Sunday, December 21, 2014

Letters from the Heart...Excerpt and Giveaway

Rose Fairbanks is my guest today. I'm so glad to have you come back, Rose. The excerpt you chose to share with me and my readers is so good. I can't wait to read the book now. These excerpts are good teasers, aren't they! :) The blurb was also very good at making me want to read more. Congratulations on the release of this novella. The cover is very striking. I like it very much. I also want to thank you for having such a generous giveaway for my readers. Now on to the blurb and excerpt! 

Blurb: Resolved to forget Elizabeth Bennet during a winter in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy writes a letter in bitterness of spirit. Frustrated by her growing obsession with the arrogant man, Elizabeth commits her thoughts to paper. But angry people are not always wise, and secret thoughts do not always remain secret. Compelled to face their selfishness and fears, their actions encourage those dearest to them to change as well.


Monday, December 9, 1811
Darcy House, London
5 pm

“Are you certain you do not wish to attend the theatre this evening?” Charles Bingley queried his friend.
“No.” Fitzwilliam Darcy said emphatically.
The two sat in the billiards room after the early and informal dinner. Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, had excused herself early to write letters in her chambers, leaving the two gentlemen alone.
“I say!” Bingley proclaimed with a hint of his usual levity. “I truly had it right that evening at Netherfield when I claimed I never knew a more awful fellow than you on a Sunday night—and now a Monday—in his own home with nothing to do!”
Darcy remembered this remark and the surrounding conversation in great detail, but feigned ignorance. “I do not recall you saying such.” He affected a scowl in hopes of the subject being dropped, but he could not intimidate his friend.
“Truly? It was after you and Miss Elizabeth were in a dispute over whether my impulsiveness was a fault or a virtue, and before you asked her to dance a reel and she refused you.”
Darcy did not need the reminder; he had already spent hours with his memories of the twinkle in Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes during their debate—it was not a dispute! He recalled precisely the expression on her face, the scent she wore and—to his extreme mortification—the exact shade of blue of her gown with the delicate yellow ribbon in her hair. It was like the sun cresting over the rocky peaks of Derbyshire in a sky just after a rainstorm. Darcy cringed again as he realized how ridiculous and poetic his thoughts regarding the lady had become. I am practically a mooncalf!
Despite himself, Darcy sighed at his memories. It was the second time Elizabeth had refused to dance with him, and he should have been offended, but she was simply too endearing. She had a unique mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner. Darcy had not met with her more than six times before being entirely bewitched. The time she spent at Netherfield, seeing her each day, had been a sweet torture.
His thoughts were interrupted by a sigh from his companion, no doubt remembering his own Bennet lady.
“Netherfield really was a very picturesque estate. And so close to London, Caroline could have no complaints.”
Darcy closed his eyes in annoyance but knew the following conversation necessary, yet again. “Considering how frequently she claims to enjoy Pemberley and Derbyshire, it should be no surprise she cannot complain about the distance from Hertfordshire to London. I believe her complaints were of a different matter.”
“Everyone in the area was very welcoming and kind. Caroline wishes to remain in London for Christmas but I had thought it would be quite nice to celebrate at my own estate, perhaps invite my closest family and friends.” Bingley let out another sigh.
Darcy was growing alarmed. He had no desire to return to the area. “Are you certain you wish to host such a large party again so soon? You hosted a ball just over a week ago. You would not want to overexert yourself or Miss Bingley.”
Bingley’s brow furrowed and then his face lit up in amusement. “I am certain Caroline would perform any task to impress the Master of Pemberley.”
Darcy groaned and walked to the sideboard to refresh his port. “Did you not already accept the invitation to Lady Tennyson’s ball?”
“Yes. Caroline is desperate for me to meet Lady Tennyson’s niece, Miss Howe, again.”
“She is quite lovely and has a good portion.”
“Her hair is too dark.”
Darcy raised an eyebrow. “I believe you admired her hair and more in August.”
“And her eyes are too small unlike...”
Bingley did not need to continue, and Darcy took a large sip. Blast the Bennet sisters and their eyes! The eldest had very large and perfectly blue eyes. Elizabeth had the most expressive and intelligent eyes Darcy had ever seen, a beautiful shade of brown that could turn nearly emerald green as well. Even the youngest daughters and the mother had a special twinkle in their eye. Yes! That was an important recollection—the younger sisters and the mother!
“Bingley, I know you are quite attracted to Miss Bennet, but you did promise to use this time in Town to consider other ladies and all the consequences.” Darcy had privately vowed to do the same.
“Yes, I know. But what is consequence to affection?”
Darcy took another gulp of his drink and then decided to refill his glass and offer more to Bingley.
“The match would be lacking in all important ways.”
“It is just like you to think money and connections are all that matter.” Bingley appeared to be teasing, but Darcy still felt a bit offended.
“I do not mean only money and connections. You desire affection, perhaps even love, but you will not gain that with Miss Bennet.”
Bingley looked sharply at Darcy. “What do you mean?”
“Her heart is not easily touched.”
“She enjoyed my attentions!”
“She has a very easy way with everyone, quite a serene countenance. Do you truly believe she treated you differently than others?”
“I cannot believe her to wilfully deceive me.”
“Did she declare sentiments?” Darcy was aghast at the idea. He had thought at least Miss Bennet and Elizabeth capable of proper behaviour.
“No, but surely she could see my intentions, and she made no move to discourage me.”
“You are very amiable. She most likely thought you were engaging in an idle flirtation while visiting the area.”
“You do not believe she has expectations of me?”
“Have any of the others?”
Bingley looked sheepishly at him. “, their feelings were never attached, as you well know after this summer.”
“And did Miss Bennet truly seem different than the other ladies?”
Bingley looked from the glass in his hands to Darcy’s face and back to his glass. “I think you had better pour me another glass.”

