Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Share in the Conversation...A Pemberley Medley

A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds

There are times that I simply do not have the time to read a novel. When a book is really good I have this tendency (or obsession with the plot) to read all day and to keep reading into the wee hours of the morning. That is not always the best thing, especially when I have deadlines to meet. Therefore, an anthology of short stories is fantastic to have on hand. Abigail Reynolds’, A Pemberley Medley filled my desire to read about my favorite hero and heroine without spending the whole day and night (or more) doing it.

The five stories in this medley are all well written and left me feeling completely satisfied at the end. I have read several books by Ms. Reynolds and she does an excellent job of storytelling. She makes me feel and see what she is writing. These short stories are no different as they did not disappoint. 

I have to agree with the author about the first story, “Intermezzo”. She says in the preface that it is one of her favorites.  The others are excellent, but this one was my favorite. It is filled with romance and tension, conflict and resolution…a very beautiful love story between Darcy and Elizabeth.

The letter from Darcy to Elizabeth in “Such Differing Reports” was swoon-worthy! Loved it! This was another very pleasing story.

In “Reason’s Rule” Mr. Bennet loves to give Darcy a difficult time and oh, he accomplishes it so well! Elizabeth tries to do what she thinks is best for those she loves and frustrated me to no end! All is well that ends well and this one surely did!

After the death of Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth makes a tough decision for the sake of her family in “The Most Natural Thing”.  This story is lovely and shows the depth of emotion felt by Darcy and Elizabeth. It does have one intimate scene.  Although my preference is for novels without explicit sex between Darcy and Elizabeth, I realize there are many readers that prefer it.  I love to read about the passion, the romance and the sexual tension between them, but would rather leave the rest to my imagination. That being said, this scene is tender and well written, not crudely done. That is one thing I have also discovered about the novels I have read by Ms. Reynolds that are for mature audiences. There are few explicit scenes, or none at all, and she does not use them to pad her books. Her novels are about the story not the sex.

Rain, rain and more rain kept our favorite couple from having much time together in "A Succession of Rain". They very much needed to be able to talk through their thoughts and previous misunderstandings. Darcy had been paid the visit from his aunt and now had hope, if only the rain would stop. His suspense was almost unbearable. When he does ‘make’ the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth, the meeting was intensely romantic!

This anthology of short stories was very rewarding and was a delight to read.  I was ‘most agreeably engaged’!

5 out of 5 stars

This is my fourth selection for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge of 2013.

Other books I will be reviewing soon:
            All the Appearance of Goodness by Maria Grace
            Pride Revisited by Tess Quinn
A Fair Prospect by Cassandra Grafton
The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy by Regina Jeffers
Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Darling Child by Hazel Jones and    Maggie Lane

Watch for these book reviews as well as two movie reviews, one for the 1995 BBC miniseries of P&P and one for the 2005 movie, both of which I cheerfully re-watched for this challenge!

And the winner is...

Congratulations to RS who left a comment on March 27, 2013.

Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Regina Jeffers: A Thrilling Story of Murder and Betrayal

My guest, Regina Jeffers, has been on a full blog tour for her newest release, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. (Doesn't that title grab your attention?) I am thrilled that she could squeeze my blog into her busy schedule.  As a reader of all her Austenesque novels, I have been anxiously awaiting the publication of this book since first hearing of it. The excerpt that Regina shares with us today is riveting! Enjoy!

Regina Jeffers is generously offering a paperbook or ebook, winner's choice, to one lucky person whose comment is randomly chosen. This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you.

Now, please welcome, Regina Jeffers.

Imagine if you will, Darcy and Elizabeth having been married for some six months. They have weathered the Derbyshire winter in wonderful marital bliss, and spring brings hopes of continued harmony. Only two events have marred their special “paradise”: Elizabeth’s recent miscarriage and the pressing news of the death of his father’s favorite cousin, Samuel Darcy, a renowned archaeologist.

As April approaches, Darcy is determined to share special moments with Elizabeth in King George III’s favorite watering hole, Mudeford, while seeing to his cousin’s will and estate. However, things are never so simple for our favorite couple. Samuel’s body has gone missing, and no matter how many other bodies Darcy discovers, there is no sign of the one he most wishes to see returned to its proper resting place. Add in a gypsy band, a witches’ coven, and a baker’s dozen unclaimed corpses, and Darcy and Elizabeth are one step behind in a very clever mystery.

