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I am beyond excited to be part of the cover reveal event and blog tour for a book I am absolutely dying to read: The Darcy Monologues, a short story anthology edited by Christina Boyd, slated for release on May 22.

I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer, so here is the fantastic cover, designed by Shari Ryan of MatHat Books:

Here’s what the editor, Christina Boyd, has to say about the cover:

The amazing cover art is the genius of Shari Ryan of MadHat Books. She took the cover concept and created exactly as I envisioned. Shari professionally, quickly, and concisely handled my countless questions, suggestions, and “just one more tweak” in the challenging format of the print interior—even had a special script code written to make it happen. And then when the original concept had to be scrapped because of the print-on-demand company’s limitations that were beyond our control (long, convoluted story only to be shared over strong cocktails), Shari AGAIN created the present cover and interior for both print and e-book. I could not recommend her expertise more!

Furthermore, you might have seen graphics on social media advertising the individual short stories. These were created by one of the anthology’s authors, the very talented Beau North! And it’s a snippet from her story that I am delighted to share with you today:

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About The Darcy Monologues

“You must allow me to tell you…”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues,” the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Pre-order The Darcy Monologues on Amazon

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About the Authors

Formally trained as a fine artist and illustrator, Susan Adriani discovered her passion for storytelling over a decade after she graduated from a local art college near her childhood home in New England. Susan is the author of The Truth about Mr. Darcy and Darkness Falls upon Pemberley.

Sara Angelini is a lawyer living in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, three kids, two dogs, a frog, some fish, and a few hundred stick bugs. She never went to veterinary school but if she had, she would have been a true proficient. She enjoys writing from Darcy’s point of view in a way that shows his humor and vulnerability. Her first book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, was published in 2008. She is the co-founder of www.austenunderground.com, where her other Pride and Prejudice-inspired works can be read.

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. 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.

Marie Croft is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.’ Bearing witness to her fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are Joanne’s light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight, a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014, her humorous short story, “Spyglasses and Sunburns,” in the Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology, and a playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities, Just Jane 1813’s Favorite JAFF Novella of 2016.

Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of four Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, and A Peculiar Connection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of gorgeous grandchildren.

Jenetta James 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.

Lory Lilian fell in love with Pride and Prejudice thirty-three years ago and discovered the charm of Jane Austen fanfiction exactly twenty years later. She lives in Bucharest, Romania, is a proud mother of an amazing daughter, and addicted to anything Austen. After a career in business, she dedicates her time to reading and writing. Lory is the author of six bestselling books: Rainy Days, Remembrances of the Past, His Uncle’s Favorite, The Perfect Match, Sketching Mr. Darcy, The Rainbow Promise, and A Man with Faults. JAFF readers call her the “Queen of Hot Mush” and she loves it.

KaraLynne Mackrory is no newbie to the writing world. She made her debut as an author at the tender age of 13 when she wrote her first set of bad poetry. As a young adult, she steered clear of bad prose and achieved a degree in social work. Years later, she has published four Austen inspired novels so full of romantic sensibilities as to give you a swoon and hopefully a few laughs. Her books turned out better than her poetry and are: Falling for Mr. Darcy, Bluebells in the Mourning, the IPPY award-winning Haunting Mr. Darcy, and Yours Forevermore, Darcy.

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with literature. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen Onscreen.

Mild-mannered business woman by day, hopeless romantic by night, Ruth Phillips Oakland was always a fan of the fictional gentleman from Derbyshire, but it was her discovery of Jane Austen fanfiction in 2006 that inspired Ruth to become a writer. Ruth has written dozens of short stories posted online and the published novel entitled, My BFF. Ruth lives in New England with her favorite husband of over thirty years and is thrilled to be included in this anthology with so many of her favorite authors and friends.

Natalie Richards is a writer, blogger, and singer. She started her book review blog, Songs & Stories, in late 2010 after falling in love with Jane Austen fanfiction. Her writing can also be found on Figment, the Darcy & Lizzy Forum, TeenInk Magazine, and in the Austenesque anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter. She resides with her family in the Oregon countryside and currently works as a waitress and babysitter.

Sophia Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter anthologies. 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 while Sophia pursued degrees and certificates in education, special education, family history, and social work leading to a rewarding career. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity to read, beta, and review books, and return to writing stories that lean toward the humorous side and always end with a happily ever after.

