplates do and it’s a call to action.  We will be watching the feed for the hashtag and will feature on the foundation facebook feed any great photos people post of their bookplate posted in a book.   We are also using #GiftOfLiteracy when promoting the giving message.
We are doing a series of posts and communications throughout December, some focused on donating to help a child in need with the bookplate as a bonus, others promoting the bookplate as the perfect gift.   But, it is a large community and we need help in promoting the campaign and raising money for literacy this Christmas.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Warmest regards

Caroline Jane Knight
Founder and Chair
The Jane Austen Literacy Foundation


Isn't this a fantastic way to give a gift this Christmas to someone you know and to someone you do not know! Helping children in need learn to read and write is such a worthy endeavor. Wouldn't it be a blessing to see their sweet faces as they begin to live their dream. Won't you consider a donation to the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation to help those children become confident readers and creative writers. Help them broaden their worlds by broadening their minds. 

Please join me and my granddaughter by donating in honor of Jane. You can get a bookplate for yourself, your friend and/or a family member. What better way to celebrate Jane's birthday than by giving the gift of reading. So many of us owe Jane Austen so much for the impact that she has made on our lives and in our lives. Let's help others discover the wonders of the world of Jane Austen and her novels. Below are the links to donating to receive a bookplate or give a bookplate. Be a part of the #LabelYour Library Christmas Campaign.

On the website of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, there is a fascinating article, Jane Austen and Bookplates written by Caroline Jane Knight. She tells about the bookplates in the books that Jane Austen would have read. These are the books enjoyed for many generations by members of the Austen and Knight families and many are housed in the Chawton House Library today. I loved seeing the various bookplates and learning more about their design. Thanks for such an interesting article, Ms. Knight.

Friday, December 11, 2015

And the winners are...

Happy Holidays to all of you. I hope that you are enjoying the festivities and bustle of getting ready for the holidays. Are your decorations all done and is your shopping finished? Neither of mine are anywhere near finished. In fact, I haven't even started decorating yet and have done very little shopping. Guess I will really have to hustle or I will be right alongside all the last minute shoppers. :)

I have some winners to announce from three previous giveaways. The last two used Rafflecopter and I will not be taking care of those. Neither of those have ended so be sure that you stop by each and leave a comment to be entered. (Click on the titles to go to those giveaways)
One is the giveaway by Penelope Swan for her Christmas book, Darcy's Christmas Wish

and the other is the Meryton Press Blog Tour for Then Comes Winter

Wouldn't either of those be fantastic presents to receive for Christmas!

Ok, now for the winners of the giveaways that have ended... 
(There is a link to each of these posts, too) 

Surprise Giveaway that went with the Denial of Conscience review

Choice of Peacock compact, Pemberley compact or 2016 Peacock Edition Calendar

2016 Peacock Edition Calendar:  Tina Carter

Jane Austen Literacy Foundation Birthday Giveaway

2016 Peacock Edition Calendar:  Sophia Rose

P. O. Dixon's Dearest, Loveliest Elizabeth

Paperback: Lauren K
eBook:  Luthien84

Thank you so much to the lovely P.O. Dixon for her generous giveaway. You are always such a pleasure to have visit, Ms. Dixon. To all my readers, I say a 'big' thank you! I appreciate so much your support of my blog and your comments. It is such fun to read 'your share in the conversation'! There are so many interesting books coming out so be sure to stop by often!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Darcy's Christmas Wish Blog Tour ~ Penelope Swan

It is such a pleasure to welcome Penelope Swan to More Agreeably Engaged. This is her first visit and I hope all of you, dear readers, will help me make it an enjoyable one. Ms. Swan is sharing an excerpt from her Christmas release, Darcy's Christmas Wish. There is a short blurb and then an exciting and intriguing excerpt. It is touching with a bit of angst at the end! I do foresee hints of what is to come and that makes for an enticing teaser indeed! (I love your blog tour banner. It is very appealing!)

