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Source: Review copy from author

Ann Galvia’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, What’s Past Is Prologue, is based on an interesting forced marriage scenario between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The circumstances of their marriage are tied to Darcy’s orchestration of Lydia Bennet’s marriage to Mr. Wickham. But in this variation, it was Jane who went to Pemberley on holiday with the Gardiners, leading to her reunion with Mr. Bingley and their marriage thereafter. Elizabeth’s reunion with Darcy is more of a rocky road to happily ever after.

The Darcys have been married for just a week when they, accompanied by their sisters Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy, are called to Rosings Park by Lady Catherine de Bourgh to deal with the aftermath of a devastating flood. Readers see an Elizabeth unsure of her new position as Mrs. Darcy, an Elizabeth who expects Mr. Darcy to question his decision to marry her against his family’s wishes and to eventually lose interest in her. She is focused on providing Darcy with an heir to solidify her position as his legitimate wife in the eyes of society.

While Elizabeth navigates the newness of married life, she faces a bombardment of criticism from Lady Catherine, a formal reception from her once dearest friend Charlotte Collins, and worries that Miss de Bourgh has been hurt by their marriage, as Darcy was supposedly engaged to her. As Darcy faces the burdens of his aunt’s financial troubles, Elizabeth works to sketch his character, check Kitty’s behavior, and figure out how to encourage Georgiana to assert herself.

What’s Past Is Prologue is a character-driven novel that is slow to develop. There are long conversations between the Darcys, most of them taking place in the bedroom and many of them awkward. There are plenty of steamy bedroom scenes as well. I wish there had been more action associated with the problems at Rosings than these slow scenes of dialogue and Elizabeth contemplating sleeping and bathroom arrangements after their intimacies.

The writing was lovely, though, so I continued reading through all the slow parts, and I was satisfied with the ending. I must admit that I enjoyed Galvia’s first novel, Side by Side, Apart more, but I do look forward to reading more from her in the future.


About What’s Past Is Prologue

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

Buy on Amazon


About the Author

Ann Galvia

Ann started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus
poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Follow Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog


Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight copies of What’s Past Is Prologue for the blog tour. This giveaway will be open until midnight on August 17, 2018. You MUST enter through this Rafflecopter link.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!


August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

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Source: Review copy from author

Elizabeth Adams’ new Pride and Prejudice variation, The 26th of November, was an absolute delight from start to finish. It is subtitled “A Pride & Prejudice Comedy of Farcical Proportions,” and it definitely delivered! The novel is told from the point of view of Elizabeth Bennet, and when it opens, she has endured the Netherfield ball — her dances with Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy, the embarrassment of her mother and sisters, her father’s indifference to it all — Collins’s proposal, and the Netherfield party’s departure from Hertfordshire. But then Elizabeth wakes up and realizes it’s the day of the Netherfield ball — again.

As Elizabeth relives the 26th of November over and over again, she tries to figure out how to break the cycle. Is she supposed to somehow convince Mr. Bingley to delay his trip to London? Is she supposed to somehow improve her family’s behavior? Elizabeth examines the situation from every angle and takes various actions to get the timeline moving forward again, to no avail.

Elizabeth soon finds herself looking forward to her nightly dance with Mr. Darcy for their talks and their banter. She enjoys teasing him, surprising him, getting information from him. While he doesn’t realize that they have danced the same dance countless times before, Elizabeth does, and she comes to understand him — and herself — as she relives the day again and again.

The 26th of November was such a refreshing read. I loved seeing Elizabeth do outlandish things to try to fix the time line, and I loved how she stood up for herself and said certain well-deserved things to certain obnoxious characters. There were so many funny moments and so many sweet moments that I just couldn’t put the book down. It was my first time reading something by Elizabeth Adams, but it definitely won’t be the last!

****

About The 26th of November

The Netherfield Ball: Classic. Predictable. Immortalized.
But, what if Elizabeth were forced to relive it over and over and over again? Night after night after night?

Elizabeth: Clever. Witty. Confident.
Suddenly, her confusion and desperation make her question things she long thought she knew.

Mr. Darcy: Proud. Unapproachable. Bad tempered.
In this world where nothing is as it seems, Elizabeth must learn to see through new eyes.

Including a man she thought she hated.

Let the hilarity ensue.

Buy on Amazon

****

About the Author

Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth Adams is a book-loving, tango-dancing, Austen enthusiast. She loves old houses and thinks birthdays should be celebrated with trips – as should most occasions. She can often be found by a sunny window with a cup of hot tea and a book in her hand.

She writes romantic comedy and comedic drama in both historic and modern settings.

