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Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

Hello, my dear readers! I can’t believe January is over already. Things are busy, busy, busy, so I haven’t been able to blog as much as I used to, but I have been reading and wanted to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read and what’s coming up for the blog in February. At least for the near future, I will be posting mini reviews of books from my personal library, with longer reviews planned for books I accepted for review. First up today, mini reviews of the books I read in January:

The Sweetest Ruin is a novella in which Pride and Prejudice meets Las Vegas. William Darcy feels suffocated by his family after a heath crisis and takes a spontaneous trip to Sin City, where he meets Elizabeth Bennet, a college student and a cocktail waitress at a casino. The two meet and sparks fly. Their whirlwind romance has some complications, namely William’s sister back in England and Elizabeth’s over protective best friend Thad. This was such a fun novella, with lots of steamy bits and humor as William and Elizabeth work to overcome the odds stacked against them. There were characters I loved and characters I loved to hate, but mostly they were characters I didn’t expect (Jane Bingley, for one). Amy George turns Pride and Prejudice on its head, and it was fantastic!

Lady Catherine’s Lover is a short story sequel to Pride and Prejudice in which the Darcys are awaiting the birth of their first child, making Darcy unwilling to chase after Lady Catherine when rumors swirl about her relationship with her late husband’s cousin, who requested an urgent meeting with her in London following the death of his wife. Darcy and Elizabeth watch things unfold from afar, and while the story is amusing, I wish it had been a little longer. It ends rather abruptly, and I really wanted to know what happened next!

The Austen Addiction is a novella about Sharon, a young woman recovering from a tragic accident that took the life of her parents. She moves in with her aunt while she tries to figure out her next step and befriends the neighbors, a charming lawyer named Devon, his sister Clara, whose husband is serving in the military overseas, and Clara’s young daughter, Victoria. As Sharon’s friendship with Devon begins to grow into something more, she must come to terms with the aftermath of the accident, learning to live in the present rather than escaping to the past through Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Some readers might be put off by the strong Christian themes, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, though the pacing was a bit quick for a story with such heavy themes.

First Impressions is a short story that follows Stephanie Sleuth, a time detective, as she travels through the whorls of time from 2017 to 1811 to remedy a mistake in Pride and Prejudice. Stephanie meets up with Jane, not for the first time, to try to uncover what influenced the most recent mistake in the book, which Jane is currently writing. It’s an interesting premise, but something that really needs a longer format to provide the necessary backstory and explanations so readers can follow the action.

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Now that I’m spending more of my free time (not that there was much to begin with!) working on my novel (which I’ll post about here when I’m further along in the process), I’m no longer accepting review copies. I do still have review books on my shelf, and I’m working my way through them as time permits — and lately it feels like I’m reading in slow motion. I’m still finishing up Ellen Marie Wiseman’s The Life She Was Given, which is a beautifully written though heartbreaking tale about a young girl sold into the circus in the 1930s. (Click the link to read the excerpt that Ellen shared with my readers over the summer.)

Another fun book I’m working my way through is Katwalk by Maria Murnane, which I hope to finish soon. I’m really enjoying it! Here’s the blurb:

Katrina Lynden has always walked a straight line in life, an approach that has resulted in a stable career and pleased her hard-nosed parents but that has also left her feeling unfulfilled—and miserable. When her best friend suggests they quit their Silicon Valley jobs and embark on two months of adventure in New York City, Katrina balks at the idea but ultimately agrees, terrified yet proud of herself for finally doing something interesting with her life. But when her friend has to back out at the last minute, Katrina finds herself with a tough decision to make. Much to her surprise, she summons the courage to go alone, and the resulting journey changes everything. Along the way she makes new friends, loses others, learns what is really important to her, and finds a way to grow up without leaving herself behind.

So watch this space for these reviews!

