Friday, August 18, 2017

Regina Jeffers...Mr. Darcy's Bride(s)

Available at Amazon
I always love having Regina Jeffers visit my blog and today is no exception. It's my stop during the Blog Tour for Mr. Darcy's Brides, Ms. Jeffers newest release. I have loved all her books and am quite certain I will love this one too. I'm looking forward to reading it.  

Regina is sharing an excerpt with us and giving us some history about married women under English law, as well as single or widowed women. I found this extremely interesting. Thank you, Regina, and welcome!

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Under English law, women were subordinate to their husbands. It was expected that she was under the “protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord.” The law stated the old adage of “two shall become one.” She was her husband’s “feme covert.” Any property she owned—real or personal—came under his control. A married woman could not draft a will or dispose of any property without her husband’s consent.
Women rarely inherited property. She could inherit “personal” belongings such as, furniture, jewelry, clothing, moveable goods, etc. But that does not mean that a woman could NOT inherit real property (meaning land, or what we now call “real estate”). The practice of primogeniture under English law presented the oldest son with the real property upon the death of the father. [Note: Matrilineal primogeniture, or female-preference uterine primogeniture, is a form of succession practiced in some societies in which the eldest female child inherits the throne, to the total exclusion of males. The order of succession to the position of the Rain Queen is an example in an African culture of matrilineal primogeniture: not only is dynastic descent reckoned through the female line, but only females are eligible to inherit.] Daughters could only inherit in the absence of a male heir. The law of intestate primogeniture remained on the statue books in Britain until the 1925 property legislation simplified and updated England’s archaic law of real property.
Aware of their daughters’ unfortunate situation, fathers often provided them with dowries or worked into a prenuptial agreement pin money, the estate which the wife was to possess for her sole and separate use not subject to the control of her husband, to provide her with an income separate from his.
In contrast to wives, women who never married or who were widowed maintained control over their property and inheritance, owned land and controlled property disposal, since by law any unmarried adult female was considered to be a feme sole. Some of the peeresses, in their own right had property, as well as the title which the husband couldn't touch. Still, inheritance through the female of a peerage by patent was  extremely rare and usually only  put into the patent while the 1st peer was alive. Usually, the patents didn't allow for female inheritance. It was rare for a woman to be able to inherit a peerage created by patent. The Duke of Marlborough had his patent changed when it was obvious he would not have a son, but that was a rare occurrence. Most females succeeded to a lesser peerage created by writ. Once married, the only way that women could reclaim property was through widowhood.
The dissolution of a marriage, whether initiated by the husband or wife, usually left the divorced females impoverished, as the law offered them no rights to marital property. The 1836 Caroline Norton court case highlighted the injustice of English property laws, and generated enough support that eventually resulted in the Married Women’s Property Act.
Lately, England has considered what is cleverly known as the “Downton Abbey” law. The Bill is so called after the anomaly of female succession at the heart of ITV’s Downton Abbey, in which the character of Lady Mary, the eldest daughter of the drama’s fictional earl, was unable to inherit the family seat because it had to pass to a male heir. The bill adds the rank of “baronets” to those titles in which females can inherit.
Like many in the JAFF community, I often write how Anne De Bourgh can inherit Rosings Park. I do so again in my latest novel, MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs. But how is that possible? As mentioned above, Anne can inherit if she does not marry. By English law, she could inherit when she reaches her majority at age 21. I customarily add something in Sir Lewis’s will that has her wait until she is 25. [Mayhap, Sir Lewis anticipated Lady Catherine’s “unwillingness” to be removed from the reins of Rosings Park, and provided Anne a bit of time to find a strong husband who would depose her ladyship, or some such story line.] Yet, in reality, it is also possible for Anne to inherit because her father’s title is one of baronet. The rank of “baronet” was created by James I, who founded the hereditary Order of Baronets in England in 1611 to be conferred on 200 gentlemen with large, profitable estates on the condition they funded the salaries of 30 soldiers for the war with Ireland. In these early baronetcies, it was written into the letters patent from the monarch when the titles were created that women could inherit if there was no male heir. The last baronetess, Dame Anne Maxwell Macdonald, whose ancestors became baronets in 1628, died in 2011 aged 104. Therefore, Anne De Bourgh could be the next baronetess of Rosings Park.