She is the author of The Houseguest, Unwilling, On Equal Ground, and Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride and Prejudice, and the modern comedy Green Card.

You can find more information, short stories, and outtakes at elizabethadamswrites.wordpress.com.

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Giveaway

For the blog tour, Elizabeth is generously offering five copies of The 26th of November, five audiobook codes (each one good for one of her audiobooks), and two autographed paperback copies (reader’s choice) from her catalog. The giveaway is open until midnight on August 11, 2018. You MUST enter through this Rafflecopter link.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!

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July 9 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

July 13 / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post & Giveaway

July 19 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

July 20 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

July 21 / My Love for Jane Austen / Character Interview & Giveaway

July 25 / More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway

July 28 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway

August 2 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 6 / Austenesque Reviews / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August Break

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer!

I just wanted to let you know that, aside from two pre-scheduled reviews (The 26th of November by Elizabeth Adams on August 2, and What’s Past Is Prologue by Ann Galvia on August 9), I will be taking the month off from blogging.

My daughter is leaving for college at the end of the month, and there is still so much to do! I will be back with more reviews and author features after Labor Day!

Take care,

Anna

I had such a wonderful time editing Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, and I’m thrilled to welcome her back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate its release! Victoria is here to talk about her research on espionage and to share an excerpt from the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you for having me visit, Anna!  While doing research for The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, I learned a lot about espionage activities during the Napoleonic Wars.  In particular, I read about the Alien office (part of the Home Office) which was basically the British government’s first official spy agency.  I learned about a number of fascinating incidents which would make great scenes in novels but didn’t fit into this book.  Still, I think that anyone who is interested in the era would find them remarkable—and entertaining:

  • The Alien Office thwarted one actual domestic insurrection: an incipient Irish rebellion led by agents supported by the French government. The secret service placed agents in Ireland to infiltrate the organization. This enabled them to arrest all of the rebellion’s leaders in 1798 before the event took place this represented one of the office’s greatest success.
  • In 1800 the secret service helped one faction of the French royalists form the “English Committee” in Paris. The Committee was responsible for several assassination attempts on Napoleon’s life—the most famous of which was the Rue Nicaise bombing on Christmas Eve, 1800. By 1803 the Committee had detailed plans in place for Napoleon’s kidnapping or assassination.  These plans almost certainly could not have remained in place without the tacit complicity of Fouche, the well-known minister of police in Paris.
  • One of the Committee’s most successful agents was a woman, Madame Williams. An Englishman’s widow who made multiple Channel crossings, some disguised as a sailor, Williams was never captured or apparently even suspected of being a spy.
  • Napoleon had planted agents of his own. One double agent arrived in England with his own false plans for overthrowing the French government.  Aware of the ruse, the British government created an elaborate counter plan that was designed to fool the French authorities into believing the British had fallen for their trick.  For months they created correspondence and moved agents around Europe with the purpose of deceiving Napoleon’s spy.
  • Savary, the chief of Napoleon’s personal guard, was charged with Investigating the extent of a treasonous plot. He visited the home of a recently discovered traitor along the Channel coast and found early drafts of reports that he himself had given to the Emperor.  He realized then that the information in the reports he had been giving had been authored by the British Alien Office.

It is difficult to say to what extent the secret service’s efforts helped to bring about Napoleon’s eventual demise since it is the nature of espionage to have unseen effects.  Most likely the agency’s efforts helped to sow the seeds that eventually led to many French citizens to switch to the royalist cause, but at the time eventual success was attributed to diplomacy and conventional warfare.

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An excerpt from The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

Darcy returned his attention to Elizabeth’s still form, aware that the doctor’s eyes were upon him.  After a long moment the Frenchman spoke.  “You are not a laborer searching for work.”  It was a statement, not a question.

Darcy stiffened.  “No?”

“Your hands are too soft, with callouses only from a horse’s reins.”  The doctor’s voice was matter-of-fact, not accusatory.  “A farm laborer’s hands are calloused everywhere.”

Darcy cursed himself silently for not having anticipated that detail.

“And you have an English wife.”  No doubt myriad explanations occurred to the doctor: spies, expatriate nobles, smugglers.

Darcy readied himself to fight.  Were he alone he could simply flee, but he could not leave Elizabeth behind—and traveling might kill her.

But Martin spread his hands, giving Darcy a gentle smile. “I am not your enemy.  To me, you and your wife are simply patients in need of care, and I have taken an oath to care for all who need it.”  Darcy regarded the doctor steadily.  Did he dare take the other man’s word?  Did he dare put his life—and Elizabeth’s—into this man’s trust?

Darcy sighed, and his shoulders slumped.  In truth, he had no choice.

