Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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

I will no longer be posting stars for my reviews on this blog. I will do so where I must, as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. My preference is to talk about the book, the writing style of the author and the things I like about the story. My personal feelings are that too much emphasis is placed on the rating rather than on the book and its contents. Too many times on public venues for reviews, people use that means to give few stars, make cruel and hurtful statements about the book and/or the author. I have even been made aware of a few times when someone purposely gave few stars to bring down a rating of a book. It is not my purpose nor is it my intention to be overly critical or cause discomfort to any author. I am not an expert in the field but I have read many books. I will simply state what appeals to me as a reader.

Now that I've stated my change in review policy here and on the review page, I share with you, dear readers, my latest review. If you leave a comment here and on the post by Monica Fairview, you will double your chances in the giveaway for this book. Details at the bottom of the review.

Mr. Darcy’s Pledge by Monica Fairview

Volume I begins almost three months after the Hunsford proposal. Darcy is on his way to Pemberley to tell Georgiana of his plans. His decision has been made. It is time for him to find a bride for Pemberley. As he still has no idea who that bride will be, he knows who it will not be―Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Dear Georgiana was concerned about her brother’s decision but knew she must not push. She could tell there was something wrong with William and she was going to find out what it was. I liked Georgiana. She was shy and reserved (true to character) in the beginning, but started to gain her confidence as the story progressed. It was nice to see her speak up for herself on occasion.

As Fitzwilliam goes about the task of considering women to be the mistress of Pemberley, he first makes a list of qualities he wants in a bride. I was amused at how often he would scratch off a quality after being in the company of a lady. Then sometimes he would add one. Try as he might, he still could not forget Elizabeth Bennet and her qualities set a high standard that was impossible for any other lady to attain.

There are some new characters and one is a potential candidate for the coveted role of Mr. Darcy’s wife, along with Caroline Bingley. I am not sure which of these ladies I dislike most.  Enter Lord and Lady Matlock and they take top honors for being bad. Monica Fairview did a great job of making me really detest them and the two ladies previously mentioned.

A certain incident unexpectedly brings Elizabeth and the Gardiners to Pemberley. This allows for my two favorite characters to share some good quality time although it certainly doesn't aid Darcy in his efforts to move on. So much for his well laid plans to forever forget Elizabeth Bennet AND so much for his ever changing list of requirements!

With Lizzy spending time at Pemberley Darcy feels he has been given a second chance. Some attempts to show her his real character are truly funny. They clearly do not go as he plans and it is a delight for the reader to experience along with our hero and heroine.

A sudden development changes the situation at Pemberley but makes Darcy more resolute than ever not to lose Lizzy again. One thing is certain. He will try to win her love. Volume I ends with Mr. Darcy’s special commitment to himself and to the woman he is determined to make his wife…if only she could have heard him.

I enjoyed the narrative told from Darcy’s point of view. It worked. Ms. Fairview is an excellent writer and pulls the reader into the story with her characters. Mr. Darcy’s Pledge is charming and entertaining. I highly recommend it and I look forward, with much anticipation, to Volume II. 

As stated at the bottom of Monica's previous postshe will be giving away one eBook to a lucky winner, worldwide. Thank you, Monica. By leaving a comment here and at that post, your chances of winning will double. 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 (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway will end at midnight, May 29, 2014. Because I was later than was my intention for posting the review, I have extended the giveaway date by two days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting to Know Mr. Darcy with Monica Fairview

Hello Dear Readers! You are in for a treat today. If the title didn't grab your interest then my guest will. Monica Fairview is here today and it is her first appearance on my blog! I'm so excited to have her visit and it gets even better! She is talking to us about getting to know Mr. Darcy...what is Darcy really like? I know you will love her thoughts on this very special topic! 

Thank you so much for coming by, Monica. I have been looking forward to your post and appreciate you sharing your insights with us. Monica also has a giveaway so be sure and look for it at the end of the post.

I’m delighted to be here visiting Janet’s charming blog. What better place to be when you wish to be agreeably engaged? Perhaps not more agreeably engaged than Darcy, who is contemplating Lizzy’s fine eyes, but I am most certainly very pleasantly engaged in the occupation of getting to know Mr. Darcy.

What is Darcy really like? That is the question I asked myself when I began writing Mr. Darcy’s Pledge, and to my surprise, I found the answer wasn’t easy. To try and work it out, I looked at the two main Darcys most of us are familiar with: Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen. ‘What traits do they have in common?’ I asked myself.

Colin Firth plays the aristocratic, arrogant Darcy. He seldom smiles (his mouth twitches when he’s amused). His collar is starched stiff so he has to turn his whole body when he wants to turn and look at someone. His face is largely expressionless, which means most of the emotion he conveys comes out through his eyes. This Mr. Darcy hides a great deal under that fa├žade, and the smouldering looks he gives Elizabeth promise a depth of feeling he is forced to hide under an aristocratic demeanour. This Mr. Darcy will clearly have to learn to express his emotions. This Mr. Darcy gets wet on a hot day. He dives into a pool (I can’t help thinking of it as a metaphor for his emotions) and is caught out when Lizzy shows up unexpectedly and sees him in disarray, stripped of his social veneer. Fortunately, Lizzy is more than equal to the task of teaching him how.

