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Archive for the ‘jane austen’ Category

I am so excited to welcome Joana Starnes back to Diary of an Eccentric today! I became a fan of hers after devouring and absolutely loving The Subsequent Proposal, in which she brilliantly blended Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, and The Unthinkable Triangle, in which she seriously (and again, brilliantly) had me worried about Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s happily ever after. Joana is back with Miss Darcy’s Companion, which I will be reviewing here this summer. I can’t wait to read it! Please welcome Joana as she shares an excerpt from the novel and graciously offers a copy to one of my readers.

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Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4Many thanks, Anna, for welcoming me here today on the blog tour for my latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Miss Darcy’s Companion.

In this story Elizabeth and Mr Darcy’s acquaintance does not start at the Meryton assembly with a most ungentlemanly comment. Instead, they come across each other in a fashionable townhouse, where the recently bereaved Miss Elizabeth Bennet is temporarily employed as a governess to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s nieces and nephew. But the children’s mother, Lady Stretton, is about as pleasant as Lady Catherine de Bourgh towards her social inferiors. So what are knights in shining armour to do when faced with a damsel in distress?

Before long, at his cousin’s persuasion, Mr Darcy rather reluctantly agrees to let his dear sister have a say in choosing her companion. Georgiana would much rather not have Mrs Younge. In fact, she would greatly prefer Miss Bennet.

I hope you’ll like the following excerpt. Having been detained by family obligations, Mr Darcy finally joins his sister and her new companion at Pemberley to learn what they have been up to in his absence. Despite Miss Bennet’s young years and obvious inexperience as a lady’s companion, she seems a good choice. She is cheerful, kind and outgoing and might help Georgiana conquer her shyness. But is that all she is? Or is Mr Darcy to discover that he has bitten rather more than he could chew?

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“You will find that I have become quite the walker, Brother. Lizzy and I have ventured further than I have ever gone before.”

“Escorted, I hope,” Darcy frowned in expectation, and Miss Bennet promptly reassured him.

“Of course, Sir. I have not seen the need in my Hertfordshire rambles, but here it was a different matter. The paths were unknown to me, and besides I had your sister’s welfare to consider.”

“I appreciate your diligence, Miss Bennet. And I expect this good practice to continue even when you have grown familiar with the area, regardless of whether Georgiana accompanies you or not.”

At that, Miss Bennet’s eyes flashed briefly towards him.

“I am quite accustomed to looking after myself, Sir,” she replied, but for all her civility of manner, Darcy could not fail to detect the mutinous undertones.

Riled in no small measure, he shot back:

“Are you now! Pray tell me, how would you fare if you were to come across ruffians or simply twist your ankle? Self-sufficiency is one thing, Miss Bennet. Recklessness is quite another. You will not leave the formal gardens unescorted, and that is the end of the matter,” he said flatly and reached for his cup of tea.

A heavy silence fell. Miss Bennet’s eyes were trained upon her plate, and Darcy could only wonder if they hid distress, remorse or further rebellion. Across from him Georgiana fidgeted, casting uncomfortable glances from her companion to her brother. This riled him too. For the second time since his arrival he had been cast into the part of the unbending ogre, and he did not appreciate it in the slightest. Which was one of the reasons why he morosely observed, “If we are to go riding, Georgiana, perhaps you ought to go and change.”

His sister required no further prompting and stood to do as bid. Her glance still averted, her companion dabbed her lips in readiness to follow, presumably thinking herself likewise dismissed, but Darcy was quick to disabuse her of that notion.

“Miss Bennet, a word, if you please.”

She kept her seat and her back stiffened, but still did not look up when she was spoken to. This sort of conduct bordered not merely on a level of insubordination he was not accustomed to, but was beginning to skirt the edges of downright incivility.

Darcy took a deep breath to calm himself. In living memory he had not lost his temper with one of his people and, by Jove, a slip of a girl would not provoke him into it today. Lady Stretton might have been a nuisance in so many ways, but perhaps she had the right of the matter in one respect at least. He would have known where he stood with an experienced companion for Georgiana – much more so than with a young lady freshly out of the schoolroom and scarcely accustomed to working for a living. Most certainly he would not have had this sort of trouble from the likes of Mrs Younge. He might have to remedy that error and reconsider Miss Bennet’s employment. But that was for another day. For now, he sought to regulate his voice to deliver sensibly and calmly:

“If we get to know each other better, you will see that I do not seek to rule my household with an iron fist, Miss Bennet. However, I do expect my people to obey sensible requests. And also to look at me when spoken to.”

She did as bid at last, only to shock him into momentary silence. Unshed tears glimmered in her eyes and it was Darcy’s turn to look away, caught between embarrassment and exasperation. Heavens, what now? Was she distressed by his forceful manner or were they tears of indignation at being ordered about? She must have reflected, with either sadness or vexation, that she would not have had to bend to a stranger’s will, had her father been alive. The notion struck a chord, because of Georgiana. How would she have fared, had she found herself dislodged from her place in the world, deprived of protection, forced to earn her keep? It did not bear thinking and, thank goodness, it would never happen; the Darcy name and fortune would always be her shelter, come what may. The young woman before him had none of those advantages. And only the likes of Lady Stretton would blame her if she still struggled to adjust to a very different way of life. Darcy cleared his voice.