There is also a giveaway so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by. Happy Holidays!


Darcy’s Christmas Wish: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

by Penelope Swan



Fitzwilliam Darcy never forgot the little girl, with the beautiful dark eyes, who saved his life fifteen years ago… though he never expected to meet her again. But when he comes to Rosings Park to spend the Advent season with his aunt, he discovers that at Christmastime, miracles - and wishes – can come true… DARCY'S CHRISTMAS WISH is a sweet, clean standalone Pride and Prejudice variation - a holiday romance inspired by Jane Austen's classic novel!


Amazon UK
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Google Play
Print edition (US)
Print edition (UK) 


"Penelope Swan has captured the essence of the characters and their "voices" so well that one would think the text was written by Jane Austen, herself." ~ Ingrid Holzman "This is not a book you want to miss out on. It has the perfect amount of romance and intrigue that you would expect from a good JAFF novel." ~ Tina Carter, Half Agony Half Hope Blog "Jane Austen would have been proud of this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Classic, witty and romantic with mystery and intrigue. Beautifully written with vivid descriptions." ~ Christine Evans


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Penelope Swan is the pen name of author, H.Y. Hanna, who also writes best-selling romantic suspense, mysteries and sweet romances under her other name, as well as award-winning children's fiction. She has been an avid Jane Austen fan since her teens and is delighted that she can now live out her Regency fantasies through her books. You can find out more about her and get in touch at:

Excerpt from Darcy’s Christmas Wish:


Fifteen years ago…

“You will come and sit here next to me, Fitzwilliam.”

 Fitzwilliam Darcy got up reluctantly and eyed his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with slight apprehension. It was not that he was scared of her, exactly, but she was an intimidating woman, with her tall, imposing figure and flashing dark eyes. She had a loud voice and a way of looking down her long nose at people which made one feel nervous and insignificant. He glanced across at his mother, with her pretty, soft face and her gentle manners. Sometimes he wondered how Lady Catherine and his mother could really be sisters—the only thing they seemed to share were their dark hair and high, arched eyebrows!

 Still… Darcy straightened his shoulders. He was nearly twelve years old now and his father had said that it was time he began to conduct himself like a gentleman. He could still remember the recent discourse his father had given him on the subject:

  “A gentleman must at all times be courteous and considerate to others, particularly towards the ladies. It is not merely enough to be well-bred—a true gentleman must be of both good birth and noble character, always willing to fulfil his obligations and behave according to the highest ideals of chivalry and personal integrity.”

 Furthermore, his father had emphasised that to take his place as a gentleman in society, Darcy would have to learn the niceties of social conduct, including, occasionally, enduring conversation and company which was not necessarily pleasing to him. Naturally, his father had hastened to add, this was not required if he was among strangers or those of inferior social class, but with his own family and those of similar consequence he must take the trouble to make himself agreeable.

 Thus, Darcy pinned a polite smile on his face and walked across the salon to Lady Catherine, who gestured to the sofa next to her. Darcy sat down obediently in the space indicated—next to his cousin, Anne, who gave a delicate little cough into the lace handkerchief she held in her hands. Her governess hurriedly placed a shawl around her shoulders and fussed over her charge as Darcy shifted uncomfortably next to them.

 Anne sneezed and dropped her handkerchief, which fluttered to the floor. Darcy bent over to retrieve it and as he straightened and handed it to his cousin, he caught his aunt eyeing him with a speculative gleam in her eyes. She leaned across to his mother and nodded smugly.

 “There, you see, Anne? Behold how well they suit each other. I knew it would be a good match! Have we not always planned this union from the cradle?”

 Darcy shifted even more uncomfortably. He hated the way his aunt was always talking about him and Anne, wriggling her eyebrows and smiling in that meaningful way. Father had laughed and told him not to take the comments to heart but it was difficult to ignore them when Lady Catherine seemed to talk of nothing else.

