Monday, May 21, 2018

Cover Reveal...Nicole Clarkston

It is my extreme pleasure to share with you the cover for Nicole Clarkston's
new novel, London Holiday.
We have worked hard putting this one together.
There were a few obstacles along the way, but thankfully,
 everything came together in the end. 
I have been so excited about this book. The story made me feel good. 
It kept me smiling and loving every minute. I hope you will have the same experience.


Before we get to the cover, here is the blurb!

*****
When the truth is harder to believe than disguise.

Drugged and betrayed in his own household, Fitzwilliam Darcy makes his escape from a forged compromise that would see him unhappily wed. Dressed as a footman, he is welcomed into one of London’s unknown neighbourhoods by a young lady who is running out of time and running for her life.

Deciding to hide in plain sight, Miss Elizabeth Bennet dodges the expectation to marry the man of her mother’s dreams. When the insolent footman she “found” refuses to leave her side until they can uncover a solution to their respective dilemmas, the two new acquaintances treat themselves to a holiday, experiencing the best of what Regency England has to offer.

Based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, can two hard-headed characters with kind hearts discover the truth behind the disguise? Enjoy the banter, humour, and growing affection as Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth have the best day of their lives, and discover that they just might find love and romance while on a London Holiday. This book is appropriate for all ages.

*****

Creating the front cover of London Holiday was lots of fun. Nicole wanted my grandson, Chayseland Taylor to be on the front cover. She asked me if there was anyone I could get to be Lizzy. I had the perfect person in mind. Kennedy Smith was Lizzy on another cover I had done several years ago, so she was first to come to mind. I asked if she would be willing to be my model again and she agreed. The next order of business was to find a time when Chayseland and Kennedy could be photographed. It took a couple of weeks to work out a date but we finally got together. They were real troupers too. It was the hottest May 17th (97 degrees F in the shade) it had been since 1925 and we were outside taking pictures in full costume. Neither complained and willingly did anything I asked.
They were both honored to be on Nicole cover, London Holiday!
Thank you Nicole, for allowing them this privilege.

Nicole, is there anything you would like to add before we go further?

*****

I have long agreed with Janet that Chayseland is a perfect model for Darcy. He can master that aloof look, but at the same time, his eyes connect with you. He can look perfectly calm, but there is just a twinkle there, letting you know that there is quite a bit going on beneath the surface. That he happens to have that amazing hair and rugged face are side perks, but altogether, I love him as Darcy.

When Janet first showed me a picture of Kennedy, I just wanted to keep looking at her. She has a sweetness and an innocence to her that Elizabeth in the story does. She pulls off the teasing arched brow, the bubbling delight, and the soft, genuine expression that I was hoping for. I didn’t want a sultry kitten with collagen lips and transparent skin. She is perfect, and her eyes are kind. Not fashionable in the London world, perhaps, but just the thing to catch a jaded fellow like Darcy.

What I love about these two is that they look like real people, not models. Perhaps that is because they are real people, and I am honoured and deeply grateful that they agreed to be on the cover of London Holiday.

*****

Now you know the story behind the cover so let's reveal the front and full cover for London Holiday!




We hope you like the cover. I know you will love the book. It is such a neat story and fun too. Nicole told me that this book was the most fun book to write. I enjoyed reading along with her and eagerly awaited the next scene. This story has everything! There is a Darcy quite unlike any I have ever read before. He is such an awesome character and Lizzy is light-hearted and fun.
Nicole has agreed to share an excerpt with you. She has had several requests for Chapter 2. 
For your reading pleasure, Chapter 2 is below. Enjoy!