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives in Canada with her husband and four kids. She is the author of SWAY, a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and the short story “Becoming Fanny” featured in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Her second novel, Collide, inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, is coming soon. You can find her at melaniestanfordbooks.com, on Twitter @MelMStanford, and on Facebook @ MelanieStanfordauthor.

Joana 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 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 All Roads Lead to Pemberley.

Caitlin Williams is an award-winning author of two novels, Ardently and the best-selling The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, both of which spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist and proprietor of Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the 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 her book boyfriend and star crush Henry Cavill when she won a trip to meet him on the London Eye in the spring of 2017.

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Giveaways

There are two giveaways, both open internationally, for two separate winners.

For the first giveaway, one winner will be selected to win a Kindle Fire with Alexa, and a 7” display.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017. To enter this Rafflecopter giveaway, click here.

For the second giveaway, one winner will be selected to win a $25.00 Etsy gift card.

To enter this giveaway, readers will create a Pinterest Board named The Darcy Monologues and post all fifteen story images from the cover reveals, one per each author included in the anthology, and Tweet the board on Twitter. The Tweet must include the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

Good luck!

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Cover Reveal Participants

My Love for Jane Austen
Margie’s Must Reads
My Jane Austen Book Club
Austenesque Reviews
Of Pens and Pages
More Agreeably Engaged
So Little Time
Diary of an Eccentric
Book Lover in Florida
My Vices and Weaknesses
Savvy Verse & Wit
Every Savage Can Dance
Obsessed with Mr Darcy
Polished and Bubbly
The Reading Frenzy
Just Jane 1813
From Pemberley to Milton

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April 3/My Jane Austen Book Club / Launch Post & Giveaway
April 10/Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
April 17/The Reading Frenzy / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 20/My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 24/Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway
May 1/From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
May 8/Just Jane 1813 / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 15/Austenesque Reviews / Book Review & Giveaway
May 22/Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
May 25/Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
May 29/More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
June 5/So Little Time / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 12/Diary of an Eccentric/ Book Review & Giveaway
June 19/Book Lover in Florida / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 26/My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
July 3/Savvy Verse & Wit / Book Review & Giveaway

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

It was too late to make any improvements as a lover, but he could improve himself as a brother, and as a man. He could become a man who would have been worthy of Elizabeth. There might not be any promise of happiness in that, but there would be satisfaction, at least, in correcting his ways, in better doing his duty. That was all he had to live for, now.

(from Mistress)

Sophie Turner’s newest novel, Mistress, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Mr. Bennet dies of a heart attack the morning after the Netherfield ball and Elizabeth does what she is expected to do to save her family: marry Mr. Collins. When news of Mr. Bennet’s death reaches London, Mr. Bingley rushes back to Longbourn to be with Jane, severing ties with Mr. Darcy upon learning of the scheme with his sister to keep him and the eldest Bennet daughter apart. Upon learning of Elizabeth’s marriage, Darcy is devastated and vows to change his proud and arrogant ways.

Fast forward three years, and Elizabeth is a widow just out of mourning. She and Darcy are reacquainted at Netherfield during a house party thrown by the Bingleys. Darcy’s love for Elizabeth is just as strong as it was the last time he saw her, and Elizabeth notices right away that Darcy is a changed man. However, Elizabeth’s marriage was more than simply unhappy, and she is haunted by the horrible memories, so much so that she has vowed never to marry again. Can Darcy convince Elizabeth that everything about marriage is better with someone who loves and respect you?

Mistress was a thoroughly enjoyable novel from start to finish. My heart hurt for both Elizabeth and Darcy, but I loved watching them reconnect as people who had been through so much, understand pain and longing, and desire to look toward the future. How they go about that was very well done; Turner made it feel true to the characters and their current situation. There were several very detailed, steamy scenes, but they were crucial to the plot and well written. Aside from Elizabeth and Darcy’s story, I enjoyed the heart-to-heart conversations between Elizabeth and Jane and the changes to their younger sisters. I also loved that Bingley was a stronger character in this variation, and his desire to protect Elizabeth was admirable. Most of all, I loved seeing Elizabeth taking charge of Longbourn — and of her fate. This was my first time reading a Pride and Prejudice variation by Turner, but it won’t be the last!

