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Archive for the ‘jane austen’ Category

Victoria Kincaid is visiting again today to celebrate the release of her latest audiobooks, Pride and Proposals and The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth. She has a treat for you today: an excerpt and an international giveaway! Please give her a warm welcome:

Thank you for having me as a guest, Anna!  Recently I’ve made a big push to get my stories made into audiobooks, which has been a rewarding process in many different ways.  Pride and Proposals was just released as an audiobook, and The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was released over the summer.  The narrators for both books have done terrific jobs with the stories.  Below is an excerpt from the beginning of Pride and Proposals:

Miss Bennet, I must tell you that almost since our first …

No. Too formal.

You must be aware of my attentions …

Would that assume too much?

You must allow me to tell you how much I admire you …

This came closest to expressing his sentiments, but would she view it as excessive?

Darcy guided his stallion along the path to Hunsford Parsonage, anxiety increasing by the minute. Somehow the perfect words for a proposal must come to mind. He was close by the parsonage.

Almost out of time.

He took a deep breath. The master of Pemberley was unaccustomed to such agitation of the mind. But Elizabeth Bennet had a habit of unsettling his nerves as no one else could. Not for the first time, he wondered why that should indicate she would be the ideal companion of his future life. However, he had wrestled with his sentiments all day and finally concluded that it must be so, despite his objections to her family.

He had not slept the night previous and only fitfully the night before that. Practically his every thought was occupied by Elizabeth Bennet. Every minute of the day, he would recall a pert response she had made to his aunt or a piece of music she had played on the pianoforte. Or the sparkle of life in her fine eyes.

Yes, at first she had seemed an unlikely candidate for the mistress of Pemberley, but his passion could not be denied.

He no longer made the attempt.

Strange. He had been angered with himself for months that he could not rid himself of this … obsession with Miss Bennet. But once he had determined to surrender to the sentiment and propose to her, he felt almost … happy. Despite the fleeting sensations of guilt and doubt, he could not help but imagine how joyful it would be to have her as his wife.

He pictured the expression on Elizabeth’s face when he declared himself. Undoubtedly, she was aware of his admiration, and she had returned his flirtatious banter on more than one occasion, but she could have no serious hopes for an alliance. Her delight would make any of his misgivings worth it.

The woods on either side of the path thinned, and Darcy slowed his horse to a walk as he reached the clearing surrounding the parsonage. Initially, he had been bitterly disappointed when Elizabeth’s headache had prevented her from accompanying the Collinses to Rosings for tea, but then he recognized a perfect opportunity to speak with her alone.

Excusing himself from the gathering had not presented any difficulties. His cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, had received a letter that day with word of an unexpected inheritance of property following the death of his mother’s sister. Darcy was well pleased for his cousin, who had chafed at the limitations of a second son’s life. Richard had excused himself to plan for an immediate departure from Rosings the next day so he could soon visit his new estate. Darcy had seized on the excuse as well – since, naturally, he would be taking Richard in his coach and would necessarily need to prepare.

Darcy turned his thoughts to the task at hand.

You must allow me to tell you how violently I admire …

No.

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you …

Perhaps …

Darcy swung his leg over the pommel and slid off his saddle, tying his horse up at a post outside the Collinses’ front door. Pausing for a moment, he breathed deeply, willing his body to calmness. Then he seized the door knocker and rapped.

The maid who answered the door appeared unnecessarily flustered. As he followed her down the short hallway to the Collinses’ modest drawing room, Darcy had a dawning sense of wrongness.

Voices already emanated from the drawing room. Darcy immediately recognized Elizabeth’s lovely soprano. But the other voice was male, too muffled for him to hear. Had Collins returned home unexpectedly?

Darcy quickened his stride, almost crowding against the maid as she opened the drawing room door. “Mr. Darcy, ma’am,” the maid announced before swiftly scurrying away.

Darcy blinked several times. His mind had difficulty understanding what his eyes saw. His cousin Fitzwilliam was in the drawing room. With Elizabeth. With Darcy’s Elizabeth. In actuality, Richard sat beside her on the settee, almost indecently close.

Why is Richard here? Darcy wondered with some irritation. Should he not be packing for his departure rather than preventing me from proposing?

Richard and Elizabeth had been smiling at each other, but now both regarded Darcy in surprise.

For a moment, all was silence. Darcy could hear the crackling of logs in the fireplace. He had the nagging sensation of having missed something of importance but could not identify it.

“I … uh … came to inquire after your health, Miss Bennet.” Given the circumstances, Darcy was proud that the words emerged at all coherently.

“I am feeling much recovered, thank you.” Her voice was somewhat breathless.

A look passed between Richard and Elizabeth, and she gave a tiny nod. Darcy’s sense of mystification increased. Finally, Richard sprang to his feet with a huge grin on his face. “Darcy, you arrived at just the right moment. You can be the first to congratulate me.” At that moment, Darcy started to get a sinking, gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Elizabeth has consented to be my wife!”

****

About Pride and Proposals

What if Mr. Darcy’s proposal was too late?