6 pm

“She never loved me. None of them have,” Bingley bemoaned and sloshed the wine in his glass.
“You are quite young and so amiable you cannot see those who would scheme against you.”
“I ought to be more like you. Or how you used to be.”
“What do you mean?”
“Since we have returned from Hertfordshire you have danced nearly every dance at every soiree, accepted every dinner invitation, and talked with many ladies at each outing. Everyone is full of gossip that you mean to finally take a wife!”
Darcy grimaced. The last thing he needed now was London’s gossips after him.  His friend laughed at his scowl.
“Well, so it was until three nights ago. Then, you only danced half the evening and wanted to leave early, and have refused to go anywhere since. What has happened?”
Darcy sighed. “Nothing has happened. I have agreed to go to the next ball with you.” He motioned toward the billiards table, “Please, let us enjoy our game. More port?”

7 pm

“I’m a catch aren’t I, Darcy?” Bingley asked bleary-eyed.
“Of course,” Darcy replied, quite a bit more in command of his faculties.
“Not like you, though.”
“Pemberley! You’ve got Pemberley!”
“Yes...too many want me for my estate.”
“And your uncle, an earl!”
“You are a fine catch, Bingley.”
He grunted. “And I’ll prove it at Lady Tenley...Tenson...”
“Lady Tennyson’s ball.  I’ll be irresistible.”
“And you too. Maybe Lady Elizabeth Harkin for you?”
Darcy scowled at the name. No Elizabeths. And she was blonde. “No.”
“Your cousin Miss de Bourgh then?”
Darcy choked on his port. “Good G-d, no!”
“What do you want then? More money? Ties to the royal family?” Bingley laughed and then snorted, causing him to laugh all the more. “I know, love!”
Without thought, Darcy whispered quietly to himself, “No. I will never find love again.” He peered at his glass with distrust. Where had this sudden understanding come from?
Bingley had not heard Darcy speak over his own laughter. “What did you say?”
“I will never marry for love.”
“Right. Too silly for you. We must be dignified. We must not laugh.” Bingley tried to affect Darcy’s scowl. “No more love for me! No more angels!”
Sighing, Bingley laid his glass aside. “I’m off to bed while I can walk up the stairs.”
“Are you certain? It is still very early.”
“Yes, but I have had little rest in over a week.”
Darcy only grunted as his friend exited. Willing the voice in his head taunting him with declarations of love for Elizabeth Bennet to silence, he drank another glass of port before an idea of sheer genius struck him. Ten nights with little sleep plagued his ability to think clearly. Then, in a flash of inspiration, THE plan came to him. Writing a letter of sorts to Elizabeth, confessing his affections would clear them from his mind. He would even keep the letter to remind himself of all the reasons he could never marry Elizabeth Bennet.

