Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My share in the conversation...These Dreams

Available on Amazon

Have you read These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston? If you have not, I strongly encourage you do so. Even if you are not fond of some angst, you will still find much in this novel to enjoy. Do you like reading a good story with a great Colonel Fitzwilliam? Then this story is for you. Thanks for taking some moments out of your day to stop by and read my review.

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston

These Dreams is unequivocally, one of the best books I have ever read. It left me thinking about it for days. The author wrote a story that vividly portrays love, heartache, agony, feelings of betrayal, desperation, fear, joy, hope, romance, oh, the romance, and so much more. The narrative moved along at a steady pace, and there was nothing artificial in the solutions to the plot twists. It kept me on the edge of my seat, experiencing a multitude of emotions.

The story begins with Darcy arranging the marriage of Wickham and Lydia. While doing a kindness to an unknown person, he is knocked unconscious, kidnapped, and transported to Portugal. A body, found in the streets and dressed in Darcy’s clothes, leads his family to believe he is dead!  This was such a difficult part, and I could hardly wait for answers. Thankfully, we are quick to learn that he lives, but his family is not as fortunate as the reader.

The one thing that keeps Darcy going is Elizabeth. No matter how horribly he is treated, no matter how alone he feels, he has hope in the darkest of those moments. He sees Elizabeth in his dreams, he hears her in his thoughts, and he feels her touch.

Elizabeth, in despair of all that could have been, grieves for the loss of the best man she has ever known. Her feelings for Darcy had changed but she had not the opportunity to tell him. That alone, increases her anguish thinking he never knew of her love. Life for Lizzy becomes almost unbearable. Lizzy’s only comfort comes in her dreams, asleep or awake. There she hears and sees Darcy. She feels his arms around her. She talks with him. What can this mean? Is she losing her mind?

The deep emotions that both Darcy and Lizzy experience and the unfathomable love they share, connect them in a way that is poignant and thrilling. I shed tears many times as these scenes evoked strong feeling and touched me deeply. They were tormenting and enchanting at the same time.

Colonel Fitzwilliam cannot get past the feeling that Darcy lives. Thankfully, he never gives up his quest for the truth. At Colonel Fitzwilliams’ request, Elizabeth stays with Georgiana at Pemberley, and Lydia tags along. Lydia is a light spot in this tale and totally unpredictable. She was refreshing and fun. In the search for what happened to Darcy, dear Colonel Fitzwilliam meets up with his past. What a thrill it was to have him play such a leading role. At times, he stole the show and it was delightful!

When Darcy makes his way back to England, the author allows Darcy time to heal, to learn to trust again, to regain his strength of character, his physical strength, and once again, to be the Darcy who is ready to fight for those he loves and for what is his. Watching him go from near broken back to confident and strong because of love, was both heart-wrenching and inspirational. The story comes full circle when the author reveals the who and the why of Darcy’s capture and imprisonment, bringing a satisfying conclusion to an awesome novel.

Nicole Clarkston was not afraid to tackle a tough premise, and she did it skillfully, with ease and authenticity. The story flows and never skips a beat. I didn’t want to put it down. If you have yet to read These Dreams, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Get it and read it as soon as you can. It is a book you will not soon forget. Well done, Nicole Clarkston!


If you have read These Dreams, what are some of your thoughts? I would love to know what you think. If you haven't, what are you waiting for? I'm giving away the eBook to help you get started. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on the 5th of March! The giveaway is international. Good luck!

Nicole Clarkston is also the author of two North & South variations, No Such Thing as Luck, Northern Rain, and two other Pride and Prejudice variations, Rumours & Recklessness, The Courtship of Edward Gardiner.

The February Author of the Month at From Pemberley to Milton, Rita Deodato's blog, is Nicole Clarkston. Nicole shares an excerpt from each of her works in progress. Stop by and comment for a chance to win No Such Thing as Luck

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wickham Is Besotted...Don Jacobson

Mr. Wickham, during an interview by a reporter from The Times, opens up much more than I would have expected. I was pleasantly surprised by his frankness and his admissions. 

