Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. It is now being hosted at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s what I added to the shelves over the last week:

For review:

mrs. sinclair's suitcaseMrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters — from Putnam

Roberta is a lonely young bibliophile who works at a bookstore in England. She has a habit of keeping the odds and ends she finds inside used books. So when her father gives her a heap of secondhand books in an old suitcase that once belonged to Roberta’s 109-year-old grandmother, Dorothea, she is intrigued. Inside the suitcase she discovers a letter addressed to Dorothea that hints at a dark secret. Curious to know more, Roberta sets out to uncover the truth, but what she learns completely upturns her understanding of her family’s history.

Running alongside Roberta’s narrative is that of Dorothy Sinclair, unhappily married and childless, during the early years of World War II. When an unexpected event occurs, Dorothy must — against her better judgment — make an unthinkable decision, whose consequences forever change the framework of her family.

The parallel stories of Roberta and Dorothy unfold over the course of eighty years as they each make their way through secrets, lies, sacrifices, and love. Utterly absorbing, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is a spellbinding tale of two worlds, one shattered by secrets and the other by the truth. (publisher’s summary)

pompous schemesPompous Schemes by Ayr Bray — from LovingtheBook LaunchParty

Thrown from his horse, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam is left to traverse the remaining fifteen miles to Pemberley on foot. Richard never imagined the first carriage to cross his path would contain the one woman he thought he would never see again.

Lady Aimée de Bourbon, the only child of Prince du Sang Geoffroy de Bourbon, Marquis of Agen had captured and nearly broke Richard’s heart four years earlier. He had loved her and planned to give up his bachelor ways, but her father intended her to marry a royal, not an English Earl’s second son. Now Lady Aimée is affianced to Señor Duarte de Cortázar, a lesser Portuguese royal.

While lost in his thoughts of his prior love, the carriage is robbed, Lady Aimée’s dowry stolen, and Lord Agen is injured. Colonel Fitzwilliam directs the driver to take them to Pemberley where Mr. Darcy and his wife Elizabeth take them in and offer refuge and a place to heal.

Ancient customs of Dom Duarte’s family forbids marriage without the dowry present at the wedding, and now with the dowry stolen, Lady Aimée and her father fear the de Cortázars will call off the marriage. But Lady Aimée intends to have love and will let nothing stand in her way, even if it means hurting the man she once professed to love.

In Pompous Schemes, Ayr Bray continues her masterfully created world around Pemberley. A world that will make you want to submerse yourself into the fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and romance and never leave. (publisher’s summary)


disdain and deceptionPride and Prejudice: Disdain and Deception by Denise O’Hara — from the author

This Pride and Prejudice variation begins between Darcy and Elizabeth’s engagement and wedding.

Suppose everything happened exactly as in the original until after the engagement. Then Mr.Darcy has an accident…or is it? He is taken away from Elizabeth and she must use whatever means she can to reach him before it’s too late. (publisher’s summary)

Free e-books (not sure if they are still free):

all your pretty dreamsAll Your Pretty Dreams by Lise McClendon

When everything you planned goes south, there is only one thing left: heed the call to come home– even if it involves the polka.

Just because Jonny Knobel hasn’t touched the accordion for years means nothing to his father and his beloved polka band. After years in the city, small-town Minnesota whiplashes Jonny until he runs into the college girls doing field-work next door. The mysteriously rude Isabel Yancey, the crew chief, arrives with her own fresh heartache. Can two such different people attract?

Jonny is trying to break away from his high school sweetheart who he married at 19, when he meets Isabel, a graduate student involved in a study of bees. They couldn’t be more different in their ideals and dreams yet, just like Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, something draws them together.

Combining the star-crossed lovers of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the quirky characters of Anne Tyler, the world of Red Vine, Minnesota comes to life: a rich milieu of confrontation, betrayal, humiliation, laughter, and redemption, as Jonny plays Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, and the ‘She Likes Kielbasa’ polka on his grandfather’s accordion. What does a draftsman from the Twin Cities, born into a cheesy polka band, have in common with a prickly, ambitious scientist who has seen the world? And just how badly does she want him to breach her defenses?