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I’m still hosting guest spots so I can let you all know about new releases that I’m excited about, and in February, I will have several guests: Amy George, author of The Sweetest Ruin (see my review at the very beginning of this post); Monica Fairview, author of When Pride Prevails; and Mark Brownlow, author of Cake and Courtship. I hope you’ll stop by for a variety of guest spots and giveaways!

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What are you reading right now? Any exciting plans (reading or otherwise) for February! I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

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Before I share my thoughts about this book with you all, I want to apologize to the author and to the blog tour host for missing my tour date on Friday. I pulled a back muscle and that put me out of commission for a few days. Thanks to some meds and lots of rest, I’m feeling a lot better. 🙂

I was excited for the chance to read Volume I in Collings Hemingway’s The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy. The premise is so intriguing! What would Jane Austen’s life have been like had she married? Would she still have written the novels that I love so much? And if she would have had the opportunity to write while running her household, how would her marriage have changed those stories? This first volume doesn’t focus much on Jane’s novel writing; it’s set from 1802-1805, during the time she lived in Bath. But the story is rich nonetheless.

Hemingway’s Jane Austen came to life for me, from her wit and impertinence to her intelligence, her understanding of the world and her place in it, and her hope for happiness. Whether it is an accurate portrayal or not, one will never know, but she felt real to me. From page one, I fell in love with this version of Jane. I loved her snarky remarks to her aunt Perrot, her desire for adventure, and her impulsiveness. There were many scenes in which she reminded me of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Hemingway also brought Ashton Dennis to light, Jane’s childhood friend, five years her junior. He is shy and impulsive, large and clumsy. He has inherited a fortune and an estate, and his Lady Catherine-esque mother very much dislikes his close friendship with Jane. Meanwhile, Jane understands her limited options in society and prepares to live out her life unmarried, constantly traveling from the home of one relative to another with her sister Cassandra. As time passes and Jane begins to understand herself and Ashton more fully, she wonders whether she will ever have a chance to marry for love.

I loved the way the story unfolded, gently and realistically, and I enjoyed that it was more than just a love story, as Hemingway weaves in tales of war and other aspects of history.  I am looking forward to reading the next two volumes and seeing how this alternative life for Jane plays out.

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The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: A Novel by a Gentleman Volume I
by Collins Hemingway

Publication Date: June 20, 2015
AuthorHouse
Hardcover, Paperback, & eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

Everyone should marry once for love – Even Jane Austen

Jane Austen, single and seemingly comfortable in the role of clergyman’s daughter and aspiring writer in the early 1800s, tells friends and family to hold out for true affection in any prospective relationship. Everybody, she says, has a right to marry once in their lives for love.

But when, after a series of disappointing relationships, the prospect of true love arrives for her, will she have the courage to act? The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen re-imagines the life of England’s archetypal female by exploring what might have happened if she had ever married. It shows how a meaningful, caring relationship would have changed her as a person and a writer.

It also takes her beyond England’s tranquil country villages and plunges her info what the Regency era was really about: great explorations and scientific advances, political foment, and an unceasing, bloody war.

In such times, can love—can marriage—triumph?

Amazon | Austen Books | Barnes and Noble

Praise

“What if Austen, who penned so many classic love stories, found her own romantic match? Ashton Dennis fits right into the Austen universe, while this Jane remains true to life, an intelligent and determined young woman. The writing is Austen-ian, and Hemingway has a talent for witty banter and wry observations that would make Elizabeth Bennet proud. An enjoyable first novel in an imaginative, well-researched series.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A skillful portrayal of a … literary icon takes this historical romance on an imaginative journey of the soul. … Insight and intuition, along with meticulous research, have created a believable version of her character in this tender story of Ashton and Jane. … Excellent character development enhances the plausibility of the scenario. Background, motivation, eccentricity—everything that constitutes a personality allow these fascinating people to step off the pages in lifelike form.” —Julia Ann Charpentier, Foreword CLARION Reviews, 4 stars

