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Karen White’s New York Times bestselling hardcover The Night the Lights Went Out was released in paperback on March 27. Penguin Random House has invited me to give away a copy to one lucky reader.

KAREN WHITE, the New York Times bestselling author of over 20 beloved novels, has given her devout readership a new type of story – now in paperback.

With a plot worthy of Shonda Rhimes and a cast of characters made for Desperate Housewives’ Wisteria Lane, THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT (Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; March 27, 2018; $16) brings a glinting new edge to White’s signature fusion of complicated family relationships, evocative prose, and picturesque southern locales.

Set in the gilded realm of Sweet Apple, Georgia, THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT achieves a magnetic sense of place, and with good reason—it is the first novel White, the “Queen of southern fiction” (Huffington Post), has set in her own community, the affluent suburbs of Atlanta.

White says: “I was sitting at a stop sign in my town behind a large white SUV and the license plate read YERSERV. . . and the whole Atlanta tennis­­–suburban mom–thriller idea came to me. . . . I realized perhaps for the first time that my hometown had a past and a story to tell.”

In THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT, recently divorced Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over. But her new beginning isn’t helped by an anonymous local blog that reveals for the whole town the scandalous affair that caused her marriage to fail. And Merilee’s new landlord, the proud, irascible, Atlanta born-and-bred 93-year-old Sugar Prescott, certainly isn’t helping.

But off Sugar’s property, Merilee finds herself swallowed into Sweet Apple’s most elite ranks—its inner circle of wealthy school moms—thanks to her blossoming friendship with the belle of the town, Heather Blackford. But behind the tennis whites, shiny SUVs, and immaculate women, lurk generations of secrets and resentments. And Merilee quickly learns that, in a town where appearance is everything, sins and secrets can be found in equal measure in the dark woods on Sugar’s property, and within the gated mansions of her newfound friends . . .

THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT is what would happen if ABC’s Revenge followed the machinations of Southern PTA moms instead of Hamptons elite.  For readers of Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe, and Pat Conroy, this novel delivers everything her readers love and more.

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About the Author

Karen White
Photo Credit: Marchet Butler

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two children near Atlanta, Georgia.

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Giveaway

Penguin Random House is generously offering a paperback copy of The Night the Lights Went Out to one lucky reader, U.S. only. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 22, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Source: Purchased

A Very Merry Mix-Up is a new novelette by Jennifer Redlarczyk that is based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’ve know Jennifer through Facebook for some time now, and she’s a very friendly and supportive member of the JAFF community. So as soon as I saw this book go live, I knew I had to read it. With all the busyness and stress in my life right now, I needed something short, sweet, and funny to read, and A Very Merry Mix-Up was just the thing.

The book is set during Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam’s annual visit to Rosings, when Elizabeth Bennet was a guest of the Collinses at Hunsford. The mix-up, the result of some moonflower wine bought by the colonel on the way to Rosings, is made known to readers from the very start, and I got a good chuckle at that! The effects of the wine strip away the defenses that have kept Darcy and Elizabeth from truly getting to know one another, and it’s not long before they are worried that they will forget what they now mean to one another when it has worn off. Since it’s so short, the resolution is achieved quickly, and while I would have loved this to have been a fully fleshed out novel, I appreciated it for what it was: a lighthearted story to be enjoyed over a cup of coffee or tea, or in my case at bedtime to unwind after a long day.

It is my pleasure to welcome Jennifer Redlarczyk to Diary of an Eccentric, with a short introduction to her book, a teaser, and a very generous giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Greetings, JAFF Lovers! And thank you, Anna for hosting me on Diary of an Eccentric today. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little about my new release, A Very Merry Mix-up. As an author, I had loads of fun making mischief on my favorite P&P hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy. From my point of view, the man has many admirable qualities. And although I love him dearly, in nearly every story he is in dire need of a little humble pie.

