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Hello, dear readers! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Bronwen Chisholm to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time, to celebrate the release of her new Pride and Prejudice variation, Mrs. Collins’ Lover. I hope you are as intrigued by this excerpt as I am! Please give her a warm welcome:

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Hello Readers! Thank you, Anna, for hosting me today. I am beyond tickled to spend time getting to know you. My favorite part of the JAFF world is the wonderful people you get to meet.

As many of you know, I am releasing my sixth Pride and Prejudice variation … TODAY!! Mrs. Collins’ Lover has been a work of the heart, which means it took much longer than normal. So, without further ado, I will share the blurb and … not quite an excerpt. This is actually a scene which is in the book, but told from a different perspective. Originally, it was included, but had to go during editing.

Elizabeth Bennet was raised with a strong belief and faith in God’s plan for her life. She knew He had a plan, even if the details were hidden from her. But, when placed in an untenable situation, she turned instead to the arms of a man to find brief moments of joy. Finally, when able to realize the happiness which was always intended for her, the weight of her guilt over her past sins convinces her of her unworthiness. Only through reconciliation with the Lover of her soul can she truly fulfill the life He planned for her. But first, she must forgive herself in order to find redemption.

Remember: In order to be redeemed, there must be sin. This story is intended for mature audiences.

Trigger Warning: There are incidents of abuse in this story.

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Mary Bennet drew her shawl tighter about her as she looked across Longbourn’s fields. There was no sight of her sister and she feared she knew where Lizzy had gone. Releasing a heavy sigh, she began walking toward Oakham Mount, dragging her feet as her mind wandered over what she had observed for the past few days.

With so many visitors to Longbourn due to Jane’s wedding, Mrs. Bennet had decided Lizzy and her husband would have to share a room. No one anticipated the man’s displeasure over the situation. Uncle and Aunt Gardiner always shared a room, even if it was not necessary. Elizabeth had attempted to smooth his ruffled feathers by suggesting she share a room with Jane, but the man demanded she share with Mary instead.

Though surprised by this, Mary had quickly agreed as she missed her older sister dearly. It was not until Lizzy had left in January that Mary realized how much she had done at Longbourn and how they all depended upon her. It was Lizzy who visited the tenants weekly and Lizzy who calmed tempers. Jane might be better at nursing injured feelings, but Lizzy provided the incentive to bring the parties together once more and promote healing. For weeks after her departure to Hunsford, the entire household felt as though it stood on its head.

The previous evening, after the last guest had finally left and everyone began to retire, Mary suggested Elizabeth move into Jane’s room. Her sister had demurred, saying she would be there for only two more nights and she had no desire to move everything now unless it was Mary’s preference. Having no objection, the sisters readied for bed and the candles were extinguished soon after.

Mary lay in silence staring into the night and waiting. About half an hour later, she heard the first soft sniffling. It had been the same every night. When Elizabeth thought Mary was asleep, she would release her tears. Mary had watched her sister during the day, and noticed Jane doing the same. The remainder of their family seemed to avoid the practice as though they did not want to know. Elizabeth was thinner and her eyes had a haunted look. Only when the Netherfield party joined them did she show any signs of her prior self, but even then she was extremely guarded and spoke little.

This morning, Elizabeth had slipped from their room very early. Mary knew her sister’s love of long walks and decided not to say anything, but when Lizzy had not returned in half an hour, she decided she would go out to meet her, hoping to be a buffer should Mr. Collins be displeased as he always seemed to be.

She had not meant to walk the entire way to Oakham Mount. Indeed, she was not normally fond of walking. However, the morning was lovely, and something seemed to spur her forward. She was about to enter the clearing at the top of the mount when she heard the voices. Mary stopped, uncertain what to do, until she realized she could hear what was being said.

“Has he hit you again?”

Mary gasped as Elizabeth responded in the negative. Mr. Collins struck Lizzy? She shook her head as her anger grew toward the man her sister had been forced to marry, before she listened again. She knew it was wrong, but Lizzy would never confess any of this to her otherwise. Their words became muffled and she moved that she might be better able to hear or possibly see them. It was then she realized they shared an intimate embrace.

A hand flew to her mouth as she stared disbelievingly. Elizabeth would never act the harlot. And with Mr. Darcy no less? She turned away, careful not to make a sound, though she doubted they would notice. She knew she should leave; it would be mortifying if they found her there, but she was torn between what she knew of her sister and Lizzy’s actions. After an internal struggle, she finally crept slowly back up the path and hid once more.

“I will not abandon you … rightful Mrs. Darcy … Elizabeth, you were meant to be mine.” Mr. Darcy’s words were muffled by the wind or his attentions to her sister.

“… he never dies? … lost my soul truly is …”

Hearing her sister’s words, realizing Elizabeth knew how wrong her actions were; Mary suddenly felt the impropriety of her own and left as quietly as she could. Once she was far enough from them, she walked quickly to put more distance between her and the couple. She had no desire to see their loving embraces. There was a time she would have taken her sister to task for her actions, but now her heart simply broke for Elizabeth. Married to such a man as Mr. Collins and loved by Mr. Darcy … Mary shook her head. Once she was far enough past the split in the road, she took a seat upon a stile and waited. Her heart was torn and, for the first time in her life, she questioned her convictions.

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Poor Mary. Known by most JAFF readers as the righteous sister – to be confronted with her sister’s downfall. I think you will be proud of how she handles the situation.