“All readers of Jane Austen wonder what Jane’s life might have been like had she married, or had money. The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen explores these intriguing possibilities. It also depicts Austen in a rapidly changing world, connecting her to important aspects of the era-war, slavery, indistralization, and new modes of travel. Heminghway’s book raises many ‘what if’s’ in his thoughtful and thought-provoking portrayal of Jane Austen falling in love.” -Susannah Fullerton, author of A Dance with Jane Austen and Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

“[An] engaging and remarkably convincing romance. … Wry, observant, laconic—much like Jane Austen herself, without ever dipping into pastiche or mimicry. … Hemingway, with the lightest touch, builds up a thoroughly convincing alternative history for Jane. … [A] thoughtful re-imagining of Austen’s love life.” —Joceline Bury, Jane Austen’s Regency World

About the Author

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives and everything that makes tThe hem complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world’s thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.

Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Disclosure: I received The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Volume I from the author for review.

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I admit that I had overly optimistic plans for leisurely Christmas reading last month, but life got in the way, as usual. Between working overtime at the day job, working on freelance editing projects in the evening, doing the annual Christmas decorating/shopping/baking, and taking a seven-hour road trip with my daughter for a college admissions interview, I am exhausted — and surprised that I managed to make even this small dent in my Christmas reading list. Even though it’s already January, I figured I’d share my very brief thoughts on these books, before posting my Top 10 of 2017 list tomorrow!

A delightfully sweet novella that finds Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia caught in a snowstorm on the way to Netherfield, taking shelter in an empty cabin and eventually snowed in with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. There wasn’t a lot of tension here, but I enjoyed the innocent games they played to pass the time, helping Bingley see that Jane does have feelings for him and allowing Elizabeth to see Darcy in a different light.

Set eight years into the Darcys’ marriage, this novella has a very pregnant Elizabeth heading out to go shopping against Darcy’s advice, and due to some serious scheming, she is kidnapped and held for ransom. Being a novella, it was quickly resolved, but I enjoyed how it played out and that our dear couple managed to enjoy some Christmas spirit despite nothing going according to plan.

This short story is depressing at the beginning, as Mr. Bennet has died, his wife and daughters must depend on the charity of the Gardiners and Elizabeth’s wages, and Lydia’s fate was as bad as you can imagine without the interference of Mr. Darcy. But it ended up being a heartwarming story as a chance encounter with Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam brings unresolved feelings to the surface and unexpected Christmas spirit to the Bennet household.

A modern-day, gender-bending Pride and Prejudice told from the point of view of Darcy Fitzwilliam, who reminded me more of Emma Woodhouse than Mr. Darcy. It was an entertaining book, but I wish I had gotten to know Luke Bennet more and saw more of their relationship than kissing under the mistletoe.

A sweet story perfect for those who like their romance without angst. In this tale, Darcy doesn’t meet Elizabeth (who was away recovering from an unnamed illness) until after Jane and Bingley are married, and their attraction is immediate, with no obstacles to overcome — except for Darcy’s desire to give Elizabeth the perfect Christmas gift.

A short but sweet story that finds Darcy on death’s door following a riding accident. This comes after Lydia’s patched up marriage, so when Colonel Fitzwilliam goes to fetch Elizabeth (because Darcy keeps calling her name while delirious with fever), she is distraught that Darcy might never know her feelings have changed. Of course, Christmas is the season for miracles!

Pride and Prejudice sequel of sorts, as Darcy and Elizabeth face each other following an argument over what to do with Lydia and Wickham’s son now that he is an orphan. Both recount the teatime at Rosings where they came to terms with their misunderstandings and feelings for one another, which though outlandish was thoroughly entertaining!

Not Christmas books but read during the month, so I’m including them here anyway:

I’m a sucker for books about Colonel Fitzwilliam (yes, I know there isn’t much about him in Pride and Prejudice, but I can’t help myself), and it was nice to imagine that a girl from the future could catch his eye. This was a very creative novella about two people faced with difficult situations and impossible decisions and realizing where they belong.