“Forgive me for distressing you with my forthrightness, Miss Bennet. I only had your safety in mind. I should not wish to be forced to write to your pa–… your relations that you have been harmed whilst your welfare was my responsibility,” he offered mildly, and was pleased to see that the altered manner had the desired effect and her strained countenance softened.

“‘Tis I who should beg your pardon, Mr Darcy. I fear that my upbringing has had a major flaw, in that it has not taught me the virtues of unquestioning obedience, but rather the opposite. It does not serve me well under the circumstances,” she concluded with a conscious smile, which Darcy mirrored.

“I suppose I should find it in me to be grateful for the practice. A time might come when Georgiana’s mind is different from my own. But let us not hasten that day if we could help it and, for the sake of household harmony, pray do not make a habit of questioning my requests. With some degree of effort, I might be able to disguise some of them as suggestions, but that would not apply to all by any means,” he added, only partly in jest.

Her earnest reply showed she had grasped his meaning: not just light-hearted repartee, but a structuring for the future.

“I thank you for your understanding patience. All I can say, and it is not in my defence, quite the contrary, is that in your welcoming household I found it all too easy to remember how it felt to be my father’s daughter. Lady Stretton had never allowed such licence. Not everyone would.”

“Not everyone has a young sister whom they would not wish to imagine in trying circumstances,” Darcy owned candidly, then stood. “Speaking of which, I should not keep Georgiana waiting any longer. Pray find yourself a cheerful way to pass the time, Miss Bennet, and I urge you to consider allowing one of my grooms to help you overcome your reservations about riding. Derbyshire is best seen on horseback and someday you might find pleasure in joining us.”

“I would only slow you down, I fear. In my most sanguine hopes I cannot imagine mastering anything faster than a canter. Enjoy your ride, Mr Darcy and, once again, I thank you,” she added softly and was gone, leaving him in a far better frame of mind than he had been but a half-hour ago.

So much so that when he found Georgiana by the stables, already in her riding habit and waiting for him, he met her troubled glance with a light chuckle.

“Do not look so concerned, sweetling, I have not devoured your Miss Lizzy for breakfast. She is safe and well, awaiting your return.”

Georgiana’s brows shot up at the uncharacteristic levity but she made no reply, presumably because a groom was by then approaching with their mounts. With a nod of thanks to the man, Darcy helped his sister into the saddle, then leisurely swung into his.

“So… all is well?” Georgiana tentatively asked as they took to the road together.

“All is well. But pray tell me, is she always so wilful?”

“Not that I have noticed,” his sister laughed lightly in response. “But then I am nowhere near as strong-willed as you, so there was little risk of our tempers clashing.”

He conceded her the point, although that brought a different reason for concern. Of course, Georgiana could benefit from the good example of a more outgoing nature, but if she was led by a stronger character, all manner of mischief could brew should she be led in the wrong direction.

Darcy snorted. He had hoped to share the responsibility of his sister’s welfare with a female companion engaged for the purpose, yet there he was instead, in charge of not one but two young ladies of a trying age. His aunt Malvern might have had the right of it. Everything would be a great deal easier if he married.

He snorted again, less audibly this time, lest he should attract Georgiana’s notice. The matchmaking matrons of the ton would laugh themselves into a stupor if he, who had so far resisted all their concerted efforts, should be brought down by a couple of young lasses. Heaven help him if Georgiana and her companion should try his patience enough to goad him into matrimony!

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I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and that you’ll like the full story. Please leave a comment with your email address by Sunday, June 5 for the chance to win a Kindle copy of Miss Darcy’s Companion, available internationally. Thanks for stopping by and many thanks again, Anna, for the lovely welcome at Diary of an Eccentric, you’re so kind to have me as your guest!

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About the author:

Joana Starnes lives in the South of England with her family. She has published six Austen-related novels:

  • From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley ~ A Pride & Prejudice sequel
  • The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion
  • The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation
  • The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set in Poldark territory
  • The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation, where loyalty comes at loggerheads with love
  • Miss Darcy’s Companion ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation

They are available on all Amazon sites.

Books by Joana Starnes at Amazon.com
Books by Joana Starnes at Amazon.co.uk

You can connect with Joana Starnes on

http://www.facebook.com/joana.a.starnes
http://www.joanastarnes.co.uk
http://www.twitter.com/Joana_Starnes
Or visit ‘All Roads Lead to Pemberley’ on Facebook, for places, events and titbits that have inspired her novels.

Click the banner below to follow the blog tour for Miss Darcy’s Companion!

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© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I’m thrilled to announce the recent release of Darcy’s Magical Message, which is the final episode in Barbara Silkstone’s The Witches of Longbourn trilogy (Pride & Prejudice & Witches). I was excited to work with Barbara on this project as her editor, as I was intrigued by her quirky and humorous writing style. I laughed all the way through the book, and since I jumped into the trilogy at the very end, I now want to go back and read it from the beginning.