This character interview of Lieutenant George Percival Wickham has been composed in the form of a short vignette which, if it had been included in The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, would have fallen within Chapter XXXIV of the book. © 2018 by Don Jacobson. Publication or other use of this work without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

This is a re-post from Barbara Tiller Cole's blog, Darcyholic Diversions. Barbara was unable to post on her original date, February 24th, and it seems most people missed the later date, February 25th, as it was not on the schedule. Due to the subject and information revealed, this interview deserves a second chance at being seen. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and get to know the new and improved George Wickham. :)


This character interview of Lieutenant George Percival Wickham has been composed in the form of a short vignette which, if it had been included in The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, would have fallen within Chapter XXXIV of the book. © 2018 by Don Jacobson. Publication or other use of this work without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

March 24, 1815,
A café in Hietzinger Hauptstraße opposite Schöbrunn Palace, Vienna
The man stepped from the street into the café. His black suit, if one looked closely, betrayed considerable wear with fraying threads drooping from the cuffs of the jacket’s sleeves and his pant legs. Shiny spots and knees and elbows likewise suggested that his chosen trade paid little and irregularly at that. His deep-set eyes scanned the tables distributed around the cheerily decorated room, candlelit now even though the first day of spring had heralded longer days. Finding his desired target, he doffed his hat, ran his fingers through unkempt brown hair, and wove between guests and furniture toward a lone British officer seated by a window looking out onto the boulevard.
While the city was full of officers of all stripes given the Great Congress, this man, handsome to be sure, was one of the lowliest but, in his own way, one of the most important—at least to a reporter for The Times.  He was only a lieutenant in a city where colonels were often used to fill gaps on the lower end of countesses’ tables. However, his regimental facings were easily identified as being of the 33rd Infantry, Wellington’s Own. That and the silver cords of an aide de camp looping down from his left epaulet made him the object of the journalist’s desire.
Reaching his destination, the fellow unceremoniously dropped into the vacant chair opposite the lieutenant. Barely acknowledged by his quarry, the reporter dug into a pocket under his left lapel. Successfully removing a well-folded and somewhat grubby newspaper he dropped the publication next to the officer’s cup of chocolate. Using an ink-stained finger, he stabbed at a column-length article under a screaming header.
Without ceremony he addressed the Lieutenant, “What you gave me a few weeks ago was pure gold, Wickham. My editor is beside himself wondering what comes next. And if John Stoddart[i] is asking, that means that everybody from the Prince Regent to the charwoman at Carlton House wants to know.
“And that means, I need to know what the Duke plans to do now that the Emperor is back in Paris.”
George Wickham grinned back at the earnest newshound. Brigadier Fitzwilliam, his master, already had given him his remit: he was to feed Tomlinson exactly what the Duke was planning to do.
As his old playmate had put it, “Well, George, his Grace wants that bloody man to come to him. Rather than leave him to wonder, we will let him know exactly where to find us.
“So, tell the Times that the Coalition will defend the path to Antwerp somewhere outside of Brussels. We will feed his spies the same information, thus confirming one with the other. With luck, Napoleon will have to prove his claim to the throne by showing his followers that he can defeat our best and avenge Leipzig and Toulouse. That means he will want to take on Wellington.
“But he still has to raise his force and arm his men. So do we. That should take the better part of two months, time enough for us to scarper from Vienna up to Brussels with stops along the way to get our Allies committed to sending their troops to the Low Countries. Nothing should happen until sometime in early June.”
In several curt sentences delivered in low tones to convey the seriousness of the information, Wickham passed on the general outlines of Wellington’s plans. Tomlinson had fished out a pencil stub and took notes at a furious pace. In a few minutes, all was as the Duke wished it to be. Wickham signaled a waiter who bowed over the table before scuttling off with Tomlinson’s order.
While he had fulfilled his commission, Wickham still had something else he wanted to cover with the scribe. However, he did not know how to begin.
Tomlinson sensed his hesitation and employed his own interrogator’s skill.
“How long have we known one-another, Wickham? Four, five years? Certainly since before your marriage. When was that? The year ’11? So, at least five years. You crossed my path when you were still one of the ‘leading lights’ of the demimonde.
“But, since then, I have heard just that little tidbit about you and some elderly French Countess. After that, nothing,” Tomlinson quizzed.
