Monday, September 18, 2017

And the winners are...

Happy, happy day! I have some winners to announce! :)

Below are winners for Sharon Lathan, P.O. Dixon and Maria Grace! 

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future by Sharon Lathan

eBooks
Dung Vu
Anji
Luthien84


By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything by P.O. Dixon

eBook
Sophia Rose


A Less Agreeably Man by Maria Grace

eBook
dstoutholcomb

Congratulations to all the winners! Thank you for stopping by and supporting the authors and my blog. We all appreciate you! Thank you, especially to the authors for giving us such good books to read and for your generosity in having the giveaways. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pride and Prejudice Restored to 1813...Sophie Turner

Available on Amazon
We are honored to have Sophie Turner visit today with some explanations about her project, Pride and Prejudice Restored to 1813. I believe you will enjoy reading what she is sharing with us. I certainly did! :) Thank you, Sophie, welcome back to More Agreeably Engaged.

*****

Thank you so much for having me back here at More Agreeably Engaged to share this special project of mine! I’m so glad readers have been enthusiastic about this project, in returning the novel to Jane Austen’s voice. I thought I would share some more before-and-after excerpts, showing the adjustments I had to make as I went through the novel:

This first example shows how language has evolved, and spelling was not standardized in Austen’s time. Anybody and everybody were usually separated out as two words in her work. You can also see the difference between taking the time to do the punctuation, such as the mdashes, correctly, versus using the old two hyphen (--) cheat.

Before:

"You are a very strange creature by way of a friend! -- always wanting me to play and sing before anybody and everybody! If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been invaluable; but as it is, I would really rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers."

After:
“You are a very strange creature by way of a friend!—always wanting me to play and sing before any body and every body!—If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been invaluable, but as it is, I would really rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers.”

Even some of the most famous lines of the novel were not immune to this lack of standardization. Gentlemanlike/gentleman-like was treated inconsistently within the original novel, but it was more often spelled with the hyphen. And I think it really does affect the way that you read the line, to have it in vs. out:

Before:
"You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner."

After:
“You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.”

Sometimes, I found entire words had been lost in the online versions, such as this line of dialogue:

Before:
"You used us abominably ill," answered Mrs. Hurst, "running away without telling us that you were coming out."
After:
“You used us abominably ill,” answered Mrs. Hurst, “in running away without telling us that you were coming out.”

The words were adjusted in the below excerpt, as well—”away” has been substituted in for the less-modern “such a way,” as well as differences in comma placement, and in the formatting of ———shire (this, alas, was also inconsistent in the 1813 edition, I believe due for typesetting reasons, and I did make it consistent throughout the ebook):

Before:
"It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married," continued her mother; "but, at the same time, Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken away from me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward, it seems, and there they are to stay I do not know how long. His regiment is there; for I suppose you have heard of his leaving the -- -- shire, and of his being gone into the regulars. Thank Heaven! he has some friends, though, perhaps, not so many as he deserves."
After:
“It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married,” continued her mother; “but at the same time, Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way from me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward, it seems, and there they are to stay, I do not know how long. His regiment is there; for I suppose you have heard of his leaving the ———shire, and of his being gone into the regulars. Thank Heaven! he has some friends, though perhaps not so many as he deserves.”

Sometimes mixups in punctuation seemed innocent, but they still impact the feel of a line. When Elizabeth cries the below dialogue, it has a different emphasis and meaning when she does so with an exclamation point versus a question mark:

Before:
"Are they indeed!" cried Elizabeth, with the greatest satisfaction.

After:
“Are they indeed?” cried Elizabeth, with the greatest satisfaction.

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation can even impact characterisation. Mrs. Bennet, I found, had garnered additional exclamation points over the years in the online versions, and the woman already uses enough as it is! You can also see more examples of differences in comma placement, in this excerpt.

Before:
"What an excellent father you have, girls!" said she, when the door was shut. "I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me either, for that matter. At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new acquaintance every day; but for your sakes, we would do any thing. Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next ball."

After:
“What an excellent father you have, girls,“ said she, when the door was shut. “I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me either, for that matter. At our time of life, it is not so pleasant I can tell you, to be making new acquaintance every day; but for your sakes, we would do any thing. Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next ball.”

You can really see what a difference these subtle things can make for a character in Lady Catherine’s (in)famous house-crashing scene. There’s a precision to the characterisation in what Austen intended which has become more of a caricature in online versions, simply with some adjustments in punctuation.  In the original, Lady Catherine doesn’t ask if Mrs. Bennet is Elizabeth’s mother—she states it.