Here’s more information about the trilogy, and be sure to check out Barbara’s blog, Second Act Cafe.

darcy's magical messageDarcy’s Magical Message (Book Three)

Buckingham Palace will never be the same as Darcy risks all to rescue Lizzy from the clutches of the Prince Regent and Lady Anne Darcy’s fatal spell. Fiona Feelgood has reasons to regret casting the prince under a love spell. Can they rescue Herman the Hermit before Lizzy turns to dust? Beware of Caroline Bingley as she lurks the palace halls in search of witches for the London Anti-Magic Tribunal! Will Lizzy overcome her habit of changing adversaries into potted plants? And where is Wickham?

Buy: Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kobo

Enjoy the entire trilogy!

darcy's royal dilemmaDarcy’s Royal Dilemma (Book One)

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s first spell has gone wrong, and he arrives at Netherfield with a small jewel box possessing the power to topple the British monarchy. Desperate to find a witch to undo his botched magic, he is attracted to Elizabeth Bennet—but hijinks ensue as Miss Fiona Feelgood, a darling little love witch, enters their lives.

Buy: Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kobo

lizzy's love apprenticeLizzy’s Love Apprentice (Book Two)

Can a union between two strong willed witches find a happily ever after in the world of Regency? Should Lizzy Bennet accept Fitzwilliam Darcy’s hand in marriage? And will one of the most powerful witches in England—who also happens to be Darcy’s mother—accept Lizzy as worthy of her son? Or will the curse she placed on Lizzy prevail? Amid the chaos, can Lizzy succeed in teaching Fiona Feelgood a few Lessons in Lovability?

Buy: Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kobo

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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A Fine Stout Love.indd

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

She could never have envisioned an instance in which he would read it or, stranger still, that it would invite his addresses. Such had not been her intention — she had never desired his good opinion — but it flashed upon her with sudden, startling clarity, neither was his admiration unwelcome now that she gained it. The world pivoted on her answer.

(from A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories)

Quick Summary: A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories is the first volume in Renée Beyea’s Pride & Prejudice Petite Tales short story collections. It is comprised of five short and clean romances that successfully show the passion between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. “Words in the Wind” has Lizzy chasing notes that lead her to a graveyard. “A Fine Stout Love” puts verses penned by Elizabeth about Mr. Darcy into his hands and presents the story from both points of view. “Neither Slumber Nor Sleep” finds our hero and heroine in scandalous yet hilarious circumstances. “Gold, All Gold” is a supernatural sort of story in which Lizzy visits Mr. Darcy’s dreams. Finally, in “Eden Unashamed,” a poem written by Mr. Darcy to Lizzy makes its rounds of the Bennet household and has a dramatic effect upon each member of the family, particularly Mary.

Why I wanted to read it: I can’t get enough of Pride and Prejudice variations (obviously!), and lately I’ve been in the mood for short stories.

What I liked: A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories is a delightful collection of sweet and passionate stories that had me smiling and even laughing throughout. I enjoyed all of the stories, but my favorites were “Neither Slumber Nor Sleep” and “Eden Unashamed” because of the humor. Beyea’s writing is fantastic; it helps if you’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but she manages to say so much about the characters in so few words.

What I disliked: I only wish there had been more stories! I can’t wait for the next volume, What Love May Come and Other Stories, due out this winter.

Final thoughts: A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories is like a love letter to Pride and Prejudice. Beyea’s love for Austen and her characters shines through, and the poetry showcased within the stories is beautifully crafted. It’s a charming and fun collection and a welcome addition to my library of Austen-inspired tales.

About A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories

Discover what happens when Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet fancy and fantasy in this novella-length ensemble of Regency stories.

– What if two inexplicable trails of words led to the Meryton churchyard on the same blustery morning?
– What if Darcy stumbled across suggestive lines of verse following Elizabeth’s stay at Netherfield?
– What if a rumored engagement so thoroughly shocked Lady Catherine that she could not interfere?
– What if Elizabeth learned the last man she would ever marry was the only man she could marry?
– What if every Bennet family member read the love poem Darcy intended only for his bride?

With all the intimacy and lyricism of a chamber concert, these five whimsical shorts will inspire the heart, prompt a smile, and entice readers to many happy returns.

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

About the Author

Renée Beyea holds an undergraduate writing degree from Taylor University and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. She serves as full-time wife, mother to two sons, and ministry partner with her husband, an Anglican priest and chaplain. Her free time is devoted to crafting stories and composing poetry that delight the senses and touch the soul.

Connect with Renée via email, her website, Facebook, and Goodreads

Giveaway of 8 copies, open internationally until May 19

Click here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/721c271532/

Blog Tour

5/2: Excerpt & Giveaway at From Milton to Pemberley
5/3: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
5/4: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
5/5: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
5/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
5/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
5/8: Review & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
5/9: Review & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
5/10: Interview & Giveaway at Savvy Verse and Wit
5/12: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
5/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
5/13: Review & Giveaway at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
5/14: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
5/15: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
5/16: Review & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads

Disclosure: I received A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

Reading the words of a woman in love did not cause those same feelings to blossom in her chest. She was in the peculiar state of both knowing herself, and not.