Wickham sighed and leaned back into his seat. He tipped his head to the side and regarded the reporter much as a bull mastiff would consider a puppy intent upon disturbing his afternoon nap in the sun; he wondered how much energy he would expend explaining himself. Eventually he chose to offer some meat to cover the bones knowing that Tomlinson would be more inclined to fulfill Wickham’s request if he understood what rested behind it.
In the same low tone he had used before, thus, he hoped, placing the information on par with his earlier tip, Wickham related his thoughts, “I am not the man you first met. On the contrary, that young lady who married me has become quite dear. That tittle-tattle your gossipmonger printed back in December ’11 could have sorely hurt Mrs. Wickham’s trusting heart.
“You know she is nearly three-and-ten years my junior. I will own that my motives for marrying her were less than honorable, but shortly after we were wed, I began to reconsider the path down which the currents of life had been carrying me. I began to find that I wanted to comport myself in a manner that would give credit to my name and raise myself in her eyes.”
Tomlinson interjected, “So, poor fool that you are, you fell in love with your wife?”
Wickham chuckled, a relaxed smile easing his features, and replied, “There you have it. George Wickham, dissolute rake and gambler, had his locks shorn by a Delilah from Hertfordshire. Yes, I will own up to it; I have discovered that I love my wife. She has made me a better man, although, the Good Lord knows that anyone could have made me better given the state of my soul at the time.
“But, Mrs. Wickham made me think. And, then she captured me lock, stock, and barrel one chilly January eve early in ’12. After that, I really changed my ways.”
So saying, he raised his cup of chocolate in silent salute to a woman who waited for his return at her old family home, although she was in mourning for her father’s recent passing. They had rarely been together since the Second Battalion had posted to Portugal in the spring of 1812. Lieutenants were not colonels or majors. Unlike in the past years, leave had not been granted often to any officers as Wellesley pursued the French from Iberia across the Pyrrenes and into the Midi. However, there was a lively correspondence between himself and Lydia, augmented by another stream between his color sergeant, Henry Wilson, and his wife, the former Laura Jenkinson. Wickham read his letters from Lydia to an attentive Wilson while the blonde giant related his from Laura. Between the two of them, they managed to patch together a fairly clear picture of the goings-on in Meryton.
Then he continued, “I have truly come to treasure my wife. But, I am worried about what the future will bring. There are no guarantees in my business. The fight we are going into will be desperate indeed…and the infantry will take the worst of it. A voltagieur could easily place a ball between wind and water (his hand touched first his shoulder and then dropped to his stomach) and put paid to old George. Rather not think about what a 32 pounder from the Beast’s le Brutal would do to me.
“I have made sure she will be provided for. I’ve invested in a closed trust set up by some of those clever men from the City. But, money is not the sort of legacy I want to leave. I wasted too many years chasing gold. I have something else much more important to my posterity.
“No, t’is nothing anyone else would care about. But, I think Lydie would find comfort that her husband had grown to be more akin to her other brothers who are serious, thoughtful, and upright men.”
He reached underneath the table and pulled out a leather valise, its straps securely buckled. The thump it made when he dropped it to the table was noticeable, giving testament to the weight of what was contained inside.
Wickham added, “This is my journal. I have been writing in it since December of ’11. I am going to presume that you will read it, however, I beg of you to give me your word of honor that you will not publish a word of it, and that you will deliver it only to me if I survive or my wife if I do not. If the latter, make whatever arrangements with Mrs. Wickham you will.
“I would, however, remind you that those brothers I mentioned are Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley. Her uncle is Edward Gardiner. Between the three of them, they could buy your great newspaper and use every copy they print to wrap fish from Wapping to the mouth of the Estuary.”
Having said his piece, he pushed the case across the table into Tomlinson’s waiting hands. The Lieutenant stood and shook hands with his messenger. He then shook the other’s hand, gave him a quick nod, and, wrapping his cloak around him against the Austrian chill, swiftly strode out the door into history.
The Bennet Wardrobe books are best read in the following order:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn 

[i] Editor of The Times of London from 1812 to 1816

Contact Info:

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Blog Tour Schedule:

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged; Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 25 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 27 More Agreeably Engaged; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA


What do you think of Wickham now? I like how Mr. Jacobson has revealed this new side of him. How about you? I would love to have your share in the conversation so please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have not read my review of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, and would like to, click here. It is toward the bottom of the post. Thanks for stopping by.