Darcy has been bewitched by Elizabeth Bennet since he met her in Hertfordshire. He can no longer fight this overwhelming attraction and must admit he is hopelessly in love. During Elizabeth’s visit to Kent, she has been forced to endure the company of the difficult and disapproving Mr. Darcy, but she has enjoyed making the acquaintance of his affable cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Finally resolved, Darcy arrives at Hunsford Parsonage prepared to propose – only to discover that Elizabeth has just accepted a proposal from the colonel, Darcy’s dearest friend in the world. As he watches the couple prepare for a lifetime together, Darcy vows never to speak of what is in his heart.

Elizabeth has reason to dislike Darcy but finds that he haunts her thoughts and stirs her emotions in strange ways. Can Darcy and Elizabeth find their happily ever after?

Check out a sample on Audible

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About The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth

What if Darcy and Elizabeth were plunged into the war between England and France?

It is 1803, and a treaty has allowed England and France to enjoy a brief moment of peace in the midst of the Napoleonic wars.

Darcy is despondent over Elizabeth’s refusal of his proposal at Hunsford, so Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes a trip to Paris as a distraction. At a ball, Darcy unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth, who is visiting Paris with the Gardiners. He sees this as his opportunity to court Elizabeth properly and rectify past mistakes.

Before he can make much progress, however, England declares war again, and Darcy must help Elizabeth flee France. As they make their way to the coast, Elizabeth and Darcy must battle brigands, French soldiers, illness, and their own mutual attraction – all without a chaperone.

When they return to England, Elizabeth and Darcy have their own secrets to conceal – even from those closest to them.

Check out a sample on Audible

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering 1 audiobook of Pride and Proposals and 1 audiobook of The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth to my readers. Two winners will be selected, one for each audiobook. This giveaway is open internationally through Sunday, September 30, 2018. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and let us know which audiobook you’d prefer. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new audiobooks!

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I have a treat for you today, dear readers! I’m pleased to share with you an excerpt of the latest Meryton Press release, Obstacles by Belén Paccagnella.

First, a little about the book:

Not all obstacles are restricted to the show-jumping arena…

Though Elizabeth Bennet lives an uneventful life instructing young equestrians at Longbourn, the family farm, she dreams of winning a show-jumping competition on Liddy, her spirited mare. But her life is upended when a team of world-renowned riders arrives at Netherfield, the neighbouring estate, and uses it as their training headquarters. As she assists the newcomers and their prize-winning mounts, she meets William Darcy, a wealthy and arrogant—albeit talented—rider with Olympic aspirations. He first insults and then ignores Elizabeth, and her feelings teeter between disgust at his hauteur and admiration for his equestrian prowess. As she discovers first-hand the rigors of a world for the elite, will Elizabeth change her perspective about love, trust, and the foibles of her own family?

Originally known as “Obstacles to Overcome,” Obstacles pays homage to Pride and Prejudice in the highly competitive world of equestrian show jumping.

Buy on Amazon

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An excerpt from Obstacles, which Belén says pairs well with the cover featuring Elizabeth and her scrapbook:

Dinner at Longbourn that night was a lot less formal than the last time Darcy had been there. There were no fancy dishes or desserts, it was just a family meal served in everyday china. And yet, Darcy was perfectly comfortable and happy that he wasn’t being treated like a guest but as a member of the family. He truly enjoyed this domesticity. It made him think about what he wanted for himself and Elizabeth, and he fantasized about getting married, having kids, and forming a family of his own.

After dinner, the couple sat in the living room, chatting with the family while drinking coffee. The first ones in to retire were Kitty and Phil, then Mary, and soon the young couple were left by themselves in front of the TV.

“I should be going.” Darcy yawned and glanced at his watch.

“It’s almost midnight,” Elizabeth replied, “and you’re tired. Why don’t you stay for the night?”

“I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I’m not sure you dad will…”

“He won’t mind. Jane is at Charles’s tonight. You can stay in her room.”

“All right.” He caved. “But I’d rather sleep here on the couch.”

Elizabeth left him for a moment and returned with a pillow and a patchwork blanket. She sat beside him on the couch, crosslegged with the quilt covering them, and she scanned the TV channels for something they could watch.

“You never showed me your show jumping album,” he said after a while.

Elizabeth’s head turned abruptly to look at him. “How do you know about that?”

“I just know.” He smirked when her frown accentuated. “Mary told me, remember?”

“Oh yes.” She chuckled. “That day you came with Charles.”

Since she made no move to go, he gave her a little nudge. “Come on, show it me.”

Elizabeth studied him for an instant, probably suspicious of his intentions. The second nudge and his puppy-dog eyes convinced her. She left the room and returned a moment later with the infamous show jumping album.

Quietly, they perused the pages of the scrapbook. From the dates on each picture, Darcy could tell that Elizabeth began this collection about fifteen years ago. At the beginning, she just cut and glued anything that resembled a horse jumping an obstacle. There were a couple of photos of her father while he still competed and a lovely photo of Elizabeth with a group of girls that was taken at her first show when she was nine years old. As the years progressed, glitter and stamps disappeared, and Elizabeth became more selective, adding only more artistic or spectacular pictures. Darcy told to her how much he admired her neatness and the dedication she had given to the sport.

The last part of the album had many, many pictures of him. Some of them were added before she met him—he pointed out one of him with Miss D that he particularly liked—and the rest were almost every article and picture published about him since he came to Netherfield. That confirmed she had some interest in him then, and, from what he could tell by the dates, after their fateful encounter at Rosings, the album was exclusively about him.

