Tuesday, December 19, 2017

J. Marie Croft and John Thorpe

J. Marie Croft visits today with a witty tale about her efforts to redeem or write about John Thorpe.  I laughed often when reading this post. I think no one, but you, Ms. Croft, could write about this most unredeemable character and make an interesting story. The jokes you share, the dilemma of writing about John Thorpe, all were so fun to read. You, dear lady, have a remarkable way with words. I'm glad to have you stop by and tell us a little about your troubles! :) This story is part of the latest anthology edited by Christina Boyd, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentleman Rogues.

*****

Thank you, Janet, for  hosting an additional stop on our Dangerous to Know blog tour.

Christina Boyd’s latest anthology features ten captivating stories of swoon-worthy rakes and gentlemen rogues, tales that evoke compas-sion for Austen’s anti-heroes, backstories that — at least somewhat — redeem cads we love to hate. Then there’s my contribution.   


Why, you may ask, would I chose to write about John Thorpe, the loutish liar?
The truth is …
Christina made me do it!
She mentioned ‘John Thorpe’ and ‘puns’ in the same sentence.
So I, of course, said, “I’m in!”

Then I changed my mind. “Sorry, Christina, but I can’t do this. I don’t know what to write. John Thorpe is unredeemable and … icky. There’s no way he’d ever attract a human female. And I really should concen-trate on my next book-length story.” (That novel, by the way, should be available in the year 2525, if my current rate of progress is any indica-tion.)

Christina, being the kind soul she is, understood.

What did I do next? Instead of working on my novel, I reread Northanger Abbey. Subsequently — as is a woman’s prerogative — I changed my mind and wanted to write the rat’s backstory after all.

Too late! Another writer had snatched up John Thorpe.

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, Christina. Good.” Drat!

When the other author bowed out, the character was up for grabs again, if I wanted him. Ugh! I didn’t want to touch John Thorpe with a ten-foot pole! How could I write about a character no one likes? So I said, “Okay. Great! Thanks, Christina.” Crikey.

Let me tell you, John Thorpe is dangerous to know. Poor, innocent Catherine Morland suffered the consequences of his lies. And I, having accepted Christina’s challenge, consequently suffered the agony  (oth-erwise known as writer’s block) of making Thorpe a sympathetic charac-ter.

How, you ask, did I redeem John Thorpe? I didn’t. I couldn’t. I failed as miserably as he fails at being the rake he fancies himself in my story. He’s a loser, a rattle, a buffoon; and buffoons are to be laughed at. Hence, The Art of Sinking became a farce (based, in part, on Shake-speare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor).


In The Art of Sinking, John Thorpe, the buffoon, became the butt of a few jokes. Some were original, some weren’t. Some made it to the first draft, some didn’t. Here are four out-takes:

1.

“Do you not like to dance, Mr. Thorpe?” asked Miss Andrews, catching his eye and turning hers deliberately towards the two lines of dancers.

“I do,” said John, “but my feet do not.”

“Well,” said she, “they are certainly big enough to know their own mind.”

2.

“You, sir, remind me of the sea,” said the town trollop, after falling from the gig John had driven into a ditch.

“You mean romantic, wild, and restless?”

“No,” she said in a huff. “You make me sick.”

3.

“I keep hearing the word buffoon,” said John. “I hope you are not re-ferring to me.”

“Oh, do not be so vainglorious, Thorpe,” said James Morland, grin-ning. “As if there are no other buffoons in the world!”

4.

Sir Humphrey Sumner and John Thorpe, sworn enemies, spent the night at the home of Peregrine Bathos, a mutual friend from St. John’s College, Oxford.

Having risen early the following morning, John went to the door of Sir Humphrey's bedchamber and wrote upon it, in chalk, the word ‘rogue’.

A half hour later, at breakfast, Sir Humphrey sauntered past John’s chair. “Thank you, Thorpe,” he said with a sneer, “for showing interest in my welfare.”

“What?” sputtered John, spitting toast crumbs clear across the table.

“You,” said Sir Humphrey, “left your calling card at my door this morn-ing.”
_________________________________________________________

A farce:
is a comic dramatic work ✅
uses buffoonery and horseplay ✅
typically includes crude characterisation ✅
includes ludicrously improbable situations ✅

Yep. A farcical backstory about John Thorpe seemed right up my alley, and I thank Christina Boyd for prodding me into writing it.

Can’t you just picture this scathing headline, though?

JAFF Author Accused of Using Excessive Farce on Austen Character

*****

I can see that headline now! LOL I cannot wait to read your farcical backstory about John Thorpe. I know it will be excessively diverting! Thank you, J. Marie Croft, for telling us a little about your backstory in writing about John Thorpe. It was delightful. I'm so glad you made this 'extra' stop on the Dangerous to Know Blog Tour.