I immediately downloaded and read this book after finishing The Colonel’s Timely Bride, happy to see Anne de Bourgh get a chance in the spotlight. This exciting novella is about a man from the future who goes back to Regency England to rescue Anne from an oh-so-evil Lady Catherine, and I loved seeing how these two troubled souls found happiness.

If you have any favorite Austen-inspired holiday reads, please share them in the comments!

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Source: Review copy from authors

Merry Christmas, my dear readers! I will have some mini reviews of Christmas books when I return next week after the holidays, but in the meantime, I have some special treats for you today, so stay tuned!

When I heard that Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite were releasing the story anthology A Very Austen Christmas, I couldn’t wait to read it, having enjoyed novels from all of these ladies in the past. And I definitely was not disappointed with these delightfully sweet Christmas tales.

Robin Helm’s “Her Christmas Gift” brings Elizabeth Bennet to Rosings for Christmas, where she is reunited with Mr. Darcy after he saved her family’s reputation, as well as an old friend who has his eye on her. Laura Hile’s “The Christmas Matchmaker” brings Elizabeth and Jane to Netherfield with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, along with Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, Thomas Bertram, and some Christmas magic via “Aunt Jane.” Wendi Sotis’ “No Better Gift” brings Mr. Darcy to Mertyon for Christmas, where he finds the village deserted, and when he learns what has happened, both he and Elizabeth come to realize they had misunderstood each other. Finally, Barbara Cornthwaite’s “Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey” brings readers to the world of Mansfield Park where Edmund plans to propose to Fanny at Christmas.

I loved these sweet tales and how the joys of the Christmas season were an important part of each, and I loved the little bits of humor sprinkled in with the romance. I also loved how the focus was on Pride and Prejudice, but there were characters from Emma and Mansfield Park as well. Each of these stories was different, but they worked together as collection, and I found myself looking forward to escaping into these stories as I unwound from some busy days at work. I can definitely see myself reading this collection again during future holiday seasons. After all, you can never have too much of Elizabeth and Darcy falling in love!

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The first treat I have for you is an excerpt from “The Christmas Matchmaker” by Laura Hile. Enjoy!

It no longer mattered that Elizabeth’s mother was noisy and ambitious—and her younger sisters too. Or that her portion was considered contemptable. He admired her. No, he loved her.

Love. There, he had said it. Or rather he had thought it—which was almost the same thing.

The only question left was what to do. How to tell her what was in his heart? Would she respond in kind? Or did she dislike him as much as ever?

But she had kissed him in that dream. Surely this counted for something!

Darcy’s thoughts were interrupted by Lydia Bennet’s voice. She, along with her sister Kitty, had come to call.

“We are supposed to be shopping in Meryton,” Lydia was saying. “And so we shall be—later.” Apparently the driver of the family carriage had been bribed to silence, a source of much hilarity.

“We’ve already had the mumps,” Kitty pointed out, “so it makes no difference. We simply had to come, Lizzy, for we’ve such news!”

Lydia took up the tale. “Mr. Collins leaves for Hunsford tomorrow, but oh, Lizzy, you will never believe it. He is engaged—actually engaged—to Charlotte Lucas.”

Elizabeth appeared stunned. “You—cannot mean it,” she said.

Apparently her sisters did. “Lady Lucas held the engagement dinner yesterday night,” Kitty assured her. “The wedding is set for early January.”

And then Darcy noticed Miss Woodhouse. She was looking hard at each of the sisters. “How very odd,” she said. “I could have sworn that Mr. Collins’s interests lay elsewhere. Not that I wish ill on Miss—Lucas did you say?”

Lydia kept talking. “And dear Wickham sends his love. He says it is not the same without you, Lizzy, although I cannot see why. We have the merriest evenings together.”

“It’s all tipsy dance and jollity,” gushed Kitty.

“I beg your pardon?” said Elizabeth.

“It’s—the name of a song, Lizzy,” Kitty protested. “You needn’t look so cross.”