In complete contrast, Matthew Macfadyen plays an inarticulate, tormented Darcy. He’s a Darcy who struggles to express himself, a brooding Darcy who feels a great deal but is unable to express his feelings because of his social context. He should have been a poet, like Byron perhaps, but somehow missed his calling. He struggles to fit into social expectations but doesn’t quite make it. Physically, he is very expressive. His fingers clench and unclench, his brow furrows, he smiles and he grimaces. He doesn’t dive into the water – rain pours down on him, soaking him, tormenting him, soaking into his very pores.

The funny thing is – I love both those Darcys, even though I wonder if they are actually the same person. Perhaps they are different aspects of that person we call Darcy. Or perhaps Matthew is the stripped down (I’m talking emotionally – don’t get too excited) version of Darcy – the one who can’t keep up the appearance of being a snooty, superior and unemotional aristocrat. 

Either way, what the two really have in common is Lizzy Bennet, who appears on the scene and saves them from themselves.

But what if – and this is where Mr. Darcy’s Pledge starts, Darcy doesn’t have a chance of being saved. What if, as actually happens in the original proposal, Darcy’s outpouring of emotions just doesn’t impress the young lady in question. What if he has to take her rejection as final? Will he shut down his emotions and go back to who he was before he met her?

In Mr. Darcy’s Pledge, I explore that option. My perspective is – too late, mate! The stable door is open and the horse has bolted, so what are you going to do about it?

Here’s a little excerpt to whet (not wet) your appetite.

It was a warm, sticky night, one of those summer nights when, even with the windows open, it was difficult to breathe.  When Darcy finally managed to drift off, after what seemed like hours of waiting in vain for sleep to overcome him, a thunderclap roused him. He trudged to the windows to close them. The rain provided no relief from the heat; quite the opposite. With the windows closed, the room grew even more oppressive.

His brief periods of slumber were flooded with torrid dreams that ended in disappointment. In one particularly vivid dream, he thought Elizabeth was running towards him, but as he reached out to embrace her, he realized she was looking behind him at Wickham. In the dream, he was compelled to look on as Wickham came forward to seize her and plant his lips on hers.

Darcy sat up in his bed and ran his hands over his face in despair. Now both Wickham and Elizabeth were invading his dreams. Even if he was able to control his thoughts in the daytime, he could not control them at night.

It simply would not do. Something had to be done about it before long or he feared for his sanity.

The only way he would be able to forget Elizabeth was to replace her with a real-life bride. The problem was he did not wish to be hasty in his choice. He could not allow himself to be ruled either by passion or desperation. He wanted to choose calmly and rationally.

What then was he waiting for?

The sooner he decided what an ideal bride for Pemberley should be like, the sooner he could begin his search.

Full of determination, he rose and dressed without the assistance of his valet. Sequestering himself in the library, he sat at his desk, sharpened a quill, and began to write.

List of Requirements for a Wife:


Torn between his heart and his mind… Mr. Darcy must make a choice.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has always been able to keep his emotions under control. That is, until he falls under the spell of Elizabeth Bennet and surprises himself by blurting out a proposal to her like a moonstruck youth. Stung to the quick by her rejection, his pride in tatters, and left with no possibility that she will ever return his regard, Darcy determines to put all thoughts of Elizabeth behind him. But not even Town with its boundless opportunities for amusement can keep the image of Elizabeth Bennet from pursuing him everywhere he goes.

By the time Darcy leaves Town to travel up to Pemberley, he has learned one thing. There is only one way of overcoming Miss Bennet’s bewitching hold over him and Darcy is desperate enough to try it. The solution is to get married. And this time, he is not going to choose a wife by allowing his emotions to lead him by the nose.

His choice will be entirely rational…

In Volume I of this Pride and Prejudice variation, Monica Fairview traces Mr. Darcy’s journey as he struggles to come to terms with the upheaval Elizabeth Bennet has caused in his life…and his heart.     

Connect with Monica Fairview:

Monica Fairview is the author of three other Pride & Prejudice based novels:  The Other Mr. Darcy, The Darcy Cousins, and the comic adventure, Steampunk Darcy.

It is such a pleasure to have you visit, Monica. I loved your post AND getting to know Mr. Darcy a bit better. It is always interesting to get more perspective on the man we all 'love to love'. The excerpt does definitely whet the appetite! I must tell you that I really like the cover for Mr. Darcy's Pledge. It is beautifully done.

I will be reviewing Mr. Darcy's Pledge later in the week so be looking for more about this book then. I am happy to announce that Monica will be giving away one eBook to a lucky winner, worldwide. Thank you, Monica. 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 (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway will end at midnight, May 27, 2014.   

Friday, May 9, 2014

And the winner is...'The Second Chance'

to Angie, (angmardee) 
the randomly selected winner, 
of Joana Starnes new book,

The Second Chance.

