Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Share in the Conversation...Love at First Slight

I am excited to be participating in the blog tour for Love at First Slight hosted by Jakki of Leatherbound Reviews. Since I had J Marie Croft as my guest on October 8, 2013, I am sharing my review of her book now. This is my second time to be part of an actual author blog tour and I thank you, Jakki, for inviting me. 

Love at First Slight  by J Marie Croft

When I first heard of this story with all the character genders swapped, I had many questions immediately come to mind. How could certain plots play out when female actions were so limited during Regency times― the proposal, for instance. Never fear, J Marie Croft does a remarkable job of making it work. Not only does she handle all the role reversals with ease and much wit, she follows the original storyline. She gives some quotes to different characters or uses them in a different place and does so seamlessly, never ‘missing a beat’.  As for the first proposal, it was flawlessly done!

Mr. Benjamin Bennet was hilarious as the fretting father hoping to marry off his five sons to wealthy women. Mrs. Bennet (Flora) enjoyed her books (and booze) and was not the least interested in talk of the Mertyon Assembly and gentlemen’s cravats!

One of the things that I loved about this book was the author’s clever word play.
“…unless you capture wealthy women’s heartstrings and control of their purse strings.” (Mr. Bennet)
“As a clergyman, he should be filled with the Spirit, not spirits.’ (Martin about William)
“You are the carrier of the dreaded inflection infection. In fact, everything you say is a country-diction of terms.” (William Bennet to Clarence Lucas)
At the church service when Casper (Caroline) prayed for Elizabeth (Darcy) to notice his shapely calves and Elizabeth prayed that Casper would spontaneously combust!
“…the beau monde is riddled with artifice and avarice.” (Elizabeth)
There are many instances of a description with a string of words all starting with the same letter or having the same suffix.  I got much pleasure from discovering them as I read and seeing how easily they were incorporated into the story without disturbing the flow of it.

Casper Bingley made an excellent Caroline. I loved William Bennet as Elizabeth and Elizabeth Darcy as Fitzwilliam Darcy. The characters were all done very well and the story worked. It had wit, misunderstandings, romance and was a lot of fun to read. Good job!

The only thing I wished for was a little additional information given to the ending. It came a little quicker than I would have liked. I wanted to know about some of the other characters and what happened to them. I also wanted to know of William’s future plans―would he take the living or run an estate? It is only a small quibble but it left me desiring a bit more.

Overall I found this novel delightful. The title is perfect for this ‘topsy-turvy’ tale with genders reversed. It starts the marvelous word play that is to continue. Love at First Slight is lively and entertaining―much fun to read. Thank you, Ms. Croft for this clever re-telling. I highly recommend!

4.5 out of 5 stars

Book Blurb:

In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, all the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married. When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport (nee Bingley), speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant. William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent future reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye, even though he is beneath her station. His opinion of her was fixed when she slighted him at the Meryton Assembly. As her ardour grows, so does his disdain; and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely …

J. Marie Croft lives in Nova Scotia and divides her time among working at a music lesson centre, geocaching (a high-tech treasure hunt) with her husband, and writing. Her stories are lighthearted; and her tag line is Jane Austen’s quote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” A member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (Canada), she admits to being excessively attentive to the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Adult twin daughters are the light of her life even though they don’t appreciate Mr. Darcy the way ‘Momzie” does.

Buy Links:
 Barnes and Noble

For two more reviews be sure and visit Warmisunqu's Austen on February 27 (tomorrow)
and Diary of an Eccentric on February 28.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Share in the Conversation...New Year Resolutions

A Fitzwilliam Legacy:  New Year Resolutions 
by Tess Quinn

A Fitzwilliam Legacy:  New Year Resolutions did not disappoint and was a delight to read. It begins New Year’s Day, 1799 and ends January 7, 1799. There is an epilogue that does justice to later days and years. I was as pleased with the second volume as I was the first.