Book Blurb: A thrilling story of murder and betrayal filled with the scandal, wit and intrigue characteristic of Austen’s classic novels
Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.
With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.

Excerpt: (Setting) Elizabeth and Darcy have quarreled regarding how their investigation is going. She has retreated to a “bit of wilderness” upon Samuel Darcy’s estate to think upon the argument and how best to come to terms with what she sees as a slight to females. She stands upon a rock face overlooking a waterfall and a small lake.

Elizabeth spun around to find the face of danger. She automatically retreated two steps to the rear as the dark-skinned man stepped onto the cliff face before her. She surveyed the area. She had unknowingly boxed herself in. When Elizabeth had sought the waterfall’s peacefulness, she had chosen a complementary cliff face where she could watch the stream form high in the surrounding rock configurations to slide over the jutting edge to a tranquil lake below.
Unfortunately, the space she occupied was not only solitary, but also very narrow. The stranger easily blocked her retreat. “Who are you?” Elizabeth caught her breath and defiantly challenged the man’s gaze. She was pleasantly surprised her voice had not betrayed her fear. “This is private property.”
A bemused smirk turned up the man’s lips. “I hold an invitation from the land’s owner,” he said in a highly accented speech.
Elizabeth knew undoubtedly this stranger was one of the gypsy band. Suddenly, her earlier romantic musings regarding the Roma appeared quite foolish. It was clear the man’s presence spoke of danger. She worked hard to disguise her fears. “I understood your group planned to leave your camp behind.”
He took a half step closer, and Elizabeth’s back stiffened in response. “Not for three more days, Milady. Andrzej has spoken to the house’s master regarding our departure.”
“My husband,” she said as a means to warn the man away.
He said with a sneer, “Then you are Mrs. Darcy.” Elizabeth swallowed hard, fighting off the impending dread, which had crept along her spine. “Andrzej did not speak of your beauty.”
If the situation had not been so dire, she might have enjoyed listening to the man speak. There was a soft roll of the r’s and a growling hiss on each s, but she could find no thrill in the intended threat in the stranger’s tone. “I think it best if I return to the house.”
“You do not care for my company?” he asked as if she had disappointed him, but Elizabeth recognized the ruse.
She set her shoulders with a haughty slant and started around the man. “Mr. Darcy will be most displeased if you impede my return.”
But the stranger did not withdraw. Instead, he caught her arm and forced Elizabeth to grasp his shirtsleeve to right her stance. “Do you think I care what will or will not please your husband?” he growled. He caught her chin in his large palm and shoved it upward. He said seductively, “I would give a care if I displeased Mrs. Darcy, however.”
Elizabeth jerked her head to the side. “Then you should know, Sir, I am greatly discontented. Unhand me immediately.”
He laughed lightly. “Ah, my pet. You will not be so prickly when you know me better.”
Elizabeth cringed. “If you persist in this folly, ‘prickly’ will be an understatement,” she declared. “I have no desire to know you now or ever. I shall ask you once again to unhand me.”
“And if I choose otherwise?” he asked in a sinisterly low tone. Elizabeth could smell the stink of his breath and the unusual spicy scent of his slicked-back hair.
“I shall fight you with every breath of my life. Whatever you plan shall not come easily,” she said with conviction. And she would. Elizabeth would fight this man. Fight through the paralyzing fear that had locked her knees into stone fortresses.
The man tightened his hold on her arm and pulled Elizabeth closer. He whispered into her ear. “Where is the amusement in such actions?”
Without considering the consequences, Elizabeth spun away from him. Jerking hard against his hold, she used a counterbalance move Darcy had shown her one evening when they had playfully wrestled before the fireplace in her sitting room. She jerked hard to throw her attacker off balance and followed that move with a firm shove against the man’s chest. She turned to run, but the Rom caught her skirt to pull her toward him.
Elizabeth wound up her small fist and struck the interloper between the eyes, at the bridge of his nose. It had hurt her hand more than she had anticipated, but she had no time to nurse the pain. The gypsy had loosened his grasp as he automatically reached for his nose; therefore, she shoved hard and darted around him.
Unfortunately, her attacker recovered quickly. He caught her about the waist and jerked Elizabeth hard against him. Her back plastered his chest. The Rom viciously dragged her toward the tree line to the right. Soon he would have her under the cover of the bushes, and her chances of escape would decrease dramatically. She scratched at his hands and dug her nails into his wrist, but the man did not relent.