I hope you enjoy your eBook and will visit the blog again.  Thanks to all of you for stopping by and keep an eye out for other giveaways of this book. I will be reviewing it later and will have another giveaway associated with that review!

Thank you, Joana Starnes, for being my guest and for allowing me to host the giveaway. Best wishes with this latest release!

Lizzy Bennet's Diary with Cassandra Grafton

Cassandra Grafton is my guest today and she is visiting with us about her online postings of her book, Lizzy Bennet's Diary, at Austen Variations. If you haven't had a chance to read them yet, I hope you will follow the link to Chapter One and get started. Chapter Three posted today and you will not want to miss it! A new chapter will post each Friday and that makes the day even more special. 

I hope you enjoy our questions and answers! 

 What inspired you to write Lizzy Bennet’s Diary?

I was an active member of a Forum at the original (and now disbanded) Longbourn Lounge website which came into being in late 2005 following the release of the film. It was a fun place to be, with lovely people - many of whom I am still good friends with – pouring out their love of Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice, Darcy etc. in all sorts of creative forms, from writing (poems, limericks, fan fiction short stories and challenges), and images (drawings, paintings and picture collages) to more unusual talents such as stamp carving and cookie making!

As you may know from some of the online interviews I’ve done over the past year, before trying my hand at writing Austen-inspired stories, I used to co-write Harry Potter fan fiction with my friend, Ada, and this had been my only recent writing experience up to then.

When I started to read the wonderful stories appearing at the website, it gave me the incentive to try my hand, but I had never written anything historical, so was unsure of my ‘voice’.

I found the best way to gain a feel for the Regency tone and words I needed to represent Elizabeth Bennet was to think in my head of either Jennifer Ehle or Keira Knightley speaking the words aloud.

This approach seemed to work and helped me get into my stride, so I started to write the opening chapter from Lizzy’s point of view, and in the first person (also something new to me), and it naturally evolved into a record of her day – hence the diary extracts.

There are quite a few diaries out there “penned” by Darcy and giving his account of falling in love, being rejected and then changing to be a person worthy of the woman he loved, but I feel quite strongly that Lizzy has at least as much changing to do as well! So I decided to write her thoughts and feelings, as I interpreted them, during the story, and as the 2005 film was the most current adaptation, I chose to follow the screenplay. (It was also much shorter than trying to take on the 1995 series or the original novel, and as I had only written short stories before, it felt a big enough challenge at the time!)

There are some things in Lizzy Bennet’s Diary not included in the film though?

Yes, there are!  Two further aspects have been incorporated, one relating to the film itself and one to the overall story.

I had noticed, as I am sure many viewers did, several things which seemed to have no explanation – inconsequential perhaps, but nonetheless ones I wished to find an answer for, such as why Lizzy didn’t return from the Netherfield Ball in the family carriage and why she walked home from Pemberley – minus her coat! Though these are small matters, I did enjoy weaving a solution into the storyline!

The other thing I have done is included a few nods to the book where I felt a little more background was required than the screenplay provided and there are also a couple of original ‘scenes’ which I have also added from my imagination, including the day spent at Pemberley and after the end of the film (UK version).

So this story was written some time ago. What made you decide to post it now?

I started to post the opening chapters on the Longbourn Lounge website in early 2006, but then Ada and I decided to set up our own small site on the Web as an archive for our writing (Pen & Ink) and I moved it over to there where it was finally completed during the summer. Pen & Ink is no more, sadly, and Lizzy Bennet’s Diary has been languishing on my hard drive ever since. I came across it a few months ago, re-read it, cringed at how poor my attempt was, then couldn’t resist editing it to try and make it a better read.

Once I had finished, rather than stow it away again I decided to post it online again in the hope some readers would enjoy reading it.

I had originally picked the title to echo that of Bridget Jones’ Diary, and this is why I wanted the iconic poster image of that film to influence the ‘cover’ for the story. Being a huge fan of Pride & Prejudice in all its guises, and having used Jennifer Ehle’s performance in equal measure with Keira Knightley’s for Lizzy’s ‘voice’, I really wanted a cover representing both adaptations.

Over to you, Janet!

Thank you, Cassandra, for answering my questions about Lizzy Bennet’s Diary and for sharing its history with us. I am truly enjoying reading Elizabeth’s most private thoughts, especially where they concern Darcy. You are doing an excellent job getting ‘in’ her head, but then, you know, I have long admired your ability to do that very thing with your characters. You can delve into their minds and thoughts like no other.

Now I’m ready to take on a few of your questions and hopefully, add a little insight into the covers and what they represent.

 Since I mentioned that I wanted two covers for this story, representing both adaptions and wanted them to reflect Bridget Jones’ Diary, tell me a little about your work on these covers.

When sharing your thoughts with me about the covers, you mentioned having both men standing with Lizzy. Since that is not something that occurred in either adaptation, I had to create the scene.