“Where did you get this one?” He showed her a picture of him and Tuareg jumping in Edinburgh. “I’ve never seen it.”

“Cheval magazine, I think. Don’t you keep an album for your pictures?”

“That would be weird. Annie usually tells me when something comes up, but I don’t read the articles or look for the pictures.”

As he said that, he took off his shoes and lay down, arranging the pillow behind his head. His feet exceeded the length of the couch. Elizabeth accommodated herself next to him. She covered them both with the blanket and leaned the album on his chest.

Elizabeth told him about how and where she obtained some of the pictures and what she liked about each one. Darcy listened silently, wondering how he managed to inspire such contradictory feelings in her. Many of the pictures were added during the period she supposedly hated him, and he was both humbled and proud that he had managed to revert those sentiments and earn this extraordinary woman’s her unconditional love and admiration despite everything that happened between them. Her voice was soft and soothing and his eyelids became so heavy that he couldn’t keep them open. Dreams and thoughts entangled, and her words soon became a distant whisper that lulled him into sleep.

*****

At first, she felt lost, and her back was sore because of her unusual position and the unfamiliar weight of a man’s arm holding her tightly.

As she woke further, Elizabeth realized that the couch was large, but not big enough to comfortably accommodate two people lying down. The only reason she was not on the floor was because Darcy was embracing her so carefully that it would be impossible for her to fall. He was lying on his side, one arm under her neck and the other, oddly, inside her T-shirt and, even more oddly, holding her breast under her unhooked bra. How he managed to do that without waking her up would be one of the unresolved mysteries of mankind and, obviously, another of his hidden talents.

Something disturbed him, and Darcy stirred, stretching his body and slowly opening his eyes.

“Morning,” he said huskily.

“Good morning.”

After a pause he asked, “Is my hand where I think it is?”

“Yes.” She smiled.

“Does it bother you?”

“No.” Her voice was soft and sweet.

“Feels good.”

“Yes it does,” she said with a contented sigh.

Thank you, Belén, for sharing! I hope my readers enjoyed the excerpt as much as I did!

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About the Author

Belén Paccagnella

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working in the development administration of shopping centres.

In 2001, she started writing both Regency and modern stories adapted from the Pride and Prejudice storyline, merging drama, humour, and adventure while creating characters with unique traits.

Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where she shares her home with her daughter and her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing.

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, Meryton Press is giving away 8 ebook copies of Obstacles. The giveaway runs until midnight on September 30, 2018. You MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

****

September 17 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post

September 18 / Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post

September 19 / Austenesque Reviews / Vignette Post

September 20 / More Agreeably Engaged / Author Interview

September 21 / So Little Time / Excerpt Post

September 22 / Just Jane 1813 / Guest Book Review

September 23 / My Love for Jane Austen  / Character Interview

September 24 / From Pemberley to Milton / Excerpt Post

September 25 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

September 26 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Vignette Post

September 27 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Review

September 28 / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review

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Hello, dear readers! I’m glad to be back to the blog after a busy August. My daughter is settling in at college, and my husband and I are adjusting to our suddenly quiet house.

I’m thrilled that my first post after my break is to welcome Cat Gardiner back to Diary of an Eccentric, this time to celebrate the release of the final installment in The Conscience series, In Good Conscience, with an audio excerpt and a giveaway. I can’t wait to revisit Iceman and Lakmé after loving all of the previous books in the series. (See my reviews of Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience, and Without a Conscience)

Please give Cat a warm welcome!

****

Thank you, Anna for kicking off In Good Conscience mini-blog tour. I am so happy to be here to share an excerpt from a romantic interlude between Darcy (Iceman) and Liz (Lakmé) in Chapter 4. Big things lie ahead after this special visit to an old hunter’s cabin tucked away in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. Our dear boy doesn’t have the heart to tell his wife of less than a year that it’s time for him to leave but, in usual form, his actions give him away. Oh, but the memories they will make at this secret love nest will carry them through the darkest of times looming over the horizon.

I thought it would be not only fun but also helpful to bibliophiles with vision difficulties to include an audio of this excerpt should anyone prefer to listen rather than to read.

Chapter 4 – Making a Memory

Liz set the food out on the coffee table then relocated the dishware and champagne glasses, but not before snapping one of the white daisy stems overflowing from the coffee can vase and sliding it into her hair. This was her day and if she wanted to sit on the sofa to eat, so be it, which was fine with him because he wanted to touch her, not sit across a table from her on a wooden chair.

“Nick outdid himself; you should give him a raise. Who knew that huge hunk had a romantic touch inside him.”

“Higgins picking daisies …” He snorted, “Now, that would have been a photograph to send to his kids.”

She kicked off her boots then sat cross-legged on the sofa. The flower in her hair and the way she twisted her neck as she bit into the curved shrimp fascinated him, giving him pause, thumbs braced at the bottom of the champagne cork. There were many imprints made to his mind today, but this one of her toned body glistening from perspiration—in see-through undergarments—as she bit into the pink crustacean, and the rosy hue to her cheeks from their lovemaking, made him nearly pop his own cork.