Introducing MR. DARCY’S BRIDE...
I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.

ELIZABETH BENNET is determined that she will put a stop to her mother’s plans to marry off the eldest Bennet daughter to Mr. Collins, the Longbourn heir, but a man that Mr. Bennet considers an annoying dimwit. Hence, Elizabeth disguises herself as Jane and repeats her vows to the supercilious rector as if she is her sister, thereby voiding the nuptials and saving Jane from a life of drudgery. Yet, even the “best laid plans” can often go awry.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY is desperate to find a woman who will assist him in leading his sister back to Society after Georgiana’s failed elopement with Darcy’s old enemy George Wickham. He is so desperate that he agrees to Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s suggestion that Darcy marry her ladyship’s “sickly” daughter Anne. Unfortunately, as he waits for his bride to join him at the altar, he realizes he has made a terrible error in judgement, but there is no means to right the wrong without ruining his cousin’s reputation. Yet, even as he weighs his options, the touch of “Anne’s” hand upon his sends an unusual “zing” of awareness shooting up Darcy’s arm. It is only when he realizes the “zing” has arrived at the hand of a stranger, who has disrupted his nuptials, that he breathes both a sigh of relief and a groan of frustration, for the question remains: Is Darcy’s marriage to the woman legal?

What if Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet met under different circumstances than those we know from Jane Austen’s classic tale: Circumstances that did not include the voices of vanity and pride and prejudice and doubt that we find in the original story? Their road to happily ever after may not, even then, be an easy one, but with the expectations of others removed from their relationship, can they learn to trust each other long enough to carve out a path to true happiness?


EXCERPT from MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs (Chapter 18): This scene is Darcy’s threat to Lady Catherine when his aunt insists that he cannot back out of his marriage to Anne. [Trust me. Even with Darcy’s commanding tone in this excerpt, Lady Catherine is not easily put off.]