Before:
Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high importance, received her with the utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she said, very stiffly, to Elizabeth -- "I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady, I suppose, is your mother?" Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was. "And that, I suppose, is one of your sisters?" "Yes, madam," said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to a Lady Catherine. "She is my youngest girl but one, my youngest of all is lately married; and my eldest is somewhere about the grounds, walking with a young man, who, I believe, will soon become a part of the family."

After:
Mrs. Bennet all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high importance, received her with the utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she said very stiffly to Elizabeth,

“I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady I suppose is your mother.”

Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was.

“And that I suppose is one of your sisters.”

“Yes, madam,” said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to a lady Catherine. “She is my youngest girl but one. My youngest of all, is lately married, and my eldest is some-where about the grounds, walking with a young man, who I believe will soon become a part of the family.”

It’s certainly possible to look at all of these and way, well, none of them are particularly drastic. Which is true. The story is so good that it can stand and still be a highly enjoyable read even with all of these little errors. But it’s not quite Austen’s voice. And I, for one, believe it’s even better when it is in her voice, restored to 1813. That was the purpose of doing this project, and I again want to thank readers for their interest in it!

*****


Book Title: Mistress: Pride & Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen; Annotated by Sophie Turner
Tour Dates: July 27 – September 15
Genre: Classics, Historical Romance, Romance
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Feedbooks to come


Book Description

The novel needs no introduction. But readers may not have realised that we have been losing “Pride and Prejudice” over the years, particularly digitally. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have eroded significantly from the 1813 Egerton first edition, and many digital copies suffer from poor formatting.

In 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, her “darling Child” has been painstakingly restored to the three-volume 1813 first edition. Adjustments have only been made where there were errors in the 1813 text, and are noted in detailed annotations at the end of the novel.

Please enjoy this beloved story, restored to Jane Austen’s original 
voice.
Contact Sophie Turner


Author Biography


Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.


She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.


Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.


She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon.


Blog Tour Schedule


July 27 / My Vices and Weaknesses/ Guest Post & Giveaway
July 28 / Austenesque Reviews/Book Excerpt & Giveaway
July 29 / My Love for Jane Austen/ Guest Post & Giveaway
August 3 /Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway
August 4 / My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway
September 4 / Diary of an Eccentric/ Guest Post & Giveaway
September 5 / Laughing with Lizzie / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
September 6 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Book Review & Giveaway
September 12 / Margie’s Must Reads /Book Review & Giveaway
September 14 / More Agreeably Engaged /Guest Post & Giveaway
September 15 / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway


*****



Sophie Turner is giving away one eBook of Pride and Prejudice Restored to 1813 and the giveaway is international. To be entered please leave us a comment and tell us what you think of these word changes, punctuation differences, etc. I am excited to see the differences and can't wait to read the novel again , in Jane Austen's true voice. Thank you, Sophie, for such an enlightening and interesting post. I'm thrilled to have you stop by on your tour. Best wishes with this project! I cannot imagine the time and research that went into it.


For a chance to win this lovely book, have your share in the conversation. The giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 18th of September. Good luck to all.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Particular Attachments...L.L. Diamond

Available on Amazon
L.L. Diamond has a new release due out in two days, Particular Attachments, and she is stopping by today to tell us a little about it. I'm excited to have her visit, having been some time since her last visit. Thank you, Ms. Diamond, for sharing your excitement about Georgiana and Nathaniel's story. I know all my readers are as anxious as I am to learn more so I will turn it over to you. Wecome! (Your book cover is beautiful!)

*****

Thanks so much for hosting me on this blog tour! I’m so excited to finally release Particular Attachments and tell everyone Georgiana and Nathaniel’s story. I knew Georgiana from Particular Intentions, but getting to know Nathaniel while writing this book was a lot of fun. I can’t wait for everyone to see what a great character he is!

I was very fortunate when Georgiana and Nathaniel told me their story for Particular Attachments. If you read the interview with Georgiana, she was a little reticent about answering my questions, but Lord Sele was not nearly so timid.


LLD: I suppose I ought to start by having you introduce yourself to our readers.

Lord Sele: I would be pleased to do so. My full name is Nathaniel George Henry Howard, Viscount Sele.

LLD: How long have you known Georgiana Darcy?