Author Bio:

J. MARIE CROFT https://www.amazon.com/J.-Marie-Croft/e/B004HZD22W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1508353662&sr=1-1 is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories: “Spyglasses and Sunburns” in the Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology and “From the Ashes” in The Darcy Monologues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.
nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’

Giveaway:


Grand Prize #1.
Enter Rafflecopter to win fifteen books from the anthology authors! One winner. Fifteen books! Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #1 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grand Prize #2.

Follow our “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s #RakesAndGentlemenRogues” Blog Tour and comment on each stop to be eligible for #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures prize pack: ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle; Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel); Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards; and ‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.) Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #2 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.




THE #RakesAndGentlemenRogues BLOG TOUR
๐Ÿ’—Monday, November 6: REVIEW: Margie's Must Reads, https://margiesmustreads.com

๐Ÿ’—Thursday, November 9: REVIEW, Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

๐Ÿ’—Monday, November 13: REVIEW, Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

๐Ÿ’—Tuesday, November 14: REVIEW, Olga of ROSIE AMBER team, http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/

๐Ÿ’—Wednesday, November 15: (release day) REVIEW, Just Jane 1813, http://justjane1813.com

๐Ÿ’—Thursday, November 16: REVIEW, Diary of an Eccentric, https://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com

๐ŸŽฉMonday, November 20: FEATURE w/Katie Oliver (George Wickham), From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

๐ŸŽฉWednesday, November 22: FEATURE w/Joana Starnes (Willoughby), Babblings of a Bookworm, http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com

๐ŸŽฉFriday, November 24: FEATURE w/Sophia Rose, (General Tilney), Herding Cats & Burning Soup, http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com

๐ŸŽฉMonday, November 27: FEATURE w/Amy D'Orazio (Captain Tilney), My Jane Austen Book Club, http://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com

๐ŸŽฉWednesday, November 29: FEATURE w/Brooke West (Henry Crawford), VVB32 Reads, https://vvb32reads.blogspot.com

๐ŸŽฉThursday, November 30: FEATURE w/Lona Manning (Tom Bertram), Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

๐Ÿ’—Friday, December 1: REVIEW, Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

๐ŸŽฉMonday, December 4: FEATURE w/Beau North  (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

๐ŸŽฉThursday, December 7: FEATURE w/J. Marie Croft (John Thorpe), Harry Rodell blog/ROSIE AMBER team, https://harryrodell.wordpress.com/author/rodellh

๐Ÿ’—Friday, December 8: REVIEW, From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

๐ŸŽฉMonday, December 11: FEATURE w/Jenetta James Hannah McSorley (William Elliot), Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

๐ŸŽฉThursday, December 14: FEATURE w/Karen M Cox (Frank Churchill), Darcyholic Diversions, http://darcyholic.blogspot.com


๐ŸŽฉMonday, December 17: FEATURE w/Christina Morland (Sir Walter Elliot), Of Pens & Pages, http://www.ofpensandpages.com

Even though my blog stop is not featured in the blog tour, any entries via the Rafflecopter will still be part of Giveaway #1. According to the giveaway instructions above, your comments at my blog will be counted toward Giveaway #2. If I not mistaken, the eBook promo price of $2.99, goes to $4.99 after today. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you will have your share in the conversation. Good luck to all.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

All the Things I Know...Audrey Ryan

I am honored to be the final stop in the successful blog tour for Audrey Ryan's debut novel, All the Things I Know. It seems this New Adult P&P variation is being well received and I know that has to be exciting for you, Audrey. Congratulations! I'm sure the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and I hope you have enjoyed every minute. I'm excited to be a part of your tour and I welcome you to More Agreeably Engaged. What a nice way to end your tour, on Jane Austen's birthday! :)

I love your book cover! Well done to both you and Zorylee.

*****

I brainstormed a lot about what kind of vignette I wanted to include for the last post of the blog tour. Should I write another outtake like I did for my post on My Love for Jane Austen? Or should I share something that I have sacrificed on the editing altar in order to not overstate a point? In the end, I decided that it would be fitting to share the cut prologue for All the Things I Know. It's the very first thing I wrote for the book and it defined the tone and Lizzie's voice. After all was written and done, the prologue was irrelevant, but I think it's fun to see what didn't make the final cut.