“Lady Catherine, sir.” His servant barely had time to open the door before his aunt strode into the room.
“Mr. Nathan, have my bags placed in my usual room,” his aunt instructed without so much as a by-your-leave.
Darcy’s ire grew quickly. He despised such presumptuousness. “Mr. Nathan, you will leave her ladyship’s bags upon her coach. And instruct my aunt’s coachman to remain nearby with her carriage. Lady Catherine will not be staying at Pemberley.”
Mr. Nathan nodded his understanding and rushed from the room, closing the door behind him.
“So this is the welcome I am to receive,” her ladyship harumphed. “Your mother would be ashamed of you, Darcy.” She sat heavily in an armed chair.
Darcy remained standing beside his desk. He spoke in clipped tones. “I was considering something similar as to Lady Anne’s reaction to your poor manners, Aunt. I can guarantee that George Darcy would never have tolerated your ordering his servants about, and neither will I. This is Pemberley, madam, not Rosings Park. I am the master here.”
His aunt snarled, “I see your insolence continues.”
“And I see you still think that the world will bend to your whims,” he countered.
Rather than to fuel their standoff with more inflammatory accusations, Lady Catherine switched tactics, a devise he had observed her employ previously. Darcy had always thought her doing so was an intelligent means for a woman to earn agreement over business matters in a man’s world, but her diversion would not work on him. “Is that girl in this house?” she demanded.
Darcy propped a hip on the corner of his desk and attempted to appear casual when he responded, “I fear Georgiana is not at home at this time. My sister will be sorry to have missed your call.”
Lady Catherine’s chin rose in stubbornness. “So that is the way you wish to discuss this matter. Very well. Then I shall be more direct. Did you bring Miss Elizabeth Bennet to Pemberley when you left Matthew Allard’s estate in Scotland?”
Darcy schooled his features. Someone would pay dearly for sharing his business with Lady Catherine. “I am not in the habit of discussing my personal life with anyone, and you of all people should realize I am more Darcy than Fitzwilliam. Your line of questions will not win you my favor.”
“I see you mean to protect this upstart! Are you so enthralled with the woman’s arts and allurements that you cannot see reason? If you fancy her, Darcy, then make her your mistress. Anne will ignore your indiscretions. I will instruct my daughter in the ways of men. Anne can be your wife while this strumpet can suffer your lust.”
His aunt’s description of aristocratic life sickened Darcy. “I have no intention of marrying Anne. You may beg. You may threaten. You may cajole. You may bargain. But I will never change my mind. I permitted you to use the memory of my dear mother to coerce me into agreeing to marry Anne, but Fate had other ideas. Anne was late, and I spoke my vows to another.”
“We both know those vows are not legal,” she drawled in warning tones.
Darcy had heard from his solicitor regarding those first vows exchanged with Elizabeth, and as expected, his first marriage to the woman had proved void. Mr. Jaffray had filed the papers to have the ceremony declared null. “Such knowledge does not change my resolve. I will not marry Anne.”
“Would you prefer that I instruct Anne in suing Miss Bennet for criminal conversation?” she challenged.
“Although neither Anne or I could officially testify in such a suit, the truth would win out. A skilled barrister can make certain all the facts are relayed to the judge. The lady in question could not have claimed my affections away from your daughter, for beyond a fondness between cousins, I never loved Anne.” He would not say that Elizabeth Bennet held his heart in her delicate hands. “Moreover, as I did not hold the lady’s acquaintance until several hours after that morning at St. George, it would be impossible for her to draw me away with her arts and allurements. All such a suit would do would be to bring ruin upon Anne’s head and mar my family name. You would have your vengeance and little else to keep you warm in the winter. No man would ever claim Anne after such a public display, but I suppose that is what you wish. You wish Anne forever to remain under your control.”
“Anne’s dowry of thirty thousand pounds can cover any flaw you name,” Lady Catherine argued.
“Yes, I suppose her dowry and the promise of Rosings Park can conceal all but one of my cousin’s failings: that of possessing an overbearing and controlling mother. Only the most desperate of men would consider aligning his name with Sir Lewis’s daughter. You would be willing to turn over Anne’s future to a man of no principles. That fact should surprise me, but it does not,” he said in sad tones. “Such a man would run through every penny of Anne’s inheritance, leaving you and your daughter as Matlock’s poor relations. I suppose that must be my justice.”
“You think me so cold-hearted?” his aunt demanded. “Everything I do, I do for Anne.”
“You may tell yourself these lies,” Darcy cautioned, “but your family and soon society will recognize you as a bitter, vindictive woman.” He sighed heavily. “If you persist in this madness, I will sue Anne for breach of promise. Her fortune will be greatly reduced, for I will win my suit. There were at least two dozen witnesses that can swear to the fact that she left me at the altar. If not for the false exchange of vows, I would have been long gone from the church by the time Anne arrived. You, too, would have been gone, likely looking for your wayward daughter to strangle her, as you attempted to do when she did arrive. Are you willing to tarnish your daughter’s name twice in the court of public notice? Poor Anne who has never had a Season. Who has never been permitted the freedom to form a friendship. Who is poorly educated beyond what her governess provided her. That Anne will be irretrievably ruined.” His tone held the warning of winter’s embrace. “I do not wish to see Anne suffer, but I will not permit you to injure an innocent just to puff up your consequence.”
“An innocent?” his aunt accused in her most implacable voice. “The woman traveled with you to Scotland where she passed herself off as Mrs. Darcy. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Allard were quite pleased to tell my man of your indiscretions. Allard was most displeased that you withdrew your financial support of his latest venture.”
Allard’s financial future would be nonexistent when Darcy finished with the man. He would permit no one to bandy about Elizabeth’s name in a vile manner. “We could debate this matter all afternoon,” he announced as he stood. “I believe somewhere within your hard resolve you want what is best for Anne, and I am flattered that you think me a suitable match for my cousin, but I wish to marry in affection, and my feelings for Anne are more brotherly than those of a potential husband.” A profound sadness crept into his tone when Darcy spoke of his cousin’s situation. He should have done more to assist Anne before things had reached this turning point. Like most in the family, he had thought all would change when Anne inherited Sir Lewis’s properties and fortune. He had never considered the fact that Lady Catherine would do all she could to shove Anne out Rosings Park’s door in order to maintain control of all of Sir Lewis’s holdings. “Do you not wish something more for your daughter and your dearest sister’s only son that a marriage of convenience?”
“I wish to see Anne well settled,” she declared in undisguised contempt.
Darcy hesitated briefly before accepting the gauntlet. His aunt would force him to be ruthless. “Then you leave me no choice, madam. If you force me into marrying Anne, I will leave you with little more than a humble cottage and a pair of servants to tend you for the remainder of your days. Anne will be five and twenty in two months. I will postpone the wedding until your daughter inherits Rosings Park per Sir Lewis’s will. All of it will belong to her, and as the estate and the fortune are entailed upon the female line, when we marry, as Anne’s husband, I will have control of it all. I have no intention of bringing Anne to child, so your many manipulations will be for naught. As you say, I will take my lust elsewhere. At Anne’s death, I will sell Rosings Park and all it holds piece-by piece, until nothing remains of Sir Lewis De Bourgh’s legacy. All you hold most dear will be scattered among the households of those with the funds to purchase it. I will destroy everything you have ever loved: Rosings Park and Anne. And each day of your miserable life you will know that I did these things in retribution for your foolish sense of consequence.” Needing to be away from his aunt, Darcy started for the door. “Good day, your ladyship. I will have Mr. Nathan see you out.” With that, he was gone, never looking back to view the look of astonishment upon his aunt’s features.