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About Mistress

One night, to decide his entire life’s happiness.

Chastened by Charles Bingley following Mr. Bennet’s untimely death, Fitzwilliam Darcy determines he will offer marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, but she marries another.

Years later, a widowed Elizabeth is mistress of Longbourn, and has vowed she will never marry again. A house party at Netherfield brings them back together, but Darcy will have to win more than her heart if he is to have any chance at making her mistress of Pemberley.

Readers of Sophie Turner’s more chaste Constant Love series should be aware that this novel contains decidedly adult content at certain parts of the story.

Check out Mistress on GoodreadsAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Check out the Spotify playlist for Mistress

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About the Author

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.

She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.

Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.

She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon.

Connect with Sophie on Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

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Giveaway

Sophie is generously offering two ebook copies of Mistress to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let me know what intrigues you most about this book. This giveaway will close on Friday, March 31, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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March 18/My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
March 19/Of Pens & Pages/Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway
March 20/Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review & Giveaway
March 21/More Agreeably Engaged/Author Spotlight & Giveaway
March 22/A Lady’s Imagination/Guest Post & Giveaway
March 23/Just Jane 1813/Guest Post & Giveaway
March 24/Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
March 25/My Love for Jane Austen/Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 26/My Vices and Weaknesses/Book Review & Giveaway
March 27/So Little Time…/Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 28/Babblings of a Bookworm/Guest Post & Giveaway
March 29/From Pemberley to Milton/Vignette Post & Giveaway

Disclosure: I received Mistress from the author for review.

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

Caroline is the first book in a series of Pride and Prejudice sequels by Sue Barr, opening when Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley go back to Hertfordshire to propose to Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. Caroline Bingley is angry and distraught when she learns of Mr. Darcy’s engagement to the “country miss” Elizabeth Bennet, as she’d spent the last few years trying to grab his attention in her quest to marry into high society. Meanwhile, Lord Nathan Kerr, Mr. Darcy’s new vicar, is instantly captivated by Caroline but understands that, in her current frame of mind, she is not a suitable match for him.

Unaware of Lord Nathan’s humble lifestyle in Kympton, Caroline is infuriated by his judgmental comments. She knows that Mr. Darcy is lost to her forever and that she must forge a new path for herself, but Lord Nathan can’t help lashing out at her for her marital aspirations. Yet neither can deny the growing passion between them, nor can they deny that they both need to do some serious soul searching before they can find inner peace.

I really enjoyed Barr’s take on Caroline, from her temper tantrums to her memories of her grandmamma — and the advice she soon realizes she must take to heart. I also loved Lord Nathan, the reformed rake who still struggles with his memories of the war and the behavior he put behind him when he took orders. I thought he was pretty harsh to Caroline, but getting to see things through his point of view made me understand him better. It was entertaining to see their evolution over the course of this short novel. I was so wrapped up in their troubles that I didn’t mind the quick character development or that Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley/Jane take a backseat as their wedding preparations are underway.

Barr does a good job handling the Christian elements of the novel, from the Scripture passages Caroline remembers from her grandmamma to Lord Nathan’s prayers and counseling. It made sense given Lord Nathan’s occupation, and it wasn’t too heavy-handed. The only minor quibble I had with the book is that the ending seemed too convenient given the character development throughout the novel.

Overall, Caroline is a strong start to the series, and readers will be happy that there isn’t a cliffhanger ending. I was thrilled to see a description for Book Two at the end of Book One, and I cannot wait to read the next volume!

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About Caroline

Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and unrequited love interest married a Bennet sister? Join me in this story of redemptive love and the healing of broken dreams.

Caroline Bingley, beyond frustrated with her brother, Charles and Mr. Darcy both proposing to the Bennet sisters, dreads their upcoming nuptials. For three years, her sole focus has been on attaining a marriage proposal from one Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, only to be foiled by a country miss with ‘fine eyes’.  Adrift and not sure of her place in life, she meets the mysterious and devastatingly handsome Lord Nathan, who equally vexes and intrigues her.