“I swear I will not give you up to the authorities.  I have no love for them.  I would not give a rabid dog into their keeping.”  For a moment Martin’s expression was quite fierce.

Darcy nodded, somewhat reassured.

Martin looked at him sidelong.  “But will you tell me how an English gentleman and his wife came to be in Saint-Malo in the midst of a war?”

An English gentleman.  Darcy rubbed his face with both hands.  Despite his clothing, Darcy apparently might as well be wearing a sign proclaiming his name and rank.  Very well. The doctor had guessed enough of the truth; Darcy might as well tell more.  “Elizabeth was on a ship that exploded near the Channel Islands. It was reported that everyone on the ship was lost.  I am seeking the man responsible for the explosion, but I did not expect to find…” He gestured to Elizabeth’s still form.

“Yes, I remember hearing word of that.  An explosion would explain the blow to the head, but her survival is wonderful indeed.  I know of no other survivors.”

The rise and fall of Elizabeth’s chest fascinated Darcy, and he allowed himself to revel in the simple fact of her breathing.  Although he did not like the soft rattle in her exhales or the convulsive coughs.  “It is a miracle.  I had no hope.”

Martin clasped Darcy’s shoulder.  “If someone killed Marguerite, I would hunt him down as well.  I wish I knew this man so I could help you seek revenge.”

Darcy continued to regard the other man warily.

Martin chuckled.  “Our countries may be at war, but I have no quarrel with you, sir.  Your secret is safe with me.”

Did Darcy even dare to trust the man?  “I cannot ask you to take such risks…”

“The risk is not so great.  Bretagne only grudgingly supported the revolution or the emperor.  My sentiments are very common.”

Darcy was humbled by the man’s generosity and trust.  “I thank you, sir.  I will be forever in your debt.”

The man took the necklace from the table and poured it into Darcy’s hand.  “You must keep this safe until your wife may wear it once more.” Darcy stared dumbly at the pendant in his hand.  “I am afraid the chain broke when we removed it from her neck.”

Darcy threaded the chain of his watch fob through the loop at the top of the pendant.  He had chosen his plainest, cheapest watch and fob for the journey, but the doctor’s sharp look suggested it was still out of place.  Hopefully the future of Britain did not rest on Darcy’s abilities to pass as a common Frenchman.

Darcy heard a knock sounding on the front door.  Martin looked toward the source of the noise.  “Ah, I have a patient for a return visit.”   With a nod to Darcy, the doctor slipped through the door and closed it behind him with a quiet click.

Darcy was alone in the room with Elizabeth—his sleeping miracle. His eyes sought out her face once more, savoring the features he had never thought to see again in this lifetime.  His heart was so full that it felt ready to burst from his chest. Yes, Elizabeth was ill, and they were trapped in a country at war with an unknown enemy threatening them.  But Elizabeth was alive, and for the moment that was more than enough.

****

About The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

A Pride and Prejudice Variation

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford. To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage. Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband. However, they have even bigger problems. As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home. Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a reader’s choice giveaway of either an ebook or paperback copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy. One winner will be selected. This giveaway is open internationally, and will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to have you visit. Congratulations on your new release!

It’s a pleasure to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of his latest audio books, Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and The Maid and the Footman. Please give him a warm welcome!

Which came first: The Written or the Spoken Word?

One of my favorite mantras to students…be they history or writing…is that “if it sounds weird, it probably is weird.” Oh, I know, this is odd to be coming from the podium at an august institution of higher education, but it is spoken with the best of intents. T’is my fun way to encourage the l’il darlin’s to proofread aloud. That way they will hear the sound of their words…and understand that if they are spewing a mouthful of gibberish, they likely have written something semantically incomprehensible.

This exercise is rooted in my belief that every single syllable, pause—partial or full—sentence, and paragraph have grown from Humanity’s effort to preserve that which came first; the spoken word.

Recall that t’was the Greeks who invented vowels (after they pinched the Phoenician alphabet in the mid-700s BCE to replace Linear B from the pre-Greek Dark Ages days: nobody could read it!) so that they could preserve the Homeric Epics after Homer died.

I mean, how would The Illiad read if there was an eternal confusion over (OK, this is English, but imagine an Athenian bard trying to sing for his supper) whether the word “dg” was “dog,” “dig,” “dug,” or “dag?” The cardinal vowels (a, e, i, o, u…forget about the cross-dressing “y” and “w”) were created to allow the Greeks to record their favorite after dinner entertainment. OK, Plato surely recorded many down-and-out drinking brawls where Alcibiaedes and Socrates would try to drink each other under the klismos, but that was after a local minstrel had recited a few dozen stanzas of something designed to show the cultural chops of the party’s host.