The picture of Kiera Knightley outdoors with the book in her hands was a scene from the movie and made a good starting place for the 2005 cover. Then I watched the movie for scenes of the gentlemen, (and I use that term loosely with Wickham) that would appear to have them looking toward her from behind. Once I found one that had all the right elements, I took a photo of the scene, cut out the background leaving only the man and put him as a layer into my original photograph of Lizzy. I did with each man and I also had to change the colour tone on each to get him to match the background of the cover. We then decided it might be good to have them a bit transparent as if she was thinking about them.

The 1995 adaptation was a bit harder. Wanting the covers to be similar, we needed a picture of Elizabeth outdoors with a book. The background for this one is a photo I took of the grounds at Luckington Court, the home used for Longbourn. Lizzy had walked in this area during the miniseries so it was perfect.  Next I took pictures of the different characters, again cutting out the background and putting them in the new one. The only problem was that Lizzy did not have a journal. I remembered the scene in the carriage when Lizzy and Maria Lucas were leaving Hunsford. Maria was holding her journal and a pencil in her gloved hands! Perfect!  All I had to do was take a photo, cut out the gloved hands holding the journal and pencil then rotate the new picture to fit with the Elizabeth I had chosen!

Once the covers were put together, I turned them into paintings via computer software. I did ‘clean up’ their faces a good bit and that took away some of the painted look. I felt that a necessary step, as their faces needed to reflect the desired expressions more clearly.

Although the covers are similar, they each have a different look to them. Expand on that if you would.

When I was watching and re-watching the adaptations for scenes to draw for my 2014 Calendar, I began to notice differences in the tone of the scenes. As we all know, the 2005 movie is very romantic. Many of the scenes are filmed in candlelight, cloudy skies or rain. The scenes are also softened and the details are not sharp. This all gives the illusion of a much more romantic setting. The scenery, the soft details and the light are all used effectively in creating the romance of the story.

The 1995 miniseries is classical. Most of the scenes are bright, crisp and clear. There is lots of sunshine and the details have not been softened.  Neither have the faces of the characters.  When the scenes are outdoors, in shade or snow, everything is lighter. Indoors, the rooms are well lit and play to the more traditional aspects of the adaptation.

These are the looks that I wanted to capture when doing the covers. The 2005 is softer, greyer and has fewer details. (I did add the branch to the upper right to make the covers more similar.) The 1995 has lots of light, much green and many details. Of course, making the men a little transparent does tend to soften their looks but then, that is the idea if one is only thinking of them!

I appreciate your questions to me and your answers to mine, Cassandra. It was lovely to work with you on these covers and I hope that everyone is enjoying Lizzy Bennet’s Diary as much as I am. I look forward to each Friday so I can read the next instalment at Austen Variations. Thank you again for being my guest today. 

Before we end, I must ask one final question, is there anything in the works that may be published in the future? I hope so!

Cassandra Grafton is also the author of the trilogy, A Fair Prospect.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Haunting Mr. Darcy with KaraLynne Mackrory

As part of the Haunting Mr. Darcy Blog Tour, I am happy to tell you that KaraLynne Mackrory shares an enticing excerpt with us today! It just makes me want to read more. Enjoy!

Greetings Austen lovers!
            I am happy to share with you today an excerpt from my new book, Haunting Mr. Darcy: A Spirited Courtship.  What a wonderfully delightful experience it was writing this book for it gave me the freedom, or rather gave Darcy and Lizzy the freedom, to express themselves in a manner not normally possible under the rules of everyday reality.  In this book Darcy and Lizzy are tethered together by Fate.  While Elizabeth slumbers in a coma after an accident, her spirit so nowhere near sleep.  In fact she is nowhere near Hertfordshire!  She is in Darcy’s home and believing she is dreaming a most bizarre and frustrating dream that features prominently a most beguiling and frustrating man.  Darcy is not without his own explanation and the two differences of opinion is not the first these two have squabbled over.
            In this excerpt below, our two beloved characters are still new to this strange reality they face.  It is late at night and while Darcy decides he wants to savor, at least for the evening, his tumble into lunacy, Elizabeth is not so sure she wants any part of her dream anymore.  Especially if her decided dislike for the gentleman is going to become muddled with her appreciation for his handsome features.