PROLOGUE

According to my mother, the measure of success and a blissful happiness is found when a young lady follows the correct path of ultimate achievement: "Having It All." Accordingly, life is incomplete until a woman has a comfortable income, fruitful career, perfect body and, of course, a loving man. Obviously, once said man is procured, the perfect wedding and 2.5 kids must soon follow. While the gainful perfect career is maintained and zen-like time management skills are applied.

In other words, in terms of achieving blissful happiness, I am totally fucked.

Not that I expected any less of myself. If anyone in my family could achieve the feat of "Having It All," it's my older sister, Jane, whose every decision has faithfully followed in each step toward life perfection.

For myself, each point in life has been an overly thought out and poorly executed excuse toward greater independence. Jane sailed through high school as class salutatorian, volleyball team captain, and prom court elect. I spent those years riding on her coattails; the little sister of the girl everyone loved. Some girls may have felt bitter cast in the shadow of an older perfect sister, but I could never let myself feel that way.

Jane is the kindest person I know and she always looks out for me. How can I harbor any resentment for the standard she set?

Three years ago, Jane graduated from Stanford Magna Cum Laude the same year I started as a freshman. In a few weeks she is finishing her law degree from University of Washington and I will be moving to Seattle with her after my graduation.

We are following the roadmap set for us: Mom will help us with rent for two months while we look for the correct jobs. For Jane, she will need to pass the bar and get a position at a reputable practice. There is no doubt she will succeed. Mom informs me that with my degree in Art History, no matter from what institution, my best hope is to work at Amazon.com and pray they don't care what I studied. Deep down, I long to be a curator. But Mom is right about one thing: the field is competitive and small. I am young and without experience. Who would hire someone like me? The best thing I could hope for is to curate a neighborhood art walk for a local coffee shop. But people do that kind of work for free.

Maybe I should be a ticket clerk at the art museum instead?

I can imagine the reaction from Mom if I went that route: "How can you be so frustrating, Lizzie? Do you expect me to supplement your income forever while you persist in that imaginary profession? If only you studied Law like Jane! Your sister is set-up to make a tidy income and you know it won't be long until she is married. She may not have a boyfriend right now, but she can't be so beautiful for nothing!"

At least Jane and I will be in a different city than our mom in phase one of our new life. I can struggle to some form of acceptable success without her breathing down my neck.

At least, I hope I can.

*****

Blurb:

Lizzie Venetidis is confident in her decisions. Moving to Seattle with her sister Jane after she graduated from Stanford, for instance, was a no-brainer. Adult life, however, turns out to be more difficult to navigate than she expected.

What career should she pursue with a bachelor’s degree in art history and no marketable experience amongst a tech-heavy job market? How responsible is it to drink that fourth cocktail while out with friends? And what should she do about Darcy—the aloof yet captivating guy she met her first night in town?

All the Things I Know is a one-mistake-at-a-time retelling of Pride & Prejudice, set against the backdrop of modern-day techie Seattle. Full of wry observations, heartache, and life lessons, All the Things I Know shares the original’s lessons of correcting ill-conceived first impressions and learning who you really are.

Author Bio:

Audrey Ryan is the nom de plume of Andrea Pangilinan: daydreamer, wife and step-mother, and obsessive story consumer. She studied writing in college, dreamt about becoming a novelist and slowly forgot about it when real life took over. With a particular affection for contemporary retellings, adapting Pride & Prejudice to modern day has always been a dream.

When she’s not reading and writing, Andrea is a marketing slave to the internet industry. She enjoys talking crazy to her weirdo cat, consuming copious amount of wine and coffee with her girlfriends, and record shopping with her husband. Oh yeah, and there’s that small Jane Austen obsession. That doesn’t take up any time at all.

Contact Links:

http://audreyryan.merytonpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAudreyR/
https://twitter.com/AuthorAudreyR
Audrey’s Goodreads is just as a reader, but it’s here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3797528-audrey-ryan-andrea-pangilinan





All the Things I Know Blog Tour Schedule:

12- 3   Austenesque Reviews;   Author Interview, Giveaway
12- 4   My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12- 5   Babblings of a Bookworm; Character Interview, Giveaway
12- 6   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
12- 7   Night Owl Reader;  Review, Excerpt
12- 8   Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
12- 9   My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
12-10  Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
12-11  Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-12  Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-14  My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway
12-15  Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-16  More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway


Giveaway:

8 eBooks of All the Things I Know are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is international.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.


Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for stopping by today, Audrey. It has been a pleasure having you visit. Too bad the prologue didn't make it in the final cut but I am glad that you shared it with us. Poor Lizzy. I did feel sorry for her. She has an uphill struggle it seems. It definitely says much about her character that she doesn't resent Jane.

