Friday, April 17, 2020

The Bennet Affair...Riana Everly

Riana Everly is stopping by with some interesting information on codes and cyphers. If you have been reading about her latest book, The Bennet Affair, you may have read that Darcy and Elizabeth encounter French spies, rumored to be led by Thomas Bennet. Oh my! This does sound intriguing. I love a good spy mystery. When it involves two of my favorite fictional characters, that makes it all the better! 

If this is your first encounter with The Bennet Affair, let me give you some background. Let's start with the blurb. Later Riana shares an excerpt with you! 


A tale of secrets, sweethearts, and spies!

Elizabeth Bennet’s bedroom in the ancient tower of Longbourn has always been her private haven. So what are those footsteps and shuffling noises she’s now hearing from the room above her head? Drawn from her bed one dark summer night, her clandestine investigations land her in the middle of what looks like a gang of French spies!

William Darcy’s summer has been awful so far, especially after barely rescuing his sister from a most injudicious elopement. Then he is attacked and almost killed nearly at his own front door in one of the best parts of London. Luckily his saviour and new friend, Lord Stanton, has a grand suggestion—recuperate in the countryside and help uncover the workings of a ring of French spies, rumoured to be led by none other than country squire Thomas Bennet!

Drawn together as they work to uncover the truth about the Frenchmen hiding in their midst, Elizabeth and Darcy must use all their intellect as they are confronted with an ingenious code machine, a variety of clockwork devices, ancient secrets and very modern traitors to the Crown. And somewhere along the line, they just might lose their hearts and discover true love—assuming they survive what they learn in the Bennet affair.

The Bennet Affair is a full-length JAFF novel of about 112, 000 words.

Buy Link:

Codes and Cyphers

In The Bennet Affair, Lizzy and Darcy discover a machine that encrypts secret messages important to the ongoing war between England and France. They talk a lot about codes and cyphers, but the two words are not interchangeable. A code is a system where words, images, or numbers are substituted for words or phrases, and where one needs the key to break the code. These can be quite random and cannot be broken without the key. Think, for example, of a Chinese restaurant menu, where each item has a number. The only way you know that item 87 is the hot and sour soup is because the menu tells you that.

A cypher, on the other hand, changes the message on a letter-by-letter basis and does not imply meaning. A code book is not necessary, and cyphers can be broken with enough determination and effort. In other words, codes operate on semantics, or meaning, whereas cyphers operate on syntax, or symbols.

Here is a small selection of cyphers that are often used.

Caesar Cypher

This is the first thing that Darcy and Lizzy tried, and it is one of the simplest encryption methods. It is a type of substitution cypher, where each letter of the original is replaced by another letter a certain pre-set distance ahead in the alphabet. If, for example, the parties have decided that A now is B, all letters A will be replaced by Bs, all Bs by Cs, etc. A variation of this is to start at the back of the alphabet and work forward, so each A becomes Z, each B becomes Y, and so on. 

The Caesar cipher is named after Julius Caesar, who, according to Suetonius, used it with a shift of three (A becoming D when encrypting to protect messages of military significance. It is easy to use, but also easy to crack, and it succumbs readily to a brute force attack, where the decrypter just tries all 25 shifts of the alphabet.

Vigenère Cypher

First described by Giovan Battista Bellaso in 1553, this is a type of polyalphabetic cypher, where multiple alphabets are used to encrypt a message. It wasn’t until 1863 that Friedrich Kasiski published a general method of deciphering Vigenère cyphers.

The Vigenère cypher is the one that Lizzy cracked in our story, and it relies on a key word to enable the two sides to encrypt and decrypt the message. The machine gave our heroes the word GOLDFINCH as the keyword, which told them which letters substituted for which in the message. It is a series of Caesars, each with a different shift or offset. So for the first letter, you’d use a Caesar where A becomes G. For the second letter, A would become O, and for the third, A would become L, and so on until you finish the word, where you would simply return to the first letter of the key word.