If you want to enter for a chance to win one of ten eBooks or one of two Paperbacks, use the Rafflecopter below. By re-posting the Wickham interview, you get more chances to win! :) 
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Friday, February 23, 2018

My share in the conversation...The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

It's a pleasure to participate in Don Jacobson's blog tour for his latest book in the The Bennet Wardrobe series, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn. I am sharing my thoughts on the book and Don is sharing an excerpt that you are going to love. I know I did when I read the book.

My review follows the excerpt, but before getting to the review and excerpt, let's take a look at the blurb and learn more about Don.


“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.

Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion 

Author Bio:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”
 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.
He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).
            He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.  
His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

 Contact Info:

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Blog Tour Schedule:

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 24 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA


This excerpt from Chapter XXVII of “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn,” brings you into a waiting area in the offices of Wilson and Hunters, the Bennet family’s London solicitors. The pas de deux between Laura Jenkinson, the spinster sister-in-law of Mrs. Jenkinson who works as a lady’s companion in Kent, and Sergeant Henry Wilson, late of the South Essex Regiment are the first shots in a relationship that will help shape aspects of the Wardrobe’s Universe.

This excerpt is ©2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Reproduction in any form of this work without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.
Laura Jenkinson settled herself in one of the well-stuffed chairs. The modest waiting area was made cozy by a coal-fed blaze sputtering in the hearth. Never one to leave things to chance, the companion pulled a small folio containing nearly a dozen foolscap quarto sheets from her reticule.[i] She then settled herself in for a wait—long or short. Luckily, Miss J was familiar with the tightly crabbed hand that had copied out the extensive fragment entitled Canto The First. She would have been otherwise utterly out-to-sea as she read the poetry that covered the slightly yellowed fine linen paper.
To this point, she had only briefly noticed the giant footman standing adjacent to the mantle, so placid was he, although not in a bovine nature, but rather akin to a South American jaguar poised upon a branch observing fauna passing unawares underneath. There was a tension which emanated from him, a controlled fury awaiting release, although not born of anger, but rather a potential for unknown action, either for good or not. Beyond that, though, she expected to consign him to blend into the woodwork, as was the nature of her class: servants were seen only when needed.
Yet, he defied this normal practice simply through his presence which overwhelmed her efforts to ignore him: first unconsciously and then with awakened sentiments as she tried to concentrate on the writing spread across the leaves resting in her lap. Even though she kept her head bowed, Laura could not avoid the sense of his thereness. T’was not his massive frame, towering well over six feet nor his near white blond hair above eyes bluer than the skies above the North Sea on a midsummer’s day. His body, broad—impossibly wide—at the shoulders, v’ed down to narrow hips leaving the impression of an inverted arrowhead. His entire being—both physical and spiritual—unsettled her in a manner thoroughly unfamiliar.
He wore a livery with which she was not acquainted: black wool of the finest quality—cashmere, perhaps—and richly dyed, with gold frogging anchoring richly embossed buttons. The device embroidered on his coat’s left breast, a deeply entwined “M and H,” bore testament to his position as a member of a household of note.
His eyes stopped their perpetual perambulation around the room and concentrated on her. She could feel their boring gaze penetrating through the brim of her bonnet as it blinkered her vision. Her inner self trembled under the intensity of that observation, that dissection which was laying her naked before him. Soon the vibrations that had plucked her psyche’s hidden strings manifested themselves in her lightly shaking hands.
This has to stop! He is a footman…a man…no more, no less! And I am his better.
Laura raised her eyes from the poem and shot a potent look toward the servant fully expecting him to avert his attention, ignore her, and allow her to slide back into the anonymity of her position. Instead he refocused his orbs swallowing hers in their depths, further rocking her sensibilities.
The titan cleared his throat. He wished permission to address her, but was aware enough of his lowly status to petition her. She nodded her assent.