Yet, given that the Greek’s captured the eloquence of Homer’s words…and later those of Sappho, Aeschylus, and, later by Romans living on another peninsula, Ovid…these written works were still designed to allow an oral performance before an audience.

This is, I admit, a long way around the block to get me to the point of saying that all writing is rooted in the oral tradition. If that is the case, should not all writing when heard sound as good as (if not better than) when it  read silently?

In the #InspiredByAusten world, #Austenesque authors over the past few years have been moving through the processes of bringing their works to a broad public using a range of electronic publishing options. Many are now adept at designing their stories to fit both digital and print venues.  We have, it seems, been following the traditional path extant since our good friend Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press in the 1450s.

Naturally, this great leap in the manner in which the written word could be distributed forced a putting of the cart before the horse, essentially given primacy of written over spoken. And so it has remained until the last 20 or 30 years.

However, new technologies (I am ignoring phonographs upon which you could have enjoyed Gielgud performing King Lear…not particularly portable.) led to a reappraisal of the spoken word as a literary device. Three words…books on tape.

Of course, these were usually the author or celebrity author reading their word into a microphone. The utility was that one could listen to a book…and hear the author’s voice…without having to cease other tasks in order to flip pages. But, t’was “just” a reading, not a performance. And, so it remained for a few decades.

With the advances in Internet technology and ever-expanding server farms, more opportunities to move books to recorded arenas are now available. And, in the process, voice artists are bringing their talents to performing and interpreting the books.

I have been in the midst of a four-month process of moving all of my books (Bennet Wardrobe and Lessers and Betters) to #Audible.

The reason is simple: I want my readers to also be able to engage my books in a different manner. The performers with whom I work offer just that. Barbara Rich (The Lessers and Betters stories) and Amanda Berry (The books of the Bennet Wardrobe) bring their training and experience to play to present listeners with a uniquely different experience.

They interpret the pacing of the writing. They assume the nature of the characters. They bring emotion to the passages and, hopefully inspire reactions not experienced by readers of the printed books. They draw you in…much as the ancient Greek and Roman rhapsōidos did 2,500 years ago. And, in the process, make the words I have laid down sound much as they did when I imagined them.

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Please read the following excerpt from Chapter VIII in Henry Fitzwilliam’s War while listening to the audio sample as performed by Amanda Berry found here.

The House thus settled itself for another night much as it had for almost a century, its long porches reaching out to embrace the turbulent weather that had disturbed its owners’ homeland just a few hours before. Idiosyncratic creaks and pops echoed through the structure as ancient nails and beams gave up the heat collected from the watery October sun. Yet, while the building and its servants may have surrendered themselves to sleep, the two principals found such relief impossible to attain.

She could not imagine that he could be pulled away from her again, even though she knew that it was impossible for him to remain in this time.  His absence would disrupt every thread, every mote that swirled in the complicated universe governed by the Wardrobe. Only the fact that her husband was in Washington permitted the soldier’s presence next door.

As she lay there, counting the hours to dawn, she gazed around her son’s room, the furnishings so distinctly male, yet still revealing his sensitive nature.  On the one hand, his polo mallets were resting in hooks on the wall facing the window; two cricket bats were also propped in the corner.  On the other, one of her favorite canvases, his oil of Roses on Fieldstone, Deauville looked down at the foot of the bed.  How she prayed for his safety. What would he have made of the young man resting in his parent’s bed?

That young man tossed one way and then the other.  Each crash of thunder returned him to that night, back to Loos, to the moment when he could still count sight as one of his senses. But, artillery was only thunderous at the moment of impact.  The low grumble beyond the horizon, sometimes punctuated by flashes of grim lightening, first led to a whistle that increased in pitch and volume if the shell had your number.  If not, the sound deepened and the moaning faded as the charge found another target.

Then there was the wind; its gusts shook the House like a terrier would a captured rat. Again he was thrown back to the Front where the ground quivered pudding-like under the pounding of Hun cannons. Sudden drafts chilled his cheeks and chin as the pervasive blasts overwhelmed well-mitered windows.

How foolish we were, to allow phony “national pride,” the ultimate manifestation of masculinity, to destroy the system that had kept the peace for a hundred years.  Now the blood price that will have to be paid to erase this, man’s original sin—pride, will be steep indeed.

He knew that the coming parting was utterly necessary. He had to return to his own time lest he become another Kitty Bennet, now lost in the Wardrobe for 70 years. He could see Gran’s sadness when she spoke of her next eldest sister.  He could not subject his family to that sort of grief.