And now, a GIVEAWAY! Just make a comment on this blog (with your email address) and Anna will pick 1 lucky winner to receive an ebook copy of Mrs. Collins’ Lover. The giveaway will be open through Sunday, August 18, 2019. Good luck! And I hope you enjoyed our visit as much as I did. I can’t wait to read your comments.

Bronwen Chisholm

Bronwen Chisholm began her writing career working on suspense romance, but finally became a published author with her Pride and Prejudice variations. She takes great pleasure in searching for potential “plot twists” and finding the way back to a happy ending.

Her love of writing has led her to several writing groups, and she is currently serving as the vice president of the Riverside Writers and organizes the Riverside Young Writers.

For more information, visit her at www.bronwenchisholm.com.

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Follow the Blog Tour

7/31 Austen Authors

8/9 Babblings of a Bookworm

8/10 Diary of an Eccentric

8/12 From Pemberley to Milton

8/14 More Agreeably Engaged

8/17 My Love for Jane Austen

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It’s always a pleasure to feature Amy D’Orazio on the blog, so I’m delighted that she’s back today to celebrate the release of A Lady’s Reputation. Today she’s here to talk about a fan favorite character, Viscount Saye. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Back when I began writing my stories and posting them online at AHA, a character sort of wormed his way into my writing. He wasn’t part of the first two I wrote but by the third story, A Willful Misunderstanding (unpublished), he had begun to make himself known.

I can’t say I’ve always had a clear idea of him— it might sound odd to say so but he really sort of forced his way in and took on a life of his own. He’s the elder brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam, an unnamed and vaguely present entity that doesn’t appear in canon but who has come to figure large in my stories!

I have named him Viscount Saye, Antony Fitzwilliam. He is about 3 years older than Colonel Fitzwilliam which makes him around 5 years older than Darcy. He is heir to his father’s earldom (which in my stories is usually called Matlock) as well as his fortune.

Saye is a little bit rakish, and enjoyed the London scene very well as a young bachelor. He is wealthy, handsome, irreverent and impertinent. He knows his is a rarefied and privileged position and he enjoys every bit of the status and wealth afforded to him.

Although he likes to tease, and even torment, however, he loves his brother and his cousin Darcy. As a good friend of mine once put it, “Saye loves to do good as long as he’s sure no one will catch him at it.”

The love of his life is a young lady of the ton called Lillian—her maiden name was Miss Goddard and in my most recent book, A Lady’s Reputation, they are engaged. Sometimes they’re already married, it all depends on the story!

I have something of an enormous crush on my Saye (sometimes even more than Darcy but shh, don’t tell!) and it was a huge compliment to me when a recent reviewer wrote “He’s such a natural extension of the Fitzwilliam family that it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t in Austen’s original.”

From A Lady’s Reputation

The scene within the Gardiner residence was not one Darcy could have contrived in his wildest imagination.

His aunt sat in a chair next to Elizabeth on a small settee. Colonel Fitzwilliam sat across from them on another sofa with Mr and Mrs Gardiner on either side. As Darcy and Saye were shown in, all save Elizabeth turned to look at them. Uneasiness made Darcy pause, but Saye had no such scruple, all but leaping into the room with eagerness and going directly to Elizabeth.

“So then! This is Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the centre of our most recent Fitzwilliam Family Furore!”

Elizabeth looked at him in shock as he strode towards her, belatedly rising for the introduction. Saye bowed low over Elizabeth’s hand, boldly kissing it as she watched with clear amazement.

“Enchanté, my dear. Is it too soon to call you Cousin?” Saye settled himself on the settee, still holding Elizabeth’s hand, thus forcing her to sit as well.

“Saye,” Lady Matlock said, a warning tone in her voice.

He disregarded his mother, leaning so close to Elizabeth it almost appeared he would kiss her. “Fitzwilliam Family Furore…I challenge you to say it twenty times fast. I thought of nothing else but that for the entire journey here. Try it with me. Fitzwilliam Family Furore, Fitzwilliam Family Furore, Fitzwilliam Family Furore—”

He stopped suddenly, leaning back and looking concerned for a moment. “Though to be perfectly just, I must own that perhaps it cannot truly be regarded as a Fitzwilliam Family Furore since Darcy is the originator of all this. Or can it? For we must concede, he is half Fitzwilliam…and his given name is Fitzwilliam…so yes, I must conclude it works, much to the delight of all.”

He beamed at Elizabeth as she recovered from her astonishment and, to the great surprise of everyone in the room, began to laugh, her fingers pressed to her lips and her eyes twinkling merrily.

Colonel Fitzwilliam closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose while Lady Matlock admonished, “Saye, stop being ridiculous at once.”

“Why should I? I daresay, of us all at this moment, I am likely Miss Elizabeth’s favourite Fitzwilliam. Can you deny it?”

He addressed the last to Elizabeth, and she replied with laughter still in her tone, “I have no wish to deny it, sir. This is indeed the most enjoyable five minutes I have had these three days together.”

“You see?” Saye gave his relations a smug little smirk.

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About A Lady’s Reputation

“Mr. Darcy, I am eager to hear your explanation for the fact that quite a few people believe we are engaged.”

It starts with a bit of well-meant advice. Colonel Fitzwilliam suggests to his cousin Darcy that, before he proposes to Elizabeth Bennet in Kent, perhaps he ought to discuss his plans with their families first.

