Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rose Fairbanks with Sufficient Encouragement

Available at Amazon
Welcome back, Rose Fairbanks! It is always great having you stop by More Agreeably Engaged and I know my readers enjoy your visits too. I'm excited about your newest release, Sufficient Encouragement, and I absolutely love the cover! It is gorgeous!

I enjoyed reading about your meeting new people and how you felt. I have experienced many of those same feelings and thoughts when anticipating making new acquaintances. Isn't it interesting to know that probably most of us feel that way. We all want to be accepted for who we are. With that said, I'll turn the post over to you! 


Meeting new people…and new characters

First, let me say, thank you, Janet, for having me!

Sufficient Encouragement is my tenth Pride and Prejudice variation and if you read my books in order of how I wrote them (which is not the same as their publication dates) you will probably see how I’ve grown as a writer. I don’t just mean in mechanics, although I think I have improved there (as well as hiring an editor). My story style has evolved. My earliest stories focused exclusively on Darcy and Elizabeth. In later stories, I added in Jane and Bingley scenes. As best friends of our dear couple, I felt like I knew them well.

In Sufficient Encouragement, minor characters play a role in Elizabeth and Darcy’s story. I feel like they’re the acquiantances of the story. The friends you know but don’t know very well. Meeting them or spending a lot of alone time with them can be nerve wracking. Often, the impression you have of them changes after you’ve spent more time together. Such is the case in my story. Mary, Georgiana, and even Caroline end up having more to them than meets the eye.

Sufficient Encouragement also has several original characters. They take such interesting roles in the story that I am giving them a series to continue! In the rest of the “When Love Blooms” series, Darcy and Elizabeth will continue to crop up, but it’s really an expansion of the P&P world.

Now, I know a lot of readers don’t particularly like minor character stories, and they like original characters probably even less. But isn’t that like meeting new people? It is better to not meet with people, whether acquaintances or first introductions, with prejudice? Is that not at the heart of Pride and Prejudice itself?

I consider this not just as a writer and a reader, but in my personal interactions. A few weeks ago, I visited Washington, D.C. and met Jane Austen Fan Fiction authors Zoe Burton, Pamela Lynne, Cat Gardiner and Victoria Kincaid. I have met Zoe in person once and talk with her, Pamela and Cat online frequently. We wanted to have a meet-up and DC was agreed upon. After learning we would be there, a reader approached the local JASNA branch and soon a panel on JAFF was formed. As Victoria is a DC Metro area local, we were pleased to have her included as well, although none of us knew her very well.

As you might guess, I have an active imagination. What is less likely for you to guess, is that I’m actually an introvert. I like people and can talk openly with them, but then I need to pull back and have some time to myself.

The weeks leading up to this trip, I imagined a number of things. I imagined that the panel might go badly. The JASNA people might not like JAFF for not being scholarly enough. What if only four people would show up? I imagined what Cat and Pam would be like in person. I had never even seen a photograph of Victoria and had quite a bit of fun in my head imagining what she would look like.

Cat, Zoe and I were actually staying in the Pen Arts Building, run by the National Pen Women, of which Cat is a member. We had our own rooms, but would be sharing other spaces. Zoe and I were going to drive to DC and back. What if I was too weird? What if I annoyed my friends? What if I said the wrong thing? What if they said the wrong thing? They are loads of fun online but what if they were different in person? Oh, and then there were readers from A Happy Assembly coming, and I knew them even less!

I attempted to keep an open mind with low expectations. Different strokes for different folks, I told myself. Maybe someone would clip their toe nails at the table. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. Nothing an adult could do would be more shocking than my kids, right?

Well, all my worries were for naught! Zoe, Cat, and Pamela were as darling in real life as they are online! Victoria looked nothing like what I imagined, which for some reason was very Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma-esque. Instead, Victoria has dark, curly hair and I didn’t see a devilish smile once. We all had so much fun talking JAFF and life together!

The JASNA panel was amazing. There were far, far more people than I expected. They were so friendly and open with us. All of them were interested in JAFF, most of them had already read many of us. After the panel, we had lunch with the A Happy Assembly members and it was so amazing to talk with them and discuss our favorite stories, adaptations and more. I feel energized just writing about all of it! And I’m happy to say there were no bad table manners, which is much more than I can say for my children.

So, dear readers, I hope you can keep an open mind and enjoy Sufficient Encouragement as well as the “When Love Blooms” series. Meeting new people and new characters doesn’t have to be met with dislike or cause anxiety, it can be an adventure you never thought possibe!


Book Synopsis

We are all fools in love…

Some say a lady’s imagination is very rapid. Such is the case when Elizabeth Bennet overhears that Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy admires her eyes. She thinks nothing for herself, but immediately considers her dearest sister’s growing attachment to Mr. Darcy’s friend. If Elizabeth spurns such a wealthy—and proud—gentleman, he might do everything in his power to separate his friend from her sister.