In a rolling baritone that annihilated her last defenses he spoke, not as a servant, but as an educated man, “Please forgive my forward behavior. I am aware that you are Mrs. Wickham’s companion. Since it appears that we are to be near one another for some time, I hope you will allow me to introduce myself.”
Given another stuttering nod by the young lady, he slowly continued, “I am Sergeant Henry Wilson, soon to be of Wellesley’s own 33rd, that is infantry, ma’am. I am on detached duty in the service of the House of Deauville. I accompanied my Lady here today for her meeting with your charge.”
She absorbed his military background that explained his powerful presence to her. However, his cultured speech surprised her.
This is a man who has probably spent years dispatching His Majesty’s foes. That he is a Sergeant means that he has survived long enough to be recognized by his commanders. However, he speaks as a man with education. Perhaps there is more to him than a common soldier and footman to be scorned as a creature of the slums.
She quickly and graciously responded. “I am pleased to meet you, Sergeant Wilson. I am Miss Laura Jenkinson, lately from Northumberland where I lived with my brother and his wife. However, fever swept the vicar and his children off, forcing Mrs. Jenkinson and me to find employment. I am now under the protection of young Mr. Hunters and this firm.
“As you may divine, I receive various commissions from the gentleman in exchange for my bed and board. I live at Oakham House.”
Wilson paused as pieces clicked into place.
A preacher’s sister, like dear Miss Smythe. Thankfully when Mr. Smythe passed on, he did not leave her without resources. Me and the other Mersey boys who’d made something of themselves, thanks to his ministry, worked all the bawdy houses and hellholes around the docks until we added another 100 guineas to send the poor lady off to her cousin in Bath with a decent inheritance.
Miss Jenkinson, though, has more steel in her. Not for her the predictable life of a lady’s companion…or a governess: instead she is an operator who takes the unusual and makes it her own.
And, she is all lady, not like that vacant piece of fluff who just flounced past here on her way into that meeting from which both Miss Jenkinson and I have been barred.
He frankly, but not obviously, appraised the lady’s attributes. What he saw was a full-grown woman with medium brown hair—based upon the curls that were escaping from her bonnet’s confines—and an attractive face graced with light brown eyes. A blush of health suffused her cheeks that framed a pert nose above a mouth that may have been characterized by the tabbies of the ton as unfashionably wide. When her lips parted, he could spy white teeth evenly spaced. A gentle dusting of freckles bore testament to her love of the outdoors. Little could be made of her body that was now curled in the chair. However, Wilson recalled watching her approach after she was sent back to wait. He could attest to the fact that she was neither thin nor plump and had the requisite curves in all the right places.
Her loveliness nearly unmanned him. Shaking himself, he asked Miss Jenkinson what she was reading.
Taking the opportunity to regain her composure, Laura happily replied, “This is a wonderful little bit of work by a friend of Mr. Hunters. You may have heard of him, perhaps: Mr. Gordon who is also Lord Byron.
“He has long been a friend of the Hunters family. When Mrs. Hunters, whom I attended during the last year of her life, was failing, Byron, knowing that she loved lyric poems, presented her with a rough draft of the new verses upon which he was working…Childe Burun.[ii]
“Byron is one of those new breed of poets rising in England—the Romantics.”
Wilson nodded and offered back as he, more comfortable now, circled around from his station by the hearth, and settled into a chair, “I myself favor the Romantics…in fact their Founder, Mr. Blake, is someone who has brought me comfort many a cold night on the lines in the Peninsula.
“His words speak to me and remind me of the trials and matching wonders that confront us every day.
He lifted his head and quoted, entrancing Laura with every word,
The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
   Led by the wandering light,
   Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
Appeared like his father, in white.
He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
   And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale,
   Her little boy weeping sought.[iii]
Laura was astonished at the depths to which the currents of the Sergeant’s soul ran. She could well imagine him as a child alienated from his mother through circumstances beyond his control. How Blake’s words helped him mourn his loss of a mama’s love, she knew not, but that these were the stanzas he was able to quickly quote told the tale.
However, not to be outdone, she challenged back, “Mr. Gordon has yet to fully make his name, so the comparison may be unfair. If, my fine sir, you chose to quote an established poet to me, then I can only respond with Mr. Wordsworth.”
What possessed her to select that poet or those specific verses would cause her to wonder that evening and the countless thousands more of her long and joyous life. Perhaps it was the cant of the universe at that odd moment…or not. The dice with which the gods determine the fates of men and women tumbled out of the cup to her eternal pleasure.