*****

“Oh, Lizzy, was this not simply a divine evening?” Kitty Bennet, aged sixteen, leaned back against the seat of the carriage and gushed her delight. “The music, the lights—I have never seen so many candles. And that soprano! Would Mama not simply swoon over her gown?”
“It was all stunning,” her older sister Elizabeth agreed. “The new Pantheon Theatre is not so lovely as the old, they say, but it is quite beautiful enough to suit my fancies. Aunt Gardiner,” she turned sincerely to that lady, “thank you so much for bringing us. Your generosity to us takes my breath away.”
“You are most graciously welcome, Lizzy. I confess, I had been longing to see the new hall myself, and you provided just the excuse I sought.”
“It is a pity that our uncle could not come this evening, for he would have enjoyed it greatly, I think.”
“Yes, he would have,” Mrs Gardiner agreed, “but I expect he will have accomplished a great deal of business this evening, and he will now be able to enjoy the park with us tomorrow. I believe your uncle really prefers the park to the opera.”
“As does Lizzy,” snorted Kitty. “But even you must admit, Lizzy, that was an evening to remember. What a pleasure it was to meet that lovely Mrs Jennings—she liked you very much, Lizzy, and that is something grand, I think. Did you see the gowns on some of the ladies above us in the private boxes? And each of the gentlemen looked so fine and handsome! There was that one fair-haired fellow who looked our way twice, and I am sure he liked me. Oh, Lizzy, you needn’t scoff at all the gentlemen! Do not forget, Mama has given you specific instructions to catch a husband while you are in Town, or you shall be stuck with that odious Mr Collins.”
“If only the catching of a husband were as simple as catching a fish, perhaps I should succeed.”
“Lizzy, you must not speak of such things in Town. What would Mama say? No one here knows that you are not a proper lady, so it is best to let them believe otherwise as long as they may.”
“Now, Kitty,” Mrs Gardiner chided, “Lizzy is perfectly ladylike, even when she is indulging in sport. Although, Lizzy, perhaps it is best not to reveal at first that your father and uncle have taken you out in their fishing boats, but there can be no harm in speaking of the outdoors in general. Flower gardens are quite safe to talk of. And who knows? We may meet with a gentleman who truly prefers remaining at his estate to life in Town. Many men retire happily from Town again after they have secured a wife, and such a man might be attracted to a woman knows something of the country.”
“La, that is not what Mama says. She says even country gentlemen prefer a refined lady. That is why Jane will marry first. Mama says that a gentleman is coming soon to let Netherfield Park and that he is sure to save us all by falling violently in love with Jane, as she is the most beautiful of us all, or so Mama claims.” Kitty emitted a little snort, which spoke as much of her reluctant agreement with her mother’s assessment as it did for her own mild sense of jealousy.
“He will be a fortunate man then, if his taste is so exquisite,” soothed Elizabeth. “Jane would be valued and admired by any sensible gentleman, no matter where he lived.”
“And so shall you, Lizzy,” her aunt interjected. “Do not allow your mother, or your most helpful sister here, lead you to believe otherwise. You are a perfectly lovely young lady, and even that sorry business with Lydia and Mary may be overlooked by the right sort of gentleman. Any man to catch your eye should call himself blessed.”
“It is not the gentleman who must catch the lady’s eye, but the reverse,” chuckled Elizabeth. “I know very well into what straits my sisters and I have fallen, though you are kind enough to spare me the full measure of the world’s disdain, Aunt. I have no desire to remain a spinster as Mama has accused, but I find it highly unlikely that I could go home next week an engaged woman. I mean simply to enjoy my visit.”
“Then indeed, enjoy it we shall. What else did you wish to do while you are staying with us?”
“Perhaps Kitty had other notions, but I have always wished to see one of London’s pleasure gardens. Do you think Uncle would object?”
“Oh! I have not been since before Maddy was born, Lizzy, but that sounds delightful. Perhaps we will speak to your uncle and see if he will take us tomorrow.”
Elizabeth was smiling her delight at her aunt’s easy agreement and gazing out the window of the carriage when a figure in apparent distress caught her eye. She saw only a hunched-over flash of dark clothing; then he disappeared. An instant later, the carriage lurched as the driver pulled up the horses in alarm.