“What’s wrong?” she asked with a full mouth.

“Nothing, you’re just …” Tongue-tied, he shook his head with a smile.

Liz snorted a laugh and went back to eating, snapping him from his admiration. A pop to the cork sent it flying across the room, which he did deliberately just to hear her laugh.

Hopefully the champagne wouldn’t knock her on her ass. They only had about four hours before leaving for the farmhouse. As skilled a rider as she had become, she was not ready for navigating the mountains in the dark and definitely not when drunk.

Sitting beside her, he, too, crossed his legs on the deep sofa then poured their champagne.

“What shall we toast to, Lakmé?”

“Hmm … Us, for starters, the tango, opera … children, and happiness. Forever.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

He kissed her, hoping upon all that was holy that that plan was the one to outlive all the others, no matter what.

The afternoon drifted by with Otis Redding vinyl records spinning on the turntable and languid conversation about their dreams until the last song played “These Arms of Mine.” His girl leaned back against the pillow at the armrest, propping her bare feet onto his lap. Their gaze locked on each other and a comfortable silence settled onto their romantic interlude as the lyrics floated around them. She was dissecting him, maybe admiring, definitely thinking of something that amused her evident by the quirk to her lips.

“I love watching you, watching me,” he finally said, caressing the top of her foot.

The wiggling of her painted toenails, alerted him to her desire and, of course, he complied, always enjoying how her perfect toes felt in his hands. Sometimes, she’d giggle, most times she moaned in response to his massaging ministrations. Today, she just simply instructed, “Make it good since you’re leaving me in the morning.”

Startled, he furrowed his brow. “You know?”

“Of course, silly. Why else would you go through all this trouble to make today so special?”

Oh, she was so brave; what a front she had put on today. It was almost as masterful as his own.

“I didn’t realize I was that transparent.”

“Babe, it’s what you don’t say that usually gives you away.”

“That’s not entirely true.” Sure it is. He’d just admitted it to himself moments before.

Rolling her eyes she said, “For example, that first time I met you at the dance school. I felt like such an awkward spaz, technically alone with my two left feet and no dance partner, Jane making moves on everyone in pants, and Bill ignoring me while making googly eyes at his partner. And then you thundered in—my tall, dark, and mysterious hero.”

“And your point is?”

“That once I was able to ascertain that your menacing scowl didn’t represent fault finding, it became clear that you had the hots for me from the moment you saw me through the glass. Further, you were fighting the feeling tooth and nail. When dancing with me, you said absolutely nothing, yet I knew you wanted to rip the blue sundress off my body and screw me right there.”

He chuckled. “I don’t quite remember it that way.”

She dropped a grape into her mouth. “Of course, you don’t. That would’ve made you a perv, and we both know that you’re not.”

“It was yellow, the dress was lemon yellow … and, in my defense, it was cold in the studio. How could I not look?” He smiled wickedly.

“See—what did I tell ya’? It’s your smolder that gives you away … I can give you more examples if you like.”

No, he didn’t need more examples. He knew them all and redirected the way this conversation was going by tickling the instep of her foot. She broke out into a fit of laughter, wiggling on the sofa.

“Stop. Please. Okay, okay … uncle! No more examples. You’re ent … irely mys … terious.”

Raising her foot to his mouth, he first kissed her big toe then wrapped his lips around it. Popping it from his mouth, he kissed it again. “Stay right here, just like this, and I’ll be right back. I have something for you.”

He could feel her amorous gaze peek around the edge of the sofa, eyes burning upon his backside when he strode out the front door to his Harley.

“Hurry back!” she teased with a laugh, and he did as commanded, quickly removing the day’s most special gift of all from his saddlebag.

Wrapped in simple brown paper with a red bow, he held the package out to her. “I bought this for you because … well, your last one—not that you used it much anymore, but it was destroyed in the hothouse.” Damn; he was stumbling over his words. “It … um, your first one … saw me through that dark time when I came back to Pemberley. It gave me hope, helped me to face my demons.”

She sat up, looking adorable with her disheveled hair, dried in a wild mess, and he pulled the fallen daisy from her locks. Untying the ribbon, the paper fell open revealing a new—blank—sketchbook.

“Oh, babe,” she softly said, smoothing her hand over the image on the cover: two lovers entwined in a sensual tango. “She’s wearing a red dress.”

“Like the one I bought you in Seville.”

“I love it! Thank you!”

“I thought you might want to take up sketching again. I also found you a professional set of colored pencils, but I left them up at the compound.”

Crossing the length of the sofa, she lunged into his arms with a mind-blowing kiss. He felt the wetness from her tears against his cheek and tightened his embrace, heart thundering against his chest wall. How the hell was he going to get through tomorrow? How could he ever leave her?

“See,” she whispered when her mouth left his wanting more. “You don’t need to say anything at all. I can feel your heart beating against mine, just as steady, just a strong.” She took a breath. “I love you so much, Fitzwilliam.”

****

Oh my, Iceman! Thank you for sharing this excerpt, Cat! I’m sure all of you are as excited to read the book as I am!

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About In Good Conscience

The third and final romantic adventure in The Conscience Series

No man has loved a woman as much as Fitzwilliam “Iceman” Darcy loves his wife Elizabeth. His love is indestructible, insatiable, and his Achilles’ heel.