If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake![iv]

The gleam in his eyes told her all. He was as captured as she. Agape exploded throughout her being.
At that exact moment, the door to Mr. Hunter’s office popped open and the Lady, her shroud lifted, strode out with Lydia and Mr. Hunters trailing behind her like two frigates attending the flagship of the fleet, eagerly awaiting their orders. Miss J and Wilson both shot to their feet and turned expectantly.
She and he both felt the Countess’ appraising glance speedily read them far better than any Gypsy fortuneteller. Then the Lady nodded and mumbled mostly for her ears only, “Hmmmpf: as I expected. Besotted!  
“They are utterly lost to us. Liam and Sean were correct. The story was assuredly not apocryphal.”

[i] 6.5” X 8” See accessed 12/11/17.
[ii] Byron retiled the reworked final poem and published it in 1812 as Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
[iii] The Little Boy Found from William Blake, Songs of Innocence (1794). accessed 12/11/17.
[iv] William Wordsworth. Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye. July 13, 1798. (1798).

My review includes some thoughts on the Bennet Wardrobe as a whole, as well as The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn. 

A Book Review, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson

I love The Bennet Wardrobe Series and have been fascinated with it since reading the first book, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Don Jacobson is an exceptional writer and his interweaving of history, fictional characters, real-life people, and events is brilliant. He makes it all fit together seamlessly, not contrived nor forced, but realistically, as if his world was truth. It is, isn’t it?

I love that the Wardrobe takes its occupant to a place where he/she needs to go, to become the person that he/she is meant to be, to develop to their full potential. The person of Bennet blood does not have a choice of where to travel. The Wardrobe makes that decision for them.

Don Jacobson’s newest release in The Bennet Wardrobe series is the second part of book two, The Exile, with the continuation of Kitty Bennet’s story. Kitty is now Lady Kate Fitzwilliam, the Dowager Countess of Matlock, and is of an age, forty-six years more than when she first entered the Wardrobe. Kitty is at her beach house in Deauville, making plans to return to Longbourn. After much research, Kitty believes she has discovered the driving force behind the Wardrobe, and that discovery stretched her mind almost beyond what was sanely possible. ‘Without revealing her stunning conclusion’, she must make sure her father has sufficient knowledge to secure the Wardrobe and the future of the Five Families. She can scatter ‘a fistful of breadcrumbs’ without changing any events to come or destroying the purpose of the Wardrobe.

I loved reading about Kitty and her father. Per the Wardrobe rules, Kitty returns to the moment in time when she left. She is now sixty-three, but her father has not aged, thus he is younger than Kitty. It was fun to see her older than Mr. Bennet, yet at times still feeling like the girl of seventeen. How strange that must have been for them both. Lady Kate is now a strong, independent woman of means and influence. She sets some events in motion that give answers to a few things mentioned in earlier books, ah-ha moments. The inception of and the reasons for the Founder’s Letters were excellent and satisfying. There are so many neat things in this story of Kitty and her visit back to the point of her first departure. Those tasty morsels I will leave for the reader to glean themselves.

I loved learning more about Wickham and Lydia. I began to like him and that is quite unusual. Mr. Jacobson teased us well with this inclusion. Now I eagerly wait for Lydia’s book!

There are new characters, relatives of some from P&P and some that are introduced for the first time. There are minor characters from canon that are developed and grow into strong forces of nature, as the author envisions they could and will be.

At the front of each book, Mr. Jacobson gives a dramatis personae, a list of characters and from whence they came. The Gibbons’ Rules of the Wardrobe will follow this list. Next is the Bennets of Longbourn, and it is the family tree, past, present, and future. I enjoy going back and perusing these inclusions as I read each book in the series.

Toward the end of this Bennet history, Kitty travels back to the beach house in Deauville, where her future awaits. It is a touching, yet bittersweet grand finale to the story that is the life of Miss Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of Mr. Thomas Bennet of Longbourn. It leaves us a with a hint and hope for what awaits us in the next book.

I am amazed at the author’s ability to bring to life this universe that is the Bennet Wardrobe. He makes it a reality and keeps the telling of it, flowing smoothly and with ease. I highly recommend this series by Don Jacobson. His stories have depth and a style that move them into a league of their own. They are different from any in this genre I have read in the past. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to encounter this author and his books. Thank you, Don Jacobson.