Lord Nathan Kerr, third in line to a Dukedom, had a well-earned reputation as a Rake. He cast all that and his noble title aside to become Mr. Darcy’s vicar in Kympton, finding contentment in leading his small flock and doing the Lord’s work. His plan for a quiet, country life is thrown into upheaval when he meets the fiery Miss Bingley. Can he reconcile his rising desire for the spoiled miss with how a vicar’s wife ‘should’ behave?

Check out Caroline on Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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About the Author

Sue Barr

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three…in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady-in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers.

For more information about her other books, visit her website.

Connect with Sue via Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Blog

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Giveaway

Sue Barr is generously offering paperback copies of Caroline and a Jane Austen Journal to three winners, and ebook copies of Caroline to three separate winners. Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. This giveaway is open internationally. Good luck!

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March 12/My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway

March 13/From Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Excerpt & Giveaway

March 14/More Agreeably Engaged/Author Spotlight & Giveaway

March 16/Just Jane 1813/Guest Post & Giveaway

March 17/Babblings of a Bookworm/Vignette Post & Giveaway

March 18/My Love for Jane Austen/Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 19/Margie’s Must ReadsExcerpt Post & Giveaway

March 20/Austenesque Reviews/Guest Post & Giveaway

March 21/My Vices and Weaknesses/Book Review & Giveaway

March 22/Savvy Verse & Wit/Guest Post & Giveaway

March 23/Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway

March 24/So Little Time…/Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 25/Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/Book Review & Giveaway

March 26/Of Pens & Pages/Book Review & Giveaway

Disclosure: I received Caroline from the author for review.

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I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Joy to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth. I will be reviewing it here soon, along with the first book in the Meryton Mystery series, The Honorable Mr. Darcy. (These are standalone novels.) Jennifer is here with an excerpt from The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth and a very generous giveaway! I hope you all enjoy the excerpt as much as I did, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. I am eager to read the book in its entirety!

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An excerpt from The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth, courtesy of Jennifer Joy

Entering the room, Darcy saw the two standing three paces away from each other. Aunt Catherine clutched the sharp-tipped cane she used more to make a statement than for the stability it offered. Tanner’s feet stood hip-width apart, his thick arms crossed firmly over his large chest forming an impenetrable wall against which Aunt’s pointy arrows bounced off. He was clearly unimpressed. Darcy needed to interfere before Tanner suggested she sleep at the stables with the other mules.

Neither of them turned their heads to look at him and Richard as they entered the parlor. Anne sat in a chair by the fireplace massaging her temples while Mrs. Jenkinson fanned her and patted her arm reassuringly. Anne looked dreadfully pale despite the heat from the fire.

“Aunt Catherine, you must allow Mr. Tanner to see Anne to a room. She must be fatigued after your journey,” Darcy said, forgoing greetings and pleasantries when his cousin was in obvious need of assistance.

Tanner’s lips tightened. “That is exactly what I have been trying to convince Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Rosings Park in Kent to allow me to do.” He enunciated every syllable of her name, making it clear he knew precisely who she was. “Mrs. Molly already has a suitable room ready if only her ladyship would agree to it. I have offered to send for the apothecary, but she has refused that too.”

“Darcy! You must order this man to give me the best room in his inn. I will settle for nothing less.”

Mrs. Jenkinson dared approach Aunt Catherine, saying, “Pardon me, Lady Catherine, but Miss de Bourgh should rest.” The softness of her voice was in direct contrast to the intensity of her stare.

Aunt Catherine’s pulse throbbed at her temples, but she nodded her head. Mrs. Jenkinson led Anne out of the room and Darcy heard Mrs. Molly speak with them as the stairs creaked under the footsteps.

Richard broke the tense silence with exaggerated cheer. “Good afternoon, Aunt Catherine. How pleasant it is to see you here. To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”

How he could smile at a moment such as this was incomprehensible to Darcy. Tanner looked like he would strangle Aunt Catherine if he uncrossed his arms. Aunt Catherine looked capable of poking Tanner with her pointy cane.

“You are grinning like a fool, Fitzwilliam. It does not suit you. Or have the residents of Hertfordshire ruined you too?”

Here it came.

“You wish to know the purpose of my visit?” Aunt Catherine turned her glare away from Tanner and Richard to focus on him. Great.

Darcy took a deep breath and steadied himself.

“I am here to discredit certain rumors about my nephew forming an attachment to a young lady of inferior birth. What have you to say about that, Darcy?”