Lord Sele: My parents were great friends of the late George and Ann Darcy, so I suppose you could say I have known her since she was in her cradle—not that I recall such a time. I have simply known her for as long as I can remember.

LLD: Were the two of you friends as children?

Lord Sele: (Chuckles) My answer to your question would be no. I wished to be friends with her, but she was oft times difficult. She played with her doll and her reticule and ignored me frequently, which is why I attempted to gain her notice.

LLD: Somehow, I doubt you wished to be kicked in the shin.

Lord Sele: No, I admit that I never intended for that manner of notice, yet I did naught but arrive at Pemberley that day.

LLD: You must admit that you did more than simply arrive at Pemberley.

Lord Sele: I may have insisted she would marry me. She always used to put on airs and behave quite imperiously. I enjoyed raising her ire when she behaved in such a manner.

LLD: You still enjoy raising her ire, do you not?

Lord Sele: I believe you confuse us with Darcy and his wife. They take great enjoyment in bickering much like my parents. I do enjoy teasing Georgiana—as long as she does not find humour at my expense with my mother. They enjoy themselves far too much.

LLD: You mean to say you can tease her, but she can’t tease you?
Lord Sele: I do not object to her teasing. It is just that she and my mother enjoy making a laugh at my expense their sole occupation when together.

LLD: Do you still wish to marry her?

Lord Sele: I have never desired another for my wife, and I never will. I cannot explain why, but I have craved her notice and her attention for as long as I can remember. I am afraid that in my quest to gain her society, I behaved in a less than gallant fashion when I was in my youth. I fear she remembers those instances more than the last time we met.

LLD: But you were young, weren’t you?

Lord Sele: I was twelve and she was eight when she kicked me in the shin.

LLD: You know, after hearing the story, I’m not certain I blame her for kicking you.

Lord Sele: I must disagree with you. I did naught to deserve it on that occasion, though I am certain my behaviour on other occasions merited my punishment so I do not hold the offence against her.

LLD: You have lived in Ireland for the last few years?

Lord Sele: I moved to an estate that is part of the Lindsey estate after I graduated Oxford. I remained most of the year, returning only for my mother’s birthday and Christmas each year. Of course, I also journeyed home when my father became exceedingly ill. We are fortunate he survived.

LLD: Did you return to England only to see your parents?

Lord Sele: I knew Georgiana would be nearing the age of her coming out. I returned to spend the Christmas season with my parents, but I remained long enough to discover whether Georgiana would have her début. When I learnt she remained at Pemberley, I returned to Ireland to continue overseeing the mining there.

LLD: What did you think when you first laid eyes upon Georgiana after all these years?

Lord Sele: I recognised her instantly. She has changed of course—matured. She was lovely when last I saw her at fourteen, but she has become a stunning woman.

LLD: When you first spoke, was she pleased to see you?

Lord Sele: While I would have wished her to throw her arms about my neck and pledge her undying love, she was particularly reticent in my company.

LLD: She called your manner of courtship dogged persistence when I interviewed her. Would you agree?

Lord Sele: One could call her resistance to my overtures a dogged reluctance then. (Shakes his head) She was so determined she would never marry. I knew she could be a wilful woman, but I never imagined . . . well, I suppose your readers shall see.

LLD: What do you love most about Georgiana?

Lord Sele: Her loyalty to those she loves is her most attractive quality. She has a gentle and forgiving heart as well. It is her heart that mine attached itself to when we were but children and it is her heart that will be bound to mine forever. I cannot change that fact, and I would never wish to.


I think that’s a great place to end things. Thank you, Lord Sele, for taking the time to speak with me about your life and Georgiana! Thanks again to Janet for hosting us!


Blurb: She swore would never marry!

Georgiana Darcy is a lady with a secret! The last thing she wants is to return to London, but what else can she do when her brother and his wife make plans to spend the Christmas season in town. When Lizzy’s youngest sister, Lydia, joins them, Georgiana gains a confidante, but will Lydia’s outgoing nature cause problems when Lord Sele, son of a family friend reappears in Georgiana’s life?

As an insufferable boy, Lord Sele vowed he would marry Georgiana, but was his return from Ireland a coincidence or was his sole purpose to pursue her? He admits to desiring friendship, but Lydia is determined his desire is Georgiana and she will stop at nothing to see her best friend happily settled.

What is Georgiana to do when faced with the society she has managed to avoid for her entire adult life as well as the one man determined to change her mind about marriage? Will she be able to overcome her fears despite the spectre from the past that seems to be haunting her? Will she be forced to tell her secret and choose happiness or will someone from her past ruin everything?


