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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!

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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.

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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

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It’s a pleasure to welcome Sweta Srivastava Vikram to Diary of an Eccentric today. I’ve read several of her poetry collections and found them to be quite powerful, so I am looking forward to finding time to read her latest release, the very timely novel Louisiana Catch. Please give her a warm welcome!

Louisiana Catch is a novel about a grieving daughter and sexual abuse survivor from New Delhi who must summon the courage to run a feminist conference in New Orleans, trust a man she meets over the Internet, and unravel the mystery of an online predator in order to find her power. While the female protagonist is Indian and both the male protagonist as well as antagonist are American, the story is relatable and universal because it represents the tales, trauma, humanity, and relationship of our times.

Louisiana Catch is layered. It touches on woman’s rights and violence against women, multicultural romance, journey to female leadership, the impact of grief, and online predators, amongst others. Every layer was added over a period of time after tons of research. And, sometimes, conversations with psychotherapists. I started to think about the book in late 2011/early 2012. And started to write the book in early fall of 2012. There were several conversations simultaneously going on around me: Role of social media in mobilizing people and bringing the world together during the Arab spring and the trials and triumphs of online dating my friends had shared. I teach yoga to rape and domestic violence survivors, so some of what I had witnessed in my class lingered in my subconscious.

Vulnerability—it can put us in spaces we never expect to find ourselves. When I was working on Louisiana Catch, a woman at a party walked up to me, “You come across as a happy and sane person. Your husband seems like a decent guy. Why are you a social issue advocate then? Why do you go out looking for ‘such’ stories? And making your family miserable? Write happy stories and get another drink.” Mind you, this conversation was a part of nothing. The lady was inebriated and felt the need to lash out and dictate what I should write about. I don’t talk about my projects until they are completed—the fear of absorbing other people’s opinion through osmosis and in the process, ruining my work, scares me? But people make their own deductions given what they believe about you. As this woman poured wine into her glass and words into my ears, I stood still. The sharpness of her words hurt. But her questions made me think.

Yoga has taught me to be an observer of thoughts and ideas without judging them—so, I watched where these thoughts were leading me. Here is what I’ve learned: You don’t have to be a victim or a survivor of violence to join the fight against ending it. For the most part, stories choose their writers. I, for one, will not explain my voice or stories to anyone.  I am just a messenger and a storyteller. My stories pick the vessel—fiction, nonfiction, poetry—how they want to be conveyed. First, there is a seed. I water it with ideas and time. Slowly, there is a bud and then the fully blossomed flower of a solid idea. Some stories take very long to shape-up, like Louisiana Catch; and, other times, they take a few weeks—like some of my poetry collections. Ultimately, “Stories are a communal currency of humanity.”

It’s a sheer coincidence that the book is coming out at a time when the #MeToo movement is creating space for women to publicly share the abuse they have endured. No Excuse, the Conference that Ahana, the female protagonist organizes in the book, takes it a notch further: the fact that there should be “no excuse” for sexual abuse, in short, zero tolerance.

Louisiana Catch is a humane book about actual human beings, and I hope the readers enjoy it.

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About Louisiana Catch

Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death and her dark past by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate the Annual Women’s Conference to raise awareness around violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium brings the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about trust and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her faith in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues: both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

Check out Louisiana Catch on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Sweta Srivastava Vikram

 

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a best-selling author of 11 books, a wellness columnist, and a mindfulness writing coach.  Featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” Sweta writes about women, multiculturalism, and identity. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nice countries and three continents. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel. Born in India, Sweta grew up between the Indian Himalayas, Northern Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. Exposure to this vast societal spectrum inspired her to become an advocate for social issues and also to get certified as a Holistic Health Counselor. In this avatar, Sweta is the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife through which she helps people elevate their productivity and creativity using Ayurveda and yoga. A certified yoga teacher, Sweta also teaches yoga and mindfulness to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. She lives with her husband in New York City.

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Giveaway

Sweta is generously offering a copy of Louisiana Catch as part of the blog tour. To enter, you must use this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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For more about Louisiana Catch and to follow the blog tour, click the button below.