Now for the GIVEAWAY: I have two eBook copies of MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Tuesday, August 22. 

*****

I'm so glad that you visited here during your busy tour, Regina. I enjoyed your post and loved the excerpt! Darcy was more ruthless with Lady Catherine than he is often shown to be. I liked seeing him put her in her place! This is an interesting premise and I can't wait to read more. Keep writing and giving us your great books. The reviews coming in on this one are excellent. Congratulations!

Dear Readers, don't forget to comment for a chance to win one of the two eBook copies of Mr. Darcy's Brides. Good luck to all of you. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Darcy in Wonderland...Alexa Adams, Katy Wiedemann

Available at Amazon
Ever since Alexa Adams mentioned the idea of doing a post with her sister, I have been looking forward to today. I am fortunate to have two extremely talented sisters, Alexa Adams and Katy Wiedemann, talk about their work. As you know, Alexa Adams is an author and her sister, Katy, is an illustrator. She drew the pictures and covers for the latest release by Alexa Adams, Darcy in Wonderland. I love that these two sisters were able to work together and create such a neat book. I knew Alexa to be an excellent writer and now I know her sister to be just as excellent of an illustrator. 

Alexa and Katy share some of their conversations during the process of developing pictures for the book. It is interesting to read their interactions, their thought processes and how they worked together. Thanks, ladies, for sharing your talents and your conversations with me and my readers. It is such a privilege to have you both visiting More Agreeably Engaged. Welcome!

*****

Thank you so much, Janet, for hosting not just me today, but also my incredible little sister, Katy Wiedemann, who illustrated my new book, Darcy in Wonderland. As you too are an artist and illustrator, it seemed intuitive to focus this post on the development of the images used in the book. The following is a conversation conducted over email between my sister and I reflecting on the process of illustrating the book. She is currently living in Australia, while I live in Switzerland, so it is always good to have an excuse to catch up. I miss her dearly.

Alexa: I've been begging you to illustrate my books for years. With such a talented sister, how could I not? You always had a good excuse not to: school, travel, or other projects that kept you busy. Yet I suspect there were alternative reasons for your reluctance, in particular a lack of interest in Jane Austen. I was much more confident of your acceptance with this project, knowing Alice is a passion we share. Am I right about Austen just not being in your "zone," maybe even intimidating?