At the end of my review of Volume I, I posed some questions that I thought to answer in this review. To do so would spoil the fun of reading both books for oneself.  Instead I will list some significant highlights and favorite parts of this second volume.

Colonel Fitzwilliam accidentally overhears a conversation which makes a difficult situation even more heart-breaking. The two volumes center much round the dear Colonel and the troubles that are put before him. The resolutions and the path to attaining them are vastly rewarding.

Poor Darcy has to ‘handle’ a very trying situation with his cousin, Anne, a situation imposed on him by Lady Catherine. (He does a most excellent job and all is not as it seems.)

When Georgiana was little, she could not pronounce ‘Fitzwilliam’ or ‘Richard’ correctly. Her botched way of saying both names became nicknames for the two gentlemen. Richard’s name was pretty cute and even fit him at times during both volumes. The one for Darcy was adorable but totally ‘NOT’ how I think of Fitzwilliam Darcy!

Anne’s ploy to get her wishes with her mother is something I did not see coming but thoroughly enjoyed. Anne is a bit like her mother after all. Clever girl for outsmarting Lady Catherine!

Darcy and Lizzy’s Twelfth Night Ball dance was swoon-worthy! (sigh)

A recalled conversation between Darcy and Lady Anne gave much insight into Lady Catherine’s behavior and Darcy’s relationship with her. It was believable and felt like canon because it explained so much about the lady. I very much enjoyed this story line and learning of her history with a certain gentleman.

The following quote from Volume II is referencing a young man’s application to Mr. Darcy for Georgiana’s hand.  It is quite descriptive and made me laugh but I also commiserated with the young gentleman.
                This was the most difficult moment of his life! ―Nathaniel Hewitt stood facing a beast of mountainous proportions, concentrating on remaining straight and tall and concealing the slight quiver in his knees.  Not the best impression to leave if one’s legs should buckle and drop one to the floor just at the moment of making application. ― Mr. Darcy did not make it easier. His countenance had assumed a wary frown as soon as Nat had requested a word with him, and the expression had not altered one whit in the interim.
To describe Darcy as ‘a beast of mountainous proportions’ was priceless. I could feel dear Nat’s quiver.

Kitty learns some things about herself as she grows to care for a young clergyman. I enjoyed seeing her character develop.

In Volume II the author stays consistent with her writing style, her story-telling and her lovely use of Regency language, where, in my humble opinion, she ranks among the best. The main plot and the subplots, which were also an integral part of the narrative, were not just neatly tidied up with a bow to bring the story to its gratifying conclusion but were handled in a realistic and satisfying way, giving fulfillment to the ending. Thank you, Tess Quinn, for this most pleasurable read.

This is the second volume of a two volume set and does need to be read after Volume I.

5 out of 5 stars

Tess Quinn is giving away one digital copy of A Fitzwilliam Legacy, Volume I or II to a lucky winner and the giveaway is international. To be entered leave a comment below as I always love reading your 'share in the conversation'Good luck to all. 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 will end at midnight, February 25, 2014. 

And the winners are...

Congratulations, ladies!

It is my pleasure to announce the two winners
of The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn!

Jeanna who left a comment on 02-11
Trade Paperback
Seldom Kate who left a comment on 02-13

Ladies, please send an email to jbtaylor12 at gmail dot com
with your respective mailing address and email address.

Thanks for visiting and being a part of the launch
of Jan's latest release,

The Secret Betrothal.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

And the winner is...

 BrendaNZ who left a comment on 02/08, you are the winner
The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes.

Please contact me via email (jbtaylor12 at gmail dot com) 
with the email address that you use for your digital books.


Thank you for supporting my blog!

And the winners are...

Congratulations to all the winners!