(from Side by Side, Apart)

Quick summary: Ann Galvia’s Side by Side, Apart is a unique take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A sequel of sorts, the novel takes place 11 years after the marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. However, an accident leaves Elizabeth without any memory of her marriage or her children. The last thing Elizabeth remembers is Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford, so she can’t possibly understand how or why she would have married him. Forced to be in his company, Elizabeth realizes the Mr. Darcy she married is nothing like the Mr. Darcy she once knew, and she must piece together the mystery of how she became Mrs. Darcy.

Why I wanted to read it: I can’t resist Pride and Prejudice variations, and the more unique, the better.

What I liked: Galvia’s clever plot drew me in from the first page. Elizabeth wakes up in an unfamiliar house, in her nightgown, and doesn’t understand why Mr. Darcy is in her room. Galvia does a fantastic job getting into Elizabeth’s head as she struggles to assume her role as mistress of Pemberley, and most importantly as a wife and mother. It was heartbreaking to see Elizabeth unable to feel what she should for Darcy and her children, but it was delightful to see Elizabeth’s feelings for this older, more mature Darcy evolve. I especially enjoyed how this novel took place more than a decade after the events of Pride and Prejudice, so there were numerous new characters, from Perry, Elizabeth’s maid, to the children, and I had no inkling of how things would unfold.

What I disliked: Absolutely nothing! Even though I wish the novel had been longer, it was entirely satisfying.

Final thoughts: Side by Side, Apart is definitely a contender for my Best of 2016 list, and if I were to compile a list of my favorite Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories, it would likely be toward the top. It’s definitely a novel to savor on a lazy afternoon with a cup of tea, though I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was so attached to Galvia’s Elizabeth and Darcy, as well as their children, that I would love to see her revisit them again in the future.

Click on the banner below to check out the rest of the stops on the Side by Side, Apart blog tour!

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Disclosure: I received Side by Side, Apart from Mertyon Press for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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It is my pleasure to welcome Cat Gardiner to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Undercover. I will be reviewing this fantastic-sounding novel in June, so stay tuned!

UNDERCOVER – AN AUSTEN NOIR
THE ROMANTIC COLLISION OF THREE WORLDS

Thank you, Anna, for inviting me to share Undercover with your readers at Diary of An Eccentric. It is an honor to visit for the first time and introduce another side of my Pride and Prejudice inspired work.

undercover book coverMy latest novel was written on a dare, believe it or not. Pamela Lynne, my publishing partner and friend at Vanity & Pride Press, and I were chatting one night when she had a light-bulb moment for me to write something that hadn’t been done in the JA fandom before: A crime fiction Noir in my own Cat-style. I was unsure that I could do it justice lest both Jane Austen and Raymond Chandler rolled over in their graves. But Pamela wouldn’t let up, confident that if I can write WWII-era Romantic Dramas as well as a Mr. Darcy on a Harley that I would be up for the task and neither authors would be offended — too much. My muse, feeling uninspired in another project, eventually took up the challenge. And what a challenge it was given that I only write third person and that I didn’t want to make the story too dark, and, of course wanting to provide a happy ending. The latter two, IMHO are essential for an Austenesque novel, but not for a true Noir. Yet, I needed to incorporate all the other elements that make an intriguing, hard-boiled detective novel, simultaneously giving it my own voice within, something that my readers have come to expect.

Undercover became a collision of three worlds, two that were already familiar. My adoration of 20th Century Historical Fiction and my love of Pride and Prejudice together combined with the sultry, dramatic theme of Noir (or more precisely, in the case of Undercover, hard-boiled crime fiction, but that wouldn’t read well on the book cover.😉 )

The Austenesque theme for me was easy since my style of P&P is inspired, giving me much more latitude in where I can go with our dear characters in a modern world. This novel kept certain character traits but focused on a 20th Century “What-if” scenario.

What if in 1952:

• What if Wickham was more debauched than we had realized?
• What if Mary King’s uncle hadn’t whisked her away to safety?
• What if Elizabeth hadn’t married, either to save her family’s future or for love and instead chose to become a career girl.
• What if Jane was truly a vain and mercenary creature and sibling rivalry existed between the two “most beloved” sisters?
• What if that relationship with Jane altered Elizabeth, making her insecure and feeling unworthy — maybe even unloved? Would she be more susceptible to Wickham’s advances?
• What if Bingley had arrived — with Darcy — after Wickham had come and gone?
• What if Darcy’s back story tormented him? Any other man (except our Darcy) would have been broken, but he hid his anguish behind a façade.
• What if Elizabeth met Darcy as a matured, confident woman who knew what she wanted and was already settled into a non-traditional role in society.