Katy: That is definitely true. There were several factors that made a book illustration project intimidating to me, and the fact that the subject was Jane Austen was only one of them. One of the most important things with a series of book illustrations is designing a group of characters that need to be unique as well as consistent, which is something I definitely struggle with. It's one of those skills that I have always coveted in other artists, but haven't really pushed myself to develop, so I'm quite glad I got the chance to work on it with this project.

Another thing that made me a bit nervous going into a project for one of your books is knowing how important historical accuracy is for you. I didn't want to disappoint my big sister! I found myself calling you very frequently while drawing to ask questions about certain details, such as "Would Mr. Darcy wear a hat to dinner in his own home?" or "How should the architecture for the musician's gallery look?" But you had an answer for every one of my questions, so as long as you weren't bothered with the constant questions, it didn't turn out to be much of an issue. 

There was also the fact that there is a very distinctive style of illustration from the Regency period, which is quite different to how I draw. Having this story be a crossover with Alice gave me more options stylistically. I tried to reference the linear quality of Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations for Alice while maintaining my own style. 

As you were writing, did you envision the scenes and characters very differently? How did you feel seeing a visualization of your work through my eyes?

Alexa: I actually don't often have a clear image of the scenes that I write. My characters are pretty much always faceless in my mind (the one big exception being Sir James Stratton of Second Glances, who came to me in a dream). I think you got all the visual genes. As we discussed possible illustrations for the book, I might have formulated some preconception of how they might appear, but as soon as I saw your drawings they became the predominate images. I think the only issues I had when reviewing them involved perspective (I remember discussing how Alice looked uncomfortable sleeping behind the musician’s gallery).

I really enjoyed looking for period pictures to guide your work. Especially those involving clothing, which is always a subject of fascination. It was a bit tricky, as the book doesn't have a definite time period, straddling the time between when Carroll published Alice in Wonderland (1865) and the years in which the Darcys would still be raising their family (post-1813 to the late 1830s). Fortunately, fashions didn't change quite as quickly back then as they do now, though the late Regency to early Victorian Era is kind of an exception. I also really enjoyed researching illustrations of Mrs. Bennet for you to morph into her pigeon self. I think the hardest "assignment" you gave me was finding children's beds from the period, as such furniture was rarely preserved, and also pictures of musician’s galleries, as there are such an infinite variety, almost always viewed from the ball room, while we needed the back of the gallery, where Alice sneaks down from bed in order to watch the action. 


As a scientific illustrator, it makes sense that you would feel most comfortable working from concrete sources, rather than letting your imagination take over. Though I said earlier that you have the visual genes, I don't think this is actually all that different from how I approach writing. Yes, the story lines are completely invented, but I am a stickler for historical accuracy, and I am always considering what is possible, both for the period and also in regards to human reactions and responses. I always need a reason for someone to do something. It made working in the highly bizarre space of Wonderland rather tricky, and is probably why I stuck so close to the original story. 


One image that did surprise me was that of the White Rabbit, probably because you based it on your roommate's pet rabbit, whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting. I know you've done portraits of live animals before, namely the family dogs, and I think you used pictures of them for your work, but does having a live model change the end result? To me, it feels like such portraits have more personality. Do you think knowing and living with the animals makes a big difference in the finished product? 

Katy: Having a live model absolutely helps, predominantly because I can pose them however I need to. It was rather convenient that I had a white rabbit jumping around my house at the very moment I needed one, and all I needed was a carrot to get the him to stand up on his hind legs for the pose that I wanted. I think because of this, that particular illustration came the most naturally to me. I agree that the illustrations I do from live models always have more character. I think when I know a person or animal well it gives me more of the ability to capture their personality in the illustration. 