                He still had not responded to her, and there was something about his eyes that suggested he was savoring the moment. His actions furthered her confusion, and she looked at him with a sudden impatience.
                This too, like everything thus far, seemed to amuse him, his eyes lighting with fascination. Finally, he opened his mouth and spoke, “Pray tell, Miss Bennet, how is it that you have found yourself to be in my library?”
                Elizabeth gasped and looked around her. Her head jerked back to Darcy, and she exclaimed, “Your library, sir? That cannot be, for I imagined this place.”
                Darcy’s brow lowered a fraction at her speech but quickly resumed its sardonic air as he continued, “My library, madam.”
                Elizabeth contemplated his question as she frantically looked around. Surely, this could not be his library, for she was the one dreaming and… Ease flowed through her, of course; all manner of strange things had occurred thus far, and she took comfort in this as just another element of it. Though perhaps nightmare is more accurate, Elizabeth thought with a touch of humor.
                She answered him honestly. “I know not, sir. But in such cases, it matters not how one gets there, I believe.”
                “In such cases? It is now I, Miss Bennet, who cannot take your meaning.”
                “In the case of dreams, Mr. Darcy. I am dreaming.”
                To her surprise, this made him laugh. She watched amazed as he leaned forward and covered his face as his laughter came up deep from within him and washed over her like a warm embrace. She knew not why, but the sound was as intoxicating as it was new. She could not recall a time when he had laughed in her presence in Hertfordshire.
                “Indeed, it seems I must have partaken too much. For although I do not feel the least bit bosky, I must be in my cups. Miss Elizabeth Bennet is dreaming of me!” He erupted in laughter again.
                “I fail to see the humor, sir.”
                Mr. Darcy lifted his head, and with his dark eyes bright with humor, he stared at her. “You say you are dreaming, madam, but surely that cannot be, for it is you who haunts my dreams.”
                Darcy watched as Elizabeth blushed, deliciously, and turned away from him. He was losing his wits, but he would worry about that later. For weeks, he had struggled to forget her. Somehow, his struggle had manifested itself in such mental anguish as to produce hallucinations of her, and wonderfully good ones they were. He marveled at the accuracy of his memory. Her manner was just as bewitching as it was in Hertfordshire, and she was even as impertinent as he remembered.
                Upon closer inspection, he did notice a few changes. The dress, although very handsome on her, was not one he had seen her wear before. Of that he was certain, for he recalled every occasion they were in company together, and she had never worn such an angelic dress. Surely, he would have made a point to remember it, if she had. There were a number of other small nuances, too. She did seem almost to glow in the darkened room, fueling his conviction that she was a product of his imagination.
                Not wishing to think at all upon the consequences of such a notion as his being bound for Bedlam, Darcy focused his mind on enjoying the illusion while it lasted. She was probably a product of too many glasses of wine at the ball and a lack of rest. Darcy frowned; he only recalled having one glass of wine with the supper meal. There was the small glass of port he had earlier after Colonel Fitzwilliam left him, but such would not constitute dipping rather deeply.
                “Will you not have a seat, Miss Bennet?” Darcy said as he reclined further into his seat. If she had been real, he would have remained standing until she was seated as any gentleman would, but she was not real, and he would enjoy her company whilst seated.
                He watched her look toward the chair he offered near the dying embers of the fire and say, “I cannot, sir.”
                “Cannot?” With a raised brow in challenge, Darcy enjoyed seeing how this provoked her eyes to flash with something like the way they did when he would spar with her at Netherfield. Oh how I love to provoke you, Elizabeth!
                He watched as she gazed steadily back at him, increasing his heart rate and making his lips twitch. She seemed to come to a decision in her mind, and then she lifted her chin and, with a mischievous smile, walked towards the chair. He leaned back and put his arms behind his head, enjoying the graceful way his mind was conjuring her movements.
                Then he watched, frozen in place, as she walked into the chair and stood in the midst of it, her legs disappearing into it. Darcy bolted upright and jumped behind his chair in fright. His wide, shocked eyes quickly met her satisfied ones, and he croaked, “How…what…?”
                Darcy darted his eyes from Elizabeth’s to the spot where her body disappeared into the cushion and back up to her face. She did not seem to be at all surprised by the feat, and yet his mind was racing at the utterly impossible scene he was witnessing.
                Elizabeth sighed, walked again out of the chair, and then turned to him. “As I said, sir, I cannot.” She seemed to be growing in frustration, and yet he could not understand it. It was he who had reason to be upset; she was not real, and yet he could see her, talk to her. Fatigue taking over his momentary fright, Darcy slid inelegantly into the chair again, this time dropping his head into his hands.
                “Why is this happening to me?” he groaned.
                He was a good man, an honorable man. He was a responsible agent of his estate and brother to his sister. He had not gone to Hertfordshire to become beguiled by a country miss, nor did he see why he could not forget her. Darcy laughed without humor. Looking up through the slits of his fingers at Elizabeth’s form still visible to him, he thought, Forget her! Ha! It is my mind now alongside my heart that might be in some danger.
                His phantom spoke then and he imagined with a hint of compassion in her voice. “Sir, I can see my presence distresses you, and I assure you that, if it were in my power to remove myself from you, I would.”
                Darcy lifted his head and looked at her. He could not fault himself for creating such a beautiful escape from reality. If he were to lose his mind, it would be a comfort to know it was in pursuit of Miss Elizabeth. He sighed and stood, closing the space between them in a few strides. He noticed she held her breath at his advance, and a part of him wished that this reaction was not an invention of his deteriorating mind.
                “Come, Miss Elizabeth. I fear it is late and the morning will come soon enough. If it is, as you say, that you are dreaming, then you will soon wake. And as for me, sleep will cure my half of this strange sojourn.”
                Elizabeth shrugged her lovely shoulders and nodded her head. “What shall we do to pass the time then, sir?”
                Looking down onto her lovely face, Darcy realized his New Year’s wish had come true. He was getting to see Elizabeth once again. A smile tugged at his lips, and he resolved to enjoy the last of the evening. With luck, he would fall back asleep and wake rested enough to have his sanity restored. Then, he determined, he would endeavor to extinguish this fascination with Miss Elizabeth Bennet before he truly did lose his mind.
                Darcy smiled and gestured around him. “What think you of books?”
                To his delight, she laughed. “Oh no, Mr. Darcy I am sure we never read the same or not with the same feelings.”
                Darcy settled himself back into his chair and again waved his hand toward the long rows of shelving. “I am sorry you think so, but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject.” He paused, taking in the brilliance in her eyes, and said, “We may compare our different opinions.”
                “Very well, sir. What is your opinion of this book here?” He watched her walk towards the small table where he had left the book he was currently working through about Wellesley’s battles. His eyebrow rose as he turned to her.
                “You have read the account, Miss Elizabeth? I am all astonished.”
                Her smile was mischievous, and yet she answered smoothly, “I briefly felt my way through it.”
                Darcy appreciated the way her lip twitched when she spoke, almost as if hiding a secret. Still he tried to remind himself that, as she was a part of his own imagination, she would have no secrets and that he should not be surprised to have her choose a book he was reading. Sadly, it was only more proof that this was all just a break from reality for him.
                Still he wished to savor this time with her and so sat back and began a discussion. He was surprised to note that, although he was imagining her presence before him, his mind did not conjure her up to agree with him on all accounts. Her opinions were sound, and though they did not always agree, he found the conversation stimulating. She was certainly a remarkable lady, hallucination or not.
                Elizabeth was astonished that the Darcy in her dreams was less patronizing than she expected. He seemed to find her opinions and viewpoints interesting and even enjoyed when she challenged him.
It was well after the clock struck four that their discussions began to wane. Elizabeth could see that this warmer, more charming Darcy was losing his battle with sleep. The fact that she remained without fatigue made her smile. For all his reasons she was in his library, she was not the one fading. As they spoke, there were times that he leaned his head back against the cushions of the chair and listened to her. He would still respond, eyes closed, and Elizabeth found that she was surprisingly glad for this, as it became harder not to focus her eyes on his features the longer she remained in his company. She remembered Jane’s asking her whether she thought he was handsome after having danced with him at Netherfield, and she had responded, ‘He handsome? I should soon call Mr. Collins a wit!’ But now that she observed him in the soft glow of the fire, she was becoming much too aware of how false her statement was.
                “Come, Mr. Darcy. I fear it is time for you to retire.” Her suggestion had double motives, for she wagered that, if he were to retire, she could once again be alone to enjoy her dream in solitude.
                “Mmm…” was all the response she was to expect.
                Elizabeth smiled at him. It was easy to be charmed by this Darcy—for he was half-asleep! “Sir, I am sure you are not comfortable where you are.”
                “’Tis a shame that I will not see you again tomorrow, Elizabethhh.” His words slurred.
                Elizabeth gasped, and her hand rose to her heart. She ought to rebuke him for using her Christian name. But then she remembered this was a dream and he was clearly not himself in his exhaustion. Laughing, Elizabeth shook her head. The bizarre nature of this dream was softening her towards the man she swore to hate for all eternity!
                “Perhaps if you were to at least change seats, sir. You will not find rest in that chair.” Why am I concerned for his comfort? He is not even real! Elizabeth determined to care no more, but then Darcy rose unsteadily to his feet and nodded at her.
                To her growing alarm, he walked towards her. Unaccountably her heart began to beat faster, and she clutched at her neck feeling her blush spread again across her cheeks.
                “Beautiful…Elizabeth,” he breathed near her ear, only just not touching her. “I bid you…a goodnight.”
                And with that startling adieu, she watched him step aside and slide easily into the chaise lounge beside her. His steady breathing told her he had already fallen asleep. Only then did she release the breath she had been holding.