Raised in a world of expectations and pedigree, Darcy knows Elizabeth Bennet can offer him nothing of material value. As his attraction for her grows, he becomes increasingly convinced his feelings are nonsensical. Still, he might forsake it all if only he had true encouragement.

Misunderstandings lead to betrayals, and the couple soon learns falling in love takes courage but staying in love requires forgiveness. Traversing from the groves of Hertfordshire to the drawing rooms of London to the complexity and danger of Luddite revolts in Yorkshire, Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey of love and forgiveness.

*This story contains a scene of nonexplicit sexual violence.


About the When Love Blooms Series

“Love is like a flower, for it is well worth the toil to cultivate it.” She shrugged her shoulders, “Love is beautiful.”

Take a stroll in the garden of love and enjoy the unique blooms of the intersecting lives of the Bennet, Darcy, Fitzwilliam, de Bourgh and Bingley families. Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth as they fight to save their love from an unexpected frost while Jane and Bingley’s love grows strong roots. The companion story, Renewed Hope, adds depth to the bouquet with the love stories of Darcy’s cousins and Miss Bingley. The third book in the series, Extraordinary Devotion, follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage while their younger sisters experience a London Season.


About the Author

Rose Fairbanks hears book characters talk in her head. They whisper to her of a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. More than having a love story for the ages, these characters face struggles inspired by historical events such as market crashes, Napoleon, embargoes, Luddites, the Year Without a Summer and more. Merging historical research with the timelessness of Jane Austen, Rose currently has ten Pride and Prejudice variations published with several releases planned for 2016 as well as an original Regency Romance series in the works.

Rose proudly admits her Darcy obsession and addictions to reading, chocolate, and sweet tea. Always in the mood for a healthy debate, she also dearly loves to laugh. Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to complete her master’s studies...someday. At the moment, having a career combining her life-long interest in history and research with her love for Jane Austen and the Regency Era consumes all of her professional time. When not writing or reading, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her blog: http://rosefairbanks.com


Sufficient Encouragement Blog Tour Schedule
4/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
4/17: Excerpt at My Jane Austen Book Club
4/18: Excerpt & Review at The Ardent Reader
4/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
4/20: Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
4/21: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
4/22: Guest Post at Babblings of a Bookworm
4/25: Review at Just Jane 1813
4/26: Guest Post at More Agreeably Engaged
4/28: Guest Post & Review at From Pemberley to Milton

Thank you, Rose, for stopping by today. It has been a joy having you visit again and I wish you the best with Sufficient Encouragement. It sounds like a great book and I look forward to reading it soon!

Dear Readers, have any of you read it yet? What are your thoughts? If you haven't made a stop at the other blogs, be sure you do. There are giveaways, excerpts, reviews and other great posts. Don't miss out!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Darcy vs. Bennet...Victoria Kincaid

Available at Amazon
Victoria Kincaid is back to visit with us about her latest novel, Darcy vs. Bennet. This book has an intriguing premise and I hope you will enjoy Ms. Kincaid's thoughts, the exerpt and the blurb as much as I did. I do find the concept presented interesting and I am eager to explore it further. Victoria Kincaid, it is with much pleasure that I welcome you back to More Agreeably Engaged. 


When I set out to write Darcy vs. Bennet, my concept was Romeo and Juliet meets Pride and Prejudice.  Elizabeth and Darcy are kept apart by a feud between their families—initiated by a longstanding dispute between their fathers.  For this idea to work I needed Darcy’s father to be alive, so he could insist on and continue the feud.  I didn’t set out to make him the villain of the book, but it turns out he was.  He is manipulative, snobbish, and universally disliked. 

Another thing I didn’t anticipate was the effect the elder Darcy’s presence had on his son.  We are so accustomed to viewing Darcy as the master of his destiny that it was very intriguing to create one who had his behavior questioned and curtailed by his father.  At one point Darcy worries about the possibility that his father might cut off his allowance and must think about how to earn a living.  Raising such an problem created some truly unique issues.  In Jane Austen fan fiction we see Darcy face numerous obstacles, but we rarely see him confronting the prospect of losing his income.  A poor Darcy?  It’s almost unthinkable!

The prospect of losing his fortune made me, as the author, think about how the character of Darcy would face such circumstances.  In my vision of Darcy, he would be a bit thrown by the idea (No horse?  No valet?), but is determined to rise to the occasion.  Darcy has such a strong character and good work ethic that I cannot believe that even such dire circumstances would keep him down for long.

Does he, in fact, lose his fortune in Darcy vs. Bennet?  Read the book and find out!



Mrs. Bennet was breathless and red-faced.  “Mr. Bennet!  The most terrible thing has happened!”

Her husband raised a skeptical eyebrow.  “Has the cost of lace increased again?  Or has Lydia lost a ribbon from her dress?”

At least Elizabeth’s mother had the presence of mind to pull her husband to the side before she whispered to him.  “It is far worse.  Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is here!  He is Mr. Bingley’s friend.”