What neither man could have predicted however was that Lord Matlock would write the news to his sister or Viscount Saye would overhear, and tell his friends, or that his friends might slip a little and let their friends know as well. The news spreads just as quickly through Hertfordshire once Mrs Bennet opens the express Mr Bennet receives from Mr Darcy, and in a matter of days, it seems like everyone knows that Mr Darcy has proposed marriage to Elizabeth Bennet.

Everyone, that is, except Elizabeth herself.

Her refusal is quick and definite—until matters of reputation, hers as well as Jane’s, are considered. Then Mr Darcy makes another offer: summer at Pemberley, so that Jane can be reunited with Mr Bingley and so that he can prove to Elizabeth he is not what she thinks of him. Falling in love with him is naturally impossible…but once she knows the man he truly is, will she be able to help herself?

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Amy D’Orazio

Amy D’Orazio is a long-time devotee of Jane Austen and fiction related to her characters. She began writing her own little stories to amuse herself during hours spent at sports practices and the like and soon discovered a passion for it. By far, however, the thing she loves most is the connections she has made with readers and other writers of Austenesque fiction.

Amy currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughters, as well as three Jack Russell terriers who often make appearances (in a human form) in her book.

Amy’s other releases include “A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity” and the “The Best Part of Love,” a Readers Choice Gold Medal Winner for 2017. She has also contributed short stories to “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues,” “Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies” and “Yuletide: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories.”

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Giveaway

You are encouraged to visit all the stops on the blog tour and comment. Quills & Quartos Publishing will be giving away one $50 Amazon gift card to one enthusiastic follower! You get one point for every blog stop you visit and leave a comment. Good luck! (See Blog Tour banner)

A big thank you to Amy for being my guest today. Congratulations on your latest novel!

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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Heather Moll to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her new Pride and Prejudice variation, His Choice of an Wife. I hope you find her research on Regency-era sleeve buttons as interesting as I did. Please give Heather a warm welcome!

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“My aunt and uncle Gardiner undertook a commission in town on my behalf since I could find nothing in Meryton that would suit. I had not planned to give these to you so soon, but I want you to have them before you must leave me again.”

He gave her a bemused look before opening the box to see the four bright-green oval sleeve buttons set in silver. He picked up one linked pair and held the delicate stones between his finger and thumb.  

Thank you for hosting me today, Anna! I’m pleased and proud to be able to share His Choice of a Wife with your readers and talk about something I incorporate into every JAFF I write: jewelry.  If anyone follows me on social media, you’ll see me post about #GeorgianJewelry. As much as I love all historical detail, I know I have too much fun searching for unique and gorgeous pieces.

Who doesn’t love jewelry … and a sharp-dressed man? We tend to think of Regency-era women decked out in garnets, topazes, and emeralds, but let’s not forget the gentlemen.

Since the 17th century, sleeve buttons were used to keep closed the large cuffs on gentlemen’s coats. Often they were bespoke and made from either silver or gold, or alloys that had the look of precious metals. They were meant to be swapped out to wear with different coats. They were a pair of matching buttons joined at the shank to be put through the sleeves of the coat.

Notice the gold buttons on the coat sleeve of the man in red (1791)

Men’s shirts were an undergarment and only the collar and long lace cuffs were meant to be seen. The lacy trim disappeared by the 19th century—good style choice, gentlemen. With the long frilly lace cuffs gone, coat sleeves narrowed and the plain shirt cuff now extended beyond the coat sleeve and needed to be held closed.

Note those narrow cuffs with the button hole. Circa 1800

What is a sharp-dressed young man to do? A ribbon or plain button won’t do when everyone can see it. He moved his decorative sleeve buttons from his coat to his shirt. Large cuffs on coat sleeves fell out of fashion, but 2 or 3 fabric or gilt buttons remained on the sleeve, and that’s still seen in men’s suits today.

Not that any man rolls up his suit sleeve any more…

By the time of the Regency, these sleeve buttons were made of metals, enamel, or paste as well as precious stones and gems. They were a way to convey personal style and could be either plain or more ornate for formal dress. Around this time these linked sleeve buttons—now only used to secure shirt cuffs— began to be called cufflinks.

The first set is a smoky quartz circa 1760 and the second are moss agate and ruby circa 1800.

Darcy’s gift in His Choice of a Wife is a nice transition from lacy sleeves with coat sleeve buttons…

and the men’s cufflinks we’re more familiar with.

What kind of sleeve buttons did Darcy get? What was the reason for the gift? And why does he have to leave Elizabeth again?

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About His Choice of Wife

When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves?

After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?

Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Heather Moll

Heather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing.

Connect with Heather: Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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I read Karen M Cox’s Cold War-era Pride and Prejudice spy novel, Undeceived, when it was first released in 2016 and absolutely loved her take on Darcy and Elizabeth as CIA agents. I’m delighted that the novel has been re-released, and I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt with you all today. But first, here’s what I said about Undeceived (which was on my Best of 2016 list) in my review:

I absolutely loved this novel from start to finish. What a unique way to retell Austen’s novel, and it really works! I loved Darcy as the arrogant yet charming spy and Elizabeth as a strong woman determined to get ahead in her career on her own merits, not by her father’s legacy in the agency. Fitzwilliam as MI6 and Charlotte as FBI, not to mention the bumbling agent Bill Collins, were fantastic additions to the cast of characters. The novel was so different that despite keeping the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice, I had no idea how it all would play out.

Please give Karen a warm welcome!