The 201st Anniversary of Pride & Prejudice Giveaway Winners are:

Mrs. Darcy who left a comment on 1/28
schilds who left a comment on 1/28
EvaE who left a comment on 1/29
Sophia Rose who left a comment on 1/29
Mai Britt who left a comment on 1/30
KelliH who left a comment on 1/30

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and helping me celebrate the 201st Anniversary!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Secret Betrothal with Jan Hahn

It is with much excitement and pleasure that I introduce today's guest,
my dear friend Jan Hahn.  Today Jan has agreed to talk to us about her newest release, The Secret Betrothal. I have been so excited about this book and its release. Ever since I first read it at DWG, I had hoped that Jan would publish it someday. For all of us readers, that day is almost here! Following are Jan's answers to some questions that have intrigued me since that first reading. So without further delay, please join me in welcoming Jan Hahn.

Your latest book is a reworked, enlarged version of a story you wrote in 2003 called The Engagement.  I’m interested in your writing process.  Before you began writing, what ideas or inspiration sparked this story?

Since my first idea for the story occurred way back in 2003, I’m not sure I can remember it; however, I do know that I was intrigued by Jane Austen’s treatment of secret engagements in her books.  Money always seemed to play a major part in the need for secrecy. I was also interested in what happened to women who transgressed the moral or social code of those times.  I’m thinking of Maria Bertram who came to a sad ending in Mansfield Park.  I certainly didn’t plan for Elizabeth Bennet to repeat Maria’s mistake, but I wondered what wrong she might commit that would dare to destroy Darcy’s love for her.  I wanted to watch Darcy truly search his soul and determine exactly how much he loved Elizabeth.  If his pride caused him to propose to her in such an insulting manner simply because she had low connections and a less than perfect family, what might happen if Elizabeth actually erred in a manner that caused gossip and scandal?

It’s funny how you worded the sentence, “I wanted to watch Darcy.”  It sounds as though you don’t know what he will do even though you are the author.  Other writers talk of characters taking over a story and veering off into something the author never planned.  Does this happen to you?

All the time!  Those pesky characters think they are in charge!  I never intended for Wickham to do some of what he does in this story, but all of a sudden, off he went, and I felt like I was following him down the path just to see what he would do (and he’s not the type of man I like to follow).

That is amazing to me when I hear of authors talking of their characters leading them. I don’t think I would want to follow Wickham too far either! Now let’s talk about the setting.  The story begins in Hertfordshire, moves to Kent, and eventually to Brighton.  Why Brighton?

That’s easy to answer: because I love the sea.  Like many, I consider it highly romantic, and I wanted to place Elizabeth and Darcy on the beach.  I just had to devise a plan to get them there.

I like how you put Darcy and Lizzy on the beach. Those were some very memorable and romantic moments. What about research?  Did you have to do much research on Brighton?

Russsell House 1786
Sea-bathing machines on the beach in Brighton
In the beginning, I knew nothing about Brighton other than what Jane tells us in P&P.  I did read as much as I could about the place.  Brighton is famous for a well-known doctor named Richard Russell who treated people with seawater.  I found that fascinating and decided I needed a medical reason for going to Brighton.  Although Dr. Russell died before my story took place, I decided to create a physician who followed Dr. Russell’s methods.  I briefly mentioned Martha Gunn in the book who was an actual person considered an expert at taking people into the ocean and “dipping” them by vigorously plunging the visitor in and out of the sea.  Since Dr. Russell advocated the healthy effects of bathing in the sea, Martha Gunn had plenty of patients.  I’ve always loved Mrs. Bennet and her younger daughters’ desire to go sea-bathing, but I wonder whether they would have enjoyed Gunn’s expertise.  Of course, it’s common knowledge that the Prince Regent liked Brighton and built a palace there.  My story takes place before his pavilion is built, but I was able to refer to him.

Prince Regent's Pavilion
One part of my setting in Brighton that is pure imagination is the large rocks I place on the beach.  The portion of the shore upon which Elizabeth walks is some distance from the main beach, so I used creative license to place some rocks there because I wanted them to be a necessary part of the story. 

I am glad that you took that license with the rocks. The scenes there are some of my favorite parts of the story. Are there other instances where you employed creative license instead of abiding by your research?