A story about second chances and the laws of attraction, this is a New Adult novel featuring twenty-somethings in search of a fresh start. Romance, humor, and the heartache of growing up make All Your Pretty Dreams a unique journey through the hearts and minds of young adults searching for the keys to happiness in a complicated world. (publisher’s summary)

p&p the other way roundPride and Prejudice: The Other Way Round by Jane Austen and Anne Wrightwell

This is Pride and Prejudice with a twist; the classic story takes place in a universe where gender roles are reversed. When Miss Bingley rents a house in Meryton, she meets the lovely John Bennet and her friend, the proud Miss Darcy, meets his enchanting brother, Elijah Bennet. (publisher’s summary)

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. It is now being hosted at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s what I added to the shelves over the last couple of weeks:

For review:

the race for parisThe Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton — from Harper

Normandy. 1944. To cover the fighting in France, Jane, a reporter for the Nashville Banner, and Liv, an Associated Press photographer, have already had to endure enormous danger and frustrating obstacles — including strict military regulations limiting what women correspondents can do. Even so, Liv wants more. Encouraged by her husband, the editor of a New York newspaper, she’s determined to be the first photographer to reach Paris with the Allies and capture its freedom from the Nazis.

However, her commanding officer has other ideas about the role of women in the press corps. To fulfill her ambitions, Liv must go AWOL. She persuades Jane to join her, and the two women find a guardian angel in Fletcher, a British military photographer who reluctantly agrees to escort them. As they race for Paris across the perilous French countrywide, Liv, Jane, and Fletcher forge an indelible emotional bond that will transform them and reverberate long after the war is over.

Based on daring, real-life female reporters on the front lines of history like Margaret Bourke-White, Lee Miller, and Martha Gellhorn — and with cameos by other famous faces of the time — The Race for Paris is an absorbing, atmospheric saga full of drama, adventure, and passion. Combining riveting storytelling with expert literary craftsmanship and thorough research, Meg Waite Clayton crafts a compelling, resonant read. (publisher’s summary)

avenue of spiesAvenue of Spies by Alex Kershaw — from Crown

The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris’s hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the “mad sadist” Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protege charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.

From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director’s close ties to collaborationist Vichy. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11 — but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.

Drawing upon a wealth of primary source material and extensive interviews with Phillip Jackson, Alex Kershaw recreates the City of Light during its darkest days. The untold story of the Jackson family anchors the suspenseful narrative, and Kershaw dazzles readers with the vivid immediacy of the best spy thrillers. Awash with the tense atmosphere of World War II’s Europe, Avenue of Spies introduces us to the brave doctor who risked everything to defy Hitler. (publisher’s summary)

emma mangaManga Classics: Emma by Jane Austen — from UDON Entertainment

Just in time for the 200th Anniversary, Manga Classics: Emma brings Jane Austen’s classic tale of youthful folly and romantic exuberance to a modern audience with this beautiful, new manga adaptation. The impulsive match-making of Emma Woodhouse delivers both humor and heartache through the gorgeous artwork of manga-ka Po Tse (Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice). Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. (publisher’s summary)

guide to photographyNational Geographic Kids Guide to Photography by Nancy Honovich and Annie Griffiths — from Oleg Lyubner Public Relations

This info-packed, easy-to-use, superfun, how-to guide teaches everything there is to know about taking photographs. From smartphone cameras to SLRs, and from point-and-shoot to under-water cameras, we’ve got practical advice for kids of all ages. Watch out National Geographic photographers, a new batch of experts is on the way.


  • Diagrams showing how cameras work
  • Step-by-step instructions so you can compose, light, and take the perfect shot
  • Info about editing, photo sharing, and all the latest photo software
  • Do-it-yourself activities
  • Tips & tricks from National Geographic photographers and other experts
  • Behind-the-scenes stories about how the pros get the perfect shot
  • Careers for camera hounds
  • Ways to connect through the National Geographic Kids photo-sharing community MyShot
  • Assignments from noted photographer Annie Griffiths to test your knowledge

And much more! (publisher’s summary)

Unexpected arrival:

mrs. bennet has her sayMrs. Bennet Has Her Say by Jane Juska — from Berkley

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every man in possession of a wife must be in want of a son.