Don Jacobson is offering a fantastic giveaway of 12 books – 10 eBooks and 2 Paperbacks. Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm glad you stopped by my blog today. Thank you for reading my thoughts on Don's book. Have you read it yet? Have you read any other books in this series? If so, what are your thoughts. I would love to know what you think. Be sure to visit all the other blogs in the tour and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, my share in the conversation...

It is my pleasure to be the first stop of the blog tour for A D'Orazio's new book, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. I'm so excited to take part in Amy's blog tour and especially to open it with my review of her book. I loved her first book and was anxious to read this new one. But before I get to my review of it, let's learn a little more about the author and the book. Isn't the cover lovely! The red roses on the back (you will see those further down in the post) and red cape are breath-taking!


Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him. 

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given. 

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept. 

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?

Contact Links:

Twitter:  @AllAbtAusten

Buy Links:

Author Biography:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.
She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

Now it's time to share my thoughts on A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by A D’Orazio.
A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, the newest release by A D’Orazio, begins at Netherfield. In the hopes of helping their friends find the same happiness they share, Charles and Jane Bingley, now married, with a son, are hosting a house party. They have invited an equal number of single men and women, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Darcy, hesitant to attend for fear of seeing Elizabeth Bennet, decides to accept, believing Elizabeth will not be in attendance.

Elizabeth Bennet, living in Cheltenham for the past year, has agreed to make her home with the Bingleys. A changed woman, Lizzy is not the impertinent woman of the past. Her arrival during the house party sets the stage for the events and trials that follow.

Go back a little over a year when Lizzy visits Pemberley with the Gardiners. The misunderstanding that came from the Hunsford proposal has been resolved. Lizzy accepts Darcy’s second proposal and for a short period, they experience exquisite felicity, thus the title. The title is referred to several times throughout the book and those references are apropos.

Lydia’s unfortunate adventure/misadventure with Wickham proves too much and Lizzy calls off the engagement with no explanation. Not only does she call if off, she does so in a letter. Darcy has been jilted and he cannot imagine why. Heartbroken he refuses to attend Bingley’s wedding nor does he visit until the house party. There is much more to Lizzy’s departure than the reader will know until nearer the ending. Lizzy and Darcy struggle while trying to come to terms with what happened, what could have been, what each does not know, and their inability to quit loving each other. Throw into this mix, eligible men and women and some sparks will fly. Oh my, let the fun begin!

Lizzy’s reason for living in Cheltenham is questioned. Rumors fly and one source of those rumors caught me totally offguard. Even Darcy begins to believe some of the rumors. Will they make a difference in those feelings he still has for her or will they put an end to those feelings forever? 

This novel grabbed my attention from the beginning. I felt invested in the characters and the story, enough so that I got a bit frustrated at times. I wanted to shake Darcy and Lizzy and tell them to please sit down and talk to each other. When they finally did try, they kept getting interference from first one and then the other. The angst was not only caused by Darcy’s and Lizzy’s misunderstanding but also by the so-called ‘help’ of friends and family. Anytime there is angst, the romance, when it happens, will be all the sweeter. That certainly is the case in this novel.

A D’Orazio is an excellent storyteller, and her novel is well-written. It kept this reader up late into the night. It had some twists and turns that I never saw coming. Amy’s first book, The Best Part of Love, was exceptional and I eagerly awaited the publication of her second. It did not disappoint. Thank you, Amy, for such an entertaining read.

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity Tour Schedule

February 21 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
February 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
February 23 Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 24 My Vices and Weaknesses / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
February 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway
February 26 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
February 27 Savvy Verse and Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 28 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway
March 1 So Little Time / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 2 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
March 3 Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview
March 4 Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway
March 5 Diary of an Eccentric / Guest Post & Giveaway
March 6 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway


8 eBooks of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on February 21 – until midnight ET on March 8, 2018.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to all of you for stopping by. If you have read either or both of Amy's books, will you share your thoughts? I would love to hear them. If you haven't read this new release, be sure and visit all the stops in the tour for a chance to win it. You won't be disappointed. Thank you to Amy for giving us such a lovely book, to Meryton Press for hosting the giveaway and to Claudine Pepe for organizing the blog tour. Best wishes for your book, Amy, and have fun during your blog tour.