Mrs Gardiner caught at the hand loop, then put her head near the window to listen as the driver addressed someone outside. “Clear off, my good man,” he was ordering. “You have upset the ladies!”
They heard a slurred apology, and Elizabeth, who sat on the proper side to see, gestured to her aunt as the figure came back into view. “Aunt, look. That man there, do you see him? He looks as though he has been injured. See how he holds his head? Perhaps he needs help.”
Mrs Gardiner did look, and to her dismay saw a tallish fellow, dressed respectably as an employee of a good household, staggering to the curb. “More than likely he is intoxicated. Look away, Elizabeth. Do not let him see you.”
“He does not have the appearance of a drunkard or a criminal, Aunt. Is that not livery he is wearing? Surely no master would countenance such behaviour, and particularly not in public.”
Mrs Gardiner reluctantly turned her eyes back to the man on the walk. He was clinging lethargically to a street lantern, his face pressed against the cool metal of the post. What they could see of his expression revealed that he was nearly asleep where he stood and only wanted a horizontal posture to make it a reality. His clothing bespoke some connection to gentility, as Elizabeth had asserted, else she would not have dared give a stranger on a dark street a second glance.
“Lizzy, this is not Meryton,” Mrs Gardiner decided. “You cannot believe appearances. I have heard of ladies’ carriages being set upon by ruffians after they have stopped to help someone who appeared to be hurt. I am very sorry for the poor fellow, if indeed he is in distress, but it is not our place to look to him.”
“Aye, I’ve heard the same thing, Lizzy,” seconded Kitty. “Remember that story Lydia told us?”
“That was on a deserted road near a seaport. We are still in Mayfair. You cannot believe that criminals could set up such a ruse in this neighbourhood, do you? There are too many about, and the houses nearby too well secured for such activity to succeed. Can you not at least ask the driver to see to him?”
Mrs Gardiner’s brow puckered in concern, but she obliged her niece. “Jones, please step down and see if the man is injured.”
The carriage rocked as the driver obeyed, and the ladies watched him approach the man on the walk. “My good man, are you well?” they heard Jones enquire.
There was a moan, and some muttered reference to a cousin, then the man’s head drooped against the post. Jones leaned close, and the ladies could see their driver sniffing the other man’s person. He returned directly.
“I do not think he is intoxicated, ma’am, but neither does he appear to have any sort of head injury. I can think of no reasonable explanation for his condition.”
“We cannot leave him here on the street,” Elizabeth insisted. “He truly will become a victim of some crime if we do. Look at him, his knees are buckling.”
“Perhaps he works in the nearest house,” Jones suggested. “Do you wish me to ask?”
“Please do,” Mrs Gardiner agreed. “We shall be safe enough in the carriage for a moment.” She glanced at her niece, a nervous hope written across her features.
There was only one large house on this corner, and there was no knocker on the door, so Jones apparently decided to try the one across the street. The man had, after all, been crossing when they had nearly run him down. The ladies waited in silence for his return, watching all the while as the man on the walk began to sag lower and lower to the ground. Finally, just before Jones’ return, he crumpled, and his head struck the pavement. Elizabeth cried out in dismay, and it was only her aunt’s staying hand which kept her in the carriage.
“They claim that none of their footmen could have made such a spectacle,” Jones reported. “I doubt they would acknowledge him, even if he did belong to that house, for it would be too much of an embarrassment.”
“You said he does not appear to be intoxicated?” Mrs Gardiner glanced back at the man.
“There is no odour of drink, ma’am, but I cannot be certain.”
“Aunt, is it not our duty to look to those in distress?” Elizabeth reminded her.
“I do not consider that a mandate when the man is a rather tall stranger and we number but three ladies.”
“And one driver!” Kitty helpfully pointed out. “It would not be so very hard to have Mr Jones set him on the box. He could stay below stairs this evening and go on his way on the morrow. I can see Lizzy has got this in her head, Aunt, and we shall have no peace until she sees that ridiculous fellow safely put up for the night.”