Panic had replaced determination in Elizabeth’s veins. As a last effort, she twisted to elbow the Rom in his ribs. With all her strength, she hit him solidly in the side and was rewarded with a brief lessening of his hold on her. Elizabeth reacted immediately. She broke from his grasp to run, but there was no easy retreat. Her assailant remained between her and freedom. The cliff face and the lake remained at her back. It was a long way down, but she would take it if necessary. Her hands came up to ward off his next attack while she edged toward the drop off.
“You do not want to jump,” he placated, but she noticed how he leaned forward. He would pounce in a heartbeat if she allowed her guard to slacken.
Elizabeth’s foot searched for solid ground as she widened the distance between them. “What I want and what I am willing to do are not necessarily in alignment,” she said in warning. “I shall ask you again to walk away. To leave me be.”
His eyes gleamed. A lock of damp hair fell across his forehead. He leaned close. Skeptical. “It is not so easy, my pet. The Roma are never seen to be in the right. Even if I leave, your husband will hunt me down.”
Desperately, she pleaded, “I shall speak to Mr. Darcy. If you quit the area, my husband will not pursue you.”
The Rom smiled with regret. “Such a great man would bow to the wishes of a woman? You have married for love, Milady?”
Elizabeth nodded her hopes. “It is as I said. Mr. Darcy will listen to my pleas.” Of course, it was only last evening that Darcy had ignored her wishes, but Elizabeth would never admit her reason for being alone on this cliff had been her irritation with Darcy for posturing before the Woodvine household. Her husband had chosen his pride over his loyalty to her.
She and the Rom stared at each other for a long time. Elizabeth watched a gamut of emotions cross her attacker’s countenance. Finally, he said, “Mr. Darcy may wish to grant your request, but his conceit would never permit him to forget how a Rom had abused his wife. The stain would haunt him. Therefore, if I am to die at your husband’s hands, it should be for more than a physical disagreement.” A sadness crossed his countenance, and Elizabeth knew they were both doomed.
Without further ado, he lunged at her. Automatically, she braced herself for the blow. The impact knocked the air from her lungs as she fell backward into the open arms of sunlight and a sweet mist. The prism of light through the water was never more beautiful, and Elizabeth closed her eyes to forever cherish the image. Beside her, she heard the Rom say, “Forgive me,” but she had no time to respond. Their combined weights had increased their velocity, and all she could do was to conjure up the image of her husband’s handsome countenance before she hit the water and was dragged under by the gypsy’s body. “Darcy,” her lips formed the silent word.
Elizabeth had never swum in her gown and half boots, but she had swum before; therefore, she held hopes of surviving this encounter once she hit the water. One of her fears had been that they would crash onto the jagged rocks, but evidently, the gypsy’s weight had carried them out over the lake’s surface.
As they sank together, she turned from his grasp and kicked hard to surface for air. She broke the water line and gulped in her first breath since the Rom had pounced. However, her efforts were short lived: her enemy had also surfaced. With flailing arms, he reached for her.
In a panic, the man fought to survive, but his fight would cost them both dearly if she could not calm him. “I have you,” she shouted over the sound of water being slapped by her attacker. She treaded water. Her gown floated upward and wrapped about her waist, but she still thought they could reach the shore if she could make him listen to her. “I have you,” she screamed louder, but the man’s shouts for assistance drowned her efforts.
She caught him about the neck to pull him through the water; yet, the Rom evidently thought she still fought him. An arm across her throat sent her backward and struggling to stay afloat. The gypsy swallowed a mouthful of water and spit it out in a sputtering twirling motion, which caught Elizabeth in the side of the head. The blow stunned her, and she shook her head to clear it.
Again, the Rom reached for her, catching Elizabeth’s shoulders and dragging them both below the surface. His grasp shoved her downward where the light did not reach and the temperature had cooled. The gypsy’s grasp had tightened as he realized his peril, and she was pushed deeper and deeper. Even in the murky water, she could see his eyes widen with the realization he had breathed his last breath.
Yet, even then, he did not release her. Instead, his fingers twisted into the material of her sleeve, and he tugged her closer. Again, she fought him. Striking his face. His throat. His chest. But he held her tightly. Elizabeth struggled. She had held her breath for longer than she ever remembered doing previously. With one last effort, she brought her knees to her chest and kicked him as hard as she could. She slid further from him, but still the gypsy clung to her gown. Her hair had come loose when he had struck her, and her bonnet’s ribbons had twisted about her neck, making it harder to hold her breath. The Rom’s grasp loosened when she used his chest as a footboard. A final kick to his throat sent her hurtling from him and slamming into a soft spongy object on the lake’s bottom.