Well, from what I’ve read about the waltz, even though it was known on the Continent, England did not embrace it with open arms (pardon my pun).  When it was introduced at the Prince Regent’s ball in London in 1816, The Times termed it “an indecent foreign dance.” I chose to include it at a significant ball in Brighton.

Charades was a rhyming riddle, such as the verse used in Emma that made poor Harriet Smith think Mr. Elton was in love with her.  Today, it’s a miming game, and I had Colonel Fitzwilliam introduce it to Elizabeth and Darcy because it reveals some important facts.  On a personal note, Charades is a favorite game of my family.  When all 18 of us get together during the holidays, we always play several rounds of Charades. 

Having the waltz at the ball in Brighton was a swoon-worthy moment! (sighs here) Moving on─at Pemberley, you have some scenes take place at a folly on the property.  What brought this about?

In 2012, I was fortunate to visit Lyme Park in Derbyshire, the setting for the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. Some distance from the house up on a rise, there’s a tall tower that some people referred to as a folly.  It’s called “The Cage.”  In the past, it had actually been a gamekeeper’s lodge and even a jail.  In the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, I fell in love with the folly where Darcy’s first proposal took place.  I wanted a prettier, more graceful building for Pemberley.  I found pictures of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire and decided that a smaller version of those ruins would be the perfect folly for my story.  

Fountain's Abbey

Ooh, the folly of the first proposal in the 2005 movie is so beautiful and creates an extremely romantic setting. Too bad the proposal did not end as romantic as it started.  Wanting the folly for part of your story leads me to my next question. Do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine?

I write strictly by the seat of my pants other than I always know the ending before I begin.  Outlines seem to take the fun out of writing for me.  I sometimes write a short synopsis before I begin but nothing like a detailed outline.  I tend to make outlines in the middle of writing the story if I need to keep track of ages or time that has elapsed. 

I wish I had a writing routine!  I’ve always admired people who get up early and write at least four hours, but I’m not an early morning person.  I write slowly, and after two hours I feel as though I’ve been digging ditches!  I love rewriting, though.  I can edit my work forever. Publisher’s deadlines were made for people like me, or else I’d never stop changing things. 

I can certainly relate to your last four words above, ‘never stop changing things’. It can be hard to find that place of being able to live with one’s work. Tell us something about your newest book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)

I probably answered this question earlier when I said I wanted to write a story wherein Darcy has to search his soul to see whether he truly loves Elizabeth.  My favorite scene is the confrontation between Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam when the colonel points out some hard truths that Darcy does not want to face.  I also had fun with the Mistletoe ball.

Oh yes, both of those scenes are emotional and touching. Since both involve Darcy I have a very important question for you. We all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?

You mean aside from his looks, his fortune, and Pemberley?  All kidding aside, I love Darcy because he is a good man, he’s honest, and when he’s wrong he’s willing to change.  I can’t ask for much more than that. 

Thank you, Janet, for allowing me to introduce The Secret Betrothal on your lovely blog.  I also want to thank you again for the beautiful artwork you did for the front and back covers of my book.

Back Cover Blurb:

Why would a gentleman ask a lady to conceal their betrothal?

Jane Austen writes of secret engagements in more than one of her novels, and in The Secret Betrothal, author Jan Hahn explores the question of what would happen if Austen’s most famous heroine from Pride and Prejudice reluctantly agrees to accept such a proposal.

When Fitzwilliam Darcy learns that Elizabeth Bennet has committed herself to such an arrangement, his hopes of winning her hand are shattered.  After circumstances continue to bring the two together—from Hertfordshire to Rosings Park to the seaside town of Brighton―he finds he is unable to tame his desire for the woman who has stolen his heart.

Do Darcy’s efforts to win Elizabeth succeed, or does his sworn enemy lead her to the altar?

Jan, I am so thrilled that you agreed to stop by and talk with us about this new release. Your answers were informative and intriguing. As for the cover art, it was my privilege to be asked to do it for you and Meryton Press. 