Hello Readers, and thank you to Anna for hosting me on Diary of an Eccentric. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my re-release of Undeceived: Pride and Prejudice in the Spy Game.

William Darcy, legendary CIA officer, has worn many hats and has worked all over the world. His latest position, as station chief in Prague, ended in disaster. Now, he’s been sent to Budapest… 

Budapest, Hungary

April 1982

“For Darby Kent?” The young messenger tried to wrap his tongue around the English pronunciation of Darcy’s alias as he handed him the envelope.

“Thank you,” he replied in Hungarian and put a forint coin in the kid’s hand. Still, after four months in this country, Darcy had trouble with the Magyar language and kept his small talk to a minimum. His cover as an American businessman consulting with the Hungarian government wasn’t ideal for gathering intelligence, but given his lack of finesse with Hungarian, it was probably a necessity.

The language barrier was one more reason this new assignment made no sense whatsoever.

He slid the letter opener across the flap and retrieved the sealed envelope inside. Lifting the false bottom of his desk drawer, he found his Cardan grille and laid it over a newspaper article planted in the Baltimore Sun society page.

“Smart ass,” he muttered, referring to the Central European station chief’s idea to put the coded message in the society page. The COS took any opportunity to goad him by testing the famous Darcy photographic memory. Now, Darcy would have to remember the content in the article in case someone referred to it. He was sure state security routinely opened his mail. His pencil scratched across the notepad as he wrote down the letters left visible through the Cardan grille card.

Fine Eyes rendezvous at Pied Piper’s gamble. SIP. Dossier to follow.

Finally, they were sending him a translator! Anyone was better than Bill Collins over at the State Department, a bumbling idiot who stuck out like a sore thumb. Everything about that nitwit—his walk, his talk, his manner—screamed American.

Darcy lit the scratch paper with his lighter. He stared into the flame and let the ashes fall into the fireplace until he had to drop them, making sure they burned completely. He washed the soot and pencil lead from his hands and adjusted his tie in the gilded mirror, reminding himself to stay positive. As covers went, this Budapest gig was pretty cushy: a nice flat in the Castle district, access to a phone (wire-tapped but useful for unclassified correspondence), eating establishments and laundry facilities close by, and the best household amenities that Hungary and its “goulash” brand of communism could provide. Even his car—a Zsiguli, a luxury in Budapest—was provided. He certainly had been in worse situations over the years.

He ran a hand over his hair to smooth it and tried on his most devilish grin. Darby Kent was a smooth operator, and Darcy knew how to play the part, almost to perfection.

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About Undeceived

…if I endeavor to undeceive people as to the rest of his conduct, who will believe me?

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 40

Elizabeth Bennet, a rookie counterintelligence officer, lands an intriguing first assignment—investigating the CIA’s legendary William Darcy, who is suspected of being a double agent.

Darcy’s charmed existence seems at an end as he fights for his career and struggles against his love for the young woman he doesn’t know is watching his every move.

Elizabeth’s confidence dissolves as nothing is like she planned—and the more she discovers about Darcy, the more she finds herself in an ever-tightening web of danger.

Unexpected twists abound in this suspenseful Cold War era romance inspired by Jane Austen’s classic tale.

Universal Buy Link

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About the Author

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of five novels accented with history and romance: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, I Could Write a Book, and Son of a Preacher Man, and a novella, The Journey Home, a companion piece to 1932.  She also loves writing short stories and has contributed to four Austen-inspired anthologies: “Northanger Revisited 2015” appears in Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, “I, Darcy” in The Darcy Monologues, “An Honest Man” in Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues, and “A Nominal Mistress” in Rational Creatures.

Karen was born in Everett WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State before settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at the age of eleven. She lives in a quiet little Central Kentucky town with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter.

Channeling Jane Austen’s Emma, Karen has let a plethora of interests lead her to begin many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker—like Elizabeth Bennet.

Connect with Karen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

If you would like bits of authorly goodness in your inbox each month (updates, sales, book recommendations, etc.) sign up for her News & Muse Letter. She loves to hear from readers, so don’t be shy. Contact her through social media, her website, or on-line stores.

A big thank you to Karen for being my guest today! Congratulations on the re-release! I hope my readers will check out Undeceived and love it as much as I did!

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I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate her latest release, Darcy in Hollywood. I’ve enjoyed editing all of Victoria’s books thus far, but her modern-day Pride and Prejudice variations are especially fun. I hope you enjoy our interview, as well as the excerpt from Darcy in Hollywood. Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

What inspired you to bring Darcy and Elizabeth to Hollywood?

That’s a good question which is always hard to answer since usually the idea for a book has been gestating in my brain for at least a year before I start writing it.  There are a lot of contemporary romances with movie stars as protagonists as well as a number of movies (like Notting Hill).  I really enjoy that subgenre; I think it’s particularly interesting to see the clash between the Hollywood lifestyle and the lives of ordinary people.  I also wanted to write another modern after President Darcy since that one was so much fun, and I thought Hollywood would make a good setting for the P&P story.

How difficult was it to adapt P&P to this setting? Did you find it difficult to insert timely themes, of which there are many throughout the book?

Writing a modern P&P variation is definitely harder than writing one set in the Regency time period because I need to find modern equivalents for the events, places, occupations, etc. that happen in P&P.  I didn’t set out to insert any modern themes in the story—any more than I did with President Darcy.  But they do have a way of creeping in.  The storyline about drug addiction was a natural fit with Hollywood, where so many people struggle with addiction issues, and it helped motivate a lot of character behavior.