Thank you, Sweta, for being my guest today and for your thought-provoking guest post. Congratulations on your latest release!

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Hello, dear readers! I’m delighted to have Monica Fairview as a guest today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Mysterious Mr. Darcy. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Marrying for Convenience in Pride and Prejudice

By Monica Fairview

Hello Anna! I’m so pleased to be able to stop at your lovely blog once again, this time on my Mysterious Mr. Darcy Blog Tour. It has always been a pleasure to interact with you and your readers.

I hope you are all shaking off the grip of winter and emerging into spring as I am. The sun is finally out and so are the daffodils. Hurray! But I am here to talk about Pride and Prejudice, not about daffodils, however much Jane Austen’s contemporary Mr. Wordsworth admired them. I also wanted to share with you first paragraphs that inspired me to write Mysterious Mr. Darcy.

The first two paragraphs of Pride & Prejudice are surely engrained in the heart of every JAFF fan:

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

That paragraph has to be the most spectacular example of irony in the English language. So much is packed into that deliciously playful beginning. I love the fact that Jane Austen flips the idea of marriage in the nineteenth century on its tail so cleverly. Women at that time were regarded as the “rightful property” of the husband, and all of a woman’s possessions went to her husband the moment she was married. In these two paragraphs, however, Jane Austen talks about the man being the “rightful property” of the daughter – a statement that must have tickled the fancy of every young lady who read them. And of course, the first sentence also reverses the known wisdom of the time. It was the women who needed husbands for financial security, not the other way round.

However, there is one level at which “a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”. A gentleman with property needed an heir. So, Jane Austen cunningly and with remarkable brevity introduces the main source of Mrs. Bennet’s anxiety:  Mr. Bennet’s failed attempt to produce an heir.

Either way, whether from the man’s point of view, or the woman’s, the main message is that marriage is about property and possessions. It is, quite simply, a matter of convenience. Romantic love forms no part of it.

It’s difficult for us to fully appreciate the meaning of this way of thinking. Obviously, even in the twenty-first century, marrying a rich man is a desirable thing, and there are women who do everything they can to achieve that goal. However, in most cases, if it doesn’t happen, there are other alternatives. Marriage is not the only alternative for women of a certain class. It is a choice. Women can work and be independent. But for a young gently-bred lady of Jane Austen’s era, there was no choice. The only alternative other than marrying was to become a governess or to live as a dependent with a relative. If you were a young lady used to living comfortably, you were expected to be part of the ‘Marriage Mart’ and to do everything you could to marry someone of equal or superior stature to yourself.

Feelings were not part of the transaction. Elizabeth’s statement that she wants to marry for love was, for that time, a very modern concept: “I am determined that nothing but the very deepest love could induce me into matrimony.” Yet in the opening paragraphs of the novel, a man’s or woman’s feelings have nothing at all to do with it. Marriage is a social institution. A gentleman with a fortune is expected to submit to society’s expectations – yet again, an ironic reversal since it is women usually who are expected to fulfil these expectations.

“However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood”

Again, with amazing irony, Jane Austen summarises the group perception. No one cares about the feelings of the gentleman involved. All they care about is his social and financial status.

For me, these first few sentences – with their ironic twists and reversals — provide the crux of Mysterious Mr. Darcy. I have always thought it particularly ironic that we hear about Mr. Bingley first, and not about Mr. Darcy at all until later, when he appears at the Meryton Assembly. All the excitement initially is centered on Bingley. To all intents and purposes, at the beginning of the novel, it appears that the novel is about Mr. Bingley. Which is exactly what happens in my new variation, except that I carry it further. Mr. Bingley is the focus of everyone’s interest because Mr. Darcy is seen as the impoverished friend. Imagine that!

We all know that Pride and Prejudice is about a man in possession of a fortune. But what if it isn’t? What if Mr. Bingley is never upscaled by Mr. Darcy? What if Mr. Darcy is NOT in possession of a fortune, or at least, no one knows that he is? What happens then? How does that change the dynamics of the various characters?