“My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding— certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of other so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself…. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”

As many of you may know, I am a moderator on the JAFF forum darcyandlizzy.com where I have posted all of my stories. At the time A Very Merry Mix-up was written, the forum had been offering various theme challenges to authors who wished to write short stories or flashes of inspiration on a given topic. This particular story was written for All Fool’s Day. Keeping with the lighthearted theme of the occasion, I concocted a situation where the secret wishes of five people unexpectedly came to life.

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An excerpt from A Very Merry Mix-Up, courtesy of Jennifer Redlarczyk

1 April 1811, All Fool’s Day

Quickly rising, Darcy felt a little unsteady and found it necessary to hold on to the bed post while searching for his robe. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he staggered closer to the glass and groaned in disbelief. Slowly rubbing his stubby fingers across his ruddy cheeks and through his oily hair, he wondered if he had indeed gone mad. Wiping those same fingers on the front of his nightshirt, he could not help but feel his flabby chest and the protrusion of his round stomach through the cloth. Grasping the reality of his predicament, Darcy stared at himself with revulsion.

“Merciful Heaven!” he thundered, turning back to the woman. “It is me, Fitzwilliam Darcy, in the body of that idiot rector! If you are Miss Elizabeth Bennet, as you claim, I fear we have both become the victims of some cruel joke. Will you not come and look for yourself?”

Picking up Charlotte’s dressing gown and quickly wrapping it around herself, Elizabeth guardedly went to the mirror as he requested. “Mr. Darcy?” She paled, realizing what he said was true.

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About A Very Merry Mix-Up

It all began when Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam stopped at the posting station in Bromley on their way to Rosings Park for their annual visit. Looking for some diversion, the good colonel happened upon a local Romani woman who was selling her people’s treasured Moon Wine. Find out what happens to some of our favourite Jane Austen characters when her advice is ignored in A Very Merry Mix-up.

Buy A Very Merry Mix-Up on Amazon

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About the Author

Jennifer Redlarczyk

I am a private music instructor living in Crown Point, Indiana where I teach voice, violin and piano and work as an adjunct music professor at Purdue Northwest University in Hammond, Indiana. As a teen, I was introduced to Jane Austen by my mother who loved old books, old movies and old songs. In the summer of 2011, I stumbled upon Jane Austen Fanfiction at a Barnes and Noble store and became immediately obsessed. From there, I met several talented JAFF authors and devoted readers who were active on social media and eventually became a moderator for the private JAFF forum, DarcyandLizzy.com. It was there that I first tried my hand at writing short stories. I have the greatest appreciation for the creative world of Jane Austen Fanfiction and am thrilled to be a part of this genre. You can find me at: DarcyandLizzy.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. 

Jennifer Redlarczyk (Jen Red) ♫

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Giveaway

Jennifer is generously offering 2 ebook copies of A Very Merry Mix-Up, open internationally, and 1 print copy with a gorgeous tote bag, open to U.S. and Canada only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let us know whether you are entering for the ebook or the print book/bag. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 22, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today, and congrats on your new release!

Source: Purchased

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser,” Jack said in a contemplative tone and broke the silence.

“Who said that?” Lindsey asked.

“You did.”

(from Love Locks)

Those who know me well know that Hallmark’s romance movies are my guilty pleasure. I can watch the Hallmark movie marathons all weekend, and I’ve seen some of the movies multiple times. They aren’t Oscar-worthy movies, but they are just the thing when I need to de-stress and enjoy something lighthearted and predictable. (Ask my husband, and he’ll tell you that if I’m cranky, he’ll turn on Hallmark and let me be. :D) So when I saw that Hallmark has its own publishing company, I thought I’d give one of the books a shot.

I chose Love Locks by Cory Martin because I had stumbled upon the movie and watched the last hour of it, enjoying the Paris setting and the theme of second chances. I was curious if a book based on the movie would measure up, especially since I normally watch movies based on books and not the other way around.

Love Locks follows Lindsey, who was an art student and painter in Paris when she fell in love with Jack, the son of a hotel owner. The couple planned to commemorate their love by attaching a lock to the Pont des Arts bridge, but after their lock accidentally falls into the river and Jack doesn’t follow her back to New York as planned, she gave up painting and moved on with her life.