The color drained quickly from her father’s face.  “Mr. Darcy from Derbyshire?”  His wife nodded vigorously. 

“We cannot escape the introduction!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed. 

“We should leave at once,” Elizabeth suggested, her eyes darting around the room, alert for any sign of Mr. Darcy.  If she departed immediately, perhaps she could avoid him for the rest of his time in Hertfordshire.

Mr. Bennet humphed.  “No.  I will not be rousted from a gathering in my own town by that man’s son.  We will simply avoid him.”

Inwardly, Elizabeth quailed at these words.  It was all very well for her father to make a stand, but encountering Mr. Darcy would cause more than unpleasantness for her.  At a gathering of this size, she could not avoid him all night.  “Papa, I have a headache.  Might I return home—?”

“Oh, oh!  I should warn Lydia and Kitty!” her mother interrupted.  “They must stay away from that horrid man.”  She turned to Mary.  “Fetch them immediately!”  Then her horrified eyes met her husband’s.  “Jane is dancing with his friend!  What should we do?”

Mr. Bennet rubbed a hand over his mouth.  “Mr. Bingley is unlikely to mistreat Jane at a public assembly—even if he is a friend of a Darcy.”

“Everything was going so well with Mr. Bingley!” her mother wailed.

Mary returned with a sulky Lydia and Kitty in tow.  Mrs. Bennet whispered the dire news to them.
They squealed in horror although their reaction seemed more excited than distressed. 

Realizing the set had concluded, Elizabeth went in search of Jane.  Her sister was red-cheeked and glowing with excitement.  “Mr. Bingley is the most amiable man of my acquaintance, Lizzy!  He is everything a gentleman should be.”  Oh, how Elizabeth wished she did not need to deliver such dreadful news!

“About Mr. Bingley—”  Elizabeth caught her sister’s arm and guided her toward their parents.  Jane’s attention was caught by something, and she glanced back over her shoulder.  “Mr. Bingley is bringing his friend to meet us!” she exclaimed.  “That is very good of him.”

Elizabeth could barely hear for the pounding of blood in her ears.  Escape was the only option.  “I must leave—”  She released Jane’s arm, looking wildly about.  Why were all the doors so far away?

But her well-meaning sister took her hand.  “Lizzy, you are very pale.  Are you ill—?”  Elizabeth pulled her hand from Jane’s grasp, but it was too late.

The sound of Mr. Bingley’s voice behind her made Elizabeth shudder.  “There they are!  May I present Miss Jane Bennet and Miss Elizabeth Bennet?
Too late.  She was trapped.

Jane gazed beatifically at Mr. Bingley while Elizabeth turned around slowly.  And found herself staring straight into the face of Mr. Darcy.



Elizabeth Bennet is drawn to a handsome, mysterious man she meets at a masquerade ball. However, she gives up all hope for a future with him when she learns he is the son of George Darcy, the man who ruined her father’s life.  Despite her father’s demand that she avoid the younger Darcy, when he appears in Hertfordshire Elizabeth cannot stop thinking about him, or seeking him out, or welcoming his kisses….

Fitzwilliam Darcy has struggled to carve out a life independent from his father’s vindictive temperament and domineering ways, although the elder Darcy still controls the purse strings.  After meeting Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy cannot imagine marrying anyone else, even though his father despises her family.  More than anything he wants to make her his wife, but doing so would mean sacrificing everything else….   


Can you imagine Mr. Darcy without a fortune? I cannot but the idea certainly is entertaining, especially as to how it would change the plot! I will read and find out! What are your thoughts on this concept and the Bennet & Darcy feud? Let us know in your comments. 

Thank you, Victoria Kincaid for stopping by today and for offering my readers their choice of either a paperback copy or an eBook copy of Darcy vs. Bennet.  There is one up for grabs, reader's choice and the giveaway is international! We appreciate your generous giveaway. Ms. Kincaid. As always, please leave me your contact info so I may reach you. I would hate for you to miss out because I could not find you! :) This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 25th of April. Good luck to all and best wishes to Victoria Kincaid on this latest release.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

And the winners are...(Love Never Fails)

We have four winners for the eBook, Love Never Fails,
by Jennifer Joy! YAY!

Thank you so much, Jennifer Joy, for having such a generous giveaway. All winners were excited to have been randomly
selected to receive the eBook!

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who stopped to leave comments at the Cover Reveal
and the interview of Mr. & Mrs. Darcy. 
It was such fun!

And the winners are...

Joana Starnes
Tea Guide

Thank you ladies and I hope you enjoy your books. I feel quite certain that you will as I have read it and loved it! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Trouble to Check Her...Maria Grace

Available on Amazon
The Trouble to Check Her is the latest release by author Maria Grace. It is my pleasure to have Maria Grace visit at More Agreeably Engaged and tell us a bit about her research for this book. I must say that the things she shares about housework in the Regency era does take a bit of the glamour out of the time and definitely adds to the reality of it. Those that were gently born certainly had a life much easier than the maids. They had to be tough women to do the things that were required of them. 