I wish you the best with your book and look forward to seeing what you write next! Again, congratulations on the release of your first book.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar...Regina Jeffers

It is such a delight to have Regina Jeffers visiting today. She has a new book, Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar, due out December 15th. She is sharing a little about the book and its connection to The Taming of the Shrew. Afterwards, there is quite the fun romp of an excerpt! I think you will enjoy it immensely! Did I mention *hot*???
Welcome, Regina! I always love having you stop by.
*****
One of the main themes in my upcoming release of Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary is the use William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew as a basis of the interaction between Darcy and Elizabeth. My story DOES NOT follow Shakespeare's play exactly, but there is enough similarity in the two for a lover of Shakespeare to take note. Of Shakespeare's comedies, Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing are my favorites. 
For those of you who have never read or seen a production of Taming of the Shrew, here is a brief synopsis provided by No Sweat Shakespeare: "The play opens as the student Lucentio arrives in Padua. He hears that the merchant Baptista has two daughters, but the younger, prettier daughter, Bianca, cannot be married before her strong-willed sister, Katherina. On seeing Bianca Lucentio falls in love with her and changes identities with his servant Tranio. Bianca already has two suitors, but doesn’t like either. The elderly Gremio hires Lucentio, disguised as a Latin tutor, to woo Bianca on his behalf, while Hortensio disguises himself as a musician to get access to her. Meanwhile Petruchio, a young adventurer from Verona, arrives to visit his friend Hortensio. He learns about Katherina and decides to woo her, aided by both Gremio and Hortensio.
"Baptista is enthusiastic about Petruchio’s suit because the feisty Katherina is a burden to him and is continually quarreling with her sister and with him. Petruchio will not be put off as he woos Kate and he fixes their wedding day. At the church, where Kate unwillingly awaits him, Petruchio arrives in an absurd outfit and after the ceremony he leaves for Verona immediately, with his new wife. On reaching there Kate is mistreated by Petruchio and his servants, and is denied food and sleep. To teach her to obey him Petruchio does not allow her new clothes or a hat. Eventually, worn down by her husband’s relentless eccentricity, Kate submits and accepts all his eccentricities. They set off to visit her father in Padua.

"On the journey the couple meet Vincentio, Lucentio’s wealthy father, who is subjected to a strange conversation as Petruchio tests Kate’s obedience. The three reach Padua where Hortensio, rejected by Bianca, has married a widow and Baptista has been tricked into believing a passing stranger is Tranio’s rich father. While Vincentio attempts to unravel the complexities of the situation his son Lucentio returns from a secret wedding with Bianca.

"Nevertheless, Baptista holds a wedding feast for both his daughters. As the men relax after their meal Petruchio devises a competition to prove whose wife is the most obedient. Bianca and the widow fail to come to their husbands when called while Kate lectures the women on the duties of a wife." 

One of my favorite film adaptations of the story stars Richard Burton as Petruchio and Elizabeth Taylor as Katherina. When I taught school, I often showed my students excerpts from the teenage-geared film Ten Things I Hate About You, starring Julia Stiles as Kat and the late Heath Ledger as Patrick. In both these films, there is a scene where Petruchio/Patrick must "persuade" Katerina/Kat that he means to marry/date her.