Actually, it was a line from Milton’s Comus, but this fact would be lost on Kitty Bennet.

Elizabeth’s sisters soon took their leave. Darcy watched Elizabeth cross to the far side of the room and stand before the windows.

Emma Woodhouse, meanwhile, was frowning at the carpet. “I do not understand it,” Darcy heard her tell Miss Bates. “Mr. Collins’s interests were so clearly in another direction. Ah well, I have someone else in mind for her, at any rate.”

“You are always so clever, Miss Woodhouse,” said Miss Bates. “Christmastide, as we well know, is such a time for weddings and engagements. It is a wonderful time of year.”

Would his own engagement be included with the rest? Darcy turned a page of his newspaper.

“I take no credit for dear Jane and Mr. Bingley—that match was already well underway. But his sister?” Although Emma lowered her voice, Darcy could still hear. “An alliance with Mr. Darcy would be very nice; it would bring both families together. As you know, when our Isabella married John Knightley, it answered in every way.”

Darcy knew that he should excuse himself and go out, but Emma was bent on talking. He kept still behind his newspaper.

“My dear, dear Miss Woodhouse,” began Miss Bates, “far be it from me to raise an objection—of any kind. But Miss Bingley is not a soft-spoken sort of person, is she? And dear Mr. Darcy—”

“And Mr. Darcy is,” said Emma, interrupting. “Opposites attract! Now then,” she went on, “if we could only manage to keep Mr. Bertram at home of an evening, he and Elizabeth could get on. He is much too fond of card-playing.”

“As was dear Grandpapa,” lamented Miss Bates. “Although horse racing was his downfall—as it is with so many gentlemen.”

Darcy turned another page. Tom Bertram could go to the devil, for all he cared. He’d had enough of the man’s simpering ways and fashionable manners. But as the husband of Elizabeth? Preposterous!

“I dare say he will learn to outgrow it, although Mr. Knightley would probably disagree. He has the most old-fashioned notions as to character.” Emma hesitated for a moment. “But no, Elizabeth is too lovely and too charming to marry just anyone. She deserves to be the next Lady Bertram, and if I have my way, so shall she be.”

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About A Very Austen Christmas

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm

Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time.  Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile

It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis

On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite

When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

Check out the book on Amazon

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Giveaway

And the last (but not least) special treat I have for you is a giveaway for an ebook copy of A Very Austen Christmas, generously offered by the authors. To ensure the lucky winner has a chance to delve into this book before Christmas, this will be a quick giveaway, ending at Noon Eastern Time tomorrow, Saturday, December 23, 2017. To enter, please leave your email address in the comment, so the book can be sent to you right away. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received A Very Austen Christmas from the authors for review.

 

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Source: Review copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing

Jane died an unmarried woman, which in her day was something disastrous. In my current modern-day America, married or unmarried didn’t matter much. But to be unloved…that was disastrous, and I’d spent so much of my time being unloved that I knew something had to change if I wanted a different ending from the one my once-hero author had. I had to stop believing her.

(from Lies Jane Austen Told Me)

Julie Wright’s Lies Jane Austen Told Me is a contemporary romance told from the first person point of view of Emma Pierce, a California-based marketing executive for a growing gym/lifestyle company, who is looking for love but mostly married to her work. When a weekend at her boyfriend Blake’s family home ends in disaster before it even begins, Emma is forced to rely on the kindness of her now-ex’s brother, Lucas, to make her way back home. A stop in a shady neighborhood on the way to the train station so Lucas can take care of some business has her believing the worst about him and churns up sad memories of her childhood.

When Emma’s company unexpectedly hires Lucas as a consultant, she is forced to travel to the East Coast with him to scope out new locations, and it’s not long before they grow close. Their similar upbringings and their fierce determination help them forge a bond, but Emma can’t reconcile this side of Lucas with the man she first met — and she can’t understand why he keeps trying to get her to forgive his brother and give their relationship another try. It’s almost as if her life is a modern-day Austen novel, but Emma can’t forgive Jane for making her believe heroes like Mr. Darcy really exist when such lofty expectations have always left her brokenhearted.