blackandwhiteNow for the challenging part of incorporating some of the thematic elements of a post-WWII, hard-boiled detective story. Unlike characters Sam Spade, Charlie Chan, and Philip Marlowe, we are not hearing their voice in a first person narrative – Undercover is told in a third person, alternating POV. But what we do have is:

• A gruff tone when in certain characters’ POV, using slang and period words like “dame,” “flatfoot,” “moxie.”
• Necessary characters such as a police detective, a femme fatale, a private investigator, the shrew, the sympathetic friend, the psycho, and the emotionally scarred, beefcake hero who always gets the girl.
• An intricate plot with flashbacks and a smoking gun.
• A visual mood, filled with shadows and a dark city, smoky bars, and the ever-present cigarette.
• Sensuality in the darkness.
• Clichés and similes that don’t quite make sense, yet add to the thematic traits of a rough-around-the-edges police detective from the wrong side of the tracks.

The third component of Undercover is the part I live and breathe: 20th Century Historical Fiction and the fun of weaving research finds into the novel. The backdrop is set in New York City, 1952, at a time when gender equality wasn’t any further along following the gains of the “Rosie the Riveter” vital movement into the workforce. Post-war life had settled back into a focus on family (hence the following Baby-boomer Generation) in an attempt to return to normalcy by restoring all things to pre-war 1941. Women had been forced out of the factories when “the boys” returned home. “Career girls” existed, of course, but in limited areas such as nursing, secretarial, and shop girls. Certainly not as a gumshoe (private investigator) such as Elizabeth. But in Undercover, we also explore an alternative career choice prevalent in NYC at the time on 52nd Street: that of a bump-n-grind girl, a stripper.

Historically, 1952 was an iconic (and atomic) year of milestones – but today, they seem blips on the map of forgotten historical significance. Just to name a few:

• In this early Cold War era, we were two years into the Korean War, which, then, had been referred to as a “police action,” yet history would tell us how more than 40,000 American G.I.s never came home.
• General Dwight D. Eisenhower became President with a slogan “I Like Ike,” vowing to bring our boys home.
• Codename “Mike,” the United States’ first hydrogen bomb had been successfully tested on an atoll in the South Pacific.
• The first sexual reassignment was performed.
• Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigation into un-American, Communist activities sparked the Second Red Scare in America, coining the term “McCarthyism.”

havanaAs our hero and heroine travel from New York City to Havana, it was a wonderful experience to embark on research about the complicated political atmosphere, yet dynamic lifestyle of pre-Castro Cuba in 1952.

In a coup d’etat, Fulgencio Batista had returned to power as president and brutal dictator and the Communist movement went temporarily underground. With a corrupt government fostering the long relationship, the American Mafia continued to have a pretty good gig in Havana, running luxury hotels, casinos and the nightlife. The capital had been prosperous and bustling with both commercial and high-roller tourist trades.

This brought me to discover a true historical gem within the pearl of Cuba: Central Hershey, a little-known sugar plantation, refinery, and chocolate manufacturing worker town thirty miles outside of Havana. This town with its houses, school, hotel, shops, railroad, casino, and orphanage had changed lives from 1920-1945. I used this location as a backdrop to a dangerous rescue in the dark of night by our gumshoe and her brooding man.

History—and chocolate aficionados—will enjoy this video.

Pull it all together, sprinkle in a soundtrack with period music that sets the scene in places such as the Copacabana and the Tropicana Club, add a dash of visual inspiration with a Pinterest board, and you have a mixture of three worlds in an Austenesque novel that was supposed to have been a novella! Take a chance on Undercover; I hope you’ll enjoy this unique, sultry mystery with a Mr. Darcy in a fedora!

Thank you again, Anna, and thank you, dear readers, for the welcome to Diary of an Eccentric!

AUTHOR BIO

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. From the comedic Christmas, Chick Lit Lucky 13, and bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventure Denial of Conscience, to the romantic comedy Villa Fortuna, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers. Her newest release is a sultry Pride and Prejudice Noir, just released 4/20/16.

Her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever, will release in late spring 2016 with The Song is You following.

Married 23 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world — their orange tabby, Ollie. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

GIVEAWAY

Cat is generously offering 2 ebooks of Undercover to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address telling me why you want to read the book. The giveaway will close on Sunday, May 1. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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SE final 4Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Rose Fairbanks as she celebrates the release of her latest novel, Sufficient Encouragement, a Pride and Prejudice variation and the first book in the When Love Blooms series. I really enjoyed editing this novel, as it combines Rose’s love of both Austen’s characters and history.

About Sufficient Encouragement:

We are all fools in love…

Some say a lady’s imagination is very rapid. Such is the case when Elizabeth Bennet overhears that Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy admires her eyes. She thinks nothing for herself, but immediately considers her dearest sister’s growing attachment to Mr. Darcy’s friend. If Elizabeth spurns such a wealthy—and proud—gentleman, he might do everything in his power to separate his friend from her sister.

Raised in a world of expectations and pedigree, Darcy knows Elizabeth Bennet can offer him nothing of material value. As his attraction for her grows, he becomes increasingly convinced his feelings are nonsensical. Still, he might forsake it all if only he had true encouragement.