Below, find my version of this contest. Darcy has compromised Elizabeth by kissing her at the Meryton Assembly. She thinks her father will cover up her indiscretion, but Mr. Bennet says otherwise. Elizabeth then means to avoid Mr. Darcy and his marriage proposal. 
Excerpt from Chapter 11: 
Darcy stormed across the lawn toward the Longbourn stables, but drew up short when the building came into sight. “How in blazes am I to persuade a woman who barely tolerates my presence to spend the remainder of her days as my wife?” Uncertain how to proceed, he stared up at the wooden structure before him and back to the house. He imagined that canny old Shakespearean scholar was pointing toward the stable, urging Darcy on. “Bennet is as crazy as his daughter,” Darcy grumbled. “I should up and leave them all to share in their delirium.”
But he knew he would not act so dishonorably. Moreover, the idea of marrying Miss Elizabeth Bennet had taken root in his soul. It was as Bennet purported. The woman would enliven Darcy’s days. With a heavy sigh, Darcy closed his eyes, attempting to steel his resolve. He had come to Hertfordshire to escape the guilt he felt in failing Georgiana and to escape Lady Catherine’s marital manipulations, only to land in a trap of his own making. “At least, I can say my future bride did not apply her arts and allurements to bring me to task.” Darcy chuckled to himself. “Certainly did not expect a dip in a creek to lead to marriage vows.”
With that, he strode forward. Reaching the stable door, he swung it wide with enough force to announce his presence to this intended. “Going somewhere, my dear?”
* * *
When the door banged against the side wall, Elizabeth jumped. She had hoped to be absent when Mr. Darcy came calling. “I am not your ‘dear,’” she said baldly. Her shoulders shifted in a defensive manner. Unsurprisingly, so did Mr. Darcy’s.
The gentleman held his position, and for that, Elizabeth was thankful. She did not think she could tolerate his touch at this moment, for the memory of his hands caressing her back were all to familiar. “I disagree. Your father and I have spoken, and you are to be ‘my dear’ for the remainder of our days.”
“My father erred,” she challenged. “I would prefer to live out my days alone than to saddle myself with the likes of you.”
“The likes of me?” he asked as he took two steps in her direction. “And what do you find so offensive with the likes of me?”
Reflexively, Elizabeth retreated a full step. She wished Mr. Darcy was not so  handsome and she did not still carry a very vivid memory of his kiss or of the manner in which his lips had branded hers or of the solid heat of his body as she clung to him.
With a lift of her chin, she said, “From the very beginning, from the moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressed me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others—”
“Selfish disdain for others?” he interrupted. “Did I not show your sister Mary tender care upon more than one occasion? Have I not been an attentive audience for your father? And you? Did I not offer to carry a complete stranger across a chilly creek at the cost of my favorite hat? The most you can hold against me is that I choose not to speak much unless I am among intimate acquaintances or when I share a private conversation with a highly intelligent person, be he male or female. Have I not always provided you my attention when you have a point of reference to impart?”
It was all Elizabeth could do not to stamp her foot in frustration. She despised him when he spoke with logic. “You touched my person without my permission,” she argued. “On more than one occasion.”
Mr. Darcy crossed his arms over his chest and leaned leisurely against one of the support posts. “You held no objections to our last encounter, at least none until we were found out.” He smirked.
“I object now,” she claimed.
“I fear it is too late, my dear.” He emphasized those dreaded words. “We have been observed breaking propriety.”
Elizabeth could still feel the warmth of his breath against her cheek, but she shove that tinge of desire to the side. “It was but a simple kiss,” she contested.
Mr. Darcy straightened. She noted the shift in his demeanor. It would do her well to remember that he was a proud man—a man accustomed to having his way. “The kiss we shared was everything but simple.” He began slowly stalking her. Intent marked his features.
Elizabeth’s nerves hitched higher. Suddenly, she realized why he had previously seemed so relaxed: She had no means of escape. Whatever had possessed her to permit him to corner her so? She should have stormed past him when Mr. Darcy first entered the stable. More importantly, whatever had possessed her to kiss him? Over the years, she had engaged in several flirtations, but never once had she considered an indiscretion, so why was it that she had acted so boldly with the one man who engendered her disapprobation? And what had possessed him to kiss her? Did he often kiss unsuspecting women? The idea of Mr. Darcy embracing another brought a frown to her forehead. Whether she wished his kiss or not, Elizabeth wanted the one they has shared to be a break from his normal interaction with eligible young ladies.
Instinctively, she back-stepped. “Grand or simple,” she declared as her gaze veered upward. Wrapping the length of her riding habit about her arm and catching the nearby ladder, she took the first step. “It was only a kiss. There is no reason for us to marry.” She climbed another rung, while Mr. Darcy moved ever closer.
He paused to look her up and down, and Elizabeth knew a flush of color pinked her cheeks, for surely from her position on the ladder, her ankles were exposed to the gentleman’s view. The heat of their embrace last evening was not part and partial of her imagination. “I cannot permit you to ruin your future,” he declared in tones that should have brooked no argument.
But Elizabeth was never one to avoid an obstacle in her way. “It is my future. My choice.” She continued to climb to the hay loft, while Mr. Darcy reached for the first rung of the ladder to follow her.
“Yet, you do not hold the advantage of making the choice for your sisters’ futures. Your disgrace will affect their chances of finding husbands.”
Looking down upon Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth kicked at the loose straw sending it peppering down upon him. He blinked hard and spat against the dusty deluge. “The matter is not of your concern, sir. I shall explain it all to my sisters.”