1785 was to be the most marvelous year of Marianne’s life, until an unfortunate turn of events left her in a compromised state and desperate for a husband to care — or rather cover — for her. Now, she is stuck in an undesirable marriage to Mr. Edward Bennet, who is desperate in his own way for a male heir. But as she is still carrying a smoldering desire for the handsome Colonel Millar, Mrs. Bennet must constantly find new, clever ways to avoid her husband’s lascivious advances until she is once again reunited with her dashing colonel. Except that the best-laid plans of a woman in good standing can so often go awry, especially when her contrary husband has plans and desires of his own…

Filled with audacious wit and hilarious surprises, this debut novel is an honest, smart, and satirical look at love, marriage, and the beloved Bennet family from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as you’ve never seen them before… (publisher’s summary)

Free e-books snagged during the Facebook launch party for A Sense of Obligation by Rose Fairbanks:

pemberley mistletoePemberley Mistletoe by Ayr Bray

Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy had enjoyed a fortnight of being totally irresponsible with regards to anything other than matters of the heart, but the honeymoon is over, and Christmas is sneaking up on them. With the assistant of Mrs. Reynolds, Elizabeth decorates the manor and plans for an intimate holiday party of six, but little does she know how upside down those plans will turn when the party ends up with an additional thirteen uninvited guests.

Will Elizabeth Darcy be able to blend the Darcy and Bennet traditions into a holiday that both she and Fitzwilliam can enjoy, and can she do it while so many women are in attendance waiting for her to mess up? (publisher’s summary)

scent of desireScent of Desire by Ayr Bray

After a tempestuous acquaintance fraught with misconceptions, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are at last of one mind and heart. Their betrothal is not without its own difficulties, however, and a single misunderstanding may place all of their future happiness in jeopardy.

By Amazon Best-Selling author Ayr Bray, Scent of Desire is a Pride and Prejudice expansion chronicling the six-week engagement of one of the world’s most beloved Jane Austen couples. (publisher’s summary)

the illegitimate heirThe Illegitimate Heir by Ayr Bray

The younger son of an earl often cannot afford to marry for love, so it is fortunate Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam has fallen in love with Helen Malham, who has both beauty and wealth. Her father, however, will not allow her to marry a man without a title.

When the Prince Regent names Richard the Duke of Blachedone, it is both a blessing and a curse. His newly acquired title means he may marry Helen — assuming she will have him once the truth comes out. He was awarded the dukedom not for his service to the Crown, but because he is the former duke’s illegitimate son, and soon all of London will know.

Mr. Calvin Aldrich is a rake and a blackguard and set to be one of the richest dukes in England…until his uncle is stripped of his titles and possessions while on his deathbed. Bereft of his inheritance, Calvin will stop at nothing to get revenge on his uncle’s illegitimate heir. He will strike at Richard in any way he can, even if it means ruining an innocent woman. (publisher’s summary)

threat of scandalThreat of Scandal by Ayr Bray

At twenty years of age, Georgiana Darcy embarks on her third season in London hoping to find true love. Things go terribly wrong when she is implicated in a scandalous affair with the Duke of Rothford and, though she is innocent of wrongdoing, London society shuns her and her reputation is in tatters.

For months the Duke has had troubles of his own; the last thing he needs is to be caught up in London’s latest scandal with a perfect stranger. The Duke is an honourable man, however, and does his best to clear their names and restore Georgiana’s reputation.

The Duke’s kindness and attentiveness ignite the kind of love in Georgiana she’s always dreamed of. She knows a peer of the realm could never marry a mere gentleman’s daughter, so she contents herself with simply being near him. But when a new scandal arises, she must leave London and the Duke or risk losing her reputation forever. (publisher’s summary)

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

a will of iron

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

This has been a most trying evening.  Mama continues furious that Darcy has gone away again without extending an offer of marriage.  I say, bless him.  She goes on and on, and I do wish she would invite the vicarage guests to dinner to ease the strain on me as she does not yammer quite so much in company.  Or perhaps the presence of others makes it easier for me to ignore her.  Selfish, Anne!