Author Bio:
A Huntington, West Virginia native and Marshall University graduate, Regina Jeffers spent thirty-nine years in the public classrooms of three different states: West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. She considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. Jeffers is the author of several Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Honor and Hope, and the upcoming The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. She also writes Regency romances: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, His: Two Regency Novellas and The First Wives’ Club. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, Jeffers has been an Austen presenter at the Smithsonian. She often serves as a consultant in language arts and media literacy. Currently living outside Charlotte, North Carolina, she spends her time with her writing, gardening, and her adorable grandson.

Twitter – @reginajeffers

(Books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Joseph Beth, Kobo, and Ulysses Press.)

PUBLISHING HISTORY (from Ulysses Press)

·        February 2009 – Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes
·        September 2009 – Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice [2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Historical Romance]
·        October 2009 – Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation
·        March 2010 – Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion: Jane Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes
·        October 2010 – The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery [SOLA Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Awards – Third Place – Romantic Suspense]
·        March 2011 – The Scandal of Lady Eleanor (Book 1 of the Realm Series) [2011 Write Touch Readers’ Award – Second Place – Historical Romance]
·        October 2011 – Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel [2011 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Inspirational Romance] and [Runner Up, New England Book Festival]
·        April 2012 – The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
·        March 2013 – The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery


·        April 2012 – Honor and Hope: A Contemporary Romantica Based on Pride and Prejudice
·        May 2012 – The First Wives’ Club (Book 1 of The First Wives’ Club Trilogy) [SOLA Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – Honorable Mention – Historical Romance]
·        May 2012 – A Touch of Velvet (Book 2 of the Realm Series)
·        June 2012 – A Touch of Cashémere (Book 3 of the Realm Series)
·        July 2012 – A Touch of Grace (Book 4 of the Realm Series) [SOLA Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – 3rd Place – Historical Romance]
·        November 2012 – Second Chances: The Courtship Wars
·        February 2013 – His: Two Regency Novellas

Thanks again to Regina Jeffers for generously offering either a paperback or ebook (winner's choice) of her new book, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. This giveaway is international. To be entered please leave a comment below. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, April 2. Good luck.

Monday, March 25, 2013

And the winner is...

Sophia Rose who left a comment on March 15, 2013

Congratulations! Please contact me with your mailing address as soon as possible.
Thank you.
Candy M wrote a great review of this book. Visit her blog and read about it! Meryton Press is also offering a giveaway of this book on Candy's blog. For those of you interested that didn't win here, be sure to visit Candy and leave a comment.
So little time...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Does the Course of True Love Ever Run Smoothly?