Since the whirlwind and dangerous adventure in Paris and Moscow in Without a Conscience, life at Pemberley has been a combination of idyllic repose and focused preparation and defense. Darcy’s enemy is still out there—a hair’s breadth from delivering revenge for his father’s assassination.

When the enemy strikes first, Iceman’s world comes crashing down kick starting a firestorm. How far will the gelid warrior go to protect all his loved ones? Just how much is the former Navy SEAL willing to sacrifice? Is his attritional warfare blind rage?—or are his extreme actions in good conscience?

This emotional, wild ride will take you on a breathless, white-knuckle international journey from heartbreak and revenge to survival and enduring bliss because …

No woman has loved a man like Elizabeth Darcy loves her husband Fitzwilliam. Her love is invulnerable, unyielding, and her strength.

Author Note: Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell wrote such wonderful characters, I borrowed their names and some of their characteristics for inspiration to tell my own tale of contemporary love. In Good Conscience – The Final Adventure is a sequel, and I recommend reading Book 1 (Denial of Conscience,) and Book 2 (Without a Conscience) beforehand. Further, it is an original story that follows the lives of the characters of the aforementioned books and therefore, not meant to be a Pride and Prejudice variation. This novel contains explicit sexual content and occasionally salty language. So if you are looking for a clean, canon read, this book is not for you.

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Cat is generously offering my readers a chance to win 1 paperback of In Good Conscience (U.S. only), 1 ebook of In Good Conscience (international), and swag, which includes 1 ebook, sketchbook, and pencil set (U.S. only). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, September 16, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

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Source: Review copy from author

Ann Galvia’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, What’s Past Is Prologue, is based on an interesting forced marriage scenario between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The circumstances of their marriage are tied to Darcy’s orchestration of Lydia Bennet’s marriage to Mr. Wickham. But in this variation, it was Jane who went to Pemberley on holiday with the Gardiners, leading to her reunion with Mr. Bingley and their marriage thereafter. Elizabeth’s reunion with Darcy is more of a rocky road to happily ever after.

The Darcys have been married for just a week when they, accompanied by their sisters Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy, are called to Rosings Park by Lady Catherine de Bourgh to deal with the aftermath of a devastating flood. Readers see an Elizabeth unsure of her new position as Mrs. Darcy, an Elizabeth who expects Mr. Darcy to question his decision to marry her against his family’s wishes and to eventually lose interest in her. She is focused on providing Darcy with an heir to solidify her position as his legitimate wife in the eyes of society.

While Elizabeth navigates the newness of married life, she faces a bombardment of criticism from Lady Catherine, a formal reception from her once dearest friend Charlotte Collins, and worries that Miss de Bourgh has been hurt by their marriage, as Darcy was supposedly engaged to her. As Darcy faces the burdens of his aunt’s financial troubles, Elizabeth works to sketch his character, check Kitty’s behavior, and figure out how to encourage Georgiana to assert herself.

What’s Past Is Prologue is a character-driven novel that is slow to develop. There are long conversations between the Darcys, most of them taking place in the bedroom and many of them awkward. There are plenty of steamy bedroom scenes as well. I wish there had been more action associated with the problems at Rosings than these slow scenes of dialogue and Elizabeth contemplating sleeping and bathroom arrangements after their intimacies.

The writing was lovely, though, so I continued reading through all the slow parts, and I was satisfied with the ending. I must admit that I enjoyed Galvia’s first novel, Side by Side, Apart more, but I do look forward to reading more from her in the future.

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About What’s Past Is Prologue

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Ann Galvia

Ann started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus
poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Follow Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight copies of What’s Past Is Prologue for the blog tour. This giveaway will be open until midnight on August 17, 2018. You MUST enter through this Rafflecopter link.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!

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August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

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Source: Review copy from author

Elizabeth Adams’ new Pride and Prejudice variation, The 26th of November, was an absolute delight from start to finish. It is subtitled “A Pride & Prejudice Comedy of Farcical Proportions,” and it definitely delivered! The novel is told from the point of view of Elizabeth Bennet, and when it opens, she has endured the Netherfield ball — her dances with Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy, the embarrassment of her mother and sisters, her father’s indifference to it all — Collins’s proposal, and the Netherfield party’s departure from Hertfordshire. But then Elizabeth wakes up and realizes it’s the day of the Netherfield ball — again.

As Elizabeth relives the 26th of November over and over again, she tries to figure out how to break the cycle. Is she supposed to somehow convince Mr. Bingley to delay his trip to London? Is she supposed to somehow improve her family’s behavior? Elizabeth examines the situation from every angle and takes various actions to get the timeline moving forward again, to no avail.

Elizabeth soon finds herself looking forward to her nightly dance with Mr. Darcy for their talks and their banter. She enjoys teasing him, surprising him, getting information from him. While he doesn’t realize that they have danced the same dance countless times before, Elizabeth does, and she comes to understand him — and herself — as she relives the day again and again.

The 26th of November was such a refreshing read. I loved seeing Elizabeth do outlandish things to try to fix the time line, and I loved how she stood up for herself and said certain well-deserved things to certain obnoxious characters. There were so many funny moments and so many sweet moments that I just couldn’t put the book down. It was my first time reading something by Elizabeth Adams, but it definitely won’t be the last!