  Marry Anne? Darcy glanced surreptitiously at his cousin. He could not imagine being married to anyone. That was something that grown-ups did and even though Father had said that he was now no longer a boy but on the way to becoming a man, marriage still seemed too far away to even think about.

 Besides… he glanced at his cousin again. What a bore it would be having Anne for a wife! He would certainly not wish to spend his life with someone so pale and insipid. She never said anything, except for the occasional whisper in answer to her governess’s question about whether she was too hot or too cold, or had too much or too little light on her… Darcy did not really know what he should like in a wife but he knew it would not be someone like Anne.

  No, I’d like someone fun, he thought. Someone who enjoys reading like I do and who can talk about anything, not just silly girls’ stuff… someone who’d come exploring with me in the woods and we could have adventures together and climb up—

 “Fitzwilliam? Did you heed what I said, Fitzwilliam?”

 Darcy came back to the present with a start. He realised that his aunt was addressing him and wondered desperately what the right response was. He had no idea what she had been saying. Thankfully, his mother came to his rescue:

 “Your aunt was just suggesting that you might like to read to your cousin this morning,” said Lady Anne, smiling at her son.

 Lady Catherine nodded. “I have purchased a new book of poetry which Anne should enjoy. Her health, unfortunately, prevents her from reading herself—much too much strain for her eyes—but I know you should like to read to her, Fitzwilliam.”

 “Oh… er… certainly, Aunt,” said Darcy, though there was nothing he wanted to do less.

 He glanced at his cousin again and felt a small stab of guilt. It was not as if he really disliked Anne—in truth, he felt a bit sorry for her: cooped up in this great mausoleum of a house, with his aunt dictating her every move and no other children for company, save for the occasional visits from himself or one of his other cousins. Nevertheless, he had no wish to spend an entire morning in Anne’s dreary company.

 No, what he really longed to do was to go outside and try out that sled! It had been a stroke of luck finding the old sled in the hut at the rear of the estate. Benson, the Rosings Park head gardener, had helped him pull it out from beneath the pile of broken furniture and discarded gardening equipment, and cleaned it off for him. It was waiting for him now in the front foyer, and he was itching to try it out, especially since the new snowfall they’d had yesterday.

 Darcy leaned slightly to the right to look out of the windows on the other side of the salon. He could see the glittering white banks of fresh snow beckoning to him. How he longed to be outside, feeling the cold pinching his cheeks and the wind rushing against him as he sailed downhill on the sled!

 He stifled a sigh. Instead, he was forced to remain here, listening half-heartedly as the grown-ups conversed and trying to sit with his hands on his knees, his face the picture of courteous interest, as his father had instructed him. He looked across at Georgiana, who was being held in his mother’s arms, and almost wished that he could be a baby like her. No one expected anything of Georgiana for she was barely a year old and could hardly even stand upright.

 “I am going to write some letters now,” said Lady Catherine, standing up from her armchair beside the fire. “You will want to attend to your correspondence too, I am sure,” she said to Lady Anne.

 “I believe I may go and lie down for a period,” said Lady Anne as she handed Georgiana over to the nurse, who had been standing quietly at the side of the room. “I am feeling a trifle fatigued.”

 Darcy glanced at his mother. She had been looking pale lately and seemed to often be fatigued, spending much time in her room. He knew that Mother had had a hard time when Georgiana was born, but Father had always reassured him that she would recover with rest. He watched now as his father helped his mother solicitously to her feet.

 “Fitzwilliam, you may come with me and Anne to the library—you may read to her there while I write my letters,” said Lady Catherine, waving her hand imperiously.

 Darcy rose slowly, then on an impulse, turned to his parents and said, “Mother—Father—may I go outside for a short while first? I should like to have a go on the sled.” He looked eagerly at his father. “Can I? Please, sir?”

 Lady Catherine frowned and started to say something but Mr Darcy interrupted her. He smiled and nodded at his son.