Author P. O. Dixon gives us the answer to this question in her new book, Love Will Grow. As my guest today, Ms. Dixon's commentary both enlightens and teases. I have to say, this new book is a 'must read' for me.
Ms. Dixon is graciously giving away one paperback copy of Love Will Grow. US only. 
Please join me now in welcoming P. O. Dixon.
Imagine, if you will, a fairly simple premise. It is a story as old as time. Girl likes boy. Boy is oblivious. Girl engages her new best friend’s help in getting boy to notice her. New best friend’s response—I don’t know what you see in him, but I will do my best.
All the individuals involved may very well start out with the best of intentions, but once in motion, who is to say what the outcome will be. What happens when said boy only has eyes for the new best friend?
Now, substitute girl with Miss Anne de Bourgh, boy with Mr. Darcy, and new best friend with Miss Elizabeth Bennet and you have the makings of Love Will Grow.
In this Pride and Prejudice “what-if” story, Anne’s motives are clear. She clings to the notion that she and her cousin are to be married. No longer content to wait and wait for him to declare his intentions, she takes matters in her own hands. Who better than an impartial third party to aid her in her quest?
Anne’s expectations likely were formed by her mother’s hopes and dreams. Lady Catherine’s opinions are wonderfully articulated as follows:
“The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended for each other. It was the favorite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles, we planned the union…”
One might suppose the elderly woman was utterly ridiculous but for the fact that aristocratic families were known to arrange marriages for the purposes of consolidating wealth and power with no consideration for love. While the manner in which she pontificates her belief to Elizabeth is appalling, I suffer no qualms whatsoever over her ladyship’s persistence. In reading Pride and Prejudice, the character whose motive I call into question is Mr. Darcy. Granted, we only have Lady Catherine’s word that she and her beloved sister truly orchestrated the arrangement.
Still, what was Darcy thinking? Surely he must have been privy to Lady Catherine’s expectations. Did Darcy’s failure to put a quick and definitive end to his aunt’s dreams bolster her hope that he would indeed honour his own mother’s favorite wish? How many years did Lady Catherine carry on that way? Why allow her to labour under such a misapprehension for at least a decade or two? Is this another example of Darcy’s obliviousness? Was he merely indulgent of his aunt’s idiosyncrasies or even worst, patronizing or condescending? Poor Lady Catherine.
I will allow a kinder interpretation; he simply never gave Lady Catherine’s musings any serious consideration and hence his marriage proposal to Elizabeth in Hunsford.
Of course, a strict reading of Pride and Prejudice provides no true indication of Anne’s expectations either. Thus, it is left to the minds and pens of writers and fans to ponder two hundred years later.
In Love Will Grow, Elizabeth finds herself caught in the middle. From Anne’s perspective, who is better than Elizabeth to advocate on her behalf? Anne knows from frequent correspondence with her cousin Georgiana of Darcy’s admiration for the charming, albeit impertinent young woman. However, she finds it unfathomable that Elizabeth might be considered as a credible object for her cousin’s attentions—especially owing to her lack of fortune and her want of connections. Her haughty cousin must certainly deem any sort of alliance with the young woman an abhorrence.
What is Elizabeth to do? It’s one thing to watch someone suffer a case of unrequited love. It’s a whole other thing when that person is someone whom you would deem a friend. Surely she must do everything in her power to be of service to her new friend. Besides, Elizabeth is in Hunsford, and she has nothing better to do.
As for Darcy, he is content to allow Lady Catherine and Anne to think and to do what they will. He is his own master, and he has his own ideas about what his future life entails. Imagine Elizabeth’s surprise when she finds out what they are.
Who ever said the course of true love runs smoothly?

Thanks again to P.O. Dixon for generously offering one paperback copy of her book, Love Will Grow. (US only) To be entered in the giveaway please leave a comment below. Be sure and leave your email address and country of origin in the body of the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, leave your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, March 28. Good luck.

Buy links:
Contacts for the author:

Twitter:  @podixon

Thursday, March 14, 2013

C. P. Odom, A Male Writer in a 'Sea of Estrogen'

It is an honor and a privilege to have C. P. Odom, debut author of A Most Civil Proposal as my guest today.  As one of the few male Austenesque authors, I asked Colin to tell us how he became interested in Jane Austen and why he wanted to write a book about Darcy and Elizabeth. His story is both delightful and entertaining. 

As an added bonus Meryton Press has generously offered to give away one Trade Paperback and the giveaway is worldwide!  

Now, without further adieu, please join me in welcoming C.P. Odom.