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About The 26th of November

The Netherfield Ball: Classic. Predictable. Immortalized.
But, what if Elizabeth were forced to relive it over and over and over again? Night after night after night?

Elizabeth: Clever. Witty. Confident.
Suddenly, her confusion and desperation make her question things she long thought she knew.

Mr. Darcy: Proud. Unapproachable. Bad tempered.
In this world where nothing is as it seems, Elizabeth must learn to see through new eyes.

Including a man she thought she hated.

Let the hilarity ensue.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth Adams is a book-loving, tango-dancing, Austen enthusiast. She loves old houses and thinks birthdays should be celebrated with trips – as should most occasions. She can often be found by a sunny window with a cup of hot tea and a book in her hand.

She writes romantic comedy and comedic drama in both historic and modern settings.

She is the author of The Houseguest, Unwilling, On Equal Ground, and Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride and Prejudice, and the modern comedy Green Card.

You can find more information, short stories, and outtakes at elizabethadamswrites.wordpress.com.

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Giveaway

For the blog tour, Elizabeth is generously offering five copies of The 26th of November, five audiobook codes (each one good for one of her audiobooks), and two autographed paperback copies (reader’s choice) from her catalog. The giveaway is open until midnight on August 11, 2018. You MUST enter through this Rafflecopter link.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!

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July 9 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

July 13 / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post & Giveaway

July 19 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

July 20 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

July 21 / My Love for Jane Austen / Character Interview & Giveaway

July 25 / More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway

July 28 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway

August 2 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 6 / Austenesque Reviews / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

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I had such a wonderful time editing Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, and I’m thrilled to welcome her back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate its release! Victoria is here to talk about her research on espionage and to share an excerpt from the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you for having me visit, Anna!  While doing research for The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, I learned a lot about espionage activities during the Napoleonic Wars.  In particular, I read about the Alien office (part of the Home Office) which was basically the British government’s first official spy agency.  I learned about a number of fascinating incidents which would make great scenes in novels but didn’t fit into this book.  Still, I think that anyone who is interested in the era would find them remarkable—and entertaining:

  • The Alien Office thwarted one actual domestic insurrection: an incipient Irish rebellion led by agents supported by the French government. The secret service placed agents in Ireland to infiltrate the organization. This enabled them to arrest all of the rebellion’s leaders in 1798 before the event took place this represented one of the office’s greatest success.
  • In 1800 the secret service helped one faction of the French royalists form the “English Committee” in Paris. The Committee was responsible for several assassination attempts on Napoleon’s life—the most famous of which was the Rue Nicaise bombing on Christmas Eve, 1800. By 1803 the Committee had detailed plans in place for Napoleon’s kidnapping or assassination.  These plans almost certainly could not have remained in place without the tacit complicity of Fouche, the well-known minister of police in Paris.
  • One of the Committee’s most successful agents was a woman, Madame Williams. An Englishman’s widow who made multiple Channel crossings, some disguised as a sailor, Williams was never captured or apparently even suspected of being a spy.
  • Napoleon had planted agents of his own. One double agent arrived in England with his own false plans for overthrowing the French government.  Aware of the ruse, the British government created an elaborate counter plan that was designed to fool the French authorities into believing the British had fallen for their trick.  For months they created correspondence and moved agents around Europe with the purpose of deceiving Napoleon’s spy.
  • Savary, the chief of Napoleon’s personal guard, was charged with Investigating the extent of a treasonous plot. He visited the home of a recently discovered traitor along the Channel coast and found early drafts of reports that he himself had given to the Emperor.  He realized then that the information in the reports he had been giving had been authored by the British Alien Office.

It is difficult to say to what extent the secret service’s efforts helped to bring about Napoleon’s eventual demise since it is the nature of espionage to have unseen effects.  Most likely the agency’s efforts helped to sow the seeds that eventually led to many French citizens to switch to the royalist cause, but at the time eventual success was attributed to diplomacy and conventional warfare.

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An excerpt from The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

Darcy returned his attention to Elizabeth’s still form, aware that the doctor’s eyes were upon him.  After a long moment the Frenchman spoke.  “You are not a laborer searching for work.”  It was a statement, not a question.

Darcy stiffened.  “No?”

“Your hands are too soft, with callouses only from a horse’s reins.”  The doctor’s voice was matter-of-fact, not accusatory.  “A farm laborer’s hands are calloused everywhere.”

Darcy cursed himself silently for not having anticipated that detail.

“And you have an English wife.”  No doubt myriad explanations occurred to the doctor: spies, expatriate nobles, smugglers.

Darcy readied himself to fight.  Were he alone he could simply flee, but he could not leave Elizabeth behind—and traveling might kill her.

But Martin spread his hands, giving Darcy a gentle smile. “I am not your enemy.  To me, you and your wife are simply patients in need of care, and I have taken an oath to care for all who need it.”  Darcy regarded the doctor steadily.  Did he dare take the other man’s word?  Did he dare put his life—and Elizabeth’s—into this man’s trust?

Darcy sighed, and his shoulders slumped.  In truth, he had no choice.