Author bio:
Rose Fairbanks fell in love with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy twelve years ago.  Coincidentally, or perhaps not, she also met her real life Mr. Darcy twelve years ago.  They had their series of missteps, just like Elizabeth and Darcy, but are now teaching the admiring multitude what happiness in marriage really looks like and have been blessed with two children, a four year old son and a one year old daughter. She proudly admits to her Darcy obsession, addictions to reading, chocolate and sweet tea, is always in the mood for a good debate and dearly loves to laugh.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog:

Doesn't this just make you want to pick up the book right now and keep reading? It does me! Thank you again, for sharing with us, Rose, and for continuing to write. I'm so happy to have you back at More Agreeably Engaged.

Rose is offering a paperback, US only, and an eBook, international. Isn't that great! I'm excited and I know all you readers are too. Please leave a comment to enter. You know the drill so don't forget to include your email that I may contact you should you be the winner. Giveaway ends at midnight, December 27, 2014. Good luck to all and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Monica Fairview and Mr. Darcy's Challenge

It is with pleasure and no small amount of excitement that I welcome back author, Monica Fairview. Her novel, Mr. Darcy's Challenge is now available and I am anxious to read it and see what happens following Mr. Darcy's Pledge. (Here is the link to my review.) I know, dear readers, that you will enjoy the extract that follows the post. There is a giveaway too for one lucky person! Yay!

Thank you, Janet, for this opportunity to appear on More Agreeably Engaged as a stop on my blog tour for Mr. Darcy’s Challenge. I do love Janet’s original artwork, don’t you?  I could look at it for hours.

Since I started my blog tour, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between Jane Austen variations and sequels. Since I’ve done both, I can tell you they are a completely different kettle of fish. With sequels, you are more limited in what you can do with the characters. When I wrote The Other Mr. Darcy, for example, I found myself constantly challenged because I was writing about Caroline Bingley, and readers did not really want a happy ending for her. Yet since I was writing a romance, and Caroline was the main character, it was rather unavoidable. I was limited as to how I could approach her character, however, since I was picking up the novel from where it left off.

When writing a variation, however, you can allow free reign to your imagination, which is an absolute delight. Obviously, the characters should be consistent, but your plot can start anywhere and take on any twists and turns you choose. You are faced with a challenge of a different sort: how to make sure the characters remain plausible even in very different situations. I must admit I am enjoying that challenge so far.

Speaking of challenges, Darcy has a few of his own in my latest novel. I chose the title deliberately because Darcy daydreams about becoming Lizzy’s champion in shining armor. I love the idea that he needs a Challenge to prove his worth to her, and that’s what he does when he rides off later in the novel to rescue her.

In the extract below from Mr. Darcy’s Challenge, however, we are not yet at that stage. He and Elizabeth have quarreled, and Darcy is seeing her for the first time after their big fight.  In this extract, Darcy has just been to visit the Gardiners to inform them and Mr. Bennet that he has found Wickham. He does not know Elizabeth is in town. The moment is both poignant and comic.

As the door shut behind him, he set his walking stick firmly on the ground, looked down the stairs with resolution and smoothed out the inside of his beaver.  

“Mr. Darcy!” said a much too familiar voice. “What are you doing here? Is there news?”

Darcy was so stunned he dropped the hat. It tumbled down the stairs and lay in the street on the dirty cobblestones. He stared at it for too long, unable to gather his thoughts together. By the time he registered the danger, a cart had come by and reduced it to pulp.