As far as how I became interested in Jane Austen, let me start by saying that I have always been a big reader, mostly science fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, and histories, among other genres.  My interest in Jane Austen began after my first wife passed away from cancer.  She discovered the JA novels when she was recuperating from surgery, and she really recommended them to me.  I didn’t actually take her up on that suggestion until several years after her passing.  It was an accidental viewing of the last half of the 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries that started it all.  I wanted to find out what I had missed and what had motivated all the furor that went on in the video, and the simplest way I knew was to dig out Margaret’s copy of P&P.  I quite enjoyed it, and I gradually picked up various videos of other Jane Austen movies and watched them and read several of the books.  Pride & Prejudice remains my favorite, but I am also partial to Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma.  I even picked up the 1940 version of Pride & Prejudice, with Sir Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, although I urgently advise people to stay away from that version as if you could get the plague from it.  It is a really bad Hollyweird effort and could likely result in stunted growth in young people and premature Alzheimer’s in adults.  <Shudder!>

Now, there are many people (and not all of them female, by any means) who enjoy Jane Austen books and movies without writing about them, but I’ve always had an interest in writing, starting in high school and continuing in honors English in college.  After graduation, I spent thirty-five years as a software engineer and about seven years before that as an electronics tech.  I did a lot of technical writing on the job, and, like most jobs, when you do a task half-way decently, you get assigned more of them.  Plus, for many years, I’d had an itch to actually write some kind of fiction but had always imagined doing so in the science fiction field.  After discovering Jane Austen, I happened upon an imitative P&P sequel at the bookstore (did I mention that I love bookstores?).  It turned out to be pretty awful, however, but it did cause me to search online for other sequels.

Instead of finding a better sequel, I discovered fan-fiction.  Especially what I call JA alternative fan-fiction (change something critical to the story and then go from there).  Alternative historical-fiction books have always been one of my favorite science fiction sub-genres (it always seems to get stuck in science fiction, even if it’s dealing with something like the South winning the Civil War), so I was intrigued.

I also found that a number of the JA fan-fiction writers were really good.  I won’t name a list, for fear that I might leave someone out, but I will say (especially since I know that Janet knows Jan Hahn) that Jan was one of those who I remember fondly.

Now, plots have popped into my head for stories at various times over the years (mostly science fiction), but virtually none of them got documented in any form, and none at all went any further.  But, as I found and enjoyed a number of the JA fan-fiction stories, I started visualizing a plot alternative involving Darcy’s prideful, arrogant, and self-satisfied proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in P&P.  I thought, “What would have been different if Darcy had actually managed a decent, even a good, proposal?  Would it really have changed things materially?”  The answer, as I considered it, is that it would not have been a cure-all, since there would still have been objections in EB’s mind.  On the other hand, I thought it would have been difficult for her to slam him as hard as she did in P&P, which opened certain possibilities.  The difference with this brain-storm versus previous ones was that I was actually inspired to actually write a few of the scenes I visualized.  Then I wrote a few more scenes, and I started plotting elements to pull these scenes together.  This eventually became the fan-fiction form of A Most Civil Proposal and has evolved into my recently published novel.  Since that first beginning, I have continued to write P&P-alternative fan-fiction set in the Regency England timeframe and society.

An obvious question in this genre, where most of the readers and writers are female, is, “What does it feel like to be one of the few male writers in ‘a sea of estrogen’?”  I won’t say that I haven’t occasionally felt a little out of place, but those feelings were usually rather trifling and were easily swamped by the female readers who seemed to like what I wrote.  My own personal mind-set is even simpler – I am simply not bothered by being one of the few males in this field.  I have been married for thirty-three of my sixty-five years.  I’ve raised two grown boys with my first wife, and my present wife and I are raising two daughters (13 and 17, respectively) who we adopted from China.  I played all the aggressive sports when I was young, I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era, rising to Sergeant, which is why my online avatar is Marine Sergeant chevrons.  I follow a number of sports avidly (top of the list is college football & Formula 1 racing), I do woodworking for relaxation and household use, and I participate in a number of the shooting sports (Cowboy action shooting is my favorite).  In short, I don’t feel “feminized” by my reading and writing interests.  Possibly that’s because my “Guy” credentials are good enough so I can read and write about whatever I please, but I cannot tell for certain.  I’ve had women work for me on the job, and I’ve had women bosses, and neither has caused me any particular problems.  And yet I’m really quite a traditionalist – I still open doors for women.  I’m not much of a “SNAG” at all (Sensitive New Age Guy), so go figure!  All people seem to be a mixture of the complicated and the contradictory.  I’m comfortable in this writing role, and I get a kick out of showing friends the physical copy of my new book and having them say, “You wrote a Romance?”  It’s a hoot.  Maybe someday I’ll write that science fiction space opera – we’ll see.  I’m just happy to get a first novel published.  And one good thing is that I finally got my wife, Jeanine, to read at least part of AMCP.  She started right after the wedding in order to read the racier parts, in keeping with her personality (nurses all seem to be rather ‘earthy’, based on my observations).  Maybe I’ll even earn enough to take her out to a nice dinner.