 “All right, Fitzwilliam. I know you have been champing at the bit to give that sled a try.” He glanced out of the windows. “It looks like we have had some good snow. It would certainly be an excellent opportunity to test the sled.”

 “But—” Lady Catherine started to protest.

 “It is advantageous for Fitzwilliam to get some air and exercise,” said Mr Darcy quietly but firmly. “Not good for the boy to be cooped up indoors all the time.”

 Lady Catherine compressed her lips into a thin line but did not say anything more.

 “Thank you, sir!” cried Darcy happily, turning to leave the room.

 “Wait. Fitzwilliam—” called Lady Catherine. Darcy stopped and turned back warily. He hoped that his aunt would not ask him to take Anne out sledding with him. Then he remembered the way his cousin was cosseted and protected—surely there would be no chance of Lady Catherine allowing her out in this cold!

 “Have care where you take the sled, Fitzwilliam,” said Lady Catherine. “Make sure you stay away from the north side of the grounds, particularly near the pond. The hill there is very steep and you could have a bad fall.”

 “I have been sledding before,” said Darcy indignantly. “I am not afraid of steep slopes—”

 “Benson has advised me that the area is most dangerous,” said Lady Catherine, giving him a stern look. “You are not to go there, is that understood?”

 “Yes, yes, all right,” said Darcy impatiently. Then before his aunt could say anything else, he turned and rushed out of the room.

 Darcy sat up in the snow and laughed as he brushed some off his face. He got to his feet and righted the sled, which had flipped over as it hit a hump at the bottom of the hill. Thus far, the old sled was turning out to be everything he had hoped for. Despite the faded wood and old metal runners, it glided easily across the snow and ice. The only thing was… well, maybe it was not quite as fast as he could wish.

 Darcy looked back up at the slope he had just come down and frowned. If only he could find a bigger hill! He was sure that with greater height, the sled would gain more momentum and therefore faster speed. He turned and scanned the snowy landscape, looking for a hill worthy of tackling. The grounds of Rosings Park stretched out around him. Darcy realised that he had come farther from the house than he had thought—he could see it now, small in the distance, the plumes of smoke rising from the chimneys. He doubted that they could see him so far away and felt pleased. He did not like the thought of Lady Catherine watching and judging his every move from the windows. It was nice to think of being outside her influence.

 He turned and looked to the other side of the park. The ground sloped downwards in that direction and in the distance he could see a faint line running across the landscape. A fence, he realised. That must be the border with the neighbouring estate. And just before it, he saw that the land dipped, dropping away from sight.

 There must be a sort of shelf there, Darcy realised. Maybe where the land suddenly dropped sharply downwards. A steep slope! He grabbed the rope on his sled and began to walk towards the ledge with mounting excitement, pulling the sled behind him. The snow crunched beneath his boots and he felt a few flakes drift down and land on his face, melting almost instantly. The cold nipped at his cheeks but he was pleasantly warm from his recent exertions and did not really mind.

 Darcy arrived at the spot to see that his guess had been right. The land curved over the edge and swept downwards in a steep slope which ended beside a small pond surrounded by fir trees. The sight of the pond reminded him suddenly of his aunt’s warning: “Make sure you stay away from the north side of the grounds, particularly near the pond.” Had Lady Catherine meant this pond? He looked around. Yes, he was on the north side of Rosings Park, but he could see nothing that looked dangerous here. The snow lay in thick folds across the landscape and, below him, it covered the slope in a smooth layer of white powder which was particularly inviting. Everything looked pristine and peaceful.

 Darcy thought of his cousin. Richard was a few years older than him and always seemed so confident and daring—he had told Darcy that he wanted to become an officer when he grew up. When he had been at Rosings together with Darcy in the past, he was always leading the way into fun and mischief. If Richard were here, Darcy thought, he would not be hesitating. No, Richard would laugh and say, “Old Benson the gardener is just fussing for nothing!” Darcy set his sled down on the edge of the slope with sudden decision. He might be three years younger but he could be just as brave as his cousin! Quickly, he sat down on the sled, tucking his feet into position, then took a deep breath and looked down the slope once more. At the bottom, the surface of the pond gleamed dully and he realised that it must be frozen over. Perhaps he might investigate it when he reached the bottom—see if it might be suitable for a spot of ice-skating!