Lies Jane Austen Told Me is a cute book that touches on some tough topics like abandonment, homelessness, and addiction, but there is more than enough romance and humor to keep it from feeling too heavy. I liked getting to know Emma through the first person narrative, watching her make mistakes and later learn from them, and I felt as much in suspense as she was to see how it all played out. It was easy to see Austen’s influence on the plot and characters, from the strong main characters to their misunderstandings to the friendship between Emma and Silvia, who serves as Emma’s sounding board throughout much of the novel. There was a place toward the end where it felt like the drama between Emma and the brothers was a little dragged out, but the pace soon picked up again and the ending more than made up for it. I enjoyed watching Emma figure things out and find her way back to Jane.

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Giveaway

Shadow Mountain Publishing is generously offering a paperback of Lies Jane Austen Told Me to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only and will close on Friday, December 22, 2017. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. I’d love to know what interests you most about this tale. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received Lies Jane Austen Told Me from Shadow Mountain Publishing for review.

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Source: Review copy from author

She’d been a little tempted to keep it herself, she had to admit. Indeed, she’d placed it on her shelf of beloved hardbacks just to see what it looked like. But wasn’t that the test of a really good gift? If it truly hurt you to give it away then you knew that it was a good present.

(from Christmas with the Book Lovers)

Christmas with the Book Lovers is the latest installment in Victoria Connelly’s series, The Book Lovers. It is set right after the first book, The Book Lovers, which introduced readers to the Nightingale family, which owns a trio of bookshops in the village of Castle Clare, and children’s book author Callie Logan, who moved from London to Owl Cottage in Newton St. Clare after her marriage ended and befriended Sam Nightingale, the owner of a secondhand bookshop and the founder of the village’s new book club.

In this novella, Callie is spending Christmas Eve with the Nightingale family at Campion House, and she is excited to experience the family tradition of reading ghost stories aloud, specifically those by M.R. James. Callie is intrigued by the family’s recollection of a first edition of a James book that Sam read from in the past and that his mother, Eleanor, swears is haunted. When eerie noises and shadows outside begin to make the family anxious, Callie second-guesses her gift for Sam.

So far I’ve loved every book in this series, and Christmas with the Book Lovers is no exception. This book is perfect for the weeks between Halloween and Christmas, merging spooky stories with yuletide traditions. I loved the idea of a haunted book, and with the entire Nightingale family present for the evening, there was enough banter and anxiety to keep me on the edge of my seat. As with every book in the series, Connelly makes the Nightingale family come alive, and I was envious of Callie because she got to be a part of the family and share in their traditions.

Christmas with the Book Lovers is a short and sweet tale that would be best enjoyed with a hot drink, a warm blanket, darkness outside, and the twinkle of Christmas lights inside. It’s a stellar addition to the series and one I would definitely re-read during the holiday season. I can’t wait to see where Connelly takes these characters next!

Disclosure: I received Christmas with the Book Lovers from the author for review.

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Source: Review copy from editor

Editor Christina Boyd and her team of Austenesque authors have done it again with her latest anthology, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. I absolutely loved The Darcy Monologues, so when I heard about this collection, I knew I had to read it, and it lived up to my expectations and more. I love to read about the bad boys in Austen’s novels because they make things more exciting, and I have often wondered what led them astray. The 11 stories in this anthology cover all of Austen’s infamous bad boys and anti-heroes, and while I enjoyed each story on its own, reading them together was even more delicious.