(from A Will of Iron)

Quick summary: In this darker variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Linda Beutler puts Anne de Bourgh front and center.  A Will of Iron lets readers into Anne’s head through her journals, which make their way into the hands of Charlotte Collins and Elizabeth Bennet after her sudden and shocking death.  Anne had a lively mind, made astute observations about the people around her, and wasn’t shy when it came to taking her future into her own hands.  As the residents and guests of Rosings Park and the Hunsford Parsonage try to come to terms with the events leading up to Anne’s death, they soon face even darker realizations while simultaneously seeking out happiness for themselves.

Why I wanted to read it: I enjoyed Beutler’s previous takes on Pride and Prejudice (check out my reviews of The Red Chrysanthemum and Longbourn to London), love the variations that expand on Austen’s secondary characters, and couldn’t resist imagining an even darker side to Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

What I liked: Beutler wastes no time in shocking readers, and I was glued to the pages from Anne’s very first journal entry.  The dark twists and turns of this novel are both shocking and morbidly funny, and there are plenty of love triangles and romantic entanglements to lighten the mood.  Beutler does a great job blending the darkly comic events with the sweet romantic scenes.  The novel is set just after Elizabeth rejects Darcy’s first proposal, and watching them find their way back to each other amidst all the other happenings was exciting.

What I disliked: Nothing at all (except trying to summarize the plot without saying too much).

Final thoughts: A Will of Iron is a must-read for fans of Austen-inspired fiction, who, like me, continually seek out unique variations of Pride and Prejudice.  I must say that I’ve never read anything like this novel before, and I was surprised by how many times I was shocked and then laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all.  It definitely wasn’t what I expected, which made me love it more.  I can’t wait to see what Beutler writes next!

Disclosure: I received A Will of Iron from Meryton Press for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

jars of hope

Source: Review copy from IWPR Group
Rating: ★★★★☆

Irena thought of something her father had told her.  “If you see someone drowning,” he had said, “you must jump in and save them, whether you can swim or not.”

“The children are hurting the most,” she decided.  “I have to give them a helping hand.”

(from Jars of Hope)

Quick summary: Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust is a children’s picture book written by Jennifer Roy and illustrated by Meg Owenson that tells the story of Irena Sendler, a social worker in Poland during World War II who helped smuggle around 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.  Roy explains how Sendler helped the children escape, how she saved the lists of their names, and how she survived the war herself.

Why I wanted to read it: Several years ago, my daughter and I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, and of course, we were fascinated by her story.  I’m also a fan of Roy’s since reading Yellow Star, her Aunt Sylvia’s Holocaust survival story, and meeting both Roy and her aunt at a book festival a few years ago.

What I liked: I applaud Roy for introducing Sendler to young readers and emphasizing how ordinary people can do extraordinary things in the face of evil.  The book is age-appropriate, showing the danger Sendler and the Jewish families faced without going into much detail.  Owenson’s illustrations are detailed and vibrant, using color to denote the warmth of family and the cold and desolation Sendler faced in prison.  I appreciated the author’s notes at the end that briefly wrap up Sendler’s story and explain Roy’s inspiration for the book.


Jars of Hope, page 10 (Capstone Young Readers)

What I disliked: The book only scratches the surface of Sendler’s story and makes it difficult for readers to feel connected to Sendler, but that is understandable given that it is short and intended for young children.

Final thoughts: Jars of Hope is a beautiful story of courage, love, hope, daring, and survival.  To think that one women had a hand in saving thousands of children during the Holocaust is inspirational and still brings people hope decades later.  It is important to remember people like Irena Sendler, who selflessly gave all they had, sometimes even their lives, to do what was right.  It also is important that children are introduced to these unsung heroes, and Jars of Hope is a book for parents and children to read and discuss together.