The Jefferson Disc or Wheel Cipher

This is Thomas Jefferson’s invention, also known as the Bazeries Cylinder. It consists of a series of discs on a central rod, each with the scrambled letters of the alphabet printed or etched upon them. The discs are numbered and can be rearranged. The encrypter spells out a message on the discs, then rotates the entire cylinder to some degree, and writes down the nonsense letters now in front of him. The recipient arranges the discs on his cylinder in the identical order, which must be predetermined, and simply reverses the action, spelling out the nonsense and then rotating the entire cylinder until he sees a line that makes sense.

The Wheel Cipher was invented in 1795 but did not become well known, and was reinvented over a century later by Etienne Bazeries. The system was used by the United States Army from 1923 until 1942 as the M-94.

Why don’t you try your hand at a simple Ceasar cypher, where A becomes B.
J ipqf zpv bsf bmm tubzjoh tbgf boe xfmm.

Were you able to decipher the code? Now enjoy the excerpt!


Richard placed a piece of paper on the kitchen table. It had a series of letters written across it in an untidy but tutored hand—Richard’s own, Darcy noticed. He must have copied only a small portion of the message text for their efforts.


“That makes no sense whatsoever,” Elizabeth chewed her bottom lip, and Darcy felt his eyes drawn to that spot and he fought the urge to reach across to her and pull her into his arms. Not now, not when you are out of sorts and needing comfort. Later, when you are under better regulation and you can ask the lady her thoughts on the matter. He pulled his eyes from her lip and sent them back to the nonsense on the paper.

It is encrypted, Miss Elizabeth,” Richard teased. “If it made sense, our labours would not be needed.”

“Silly man!” she teased back. “Of course I knew that. I merely made a comment. Now, how is our word from the machine to relate to this string of letters?”

There was silence as all three contemplated the matter before them.

“The most obvious solution would be a Caesar cypher,” Richard offered. “It is a fairly simple cypher to break, but easy to encrypt and easy to translate back, if you know the offset.”

“Offset?” Elizabeth asked, but Darcy could see her mind working as surely as he had seen the workings of the mechanical horse he had purchased for her from Mr. Mendel. She would find for herself the meaning quickly enough without help, such was her intelligence. “Ah, I believe I have it. The offset is how far along the alphabet one need go in order to uncover the meaning. If the offset is B, then all As become Bs, all Bs become Cs, and so on.”

“Clever girl!” Richard beamed. Darcy sent him a scowl, but then turned his own smile upon the lady. She really was a clever young woman, with an understanding that transcended her middling education. She had determined in a moment what an offset cypher was, with little guidance.
“If we assume the first letter of our code word to be the offset, then all As become Gs, and so forth. Let us see what it tells us.” Richard found a pencil in his pocket and began to scratch at the paper.


“That cannot be correct.” She chewed at her lip again, and Darcy now wished to kiss it, lest she raise a welt or break the rosy surface of soft flesh.

“Neither did I expect it to be,” his cousin sighed. “That would be too simple, although with the encoded keyword, it was well worth the trying.

“Could it be one of the other letters?” Something was worrying at the back of Darcy’s mind, but it would not come to him. “Perhaps the offset is the O.”

Once more, Richard began working with his pencil.

What do you think? Is your interest piqued? Mine is! 

Let's get to know Riana Everly. Do you have any questions for her? If you do, be sure to ask them in the comments below. 

Author Bio

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

You can follow Riana's blog at, and join her on Facebook ( and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!

Blog Tour
Here are my blog tour stops!


Thanks for stopping by, Riana. I loved your post about codes and cyphers. 