This novel follows Lydia at Mrs. Drummond's School for Girls. Lydia gets to learn first hand some of these chores that she was used to the maids doing at Longbourn. Don't you know she felt that quite beneath her dignity?

Maria Grace, I enjoyed reading about your research and the excerpt. I am ready to continue reading your story that is getting so many good reviews! Best wishes on your book, The Trouble to Check Her.


Thanks so much for having me Janet.

I confess I’m a bit of a research nerd. One of my favorite parts of writing is the research I get to do along the way. I love getting into the nitty-gritty of people’s lives in the Regency era.  One surprising place I’ve ended up is researching how housework was done. Housework had a big part to play in my latest book, The Trouble to Check Her, in which Lydia Bennet finds herself doing a great deal of it.

All the things we take for granted, like specialized cleaning produces, vacuums, clothes and dish washers, irons, even just detergents were not available in the Regency era. So they had very different methods to keep things clean.

Here are a few of the most interesting tidbits I learned in the process.

Dust was a HUGE problem in the era. Coal dust and fire soot were everywhere. Maids spent a great deal of effort dealing with it. It was so bad that before rooms were dusted or floors swept, large dust cloths were placed over the furniture and curtains pinned up away from the floor to keep the dust from dirtying them. Then damp, used tea leaves or damp fine sand was sprinkled on the floor to help give the dust something to cling to as it was swept up. Maids would get very dirty with all the sweeping and were required to don large ‘bed making aprons’ before touching bed linens and other things that might be soiled by their dusty gowns.

Speaking of beds, they generally had at least two or three mattresses, each stuffed with something different. The lowest, called a paillasse was stuffed with straw. It was turned once or twice a week. This of course meant removing EVERYTHING on top of it. Upper mattresses might be filled with horse-hair, wool, flock or down. Well-to-do houses might have four or five mattresses stacked on top of each other. These required turning and shaking every other day or so. The mattresses were supported by ropes along the bottom of the bed. The ropes required regular tightening using large wooden pins. All of that had to be dealt with before the bed clothes were addressed. Makes me glad I only need to turn my mattress once or twice a year!

In addition to dusting and straightening, houses needed a great deal of scrubbing. Floors, stairs, hearths, stone floors, stoves, fire irons…I get weary just thinking about all of it! Elbow grease was the first ingredient in any cleansing preparation.  After that there were three basic ingredients, an abrasive, a base to carry to abrasive and something to apply it with. The abrasives ran the gambit from coarse sand and brick dust, to pumice, fuller’s earth and rottenstone. The bases it was mixed into could be as simple as water, milk, small beer or sweet oil, or might include various soaps, washing soda, or lye. Salt, lemon juice and even vitriol (sulfuric acid!) found their way into cleaning preparation. These would then be applied by bare hands(!) with hair or bristle brushes, flannel, wool, soft carpeting, soft leather, even feathers!

Kind of puts a new spin on cleaning day, doesn’t it?


Here’s a snippet from the book of Lydia tackling her first bout of housecleaning at the girl’s school to which she had been sent:

The Trouble to Check Her


Bright morning sun streamed into her room. She pulled the sheets over her head.

Why did it have to taunt her misery?

“Did anyone explain our Sunday routine to you?”

Why was Juliana so cheerful?

“No.” Lydia peeked above the covers.

Whatever it was, she was not going to like it.

Juliana waddled into the sunlight and stuffed her feet into a pair of worn slippers. “I will go downstairs for some wash water and explain it all when I return.”

She padded away.

Lydia groaned and ducked under the bedclothes. Perhaps if she fell back to sleep before Juliana returned, she might be left in peace.

The doors squeaked open.

“We were very lucky today. Cook had a kettle steaming when I got to the kitchen.”

She huffed a bit as she placed a ceramic jug on the wash stand.

“What good fortune.” Lydia rolled out of bed.

“You have the first turn—only pray, leave me some warm water.” Juliana shuffled aside.

Lydia sloshed water into the wash basin and then added a bit more. What right had Miss Waddles-About to tell her how much to use?

She washed her face and hands and turned to find Juliana in her chemise and stays, wearing a hopeful look.

“Could you help me with these again?”

Lydia huffed and flung a hand in the air. “I suppose so. Shall I do your hair as well?”

“Thank you, no. It is all hidden under my cap so there is little point.” Juliana turned her back to Lydia.

Gah! Was the girl too stupid to recognize sarcasm?

Lydia pulled at the laces. “These are near to breaking.”

“Do not pull them very tight. I cannot afford new ones.”

Lydia nearly dropped the laces.

Not able to manage so minute an expense? Surely she exaggerated … but why else would she wear such ridiculous stays?

“That is perfect. Thank you. I am sorry to keep bothering you with them.” Juliana trundled off and began to wash.