The collection features: “Willoughby’s Crossroads” (John Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility) by Joana Starnes; “A Wicked Game” (George Wickham, Pride and Prejudice) by Katie Oliver; “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” (Colonel Fitzwilliam, Pride and Prejudice) by Beau North; “The Address of a Frenchwoman” (Thomas Bertram, Mansfield Park) by Lona Manning; “Last Letter to Mansfield” (Henry Crawford, Mansfield Park) by Brooke West; “An Honest Man” (Frank Churchill, Emma) by Karen M Cox; “One Fair Claim” (Sir Walter Elliot, Persuasion) by Christina Morland; “The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot” (William Elliot, Persuasion) by Jenetta James; “As Much as He Can” (General Tilney, Northanger Abbey) by Sophia Rose; “The Art of Sinking” (John Thorpe, Northanger Abbey) by J. Marie Croft; “For Mischief’s Sake” (Captain Frederick Tilney, Northanger Abbey) by Amy D’Orazio

It should come as no surprise that my favorite of all the stories was “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” by Beau North because I am a sucker for a good story about the colonel. The agreement he makes with an American heiress shunned by ton was clever, and I loved the bit of action and even getting a glimpse of Mr. Darcy after his failed proposal at Hunsford. I enjoyed the glimpse of the obnoxiously vain Sir Walter Elliot and how he went about choosing a bride in “One Fair Claim,” and he was just as delightfully silly in his youth. But what surprised me is the ability of these authors to make me feel some compassion for the characters I love to hate, like the heartache experienced by George Wickham and Tom Bertram in their stories, which emphasized the complexity of Austen’s characters. Still others will never change, but I felt like I understood their motivations a bit more.

Dangerous to Know is a must-read for those looking for something new in the realm of Austen-inspired fiction. Some of the stories were steamy and passionate, some were more humorous, but all of them make you take another, deeper look at Austen’s rakes and rogues and make you feel something more than contempt.

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About Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

“One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” —Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there’s more than one side to their stories.

It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms … a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: “He is a cad—a brute—all wrong!” But is that not how tender hearts are broken…by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen’s anti-heroes.

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories—a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.

What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily…but heaven help us if we marry one.

Check out Dangerous to Know on Goodreads | Amazon (the ebook is promo priced at $2.99 for the duration of the blog tour, so don’t miss out on that!)

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About the Editor

CHRISTINA BOYD https://m.facebook.com/TheDarcyMonologues/ wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner, The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a commercial ceramicist. A life member of Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England was made possible by actor Henry Cavill when she won the Omaze experience to meet him in the spring of 2017 on the London Eye. True story. You can Google it.

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About the Authors

KAREN M COX https://karenmcoxauthor.wordpress.com/ is an award-wining author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book, as well as an e-book novella companion to 1932, The Journey Home. She also contributed short stories for the anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and The Darcy Monologues. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

J. MARIE CROFT https://www.amazon.com/J.-Marie-Croft/e/B004HZD22W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1508353662&sr=1-1 is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories: “Spyglasses and Sunburns” in the Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology and “From the Ashes” in The Darcy Monologues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

AMY D’ORAZIO https://www.facebook.com/Amy-DOrazio-author-369312830172988/ is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios. She firmly believes 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. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and the soon-to-be released A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.

JENETTA JAMES https://www.facebook.com/jenettajameswriter/ is a mother, lawyer, writer, 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 is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers, as well as a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues.

LONA MANNING https://www.amazon.com/Lona-Manning/e/B01N7UJHJX is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at http://www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at http://www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.

CHRISTINA MORLAND https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Morland/e/B01IJHEZKQ spent the first two decades of her life with no knowledge whatsoever of Pride and Prejudice—or any Jane Austen novel, for that matter. She somehow overcame this childhood adversity to became a devoted fan of Austen’s works. When not writing, Morland tries to keep up with her incredibly active seven-year-old and maddeningly brilliant husband. She lives in a place not unlike Hogwarts (minus Harry, Dumbledore, magic, and Scotland), and likes to think of herself as an excellent walker. Morland is the author of two Jane Austen fanfiction novels: A Remedy Against Sin and This Disconcerting Happiness.