One of the other aspects of this project that was difficult was the fact that I know the illustrations from the original Alice books so well. There were a few of the scenes we wanted to be in the book, but I just couldn't get the originals out of my head. For example, I really wanted to have the Griffin and the Mock Turtle dancing the Lobster Quadrille with Alice and Mr. Darcy, but every sketch I did ended up looking too much like the original illustration. So we ended up scratching that scene and choosing another one instead. 

You mentioned that you struggled with some of the absurdities in the Wonderland part of the book, do you think some of that was due to the fact that you are also so familiar with it?

Alexa: No, I don't think it was the familiarity that made it difficult. After all, I'm super familiar with Austen's novels and have not the slightest difficulty in bending them to my whims. Knowing Carroll's work so well allowed me to feel comfortable working within it, certainly, but my safe zone was having Darcy trying to impose reality upon it. The struggle was in creating new preposterous elements. So there are no new talking animal characters, just Carroll's originals, and there aren't any additional growth or shrinking spurts. I played a little with trying to create new opportunities to bend the laws of the natural world, but in all honesty, poor Darcy was already being subjected to plenty of physical challenges. Carroll provides an ample supply.   

It's actually a bit strange that I feel so comfortable manipulating Austen's worlds but not Carroll's. One would think that the fantastic nature of Wonderland would readily lend itself to adaptation. Tim Burton certainly had no difficulty altering it (then again, I believe I read that he was totally unfamiliar with the actual text when he began his series of films, which kind of shows in his total disregard for it - interesting how familiarity can actually hamper your imagination). But as I said before, I need reasons for something to happen. I can get into Austen's characters’ heads and figure out what motivates them and how they would react to different stimuli, but Carroll's characters have no rhyme nor reason to their behavior, so it's a lot harder for me. I suppose I'm too rigid: a lot like Darcy, actually. I would probably be just as disconcerted by Wonderland as he is. 

Speaking of Darcy, I was very interested in how you came to portray him. As previously stated, your scientific illustration background makes you want to have a concrete model from which to work. Probably because of my influence and all the years of Colin Firth worship, you first tried to use him as a model for your depiction, but in the end I believe you went with David Rintoul from the 1980 version of Pride and Prejudice (who does look so very Darcy). Will you explain why Firth was difficult to draw and the process through which we arrived at Rintoul as a better model? Could Matthew Macfadyen have worked?

Katy: The issue I found with using either Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen is that they both have very soft features. They look lovely in person, however, sharper features tend to look more appealing when simplified to a line drawing. I did want Darcy to look similar to how your audience knows and loves him, but I also wanted the character to be unique. I ended up deciding that the perfect reference for Mr. Darcy would be James Dean, but with David Rintoul's nose (which I love). I chose James Dean both because he is so classically beautiful and he has the sharp features to work as a line based drawing. I did find that as I was sketching his nose was so perfectly sloped that it looked unrealistic, so I threw in a bit of a bump to connect it more to David Rintoul's profile and add a bit of character. I do remember our phone conversation when I asked you if you thought this reference would be appropriate and you found it quite hilarious but also agreed that it worked. 

We also discussed the potential of giving Mr. Darcy a beard since different facial hair styles came into fashion during the Victorian Era. You seemed quite divided on this matter and ended up turning to your fans for advice. Most of them responded with strong opposition to him having a beard, so we stuck with his usual sideburns. 

Because Darcy is such a beloved character, I am interested to know how your fans are reacting to how we have both portrayed him in such a foreign environment. I know you initially had doubts about using the image of Darcy's neck stretched high above the tree tops as the cover illustration because you thought it might freak people out. What made you change your mind? And how have the early reactions been?

Alexa: Oh yes! I'd forgotten reaching out on the beard issue. Most fans were strongly opposed to the idea of a bearded Darcy. We can stick him in the Victorian Era, but I suppose we can't take away the Regency trappings. It's a bit sad really. Reminds me of people who still dress like they did in college twenty or thirty years later: stuck in their heyday.