 Eagerly, Darcy pushed off, giving a shout of delight as the sled dipped forwards, then shot downhill. He felt that familiar thrilling lurch in his stomach. The wind rushed into his face as he gathered speed and the landscape around him became a white blur as he went faster and faster… 

… And faster…

 The blinding snow began to make him dizzy. Darcy stretched his legs out, pushing his heels into the snow to attempt to slow the sled. But the snow was so soft that there was no resistance. The sled continued gaining speed as it rushed towards the bottom of the hill.

 Darcy felt uneasy. The sled felt like it was careening out of control. He thrust his legs out harder, trying to keep his balance and remain upright as he jammed his heels into the snow. In vain, he threw his weight backwards but that only seemed to tilt the sled and cause it to shoot sideways down the slope.

 “Ahhh!” cried Darcy, as the sled skidded and turned, then gave a great jolt as it hit something hard just beneath the surface of the snow.

 The sled flipped.

 Darcy was thrown through the air. Everything was upside down and spinning, then he felt himself dropping and saw the row of fir trees rushing up to meet him.


 He landed on something hard. The breath was knocked from him and he cried out in pain. There was a terrible cracking sound and the next moment, he felt himself dropping again—only this time it was not through air but into icy water.

 Darcy cried out again but the cry was cut off as he went under. He resurfaced, choking and spluttering as cold water filled his mouth and went into his nose. He gasped and kicked, paddling with his hands to keep his head above the surface. He must have fallen into the pond, he realised, and if he didn’t get out soon, he would drown in its icy depths. He shook the wet hair out of his eyes and looked desperately around. He was not far from the edge—just a few feet—and the surface ice of the pond was broken all around him.

 He kicked as strongly as he could, but his legs felt curiously leaden and his fingers were swollen and numb. He could hardly feel them. His teeth chattered, and his body seemed to be seized by a violent trembling. He kicked again. Slowly, agonisingly, he managed to make his way to the edge of the pond, but by the time he reached there, he was almost spent. His breath was coming in great gasps and his entire body shook uncontrollably. He had his elbows on the bank, but he could not find the strength to haul himself out of the water.

 “Help!” Darcy called weakly. “Help!”

 He felt a sense of dread as he realised that no one could hear his faint cries. He was too far from the house. Who would be out here to hear him? Yes, they might start to search for him soon, but would they find him in time? Indeed, he had promised not to venture to this side of the grounds so they would not think to look here for him at first. Suddenly, Darcy almost wished that his aunt had been watching him from the windows—at least that way, she would have noticed his absence.

 Once more, he tried to pull himself out of the water but he had no strength. Indeed, he was overcome by a sudden urge to just lay his head down and shut his eyes. He was so tired… so tired… he would just shut his eyes for a moment and rest… yes, rest… he was so sleepy…

 Suddenly, he felt something tug at him. He raised his head, looking around in a daze, and, to his surprise, saw a young girl crouching next to him. She was bending over and grabbing a fold of his jacket, pulling with all her might. She was not very big—indeed, she looked to be no more than six or seven years old—but she was surprisingly strong and determined.

 “Hold on!” she cried.

 She heaved again and Darcy attempted to help her, grasping at whatever handholds he could find to pull himself out of the water. His strength was nearly gone but the girl’s determination galvanised him afresh. Slowly, slowly, he felt himself being hauled out of the water until, with one last heave, he collapsed on the snow. Panting, he rolled over and lay there shivering as the girl knelt down next to him. He looked blearily up at her. In the dazzling brightness of the snow, and with ice forming now along his eyelashes, he could barely see her properly. He had a hazy sense of dark hair and enormous brown eyes, bright and intelligent. She was peering at him anxiously.