Twenty years later, Lindsey is divorced, the owner of an art magazine, and the proud mother of Alexa, who is following in Lindsey’s footsteps by studying art at the Sorbonne with Lindsey’s mentor, Hugo. Accompanying Alexa to Paris to help get her settled stirs up memories of Jack, and with some meddling by Hugo, Lindsey and Jack are reunited. While Lindsey and Jack ease back into a friendship of sorts and attempt to come to terms with their past, Lindsey has some tough choices to make about her magazine and must learn to accept that her daughter is an adult and eager to fall in love and go out on her own.

What surprised me the most about Love Locks was the writing. Martin brings the story to life in a way that the movie does not, giving readers a glimpse into the characters’ thoughts and fleshing out the story. Having seen the movie, I could easily picture the story in my mind, but I would’ve enjoyed the book regardless. The epilogue was a nice touch, giving readers a chance to see what happens to the characters after the movie ended. And there is a recipe at the end as well, which is an added bonus.

Love Locks was just what you’d expect from a book based on a Hallmark movie: lighthearted, humorous, and romantic. The characters were believable and endearing, and I couldn’t help but feel for Lindsey as I prepare to send my own daughter off to college in a few months. I would definitely give another book from Hallmark Publishing a try, especially since having seen the movie didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the book at all.

It’s a pleasure to welcome Rose Fairbanks back to Diary of an Eccentric today in celebration of the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Secrets of Pemberley. Please give her a warm welcome!

The Queen’s Love

Thank you for hosting me, Anna! I consider myself primarily a romance writer, but I have a degree in history and always like to insert real facts into my novels. Usually, that means a circumstance or event during the Regency era. The Secrets of Pemberley centers deeply on the emotional growth of Mr. Darcy. As such, I don’t delve into current events of the era. However, my characters find themselves at a ball with fancy dress, and thus some history (and humor) came to the story. Fancy dress balls replaced the popular masquerades earlier in the Georgian era and often historical costumes were chosen. Darcy chooses to dress as Edward IV in honor of a king who married for love. When Elizabeth arrives dressed as Edward’s consort, Elizabeth Woodville, it would seem like fate indicating they belong together, yet, Darcy leaves the ball in broken spirits.

Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth Woodville was born into a family of mismatched ranks. Her mother was a descendant of Henry II of England and the daughter of a count from Luxembourg. Her first marriage was to the Duke of Bedford, uncle to the current king. He died after only two years of marriage, and she scandalously married her late husband’s chamberlain. Richard Woodville was born with no rank or title, and they had not sought the king’s permission to marry. After a fine, the King accepted their marriage and Woodville was made a baron. However, the stink of their union followed their daughter all the way to the throne.

During the War of the Roses, the Woodvilles supported Henry VI. Elizabeth’s mother served as a lady-in-waiting and favorite of Queen Margaret. When the York claimant to the throne, Edward IV, unseated Henry, the Woodvilles fell out of favour at court. Additionally, Elizabeth’s Lancastrian-supporting first husband died in battle in 1461.

In 1464, Elizabeth married Edward in secret. One can imagine how the courtiers must have hated the marriage. Elizabeth’s family barely counted as nobility and had not during most of her life. She had no fortune and supposed Edward’s enemy. It was a political nightmare. Throughout their marriage, Edward and Elizabeth attracted enemies. Although flawed individuals, most historians believe they truly loved each other.

Just as Darcy chose to dress as Edward as an expression of his love for Elizabeth, she has reasons for costume choice as well. What do you think she is trying to tell Darcy in the quote below?

Elizabeth of Woodville, Illustration by Percy Anderson

“Tell me, then, why you chose her?” Darcy smiled down at her. He loved speaking with her and understanding how her mind worked.

“She came from a simple background, a commoner. Her parents had a scandalous and imbalanced marriage. She met the King fearlessly one day and for that earned his love. Their love overcame so much: class and political lines. She lived amongst her enemies daily but had his respect and love. It gave her strength and bravery. I can only hope to experience the same one day.”