If you want an answer to that question, you will have to read Mysterious Mr. Darcy. 😊

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Excerpt from Mysterious Mr. Darcy

The following scene takes place at the Meryton Assembly. Elizabeth has already danced with Mr. Bingley, while Mr. Darcy has been standing around, looking disapproving.

As she and Maria stood together observing the dancers, Elizabeth was still at a loss to find fault with Mr. Bingley. She had watched him interact with several people and concluded that it would take someone very critical to find fault with him. The only fault she could find was not with Mr. Bingley, but with herself. Much as she liked him, she could not quite imagine herself marrying him.

The trouble was, she wanted more out of marriage than simply convenience. Something inside her yearned for love. She was aware, of course, that she was expecting too much. Mrs. Bennet was always complaining that Mr. Bennet had spoiled Elizabeth for her role in life by encouraging her to read too much. It was very probably true. Elizabeth’s father was very well read, but he was not a practical man. He was not fully involved in the everyday running of the estate, which was possibly why the estate produced so little income. Meanwhile, the Bennet family members were paying the price for his neglect. They were always having to perform little economies so they could continue to live within their means. They were not impoverished, exactly, but they could not order fashionable clothes without having to give up something else.

Jane had married reasonably, but not well enough to help her sisters or mother with anything more than a trivial amount of pin money. Three years ago, when Mr. Collins proposed to her, Elizabeth had been contemptuous of anyone who married for practical reasons. Now she was older and wiser. She had seen how her friend Charlotte managed her husband. Charlotte had even worked out the best way to interact with Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins’ condescending and interfering benefactor. In short, although Elizabeth had predicted a disaster for her friend when Charlotte had first married, she had been proven completely wrong. Charlotte was perfectly content. She had her own household. She had a little girl and was increasing again, and she wasn’t dependent on anyone for a roof over her head.

Still, every part of Elizabeth revolted at the idea of trying to capture a man for his property. She wanted love. But would love ever come her way? At three and twenty, it seemed to be less and less likely, and the prospect of having to endure her mother for the rest of her life seemed much more real.

Not that Elizabeth would marry someone like Mr. Collins even now. She shuddered at the very thought of it. However, if an opportunity arose for her to escape Longbourn and the constant lamentations of her mother at being saddled with four unmarriageable daughters with no dowry, Elizabeth would certainly consider it seriously. Mr. Bingley was a godsend, that is, if he was genuinely interested in her.

She chuckled to herself. The poor man had done nothing more than to dance with her, and already she was considering whether or not to accept his proposal. It was absurd.

“Why are you laughing, Lizzy?” Maria was looking at her quizzingly.

“I was thinking how true it is that a lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

Maria gaze moved from Elizabeth to Bingley. “He does seem to be taken with you.”

Elizabeth shook her head. “It was just a stupid fancy on my part, no more. It will take a great deal more to fix his interest, I assure you.”

“Then, as my sister would say, you have work to do.” Maria sighed. “Imagine what it would be like to marry someone with a property such as Netherfield. Imagine being the mistress of such a grand estate. You would be very lucky indeed if you managed to capture him, Lizzy.”

“If I fall in love with him, I will not hesitate, but I will not deliberately set out to capture him in cold blood, Maria, whatever Charlotte’s view of the matter may be. Having said that, if he did become sincerely attached to me, I would not discourage it, even if I was not in love with him.”

It was Maria’s turn to shake her head. “If you aren’t careful, someone will snatch him from right under your eyes, and all for the lack of trying.”

“I’m not desperate, Maria. Your sister did not marry until she was twenty-seven, so I still have some time to acquire a husband.”

“I wash my hands off you, Lizzy. Don’t say I haven’t warned you. If you won’t listen to me, I will not be held accountable.”

“Why don’t you set your sights on him yourself, then?”

Maria gave a wry smile. “I would, only I’m not as pretty as you are, and so far, he only has eyes for you.”