 “Are you all right?”

 Darcy tried to nod, wrapping his arms around himself as he began shivering violently. He had no strength to speak.

 The girl stood up. “I must get help,” she said. “I will call Aunt and Uncle. Don’t worry—I’ll run as fast as I can!”

 Again, Darcy tried to nod but he did not know if his head was simply jerking as part of the spasms that wracked his body. He saw the girl look worriedly at him, then she turned and scanned the area around them. She started suddenly towards the row of fir trees. In a moment, she was back. Darcy squinted and tried to focus on her. What was she doing? She was bending over, panting as if she had been walking with effort, and he felt something drop softly on his body. A sharp, fresh smell came to his nostrils. Memory stirred. Pine needles.

 Darcy turned his head and saw that the girl was covering him with several fallen branches from the fir trees. 

“Keep you warm…” she said breathlessly, pulling one last feathery branch over his head.

 Darcy tried to say something but nothing came out of his mouth other than a hoarse croak. The girl did not seem to notice. She bent down and looked at him one last time.

 “I’ll be back as soon as I can!”

 Then she was gone. Darcy heard the sound of her running feet and even in his dazed state, he marvelled at the rapid rhythm. The little girl must have been a very good country walker to cover ground so confidently. Then his thoughts drifted… to Mother and Father… would he see them again? His little sister, Georgiana… Pemberley… his pony… his cousin Richard… even his aunt, Lady Catherine—he didn’t want to die here and never see them again… He had to try and stay awake and wait for the girl to return… But he was so sleepy… so sleepy…

 His eyelids felt so heavy. Darcy let them fall. He wrapped his arms tighter around himself, curling into an even smaller ball and shivering beneath the layer of branches spread over him.

  So sleepy… 



To celebrate the launch of Darcy's Christmas Wish, here's a giveaway for a Print edition + a Jane Austen Centre £25 Gift Voucher! Get your holiday shopping in early with some beautiful Jane Austen-inspired gifts. To enter, simply sign up to the Penelope Swan mailing list at: (and make sure you leave your email in the Rafflecopter widget below so it can be confirmed on the list). You can also get additional entries by tweeting about the giveaway. Giveaway starts on the 1st of Dec and ends on Dec 12th - winner will be announced on Mon Dec 14th. Good luck! :-)
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you, Penelope Swan, for stopping by for a visit, for sharing this excerpt and for the giveaway opportunity for my readers. Reading Christmas stories about my favorite couple during the holidays is such a cozy and cherished time. This book sounds excellent and I cannot wait for my chance to cuddle up with a blanket, a cup of hot tea and your book. Please come back and visit again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Then Comes Winter Blog Tour with Suzan Lauder & Billy

As part of the Then Comes Winter Blog Tour, Suzan Lauder, is my guest today. She is the author of the short romance, Delivery Boy! It is a fun story and one I think you will enjoy. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win and read your very own copy of Then Comes Winter!

We are really in for a treat too, as Ms. Lauder has managed to snag an interview with Billy, the delivery boy, himself. Enjoy!


The following is a fictional interview of the title character from Delivery Boy, a short, modern romance by Suzan Lauder, published in the Meryton Press 2015 holiday romance anthology, Then Comes Winter, edited by Christina Boyd. The narrator is a reporter.


11pm the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Just our luck—the van fishtailed after a turn, and the back tires wound up in deep snow on a side street. Of course, I’m behind trying to push it out of the ruts while Gordy, the camera operator, is at the wheel. I should never have bragged about working out and my killer biceps. We rock it back and forth, but it’s hopeless. The tires just spin, digging deeper holes in the same spot. No way will we make it to the news story, and Channel 4 is going to scoop us.