Mrs Gardiner sighed and frowned at her nieces. Elizabeth was watching her intently, with a small quirk of her brow. As her younger sister had surmised, she had indeed taken the man’s welfare to heart, but she was not petulant. Instead, she employed a measure of playfulness to achieve her ends.
“He is too well-dressed to be a vagabond, Aunt. Perhaps he is a highly valued employee of some handsome and rich single gentleman, and some ailment has befallen him. After he is recovered, both he and his employer will be so grateful for our assistance that his master may thank us in person. I may then have the pleasure of informing my mother that I obeyed her wishes to find a husband!”
Kitty laughed and declared it a good joke, but Mrs Gardiner was still reluctant. “We have no way of knowing anything about the man. He is not a gentleman, clearly, and he could have come from anywhere.”
“Aunt, I am confident we shall be quite safe. Look at the man! I do believe he is drooling. Can anyone be more harmless?”
Mrs Gardiner rolled her eyes and summoned Mr Jones. “Do you think he can ride on the box with you?”
“If I can wake him, ma’am.” He went, therefore, and nudged the man on the pavement. When that did not yield the desired result, he shook the man’s shoulder, earning only a groan in protest for his efforts. Jones, at last, picked the man up by his lapels—a considerable feat, as he was a rather large man—and rattled him to and fro. The dark head only rolled back, mouth slightly agape, and a throaty rasp escaped him. Jones shook his head. “I cannot lift him if he is not to be gotten to his feet, ma’am.”
“Right, then,” Elizabeth muttered, and handed her muff and bonnet into her sister’s keeping. Before her aunt could object, she was out the door of the carriage and staring down at the man on the ground. “Can you lift his shoulders, Jones? I think I can help you drag his feet.”
“Lizzy!” Mrs Gardiner cried from the coach. “What in heaven’s name?”
“He can ride on the rear-facing seat, Aunt. We will all have to squeeze together. It is perhaps only twenty minutes to your house; we shall manage.”
Mrs Gardiner, lacking the powers to resist, put two slim fingers to her aching head as Kitty sniggered beside her. She left unspoken her horror at Elizabeth being seen engaged in hauling a dirty man off the streets and into her uncle’s private carriage. How would she ever explain this?
Elizabeth grasped the man’s silver-buckled shoes, which seemed to curl his large feet in a way which must have been uncomfortable, and tugged at their weight as Jones stumbled with his torso. The sleeping man snorted once or twice at the insult of being dragged, groaned an indignant protest directed toward someone named Wilson, and tried to roll over in Jones’ grasp.
By the time they reached the carriage, Kitty was on the pavement as well. Her intentions were helpful, but her efforts were less so. It was Mrs Gardiner, the sensible one who still objected to this madness, whose assistance was the most valuable in lifting the inert form of their unwitting guest. She braced her feet and bent to raise him from above while Jones hefted from below. If the man were conscious, he would rightly have just cause for deepest mortification at the way the strange lady was forced to grasp his person. It was just as well he was not. The task completed, Mrs Gardiner straightened her bonnet and shot her nieces a glare which swore them forever to secrecy.
The man did not fit well, inert and crammed into the small carriage bench. The girls crowded on either side of their aunt and stared at the broad shoulders, nearly bursting the seams of the coat, and the long, white-stockinged legs that threatened at any moment to drag his entire frame down to the floor of the carriage. As Jones mounted the box and the carriage dipped slightly, Mrs Gardiner breathed a prayer that he—whoever he was—would remain where they had stowed him.
It was not to be. The horses moved off, and the body rolled with a heavy thud to their feet. The ladies drew back, each cringing and fearing that their assistance may have injured the man even further. The stranger, however, only stirred with a grunt and proceeded to nestle his large frame more comfortably in the small space. His forearm thrashed about as he sought some place for his head, and at last, he was satisfied by wrapping it around Elizabeth’s legs and pillowing his face upon her satin shoes.