 It is always good to have you visit. You are welcome to stop by anytime, and I hope it will be again soon.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Undoing...L. L. Diamond

How are you doing? I hope everyone is staying well and keeping some semblance of calm in these extraordinary times in which we find ourselves. It is all a bit surreal, isn't it. When weather permits, I spend time in my yard, communing with nature and listening to the birds. For them, life goes on as usual. The birds are building nests, mating, and raising their young. Watching them brings me much peace, and it is restorative to my soul in this world with an invisible enemy. I've done some baking, and it has been fun. That is something I used to do a lot, but not so much of late, until this past week. What are you doing to keep things as normal as possible? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I hope each of you is faring well mentally, as well as physically. Stay safe. You are in my thoughts and prayers. 

It's so good to have L. L. Diamond visit again. You've probably been seeing her around the blog world lately and my place is her stop today. Her new release, Undoing, sounds like a really good read. (the cover is lovely too) Leslie is sharing an excerpt with us, and I feel it is one that each of you will enjoy. Thanks, Leslie.

Thank you for having me! I’m so excited that Undoing is finally out for everyone to read. My dearest wish is that everyone can lose themselves for just a little while in Darcy and Elizabeth’s story. Today, I have an excerpt for you. We’re off on a trip to the theatre! I hope you enjoy it!