Darcy noticed the red rose in her hand. Elizabeth Woodville’s family had supported the Lancastrians. Their symbol was a red rose while her husband was from the York line and used a white rose. “You mean to be Elizabeth before she married?” He touched a petal.

“I have not yet met my king,” she dropped her voice but stared at the white rose pinned to his hat.

“You have not met him, or you have not secured him?” Darcy held his breath. How could they speak like this and yet her favour another man? He needed to hear her say it. Kill the hope within him.

“Are you asking for one of my secrets, sir?”

Darcy shook his head. He did not want to play their game. He searched Elizabeth’s eyes.

“Perhaps I will tell you if we dance,” she said before he could decide what to say.

“I am not dancing tonight.”

“You cannot claim to be unacquainted with the guests tonight,” she teased.

Darcy fought a flush to his cheeks. “I fear my valet is far too talented in finding accurate costuming. I require my cloak to be held in this position. Movement would be…catastrophic.”

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About The Secrets of Pemberley

To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He’s the young master to one of the kingdom’s oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect façade lies the truth: he’s the product of his mother’s affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

Buy The Secrets of Pemberley on Amazon

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About the Author

Born in the wrong era, Rose Fairbanks has read nineteenth-century novels since childhood. Although she studied history, her transcript also contains every course in which she could discuss Jane Austen. Never having given up all-nighters for reading, Rose discovered her love for Historical Romance after reading Christi Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke Series.

After a financial downturn and her husband’s unemployment had threatened her ability to stay at home with their special needs child, Rose began writing the kinds of stories she had loved to read for so many years. Now, a best-selling author of Jane Austen-inspired stories, she also writes Regency Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to finish her master’s studies someday. When not reading or writing, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and Romance Writers of America.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.

To join her email list for information about new releases and any other news, you can sign up here.

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Giveaway

Rose is kindly offering a giveaway of 1 ebook copy of The Secrets of Pemberley as part of the blog tour. You must enter using this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Thank you, Rose, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release! I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

Source: Review copy from author

“Sure, other people go traveling by themselves. I can’t even go to the movies by myself. You know that.”

“Well, maybe it’s time to shake things up a little bit. You’re almost thirty years old. Time to spread those wings.”

(from Katwalk)

I was excited to read Maria Murnane’s Katwalk after reading Wait for the Rain and Bridges and identifying so much with the main character, Daphne White. And I was surprised, once again, to find myself identifying with the heroine in Katwalk, Katrina Lynden. Katrina is twenty-nine and has worked for nearly eight years as an accountant at an advertising agency. She doesn’t like change, and she is awkwardly shy. Her life feels stagnant since she put aside her love of painting at the insistence of her parents, who wanted her to find a practical career and a steady job. But Katrina and her best friend Deb have made a pact to quit their jobs on the same day and leave California to spend two months in New York City — an adventure before deciding what to do next.

However, things don’t go as planned, and Katrina finds herself unemployed and heading to NYC by herself — a move that is completely out of character for her, and frightens and excites her at the same time. She meets two women who live in the building where she is staying, Shana, a yoga instructor, and Grace, a jewelry designer, who immediately take Katrina under their wings. Murnane chronicles Katrina’s transformation to Kat, as she navigates the overwhelming city life solo and balances a flirtation with a charming but unavailable Wall Street banker and a friendship with a kind, observant, and attractive barista. As her time in NYC draws to a close, Katrina must determine whether to follow her heart or return home to the life she left behind.

Murnane has a knack for creating believable, relatable characters. There were times Katrina seemed overly naïve and innocent, but I could relate to her both wanting a change but not wanting to deal with change, and her excitement at the prospect of an adventure but feeling so overwhelmed by the big city. I enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Shana and Grace, who seemed like the kind of people I would befriend if I were in Katrina’s position; they were more personable and genuine than the Wall Street crowd. Even though Katrina’s epiphany about her future came about and fell into place rather quickly, it felt true to her character, and I couldn’t help but root for her.