“Oh,” said Elizabeth. “I am sorry to have startled you and ruined your hat.”

He felt naked without it, totally naked and exposed. He could hardly say so, however. Years of practice in uttering polite phrases prompted him to answer. “It was entirely my fault. Say no more of it, I beg you.”

His voice was so strained it sounded unfamiliar to him. He tried to steady his breath, which was coming as fast as if he had arrived from running uphill rather than from inside the Gardiner’s house, but the more he tried to appear in control, the more breathless he became.

He watched her from the corner of his eye. She was wearing an alluring walking dress in a very attractive shade of green that showed off her ripe figure to perfection. It brought out the sparkle in her eyes and the wine-red color of her lips.

They stood there, staring at the ruined hat as if at some precious object that had been irredeemably destroyed. The specter of their last encounter stood between them.

Dodging the traffic, a street urchin dashed across from the other side and took it up, and, without so much as a glance towards Darcy, ran back to the other side where he proceeded to dust it and pat it back into a parody of a top hat, crooked and torn.

“Are you not going to stop him?” asked Elizabeth, curiously.

Darcy shrugged. “The hat – if it could still be called that – is no use to me. If he can sell it or use it himself, then I will not begrudge him that.”

The urchin’s theft – if that was what it could be called -- had served a useful function, in fact. It had given Darcy time to recover from the unexpected encounter. His pulse was still unsteady, but at least it was not galloping like a horse running from a fire.

“I did not expect to see you here,” he remarked. It was a colossal understatement. 

“We arrived last night. My mother was convinced my father would call Wickham out and be killed. Nothing would ease her fears but being here where she could prevent him.”

“I see,” he said, trying to think of something better to say but failing.

“You have not yet told me the purpose of your visit to my uncle and aunt,” she said. “Has Wickham been found?”

Darcy took a deep breath. “Yes, he has.”


He was behaving like an idiot. She needed reassurance and he was not providing it.

“I have found Wickham, but Miss Lydia was not with him.”

About the Author:

Monica Fairview

Monica is a longtime admirer of Jane Austen and likes to write down her fantasies about living in the Regency period. She has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels,THE OTHER MR. DARCY and THE DARCY COUSINS and a story in the anthology JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT. Her new series consists of traditional Pride and Prejudice ‘what-if’ variations. MR. DARCY’S CHALLENGE is the second in the series. 

Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, when it was crumbling and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood. After that, Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims (not necessarily captivated). She now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area and loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.

Visit Monica at 
her website
Austen Variations
her blog
on Facebook
Twitter @Monica_Fairview
and Pinterest

Below are the links to where Monica's books may be purchased.
Links to sites carrying Mr. Darcy’s Challenge


I had never thought about the different challenges associated with writing a sequel as opposed to a variation, Monica, and I like your thoughts on the subject. I do find that it is important as a reader to try to allow for the characters to be affected or even changed 'somewhat' by the circumstances they encounter. 

With this tantalizing excerpt, I cannot wait to read more! The hat scene was perfection and I could see it all unfolding in my mind as I read. Darcy's response about the street urchin was spot-on for the man we know and love! I know my readers will be as excited as I am to read more and with the giveaway opportunity, someone will get the chance to do just that. Your generosity is much appreciated. 

Thank you for your lovely comments about my artwork. They were very much appreciated. The cover design for this second book is lovely too. I thought the first one was gorgeous but any shade of purple is wonderful in my eyes.

I'm so happy that you stopped by on your blog tour, Monica Fairview, and that you are hosting a giveaway for my readers. That is especially fun this time of year. Monica is giving away one eBook copy of Mr. Darcy's Challenge to one lucky reader from US or UK only. Please leave a comment to be entered. You know the drill so please leave your email that I may contact you if you are the winner. Giveaway ends midnight December 18, 2014.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

And the winners are...

I have lots of winners to announce today for some eBooks, books and one calendar. Thought this might be fun to put them all together since it is the holiday season of giving. Here are the winners from several different giveaways and posts. 

Congratulations and Season's Greetings to each of you!