Available at and Barnes &


Meryton Press is graciously offering one trade paperback of A Most Civil Proposal as a giveaway.  (Worldwide) Thank You, Michele! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below. Please include an email address so I will be able to contact the winner. The winner will be randomly picked from all the comments. Thanks for stopping by and good luck. Giveaway ends, Friday, March 22 at midnight!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Share in the Conversation...Darcy on the Hudson

Darcy on the Hudson

Darcy on the Hudson by Mary Lydon Simonsen

To have the Bennets living in America and Bingley, Darcy and Georgiana traveling to America made for a great re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. The characters were true to their nature even in a very different setting. Well, except for Mrs. Bennet and she was delightful!

Poor Mr. Darcy was not a good sea-faring traveler. His bout with motion sickness was quite hilarious at times and got him into trouble with Elizabeth almost immediately upon his arrival to America. Misunderstandings abound across the pond too!

There was less of Wickham and I rather enjoyed that for a change. I have to say, that what there was about him, I liked! What that says about me, I am not so sure. I will leave that for you to decide when you read it for yourself. Colonel Fitzwilliam was not mentioned much and I missed him, as he is one of my favorites. Considering the story line though, his absence was understandable.

When Darcy helps a widow by climbing a ladder and picking apples, I was more endeared to him than ever. This was a bit of a turning point in the eyes of Elizabeth as some of her first impressions of the man were in error. Caroline Bingley was still in want of Darcy as a husband but she is not Charles’ sister! The history between Caroline and Darcy was different and interesting.

I loved the parts about Lizzy’s horse. They were sweet and tender and also made for some great encounters between Elizabeth and Darcy.

On more than one occasion, I laughed out loud. I even had ‘a little water’ in my eyes on others. I loved this book and I thank you, Mary Simonsen, for a good and rewarding read!

5 out of 5 stars

This is my 3rd selection for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge of 2013.

And the winner is....

Sophia-Elizabeth who left a comment on March 7, 2013.   

To claim your 200th Anniversary 2013 P n P Calendar, please contact me by March 12 with your mailing address and your choice of the cover background color, pink or beige. Congratulations!

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Share in the Conversation...Mr. Darcy's Secret

Mr. Darcy’s Secret by Jane Odiwe

This book was so eloquently written, that at times, I felt as though I was reading Jane Austen, herself. Jane Odiwe’s knowledge of the beautiful countryside and vernacular of England came shining through. It made me feel a part of everything as I read.

The story starts with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet discussing the happy event of their daughters’ wedding. The dialog is their typical banter and made me smile. The story then moves to Darcy and Lizzy as they are entering Lambton. The scenes that follow their ride into Lambton were both pleasing and delightful. The arrival at Pemberley is all that it should be and the love story continues. Then Elizabeth comes across some unexpected letters. She does remarkably well discounting them until the town gossip plants the seeds that make the letters resurface in Elizabeth’s mind. Of course, Caroline Bingley has her share in the conversation, which helps little at all.

The side story of Georgiana Darcy was excellent and one of which I would be very much interested in reading more about. It was touching and very well done. Caroline Bingley’s unexpected male interest was a nice twist, too.

A young boy that looks a lot like Darcy, Caroline’s innuendos, the letters, Mrs. Eaton and Wickham all contribute to doubts and fears of something kept hidden. Elizabeth puts on her brave front and eventually talks to Darcy. Everything is resolved exceedingly well and ‘the getting there’ is entertaining and made for an excellent read.  This book has the love and romance that most of us crave for our favorite hero and heroine without the explicit sex. Mr. Darcy’s Secret is a lovely book and one that I enjoyed reading immensely.  Thank you, Jane Odiwe.

5 out of 5 stars

This is my second selection for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge of 2013.

Other books I have read for the challenge and will be reviewing soon:
Darcy on the Hudson by Mary Lydon Simonsen
A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds

Watch for these reviews as well as one for the 1995 BBC miniseries of P&P which I cheerfully re-watched for this challenge!