Lydia dressed, appreciating her own short stays as never before.

“Now we must clean our room.”

“Excuse me?”

“Each Sunday before holy services, Mrs. Drummond requires we clean our rooms.” Juliana slipped her apron over her head.

“She … I … but …”

“It will not kill you. And we never know, one day we might have to find employ as maids.”

“I shall never be a maid.” Lydia tossed her head.

“I hope you are correct, but it is a better fate than starving in the streets. Either way, we must clean the room.”

She was serious? They were actually going to do this?

“No matter, I will show you. It is not so bad once you get accustomed to it. Go downstairs and get a kettle of boiling water and a pail for the slops. I shall start on the beds whilst you are gone.”

Who was Miss Waddles-About to order her around?

“Would you rather work on the beds and I get the water? I have already fetched water once today, and only thought it fair we should share the job. But, if you disagree, here is the dust rag.”

“Why would I need that?”

“To dust the chairs before you turn the sheets on to them.”

“Oh, I suppose I will get the water.” Lydia hurried out lest Juliana invent another chore for her.

Joan met her on the stairs, water jug in hand. “So you have been sent to fetch water, too?”

“I am to bring boiling water.” Lydia wrinkled up her face into a mockery of Juliana’s expression.

Joan choked back a laugh. “Did you not have hot water to wash with?”

“Juliana brought some up.”

“Why do you need more? We always use it for cleaning, too. What is the point in climbing the stairs more than we must? She’s just seeing how much work she can make you do.”

“I thought she was demanding far too much.” Lydia stomped into the kitchen.

Mrs. Drummond presided by the stove near Cook, adding kettles and pots to heat.

“I need wash water,” Joan said.

“And a boiling kettle and slop pail,” Lydia added.

“Provide Miss Bennet with her request whilst I have a talk with Miss Colbrane.” Mrs. Drummond took Joan by the elbow to a far corner.

Cook wrapped the handle of the kettle in a towel and handed it to Lydia. “Mind yourself not to get burned.”

Lydia could just make out Mrs. Drummond scolding Joan’s attempts to take short cuts in their cleaning. It sounded as though they would be cleaning the teachers’ bedrooms as well. Amelia would be so angry!

Perhaps it would be best to listen to Juliana for now. She seemed to have garnered some favor from Mrs. Drummond. If she played Juliana’s friend, she might share in it as well.

She trudged back upstairs, burning herself twice along the way.

Juliana met her at the door. She took the kettle and set it on the hearth. “I have the windows open and the beds stripped. Empty the wash basin and chamber pot into the slop pail, scald the vessels, along with the water jar and tumbler and empty them into the pail.”

“Why am I to do all the work? I brought up the water.”

Juliana turned aside as though she had not heard. “I will cover the large furniture with the dusting sheets and fetch the supplies to clean out the fireplace. Just be happy we do not have a carpet to drag outside and beat.”

Unpleasant though it was, emptying and scalding the vessels and discarding the slop pail did not take very long. So, she was sent to fetch damp sand for the floor and a fresh pail of scrub water.

Just how many times had she climbed the stairs this morning? Surely Juliana was inventing errands.

Juliana finished the fireplace and ordered her to dust the windows and furniture while she did the walls and ceiling.

How often had the lazy girl stopped, huffing and panting, unable to catch her breath? A clever way, indeed, to leave Lydia with all the work.

Dusting finished, Juliana took the sand jar, leaving Lydia to drag all the small furniture to the center of the room.

Lydia shoved the broom at Juliana. “You sweep. I am utterly fagged.”

She leaned on the doorjamb to watch. How droll was Juliana, maneuvering the broom around her belly.

“Oh!” Juliana staggered and caught herself on the chest of drawers. The broom clattered on the floor.

“Juliana!” Miss Fitzgilbert rushed in.

When had Miss High-and-Mighty arrived? Probably sent by Mrs. Drummond to snoop on them.

“The midwife told you not work too hard. Come, lie down in my room whilst I fetch Mrs. Drummond.” Miss Fitzgilbert took Juliana’s arm. “You need to finish sweeping and scrub the floors.”

“By myself?”

“Can you not see she has made herself ill? Had you been a bit more considerate, she might still be able to help you.” Miss Fitzgilbert tossed her head and disappeared with Juliana in tow.

Lydia stared after them. How could she possibly be expected to do so much alone? She grabbed the broom and flung it from side to side. That only threw dust upon the furniture she had just cleaned.


Mama was very particular about how the maids did their work. What did it look like when the maid had done this at home? She closed her eyes and mimicked the motions she remembered.

Yes, that was more effective.

“Do not forget to sweep under all the furniture.” A voice called from the door.

How kind of Miss Fitzgilbert to stop and offer advice.

Lydia snatched a flannel cloth and reached under the chest of drawers. There was hardly anything under it. Underneath the beds was similarly clean.

What a waste of time.