Mr. Darcy's Diamonds, by Jane Odiwe, eBook winner is:

$10 Amazon gift card from Stephanie Fowers:

The winners for the two eBooks, The Madness of Mr. Darcy
by Alexa Adams are:
L Fujinaga and DungVu

The winner of the paperback, To Refine Like Silver by Jeanna Ellsworth is:

Chiara Lanzi is the winner of The Falmouth Connection 
by Joana Starnes.

Sophia Rose won my 2015 Calendar,
Longbourn to Pemberley.

We have two eBook winners for Volume I, Darcy's Tale,
by Stanley Michael Hurd.
They are:

gailw and Nicole Clutter

The winners for The Muse by Jessica Evans are:

Paperback:  Anji
eBook:  tresha boone

If you have not already contacted me, please do so at your earliest convenience.

A Special 'Thank You' to each of these authors for being my guest and for having the giveaways. It has been my pleasure to have you visit.

Thanks to all of you that popped in and left comments. Your support of my blog is much appreciated. There are guests still to come this month and things are already lining up for the new year so be sure and come back for a visit.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My share in the conversation...Jane Austen's First Love

Today I am reviewing Syrie James's book, Jane Austen's First Love as my participation in the Holiday Blog Tour that runs through December 14. Anyone that chooses to leave a comment below will be included in the fantastic giveaway. For more information about the blog tour click on this link for a complete list of stops and to see pictures of the fabulous prizes. 

I am purposely less specific in this review as I do not want to give away any of this sweet story. It needs to be experienced and enjoyed by each reader. If you have not yet read this one, I hope you will find the time to do so.


Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James, is a book that any Janeite or Regency history enthusiast, should fancy. It is based on snippets from letters by Jane Austen and historical documents that Syrie James found during her extensive research for this book. (She gives much valuable information about her research and discoveries in her Author’s Afterward at the end of the book. I found it fascinating to read and wanted to know more.) The author uses this historical information, puts it together with real people and some actual events and creates a magical imagining of what might have taken place that summer in 1791.

The book begins with Jane writing her remembrances of that special summer, brought to mind by an old letter that Cassandra had found.  Jane and Cassandra reminisce for a bit, then we, as readers, are transported back in time, twelve and a half years earlier, as memories come flooding back to the mind and heart of dear Jane…

...Cassandra, Jane, young Charles and their mother travel to Godmersham to the Knights’ home, then on to Goodnestone to the Bridges’ home to celebrate the engagement of Edward Austen (Knight) to Elizabeth Bridges. The narration is then filled with events and happenings that depict how people lived in Jane Austen’s time. It was mesmerizing to read their daily activities and entertainments.

As this first love blooms, we are privy to the thoughts and emotions, the settings and flirtations and the growing interest by both parties. It is a lovely tale of what might have been and gives me the hope and satisfaction that maybe Jane Austen truly experienced what it was like to be in love. Two of my favorite parts were the strawberry-picking party and everything leading up to and including the Midsummer Night’s Eve festivities.

Some of the things that I found quite interesting (and in this case, I truly mean ‘interesting’, thought-provoking, fascinating…not just a ‘term used when there is no more promising attribution’), were the nuances to the works of Jane Austen. Without giving away any of the details, I will just say that much reminded me of Emma. There were allusions to Pride and Prejudice with fine eyes. Several things said by characters in Jane’s novels were used by various people in this ‘what-if’.  This made it appear as if these sayings were catalogued by Jane Austen and later used as her inspiration in her writings.  

At times as I was reading this book, I found myself feeling that this was a true accounting of Jane Austen as a young fifteen year old girl discovering her first love, the dashing Edward Taylor. The words were written in the style of Jane Austen and it was all beautifully done. Thank you, Syrie James, for making this a real and emotive experience. Well done! I highly recommend this book. It is one to savor and to feel.