“Miss Bingley already objects to her brother’s attentions to Miss Bennet. Your family’s connection to me would soften the lady’s disparaging words. Miss Bingley would cherish a continuance of the privilege of being a guest at Pemberley,” he argued, as his slow methodical climb began.
“If I were Mistress of Pemberley, Miss Bingley would only be invited if I chose to do so, and I would never extend my good graces to the lady,” Elizabeth declared before backing away from the opening.
“Bold words, my dear,” he reasoned, “but if Bingley chooses your sister, the future Mrs. Bingley will beg you, for family’s sake, to include Miss Bingley in your plans for the entertainments at Pemberley, and you will no doubt relent, for you love your elder sister. You love all your sisters. And you are willing to suffer the worst you can imagine if doing so would keep them safe from scorn. Even if the worst you could image comes in the form of a gentleman from Derbyshire.” He climbed through the opening to stand before her.
Tears misted Elizabeth’s eyes. She was trapped—both in the hayloft and in a situation she did not desire; even so, she would not surrender so easily. “You know nothing of my nature, sir.” She grabbed a handful of straw and threw it at his face, but only a flurry of dust motes reached him.
“Obviously, I know more of your nature than you do of mine,” he stated in hard tones as he took a long stride to reach her.
Surprised by his boldness, Elizabeth stepped back quickly to avoid him, but her boot caught on some farm wire around the bale of hay, and she pitched backward. She knew Mr. Darcy reached for her, and in desperation, she grabbed his wrist, but it was too late. She tumbled backward, with only a pile of hay to soften her fall, but her shame was not complete, for the gentleman had followed her down. Thankfully, he had the foresight to turn his body so as not to land hard upon her.
Elizabeth attempted to sit up, but before she could reclaim her wits about her, Mr. Darcy had rolled over upon her, pining her in place. “You will release me,” she ordered.
She caught a glimpse of what she thought was annoyance before his expression closed over. “I will release you when things between us are settled.”
“Nothing you can say or do will change my mind.” She wriggled from side to side, but from the waist down, he was firmly planted upon her person.
“Like it or not, you are mine, Elizabeth Bennet,” he growled when they were nearly nose-to-nose. “Your father sent me to find you, and soon someone or more than one person will discover us here together—experiencing a romp in the hay. Although we might have been able to keep last evening’s indiscretion a secret if not for Miss Bingley, this situation will be more problematic. I will simply rest all my weight upon you, and you will not be able to escape. We will wait for our witnesses to our taking liberties with each other.”
Again, she fought him, only to have Mr. Darcy make good upon his threat. His weight pressed her further into the prickly hay. “I will never be yours,” she hissed.
He shook his head slowly in the negative as if he thought her protests were of little consequence before presenting her a cool smile. “Would you not prefer to spend our time in more pleasurable pursuits?” He lowered his head to caress her jaw line with his lips.
“I have no desire for another kiss from you!” She turned her head to the side to avoid his kissing her again, but she could not control the hitch in her breathing as a result of his warmth invading her body.
“I do not need to kiss you to mark you as mine,” he murmured against the side of her neck as his lips skimmed down the column of it.
Even through her objections, Elizabeth felt the return of the stirrings she had experienced last evening. Yet, she was not to know what would come next.
“Lizzy!” She recognized Charlotte’s voice from below. “Are you in here?”
“Please,” Elizabeth pleaded in a whisper.
“I cannot,” he said against her lips. “Your father means for us to marry.”
She stared at him in frustration. Mr. Darcy expected her to surrender, but the word was not in her vocabulary. She dug down deep to claim the presence of mind to once again to defy him. “You will regret this moment, sir. Mark my words.” With that she shoved hard against his chest, and he easily rolled away from her. Standing quickly, she shook the hay from her clothing and moved to the opening. “Charlotte! she said with a well-placed smile, as she peered down upon her friend. “You are to congratulate me. Mr. Darcy has offered me his hand in marriage, and I have accepted.”
Introducing Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar 
Unless one knows the value of loyalty, he cannot appreciate the cost of betrayal.
What if Darcy and Elizabeth met weeks before the Meryton assembly? What if there is no barely “tolerable” remark to have Elizabeth rejecting Mr. Darcy’s affections, but rather a dip in a cold creek that sets her against him? What if Mr. Bennet is a renown Shakespearean scholar who encourages Darcy to act the role of Petruchio from Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” to bring Elizabeth’s Katherina persona to the line.
ELIZABETH BENNET’s pride has her learning a difficult lesson: Loyalty is hard to find, and trust is easy to lose. Even after they share a passionate kiss outside the Meryton assembly hall and are forced to marry, Elizabeth cannot forget the indignity she experienced at the hands of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Although she despises his high-handedness, Elizabeth appreciates the protection he provides her in their marriage. But can she set her prejudice aside long enough to know a great love?
FITZWILLIAM DARCY places only two demands on his new wife: her loyalty and her trust, but when she invites his worst enemy to Darcy House, he has no choice but to turn her out. Trusting her had been his decision, but proving his choice the right one before she destroys two hearts meant to be together must be hers, and Darcy is not certain Elizabeth is up to the task.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment below for the chance at winning an eBook copy of Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar. The giveaway will end at midnight EST on December 8, 2017.  [Note! The book will not release until December 15, 2017. The prize will actually be awarded at that time.]