There it was. The accusation that Elizabeth was unworthy of their family. He had thought he was prepared to hear it, but his blood boiled with more anger than he had imagined himself capable of. He closed the distance between himself and his aunt, looking down at her from his superior height. He was unafraid of her and her sharp cane.

He felt Tanner’s hand grasp his shoulder. Darcy was wound up as tight as a carriage spring and his immediate reaction was to lash out against his brother who dared restrain him, but he controlled himself. He looked at Tanner, who met his level gaze and squeezed his shoulder as if to remind him not to lose his temper. Fine advice from one who was so often provoked.

Darcy felt Richard move to his other side. Another reminder to hold his temper. Darcy took a deep breath and cleared his focus.

He would do nothing to satisfy Aunt Catherine’s curiosity until he first got the information he required. It was a much more humane — and far more effective — way of frustrating her. “Who is the source of this rumor?”

“You confirm it is merely a rumor?” she snapped.

He would not make it so easy on her. “I neither confirm nor refute it. Who is the source of the rumor?” he repeated.

“Mr. Collins.” She offered nothing more.

“What did he tell you?”

“He seemed to think I would be pleased at the news of your attachment to one of his country cousins … one Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Is her uncle not in trade and her father’s estate in a state of disrepair?”

Mr. Collins. Darcy should have known. The clergyman meant well, but he did not know when his assistance was unwanted nor when to keep his mouth shut.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman and, as such, she is my equal.”

Aunt Catherine gasped. “You dare compare your elevated station to one so insignificant, her name is unknown amongst the beau monde?”

“You would regard her as insignificant because she is not recognized in society? Of what use has society been to us?”

Society could hang itself for all the value Darcy placed upon it. Aunt Catherine lived in constant fear of becoming the brunt of its malicious gossip, and his mother had accepted the dalliances of his father because society had taught her to look the other way while pretending to be the adoring wife. It had killed her. And how did society reward its handiwork? His father had died miserable and friendless.

No, Darcy cared not for what society thought of him nor Elizabeth. The fact that she refused to be impressed or intimidated by those who would look down on her only served to reaffirm his decision to make her his wife. As soon as he could convince her to have him. There was that small detail … though his patience grew thinner by the second.

“You dare defy society when you were born into it? Your position in the first circles demands the consideration of your peers.” Aunt Catherine’s lips pinched together so tightly, they were rimmed in white.

“I will choose what is best for me and those for whom I am responsible. It is my decision and mine alone. I will permit nobody authority over me when I am able to make up my own mind.”

“And is that what you have done? Have you chosen to forsake your own cousin and bring reproach on the Darcy name by marrying a nobody?”

He would bring no more reproach— not even close— than what his own father had brought on the Darcy name.

“I cannot forsake Anne when I have given her no promise —” he stopped, the words choking in his throat when Mrs. Molly rushed into the room with a complexion the color of his aunt’s powdered hair.

The rim of Mrs. Molly’s cap trembled. Looking anxiously between Tanner and Aunt Catherine, she said, “Please, Miss de Bourgh is …” She wrung her apron in her hands, looking down at the floor.

Tanner stepped forward, reaching out for her. “She is what? Calm yourself and speak plainly, Mrs. Molly.”

Aunt Catherine’s cheeks had lost all color. She stood frozen in her haughty posture in defiance of bad news.

Mrs. Molly looked up, her eyes shut like a child believing herself to be invisible so long as she saw no one. “Miss de Bourgh has suffered an —”

“Enough!” interrupted Aunt Catherine. “I will see to my daughter. No doubt, she was overly fatigued from our journey and merely needs a dose of tonic from our family doctor. There is no need for talk, do you understand?” She eyed Mrs. Molly with a stony glare until the nervous housekeeper cracked her eyes open.

And then Aunt Catherine did something Darcy had never known her to do. She pulled out some coins and handed them to Mrs. Molly.

“For your silence,” she said as she marched out of the room. When Mrs. Molly followed her, Aunt Catherine astonished them further by refusing her assistance and ascending the stairs alone.

Tanner moved a chair over to Mrs. Molly, who looked like she might collapse at the slightest provocation. She slumped into it and rubbed her free hand over her face, shaking her head back and forth. Finally, after some time, she straightened her spine and, with a firm nod, she held out the coins for Darcy to take.