     Elizabeth stepped out of the carriage with the support of her husband’s hand and surveyed the building before her. The Lyceum was not as opulent as the Theatre Royal, but since the fire, the Lyceum was certainly grander than a pile of cinder.
     “Have you never been here before?” asked her husband, offering his arm.
     She shook her head but made certain her expression remained pleased. “No, I have not. My aunt and uncle have taken me to the Theatre Royal in the past, but my uncle did not seem inclined to attend an event here.”
     “Perhaps due to the variety of shows?” He glanced at the building and then back to her face. “For a time, it was used for a circus, then a concert hall, and last I had heard, Madame Tussaud displayed her wax portraits here.”
     Her chin hitched back a little. “Wax portraits?” How odd?
     “Yes, they resemble sculptures.”
     They began to stroll to the large doors as a footman followed.
     She laughed, glancing over as he watched her curiously. “I attempted to imagine my uncle in such an exhibit. He attends art exhibitions in order to keep my aunt happy. I do not think he would consent to a show featuring wax statuary. I do wonder if Lady Vranes would find them worthy of her time?”
     One side of his lips quirked as he disengaged his arm within the doors for the footman to remove his coat before the servant stepped forward to take her cloak. As soon as their coats were carried away, they started towards the stairs.
     They were only a few steps inside when her husband’s name rang across the hall. “Leeds!”
     “Aah, Sir Isaac,” her husband replied. “I do hope you and your wife are well.”
     “Yes, we are quite well, as you see.” Sir Isaac’s wife strolled up, and her husband’s arm tensed. “We heard you had returned to town,” said Sir Isaac, “but it seems we have not attended the same soirees.” The gentleman’s air was jovial, but his wife was another story. She nodded to the duke upon her approach, then appeared to be interested in everything in the room but Elizabeth.
     Her husband leaned slightly towards the wife. “Lady Beatrice, I would like to present my wife, Her Grace Elizabeth Osborne, The Duchess of Leeds.” Lady Beatrice pursed her lips and crinkled her nose, appearing as though she had been made to drink dirty bathwater.
     She curtsied as Elizabeth did. “Your Grace,” she responded. She still never looked at Elizabeth’s face.
     Sir Isaac froze in place and swallowed hard. His head jerked to the side. “Ah! There are the Clarkes!” Sir Isaac glanced back to her husband. “Pray, forgive us, but we were to meet them here.”
     Her husband gave a curt nod. “Of course, we understand.”
     Elizabeth curtsied. “It was lovely to make your acquaintance.”
     Sir Isaac’s head bobbed. “Yes, we were pleased to make yours as well. I hope you both enjoy the play.”
     She pressed her lips together to prevent a giggle until they were far enough away. “He reminds me of Sir William Lucas.”
     “Yes, they have much in common.” His voice was lower than was his wont. “He is an agreeable fellow. I do not care to be in company with his wife.”
     “You did not appear pleased to see her.”
     “No, once upon a time, I protected Darcy from her schemes. She made no secret of her disappointment when his engagement to Lady Anne Fitzwilliam was announced. Lady Beatrice was the laughing stock of society for the remainder of that season.”
     “Why had she set her cap at Mr. Darcy, do you think?”
     “Her father married her off to Sir Isaac a year following Darcy’s marriage. Her father’s estate and a few other holdings were sold not long after. His debts were severe. I believe she coveted George’s wealth. The Darcys’ reputation for managing their assets is well-earned.”
     She peered over her shoulder at Lady Beatrice, who smiled as she spoke to whom Elizabeth assumed was Mrs. Clarke.
     “Your Grace, we are pleased to join you tonight.” Elizabeth turned at the familiar voice, smiled, and returned Lady Matlock’s curtsey. Lord Matlock and Viscount Carlisle stood at the lady’s side chatting with her husband, so Elizabeth removed her hand from her husband’s arm to stand a bit closer to the countess.
     “Your dress turned out lovely,” complimented Lady Matlock. “I still adore the colour.”
     Elizabeth glanced down at her new evening gown. The rich apple blossom red velvet clung to her chest with a very high waist before it flowed down in long, elegant waves. A delicate lace trim adorned the top of each tiny puffed sleeve at the shoulder. The lady on the fashion plate wore a feathered monstrosity, but Elizabeth insisted on the excess velvet to wrap through her hair, fashioned like a Greek statue. A flower necklace of garnets graced her neck with matching drop earrings from the Leeds collection. Her mother would faint if she saw her.
     “Thank you, I am pleased with the result. I appreciate your help in selecting the material at the drapers that morning. I had not noticed the bolt in the corner.”
     Lady Matlock gave her a motherly smile. “That colour suits your complexion and hair very well. I heartily approve of the wrap over the feathers.”
     A hand rested upon her arm, drawing her attention to the Darcys who had joined their group. “It seems all of our party has arrived. Shall we make our way to the box?” 
     Elizabeth nodded, and her husband led her towards the stairs, halting at the sound of someone calling Lady Matlock from behind.
     “There you are, Mother!” Colonel Fitzwilliam squeezed sideways through the last of the crowd and stopped before Lady Matlock.
     Elizabeth’s gaze shifted to Fitzwilliam as he rolled his eyes to Carlisle. Carlisle closed his eyes and sighed.
     The colonel took no notice. “Harrison said you and father had come to the theatre, so I decided to join you.”
     Lady Matlock coloured and opened her mouth twice before she could utter a sound. “B . . . but, Richard, we are here at the invitation of the Duke of Leeds.”
     The colonel showed not the least appearance of remorse or embarrassment. “I had not realised.” His smile faltered slightly, but he recovered without pause. “It is no bother. I shall return to the barracks . . .”
     “Colonel, you are welcome to join us this evening,” said her husband in his usual voice. “I am certain we have a seat for you.”
     The earlier grin instantly returned to the colonel’s face, and he executed a quick bow. “I would be most grateful. I am so often at my duties. I rarely have a spare evening at the theatre with my parents.”
     Her husband merely dipped his chin before he resumed their way to the boxes. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s assessment of his cousin must have been correct. Her husband surely indulged the colonel out of respect for Lord and Lady Matlock since her husband’s tight expression certainly did not appear as though he was pleased to see the colonel.
     Once they arrived at their box, the colonel offered to procure refreshments, excusing himself for a glass of wine. They had arrived early, which allowed them to visit with the other guests before taking their seats. Lady Matlock strolled over and took Elizabeth’s arm, leaning towards her ear.
     “I am terribly sorry Richard has imposed himself.”
     His behaviour had indeed been rude. Lady Matlock, however, had been a kind friend to Elizabeth, and she knew from experience one could not always control or influence their most unruly of relations.
     “Please do not make yourself uneasy. He confessed himself that you did not invite him. I would not be comfortable if you were unable to enjoy the evening out of worry that you have offended us.”
     Lady Matlock took her hands and squeezed them firmly. “You are too kind. I fear I am too indulgent with him at times. You see, Nicholas—Viscount Carlisle—was actually the younger of a set of twins. His elder brother, Albert, died of a fever when they were but three.”
     How terrible it must be to lose a child! No one aware of her misfortune could blame Lady Matlock for her indulgence. Elizabeth pressed her hand to her chest to express her condolences, but Lady Matlock forestalled her by speaking first.
     “I hope I did not upset you too terribly. I wished you to understand if I seem to indulge my sons from time to time. I was devastated when Richard joined the army rather than taking orders. I do worry for him so. I fear I give in to him far more than I should.” There were tears in the countess’s eyes, but she swiftly choked them back. “Tonight is for us to enjoy. I apologise if I rendered the mood melancholy.”
     “Not at all, Lady Matlock.” Elizabeth squeezed the lady’s hand.
     “No more Lady Matlock. I should like you to call me Evelyn.”
     Elizabeth balked. She should address her as society dictated, should she not?
     “I insist,” said Lady Matlock.
     “But . . .”
     “I do hope we are friends. My friends address me as Evelyn.”
     Her husband and Lord Matlock joined them as Elizabeth nodded.
     Lady Matlock released her hands to clasp hers in front of her. “I intend to pay some calls early next week. Would you care to join me?”
     The duke grinned. “I think it is a wonderful suggestion, Elizabeth. You have received callers, but have not yet returned any of the visits.”
     The countess’s adamant eyes returned to hers. “Then let us plan on Monday. I am willing to wager we have a few of the same names on our lists.”
     She could not refuse such an earnest offer of friendship. “I would be pleased to join you. But, if I am to call you Evelyn, you should call me Lizzy.”
     The colonel’s voice heralded his return, and he stepped forward with his brother and the younger Mr. Darcy hovering nearby, which unsettled Elizabeth. Mr. Darcy wore an odd expression that made the hair on her arms stand on end, and whenever she happened a glance in his direction, he stared at her. What could he mean by such behaviour?
     A bell signalled the performance would soon begin. Her husband steered her towards the first row of chairs, seating her beside Fitzwilliam, yet her husband did not sit to her opposite side. Instead, he took a seat almost behind her at the end of the row. He smiled at her, and she returned the gesture. Lady Matlock took the chair to her right with Lord Matlock to the opposite side of his wife. This was non-sensical. Lord Matlock sat beside his wife, but her husband was seated on an entirely different row? Would she ever understand him? He remained as much of a mystery now as when they first wed.