 *****

This sounds like another great read from you, Regina. I look forward to reading the 'rest of the story'. That excerpt had me fanning and swooning! lol Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your time with us today. Thank you also for the generous giveaway. You are always a welcome guest. Good luck to all!

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Very Austen Christmas

Available at Amazon

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, the authors of A Very Austen Christmas, are my guests today. We are spotlighting their new release with blurbs for each story and an excerpt from each story. What a fun way to start getting in the Christmas spirit. From what I hear, many are in the spirit of enjoying this book already. The book is ranked the #1 Amazon Best Seller in its category! Congratulations, ladies. That is awesome! I'm thrilled for you. I cannot wait to read this one myself. I love the holidays and one thing that makes them even better is getting to read a good Christmas story. If it's JAFF and four stories instead of one, well, that's even better! :) All of these ladies are fine authors so I'm confident this book will not disappoint. I'm ready for a little holiday cheer. What about you, Dear Readers?

*****


A Very Austen Christmas blurbs

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm

Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time.  Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance. 

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile

It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis

On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite


When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth ...

A Very Austen Christmas excerpts

Her Christmas Gift (excerpt) by Robin Helm

She turned her head to look up at him and tripped over a root, sending her sprawling in the snow.
Darcy knelt beside her. “Are you injured?”
“No, I think not, though I am a bit humiliated. Will you help me up?” She extended her hand to him.
Darcy tried to help her to her feet, but she cried out as soon as she put weight on her foot.
Without a word, he picked her up as if he were cradling a child.
“Mr. Darcy, you must put me down.”
“You cannot so much as stand, and the sleds are much too far ahead for me to catch them. I see no other solution.”
He began to walk towards Rosings.
“Miss Bennet, ’twould help if you put your arms about my neck. You are dead weight otherwise, and we have over a mile before we reach the house.”
She blushed furiously but did as he asked. “Will you agree to put me down when we are in sight of Rosings?”
“If you are able to walk by leaning on me, I will. Otherwise, I shall carry you the entire way.”
Elizabeth began to chuckle.
Darcy glanced down at her. “You are amused?”
“I am. You are covered in snow and look like a snow beast of some sort.”
“And what are you? My prey?”
She feigned shock. “Do you mean I am in mortal danger? I thought gentlemen protected young ladies.”
“You said I was a snow beast. I suppose that means I am not a gentleman.”
In the midst of their banter, Darcy and Elizabeth had failed to notice the man directly in front of them.
“You will unhand my future wife this instant!”
Thomas had returned; he was very angry.

***** 

The Christmas Matchmaker (excerpt) by Laura Hile

Mr. Darcy placed a small table before Elizabeth and then came back with the backgammon board. “Shall we play a game?” he said pleasantly, moving his chair to face hers.
“No!” she whispered urgently. “We shall never hear the end of it.”
His response was to open the board and begin placing the checkers. “When everyone sees how thoroughly you are trounced, Miss Elizabeth, speculation of a romance between us shall cease.”
Trounced? Elizabeth lifted her chin. “If I do agree to play, I have no intention of losing, sir.”
Mr. Darcy’s eyes glittered. “We’ll see about that.”
Elizabeth discovered that she was smiling. “I’ll have you know that I am rather good at backgammon.”
“Ah, but are you good enough?”
Was he taunting her? Silent, taciturn Mr. Darcy? And there was more. When he smiled, his cheeks dimpled attractively. Why had she never noticed this?
“I am not afraid of you, sir,” she countered.
“You should be,” he said, and he held out her dice. What could she do but take them?
Her bare fingers brushed against his palm. “En garde, Miss Elizabeth,” he said softly.
Did he think to confound her with fencing cant? He would soon discover that she was no green girl. “Allez, Mr. Darcy,” she smilingly retorted, and boldly tossed the dice onto the board. 