“I cannot accept these, sir. I understand her ladyship’s reason for giving them to me, but I am now well aware it is not merely her daughter’s future at stake, it is yours as well. My conscience will not allow me to remain silent when you should know what I just saw.”

Darcy’s pulse hammered in his head. She spoke as if her news could adversely affect his future. It must be horrible news for Aunt Catherine to separate from her precious coin to hide whatever it was she wished to bury.

“Very well, but I insist you keep the coin.”

“I cannot, Mr. Darcy.”

“You cannot return it to Lady Catherine. So long as what you have to tell me remains a secret within these walls, I see no reason why you cannot dispose of the coin for the benefit of another and thus appease your conscience.”

The trimming on the front of her cap bobbed up and down as she nodded enthusiastically. “Mrs. Thorne will use it to assist a family in need. She is a good woman.” Mrs. Molly took a deep breath. “I pity your aunt, as will you, once you understand why she insists you marry her daughter.”

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About The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth (A Meryton Mystery Book 2)

Two determined women. One murder. No eyewitnesses.

Lady Catherine has come to Meryton.

When a devastating secret is revealed, putting Elizabeth Bennet’s future happiness and the loyalty of the man she loves in the balance, her hopes for a Happily-Ever-After are dashed to pieces. Threats are made and family obligations are enforced, leading to an event no one could foresee. Another murder in Meryton.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is more determined than ever to win Elizabeth’s love— no matter what obstacles their families place between them. When a matron is found murdered in the midst of a militia parade, he soon discovers the strength of the woman’s enemies… and their closeness to Elizabeth. Can Darcy protect her when she is determined to bring the murderer to justice?

With a killer on the loose and their hearts on the line, can Darcy and Elizabeth work together to solve another mystery while fighting for each other? Or will the pressure break them apart forever?

Check out The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth on Goodreads | Amazon

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About The Honorable Mr. Darcy (A Meryton Mystery Book 1)

Everyone has a secret. Who will kill to keep theirs?

Lieutenant George Wickham is dead.

The shot rings out in Wickham’s tent as the good citizens of Meryton dance the night away at Mr. Bingley’s Netherfield ball. The only person who can confirm Fitzwilliam Darcy’s alibi faces the loss of her reputation and her freedom if she comes forward.

Convinced that her sole motive is the pursuit of justice— and not her growing attraction to Mr. Darcy— Elizabeth Bennet begins an investigation to clear his name and evade an unwanted marriage.

If Darcy didn’t shoot Wickham in cold blood, who did? Which of Longbourn’s neighbors is not who they seem?

With a killer on the loose, can Elizabeth avoid being the next victim as she comes closer to revealing the truth?

Check out The Honorable Mr. Darcy on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Jennifer Joy

When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite Jane Austen characters, she is learning Sign language, reading, baking (Cake really is her one weakness!), or chasing her twins around the park (because … calories).

Her wish is to continue to write sweet romances and mysteries with happy endings for years to come.

While she claims Oregon as her home, she currently lives high in the Andes mountains of Ecuador with her husband and two kids. All of them are fluent in Spanglish.

Right now, Jennifer is imagining how a courtship with such a turbulent beginning can possibly lead to a smooth Happily-Ever-After for Darcy and Elizabeth. She senses there’s more trouble to come and promises to keep a detailed account of events (because, let’s face it, it makes for fun reading!).

Connect with Jennifer Joy via Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

***Subscribers to Jennifer’s Historical Romance newsletter will receive access to a BONUS scene involving Lady Catherine and an important character in The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth!***

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Giveaway

Jennifer is generously offering 4 ebook copies of The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth and 2 audiobooks of The Honorable Mr. Darcy. To enter, please leave a comment about what intrigues you most from the excerpt. Please leave your email address and indicate which book you would prefer to win. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 26, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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My guest today is Kyra C. Kramer, who is visiting Diary of an Eccentric with an exclusive video guest post to celebrate the release of her new novel, Mansfield Parsonage, a variation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. In the video, Kyra talks about Mansfield Parsonage and why Mary Crawford is arguably the most interesting and likeable character in Austen’s novel. Please give a warm welcome to Kyra C. Kramer:

Thanks, Kyra! What an interesting take on Mansfield Park! I’m definitely looking forward to reading Mansfield Parsonage.