Misunderstandings lead to betrayals and the couple soon learns falling in love takes courage but staying in love requires forgiveness. Traversing from the groves of Hertfordshire to the drawing rooms of London to the complexity and danger of Luddite revolts in Yorkshire, Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey of love and forgiveness.

*This story contains a scene of nonexplicit sexual violence.

Rose has kindly provided an excerpt from Sufficient Encouragement. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me! After surviving the plots of Wickham and a disappointing Mr. Bennet, Darcy and Elizabeth are engaged, but life throws another curve ball. During the year of 1812, factories in the North of England suffered attacks from a group now known as Luddites. Some sources say they were disgruntled laborers, unhappy with low pay; others say they were farmers who (rightfully) believed the new technology and factory system were taking away their side employment as textile workers in their own homes. Before this excerpt, Darcy and Bingley got a notice that there is an attack planned on one of the Bingley mills, and Darcy is a silent partner in the investment. They have come to Gracechurch Street to bid their ladies goodbye, although it means delaying Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding.

Elizabeth led Will to the Gardiners’ sitting room. Before he could open his mouth to speak, she said, “I am coming with you.”

Will took a step towards her. “Elizabeth—”

She interrupted him. “No, I will not be parted from you.”

“That is impossible for a variety of reasons. Your uncle will never agree, and I would not blame him.”

“I believe the wife of Mr. Darcy is not beholden to the opinions of other men.”

“Yes, well, as I am sure you have gathered, the wedding must be delayed.” He frowned while speaking.

“Or moved ahead,” she said steadily while meeting his eyes. Anticipating his argument, she held up her hands to cease the words forming on his lips. “I do not require much rest on journeys. We shall travel swiftly. I suppose the moon is no help right now, but surely two days is sufficient.”

“I was hoping to talk with the local landowners. If they can be convinced to help alleviate the burden felt by their tenants, there would be no need for attacks. And the yeoman has to face high prices for goods as much as anyone.”

“So your solution would be to spend a week browbeating gentlemen and shopkeepers?” Elizabeth asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

Elizabeth sat and smoothed her skirts. “Do you even know them? Are you even acquainted with the owners at all? Do you know if they are even at their estates and not in London? Their stewards could not promise to do anything of that sort without approval. How can you work on shopkeepers? They have their own families to feed.”

She tugged Will’s hand, and he sat beside her. Seeing that Will looked unconvinced, she pressed her point again. “The trade components are more complicated than most are considering. The factory owners have to pay for the materials. Due to the war and the American embargo, we rely more on textiles made in England, but that will not be true forever. The shopkeepers buy their goods and must have a profit. Meanwhile, many of the other goods they used to sell are now unavailable due to the war. Our entire economy is built on ancient practices and is ready to collapse. Goods now travel around the world instead of remaining in a very local marketplace. Even the centuries-old trade of raw materials from America to England and goods to Africa has collapsed because of the Revolution and the abolition of the slave trade. There is something great for the future to be made out of this tangled mess, but we must live in harmony.”

Will listened quietly during her speech, so she continued. “Bingley or his uncle would know the principal landowners in the area, but it is possible they would defer to others who are even more influential. Your uncle is a powerful lord with an estate in West Riding and is the Lord Lieutenant. He must know many…” She trailed off. “You already know all of this, of course.”

“Yes, I have sent a note to my uncle and will meet with him soon. I do enjoy how passionate you become on subjects in which you are knowledgeable, though,” he said while lightly caressing her hand.

Resisting the pleasurable feeling, Elizabeth shook her head. “You will not distract me. You must see then that there is little for you to do. I know you will go. You cannot shirk your responsibilities and investments, but as you do not know the people on either side of the conflict, your uncle could put you to use just as well here in London for a few more days.”

Will ceased his movements and looked her directly in the eye. “It means a great deal to you that I do not leave without you and that we wed earlier than planned?”

Elizabeth ducked her head and whispered, “Yes.”

He pulled her into an embrace, and she fought back tears. “I would be happy to marry you any day of your choosing,” he murmured into her hair. “Although I would rather not be a means for you to avoid your feelings about your father or your mistreatment by Wickham.”

She sniffled, again willing the tears to hold back. “How would you know so much about it?”

“I have been disappointed in my father, and I have seen how long it took Georgiana to recover her spirits over Wickham.”

“She had thought she was in love with him, and I never did. I only hate that I did not see his true character and seemed so weak compared to him. It is so frustrating to be a woman. How many times have people attempted to take my power of choice away?”

“I know, love,” Will said while rubbing her back. “I will abide by your choice now if you are certain you truly desire to wed in a few days’ time and then go on this arduous journey with me.”

Elizabeth pulled back to meet his eyes. “I have already journeyed to London by my own choice to be with you. What are a few hundred miles more?”

He chuckled. “I wish I could assure you the roads are in good condition, but you will see things run differently in the North. It is not too far from Pemberley actually. We could return there when our errand is complete before returning for Bingley’s wedding—unless you would like to come earlier.”

She furrowed her brow. “Will Georgiana wish to go as well?”

