Friday, February 9, 2018

A More Engaging Guest Review...The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey

Hello to all of you. I hope you've had a good week. Are you looking forward to the weekend? Yes, I guess that is a pretty silly question. Most of you probably are. Me too! :)

Sophia Rose is back with a guest review of Don Jacobson's The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey. This book is Volume 1 in The Bennet Wardrobe Series. I will be posting Sophia Rose's review of Henry Fitzwilliam's War, a Bennet Wardrobe novella on Saturday so watch for it.

Thank you, Sophia, for sharing this review with me and my readers here at More Agreeably Engaged. I'm sure the readers will like reading your 'take' on this book in The Bennet Wardrobe series.

*****

The Keeper:  Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey by Don Jacobson
#1 The Bennet Wardrobe
Historical Romance, Time Travel Romance

Publisher:  Self-Published

Published:  5.16.17

Pages:  356

Source:  Purchased

Sellers:  Amazon
               Barnes&Noble


GoodReads Blurb:

Lizzy gripped Mary’s hands and began her speech.

“Now is the time for you. Heal now. Future only, my dearest sister.”

Mary Bennet has spent her entire life fighting to be herself. If only she knew just what that was. For years she buried her nose in the musty musing of Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women trying to be exceptional. She hid her light brown eyes—and herself—behind useless spectacles.
With both Jane and Lizzy married, it is time for Miss Bennet to emerge from her cocoon. Learn how a young woman of deep faith and inquisitive mind emerges. Yet, even as Mary Bennet overcomes her troubled teenage years, she is challenged by her sudden and total love for a man who mysteriously appears on the night of a great calamity. And his secret grows out of a remarkable device—The Bennet Wardrobe!

The Keeper follows the life of Mary Bennet as she matures from the prosy, moralizing caricature found in Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice into a confident young woman looking to make her mark in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. And, discover how the amazing Bennet Wardrobe makes life interesting for all Bennets.
Review:

There are books that come along and seem imbued with magic.  Whether it is the world of the story, the characters, the connections between characters, or just that little something extra, there is magic.  Now, wasn't I pleasantly surprised when The Keeper turned out to be something of all this and had actual time-travel magic for good measure.

The Bennet Wardrobe much in the spirit of other great literary means of magical travel offers one family an opportunity to experience the world of the future just by making a wish and stepping forward.  There are regulations and it all isn't roses and unicorns just because they can sally forth into the future through their magical wardrobe.  Quite the possibilities, though...

In essence, this first book had the ponderous job of introducing the reader to a new world, the characters, and bring home a solid story.  The Keeper managed to do all these things.  It took a bit to get going as it wove through the history of the wardrobe and set up the family situation for the moment the heroine appeared on the scene.  It was something of a telling rather than showing in the early pages, but I didn't mind.  It suited things to bring over a hundred years of history and the backdrop together in this way and I was still able to emotionally connect and, yes, gulp back a few tears for some of the sorrows of the past.

Once, Mary Bennet that more obscure and pedantic third Bennet daughter of Pride & Prejudice fame entered stage left, I was fully engaged with the story.  I've always had a soft spot for our Mary so I enjoyed seeing the duckling to swan routine take place before my eyes as Mary finds herself and settles comfortably in her own skin and within her own family. 

The timing of this one when it becomes Mary's story is right after the events of Austen's Pride & Prejudice so its something of a sequel variation.  There are a blend of Austen's characters and the author's original ones.  The author's take on Austen's characters are rather original without going too far so that I couldn't recognize them.  I loved that balance.  There is a blend of sequel story taking the reader through the events of lives living the events of history in Napoleonic then Industrial Revolution era England.  Historic details are there and added flavor and color to the setting without taking over and distracting from the plot.

There are plenty of pages to The Keeper that allow for the narration to develop not only the story of
the family legacy with the Wardrobe and Mary, herself, but further to the whole family and its extending connections into a family saga. 

I enjoyed the time of Mary making her own family connections for the first time, particularly as a daughter with her father and then strengthening her relationship with sisters and friends.  Her epiphany moment on top of Oakham Mount was marvelous and so her remaking was believable as was the woman who emerged from then on.  She has a romance that stays in the background as she matures into a woman of inner strength and beauty while pondering the secret her Edward is keeping.  I loved seeing her stand up for herself and for others.  Mary taking on Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins was a particularly triumphant.  And speaking of that pair?  They gave me the heebie jeebies like a good villain will do.