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About Mansfield Parsonage

mansfield_parsonage

Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

“This book captures Austen’s voice with a fascinating point of view.” – Maria Grace, Author of “Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World”

“Kyra Kramer delights with her cheeky take on one of Austen’s most misunderstood characters. Through sharp observation and a talent for turn of phrase, Kramer polishes Mary Crawford into the bright jewel she truly is. By the end, you’ll be wondering why the original wasn’t written from her perspective all along. This is Regency Era at its finest. Mansfield Parsonage, a true source of felicity!” – Adrienne Dillard, Author of “Cor Rotto”

Check out Mansfield Parsonage on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but this is her first foray into fictional writing.

Connect with Kyra C. Kramer via website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

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Giveaway

MadeGlobal Publishing is generously offering a hard copy of Mansfield Parsonage to my readers. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and answer the question Kyra poses in her video post: are you pro-Mary or pro-Fanny/Edmund? This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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mansfield_parsonage_book_tour_poster

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snowbound-at-hartfield-ebookI’m excited to have Maria Grace as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric again today, this time to celebrate the release of her novella, Snowbound at Hartfield (click to read my review). Because Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Emma are my favorites of Austen’s novels, I was curious as to what inspired Maria to merge these stories, and she has been kind enough to talk about that and the challenges of getting the principal characters together. Please give a warm welcome to Maria Grace:

By all accounts,  Snowbound at Hartfield is a bit of an odd duck. It is an Austen mash-up of three different books, a romance about second chances and a glimpse at the difficult reality single adults, men and women, faced in the regency era. Kind of a tall order under the best of circumstances.

But no one has ever accused me of doing things the easy way.

Ever.

The idea for Snowbound came out of a March Mash-up Madness theme we had last year at Austen Variations. (Shameless plug—we’re doing it again next month! Go by the Facebook group and leave us your suggestion! You never know…) One of our readers suggested a scene between some of the Austen fathers. It seemed to me like Mr. Bennet would find Mr. Woodhouse and Sir Walter Elliot particularly good fodder for his sense of humor.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get them all in the same place at the same time, given that neither Mr. Woodhouse nor Mr. Bennet was fond of travel. Add in the baronet we’d all like to strangle, and it was quite a pickle to get them all in a room together. Since they would not be likely to socialize together, getting stuck together because of bad weather seemed to be the best excuse available and fitting the time period.

It all took an interesting turn when the characters ended up in the drawing room together. I started out writing a scene about the fathers. But midway through that scene, two secondary characters stepped up and informed me that this was their story and it was not going to be over in a single scene. In fact, I tried to end the story twice before I actually got to the end the characters demanded. They were very insistent that I get them to the end they wanted. The oddest thing about it was that it was a heroine I NEVER expected to write.

In general, I have never liked Miss Elizabeth Elliot, especially since I see myself something of an Anne Elliot. So I definitely didn’t want to write her or set her up for a happy ending.

But, I guess I’m a sucker for characters who want to turn over a new leaf (like Lydia in The Trouble to Check Her).  The story begins after Miss Elliot has suffered two very difficult experiences. First, the heir presumptive of the family, William Elliot, has taken her friend, Penelope Clay, ‘under his protections’–which is to say he has made her his mistress. Worse yet, Penelope is living in his house, which was just not done. All this happened while Elizabeth was expecting an offer of marriage from him. Talk about humiliation!

On top of that, her younger sister Anne is married to the very desirable Captain Wentworth, leaving Elizabeth, the eldest sister who should have been the first to marry, the only one left unmarried.

So, Elizabeth is an humiliated spinster, whose financial situation requires her to live with her foolish father. In such a situation, she would be the mistress of the house, handling the management aspect of this home. With little money to work with, it would have been very challenging to live the lifestyle of a baronet, as her father would have required.

Living through all that would tax anyone, maybe even to the breaking point. To me, it seemed the perfect motivation for potential personal change, so that’s the place I wrote her from.

The hero of this tale, believe it or not, is Colonel Fitzwilliam, who in many ways was as broken as Miss Elliot. As a military officer of the era, he would have seen action in the Napoleonic wars. Those wars were brutal and horrific. It is hard to imagine a man who could experience that without some lasting effects. Those experiences impact him greatly, leaving him feeling ‘less’ than the man he used to be.