***

There was a point around midnight when she found herself sitting on the edge of her bed.  Had she dozed?  Then, responding to a dream, had she risen in pursuit of…she knew not what? The pulling she had felt for twenty-plus years was roiling her insides. The demand was too intense.

Her bare feet touched down on the bedside throw rug. Gathering a blanket around her shoulders, she glided across the mahogany stained floorboards to open her door. Just four steps down the hallway to his. She rested her forehead against the panel, trying to control her breathing—but with little success.

Stop…do not proceed.  You will break your heart…and his!

In his darkness, he first perceived her scent, roses rushing over the grass to his nose.  He must have lost the sound of the door opening beneath one of the crashes of the storm.  Somewhere, feet or inches away, She stood, silently.  The weight of her eyes in the nighttime darkness bore on him.  Her gaze played up and down his body and pushed his aura like a hand gently stroking a cat’s silky coat.  He could hear her shallow quick breaths signaling intense conflict. But, she did not move to close the gap.

****

Giveaway

Don is generously offering a two-pack of Audible codes for Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and The Maid and the Footman. There will be two winners selected. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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About the Author

Don Jacobson

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).

Connect with Don: WebsiteAmazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page | Twitter

Thank you, Don! It’s always a pleasure having you as my guest! Congratulations on your latest audio book releases!

Source: Purchased

Jill Mansell’s Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay takes readers back to St. Carys, the setting for The Unexpected Consequences of Love. It was nice to see mention of those characters here and there, but Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay introduces a whole new cast of entertaining characters. The book opens with Clemency rushing to catch a flight, and she is forced to sit with a man whom she believes to be incredibly rude. By the end of the trip, she and Sam hit it off, but then a surprise revelation puts a stop to their relationship before it can even begin.

Fast forward more than three years later, and Clemency is a real estate agent on St. Carys, working with the incredibly handsome, totally sweet, and somewhat of a ladies’ man Ronan. When Clemency’s high-maintenance stepsister Belle returns to St. Carys with her new and perfect boyfriend, Clemency is gobsmacked to see that it’s Sam. Rather than listen to Belle go on and on about her perfect relationship and shoot jabs at Clemency for her lack of a boyfriend, among other things, Clemency convinces Ronan to pose as her boyfriend. After all, everyone in St. Carys thinks they’d be perfect together, and it’s not like Ronan is playing the field anymore, since he has his eye on Kate despite their disastrous one night together.

Even if the attraction between Clemency and Sam is still real, nothing could ever happen between them because of a long-standing pact between the sisters. While Clemency tries to hide her feelings for Sam, there is plenty of drama going on elsewhere, from Ronan’s curiosity about his biological parents to local artist Marina’s obnoxious ex-husband to Belle’s budding friendship with a fitness fanatic. Each of these stories is interesting on its own, but put together they create a rich story about friendship, family, and being true to oneself.

Mansell has a knack for creating stories that perfectly balance romance, drama, and humor, and for introducing so many intriguing and well-developed characters in a single book. I’ve read at least a dozen of her books so far, and I’ve never been disappointed. Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay is a fun story, with a few surprises and plenty of sweet and awkward moments. It’s a great summer read if you’re looking for something light and fun.

Source: Author ARC giveaway

Pledged is the first book in Rose Fairbanks’ Loving Elizabeth trilogy of novellas, and it is a delightful reimagining of Pride and Prejudice that greatly deviates from canon. Here, the Longbourn entail has been broken, as the Bennet sisters have an older brother, Samuel. He is in London with his father and sisters Jane and Elizabeth prior to his departure for a summer in Ireland with his school friends, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley. Elizabeth is just 16, but despite her youth, the 22-year-old future master of Pemberley is entranced. She can hold intelligent conversations, is not silly like Bingley’s sisters — but she is his friend’s sister, and one does not look toward a friend’s sister in a romantic fashion.

There’s a lot going on here for such a short book, and Fairbanks does a great job setting the stage for the next installments. Not only is there a growing attraction between Will and Elizabeth, there also is increasing tension between Will and his father over George Wickham. Meanwhile, Will is worried that Sam is involved with the wrong sorts of people, namely Lord Harcourt, whose attention to Elizabeth seems less than honorable.

Pledged ends with an important declaration, but most of the storylines will be resolved in the later installments. It’s a solid start to the trilogy, with a unique take on Austen’s beloved hero and heroine, intriguing original characters, and plenty of suspense regarding Wickham’s next move and Sam’s shady dealings. I only hope the next installments come out soon because I’m dying to know what happens next!

Disclosure: I received Pledged from the author’s ARC giveaway. While I have edited several of Rose Fairbanks’ books, I did not edit this one.