Dust pail filled, the only thing left was to scrub the floor. Wretched task, on her knees, her hands in the cold water, by herself. She turned her back to the door and dunked the cloth in the chilly, soapy bucket. How she hated the feel of it on her hands, slippery and dry all at the same time.

Soon she would sport chilblains and cracked fingertips! How then would she be able to sew or practice the pianoforte?

She sat back on her heels and dragged her sleeve across her forehead. Only in spring and fall, when Papa demanded everything be completely cleaned did she ever work this hard. And then only if Mama did not have enough extra household money to hire an additional girl for the duration.

“I see no one has taught you to scrub floors.”

She jumped to her feet, slipping in a soapy puddle.

Mrs. Drummond loomed in the doorway behind her.

“Ah, yes, I mean no, madam.”

“Then I shall show you, but pay attention for I shall only do it once.” Mrs. Drummond minced over the sopping floor, leaving footprints in her wake. “Bring the sand. You have some stains.”

Lydia slipped and nearly overturned the sand jar.

Mrs. Drummond dropped to her knees near the far corner and beckoned Lydia down. “First, you must always begin farthest from the door and work toward it, lest you trap yourself inside with a clean, wet floor between you and the way out.” She pointed to the messy footprints.

Lydia winced.

Mama’s maid started from the far side, too. Who knew it should matter so much?

“Now to begin, soak the cloth in the soapy water and wring it a bit. Too much only makes a mess. Now rub it along the length of the floor boards, not across. This is especially important if you must scour a stain. Here, give me the sand.” She sprinkled a generous pinch on a dark spot. “Scrub with the grain of the wood until it is gone. Do not rub in circles or across the grain.” She looked up at Lydia. “I will not have my floor boards ruined.”

“Yes, Mrs. Drummond.”

“Now, when you are finished, you must use fresh water—where is your rinse pail?”

“I … I … do not have one.”

Had Juliana told her to get one? Perhaps … oh bother, she did not remember now.

“Go downstairs and fetch one. Quickly, now!”

Lydia almost tripped over her own feet as she dashed to the kitchen. Several buckets waited near the door. The cook signaled her to take one.

One never realized how heavy water was until it needed to be carted about. No wonder charwomen were so disagreeable.

Lydia staggered into her room. The pail sloshed out splashes as she skidded toward Mrs. Drummond.

“Down here with me.” She passed a clean rag to Lydia. “Dip a fresh rag in the clean water and wring it well. Rinse the soap off the floor or it will leave ugly marks and the dirt will stay behind. Like that. Finally, use a dry cloth and sop up the rinse water.”

Side by side, they wiped the clean patch dry.

“Now you have a clean floor.” Mrs. Drummond rose and dried her hands on her apron. “Finish up, and you may go to the morning room for breakfast.” She left Lydia to stare at the empty doorway.

How cruel, to leave her to this huge dirty floor all by herself.

Lydia shoved stray hair out of her eyes. Perhaps—she tucked it under her mobcap and it stayed. That was useful.

Hunkered down on sore knees, she whimpered. Why had Mrs. Drummond not brought Juliana back to help her finish? No, no such work for the headmistress’s pet. She muttered under her breath and set back to scrubbing.

An hour later, she swabbed the last bit dry and backed out of the door, dragging her pails and cloths with her.

Miss Fitzgilbert bustled past. “Bring all that down to the scullery, the rags too. You will see a great basket for them as you enter.”

Oh, how she wanted to speak her mind, but she was far too weary—and now too hungry—to do so.

She trudged behind Miss High-and-Mighty, and left her burdens in the cramped, dark scullery.

How very good it felt not to be stooped over a bucket of dirty, frigid water.

She straightened her back and stretched. Other girls with their burdens pushed past her, and she dodged out of their way.

What was that? Something smelled very good indeed.

She followed the scent to the morning room. All manner of good food graced the table. Plain to be sure, but hearty and plentiful.

Amelia waved at her to take the seat between her and Joan.

“I am so fagged!” Lydia fell into the chair and threw her head back.

“I hate Sunday mornings!” Amelia muttered through a mouthful of potatoes.

“At least we get to eat before she drags us off to hear the vicar.”

“Oh I detest the sermonizing.” Amelia rolled her eyes. “And Mr. Weatherby is so long-winded—”

“And holy!” Joan sat up very straight and folded her hands before her, eyes cast skyward.

Amelia giggled. “Very, very holy. Can you imagine being a vicar’s wife?”

“What a horrible fate, particularly with one like him. How can one do anything right in his eyes?”

Amelia leaned low to the table and whispered. “It is truly awful when Mrs. Drummond has him to dinner with us.”

Lydia covered her sigh with her hand. “Does she do that often?”

“At least once a fortnight.” Joan pouted. “I expect he will be joining us sometime this week.”

“How he likes to remind us of how very wicked we are.”

“And how grateful we should be for our situation here.”