“I swear I will not give you up to the authorities.  I have no love for them.  I would not give a rabid dog into their keeping.”  For a moment Martin’s expression was quite fierce.

Darcy nodded, somewhat reassured.

Martin looked at him sidelong.  “But will you tell me how an English gentleman and his wife came to be in Saint-Malo in the midst of a war?”

An English gentleman.  Darcy rubbed his face with both hands.  Despite his clothing, Darcy apparently might as well be wearing a sign proclaiming his name and rank.  Very well. The doctor had guessed enough of the truth; Darcy might as well tell more.  “Elizabeth was on a ship that exploded near the Channel Islands. It was reported that everyone on the ship was lost.  I am seeking the man responsible for the explosion, but I did not expect to find…” He gestured to Elizabeth’s still form.

“Yes, I remember hearing word of that.  An explosion would explain the blow to the head, but her survival is wonderful indeed.  I know of no other survivors.”

The rise and fall of Elizabeth’s chest fascinated Darcy, and he allowed himself to revel in the simple fact of her breathing.  Although he did not like the soft rattle in her exhales or the convulsive coughs.  “It is a miracle.  I had no hope.”

Martin clasped Darcy’s shoulder.  “If someone killed Marguerite, I would hunt him down as well.  I wish I knew this man so I could help you seek revenge.”

Darcy continued to regard the other man warily.

Martin chuckled.  “Our countries may be at war, but I have no quarrel with you, sir.  Your secret is safe with me.”

Did Darcy even dare to trust the man?  “I cannot ask you to take such risks…”

“The risk is not so great.  Bretagne only grudgingly supported the revolution or the emperor.  My sentiments are very common.”

Darcy was humbled by the man’s generosity and trust.  “I thank you, sir.  I will be forever in your debt.”

The man took the necklace from the table and poured it into Darcy’s hand.  “You must keep this safe until your wife may wear it once more.” Darcy stared dumbly at the pendant in his hand.  “I am afraid the chain broke when we removed it from her neck.”

Darcy threaded the chain of his watch fob through the loop at the top of the pendant.  He had chosen his plainest, cheapest watch and fob for the journey, but the doctor’s sharp look suggested it was still out of place.  Hopefully the future of Britain did not rest on Darcy’s abilities to pass as a common Frenchman.

Darcy heard a knock sounding on the front door.  Martin looked toward the source of the noise.  “Ah, I have a patient for a return visit.”   With a nod to Darcy, the doctor slipped through the door and closed it behind him with a quiet click.

Darcy was alone in the room with Elizabeth—his sleeping miracle. His eyes sought out her face once more, savoring the features he had never thought to see again in this lifetime.  His heart was so full that it felt ready to burst from his chest. Yes, Elizabeth was ill, and they were trapped in a country at war with an unknown enemy threatening them.  But Elizabeth was alive, and for the moment that was more than enough.

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About The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

A Pride and Prejudice Variation

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford. To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage. Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband. However, they have even bigger problems. As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home. Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a reader’s choice giveaway of either an ebook or paperback copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy. One winner will be selected. This giveaway is open internationally, and will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to have you visit. Congratulations on your new release!

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It’s a pleasure to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of his latest audio books, Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and The Maid and the Footman. Please give him a warm welcome!

Which came first: The Written or the Spoken Word?

One of my favorite mantras to students…be they history or writing…is that “if it sounds weird, it probably is weird.” Oh, I know, this is odd to be coming from the podium at an august institution of higher education, but it is spoken with the best of intents. T’is my fun way to encourage the l’il darlin’s to proofread aloud. That way they will hear the sound of their words…and understand that if they are spewing a mouthful of gibberish, they likely have written something semantically incomprehensible.

This exercise is rooted in my belief that every single syllable, pause—partial or full—sentence, and paragraph have grown from Humanity’s effort to preserve that which came first; the spoken word.

Recall that t’was the Greeks who invented vowels (after they pinched the Phoenician alphabet in the mid-700s BCE to replace Linear B from the pre-Greek Dark Ages days: nobody could read it!) so that they could preserve the Homeric Epics after Homer died.

I mean, how would The Illiad read if there was an eternal confusion over (OK, this is English, but imagine an Athenian bard trying to sing for his supper) whether the word “dg” was “dog,” “dig,” “dug,” or “dag?” The cardinal vowels (a, e, i, o, u…forget about the cross-dressing “y” and “w”) were created to allow the Greeks to record their favorite after dinner entertainment. OK, Plato surely recorded many down-and-out drinking brawls where Alcibiaedes and Socrates would try to drink each other under the klismos, but that was after a local minstrel had recited a few dozen stanzas of something designed to show the cultural chops of the party’s host.

Yet, given that the Greek’s captured the eloquence of Homer’s words…and later those of Sappho, Aeschylus, and, later by Romans living on another peninsula, Ovid…these written works were still designed to allow an oral performance before an audience.

This is, I admit, a long way around the block to get me to the point of saying that all writing is rooted in the oral tradition. If that is the case, should not all writing when heard sound as good as (if not better than) when it  read silently?

In the #InspiredByAusten world, #Austenesque authors over the past few years have been moving through the processes of bringing their works to a broad public using a range of electronic publishing options. Many are now adept at designing their stories to fit both digital and print venues.  We have, it seems, been following the traditional path extant since our good friend Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press in the 1450s.