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About Mysterious Mr. Darcy

Find Mysterious Mr. Darcy on Amazon

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About the Author

Monica Fairview

Monica can be described as a wanderer, opening her eyes to life in London and travelling ever since. She spent many years in the USA before coming back full circle to London, thus proving that the world is undeniably round.

Monica adores the Regency period and Jane Austen’s wit. She writes funny Jane Austen sequels and variations but has finally decided to get serious about Elizabeth and Darcy. At the moment, she lives with two cats, a teenager, and her own Mr. Darcy. She enjoys singing out of tune in the shower, visiting historical mansions, and warm weather.

Visit Monica on Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Website | Austen Variations

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Giveaway

Monica is generously offering two ebook copies (open internationally) and one paperback (U.S. and U.K. addresses only) of Mysterious Mr. Darcy. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and let us know whether you’d like the ebook or paperback if you win. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 1, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Monica, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

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It’s a pleasure to welcome Riana Everly back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, a prequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, titled The Assistant, which focuses on Elizabeth Bennet’s uncle and aunt Gardiner. Riana has brought a guest today, the Elusive Miss Grant. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Good day to you,

I do hope you will forgive me if I do not remove my bonnet and mask. Even the heaviest veil was insufficient to conceal my features, and I must remain hidden and unknown, for your safety as much as for my own. If he should discover where I am, or that you know me…  Thank goodness the fashion is for bonnets with deep brims this year!

But I digress, and I must not alarm you. I am satisfied that my disguise is robust, and that none of us need fear. He will not know me, concealed as I am, neither does he know where to seek me. Let us talk, rather, of more pleasant matters.

Despite the danger in which I find myself, and the dreadful events that have led up to it, I am remarkably well settled. I have, as the expression goes, fallen upon my feet. I have found safe and secure lodgings, and the people where I live are kind and good to me, for all that they do not know whom they host. I would never endanger them by revealing my identity! I am kept busy much of the time, which prevents me from dwelling too much on my troubles, I have a ready supply of material to read, and I need not stray far to enjoy the company of interesting people.

But listen! I have done something so shocking, Mother would scold me for weeks were she ever to discover it! Oh, poor Mother, wherever she may be. If only she were near enough to discover my deeds, I should gladly withstand all the scolding she could give me. When these troubles are over, I shall do what I can to find her once more. What have I done, you ask? Come close and I shall tell you!

I have been writing letters to a gentleman with whom I have no agreement! Indeed, we have not even been introduced! Are you horrified? I titter like a schoolgirl when I think how brazen my actions have been.

And even more shocking, he has written back! We have engaged in a long correspondence, and I dare to believe that he likes me as much as I like him. To be clear, he is not a gentleman in the literal meaning of the word, for he is a merchant and by that measure, below my station. But he is a gentleman in the essence of the matter, for his manner and understanding are everything that is proper, and he expresses himself uncommonly well. I might otherwise choose to write one of my stories about him, for I do like to cast interesting characters of my acquaintance into my novels (there, another matter to shock you! I write novels!), but truth be told, I like him too well, and would not have him exposed to the world, or whoever might one day read my poor scribblings.

I wonder what would happen were we to be properly introduced? I would like so much to meet him in some public place or at a ball, where we may converse as freely as we do in our letters. I must set to work to make this happen, for I have quite grown to love Edward Gardiner!

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An excerpt from The Assistant, courtesy of Riana Everly

The first letter arrived three weeks after Edward returned to London.

It was addressed to Mr. E. Gardiner, Gracechurch Street, and was written in a fine, elegant hand. A woman’s hand, graceful and precise. Matt handed it to Edward in person. “It is from a lady from my former home,” he blushed. “I have a way to contact her without the others knowing. I told her what you done for me, and she wished to thank you.”

“Indeed! How extraordinary!” Edward’s eyebrows shot up, but he accepted the letter without further comment and proceeded to examine the small package. The seal was unbroken, but it was a plain expanse of smooth red wax, with no imprint or other identifying mark. The paper seemed to be of good quality, white and thick, but common enough amongst those with some means. It provided no suggestions as to its origin. Intrigued, Edward broke the seal and perused the contents.