Katwalk was an enjoyable journey with Katrina as she learns to break out of her comfort zone, embrace change, and not shy away from new, though daunting, experiences. It’s a lesson that many of us should take to heart.

Hello, dear readers! I am so excited to welcome Jenetta James back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Lover’s Knot. When I saw that this book had been released, I bought a copy right away; I would’ve done that anyway, since I loved all of Jenetta’s previous novels and she is one of my favorite JAFF writers, but once you read the blurb for this one, you will be as excited as I am! I am anxiously waiting for my life to slow down a little bit so I can read at more than a snail’s pace. In the meantime, I am delighted to share this guest post from Jenetta, as well as a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

The characters Jane Austen didn’t write

Thank you so much to Anna for having me to visit the blog today. I am a long time reader and it is a real pleasure to be here. For this guest post, I have decided to talk new characters.

It is always a bit unnerving introducing new characters to what is frankly a perfect cast of existing ones. After all, the population of Pride & Prejudice is so fabulous — how could one hope to improve on them, or even supplement them in a welcome manner? Today I’m talking about a few of the new faces who I have invented for Lover’s Knot, but who do not appear in Jane Austen’s original. I do hope that those readers who meet them in the story enjoy them. I have decided to look at three of them in particular.

Firstl, as with my previous stories, I have fleshed out the servant characters a bit. Jane Austen never did this and, of course, I am showing my modern sensibilities by doing so against her example. The story is told by Mr. Darcy himself and he is a man surrounded for much of the time by servants. In particular, he has a valet, called Stevenson. Stevenson is a long standing right hand man, whom Darcy trusts. His capabilities go substantially beyond his job description and his station and he is useful to his employer in solving the mystery with which he is faced. It is a trope of detective fiction that all detectives must have a side-kick and I trust that Stevenson fills those boots well and convincingly in this story.

Secondly, and most prominently, the plot of Lover’s Knot forced me to invent a local magistrate. The story is that there is a murder at Netherfield early in the story. Now, this is well before the establishment of the police as we know it and a private house in which a murder had taken place would not have been subject to the kind of intrusion by the authorities that we would expect now. However, the local constable and magistrate would inevitably have been present. On this basis, I have invented Mr. Allwood. I intend him to be not completely dissimilar to Mr. Darcy, although he is substantially older. A dour and observant local enigma, he benefits from standing apart from society. For good or ill, he suspects everyone. There may even be a hint that Mr. Allwood is the sort of man Mr. Darcy may have become absent finding the love of his life — Elizabeth.

Thirdly, I have invented a godmother for Mr. Darcy. She takes the form of an all-seeing society lady named Mrs. Protheroe. Mrs. Protheroe is known for her parties and her enormous social network. She is therefore a powerful contrast with Darcy and in their differences, they are surprisingly close. She has an important function in the plot of Lover’s Knot, which I shall not give away here. But more than that, I have always felt that Mr. Darcy is somewhat undersupplied with family and family friends in canon. The formidable Mrs. Protheroe is my attempt to change that.

There are others, but these are the characters who jump out at me. I do hope that they are liked and that they are believable additions. Who are your favourite “non-canon” characters in JAFF and why?

Thanks, Jenetta, for introducing us to your original characters. I can’t wait to meet them! I always find myself enjoying the non-canon characters. I read JAFF because I don’t want to say goodbye to my favorite characters, and the new additions tend to add some surprises on the journey to the happily ever after. Thanks for being my guest, and congratulations on your latest book!

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About Lover’s Knot

A great love. A perplexing murder. Netherfield Park — a house of secrets.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is in a tangle. Captivated by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a girl of no fortune and few connections. Embroiled in an infamous murder in the home of his friend, Charles Bingley. He is being tested in every way. Fearing for Elizabeth’s safety, Darcy moves to protect her in the only way he knows but is thwarted. Thus, he is forced to turn detective. Can he overcome his pride for the sake of Elizabeth? Can he, with a broken heart, fathom the villainy that has invaded their lives? Is there even a chance for love born of such strife?