Disclosure: I received Jars of Hope from IWPR Group for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. It is now being hosted at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s what I added to the shelves over the past few weeks:

For review:

a will of ironA Will of Iron by Linda Beutler — from Meryton Press

The untimely death of Anne de Bourgh, only days after his disastrous proposal at the Hunsford parsonage, draws Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam back to Rosings Park before Elizabeth Bennet has left the neighborhood. In death, Anne is revealed as having lived a rich life of the mind, plotting rather constantly to escape her loathsome mother, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Anne’s journal, spirited into the hands of Charlotte Collins and Elizabeth, holds Anne’s candid observations on life and her family. It also explains her final quirky means of outwitting her mother. Anne’s Last Will and Testament, with its peculiar bequests, upheaves every relationship amongst the Bennets, Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Collinses, and even the Bingleys! Was Anne de Bourgh a shrewder judge of character than Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy combined?  (publisher’s summary)

jars of hopeJars of Hope by Jennifer Roy, illustrated by Meg Owenson — from IWPR Group

During the horrors of World War II, there were many unsung heroes.  Irena Sendler was one of them.

While many people lived in fear of the Nazis, Irena defied them, even though it could have meant her life.  This harrowing true story of a woman who took it upon herself to help save 2,500 children during the Holocaust is not only inspirational — it’s unforgettable.  (publisher’s summary)

becoming darknessBecoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles — from IWPR Group

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune — a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago.  The virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two hundred million people into vampires.  But after her best friend is brutally murdered, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to a conspiracy that runs generations deep.  And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.  (publisher’s summary)

the book of lost and foundThe Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley — from Back Bay Books

Kate Darling’s enigmatic mother — a once famous ballerina — has passed away, leaving Kate bereft.  When her grandmother falls ill and bequeaths to Kate a small portrait of a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Kate’s mother, Kate uncovers a mystery that may upend everything she thought she knew.

Kate’s journey to find the true identity of the woman in the portrait takes her to some of the world’s most iconic and indulgent locales, revealing a love story that began in the wild 1920s and was disrupted by war, and could now spark new love for Kate.  Alternating between Kate’s present-day hunt and voices from the past, The Book of Lost and Found casts light on family secrets and love — both lost and found.  (publisher’s summary)


beach townBeach Town by Mary Kay Andrews — from Savvy Verse & Wit

Greer Hennessy needs palm trees.

As a movie location scout, picture-perfect is the name of the game.  But her last project literally went up in flames, and her career is on the verge of flaming out.  Greer has been given one more chance, if she can find the perfect undiscovered beach hideaway for a big-budget movie.  She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida town called Cypress Key.  There’s one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach, and an old fishing pier with a community casino — which will be perfect for the film’s explosive climax.

There’s just one problem: Eben Thibadeaux, the town’s mayor, completely objects to Greer’s plan.  A lifelong resident of Cypress Key, Eben wants the town to be revitalized, not commercialized.  After a toxic paper plant closed, the bay has only recently been reborn, and Eb has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again.  But Greer has a way of making things happen, regardless of obstacles.  And Greer and Eb are way too attracted to each other for either of them to see reason.

Between an ambitious director and his entourage — including a spoiled “It Boy” lead actor — who parachute into town, a conniving local ex-socialite, and a cast of local fangirls and opportunists who catch the movie bug, nothing is going to be the same in Cypress Key.  Now Greer is forced to make some hard choices:  about the people and the town she’s come to care about, and about her own life.  True love is only for the movies, right?  Can Greer find a way to be the heroine in her own life story?  Told with inimitable heart and humor, Mary Kay Andrews’s Beach Town is the perfect summer destination.  (publisher’s summary)

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

inspired by grace

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

She let out a laugh that probably sounded a bit forced and said, “You need not protect me.  If you remember correctly, it is I who protected you far too often.  I tore many gowns wrestling your older brother off you.  And I believe I still can claim to be Queen of the Boulder on Chester Pond.  No one ever defeated me.”

His words were quiet, but distinct:  “Grace Ingrid Genevieve Iverson, no one ever will.  I swear it.”