BEAU NORTH http://beaunorthwrites.com/#top is the author of three books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau hails from the kudzu-strangled wilderness of South Carolina but now hangs her hat in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen On-Screen.

KATIE OLIVER https://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon bestseller Prada and Prejudice, as well as the Dating Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and Jane Austen Factor series. She resides in South Florida with her husband (where she goes to the beach far less often than she’d like) and is working on a new series. Katie began writing as a child and has a box crammed with half-finished stories to prove it. After raising two sons, she decided to get serious and get published.

She is convinced that there is no greater pleasure than reading a Jane Austen novel.

SOPHIA ROSE https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13418187.Sophia_Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and Then Comes Winter anthologies, short stories based on Jane Austen’s works. Sophia’s love for writing began as a teen writing humorous stories submitted for Creative Writing class and high school writing club. Writing was set aside for many years while Sophia enjoyed a rewarding career working with children and families. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity for a return to writing stories that continue to lean toward the lighter side of life and always end with a happily-ever-after.

JOANA STARNES https://www.facebook.com/joana.a.starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is one of the contributors to The Darcy Monologues anthology, and the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward—The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion and Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. You can connect with Joana through her website http://www.joanastarnes.co.uk and on Facebook via her timeline and her author page, All Roads Lead to Pemberley.  

BROOKE WEST https://www.facebook.com/brookewestwrites/ has always loved the bad boys of literature and thinks the best leading men have the darkest pasts. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape,” which appears in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Find Brooke on Twitter @WordyWest.

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Giveaway #1

Enter Rafflecopter to win fifteen (15) books from the anthology authors! One winner. Fifteen books! Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #1 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link.

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Giveaway #2

Follow our “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s #RakesAndGentlemenRogues” Blog Tour and comment on each stop to be eligible for #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures prize pack: ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle; Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel); Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards; and ‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.) Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #2 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.

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THE #RakesAndGentlemenRogues BLOG TOUR

💗Monday, November 6: REVIEW: Margie’s Must Reads, https://margiesmustreads.com

💗Thursday, November 9: REVIEW, Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

💗Monday, November 13: REVIEW, Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

💗Tuesday, November 14: REVIEW, Olga of ROSIE AMBER team, http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/

💗Wednesday, November 15: (release day) REVIEW, Just Jane 1813, http://justjane1813.com

💗Thursday, November 16: REVIEW, Diary of an Eccentric, https://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com

🎩Monday, November 20: FEATURE w/Katie Oliver (George Wickham), From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

🎩Wednesday, November 22: FEATURE w/Joana Starnes (Willoughby), Babblings of a Bookworm, http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com

🎩Friday, November 24: FEATURE w/Sophia Rose, (General Tilney), Herding Cats & Burning Soup, http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com

🎩Monday, November 27: FEATURE w/Amy D’Orazio (Captain Tilney), My Jane Austen Book Club, http://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com

🎩Wednesday, November 29: FEATURE w/Brooke West (Henry Crawford), VVB32 Reads, https://vvb32reads.blogspot.com

🎩Thursday, November 30: FEATURE w/Lona Manning (Tom Bertram), Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

💗Friday, December 1: REVIEW, Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

🎩Monday, December 4: FEATURE w/Beau North  (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

🎩Thursday, December 7: FEATURE w/J. Marie Croft (John Thorpe), Harry Rodell blog/ROSIE AMBER team, https://harryrodell.wordpress.com/author/rodellh

💗Friday, December 8: REVIEW, From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

🎩Monday, December 11: FEATURE w/Jenetta James (William Elliot), Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

🎩Thursday, December 14: FEATURE w/Karen M Cox (Frank Churchill), Darcyholic Diversions, http://darcyholic.blogspot.com

🎩Monday, December 17: FEATURE w/Christina Morland (Sir Walter Elliot), Of Pens & Pages, http://www.ofpensandpages.com

Disclosure: I received Dangerous to Know from the editor for review.

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