“No, she hates Derbyshire in the winter. She may come if you desire it, though…” He trailed off.

She smiled. “No, I believe newlyweds ought to have privacy.” She blushed. “Rather, I had not wanted to make her feel unwelcome in her own home or abandoned.”

“Nonsense. She will stay with the Matlocks and have the company of my aunt, Anne, and Lady Belinda. I am certain Mrs. Gardiner and Jane would be welcome additions as well.”

“Then I think it is a splendid idea!” She beamed.

Will looked around the room. “Speaking of privacy…” He captured her lips for several minutes until there was a noise in the hall.

About the When Love Blooms series:

“Love is like a flower, for it is well worth the toil to cultivate it.” She shrugged her shoulders, “Love is beautiful.”

Take a stroll in the garden of love and enjoy the unique blooms of the intersecting lives of the Bennet, Darcy, Fitzwilliam, de Bourgh and Bingley families. Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth as they fight to save their love from an unexpected frost while Jane and Bingley’s love grows strong roots. The companion story, Renewed Hope, adds depth to the bouquet with the love stories of Darcy’s cousins and Miss Bingley. The third book in the series, Extraordinary Devotion, follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage while their younger sisters experience a London Season.

About Rose Fairbanks:

Rose Fairbanks hears book characters talk in her head. They whisper to her of a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. More than having a love story for the ages, these characters face struggles inspired by historical events such as market crashes, Napoleon, embargoes, Luddites, the Year Without a Summer and more. Merging historical research with the timelessness of Jane Austen, Rose currently has ten Pride and Prejudice variations published with several releases planned for 2016 as well as an original Regency Romance series in the works.

Rose proudly admits her Darcy obsession and addictions to reading, chocolate, and sweet tea. Always in the mood for a healthy debate, she also dearly loves to laugh. Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to complete her master’s studies…someday. At the moment, having a career combining her life-long interest in history and research with her love for Jane Austen and the Regency Era consumes all of her professional time. When not writing or reading, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her blog.

SE blog tour final

Sufficient Encouragement Blog Tour Schedule

4/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
4/17: Excerpt at My Jane Austen Book Club
4/18: Excerpt & Review at The Ardent Reader
4/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
4/20: Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
4/21: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
4/22: Guest Post at Babblings of a Bookworm
4/25: Review at Just Jane 1813
4/26: Guest Post at More Agreeably Engaged
4/28: Guest Post & Review at From Pemberley to Milton

Giveaway:

Rose is generously offering 2 ebooks (international) and 1 print copy (U.S.) of Sufficient Encouragement to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment telling me what you liked best about the excerpt and why you want to read the book. Please be sure to leave your email address and your desired book format. The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 24. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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darcy-vs-bennet-thumbnail (1)I am so happy to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy vs. Bennet. I had the pleasure of editing this novel, and I must admit that Victoria makes my job easy by writing such delightful variations!

About Darcy vs. Bennet:

Elizabeth Bennet is drawn to a handsome, mysterious man she meets at a masquerade ball. However, she gives up all hope for a future with him when she learns he is the son of George Darcy, the man who ruined her father’s life. Despite her father’s demand that she avoid the younger Darcy, when he appears in Hertfordshire Elizabeth cannot stop thinking about him, or seeking him out, or welcoming his kisses…

Fitzwilliam Darcy has struggled to carve out a life independent from his father’s vindictive temperament and domineering ways, although the elder Darcy still controls the purse strings. After meeting Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy cannot imagine marrying anyone else, even though his father despises her family. More than anything he wants to make her his wife, but doing so would mean sacrificing everything else…

Victoria’s Inspiration for Darcy vs. Bennet:

Readers often ask me where I get my ideas. Often it’s difficult for me to re-construct the origins of an idea after I’ve been living with it for months (and often years). However, the idea of a more positive version of Romeo and Juliet has appealed to me ever since I read the play in high school, and it seemed a natural fit to apply elements of the plot with Pride and Prejudice. This allowed the family feud aspect of the R&J plotline to provide Darcy and Elizabeth with external obstacles. While I love the conflict created by the personality differences and misunderstandings in the canonical P&P, I thought it would be intriguing to see a Darcy and Elizabeth who were working together to struggle against external pressures.

One of the results of this struggle in Darcy vs. Bennet is that they must pretend to dislike each other so that no one suspects their true feelings. Thus, when Darcy says Elizabeth isn’t handsome enough to tempt him, he doesn’t mean it; he’s trying to deflect attention from his true admiration of her. And Elizabeth must pretend to believe Wickham’s slander of Darcy’s character. Other parts of the P&P plot also fit into the family feud template. For example, many of Wickham’s actions are motivated by his conspiracy with Darcy’s father to separate the lovers. And Mr. Collins plays a brief but vital (and humorous) role in adding to the struggle.

In writing Darcy vs. Bennet, I was surprised how easily the various plot points of P&P fit with elements of R&J. However, I do promise my version of the R&J story does have a happy ending; no one dies in a tomb!