As I said, this felt more like a family saga and it most certainly was the foundation story to launch a series.  Mary's story is there, but other stories are more than hinted at.  I look forward to getting each of those fascinating younger Bennet sister's stories.  I was taken with the blend of magical time travel and Austenesque sequel.   The Keeper was engaging, emotionally touching, and well-written making me eager to push forward with what comes next.  I can heartily recommend this book to those who love a little magic and a good grasp of historical context in their Austenesque.

Author’s 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.

He now exclusively writes Regency Romance fiction. In 2016, he published “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey” which began the Bennet Wardrobe saga. He also published the paired books "Of Fortune's Reversal" and "The Maid and The Footman" which examine the same event from two different perspectives: that of the gentry and that of the servants.

He 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 the Jane Austen Society of Puget Sound (JASNA). He is also a member of the Regency Romance writers' collective Austen Authors.

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 (Poulet au vinaigre is a particular favorite), dining out, fine wine and well aged scotch whiskey (Oban 18 Year Old single malt).

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).

Author’s Social Media:
 
Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate. Writing has been a compelling need since childhood.


GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13418187.Sophia_Rose

*****

Thank you, Sophia Rose, for your willingness to let me post your reviews on my blog. I enjoy reading your thoughts and especially so on this book. I love this series by Don Jacobson, and I was eager to see what your thoughts would be. I look forward to reading the rest of your review of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. If any of you have been thinking about reading the series, I feel Sophia's review will give you a boost to go ahead and jump in. I highly encourage you to do so.

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, Volume 2, Part 2, of The Bennet Wardrobe was recently released. The blog tour for the book begins on February 14th. Don has some great guest posts and character interviews lined up so be sure and pop in. He has a fabulous giveaway for the tour, too. The blog tour is set up a little differently this time. There will not be a stop every day, and the tour is spread out over a three week period. 


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

Thanks for stopping by. We would love to hear your thoughts.

To encourage more of you to give this series a try, I'm giving away one eBook of The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey. The giveaway is international. On Saturday, I will post Sophia's review of Henry Fitzwilliam's War, a Bennet Wardrobe novella. Comments left at both reviews will increase your chance of winning. Be sure and leave me contact info if you would like a chance to win the eBook. Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 12th of February! Good luck to all!

40 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear you did, Vesper. Have you read the other Bennet Wardrobe books yet?

      Delete
    2. Hey, fellow fan! Glad to know. I'm hoping to press on to book two soonish. :)

      Delete
    3. Gosh...I better get going before you catch up! Total of 5!
      In Order
      The Keeper
      Henry Fitzwilliam's War
      The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
      Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
      The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

      Delete
  2. Glad you enjoyed it. If you have the chance, love to see your thoughts on Keeper and the other four books!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, how excited!! Thank you for the chance at the giveaway!! Sharon Legg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you stopped by, Sharon. Good luck!

      Delete
  4. This will be a month of give-aways with the beginning of the blog tour for "The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn." Thank you for the excitement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be a month of many giveaways, for sure! :)

      Delete
  5. Great review, Sophia! I absolutely love this saga/series too! What Don has done with Jane Austen's characters is brilliant! The cover art by Janet is fabulous too! Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Carole! Appreciate your good thoughts. As Always.

      Delete
    2. Isn't this a great series! I love these books. I'm amazed at how Don weaves all the history, characters from other books, different time periods, real people, and Jane Austen characters, seamlessly into a fascinating story. I can believe in his universe.

      I'm glad you like the cover art, too. Thanks, Carol.

      Delete
    3. I can't wait to move on with Kitty's story, Carole. So many hints that its a real humdinger. :)

      Delete
    4. Humdinger...I wonder...want to use that word...but one of my betas would take me to task (Grin).

      Delete
  6. Mary taking on Mr C. and Lady C?? Really? Wow! This,I've gotta read about!
    Great review Sophia!
    Am on a reading slump at the moment but when I get my mojo back I look foreward to seeing this different Mary on action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, Mary! She was something else. I really loved seeing her shine in this one.

      Bummer about the slump. I hate when I get that way. Hopefully it will slump away soon for you.

      Delete
    2. Hi Mary. I'm so glad you stopped by to read Sophia's review. I hope you get out of your slump soon. That's no fun! I think you will love Mary and seeing her come into her own.

      Delete
    3. Mary,

      Thank you for your interest. I have found reading to be a great doorway into other worlds...and that is, perhaps, why/how the Wardrobe came into being! Look forward to your thoughts on the Series.