Author Bio:

L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans before following her husband all over as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.

After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favourite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction.

Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. Her most recent endeavours have included certifications to coach swimming as well as a fitness instructor. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolour is her medium of choice with one of her watercolours featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is also a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!

Leslie’s books include Rain and Retribution, A Matter of Chance, An Unwavering Trust, The Earl’s Conquest, Particular Intentions, Particular Attachments, Unwrapping Mr. Darcy, It’s Always Been You, It’s Always Been Us, It’s Always Been You and Me, and Undoing, which releases April 1st.

Visit Leslie’s website Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @lldiamond2

To purchase your own copy of Undoing, click on the link below.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

It is always so nice to have Leslie stop by. I hope you enjoyed her visit and excerpt as much as I did. Do you have any questions about Undoing for Leslie? We would love for you to have your share in the conversation. What did you think of this excerpt? Does it make you want more? Please tell us what you are wondering or thinking in the comments below.  Don't forget to share what you are doing during your time sheltering at home. 

Leslie, since you mentioned being off to the theatre, and this post was sent to me quite a while back, how was the theatre? I'm glad you got to go and enjoy it before everything was shut down.

Now for a giveaway! Yay! Everyone will like this for sure! Leslie is giving away two eBooks and the giveaway is international. To be entered, leave a comment below. Be sure I have a way to contact you, in case you are one of the winners. The giveaway will end at midnight on the 15th of April. Good luck to all! Thanks to everyone for stopping by.