“As if anyone could be grateful for this workhouse.” Lydia piled a slab of ham and several potatoes on her plate and reached for a platter of scones.

This is just the beginning of Lydia’s adventures in The Trouble to Check Her.


The Trouble to Check Her Book Blurb

Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey.  That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.
Ridiculous, she said.
Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.
Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.
Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?
Buy Links:


Author Bio:  

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:

Twitter @WriteMariaGrace


It has been great having you visit again. It is always a delight to have you stop by and share interesting tidbits with us. The book blurb has my mind wondering about this music master! Could he possibly be a good influence on Lydia? Oh, to read the book and find out!!! :) Isn't it great that Mr. Darcy took the trouble to check her. There may be hope yet!

Thank you again for being my guest today, Maria Grace. I hope you will come back soon with another new release.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jennifer Joy Interviews Mr. & Mrs. Darcy from Love Never Fails

Available on Amazon
I'm excited to bring you a delightful interview with Mr. & Mrs. Darcy. The lovely Jennifer Joy recently met with them and they were gracious enough to allow an interview. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. I know it has certainly intrigued me. They have given us just enough hints about scenes and things in the new book, Love Never Fails, to make sure I will be eagerly reading it as soon as possible. Guess what...it is now available on Amazon! YAY!  

It is such a pleasure to have you visit again, Jennifer Joy. I hope you have much success with your 6th book and will continue to give us many more in the future! Thank you again, for allowing me to reveal the cover for Love Never Fails. I believe it is quite a hit! Congratulations, to you and your husband! It is still amazing to me that you have six excellent books to your credit in only a little over a year's time. Readers, to see them all listed, check out the cover reveal link above or Jennifer Joy's author page on Amazon.


Interview: (Location withheld) :)

Jennifer: Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy for your collaboration. This is our sixth project together and I must say that it has been a pleasure working with you.

              Darcy: Of course. I was pleased that Wickham only got a brief mention in this story. I despise that man.

              Elizabeth: Yes, dear, but I had to contend with Miss Bingley for most of this novel. I do hope to get a break from her in the next one.

Jennifer: I can take a hint. We shall see. So, I am curious… Which scene was your favorite in Love Never Fails?

              Elizabeth: Without a doubt, the wet shirt scene! I saw that in the BBC miniseries, you know. (said with a wink)

              Darcy: Elizabeth! I got a cold thanks to that scene and I was unable to call on you for a week! (looks disgruntled at Jennifer)

Jennifer: I do apologize for causing you discomfort. However, it was very brave of you to do what you did. I suspect that is why Elizabeth likes that scene so much.

              Elizabeth: Sure. But you have to admit that he looked rather manly coming out of the water.

              Darcy: (blushing furiously) Let us change the subject.

Jennifer: Very well. We know your feelings about that particular scene, so I would like to know: Which was your favorite, Mr. Darcy?

              Darcy: The bit with the horse.

              Elizabeth: As I recall, that was a rather painful scene. (looks accusingly at Jennifer) Why did you write that?

Jennifer: Again, I am sorry for causing you discomfort. However, it did give you an opportunity to share some time with Mr. Darcy. I thought it was sweet.

              Darcy: Yes, I feel that I left a much better impression on you there than I did when I first saw you. I was able to redeem myself— something I do quite a lot of in this story.

              Elizabeth: Oh, hush, dear. It is for that reason that women around the world adore you. You change for the woman you love and show with your actions that you’re a man of honor.

Jennifer: Does it bother you, Mrs. Darcy, that your husband is admired by so many?

              Elizabeth: Why should it? I’m the one he married. (looking as proud as Mr. Darcy himself) He was able to play the valiant prince more in this story than in our previous stories and I must say that I enjoyed playing the role of the damsel in distress. Maybe next time, can I not suffer so much? (looking pleadingly at Jennifer)

Jennifer: I’ll do my best, but half of your distress was of your own doing. I did not force you to become Lady Rutledge’s companion. I would have had Mr. Darcy court you at your uncle Gardiner’s without the additional drama caused by Miss Bingley and Lady Rutledge.

              Darcy: And miss the incident in the library or, even worse, the one with the port?

              Elizabeth: I suppose you’re right. Life with Lady Rutledge was certainly not boring and it did help me overcome the worst of my emotions. Did you know that she takes full credit for our marriage?

              Darcy: That is not surprising. She will take credit for Miss Bingley’s upcoming nuptials too.

Jennifer: Lady Rutledge was cross with me for not titling the book, Lady Rutledge’s Triumph.

              Elizabeth: (leaning in and speaking in a low tone) She did take her part rather seriously. Sometimes I was uncertain whose side she was on.

Jennifer: I think that her involvement did move things along for you. She helped you realize the importance of family.

              Elizabeth: That, she did. Please don’t kill off my father in the next book.

              Darcy: What is the next book about?

Jennifer: We’ve only just released Love Never Fails and you want to know what the next book is?