Elizabeth tugged uncomfortably at her feet but could not extricate them without engaging in a wrestling match with a very strong and very unconscious man. She grimaced at her aunt. Mrs Gardiner rested her head back against the carriage squabs and exhaled, trembling. “We tell no one of this,” she commanded.

*****

Well, tell us what you think? Doesn't this sound like a fun story! I absolutely loved it
 and I feel confident you will too. We would love to hear your thoughts. 
The eBook of London Holiday is available on Amazon and the Paperback will soon be available.

One eBook will be given away and the giveaway is international. Be sure you leave your contact info if you want a chance to win. The giveaway will end on the 25th of May at 11:59 P.M. Good luck!

79 comments:

  1. This is your best cover yet, Janet. It is absolutely perfect for this perfectly delightful tale. Well done. Congratulations on the new release, Nicole. I adored this story.

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    1. Thank you, my dear! I have so appreciated your encouragement. Didn't Janet do a fabulous job? She really poured her heart into this one!

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    2. I'm thrilled you think so, Joy! Thank you! Wasn't this a delightful tale! I adored the story too.

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    3. Thank you, Nicole! I had a great time doing this one.

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    4. Love the excerpt and the cover. They make an adorable couple.

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    5. Glad you think so, Patty!

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  2. Congratulations to all concerned, a lovely cover. Great detail on the back.Look forward to reading this, Nicole..

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    1. Thank you, Caitlin! This was a lot of fun to work on. Looking forward to seeing yours!

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    2. Thanks, Caitlin. I'm glad you stopped by. You will enjoy the story.

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  3. What a lovely cover for what sounds like a fun tale. I look forward to reading it.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn! It is a fun tale and will make you swoon! Darcy is adorable!

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  4. I hope you enjoy it, Lynn! The link will be posted shortly :-)

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    1. I hope so! It's about as opposite from my last (These Dreams) as any two books can be and still both qualify as JAFF. I hope you still enjoy it!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Christina.

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  6. What a great cover and intriguing tale :) Congratulations to all!

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    1. I love the cover. Wow! And the story is so much fun. A page turner as usual.

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    2. I'm a silly goose and forgot to leave my contact:

      stluc3@sbcglobal.net

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    3. Thank you, Debbie! I'm so happy to hear you love the cover and the book! I had a lot to live up to with this cover! :)

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    4. Thanks, Virginia. I appreciate you stopping by. Good luck.

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  7. I love the cover and excerpt. Sounds interesting.

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    1. Isn't the excerpt great! I love it too. Glad you like the cover too! :)

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  8. Oh I do love Darcy's choice of pillow! And your handsome grandson again makes a wonderful Darcy. I went on Amazon to buy this but it isn't there yet however I will try again later. I really can't wait to read this book. Thank you so much for sharing this excerpt and the lovely cover.

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    1. I'm thrilled that you think so! Thank you, Glynis! You will love this story!

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  9. Forgot to say, I can understand there may be some scandal regarding Lydia but Mary????

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    1. Oh and I also just bought the book so please don't enter me in the giveaway ��

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    2. Thank you, Glynis!

      About those Bennet girls, you just never know ;-)

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  10. Enjoyed the excerpt. Love how caring Elizabeth is to a stranger and look forward to finding out what Mr Darcy thinks of his rescuer.

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    1. I forgot to add my info, jadseah4(at)yahoo(dot)com

      Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

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    2. I hope you enjoy it, and good luck in the giveaway!

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  11. The cover is great and I can't wait to read how you work Darcy's predicament.

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    1. Poor Darcy! Never was a character conceived who has been tormented in so many ways as he. Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

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    2. Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you get to read this soon.

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  12. Love the cover. Wonderful excerpt. I look forward to reading! Cherringtonmb@sbcglobal at sbcglobal dot net

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    1. Thanks, Becky! Don't they make an adorable Darcy and Lizzy? Good luck!

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    2. Thanks, Becky. I'm happy you stopped by!

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  13. I can't wait to read this! The cover is delightfully engaging as well.

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    1. It is SO much fun, and Janet did a fabulous job capturing the joyful look on their faces. Thank you, Kelley!

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    2. Thanks to both of you! I'm anxious for you to read it, Kelley. It is so much fun!

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  14. This sounds like a fun story! Lovely couple on the cover as well! Congrats on your newest work, Nicole! And thanks for the chance to win a copy.

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    1. I'm a little partial to the lovely couple on the front! :)

      It's a great story! Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. Great cover, Janet! Thanks so much for Ch 2, Nicole, as I loved the premise laid out in Ch 1. Wonder how Lady C will react when she discovers Darcy has thwarted her plan? And, oh my, whatever will Mr. Gardner think when his wife and nieces turn up with a strange man asleep in their carriage?

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    1. Poor Mr Gardiner! He has a bad day, I'm afraid. ;-)

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    2. Thanks, Regina. I'm glad you like it. Oh, I can't wait for you to read this and get the answers to your questions!

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  16. Love my Lizzy and Darcy!! I am all a Twitter with excitement!! slegg43@gmail.com

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    1. Good luck, Monkee! Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. oh, monkee, you should be all a Twitter! This is an excellent read!

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  17. How lovely and funny story! And the cover shows this lighthearted fun perfectly. Is this a balloon's basket the gentleman and lady are standing in? I'd love to see a balloon in this story!