A few doors down, a Jeep drives up, and a tall man gets out, retrieves a large pizza from a hot bag in the passenger seat, and delivers it to a large Victorian house. He goes back to the Jeep before heading over to our van. Light snow swirls around him in the wind. He’s bundled head to toe, so I can just see his eyes.

“Deep ruts?” he says.

Gordy’s gotten out by now, and we’re all looking at the ruts in the snow in the minimal light from the streetlights. We make that usual chit-chat about type of tires, no traction, and just polishing the snow in one place, like you always hear in these situations. The tall guy holds out some mats.

“Try these.”

We jam them under the tires, and both guys congratulate each other with macho enthusiasm, confident of success. I stamp my feet. I’m cold!

Gordy notices. “Hey, Victoria, why don’t you get in the van where it’s warm? You can drive us out, and I’ll get it on camera.”

Good idea! So the tall guy pushes, Gordy films, and I drive. The van hesitates before it grinds ahead. With a forward lurch, we’re out of the holes! I ease up on the gas and steer into the ruts of the street—bump, bump. Ahead is a clear spot from a parked car, and I pull over—bump, bump, out of the ruts—to park.

I hop out for the camera and call out to our helper. “Thanks!” He’s picking up his mats. “Hey, would you mind taking an interview? We’re from KJAF.”

His eyes get squinty like he’s suspicious, but he nods. I get my gear, and we set up next to the van.

Gordy asks the delivery guy to pull his scarf off his face a little for better sound. He does so, and exposes unattractive facial hair. I like beards, but this one needs help, or radio. I tell them I like it better with the scarf on—it adds to the atmosphere of the cold, stormy weather. The tall guy shrugs and pulls it back up.

To start, I rattle off a few stats about the blizzard. “ that makes a good Samaritan out of pizza delivery drivers. What’s your name, sir?”


“What’s it like driving in bad weather?”

I put the mike up to his face for a comment. “Challenging.” Hmm. I hope I don’t have to carry this interview. I wait and he adds, “Lots of stalled and stuck vehicles to avoid.” Man of few words.

“Do you get tired of pizza, smelling it all night?”

“It’s my first day on the job.”

“First day and the blizzard of the century? Good thing your restaurant has a Jeep for deliveries!”

He glances back. “That’s my ride.”

Interesting. “What kind of pizza did you just deliver?”

“Double pepperoni, half black olive.”

“Sounds yummy. We should knock on the door and look starving! Do you have any more?”

He shakes his head, and his eyes crinkle at the corners. A smile would be hidden by his scarf. “Last one of the night.”

“Too bad! What restaurant do you deliver for, Billy?”

“Alimento dell’Amore, corner of Meryton and Longbourn.”

“Oh, man, the best pizza in town! Great live music, too.”

“Yup. Oli’s Angels are playing this weekend.”

“Nice! The owner, Elizabeth Bennet, has a great reputation as an up-and-coming local star in the restaurant business. What kind of boss is she—a typical, rude, effing Ramsay celebrity chef?”

His head shook slightly. “Elizabeth’s cool.”

I raise my brows. The tops of his cheekbones above the scarf are a little pink. Is he blushing, or is it the cold? “Tell me, Billy. Was the temptation too much?”

Billy’s eyes are horrified. Score! But I make it fun. “Did you scarf down one of those pizzas and claim no one was home? You can tell me!”

We get a perfect millisecond of dead air before he gets it and lets out a big belly laugh. “I had something to eat before I left the restaurant, so I managed to control myself,” he said.

“Alimento dell’Amore means ‘food of love.’ Do you know the significance?”

He scratches his head. “Italian food is pretty romantic in itself. The restaurant has stunning decor, with a warm and inviting ambiance, and they have private nooks for a special date. Depending on the band, the music can create a mood, too. It’s a pretty romantic restaurant.”

Interesting! “Are you speaking from experience?”

“No, but you gave me a good idea!”

“Ah, romance to warm up a cold winter night! Do you have a special someone?”