Other themes came about in different ways.  I wanted Elizabeth to be committed to a charitable cause so that she would see a contrast between her beliefs and Darcy’s.  Originally I planned to have her become a worker in a nonprofit, but then decided it would be better if she was becoming a doctor.  One of the reasons I had her pick LGBTQ issues as a cause was personal.  My daughter has a friend whose parents disowned them when they came out as nonbinary.  This person is just a sweet, loving human being and that kind of rejection just struck me as so wrong.  That sense of injustice wouldn’t leave me alone, so it ended up as a subplot in the story.

You have a way with humor in your modern variations, from the Bennet family’s business in President Darcy to my favorite in Darcy in Hollywood: Bill Collins and Catherine de Bourgh. I don’t want to spoil it for readers, but oh how I laughed whenever Collins came into the picture…and Catherine’s advice to Darcy…priceless! That being said, what was your favorite scene to write? Do you have a favorite secondary character in your variation?

I always enjoy writing humor in my variations.  I actually think it’s an important part of Pride and Prejudice since Austen herself made humor an integral part of her stories.  With Collins and de Bourgh, in particular, it’s almost impossible to go too far with their characters—which makes them very fun to write.  I can make Collins can be as sycophantic and as stupid as possible, and it still works with the character Austen wrote.  Similarly, Catherine de Bourgh can never be too imperious or oblivious.

The joy of writing a modern novel is that I can think up new contexts for them to display those same character traits.  For instance, in Darcy in Hollywood, Collins becomes Mrs. de Bourgh’s personal assistant who has literally given up his life so he can devote it to hers.  He doesn’t even see his parents at Christmas (they just exchange cards) because de Bourgh needs him to sing carols to her on Christmas day.

This is your second modern P&P variation. Do you have plans to write another? (I sure hope so!) Do you find the moderns more difficult to write? To me, the moderns seem to give more freedom in the plot and characterization. But does that freedom make it harder since you lose the confines of Regency social rules?

Right now I don’t have an idea for another modern variation, but I’m sure another one will occur to me at some point.  Before I wrote President Darcy, I would have said that moderns should be easier to write since the writer doesn’t have to do as much research or worry about period details and period language.  But I would have been wrong.  In fact, Darcy in Hollywood took me longer to write than any book since my first one—and I deleted sixty pages from my drafts of the novel.

Regency-set P&P variations are easier in part because I can start partway through the story and the reader will know what has happened before.  For instance, I could open the book with the proposal at Hunsford, and readers wouldn’t bat an eye.  But in a modern, I’d have to explain how Darcy and Elizabeth met and got to the point where he was making some kind of offer (probably not an offer of marriage so early in their acquaintance). So modern variations end up being longer because I need to include more of the original P&P narrative.

The other thing that makes moderns hard is trying to remain true to Austen’s characters while having their behavior make sense in a modern setting.  A modern mother isn’t likely to want to marry her daughters off like the original Mrs. Bennet.  So I made her into a stage mother instead—someone who’s convinced that Lydia will be a big movie star.  Likewise, Mr. Bennet went from being a fairly well-to-do landowner, to a producer of B-movies.

But I ran into major problems with Darcy in this respect.  I discovered he really didn’t want to be a movie star!  With his personality, he didn’t fit with the Hollywood culture of self-promotion, screaming fans, and glitzy parties. I’d originally seen him as someone who was so proud of his work that he believed he deserved the adulation, but Darcy is too private for that.  So I had rewrite the early parts to make him into a kind of Masterpiece Theatre, classical actor who starred in one movie that made him a heartthrob to teenage girls—much to his embarrassment.  That worked much better for Darcy’s character.

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Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Darcy in Hollywood—right after Darcy nearly hits Elizabeth with his car. Enjoy!

Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation.  “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”

She regarded him through narrowed eyes.  “Yeah, I think it is.  What’s the alternative?  That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car?  Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents.  ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity.  Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”

Why did she have to be so difficult?  He was already putting up with so much doing an indie film.  “That’s not what I meant.  You don’t have to put it that way—”

“I almost got hit by a car.  I can put it however the fuck I want to!”

Darcy was so over this woman. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as he had initially thought. If only he could leave.  But he needed to make sure she wouldn’t talk to the media; another car-related incident would be a disaster for his career.  From now on, I only travel by train or boat.  Pity about her personality; she had fine eyes.

Darcy helped the woman limp to a nearby bench and gently lowered her to the seat.  “Maybe I should call for an ambulance,” he suggested.  He would have preferred to discuss having her sign a nondisclosure agreement, but it seemed a little insensitive.

“Let me sit for a minute.”  Leaning forward, she cradled her head in her hands, providing a good view of the blood matting the hair on the back of her head.  Huh, maybe she wasn’t wrong about the possible concussion.

Darcy settled on the bench beside her despite a desperate desire to cross the street and slip into Building 4, where they were holding the table read.  They won’t start without me, he reminded himself.  But being late wouldn’t impress them with his professionalism.

He took the opportunity to check her for other injuries.  She had a scrape on her right arm and favored her left ankle.  Of course, her clothes were disheveled—and a fashion disaster.  The sleeve of her t-shirt was ripped where she had fallen.

“I can get you a new t-shirt.”

“Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

Her mouth hung open.  “I don’t give a shit about the t-shirt!”

“I don’t think that kind of language is called for.”

“That kind of language?” she echoed and then squinted at him.  “Are you drunk?”