Bio:
L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans before following her husband all over as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.

After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favourite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction.

Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. Her most recent endeavours have included certifications to coach swimming as well as a fitness instructor. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolour is her medium of choice with one of her watercolours featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is also a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!

Leslie’s books include: Rain and Retribution, A Matter of Chance, An Unwavering Trust, The Earl’s Conquest, Particular Intentions, and Particular Attachments.


The Particular Attachments Blog Tour:

September 8: Just Jane 1813 – Review
September 9: Babblings of a Bookworm – Character Interview
September 11: From Pemberley to Milton – Excerpt
September 12: More Agreeably Engaged – Character Interview
September 13: Austenesque Reviews – Outtake
September 14: Austen Variations – Release Day Post and Giveaway
September 15: Just Jane 1813 – Character Interview
September 16: My Jane Austen Book Club – Outtake
September 17: My Vices and Weaknesses - Excerpt

*****

Oh, Ms. Diamond, I did love reading your interview with Nathaniel. It was my pleasure to host the two of you. If any of you, Dear Readers, have not read the interview with Georgiana, stop by Ceri's at Babblings of a Bookworm and enjoy. You'll be glad you did! How fun to have their interviews where we can enjoy the thoughts and insights of each character. I love it! Thank you! 

I'm so glad you stopped by on your busy blog tour. I wish you the best with this new release and look forward to adding it to my library. I have enjoyed all your books and am confident I will love this one too. 

Good news, Readers! There is a giveaway! Leave us a comment and one of you can win an eBook copy of Particular Attachments! The giveaway is international and ends on the 17th of September at 11:59 P. M. Good luck to all and don't forget to visit all the stops of the tour for Particular Attachments! Best Wishes, L. L. Diamond, and please visit again soon.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Less Agreeable Man...Maria Grace

Available at AmazonAmazon
First of all, Maria, I'm so relieved to know you and your family are safe and that your house didn't flood either. You have been in my thoughts and prayers. With all the devastation everywhere in the area, I know you must be terribly thankful. I did hear that you had to evacuate your home. I bet that was unnerving and scary. I cannot imagine the fear of returning and not knowing what you would find when you arrived. I'm sure the point that overrides everything...you're safe! We are thankful too.

It is such a pleasure to have Maria Grace visit More Agreeably Engaged. I always look forward to the delightful posts that she does. This one is no exception. It has to do with chocolate...hot chocolate to be exact! Yumm! Enjoy! 

Welcome back, Maria!