The letter was written in the same hand as the direction: elegant, precise and careful. Almost too careful, whispered a part of Edward’s mind, as if the writer were engaged in an exercise in penmanship, forming each letter to a tutor’s expectations of perfection. Or, whispered a suspicious part of his brain, as if the writer were hoping to disguise her handwriting. None of this Gothic Novel nonsense, Edward. Read the note! He chastised himself. Having concluded the better part of his business affairs for the day, he gave in to his curiosity and rang for some tea before sitting down in the library with the letter, where he began to read.

Mr. Gardiner,

I beg that you will excuse my forwardness and lack of propriety in sending you this missive. I am quite well aware that an unmarried lady should not write to a man whose acquaintance she has not made, nor with whom she has no understanding, but I find that these curious circumstances compel me to ignore the guidance of my tutors and my more delicate sensibilities and speak with you through whatever means I have at my disposal.

I write to you about young Matthew. Matthew lived in my home as a child, and he is closer to me than a brother. I care greatly about his welfare. He has arranged to correspond with me through a mutual acquaintance, whose identity must remain concealed for Matthew’s safety. I cannot speak of the circumstances that forced him to leave his home, but accept my word, Sir, they were real and dire. Had he remained in the house, his very existence would have been threatened.

Matthew has informed me of your great service to him. I am much relieved at his safety and current situation. Sir, when you rescued him from the river, as he informs me, you saved his life! For that, I can never thank you enough. He will not speak to you of his undying gratitude – his shyness and intense sense of privacy will forbid it – but I can speak, and speak I shall. How kind you are, how generous and full of feeling for your fellow man! So many would not have searched out a crying youth, nor would they have risked the safety of their own limbs to wade through icy water in order to bring that youth to safety. And then, to take upon yourself the cost and inconvenience of treating his injuries – that is so much more than any person would expect.

But you, Mr. Gardiner, have surpassed even those generous actions. You took the time to get to know my young friend and have discovered his unique abilities. Further, you have provided him not only with life and the possibility of healing, but you have also provided for his security with a position. For this grand act of charity and humanity, I cannot tell you enough of my gratitude. But I beg of you, do not waste Matthew’s abilities. Teach him, guide him, challenge him! He is willing to learn and will repay your efforts manifold.

If I may ever be of assistance, I should be happy to offer such to the best of my ability. Matthew will know how to find me.

Yours,

Miss Grant

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About The Assistant

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean

When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.

But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.

Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

Click here for the universal buy link for The Assistant

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About the Author

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

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Connect with Riana Everly via Facebook | Website

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Giveaway

Riana is generously offering five ebook copies of The Assistant as part of the blog tour. You must enter using this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Thank you, Riana, for being my guest today, and congrats on the new release! I’m looking forward to reading it, and I’m sure my readers will agree that it sounds fantastic!

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I’m delighted to welcome Amy D’Orazio back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book, and after absolutely adoring The Best Part of Love, I know I must read it! Please give her a warm welcome:

Good morning, Anna. Thank you for hosting me again at Diary of an Eccentric. Today I am looking forward to sharing this post with your readers about one of our favorite characters in JAFF, Colonel Fitzwilliam, especially since he plays a crucial role in A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity — as he does in many Austenesque stories! One thing I’ve realized is that the good colonel has taken on a life of his own through the Jane Austen fandom. People have ardent opinions on what his name is, what exactly he does in the military and even who he should marry! But how much of what we “know” about him is based on Jane, and how much is our own creation? 

Five Things You Need to Know about Colonel Fitzwilliam

Fact vs Fanon

 1. His Christian name was… not Richard!

Long story short — Jane didn’t see fit to give the Colonel a name.

If you ever want to spur a debate, ask people if the colonel should be called Richard. Some defend it passionately — so many stories have him as Richard it just feels strange when he is called something else. Just as many people feel that it should NOT be Richard — after all, Jane Austen hated the name Richard, or so it’s been said.