And if that hasn’t already made you want to read it right away, here’s an excerpt from Darcy vs. Bennet:

“Just think, five thousand a year!” Elizabeth’s mother exclaimed for at least the sixth time that day. “Jane, you must be sure to smile at him.”

“Yes, Mama,” Jane said serenely—again.

“And be certain to have him dance with you. Lizzy’s friend Louisa swore that it only took one dance with her Robert and he fell in love! Now she is married into the Berwick family as happy as can be!”

“Yes, Mama,” Jane said.

Elizabeth exchanged an understanding smile with her elder sister. All week the family had been in an uproar over the arrival of Mr. Bingley at Netherfield Park. Her father had called on the man, and he had returned the call, but the Bennet daughters had yet to meet him.

Now, however, they were on their way to the Meryton Assembly, where Mr. Bingley was certain to be in attendance. Elizabeth winced as the carriage went over a particularly big bump, and she was jostled against Jane.

“And he may have other wealthy gentlemen with him!” her mother exclaimed. “I heard he was to bring twelve ladies and six gentlemen to the assembly.”

“I heard it was seven ladies and four gentlemen,” Lydia put in.

Her mother waved her handkerchief irritably. “In any case, he is likely to have other wealthy friends.”

“I will be sure to smile at them!” Lydia exclaimed.

“Good for you!” Their mother smiled.

“I can smile at gentlemen, too!” Kitty whined.

“There is no doubt of that.” Their father rolled his eyes.

“I do not believe it is appropriate to smile at men to whom we have not been properly introduced,” Mary added.

Elizabeth massaged her temples. It was possible she would have a headache before they even arrived at the assembly.

“Do you think there will be any men in regimentals?” Lydia asked. This began a discussion of how dashing men appeared in a red coat, and Mr. Bingley’s party of guests was temporarily forgotten.

Lady Lucas greeted the Bennet party at the entrance to the assembly with the information that Mr. Bingley had brought two gentlemen and two ladies. The ladies were his sisters, and one of the gentlemen was married to one of the sisters. The other gentleman was a friend of Mr. Bingley’s who was rumored to be worth ten thousand pounds a year, but Lady Lucas had not caught his name.

At this news, Elizabeth’s mother was in an even greater frenzy of excitement. “Oh, Jane! You must be sure to dance with both of them! Is the other gentleman well favored? He must be in want of a wife as well. Elizabeth, be sure to stand near him. Perhaps he would dance with you too!”

Elizabeth simply nodded; she knew from experience that any type of protest was futile and would only prolong her mother’s inappropriate behavior.

Within a few minutes Mr. Bingley had made his way to their party, and Mr. Bennet introduced the newcomer to his wife and daughters, whereupon Mr. Bingley immediately invited Jane to dance. Lydia and Kitty ran off to join some of the other neighborhood girls, and Mary departed for a discussion with the local vicar.

Elizabeth stood awkwardly with her mother. The assembly hall was quite crowded and warm. The others in Mr. Bingley’s party were well concealed by the crush of people, for Elizabeth noticed no strangers. However, Mrs. Long waded through the crowd to be at Mrs. Bennet’s side. Her eager expression suggested she had some interesting gossip to impart.

“Have you heard about Mr. Bingley’s guests?” she asked Elizabeth’s mother.

“Indeed, I have! Ten thousand a year!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed.

“Well, the man may have a fortune, but the man is proud and disagreeable!” Mrs. Long said. “He has refused to dance with anyone save the ladies in his party and stares at everyone with haughty disdain. I told Henry, ‘Well, if that is how Mr. Darcy feels about Meryton, then Meryton does not—’”

Elizabeth and her mother gasped in unison, but Mrs. Bennet recovered first. “W-What is his name, Marianne?”

“Mr. Darcy. I believe his given name is Fitzwilliam. I am sure it must be a family name because who would choose to bestow such a name—”

Mrs. Bennet had turned white, and Elizabeth was sure her complexion looked no better. “Where does he reside?” Mrs. Bennet asked her friend.

“I believe his family is from an estate in Derbyshire.”

Elizabeth’s world went white for a moment at these words, so implausible and unwelcome, and she thought she might faint. He was here. There was no doubt it was him. In the two years since the masquerade ball, he had constantly invaded her thoughts. She could not help comparing every man she encountered to “William.” But she had believed herself safe from another encounter.

Would he recognize her? Remember her? Was he angry at how she had fled the ball? Of course, he would know by now that she had not been invited. Did he think her terribly wanton? Perhaps he had forgotten her; that would be for the best.

Elizabeth attempted to quell her growing panic. It hardly matters what Mr. Darcy thinks of me, she reasoned. Once he learns I am part of Thomas Bennet’s family, he will be disgusted. But the thought of seeing that look of disgust on his face ignited more panic. I must leave before he sees me!

Giveaway:

Victoria is generously offering a copy of Darcy vs. Bennet to one of my readers. This giveaway is open internationally, and the winner will have the choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about this unique take on Pride and Prejudice. The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 17. The winner will be chosen randomly. I will email the winner and announce their name in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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