I was concerned about the cover freaking people out a bit. I've been fairly sensitive about my covers ever since Christmas at Pemberley was declared "creepy" by several readers. I loved it and was totally shocked by this reaction. The experience has made me cautious, but as I didn't receive any negative feedback upon first revealing this cover, I thought we were safe, and now that it is released people seem to truly love it. It's such a fabulous illustration. I think it's my favorite that you did. Do you have a favorite from the book?

If I go on to write Lizzy Through the Looking Glass, which I'm seriously contemplating, are you on board for the illustrations?

Katy: I think the cover illustration is my favorite as well. I had so much fun drawing it. The white rabbit is a close second though, mostly because of how much it looks like the rabbit who lives in my house.

Even though this project was so different from what I typically do, I had a great time working on it with you. I would love to do another Wonderland series, so I really hope you write the sequel! I would love to draw the Jabberwock.

Alexa: I can't even begin to imagine how you would portray the Jabberwock, except that I doubt it would bear much resemblance to Tim Burton's. 

This has been so much fun, Katy - both working with you and chatting about it. I do hope we get to do it again. Thank you so much for your participation. 

Katy: No problem! I’ve enjoyed it.















Thanks again, Janet! We’ve had a lovely visit.

*****

For more of Katy’s work, please visit her at www.wiedemannillustrations.com and www.katywiedemann.com.

Catch up with Alexa at one of the following:

*****

I enjoyed so much reading your conversations. It was neat to see how you decided on certain things, the inspirations for Katy's drawings, and the way you discussed what each of you thought. I bet this was a fun project. It certainly is a unique one that deserves much attention. I hope you will decide to do Lizzy Through the Looking Glass. That sounds just as fascinating.

Ladies, thank you so much, for taking time to tell me and my readers a little about your process and the fun you had across the miles creating this novel! Congratulations to you both for a wonderfully crafted project! 

Readers, it's giveaway time! Yes, one of you lucky fans, will be the happy recipient of this lovely book. There is one Paperback or eBook of Darcy in Wonderland, winner's choice, to giveaway and the giveaway is international. All you need to do to enter, is leave us a comment. Tell us your thoughts. Be sure I can reach you should you be the winner. Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 21st of August. Good luck everyone!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Cover Reveal, These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston


It is my pleasure this morning to host the cover reveal for Nicole Clarkston's soon to be released novel, These Dreams. This novel is a Pride & Prejudice variation and is different from any I have ever read. I have had the good fortune to read along as Nicole was writing her story. It has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience, although there were quite a few times that I felt like 'strangling' her for leaving me in such a bad place! :) Of course, I jest, but I did shriek while she laughed with a maniacal chortle at my distress. She was having a delightful time, too delightful if you ask me, while writing those heart-wrenching scenes. Oh, but they were delicious and kept me wanting more—and more—and more! I am eager for each of you to have a chance to read These Dreams.

Before revealing the cover, I will give you a taste of what is inside
by showing you the back cover blurb! Enjoy!

*****

An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream which refuses to die...

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy
is caught at the centre of a decades old international feud. Taken far
from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, 
only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley,
and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared,
Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her
from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy's death widens and 
questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. 
An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under
mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and
another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might
have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain
and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

*****

Nicole and I actually started working on this cover months ago. It has been finished, except for spine width, for quite some time. Of course, we would tweak one more thing or change a font color, 
but the essentials stayed the same.

Are you ready to see? Let's do it!

Drum roll, please!

*****


So, what do you think? Is your interest piqued?

*****

Nicole, any thoughts you want to share?

Janet and I started talking about this cover back in February, when the book was still in its infancy. She had been reading right along from the beginning, but she knew very little about some of those landmark scenes that were so clear in my imagination. I knew I wanted a heartbroken Elizabeth on the front cover, and we were still hesitant about whether or not we would include Darcy.

We flipped through dozens of images; or at least I did, I’m sure Janet’s count was probably in the hundreds. I knew I wanted a vintage painting that we could tweak as needed, but that narrowed our selections considerably. When Janet found this poor girl leaning against the tree, I almost fell out of my chair. What she did not yet know was that I had already planned several key scenes which looked just like that!