“It’s 7 a.m.”

“Yes, it is.  Are you drunk?  Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

“No,” he said sharply.

“The car was moving rather erratically.”

“I was…trying to work the stereo.  It’s complicated.”

“You almost killed me because you couldn’t work the radio?”

“To be fair, it’s satellite radio.  And I didn’t almost kill you!”

“To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

His jaw clenched so tightly he could grind glass.   “This isn’t a matter of opinion!  You would have been fine if you hadn’t fallen.”

“I also would have been fine if your Ferrari hadn’t come hurtling toward me.”

Darcy didn’t respond; arguing was futile.  After a moment she gave him a sidelong glance.  “You don’t need to babysit me; I can call myself an ambulance if I need one.”

“I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

“Oh!  You don’t want me talking to the press.  Don’t worry.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he lied.  “My primary concern is your well-being.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls you almost run over.”

Darcy stifled a smile.  Under other circumstances, he’d think she was funny.  “I assure you that you’re the first.”

The woman examined the scrape on her arm.  “I accept your apology, by the way.”

“I didn’t apologize.”

Now she turned her blue-green gaze on him.  “I noticed that.  Why didn’t you?  Do you think this is my fault?  That your car had the right of way on the sidewalk?”

Darcy would have apologized—if he had thought of it—but now he couldn’t without losing face.  “I didn’t hit you.  You agreed I didn’t hit you!”  I sound like an idiot insisting on that point.  

“You. Are. Unbelievable.”

Darcy had heard that before but usually in a more complimentary tone.

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About Darcy in Hollywood

A modern Pride and Prejudice variation.

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of Darcy in Hollywood to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The winner 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 book!

 

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Hello, dear readers! My guest today is Mirta Ines Trupp, author of The Meyersons of Meryton.  She is here to share an excerpt of her new book, and she has a giveaway for you as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

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I am delighted to be here today and greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak about my latest novel, The Meyersons of Meryton.  More than two hundred years after Pride and Prejudice was published, we are witnessing the genre of Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) grow at a remarkable rate. I believe that our beloved author would be flattered by this outpour of admiration and astonished at the level of creativity in the reimagining of her work. As I am a fan of period dramas, an author of historical fiction and an ardent student of Judaica, it wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to come up with this storyline of a Jewish family mingling with Miss Austen’s treasured characters.

In truth, the concept of fan fiction is quite an accepted practice in Judaism. Sages and students alike re-interpret writings in order to explore biblical text and make them more accessible; discover new insights; or even come up with different conclusions or “what-ifs.” These reimagined works are called Midrash. This process invites us to insert ourselves in the canon. It allows us to personalize the story with our own viewpoints, or fantasies, and may even help deliver the moral of the story in a more meaningful manner.

Parodies are also popular in the Jewish community. We see this year in, year out when we celebrate the holidays of Purim and Chanukah. The Internet is flooded with clever and creative spoofs of Top 40 hits that change out the lyrics to teach something about the season, to say something enlightening or inspiring, or to validate our existence as a minority community. These pop culture references, coupled with the headier lessons found in Midrash, were the impetus for writing The Meyersons of Meryton.

There are few noteworthy Jewish characters in the classics. We are inundated with negative stereotypes thanks, in part, to the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Heyer. I wanted to tell another story, one that—hopefully— will entertain and delight the diverse audience of Jane Austen fans.

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An excerpt from The Meyersons of Meryton, courtesy of Mirta Ines Trupp

“Do you suppose the Meyersons are much like the Romani gypsies in the woods?”

Mr. Bennet chuckled as he smoothed out his paper. “I dare say you will find them to be much like others of our acquaintance.”

As the grand clock struck four, a carriage was heard making its way along the gravel drive. Kitty jumped from her seat and was for the window, only to be stayed by a stern reprimand from her mother. Mary turned from the pianoforte, indignant at her younger sibling’s lack of propriety.

“Continue to act in such a manner, Kitty, and you will forever be treated as a frivolous and irksome child. It would behoove you to look to your elders and attempt to emulate the proper etiquette so becoming in a young lady of quality.”

“Mary, dear, do try to be sociable,” Mrs. Bennet petitioned. “One does not know what sort of people these Meyersons are. Jews or not, I would not have anyone say that they were ill received at Longbourn.”

Kitty, hiding behind an embroidered silk pillow, proceeded to stick her tongue out toward her sister as Hill opened the door and announced the awaited visitors.

“Mr. and Mrs. Meyerson, madam.”

A family of three entered the room. The gentleman bowed and the lady curtsied. A child clung closely to her mama, so much so that she nearly was concealed by the lady’s skirt. The little miss peeked from behind, her large hazel eyes taking in a room full of strangers, and she proceeded to place her thumb into the safe confines of her cherubic mouth.

“You are most welcome,” Mr. Bennet said as he eagerly extended his hand. “Allow me to introduce Mrs. Bennet and my daughters, Jane, the eldest, followed by Elizabeth, Mary and Catherine, or Kitty, as we call her—she is rather too silly yet to be called her proper name.”

Mrs. Bennet, ashamed for her daughter and how the girl’s silliness could reflect on her own maternal talents, silently performed a welcoming curtsey.

“We are grateful for your hospitality, Mrs. Bennet,” said the gentleman as he bowed over her hand. “It is a blessing to be received with such amiability and on such short notice, too! I do hope you will accept our apologies for any inconvenience…”

“Ahem…” the elegant lady murmured.