*****

Specialized China

Sometimes it’s the little details that can make a scene come alive.  Period appropriate food and drive are one place what that happens for me, so I like to include that in scenes wherever I can.
During the regency era, there were three particular luxury drinks: tea, coffee and chocolate. They were in high demand, but expensive to acquire and, in the case of chocolate, difficult to make. Now of course luxury drinks needed accessories to go with them, just like our iphones need fancy cases—gotta show off the bling, right? 
Proper hostesses would do exactly that with specialized cups and pots for each beverage. The differences between the pieces were not random though, they was based on the way the drinks were created and enjoyed. Rather scientific if you think about it.
Drinking chocolate was often prepared in a large saucepan and then poured into special pots, known in France as a chocolatière, designed just for serving it. At first, when chocolate was a luxury limited to only the most elite, chocolate pots were made exclusively of silver with fine hardwoods or ivory used for the finials. In the early 1700’s, porcelain chocolate pots were made in China for export to Europe. Later, sturdier (and less expensive) pots were made of pewter or earthenware.
Chocolate pots tended to be tall and relatively slender, looking a lot like coffee pots, but with a few significant differences in the lid, the spout and the handle.
Drinking chocolate was very thick and tended to settle, so it was essential to continue whipping it with the molinet. To accommodate the molinet, a chocolate pot had a very distinct lid. The top of a chocolate pot had a hole for the molinet handle to extend from, allowing the hostess to stir the chocolate without splashing herself or her guests. The hole might remain uncovered, but in many cases a special hinged or swiveling finial would cap the hole and help preserve the heat in the chocolate. Sometimes the finial might be attached by a chain to the pot so it would not get lost.
Spouts on chocolate pots were wide and set high on the pot. Both qualities relate to the froth on the top of the chocolate. Since the froth floats on top of the chocolate, locating the spout high helps to capture the foam. Similarly, a wide spout facilitates getting it into a serving cup.
A high spout also helps to keep the undesirable sediments that settled to the bottom out of the serving cups.
The earliest chocolate pots had handles set at right angles to the pot. Usually these were made of wood, with a bit of a knob at the end. After the later part of the 1730’s chocolate pots with looping handles in line with the pouring spout were produced.
Drinking chocolate was thick, even syrupy, very different from tea or coffee. Its thickness, and the need to preserve the froth on top meant that special cups were required to properly enjoy sipping the chocolate through the milky froth on top. Here's where it gets particularly interesting--to me at least.
Chocolate cups were taller and narrower than coffee or tea cups. This would force the foam into a thick layer on the top and keep it from dispersing so quickly. Their unique shape also gave them a high center of gravity, which in English means it made them more likely to spill, especially if one's hands were less than steady.
That problem gave rise to a whole new style of china.
The trembleuse or tasse trembleuse originated in Paris in the 1690's and was designed to allow those with trembling hands to drink with greater ease. It consisted of a cup, often with a lid and two handles, and a saucer with ether a deep well or a raised rim that steadied the cup and kept it from tipping.
In contrast, teapots tend to be short and stout (remember the kids’ song?)  The round shape allows room for the tea to move in the pot, allowing it to seep more effectively. Their short spouts come from the center of the pot and sometimes have a grate behind to keep the tea leaves from clogging the spout.  The short length makes them easier to clean if leaves get trapped inside the spout.
Because tea steeps near boiling, it must be slightly cooled before drinking. A tea cup has a wide open rim that tapers down to a smaller base and a handle designed to hook a single finger, all purposed to help cool the tea and prevent burns.
In many ways, coffee serving pieces do the opposite. Coffee pots are designed to help maintain the heat of the beverage, which preserves its flavor. The taller, narrow shape helps minimize heat loss. The longer, low-mounted spout helps keep cool air from circulating into the pot.
On the other hand, coffee tastes best when served hot. Since it brews at around 180F, burns are not as much a concern as keeping the beverage hot. So coffee cups have a more vertical, cylindrical shape and bigger handles to accommodate two or three fingers which helps them conserve the beverage's temperature.
A proper regency hostess would have had all three sorts of china in her collection and been able to identify these pots at just a glance. In all likelihood, she would not have considered serving chocolate from anything but a chocolate pot. For the rest of us though, chocolate served from another sort of pot would still be chocolate, right? And that has to be a very good thing indeed.

References

Deitz, Paula. "Chocolate Pots Brewed Ingenuity." The New York Times. February 18, 1989. Accessed May 24, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/19/arts/antiques-chocolate-pots-brewed-ingenuity.html.
Kane, Kathryn. "Regency Chocolate:   The Correct Accoutrements." The Regency Redingote. August 02, 2011. Accessed May 24, 2017. https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/regency-chocolate-the-correct-accoutrements/. 
Righthand, Jess. "A Brief History of the Chocolate Pot." Smithsonian.com. February 13, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2017. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/brief-history-chocolate-pot-180954241/.

*****

Here’s a peek at a scene featuring a bit of morning chocolate:

The morning room faced east, sunlight pouring in through two large windows onto blue-green walls. Flower vases stood on dark painted half-tables in three corners, filled with sweet-smelling garden flowers. The chairs around the table bore floral embroidered cushions, and a still-life painting of flowers hung over the flower-painted sideboard.  At least flowers were not as garish as an overabundance of ormolu.
Mary looked up from her seat near the windows, the letters she had brought with her from Rosings tucked into the ribbon-tied notebook on her lap. Charlotte settled into the seat at the round table nearest the door. Mrs. Hill trundled in a few moments later with a pot of chocolate and fresh toast, nearly burnt. Neither the overcooked toast nor the bland chocolate were to Mary’s taste, but it seemed the kitchen had no coffee, so she drank the chocolate anyway.
Longbourn had a lovely set of chocolate cups, commissioned lately by the previous owner’s wife. The saucers sported little braided rails to support the tall, narrow cups covered in blue and yellow flowers, with gold-overlaid lids. They were a bit fancy to Mary, but pleased Charlotte very much.
Mrs. Hill handed Charlotte a tattered-around-the-edges leather-bound journal to review—the household accounts and menus for the next week.
“Pray come sit with me, Mary, and help me examine these. I do so value your opinions.” Charlotte poured a second cup of chocolate and pointed to the chair beside her.
Mary refolded her letter and tucked it and her pencil into her notebook and tied the dainty ivory ribbon around it. Charlotte raised her eyebrow.
Yes, the hint was a bit obvious, but they had been in close quarters recently. Hopefully a few subtle gestures would help change that.
Charlotte pulled the chair beside her out just a bit. “What do you think of the morning room?”
“Very charming and, if you will forgive me, more agreeable than the one in the parsonage. Perhaps simply because, here you are free to arrange things to your liking.” Mary set her notebook on the table and rose.
“It is a pleasing situation, I must agree. Would you believe though, I am reluctant to alter anything, wondering what Lady Catherine would say if I did?”
Mary chuckled as she sat in the chair Charlotte insisted she use. “I can well imagine, but I think it is safe to say, Lady Catherine is unlikely to arrive unexpectedly and offer her opinions on your housekeeping.”
Charlotte’s face fell. “I feel sorry for her. How difficult it must be to lose a child. I have been a mother only a month, and yet …”
Pray not this maudlin discussion again! “I am sure such thoughts cannot be at all beneficial to you.”
“Forgive me. Surely, you have no desire for such mawkish companionship.”
She was right.
“Do not be so hard on yourself.” Mary forced a smile. Hopefully that would not encourage her to continue.
Charlotte sipped her chocolate and spread jam on her toast. “Tell me, what do you think of what Hill has brought me?” She pushed the book toward Mary.
Did she believe it escaped Mary’s notice that she had not even looked at it herself? Mary pressed her eyes with her thumb and forefinger and held her breath, so she would not sigh.
Hill had a neat hand and kept her accounts well. Mary leafed through several pages—each supplier had a set of dedicated section. Six years of butcher’s orders took four pages. The prior Longbourn family seemed to have a taste for pork.
And a taste for sweets.
But that was not what Charlotte was asking. No, she wanted to know what style of housekeeping she would be expected to maintain in order to be considered appropriate for a house such as this. Why did she not consult with her mother on the matter?


Just why was Charlotte Collins asking such questions of Mary Bennet rather than Lady Lucas? Check out A Less Agreeable Man for the answers.

*****

Dull, plain and practical, Mary Bennet was the girl men always overlooked. Nobody thought she’d garner a second glance, much less a husband. But she did, and now she’s grateful to be engaged to Mr. Michaels, the steady, even tempered steward of Rosings Park. By all appearances, they are made for each other, serious, hard-working, and boring.

Michaels finds managing Rosings Park relatively straight forward, but he desperately needs a helpmeet like Mary, able to manage his employers: the once proud Lady Catherine de Bourgh who is descending into madness and her currently proud nephew and heir, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose extravagant lifestyle has left him ill-equipped for economy and privation.

Colonel Fitzwilliam had faced cannon fire and sabers, taken a musket ball to the shoulder and another to the thigh, stood against Napoleon and lived to tell of it, but barking out orders and the point of his sword aren’t helping him save Rosings Park from financial ruin. Something must change quickly if he wants to salvage any of his inheritance. He needs help, but Michaels is tedious and Michaels’ fiancée, the opinionated Mary Bennet, is stubborn and not to be borne. 

Apparently, quiet was not the same thing as meek, and reserved did not mean mild. The audacity of the woman, lecturing him on how he should manage his barmy aunt. The fact that she is usually right doesn’t help. Miss Bennet gets under his skin, growing worse by the day until he finds it very difficult to remember that she's engaged to another man.  

Can order be restored to Rosings Park or will Lady Catherine’s madness ruin them all?   

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About the Author

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 and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

She can be contacted at:

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Well, I would like to know the answer to that question myself! Just why was Charlotte asking Mary Bennet? Hmmm? The excerpt was lovely and very appropriate, but posed more questions than it answered. (Guess that's what it is supposed to do) The blurb has me quite intrigued. It sounds as if the Colonel may be struggling with feelings for Mary! I must find some time to read this sooner rather than later! 

Thank you, Maria Grace, for visiting and sharing the wonders of chocolate, china, tea, and coffee. It was interesting reading but then your posts always are! :) 

Now it's giveaway time! There is one eBook of A Less Agreeable Man to give away and the giveaway is international! What do you think of chocolate and the special china? Why do you think Charlotte is asking Mary for information on the household accounts and menus? Questions, questions, and more questions. Well, one of you will have the chance to find the answers. Leave us your comments to have a chance to win. Don't forget your contact info. Good luck to each of you. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 10th of September!