Naturally, this great leap in the manner in which the written word could be distributed forced a putting of the cart before the horse, essentially given primacy of written over spoken. And so it has remained until the last 20 or 30 years.

However, new technologies (I am ignoring phonographs upon which you could have enjoyed Gielgud performing King Lear…not particularly portable.) led to a reappraisal of the spoken word as a literary device. Three words…books on tape.

Of course, these were usually the author or celebrity author reading their word into a microphone. The utility was that one could listen to a book…and hear the author’s voice…without having to cease other tasks in order to flip pages. But, t’was “just” a reading, not a performance. And, so it remained for a few decades.

With the advances in Internet technology and ever-expanding server farms, more opportunities to move books to recorded arenas are now available. And, in the process, voice artists are bringing their talents to performing and interpreting the books.

I have been in the midst of a four-month process of moving all of my books (Bennet Wardrobe and Lessers and Betters) to #Audible.

The reason is simple: I want my readers to also be able to engage my books in a different manner. The performers with whom I work offer just that. Barbara Rich (The Lessers and Betters stories) and Amanda Berry (The books of the Bennet Wardrobe) bring their training and experience to play to present listeners with a uniquely different experience.

They interpret the pacing of the writing. They assume the nature of the characters. They bring emotion to the passages and, hopefully inspire reactions not experienced by readers of the printed books. They draw you in…much as the ancient Greek and Roman rhapsōidos did 2,500 years ago. And, in the process, make the words I have laid down sound much as they did when I imagined them.

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Please read the following excerpt from Chapter VIII in Henry Fitzwilliam’s War while listening to the audio sample as performed by Amanda Berry found here.

The House thus settled itself for another night much as it had for almost a century, its long porches reaching out to embrace the turbulent weather that had disturbed its owners’ homeland just a few hours before. Idiosyncratic creaks and pops echoed through the structure as ancient nails and beams gave up the heat collected from the watery October sun. Yet, while the building and its servants may have surrendered themselves to sleep, the two principals found such relief impossible to attain.

She could not imagine that he could be pulled away from her again, even though she knew that it was impossible for him to remain in this time.  His absence would disrupt every thread, every mote that swirled in the complicated universe governed by the Wardrobe. Only the fact that her husband was in Washington permitted the soldier’s presence next door.

As she lay there, counting the hours to dawn, she gazed around her son’s room, the furnishings so distinctly male, yet still revealing his sensitive nature.  On the one hand, his polo mallets were resting in hooks on the wall facing the window; two cricket bats were also propped in the corner.  On the other, one of her favorite canvases, his oil of Roses on Fieldstone, Deauville looked down at the foot of the bed.  How she prayed for his safety. What would he have made of the young man resting in his parent’s bed?

That young man tossed one way and then the other.  Each crash of thunder returned him to that night, back to Loos, to the moment when he could still count sight as one of his senses. But, artillery was only thunderous at the moment of impact.  The low grumble beyond the horizon, sometimes punctuated by flashes of grim lightening, first led to a whistle that increased in pitch and volume if the shell had your number.  If not, the sound deepened and the moaning faded as the charge found another target.

Then there was the wind; its gusts shook the House like a terrier would a captured rat. Again he was thrown back to the Front where the ground quivered pudding-like under the pounding of Hun cannons. Sudden drafts chilled his cheeks and chin as the pervasive blasts overwhelmed well-mitered windows.

How foolish we were, to allow phony “national pride,” the ultimate manifestation of masculinity, to destroy the system that had kept the peace for a hundred years.  Now the blood price that will have to be paid to erase this, man’s original sin—pride, will be steep indeed.

He knew that the coming parting was utterly necessary. He had to return to his own time lest he become another Kitty Bennet, now lost in the Wardrobe for 70 years. He could see Gran’s sadness when she spoke of her next eldest sister.  He could not subject his family to that sort of grief.

***

There was a point around midnight when she found herself sitting on the edge of her bed.  Had she dozed?  Then, responding to a dream, had she risen in pursuit of…she knew not what? The pulling she had felt for twenty-plus years was roiling her insides. The demand was too intense.

Her bare feet touched down on the bedside throw rug. Gathering a blanket around her shoulders, she glided across the mahogany stained floorboards to open her door. Just four steps down the hallway to his. She rested her forehead against the panel, trying to control her breathing—but with little success.

Stop…do not proceed.  You will break your heart…and his!

In his darkness, he first perceived her scent, roses rushing over the grass to his nose.  He must have lost the sound of the door opening beneath one of the crashes of the storm.  Somewhere, feet or inches away, She stood, silently.  The weight of her eyes in the nighttime darkness bore on him.  Her gaze played up and down his body and pushed his aura like a hand gently stroking a cat’s silky coat.  He could hear her shallow quick breaths signaling intense conflict. But, she did not move to close the gap.

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Giveaway

Don is generously offering a two-pack of Audible codes for Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and The Maid and the Footman. There will be two winners selected. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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About the Author

Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don: WebsiteAmazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page | Twitter

Thank you, Don! It’s always a pleasure having you as my guest! Congratulations on your latest audio book releases!

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