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Source: Purchased

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 April 1811, All Fool’s Day

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

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

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

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About A Very Merry Mix-Up

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

Buy A Very Merry Mix-Up on Amazon

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About the Author

Jennifer Redlarczyk

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

Jennifer Redlarczyk (Jen Red) ♫

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Giveaway

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

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

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Source: Review copy from author

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

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

(from Katwalk)

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

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

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

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

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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:

Source: Purchased

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!

Source: Purchased

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!

Source: Kindle freebie

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.

Source: Kindle freebie

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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Source: Review copy from author

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!

Source: Purchased

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.

Source: Purchased

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.

Source: Kindle freebie

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.

Source: Public library

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.

Source: Purchased

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.

Source: Kindle freebie

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!

Source: Purchased

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:

Source: Purchased

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.

Source: Purchased

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.

****

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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