      Delete
  7. Sophia, what a great review giving the uninitiated the info they need without spoilers. I have a hard time describing this series without sounding stupid and/or gushing. It does have magic, but there is so much more to Don's writing that takes the series way beyond that moniker. I'm a slow, savoring type of reader myself and yet these books make me slow down even more. If one is paying attention they make you think, ponder, and want to explore the history events in the novel pulled from said history. And of course you can just skim over that and enjoy the story, which is wonderful. I'm caught up until the most recent release, but I think I really need to go back and read Kitty's story part I again first. But then THAT will make me want to go back and read Henry Fitzwilliam's story again first. And then I may as well reread The Keeper as well. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed my summation, Michelle. I do try not to reveal spoilers. LOL, yes, you do have a delightful dilemma with a series reread temptation. :)

      Delete
    2. I agree, Michelle. There is much more to Don's writing and I think I gush quite often! :) I'm also a slow savoring type. I will reread a paragraph or sentence over again, just to savor it if it is something that truly grabs me. I think you will love the second Kitty book! I know I surely did!.Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
    3. Thank you Janet. It couldn't help being a great book, and I'm so looking forward to it. Like you I reread sentences and paragraphs over and over. It can be the clever/beautiful/heartbreaking dialog (sometimes the best is the interior dialog) or just the language. I'm enthralled with the beauty of language.

      I'm trying so hard to make a maximum effort at reducing my TBR pile, and once I read a few more I'm rewarding myself! Not to mention I just got the BEST (early) Valentine's card ever from MY Mr. Darcy...a generous Amazon gift card.

      Delete
    4. Sophia, that reread habit is a monkey on my back. And this is a habit I only picked up in the past 9-10 years. Before that I couldn't stand the thought of it.

      Delete
    5. Michelle...you are making me blush. I do try to build the narrative using evocative language that paints a strong picture for the readers. One of the little writing hints I always passed on to my classes was to proof aloud to hear the meter of the language. This is based in the fact that I believe the Greeks invented vowels to allow them to capture the sound of the Homeric epics.

      Delete
  8. And so you have entered a time loop in the Universe of the Wardrobe. I appreciate that you find much in the writing itself to savor. I have worked to make these books something that will offer enjoyment, but also force you to engage beyond the upper reaches of the plot lines. Thank you, Miss Sloane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well. Thank YOU, Mr. Jacobson for these books and this incredible JAFF (alternate) world.

      Delete
  9. Thanks for your lovely review, Sophia. It's certainly an intriguing sounding series and definitely my kind of thing. I love a bit of time slip/travel in my JAFF, as well as being rather fond of stories featuring Mary.

    I've got The Keeper and the next two in the series sitting in that planet-sized object known as my TBR list, so Janet, please don't put my name in your giveaway hat this time. I'm going to try to include some of these in my Goodreads Challenge this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by, Anji. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed Sophia's review. It definitely was well written yet didn't give spoilers. I'm loving this series of Don's. I hope you get a chance to start reading it soon. It is worth every minute.

      Delete
    2. Ho Anji...and then after Exile Part 1, you have Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess and then Exile Part 2. By the time you are finished...I may have The Avenger out!

      Delete
    3. Yeah, beware of my dangerous topsy-turvy TBR PIle, too. You've got some good ones to anticipate, Anji!

      Delete
  10. Thanks for the review. This sounds like a wonderful series and is at the top of my wishlist. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. jadseah4 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've got some good ones to anticipate off your wish list, Darcy. :)

      Delete
  11. I am looking forward to your feedback reviews on all five books (to date) as the series builds!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great to read Sophia's take on The Keeper. I like it that Don chose to focus on Mary's journey since she isn't given much page time in P&P. And thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same about our Mary. She is quiet in the original so she's a great one to take and make a full story from. :)

      Delete
  13. What is fun is that there are currently four more books right now in the series. 2018 should see two more.. The Avenger )Thomas) and The Pilgrim (Lydia). Look forward to your thoughts. Excited to be part of your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I wish to thank everybody for their kind and supportive comments. The blog tour for "The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn" kicks off tomorrow (2/14) with a stop at Austenesque Reviews. I also look forward to reading your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for all of the books in the Bennet Wardrobe!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've been working with Colin for several months now and he's consistently one of my top partners. His offers produce high EPCs for me when I mail and his list performs really well whenever he brings it to a launch (he's been in the top few guys nearly every time). What more can I say? You want to work with this guy, click here to know more - http://www.socialmonkee.com/sac009

    ReplyDelete