On top of all that, he is a bachelor in a society that considered unmarried men the ‘scourge of society’. In many instances, bachelors paid substantially more in taxes than married men, while at the same time, they were not regarded as fulfilling their masculine potential. They were not as persecuted at spinsters, but they were definitely looked down upon.

So what happens when these two, worn-around-the-edges characters meet up? Let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting! But this is one snowstorm I’m very glad I got caught in.

Thanks, Maria! I am so glad for that snowstorm as well, since I absolutely loved this novella!

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About Snowbound at Hartfield

Colonel Fitzwilliam should have been happy facing retirement. No more Napoleon, no more tromping the Continent, and his distant cousin had unexpectedly left him an estate. What was more, two of his favorite people, Darcy and Elizabeth, were travelling with him to visit his new home.

But the colonel wasn’t happy, not when he was forced to watch Darcy exchanging enamored glances with his wife. No, he wanted to pitch his cousin out the window. It didn’t help when Darcy kept lecturing him on the joys of wedded life— as if women like Elizabeth Darcy grew on every tree.

Then the snow started.

Now they were stranded at the home of George and Emma Knightley, another intolerable, blissfully wedded couple who wanted nothing more than to see his bachelor days come to an end. Thank heavens they never thought of matching him with the proud spinster who had also been caught in the storm. That would have been utterly intolerable.

Or would it?

Check out Snowbound at Hartfield on Goodreads | Buy from an assortment of retailers

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About the Author

Maria Grace

Maria Grace

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

Connect with Maria Grace via email at author.MariaGrace@gmail.com | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Random Bits of Fascination | Jane Austen Variations | English Historical Fiction Authors

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Giveaway

Maria is generously offering an ebook copy of Snowbound at Hartfield. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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snowbound-at-hartfield-ebook

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

He understood her and was willing to offer respect in a way her father never had. There was much about him that reminded her of Wentworth.

Anne and her husband loved one another. Could she love the colonel, and he her? Did it matter, though?

Compatibility and friendship were far more significant concerns. Those were the things that would last.

(from Snowbound at Hartfield)

Maria Grace’s new novella, Snowbound at Hartfield, is a delightful mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Emma, told from the alternating points of view of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot.

A blizzard finds Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, and Mr. Bennet stranded in Highbury on their way to the colonel’s newly inherited estate, Listingbrook. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and her father, Sir Walter, are traveling to visit their Dalrymple cousins when they are caught in the storm. Fortunately, Darcy runs into an old friend, Mr. George Knightley, and he invites both groups to stay with him, his wife Emma, and her father at Hartfield.

It’s not long before Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Elliot, having briefly met a few months prior, begin a careful assessment of each other, as spending several days at Hartfield with happily married couples and irritating fathers take their toll. Both have been hurt — the colonel by the war, Elizabeth by her cousin and her best friend — and they begin to understand one another in a way that only people with their own baggage and their own ghosts can. But can they get past these obstacles and learn enough about each other to build a foundation for a lifetime of happiness before the snow melts and they go their separate ways?

I couldn’t wait to read Snowbound at Hartfield because I love Grace’s writing and was curious how she would combine the characters from my three favorite Austen novels, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. I love Austen-inspired tales that put the secondary characters front and center, and Grace’s take on Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot was spot on, in my opinion. A haunted, scarred Fitzwilliam embarking on a new life after his military career seemed authentic, as did an Elizabeth Elliot crushed by the betrayal of her friend, the marriage of her two younger sisters, and her diminishing prospects for marriage as she nears 30.

I also loved seeing a Mr. Bennet amused by Sir Walter and Mr. Woodhouse, and I laughed out loud several times as he baited the status-conscious baronet. It was also entertaining to see a friendship develop between Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Knightley and see them both happy in their marriages.

Snowbound at Hartfield is my favorite in Grace’s series of Sweet Tea novellas and short stories, with plenty of romance and humor to balance out the more serious aspects of the plot. It was fairly short but satisfying, and I savored it over a period of a few days because I didn’t want it to end.

Disclosure: Snowbound at Hartfield is from my personal library.

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