Lover’s Knot is a romantic Pride & Prejudice variation, with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Buy Lover’s Knot on Amazon (also available for free through Kindle Unlimited)

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About the Author

Jenetta James

Jenetta James is a mother, writer, lawyer and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She has written, Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers as well as contributed short stories to both The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues.

Connect with Jenetta James on Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway

Jenetta has selected a lovely giveaway package where one lucky winner will receive a Pride & Prejudice scarf, a Kindle cover and paperback copies of all five of her JAFF books. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link.

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.

The winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!

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March 29 My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway

March 30 Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

March 31 Liz’s Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway

April 1 My Vices and Weaknesses/  Excerpt Post & Giveaway

April 2 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

April 3 So Little Time /  Guest Post & Giveaway

April 4  Austenesque Reviews / Author Interview & Giveaway

April 5 From Pemberley to Milton /  Excerpt Post & Giveaway

April 6 Babblings of a Bookworm /  Book Review & Giveaway

April 7 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway

April 8 My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post & Giveaway

April 9 Diary of an Eccentric /  Guest Post & Giveaway

April 10 Laughing with Lizzie /  Excerpt Post & Giveaway

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

April 12 Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway

Today’s guest is Jan Hahn, who is here to share an excerpt from her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Child. I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about this book, so I hurried up and bought a copy and now just hope my schedule frees up soon so I can read it. I’m sure you’ll all feel the same way after reading this excerpt. Please give Jan a warm welcome!

Thank you, Anna, for participating in my blog tour and for posting an excerpt from The Child. Darcy and Elizabeth have entered into a marriage of convenience because of the child. They have not consummated the marriage. The following scene takes place at Netherfield Park where they have come for a visit. Bingley has innocently assigned them the same bedchamber, and to keep up appearances as happy newlyweds, Darcy has persuaded Elizabeth that they can chastely share the same bed. Darcy is the narrator.

I awakened before dawn the next morning. Slipping quietly from beneath the quilt, I hastened into the dressing room and put on my clothes without calling for the services of my valet. I wished to leave the chamber before Elizabeth awoke and thus afford her the privacy she desired.

In truth, that was not my wish. If I had my way, I would have remained beside her. I would have watched her sleep as the early light spilled through the windows and then awakened her with a kiss, but I knew that was not to be—not yet. Silently moving through the chamber, I reached for the doorknob so my wife might dream in peace.

“Is that you, sir?” Elizabeth whispered.

I stilled, my hand in mid-air. “It is. I did not mean to wake you.”

“Is it morning already?”

“Yes.” I remained in place, unsure whether to turn and face her. “But still quite early. You need not rise yet. The fires have not even been lit.”

“May I ask why you have risen at this hour?”

Slowly, I turned to see her sitting up in the bed. “I thought—that is, I assumed you would prefer me to do so.”

She laughed lightly. “That will hardly satisfy the servants, will it? I thought this pretence was for their benefit―that they should see us sleeping in the same bed. If you vanish almost before dawn, will that not cause gossip?”

I walked towards the bed in an unhurried manner. “I confess I had not thought of that. Your argument is valid. Shall I undress and return to bed?”

Instinctively, she leaned back, pulling the bedclothes higher. “I…do not think that necessary. But you might light a candle and remain in the room until your servant comes to help you dress.”

I fumbled in the dim light until I had secured a single taper and, after several attempts, managed to light it. Never had I felt clumsier.

“Oh, you have already dressed,” Elizabeth said as I lifted the candle and carried it to the mantel.

“I could hardly wander the halls of Netherfield otherwise.”

“Of course not,” she murmured, smiling again. “But will your manservant not find it strange you did not need his services?”

I sighed. “We appear to be going to great lengths to satisfy the servants. I suppose I could remove my coat.”

“Yes, and untie your cravat as well.”

I slid my coat off and untied the neck cloth, making a strong attempt to appear nonchalant, as though I did that sort of thing in Elizabeth’s presence every day. “I may as well remove my waistcoat,” I said, as I unbuttoned my vest, slinging each article of clothing across the back of the sofa. “There now, does my state of undress meet with your approval?”