Darcy was harder. We almost excluded him entirely, but Janet faithfully looked and looked, trying to find something that would fit. The first image she saw was the one we used, but she initially discarded it because he was facing away from the viewer. In the end, that was what we loved best about him. Meanwhile, we flipped through several others. On one particularly snippy day (for which I am still apologising) I said one of her gentlemen reminded me of Zoolander. Thank goodness for her generous heart, she is still speaking to me!



As you may have already guessed from the back cover, Colonel Fitzwilliam plays an enormous role in this story. Yes, that is our devastatingly hot colonel gracing the back cover, in a custom uniform which Janet crafted herself. This is why I no longer do my own covers, ladies and gentlemen. The identity of that sultry lady next to him will remain, for now, a mystery, but I absolutely love that girl. I cannot wait to introduce you to her on another day!

*****

I can hardly wait for you to introduce the readers to that sultry young lady, as well.

As for 'Zoolander' Darcy face, I keep coming across that same gentleman in picture searches. Every time I see him, I stop,... look at him;... then wonder...what was I thinking? Darcy - NOT! Zoolander - YEP! Good call, Nicole! (and you were not snippy) lol

After sending Nicole the painting that we used for the front cover, and she told me about the key scenes that she had planned which looked just like that painting, I got 'gooseflesh'!
When I originally saw the painting, I thought it would be so perfect,
but of course, I had no idea of just how perfect!
Isn't it neat how things work sometimes? I love it!

Thank you for having me do this cover, Nicole. It was such a pleasure working on it and making it come together to fit your story. I must confess, I rather enjoyed working on the Colonel! :)
Thank you also for allowing me to read the story as you wrote it. It's fabulous and I cannot wait for all my readers and the rest of the JAFF community to have a chance to read it for themselves. It was great fun working with you and giving a 'face' to 'your baby'. I cannot count the number of times I laughed out loud reading our back and forth dialogue!

Now, get this turkey out of the oven and on the table! lol

To read an excerpt and make sense of the above sentence,
read Nicole's post about this book at Austen Variations. :)

Get ready, folks! There is a giveaway! YAY! Two lucky winners will each get an eARC
of These Dreams! The giveaway is international and is for two eARCs.
Please leave us a comment, some love, or whatever else you feel like on this fine Friday.
Leave me a way to contact you if you are new to my blog.
I am always sad to lose winners because I have no way of reaching them.
Giveaway will end on the 17th of August at 11:59 P.M. Good luck to all.

We hope you enjoy the cover reveal for These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston. Keep 'an eye out'
because there is a blog tour coming the later part of September! There will be much
to look forward to with excerpts, guest posts, vignettes, giveaways, and some reviews.
I hope you will all join in the fun. Dates to follow in a few weeks.
The book is available for pre-order! :) This is a universal link and will provide all pre-order sites as they become available.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

And the winner is...When We Are Married

It is time to announce another winner!
Isn't this part fun?! I love it! 
We have the winner for the eBook, When We Are Married,
by Caitlin Williams.


Anji

Congratulations to you, Anji! I hope you enjoy this book
as much as I did. 
Please let me know your thoughts once you have read it. 
Thank you for supporting my blog.

A special thanks to Caitlin Williams for giving away an eBook
and to Claudine Pepe for organizing the blog tour.
Thank you ladies!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And the winner is...The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen

Good morning and happy Wednesday to everyone.
I hope your week is going good.
I have a winner to announce so will get right to it!


The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen
by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton

Jan Hahn

Congratulations, Jan. 

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my review. I loved reading all your comments. Those of you who had already read the book and loved it, felt the same as I did about this fab book! 
I'm so anxious and excited for the sequel!

Thank you, Cass and Ada. I appreciate so much your willingness to have a giveaway to coincide with my review. It was lovely of you ladies to do and I know the readers appreciated it. I hope you will visit again when the sequel releases! You are always welcome to visit 
More Agreeably Engaged!