“Ah, but I am forgetting my manners—Jacob Meyerson, your servant, ma’am.” He extended his hand to his side, before continuing, “My wife, Mrs. Meyerson, and our daughter, Rachel.”

“We are delighted you have arrived safely,” said Mrs. Bennet, and she was surprisingly sincere. Her guests, although quite unknown to her in every conceivable manner, were fashionable and appeared to be exemplary specimens of London society.

“Are you the rabbi? You do not look at all as I expected,” Kitty exclaimed.

“You were expecting a rather exotic fellow with a flowing kaftan and an impressive growth of a beard,” Mr. Meyerson responded amicably with a great bellow of a laugh. “The great Maimonides once said there is no commandment requiring Jews to seek out clothing which would make them stand out as different from what is worn by Gentiles. Therefore, Miss Catherine, as you find my appearance in keeping with Hertfordshire society, it would seem I am in good standing with the great philosopher.”

Mortified, Kitty blushed and retreated to the corner. Mrs. Bennet rolled her eyes at her daughter’s unrefined comportment, although, if she were to be truthful, at least with herself, she would have admitted to sharing the very same thoughts. However, not wanting to appear ignorant or worse yet, unsociable, Mrs. Bennet quickly attempted to make amends.

“May I offer you some refreshment? You must be tired after so long a journey. Ring the bell for tea, Kitty.”

“Tea would be most welcome,” Mrs. Meyerson said with a gentle smile as she took the proffered seat. “Your kind housekeeper showed my maid and the child’s nurse to their rooms, but I would have Rachel stay by my side, at least until she is a bit more acclimated to her surroundings. May I beg your indulgence madam?”

The child had already made herself quite at home, having found a comfortable spot at her father’s feet. Elizabeth stole a glance and observed her mother’s reaction. La! The child had a bit of Lydia’s tenacity. Certainly her mama would recognize the similarities and not request the child be removed. Having spared any discipline towards her youngest daughter, Elizabeth could not think that the mistress of the house would do any less for her guest.

But then her thoughts turned to Mr. Darcy. Had he been in attendance, what would he have decreed? Would he be of the opinion that children were to be seen and not heard?

Her own upbringing differed greatly from what Mr. Darcy had experienced at Pemberley House. Five daughters brought up at home without a governess—Lady Catherine had been scandalized at the notion and, indeed, compared to other families, she and her sisters had been quite at liberty to run amok. It seemed that today would be no different.

Mrs. Bennet gazed uncomfortably at her good rug before smiling at her guest. “But of course little Rachel should stay, Mrs. Meyerson.”

The lady nodded her gratitude to her hostess and then, turning to her husband, she chastised, “Mr. Meyerson! You, sir, have caused Miss Catherine to feel uncomfortable in her own home. How is the young miss expected to know of rabbis and medieval philosophers? If you are going to preach, at least let there be a lesson so that others may benefit from the experience.”

Mr. Meyerson laughed once more and joined his wife on the settee. “I do beg your pardon, Miss Catherine. My wife is quite right.”

“Please do not worry on my account,” Kitty stated. Thinking better of her comments, she added, “It was idle curiosity, nothing more.”

Mrs. Bennet, unaccustomed to such easy behavior between man and wife, had become quite undone. Within moments of making their acquaintance, Mrs. Meyerson chastised and teased her husband and he accepted her admonishments with good humor and grace. Her mouth suddenly dry, Mrs. Bennet found she lacked sufficient conversation and began waving her delicate handkerchief towards her daughter.

 “The bell, Kitty,” was her fervent plea.

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About The Meyersons of Meryton

When a new family, thought to be associated with the House of Rothschild arrives in Meryton, a chain of events are set in place that threaten the betrothal of Miss Elizabeth Bennet to her beloved Mr. Darcy.

Rabbi Meyerson and family are received at Longbourn. This inconvenience leads to misfortune, for when the rabbi disappears from the quiet market town, Mr. Bennet follows dutifully in his path.

Her father’s sudden departure shadowed by the Wickhams’ unannounced arrival has Elizabeth judging not only her reactions to these tumultuous proceedings but her suitability as the future Mistress of Pemberley. A sensible woman would give her hand in marriage without a second thought. Can Elizabeth say goodbye forever to the one man who has captured her heart?

The Meyersons of Meryton is a Pride and Prejudice variation. The narrative introduces Jewish characters and history to the beloved novel and, although there are some adult themes, this is an inspirational and clean read.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Mirta Ines Trupp

Mirta is a second generation Argentine; she was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 and immigrated to the United States that same year. Because of the unique fringe benefits provided by her father’s employer- Pan American Airlines- she returned to her native country frequently- growing up with ‘un pie acá, y un pie allá’ (with one foot here and one foot there).

Mirta’s fascination with Jewish history and genealogy, coupled with an obsession for historical period drama, has inspired her to create these unique and enlightening novels. She has been a guest speaker for book clubs, sisterhood events, genealogy societies and philanthropic organizations.

Connect with Mirta on Facebook | Goodreads

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Giveaway

Mirta is generously offering 5 ebooks to my readers, no geographic restrictions. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 30, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Mirta, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

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Hi dear readers! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kelly Miller to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time to celebrate the release of Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley. Please give her a warm welcome, and stay tuned for a very generous giveaway from Meryton Press!