You may contact Jan via her website, Jan Hahn's Books
or her author page on Facebook, Jan Hahn
Jan Hahn's other books may be found at Amazon Author Page 
and at B&N for An Arranged Marriage and The Journey

Several years ago Jan reintroduced me to Pride and Prejudice. She even loaned me her DVD of the 1995 miniseries. (not sure I would have done that) The first PnP alternate path that I ever read was Jan's An Arranged Marriage and I haven't stopped reading since! Later she told me, "Oh, I forgot to mention that JAFF can be addicting!" Her warning came a little too late. I guess I can truthfully say that all of this is because of you, my friend. Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful world of JAFF.

Michele Reed and Meryton Press are having a giveaway of The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn. There is one trade paperback and one eBook generously being offered. Two winners will be randomly selected from the comments. Please have your share in the conversation so that you may be entered to win either the trade paperback or the eBook. Please note that the book has not yet been released but should be by the end of the giveaway and it ends at midnight, February 17.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Share in the Conversation...The Subsequent Proposal

The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes

To find a book combining my two favorite Jane Austen novels was exciting. For the book to be an exceptional read too, only completed my joy.  The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes is just such a book linking the characters from Pride & Prejudice with those of Persuasion. An added treat is Ms. Starnes's ability to eloquently use Regency language. Not only can she write in the language of the era but her first-hand knowledge of the country shines through in her words making for an intensely gratifying novel.

When I first read an excerpt from The Subsequent Proposal, I own to having experienced immediate angst! To think of Mr. Darcy betrothed to Anne Elliot was difficult indeed, although their personalities probably would have made for them a suitable match.  Then to have Captain Wentworth courting Elizabeth Bennet, this book became even more provocative. I had to read it. Nothing else would do.

The relationship that develops between Darcy and Anne Elliot is understandable. It is one born of kindred spirits and of broken hearts from past loves, loves not returned. (or so it seems) Georgiana gets on well with Anne so that is another plus in Anne’s favor. Always the gentleman and rescuer of those he cares about, Darcy wants to relieve Anne Elliot of the injuries she has suffered at the hands of her family. His thoughts on Sir Walter Elliot and Miss Elizabeth Elliot (especially the latter) are funny and spot on!

When Darcy returns to Netherfield to the aid of Mr. Bingley, his whole world is turned upside down…again! Joana Starnes gets in Darcy’s thoughts and took me with her. I felt his despair, anguish, jealousy, guilt and his deep, abiding love.  It is a journey not to be missed.

To say that Darcy and Captain Wentworth are jealous of one another is an understatement. Imagine two favored heroes of fiction who love violently (when at last they love), seeing their lost love with another man─each being ‘that’ other man. From that stems their extreme dislike. I loved their interactions as they were so true to human nature.

At this point I will say no more for fear of spoilers. This book is too delicious to risk giving anything away. I will only add something I read on a blog, a quote from the author herself, “but I just can’t go away without saying that, in this wonderful JAFF world of ours, I believe there is another truth, just as universally acknowledged:  no matter what crazy obstacles are dreamed up and heartlessly set before them, Elizabeth and Darcy should never be apart!” I agree wholeheartedly and I highly recommend this novel to any fan of Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion. This book is well worth the read and does not disappoint! I found it extremely difficult to put down. Well done, Ms. Starnes.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In conjunction with this review author Joana Starnes is giving away one digital copy of The Subsequent Proposal to a lucky winner and the giveaway is international.  We want to hear your share in the conversation so please leave a comment to be entered.  Good luck to all. Giveaway will end at midnight, February 14, 2014. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

And the winners are...



The randomly selected winners for 
A Fitzwilliam Legacy, Volume I or Volume II
by Tess Quinn are:

Jan Hahn, Paperback, who left a comment on January 24
Anonymous (Marti), eBook, who left a comment on January 24

Ladies, congratulations again and thank you for supporting my blog. I have sent you an email so please let me know as soon as possible your choice of Volume I or II. Thanks.