There you have it folks!  Darcy is going mad and Elizabeth is beside herself with the strange dream she is experiencing.  But what will happen in the morning when both find that they are still bound together?  Stay tuned for more excerpts and sneak peeks later in the week on this blog tour.  Thanks for visiting!

KaraLynne Mackrory

Author bio:

KaraLynne is an amazing mother who never makes mistakes, never gets upset with her children and never ever has a dirty house. Ever. She always has her dishes done and the floors spotless and dinner is always prepared and ready on time. Her kids are always clean, polite, respectful and loving, especially to each other. She never gets irritated with her husband when he doesn’t turn his socks right side out for the laundry and they always agree on everything. She delights in nothing else but to serve her family and never wants or needs time for herself. She takes great care to shower every day and put make up on so that she is always beautiful and presentable. She never wears her pajamas all day or for days in a row and she is the epitome of womanhood. Most of all, she has a great sense of humor and loves to write.
Falling for Mr. Darcy (2012) is KaraLynne’s first venture in to the world of book authorship.  Bluebells in the Mourning (2013)  came next and coming in the spring of 2014 is, Haunting Mr. Darcy: A Spirited Courtship.  Although, admittedly a Darcy addict, she enjoys many things, such as: Mr. Knightly, Edmund Bertram, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Tilney and John Thornton.  She is happily married to her own Mr. Darcy and together they share the insanity inducing responsibility of raising four children.