It’s hard to trace back where “Richard” began. Some people mention early stories that posted in the Derbyshire Writers Guild going as far back as 1997 or 1998 (20 years! Gulp!)  For whatever reason, writers adopted it quickly, much as they did Thomas for Mr. Bennet, Madeleine for Mrs. Gardiner and Fanny for Mrs. Bennet. But Jane never called him that, and in fact, never called him anything at all but Colonel Fitzwilliam.

For my stories, I do tend to opt for Richard. Why? During the life of Jane Austen, there was a Viscount Richard Fitzwilliam (1745-1816). He was the founder by bequest of the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge and donated priceless works of art as well as funds sufficient to build the museum itself. So perhaps not such a bad namesake!

2. He was not good-looking.

We want him to be good-looking, don’t we? It seems like it should only be fair, he has no money, no house, and not much else to woo a lady; surely he’s handsome?

But alas, no, right in chapter 30, Jane Austen has written:

“Colonel Fitzwilliam, who led the way, was about thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly the gentleman.”

So there you have it. The good colonel has only his personality to win a girl over.

3. But he wasn’t really that poor

I am certainly no expert on the military and their pay during the Napoleonic War times, but most things I have read suggest that the purchase price of your commission needed to be less than your personal fortune. This was to ensure that (gasp!) you weren’t entering the military to make money.

So it is likely the colonel had a bit of money behind him, certainly nothing like his father’s fortune or Darcy’s, but he wasn’t exactly penniless.

4. Darcy’s bosom buddy?

Fanon often paints the colonel as Darcy’s dearest friend. But how much of their relationship was true friendship and how much was simply the business of family?

While it is true he shared guardianship of Georgiana with Darcy, there is a legal reason for this. It is likely that some or all of Georgiana’s fortune came from the Fitzwilliam side of the family and therefore it was a convention to appoint a guardian for her from that side of the family that would protect those financial interests.  It made sense legally and was customary at that time. So the shared guardianship was not necessarily a statement about the closeness of the two men; likely it was a legal necessity.

Other family matters brought the two men together as well. Colonel Fitzwilliam was one of the executors of Darcy’s father’s will. Furthermore, the two men paid an annual visit to Rosings together. Was this duty of some sort? Overseeing their aunt’s business? I think we can all say that it was likely not out of preference! 

Moreover, even apart from the colonel’s legendary slip up regarding Bingley, the colonel does, on several occasions, throw a little shade his cousin’s way. When Elizabeth teasingly asks why Darcy is unable to recommend himself to strangers in a ballroom, the colonel tells her Darcy “…will not give himself the trouble.” The colonel is also quick to inform her that Darcy, “…likes to have his own way very well.” Merely teasing him? Or was there a little jealousy there?

However, that said, in his letter to Elizabeth, Darcy says the two men have a “near relationship” and are in “constant intimacy” so it is entirely possible that the two men were, in fact, close friends in addition to being relatives.

5. He did have some romantic feelings for Elizabeth

Colonel Fitzwilliam seemed really glad to see them; any thing was a welcome relief to him at Rosings; and Mrs. Collins’s pretty friend had moreover caught his fancy very much.

No one can deny that the colonel certainly flirted with Elizabeth while at Rosings, but was it ever more than that?

“But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from the want of money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like.”

“Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do.”

“Our habits of expence make us too dependant, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money.”

I’ve always held to the opinion that Colonel Fitzwilliam likely kept himself in check to avoid any sorts of runaway romantic feelings for Elizabeth Bennet. That he liked her and enjoyed flirting with her is clear, but for myself, I can never tell if he was just flirting to amuse himself during a tedious visit to his aunt, or if, in other circumstances, it might have become something more.

So there are my thoughts on Colonel Fitzwilliam! I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

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About A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity

Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him.

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given.

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept.

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?

Buy: Amazon | Amazon.UK

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About the Author

Amy D’Orazio

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, PA.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

Connect with Amy: Facebook | Meryton Press | Goodreads | Twitter

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering 8 ebook copies of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity as part of the blog tour. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on February 21 until midnight ET on March 8, 2018. Good luck!

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.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

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

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