For those of you that leave comments, be sure to leave me your email address so I can pass it on should you be one of the winners of any of the exciting prizes!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Muse Blog Tour with Jessica Evans

We are in for a treat today, dear readers. It is my turn to take part in the Blog Tour for new Meryton Press Author, Jessica Evans. Don't you just love the cover of her book, The Muse? I think it is stunning.  Jessica tells us about her reasons, as a reader and writer, for loving Jane Austen. Good reading, my friends.

There is a giveaway so don't forget to check it out. Thanks for stopping by and a special thanks to Jessica Evans for being my guest today.


I love Jane Austen as both a reader and a writer. When writing “The Muse,” I looked to Pride and Prejudice not only for inspiration on plot and characterization, but I also tried to emulate what I loved most about Austen’s craft in my own writing.

When we talk about Jane Austen, we talk about her biting humor. I remember laughing out loud the first time I read the opening dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. I felt the dysfunction between them, Mr. Bennet’s indifference, Mrs. Bennet’s penchant for melodrama. I love reading Jane Austen’s dialogue, and love writing dialogue even more. To that end, I tried to capture that same wit and banter in the dialogue in my story. Some of my favorite dialogue scenes to write were Elizabeth and Darcy bantering at Charles’ Rhinebeck cabin (the equivalent of the drawing room scene when Jane is sick at Netherfield) and a conversation post-“Hunsford” between Darcy and Anne.

Another reason that I love Austen’s writings is her ridiculous minor characters. I love to hate them! In particular, I love hating those who are most self-important and least self-aware, the egomaniacs and hypochondriacs: Mr. Collins, Catherine de Bourgh, Lady Bertram, Mary Musgrove. Austen makes me feel like, together, we are in on a joke. I wanted my readers to feel the same way in The Muse so I tried to paint Catherine Boroughs (my version of Catherine de Bourgh), heiress and arts philanthropist, with the same brush of sarcasm that Austen wields so expertly. I made Catherine an interloping arts philanthropist with lots of opinions and money, and no artistic sensibility. Her ignorance – coupled with her ignorance of her ignorance – made her a fun character to write.

That said, none of Jane Austen’s characters are perfect. She creates human characters with real flaws. Darcy, as we know, has too much pride. So does Catherine de Bourgh. So does Mr. Collins. But, the difference between those characters that endure Jane’s ridicule and those that earn her love and empathy is one of self-awareness. Although both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy suffered from self-righteousness at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, they both become willing to look inwards, assess themselves honestly, and admit that they were wrong. Each causes the other to change and evolve. Jane Austen creates characters who grow to understand themselves, which is why I and many others fall in love with her characters and stories. In The Muse, I try to do justice to this theme by describing the evolution of Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship and each of their thinking about themselves as artists.

Those are some of the reasons that I love Jane Austen as a reader and writer. What about you? I’d love to hear what you love most about Jane Austen’s writings!

Book Blurb:
Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company’s ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she’s cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy’s newest work, she believes she’s one step closer to realizing her dream–until she meets him. 

William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist’s block–until he meets Elizabeth Bennet. 

Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he’s irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?


Author Bio:
A middle school English teacher by trade, I cut my writer’s teeth in various fan fiction forums starting at the tender age of fifteen. My debut novel, The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, is set to be published by Meryton Press in late November 2014.
In my spare time, I read a lot of Young Adult literature, cook and eat as organically/sustainably/artisanally/grass-fed-ally as possible, and work on improving my life one affirmation at a time. I live in Brooklyn, NY though am not a hipster. I swear.


Thank you, Jessica Evans, for visiting today. It is such a pleasure to have you here. Your book sounds fascinating and I wish you much success. In her post, Jessica asked what you love most about Jane Austen writings. Please share your thoughts with us in your comments as we would dearly love to know. Thank you again, Jessica, and please stop by anytime.

Meryton Press is kindly giving away two chances to win a copy of The Muse. There will be one paperback and one eBook up for grabs and both are international! YAY!!! Thank you Michele Reed. Let me know in your comments which you prefer should you be one of the lucky winners. We always love to hear your share in the conversation so please leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to include your email address so that I may contact you.  Giveaway ends at midnight December 9, 2014.