Purchase Haunting Mr. Darcy at Amazon.com.

Thanks so much, KaraLynne, for stopping by on your busy tour and giving us this 'sneak peek' of your book! It sounds excellent and I can hardly wait to read it! I wish you the best with this latest release! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Joana Starnes and 'The Second Chance'

I am so excited to welcome Joana Starnes, author of the newly released, The Second Chance, to my blog again. Joana's latest book is a Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility Variation. I have been eagerly awaiting its publication since I first read about it last October. Joana was my guest and talking about her second book, The Subsequent Proposal that combined Pride & Prejudice with Persuasion. (As my review of it will attest, I absolutely loved that novel.) Anyway, back to the point, Joana responded to one of the readers by telling them about her work in progress. which was this latest release. I was thrilled to hear about it then and am now more thrilled that it has been published! Dear readers, I'm sure you will delight, as much as I did, in Joana's post today. Please welcome Joana Starnes.

Thank you, Janet, for welcoming me back again to talk about my latest book, released a few days ago.

‘The Second Chance’ has a very long history. The original idea came to me almost ten years ago, and since then it took many forms and it went several places, to finally arrive to what it is today – a ‘what-if?’ story where some canon givens are upheld while others are challenged, as we travel with our favourite couple on the rocky path that leads them to their ‘happily ever after’.

There is another fan-fiction given – which is just another way of saying ‘a truth universally acknowledged’ ;) – and that is ‘Mr. Darcy’s path to happiness never did run smooth’. In fact, most of the stories we write could be classed under ‘Ways and Means of Heartlessly Tormenting Mr. Darcy’!

This story is no exception, and there is angst aplenty – though not always from the traditional sources! Take Wickham, for instance – the man we all love to hate. I don’t know how other people feel but, while I sometimes enjoy writing Wickham (especially his comeuppance!), a deep sense of gloom comes over me when the time comes to roll out his elopement with Lydia! It’s such a drag, and [Spoiler alert? Hmmm! Perhaps…] – well, anyway, given half a chance, I avoid writing it whenever I can! I absolutely hated how, in the original story, the news of their elopement thundered down and ruined what might have been a delicious time of courtship in Derbyshire, and the thought of Wickham forever breathing down Darcy’s neck, with a hand continually in Darcy’s pocket, is just too unfair to contemplate!

One way in which ‘The Second Chance’ deviates from the original story is that Wickham-the-Viper looses his teeth fairly early in the narrative. (No, Darcy does not punch him in the face – more’s the pity! – this was just a metaphor.). His poisonous half-truths are not so readily believed, because Elizabeth is already given an inkling that there is more to Mr. Darcy than meets the eye, and he is not quite as bad as the whole of Meryton would have him!

But I’d better start from the beginning – and try not to give too much away!

The story begins the day after Elizabeth’s arrival at Netherfield to tend to her ill sister and, although the same double-edged remarks fly back and forth between her and Mr. Darcy, an opportunity arises for her to see him not just as the arrogant and disagreeable man who had slighted her at the Meryton Assembly, but also as a compassionate gentleman who can be relied upon, in a time of crisis. A gentleman who bears no resemblance to the black-hearted villain Mr. Wickham would soon be all too eager to portray. So Mr. Wickham’s lies fall on deaf ears – but angst lovers would be pleased to learn that although some of the traditional pitfalls are avoided, our favourite characters are all too apt to dig themselves into a variety of fresh new ones instead!

And then the Bennets make their way into Devonshire and become acquainted with the Dashwoods, and all manner of toil and trouble is brewed there for Darcy, with the involuntary assistance of Colonel Fitzwilliam, ‘that charming plot-device’, as he was once ever so wittily dubbed, by Jack Caldwell, I believe.

Angst haters shouldn’t worry too much, though. This is not a story that finishes on the same page as the proposal, and several chapters are devoted to Elizabeth and Darcy’s happy time of courtship, as they get to understand each other better and do away with the last remaining obstacles in their path.

I hope this is a story you would like to read!
For now, here is a little excerpt:

* * * * *

Elizabeth smoothed her attire as she emerged from one of the carriages that brought her family to Netherfield, on the night of the ball.
The house looked at its very best, adorned with exquisite garlands and glittering with an abundance of light, and strains of remarkably well-performed music mingling with the buzz of conversation filled the rooms, adding to the all-pervading air of delighted anticipation. Elizabeth’s eyes were alight with pleasure as she looked around, her enjoyment complete.
From his position against the dark panelling, Darcy could do nothing but stare.
‘If I could write the beauty of your eyes…’
This was the picture he would take with him on the morrow, when he left Netherfield, Hertfordshire and Elizabeth behind. Her beauty, her joy, the sparkling laughter in her fine eyes. He would remember her and love her for as long as he lived.
Darcy tried to turn away but knew he could not. He would have been better advised to leave for town before the ball, he had always known it, but he could not have offended Bingley in this fashion–…
He stopped. Who would believe that this was what had kept him? Certainly not himself. The only reason he had not left Netherfield before the ball was that he could not bear the thought of not seeing her for one last time. 
People milled between them, a moving sea of muslin and lace dotted with dark hues and red, and Darcy simply stood there, drinking in the sight of her and committing to memory every detail of her appearance.