Movie versions of Death Takes a Holiday

My first notion of writing a story in which Fitzwilliam Darcy is visited by an angel came to me when I noted that The Bishop’s Wife, 1947, Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven, was to play on television. I set the movie up to be recorded but did not watch it right away. As I contemplated what I recalled of the plot, I decided that I would fuse ideas from a number of my best-loved movies from that genre, including Death takes a Holiday, 1934, from which I borrowed my title, and Warren Beatty’s Heaven can Wait, 1978. The end result is a love story that features Jane Austen’s two best-loved characters, and their great and abiding love while it reflects the author’s affection for movies with an element of fantasy.

In Death takes a Holiday, the 1934 film based upon the 1924 Italian play, La Morte in Vacanza, by Alberto Casella, Death (Fredric March) takes the form of a handsome prince and appears at the home of Duke Lambert (Sir Guy Standing), an Italian nobleman. Duke Lambert has a house full of guests, including Lambert’s son, Corrado, and the son’s lovely and wistful intended, Grazia (Evelyn Venable). Death, using the name Prince Sirki, demands that the Duke act as his host for three days to indulge his desire to experience life as a mortal and gain an understanding for why humans hold such fear for him.

While Prince Sirki is on his holiday, no deaths occur throughout the world, despite the fact that accidents, disasters, and crimes continue to occur.

Prince Sirki interacts with the Duke’s guests and finds that several of the ladies, though drawn to his attractive form, become afraid of him when they get too close to him and get a sense of his true identity.

Only the beautiful Grazia, a young woman plagued by a mysterious melancholy, seems unafraid to face Prince Sirki’s true identity. When Duke Lambert realizes Prince Sirki has fallen in love with the lady promised to his son, he begs Death to walk away from her and leave her to the world of the living. Will Death selfishly take this beautiful, young lady with him when he leaves, or will he act in a way to serve her own best interests?

The 1998 film, Meet Joe Black, starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, and Claire Forlani is a remake of Death takes a Holiday, but it is so different from the 1934 version that to compare the two seems out of place. That said, Meet Joe Black has its own charm and appeal, even beyond that of the talents of the two male stars. I thought it was interesting to note that while many who reviewed the 1934 version as vastly superior in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), the overall ratings of the 1934 and 1998 movies were equal: 7.2 out of 10.

It was not until I researched for this blog entry that I learned a 1971 version of Death takes a Holiday was made starring Yvette Mimieux, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas. The casting of Monte Markham as Death seemed odd to me from the start, but IMDB reviewers gave this made-for-television version an impressive 7.6 out of 10. I was thrilled to find it available to watch on Youtube.com and was able to view the entire movie. Unfortunately, I found this version, despite the high-caliber performance of Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas, to be by far the weakest of the three. I would have preferred another actor as Death, someone who might have, at crucial moments in the movie, displayed an expression of fierceness to explain why some in the movie were frightened by him. I did not find the movie to be as compelling as either of the other two versions. I was led to believe that the high ratings on IMDB were from those who remembered seeing the movie long ago, perhaps as young teens, and had a nostalgic affection for it.

Of the three movie versions, I would place the 1934 version of Death takes a Holiday first. I deem it to be the most mysterious and romantic of the three movies. A close second, is Meet Joe Black, which has a lot of appeal in its own right but is not so stylish or compelling as the 1934 movie, and I suspect not so apt to remain on the viewer’s mind after seeing it. I would place the 1971 made-for-television version of Death takes a Holiday at a very distant third place.

Thank you, Kelly, for being my guest today. I always love to read about how novels come to life, and you’ve made me very eager to read yours. Congratulations on your new release!

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About Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley

What will the master of Pemberley do when confronted with the mercurial whims of an all-powerful angel?

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s well-ordered life is about to become a chaotic nightmare. A man of fortune, property, and social prominence, he has everything he could desire. Blissfully married to his wife, Elizabeth, they have a two-year-old son. With so much to live for, Darcy is shaken by a near-fatal riding accident. After a miraculous escape, he is visited by an otherworldly being: an angel of death named Graham. Threatening dire consequences, Graham compels Darcy to guide him on a sojourn in the world of mortals.

Darcy immediately questions the angel’s motives when he demands to be a guest at Pemberley. Can he trust Graham’s assurance that no harm will come to his wife and child? And why does Graham insist on spending time with Elizabeth? How can Darcy possibly protect his family from an angel with power over life and death?

In this romantic fantasy, the beloved couple from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice must contend with both human and unearthly challenges. Are the fates against them? Or will their extraordinary love conquer all?

Buy links:

eBook:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Paperback:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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About the Author

Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller discovered her appreciation for Jane Austen late in life, and her love of writing even later.  It was the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice that made her take notice and want to read the actual book.  It was many years later that she discovered the world of JAFF.  After reading a slew of wildly inventive stories featuring the beloved characters created by Jane Austen, she was inspired to write one of her own.  Now, writing is one of her favorite pastimes.  When not writing, she spends her free time singing, playing the piano, and working out.  (Yes, like Elizabeth Bennet, she is an excellent walker.)  Kelly Miller lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter and their many pets.

Connect with Kelly: Amazon Author PageGoodreads Author Page | Facebook

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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June 14 From Pemberley to Milton

June 15 More Agreeably Engaged

June 17 Diary of an Eccentric

June 18 So Little Time…

June 19 Austenesque Reviews

June 20 Savvy Verse & Wit

June 21 Babblings of a Bookworm

June22 My Love for Jane Austen

June 24 My Vices and Weaknesses

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