 *****

No Better Gift (excerpt) by Wendi Sotis

Growing up, Darcy’s mother had often told him that love was something to be cherished. It was her fondest wish that he and his sister would love their marriage partners someday.
At his mother’s graveside, even though his father was utterly distraught, he confided that no matter how much pain he experienced at losing her, he would have done nothing differently. Loving her was the wisest thing he had ever done.
If love was such a glorious thing, why then had falling in love with Elizabeth caused him so much pain?
After a quick review of all his past dealings with Elizabeth, using this new insight into her thought process as a lens, he now understood he must have affronted her at every turn.
He shuddered to think of how, at gatherings they had both attended, she must have interpreted his inability to keep his eyes from following her every move. At the time, he had scolded himself, thinking she would recognize his attraction, so he tried his best to avoid her. In truth, at the very least, his behaviour must have left her confused. Perhaps even unsettled — or worse.
How could he have been so ignorant of causing her distress?
He glanced over at her, walking beside him.
Knowing she disliked him — for if she thought he had done nothing but criticize her in the past, how could she feel any other way — would it be easier to forget her?
He must decide, and quickly. If he was to speak to her about this, it had to be within the next minute or two, for they would soon come upon Baxter. Once at the house, there would be people all around them. And tomorrow, when Roberts returned, perhaps he should leave, after all.
His heart faltered. If he left while they were on these terms … chances were that he would never see her again.
No! He could not just go on with his life knowing he had insulted her so badly and leave it at that. It was selfish, but he could not bear to have Elizabeth think ill of him for all eternity.
He swallowed hard and turned to the lady of his heart. “Miss Elizabeth, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I never meant to insult you. It was done most unwittingly.”
She kept her gaze directed at the path.
“I hope you accept my sincere apology.”
Perspiration broke out across his brow as he waited for her answer.

*****

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey  (excerpt) by Barbara Cornthwaite

They walked on in silence for another minute and then Tom said, “Well, he is settled and happy in his situation. I suppose the next thing he will do is find a wife. We must be sure he marries to advantage, Susan. A good wife would complete his happiness, and a bad one would cut up his peace forever. He is too good a man to have his soul galled perpetually by an awful woman. The aggravating thing is that I can’t think of anyone hereabouts who would be suitable. There is a depressing dearth of young people in the neighbourhood.”
“I often think the same about Fanny,” said Susan. “She would shine as a wife, but there is no one that comes to Mansfield, and she never travels further than Thornton Lacey.”
The same thought struck both of them at that moment. They turned to each other, Tom’s mouth slightly agape, and Susan gasped.
“Oh, do you think we could contrive—?”
“Not for us to think of it,” said Tom, after a moment’s pause. “Really, none of our business.”
“No?” said Susan. “I am persuaded that they would do very well together. And so are you. You were thinking so just now.”
“If you are contemplating laying some sort of plot to match the two of them, I beg you would forget it,” said Tom. “Elaborate plans always misfire, somehow.” He paused, ruminating. “Not but what a word might be dropped here and there—in season, of course.
They are not together as much as they might be,” said Susan. “Edmund is so much at Thornton Lacey.”
“Perhaps we could contrive at that, if the opportunity arose.”
At that moment, Pug emerged from a rhododendron, where, it appeared, he had been exploring—and perhaps rolling in—some muddy ground. The subject of a match between Edmund and Fanny was dropped, but not forgotten.


 *****

A Very Austen Christmas author bios

    Robin Helm's time revolves around music as she dances (as badly as Mr. Collins), sings (a little better than Mary Bennet), plays (better than Marianne Dashwood – almost as well as Caroline Bingley), and teaches (channeling her inner Elinor). Her books reflect that love, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
    Her latest publication is Understanding Elizabeth, in which Darcy must decide how much he’s willing to pay to have what he wants. Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy (Darcy is Elizabeth’s guardian angel), and the Yours by Design series (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy).
    She lives in South Carolina and adores her one husband (Mr. Knightley), two married daughters (Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II), and three grandchildren.   

    Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style – intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor – keep them coming back for more.
    The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!
    She recently released Darcy By Any Other Name, a comic 'body swap' romance based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
    Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and sons. Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.
   
    Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping; The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.     
     Some of her works-in-progress have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (The Pact, due to be released in 2018) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (Implicated, working on a series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Lizzy together again and again in an unusual manner.
    
     Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before "retiring" to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle).
   She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.
   Barbara is the author of the George Knightley, Esquire series, and A Fine Young Lady

*****

These stories sound delightful! Thank you so much for stopping by and letting us read a little about your Christmas book, A Very Austen Christmas. It's great that you are sharing the spotlight with Emma and Fanny, not just Darcy and Lizzy. Don't get me wrong, I love reading about Darcy and Lizzy but it was neat to see some of Jane Austen's other characters get some page time, too. This looks to be a fabulous read! I'm thrilled that you visited today. Thank you.

It's international giveaway time! Robin Helm and the authors of this fine book are giving away one Kindle copy to one of you lucky readers! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered. If I don't have your contact info on file, you will need to leave that too. Tell us something you like about Christmas. What did you think of the blurbs and excerpts? Pretty exciting, huh! The giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 25th of November. Thanks for popping in and Good Luck to all!