~ ** ~

Elizabeth’s enjoyment of the evening could only grow as familiar faces greeted her and were cheerfully greeted in return and snippets of friendly conversation were exchanged with people she had known all her life – that is, until a brief exchange with Lieutenant Denny, a close acquaintance of Mr. Wickham’s, turned her mind to less agreeable matters.
He had been commissioned, the Lieutenant said, to convey to her Mr. Wickham’s most particular regards and let her know that much to his regret, his friend had been obliged to go to town on business that could not be delayed. Then Mr. Denny added with a knowing smile that he did not imagine this business would have called Mr. Wickham away just then, if he had not wished to avoid a certain gentleman there.
Elizabeth pursed her lips, remembering Mr. Wickham’s boast that he had no fear of seeing Mr. Darcy – that Mr. Darcy might leave the country, but he would stand his ground. And yet there he was avoiding him, only a few weeks later!
She thanked Mr. Denny for his communication and excused herself, rather pleased that she was correct in her estimation of Mr. Wickham and his tissue of lies.
A few nights earlier, Elizabeth had told her sister Jane everything that Mr. Wickham had seen fit to speak of during the encounter at their Aunt Phillips. Once everything was shared and turned on every facet, they both agreed that despite Mr. Darcy’s initial objectionable manners, his later conduct had shown nothing that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust. That no man of common humanity, no man who had any value for his character could possibly treat his father’s favourite in such a manner, and that the friendship between someone capable of it and an amiable man such as Mr. Bingley would have been incomprehensible.
“I believe you like Mr. Darcy more than you used to, Lizzy,” Jane teased once they had concluded, and Elizabeth returned the smile.
“I have to admit that he does improve on acquaintance.”
“And pray, how much has he improved in your estimation?”
Leaning on her elbow across her sister’s bed, Elizabeth confessed:
“I never thought I would say this of Mr. Darcy of all people, particularly given the beginning of our acquaintance, but he might live in my memory as one of the most intriguing gentlemen I have ever met. But that is all. You must be aware, dear Jane, that there is a great disparity in our stations. He will never show any real interest in me. He has made it abundantly clear that he has no wish for our society. After all, he has not joined his friend in his visits to Longbourn in over a month, and I for one have no intention to make myself unhappy over him!”
Elizabeth was roused from her reminiscences as Sir John Ashworth of Ashworth Park, who had engaged her for the first set, approached to claim her hand. He was a well-educated man of pleasing appearance, with a talent for intelligent conversation and a ready sense of humour. He was recently returned from his travels in the south of Italy and his account of the places he had visited, as well as the anecdotes he had to relate, kept Elizabeth very well entertained for the duration of the first two dances.

~ ** ~

Darcy walked along the set, grimly determined to steer himself away from the galling picture of Elizabeth dancing with her personable young man. Yet for the longest of times, he could not tear his eyes away, her beauty, her laughter and her joie de vivre drawing him like nothing ever had – and the sight of that enticing curl let loose at the back of her neck, bouncing with every move and caressing her creamy skin was driving him out of his senses.
Why was he punishing himself so?
Why did he not withdraw to his chambers – or at least leave the ballroom?
He could not stir, as a fresh wave of jealousy swept through him. Was this the gentleman she had alluded to, that morning in the Netherfield library, all but a month and a half ago?
‘What if he was?’, Darcy observed sternly.
He was a pleasant-looking man, with an air of good breeding and more than a spark of intelligence in his countenance – but of course he would be. Elizabeth would not be attracted to a pompous fool!
Was she attracted to him, then? Possibly – given her smiles and her obvious enjoyment of his conversation.
‘So much the better. She could do far worse!’, Darcy told himself, but it served no purpose. There was not a single part of him that would believe it was for the best – and so he turned and walked away, lest he gave in to the fierce compulsion to go to her and say everything that should be left unsaid…

* * * * *
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt!


More details about my published and upcoming books are available here:

Amazon links: Books by Joana Starnes

Thanks for reading, and many thanks for having me here, Janet, it’s been an absolute delight, as always!
                                                                        * * * * *
It is such a pleasure to have you visit again, Joana. Your post is entertaining and fun. Thank you for putting it together so quickly for me! The excerpt has piqued my interest even more and I can hardly wait to read your book. I am happy to announce that Joana will be giving away one eBook to a lucky winner, worldwide. Thank you, Joana. 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 (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway will end at midnight, May 7, 2014.