              Darcy: I’m impatient to fall in love with Elizabeth all over again.

              Elizabeth: (sighs)

Jennifer: That’s why we love you two so much. I’ll get back to work.



After her father dies, Elizabeth Bennet refuses to marry the heir of her family’s estate, leaving her, her mother, and her sisters without means and without a home— and it is all Elizabeth’s fault. What are five single women with no prospects to do? A string of emotional decisions lead her from her beloved Hertfordshire to London, where she becomes a lady’s companion to a scheming woman with too much time and money and too few scruples.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is full of remorse. Humbled from his arrogance, he sets out to prove that he is a man of honor by earning the respect of the one most affected by his indifference— Miss Elizabeth Bennet. From the

offering of a handkerchief to a hot air balloon ride, he will do what he must to become the man she believes him to be. However, even the best intentions often go awry… especially when Charles Bingley’s aunt, Lady Lavinia Rutledge, is involved.

Can Darcy and Elizabeth see past their guilt and regret to recognize the love they long for?


What a fun interview with Darcy and Elizabeth! Now I definitely must read the book to find the scenes that they each like best. I'm betting I will like the wet shirt scene too! :) Thank you, Jennifer Joy, for taking the time to interview these two dearly loved characters from your latest novel, Love Never Fails. It is always great to have you stop by and I hope you will come back often.

Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Darcy, for allowing us this time to learn a little bit about you both in this new release. I adore that you enjoy falling in love with Elizabeth all over again, Mr. Darcy! I'm sighing too, Elizabeth!

Remember, Jennifer Joy is giving away 4 eBooks of Love Never Fails and the giveaway is international. You get a chance to win by commenting here and at the cover reveal. Yes, that's right, it gives you two chances to win. As always, leave your contact info so I can reach you if you are one of the lucky winners. Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 10th of April, 2016. Good luck to all.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cover Reveal...Love Never Fails by Jennifer Joy

No April Fools...there really is a cover reveal. I have been looking forward to this for several weeks and I am so excited to share this post with you today! It is such a privilege and honor to reveal the cover for Jennifer Joy's latest book, Love Never Fails. When it is released, it will have been a little over a year since Jennifer became a published author with the release of her first book, Darcy's Ultimatum. It is the first book of three in The Cousins Series(also published as a box set) Anne's Adversity is the second and last in the series is Colonel Fitzwilliam's Challenge. If I'm not mistaken, her newest, Love Never Failswill be her 6th published book. The most recent, Accusing Elizabeth was released in January and Earning Darcy's Trust in September. That is an amazing accomplishment to achieve in a year, Jennifer Joy, and I am in awe! (Add to that, most, if not all, have made the best sellers list on Amazon!) You must be very organized and committed, besides being an excellent writer. 

Jennifer will be my guest on the 5th of April so please come back by for a visit. She has a fabulous interview for us! She also has a very generous giveaway and leaving comments on this post and her visit on the 5th will double your chances of winning. 

This new cover is gorgeous and I'm sure you will like it as much as I do. It is my understanding that Jennifer Joy's dear husband is responsible for the cover design. Isn't that neat! Good job, sir!

I know you are all eagerly awaiting the reveal of this cover so... 
drum roll, please...

Isn't it a beautiful cover! I love it and can hardly wait for it to be available in a few days. When Jennifer is my guest on April 5th, we will let you know the release date which should be about that time.



After her father dies, Elizabeth Bennet refuses to marry the heir of her family’s estate, leaving her, her mother, and her sisters without means and without a home— and it is all Elizabeth’s fault. What are five single women with no prospects to do? A string of emotional decisions lead her from her beloved Hertfordshire to London, where she becomes a lady’s companion to a scheming woman with too much time and money and too few scruples.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is full of remorse. Humbled from his arrogance, he sets out to prove that he is a man of honor by earning the respect of the one most affected by his indifference— Miss Elizabeth Bennet. From the
offering of a handkerchief to a hot air balloon ride, he will do what he must to become the man she believes him to be. However, even the best intentions often go awry… especially when Charles Bingley’s aunt, Lady Lavinia Rutledge, is involved.

Can Darcy and Elizabeth see past their guilt and regret to recognize the love they long for?


Thanks so much for stopping by to see this lovely cover and read the excerpt! I'm thrilled to have you share the excitement. I especially want to thank you, Jennifer Joy, for allowing me the privilege of revealing your latest cover. I could hardly wait and I look forward to its release as a much anticipated book. The excerpt has made me want to read it all the more! Thank you!

Jennifer Joy is giving away 4 eBooks of Love Never Fails and the giveaway is international. That is awesome and I know each of you are thrilled as am I. Leave a comment letting us know what you think of the cover or asking a question about the book. Don't forget to include your contact info in the comment. Then pop back in and leave a comment on the April 5th post to double your chances of winning one of the four eBooks up for grabs. This giveaway will last a little longer since the interview is on the 5th. Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 10th of April, 2016. Good luck to all.