I took several steps closer to her side of the bed and was pleased to see she continued to smile. Then, my heart skipped a beat as she beckoned me to come closer. Sitting up straighter, she leaned forward and patted the side of the bed, indicating I should sit there.

Light had brightened the room sufficiently for me to see how her gown lay precariously close to the edge of her shoulders, and her curls streamed down her back all in a tumble. Dear God, she was breathtaking in the morning, her countenance fresh and dewy! I could hardly breathe when she raised her hands to my neck.

“Let me open your shirt.” She loosened the button from its loop and pushed my shirt open. “There, you almost look as though you slept here. One more touch.” With her hand, she mussed my hair, causing it to fall across my forehead, and then she laughed. “Now, the servants will see that we are both, indeed, in need of assistance, and all will appear natural between us.”

I did not know what to say. Her actions surprised me to such an extent that I could not think. I feared any words I spoke might come forth as babble.

Just then, we heard movement in the hall. Instantly, I reacted.

“You forgot one final necessity,” I whispered as I leaned across Elizabeth. Her eyes grew wide. Grabbing the pillow that had separated us throughout the night, I tossed it across the room, where it landed upon the chaise. Her eyes danced, and she stifled a giggle as though she thoroughly enjoyed our artifice.

At that moment, the servant knocked softly and then opened the door, carrying a fresh supply of logs for the fireplace. Elizabeth’s maid followed closely behind. Both servants bobbed a curtsy and halted within the doorway.

“Beggin’ your pardon, sir,” the older maid said. “Shall we return later?”

Slowly, I returned to a seated position. “No, go about your duties. All is well.”

I could not but see the knowing look that passed between the servants as they busied themselves laying the fire and filling the ewers with hot water. I continued to stare at Elizabeth, and she did not break our gaze, that enchanting smile still playing about her lips.

“Well, sir, if I am to call upon my father, I suppose we cannot lie abed all morning, can we?”

“No, that is why I rose early,” I replied for the servants’ benefit. “I knew you wished to call at Longbourn as soon as may be.” I stood and looked around the room. “Is Rodgers on his way?”

“Yes, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth’s maid answered. “He’s fetching fresh towels.” She looked towards the hall door just as my valet entered. Shortly thereafter, I was ready to depart the chamber. Leaving my dressing room, I saw Elizabeth had risen and secluded herself behind the closed doors of her boudoir. I stared at the rumpled bedclothes and regretted the fact that we had done nothing more than sleep side by side.

At least she awakened smiling, I thought.

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About The Child

Will Darcy ever grow to love a child he never wanted?

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford is disastrous. In Jan Hahn’s The Child, Darcy flees England soon afterward, striving to overcome his longing for her. Upon his return two years later―while standing on the steps of St. George’s Church in Hanover Square―he spies the very woman he has vowed to forget. But who is the child holding her hand?

Darcy soon discovers that Elizabeth and her family are suffering the effects of a devastating scandal. His efforts to help the woman he still loves only worsen her family’s plight. His misguided pride entangles him in a web of falsehood, fateful alliances, and danger.

Will Elizabeth be able to forgive Darcy for his good intentions gone awry? And what effect will the child have on Darcy’s hopes to win Elizabeth’s love?

Buy The Child: Amazon / Amazon UK

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About the Author

Jan Hahn

Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of five Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas, but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, A Peculiar Connection, and The Child. The anthology, The Darcy Monologues, contains her short story entitled Without Affection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: ‘A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.’

Jan is a member of JASNA, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of grandchildren.

Connect with Jan: Facebook | Author Page

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 eBooks of The Child as part of the blog tour, and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on March 21 – until midnight ET on April 4, 2018. You must use this Rafflecopter link to enter.

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. Good luck!

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March 21 My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway

March 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

March 23 More Agreeably Engaged / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 24 My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

March 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway

March 26 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

March 27 Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway

March 28 Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview & Giveaway

March 29 So Little Time / Guest Post & Giveaway

March 30 Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 31 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

April 1 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

April 2 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway

Thanks, Jan, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!