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    1. It is, indeed! It was quite the fashionable attraction.

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    2. That's great to hear, Agnes! Thank you for dropping in. So, you want to see a balloon in this story, huh? That does sound pretty exciting, doesn't it!

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  18. Carole in CanadaMay 22, 2018 at 12:51 PM

    They are perfect and the story is so much fun! I do love picturing Elizabeth helping to haul 'the footman' on to the carriage! Oh the indignity of it all! You don't need to enter me in the giveaway as I was fortunate to receive an ARC! I just love this story!!! Congratulations to you both and to your 'models' for being so inspiring and willing!

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    1. Thank you, Carole! I am glad you had fun with this one. I really enjoyed working on it, and I am so thrilled that the cover turned out just perfectly.

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    2. I loved picturing that as well, Carole! Wasn't that a fun scene! Thank you for taking the time to come by and comment. I will pass on your congratulations to the models! :)

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  19. "Darcy and Elizabeth" look like they're having a lot of fun on your delightful cover. Loved your excerpt! From the cover, I assume "the footman" regains his health. This story sounds like a good, light-hearted read. Wishing you much success, Nicole!

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    1. Thank you, Jan! Yes, our footman recovers rather admirably, in good part thanks to the tender care he received. ;-)

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  20. Wonderful excerpt, I enjoyed the tease. I just knew our Elizabeth would be kind to a stranger. I cannot wait to see what happens next. Nice cover, too. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this fascinating book. dianelynne217@gmail.com

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    1. Of course she would! But she doesn't take any lip, either. Poor Darcy has a rude awakening!

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    2. Hi Diane. I'm glad you dropped in. Good luck with the giveaway

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  21. Congrats on your newest release! I love this premise and can't wait to read it! Love the cover too!

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  22. Huge congrats on the new release, Nicole, and wow, Janet, what a perfect cover for it! What a premise too - poor Darcy, to find himself on such shaky ground. Best wishes with the new release, Nicole, it's going to be such a hit!!

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    1. Oh, Joana! I'm thrilled you love the cover. Thank you. Isn't this such a neat story! I agree with you. It will be a big hit!

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  23. Love the covers. The models are perfect and how nice that they are someone you know...that makes it extra special. Good luck with the release.

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    1. Aren't they fun together? I just love them. Thank you, Sheila!

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    2. I'm happy to hear you love the covers. Thank you, Sheila. That makes our day that you think the models are perfect! They are pretty special if I do say so myself! :) The book is so good and Darcy and Lizzy are adorable. Nicole has another hit on her hands!

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  24. From the blurb, the story sounds like Roman Holiday. I've never watched that film so I could be wrong. Beautiful cover btw, Janet and Nicole. You did a fantastic job, Janet.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sylvia. I appreciate your comments more than you now. The story is fantastic! I think you will love it!

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  25. Hi Nicole, I suppose that I could repeat what I said the other day on Don's facebook page! Perhaps ..... not. But you know how interested I am in reading it. I need to have this book!

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    1. Then I hope you win the giveaway! Thank you for your enthusiasm, Ginna, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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    2. You will LOVE it, Ginna! Good luck!

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  26. Janet,

    Well done on such a fabulous cover!!

    Your grandson and Kennedy capture the very essence of Darcy and Lizzie's personality-she's vibrant,delightful,smiling and full of voice-de-vivre,while he's stands proudly beside her, protecting her and ever watchful. They both look so young with their lives ahead of them,and where anything is possible!!
    So sweet!! So touching!!!

    Love the back cover also,the gardens and the all season entry token!
    What a labour of love this must have been!

    I was honoured to be given an ARC of this book and simply loved it! Highly recommended to all lovers of romance!

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    1. Thank you, Mary, for stopping by and for your much appreciated comments. The cover reveal wouldn't be complete without you. :)

      I'm thrilled you love the cover. It was a labour of love. I took roughly 300 pictures of the two of them and got so many cute ones. You will see some of the others during the blog tour.

      I loved all the neat things for the back cover. Nicole and I had been collecting for quite some time! This was truly a fun cover to do.

      I felt sure you would love this story. Isn't it awesome! I highly recommend it too. Darcy and Lizzy are just so cute in this one. I adored Darcy's role and he played it so well! :)

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