His eyes crinkled again. “I’m working on it. I hope so.”

“Good luck!” I faced the camera. “On a cold but potentially romantic night, this is Victoria Grantley for KJAF news.”


Prior to a cross-country move, Suzan Lauder used to hang out at a restaurant similar to Alimento dell’Amore to listen to live jazz, blues, and indie music. Her free time is now filled with walks along the ocean, bicycle rides through forests and farms, Regency costume design and construction using upcycling techniques, and writing Austenesque romances while being squished between two kitties. Besides the light, modern romance short Delivery Boy, she has a mature novel published by Meryton Press: Alias Thomas Bennet, a Regency romance with a mystery twist. Lauder’s latest Regency romance novel, Letter from Ramsgate, will be published in 2016. 

Suzan Lauder’s enjoyment of variety is evident in her dynamic career, food interests, hairstyles, and of course, her writing! No one story can predict the style or setting for the next as Lauder continues to experiment with her craft. Mad about historical research and learning new writing techniques, she’s an active member at the Austenesque fan site, A Happy Assembly. Lauder’s fascination with the Regency period inspired her creative blog series, the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment, a project that transforms found, re-used, discount, and vintage items into quality, Regency-era outfits. The amusing and resourceful approach includes original patterns, and it has garnered support from Regency and upcycling bloggers and fussy Regency costumers. 


Then Comes Winter holiday anthology blog tour        

Edited by Christina Boyd

Authors Beau North & Brooke West, Melanie Stanford, Natalie Richards, Erin Lopez, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Suzan Lauder, Maureen Lenker, Denise Stout, Linda Gonschior, and Lory Lilian
Book Blurb:

“Then comes Winter with bluster and snow,
that brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow…” Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

If you long for a toasty snuggle on a cold winter’s night, this compilation of original short stories inspired by the magic of the holiday season—and more than a nod to Jane Austen—is fancied as a sublime wintertime treat. On the heels of the summer anthology, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and in concert with some of Meryton Press’s most popular authors, this romantic anthology introduces more promising writers. With a robust mix of contemporary and Regency musings, Then Comes Winter rekindles passionate fires with equal wonder, wit, and romance. 

Buy Link:


Then Comes Winter blog tour schedule

11/30: Guest Post & Giveaway at FLY HIGH
12/1: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
12/2: Character Interview & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
12/3: Excerpt & Giveaway at Jennifer Vido
12/4: Guest Post & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
12/5: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
12/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
12/7: Review at Just Jane 1813
12/8: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
12/9: Review at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
12/10: Review at From Pemberley to Milton
12/11: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
12/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
12/13: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
12/14: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
12/15: Author Feature at Songs and Stories
12/16: Author Feature & Giveaway at Tome Tender
12/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Chick Lit Plus
12/17: Author Feature & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight


Meryton Press is having an international giveaway and it is powered by the Rafflecopter Platform this time. The giveaway is for 4 paperbacks and 4 eBooks of Then Comes Winter. You must fill out the Rafflecopter to be entered plus leave a comment below or on any participating blog. You will be asked the name of the blog when you fill out the Rafflecopter form. The little arrows located in the middle of the form will take you to the eBooks or the paperbacks. I'm sure many of you are familiar with this since they are used on many of the blogs. If you have any questions, send me a message using my contact form on the right. Be sure to visit all blogs to increase your chances of winning. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thanks to Suzan Lauder and the reporter for this fun interview of Billy, to Christina Boyd, the editor of Then Comes Winter, to all the authors whose stories are in the book, to Jakki Leatherberry for setting up the blog tour and to Meryton Press and Michele Reed for the giveaway. This looks like the perfect book to read during the holidays. Grab a cup of coffee, hot tea or hot chocolate, curl up with a blanket and read, read, read! Now that sounds like a nice relaxing way to end a bustling day of shopping or decorating for Christmas! Good luck to all and thanks for stopping by! Happy Holidays!