(from Inspired by Grace, page 19)

Quick summary: Inspired by Grace is a Regency romance by Jeanna Ellsworth about childhood best friends whose lives have separated them for the past 10 years.  Gavin Kingston is struggling to come to terms with the tragic deaths of his father and older brother, which forced him to assume the title of Duke of Huntsman, a title he despises.  Grace Iverson is in London to find a husband, attempting another Season after her last was cut short by the death of her mother three years prior.  A chance (and clumsy) encounter reunites the pair, and their friendship resumes as if they had not parted ways when she was just 14 and he was 16.  Still, a lot has changed in the last decade; Gavin needs to learn the many meanings of grace, and Grace needs to learn to trust.  But will they find a way to be together before the hurts in their pasts converge and conspire to keep them apart for good?

Why I wanted to read it: I hadn’t yet read a Regency romance that wasn’t a variation of a Jane Austen novel, and I’ve enjoyed Ellsworth’s previous Austen-inspired novels (check out my reviews for Mr. Darcy’s Promise, Pride and Persistence, and To Refine Like Silver).

What I liked: Ellsworth always manages to inject some humor into her novels, and I laughed out loud several times while reading Inspired by Grace.  I especially loved the banter between Grace and Gavin’s friend, Mr. Silence.  Grace and Gavin are wonderfully flawed, and I couldn’t help but compare Grace to Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.  The romance is sweet and passionate but clean, and the Christian elements are obvious but never heavy-handed.  Moreover, there is plenty of tension and excitement when a face from Grace’s past appears and upends her newfound happiness.

What I disliked: Nothing!  The novel was simply a pleasure to read.

Final thoughts: Ellsworth has a knack for creating likeable, well-developed characters, and I was sad when it was time to say goodbye to Gavin and Grace.  The many meanings of grace are woven skillfully and seamlessly into the novel, and readers of any faith may find it a useful lesson in their own lives.  Inspired by Grace is a charming novel about love built on friendship, how true friends bring out the best in each other, and how happiness requires learning to trust.

Disclosure: I received Inspired by Grace from the author for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

the prosecution of mr. darcy's cousin

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

“I will not send for Mrs. Fitzwilliam, but I do mean to send word that you are safe.  Neither Mrs. Darcy nor my sister deserves to spend another hour in worry over your actions.”

He could not control speaking in disappointment.

“I thought better of you, Edward.”

(from The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin)

Quick summary: The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin is the latest Pride and Prejudice mystery by Regina Jeffers.  Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy have been happily married for about five years and are enjoying life with their two young sons, but their world is turned upside down when Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, sends word that her husband, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, is missing.  Darcy tracks down his cousin in a seedy inn in London, drunk and in a uniform covered in dirt and blood.  Fitzwilliam’s marital problems and PTSD are the least of the family’s concerns, once it becomes known that he is the prime suspect in a serious of gruesome murders.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve long been a fan of Jeffers’ novels (check out my reviews of Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, Christmas at Pemberley, and The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy), and I was intrigued by the idea of a darker side to the charming and amiable Colonel Fitzwilliam.

What I liked: I was fascinated by this tale from start to finish, and I especially enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery.  Jeffers really digs deep into her characters, particularly Georgiana’s need to find inner strength in the face of great loss, Darcy’s realization that he is no longer his sister’s protector, and Fitzwilliam’s troubled transition to civilian life.  The assortment of original characters, like Cowan, secondary characters given bigger roles, like the Earl and Countess of Matlock, and even some courtroom drama help round out the story, and I was happy to see another of my favorite Austen heroes make an appearance toward the end.

What I disliked: Nothing!

Final thoughts: The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin is a darker take on the characters of Pride and Prejudice, but it is exciting and shines in the complexity of the characters and the multilayered mystery at its core.  It was hard to see Fitzwilliam in such a light, but Jeffers’ portrayal of a man who has spent a great deal of his life at war and remains haunted by his experiences is realistic and heartbreaking.  Although it focuses on some heavy subjects, like PTSD, and puts Austen’s beloved characters in some dangerous and hopeless situations, the romantic moments between Darcy and Elizabeth help to lighten the mood.  Jeffers had me guessing and biting my nails until the very end, a sign of a great mystery, and I hope there will be more installments in this series.

(I haven’t yet read the previous installment, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy, so that’s something to look forward to, and I should point out here that The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin can be read as a standalone novel.)

Disclosure: I received The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin from the author for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.


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