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Archive for the ‘read in 2018’ Category

Source: Review copy from author

Anngela Schroeder’s new Pride and Prejudice-inspired Christmas novella, An Unexpected Merry Gentleman, is a delightful, heartwarming story for the holiday season. Mr. Bingley invites the Gardiners and the Darcys to Netherfield for Christmas, and while there, he hopes to find out for himself whether Jane Bennet really does have feelings for him. Mr. Darcy is a little ruffled at the change in his holiday plans, mostly because he’s spent much of his time since the Netherfield Ball trying to forget Elizabeth Bennet. But it’s not long before he’s spending all his time trying to change her opinion of him.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth can’t believe the Mr. Darcy who is so playful with her rambunctious nieces, Victoria and Emily, is the same Mr. Darcy who denied Mr. Wickham his livelihood. But Christmas at Netherfield gives them the opportunity to get to know each other and get past their first impressions and misunderstandings.

I absolutely adored this book, so much so that I read it in one sitting. I loved how Victoria and Emily Gardiner are the spitting images of Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, and I especially loved Emily; what a spitfire! And it’s so cute how Mr. Darcy is so taken by Emily, recognizing that she is like a “Little Lizzy Bennet.” The presence of the children not only brings joy to Darcy’s sister and helps him realize that she’s no longer a child, but it also enables Darcy and Elizabeth to bond over their childhood escapades. I just loved their tender interactions and how their feelings evolved over the course of the book.

An Unexpected Merry Gentleman is a must-read for your Christmas list. Anngela recently stopped by my blog to talk about the painting that inspired the story and to share an excerpt, which is my favorite scene in the book with Darcy and Emily. To check out the excerpt and enter the giveaway for a Kindle copy of the book, click here. (The giveaway ends December 16.)

Disclosure: I received An Unexpected Merry Gentleman from the author for review.

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Source: Purchased

A modern-day Pride and Prejudice-inspired Christmas story? Check. Cute cover? Yes! So of course I had to add Unwrapping Mr. Darcy to my list of Christmas reads for this year, and I wasn’t disappointed! L.L. Diamond’s novel is funny, sweet, sexy, and a complete page-turner.

Elizabeth Bennet takes a job as a lawyer at Darcy Holdings. She is excited about the job, until she overhears her boss, William Darcy, being a complete jerk on her first day. Her sister’s boyfriend, Charlie Bingley, convinces her to stay. It’s not long before William realizes his mistake, but he doesn’t know how to apologize.

A simple “I’m sorry” isn’t good enough for William, and he takes his job as Elizabeth’s Secret Santa up so many notches that Elizabeth begins to wonder whether she has a stalker. One gift at the office party doesn’t say “I’m sorry and am mad about you” as well as 25 thoughtfully planned gifts in an Advent calendar fashion. Meanwhile, he tries to convince her that he’s not the person he seemed on her first day at the office, but Elizabeth can hardly stand to be in the same room with him. Is that because he intimidates her, or is it because of her attraction to him?

In true Pride and Prejudice fashion, Unwrapping Mr. Darcy is filled with misunderstandings, awkward interactions, and heated conversations. Elizabeth’s personal assistant, Charlotte, provides plenty of comic relief, and Elizabeth’s cat, Grunt, provides plenty of mischief. I liked that Diamond gave some complexity to William’s character, but there were times that I thought Elizabeth went a little overboard in her reactions toward him (like running out of the room instead of talking to him, even if she didn’t necessarily want to), but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I especially enjoyed William’s take on Secret Santa; that he truly listened to her and got to know her, that he put so much thought into each gift, and that he gave her the gifts not to impress her but to bring her joy warmed my heart.

Unwrapping Mr. Darcy is a lighthearted romance, with just a touch of angst, and is a delightful escapist read for the busy holiday season. It was the perfect way for me to spend a chilly day, curled up in my chair with a cup of coffee, a hot Mr. Darcy, and a troublemaking cat for some laughs.

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Source: Purchased

When I heard that Christina Boyd was releasing another Jane Austen-inspired short story collection, that it was Christmas themed, and that the proceeds would benefit the Chawton Great House, I knew I had to get my hands on the book. When I saw that they were all Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories, a mix of Regency and modern (a huge plus because I love the modern variations), and that the stories were written by some of the best authors of Austen-inspired fiction, I knew I had to read it right away. With all that is going on in my life right now, I haven’t had much time or energy for reading, but I didn’t want to miss out on my annual December month of holiday books, so I turned on my Kindle, started Yuletide, and the next thing I knew, I’d finished the book! It was the right mix of stories, and they were just the right length to get me back in my reading groove.

My favorite passage of the book was from the very first story, “The Forfeit” by Caitlin Williams, in which Mr. Darcy finds himself stranded at Longbourn for the holiday during a snowstorm, and he and Elizabeth make a friendly wager. “It was usually her favourite time of year, when everyone was predisposed to laughter, love was limitless, and much joy was to be had from simple pleasures.” That line is the essence of Christmas for me, and I pretty much knew right then that I would love this collection.

“And Evermore Be Merry” by Joana Starnes shows readers a Christmas at Pemberley through Georgiana’s eyes some years after her brother and Elizabeth’s wedding. “The Wishing Ball” by Amy D’Orazio is a modern story in which Darcy finds some Christmas magic via Facebook and yearns for what his life could be. “By a Lady” by Lona Manning depicts an Elizabeth determined to become a friend to Anne de Bourgh. “Homespun for the Holidays” by J. Marie Croft is another modern tale that finds Darcy stranded on Christmas Eve while attempting to find a unique present for his sister, and he must depend on the generosity of the family he insulted in his pursuit of said gift. “The Season for Friendly Meetings” by Anngela Schroeder puts Elizabeth and Jane in Yorkshire for a Christmas ball, where Colonel Fitzwilliam gets Elizabeth thinking that her first impressions of a certain someone may have been based on falsehoods. And “Mistletoe Mismanagement” by Elizabeth Adams depicts a Christmas house party hosted by the newlywed Darcys at which his Fitzwilliam relatives (not the dear colonel, of course) prove to be anything but proper.

This was a fantastic lineup of stories, and I was especially pleased to find a couple of moderns thrown in. There was some magic and mischief, stories where Darcy and Elizabeth are falling love, and stories set during their marriage. Manning’s portrayal of Anne de Bourgh was a pleasant surprise, and I enjoyed the colonel’s sly maneuvering in Schroeder’s story. It’s rare to find a short story collection in which I enjoy all of the stories, but given how much I love these authors, I’m not surprised that Yuletide was an exception. This is a must-read if you love Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories, and it would make a perfect Christmas gift for the JAFF fan in your life.

All proceeds to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.

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Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★★☆

But what can I, with my dark skin and friends all over the world, have to do with such a grandfather? Was it he who destroyed my family? Did he cast his shadow first on my mother and then on me? Can it be that a dead man still wields power over the living? Is the depression that has plagued me for so long connected to my origins? I lived and studied in Israel for five years — was that chance or fate? Will I have to behave differently toward my Israeli friends, now that I know? My grandfather murdered your relatives.

(from My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, page 10)

Jennifer Teege was 38 years old when she learned a terrible secret that had plagued her family since long before she was born. Born in Munich, Germany, in 1970, Teege was placed in an orphanage at four weeks old, with sporadic contact with her troubled mother and her grandmother. Contact with her biological family ceased when she was adopted at the age of seven, and she missed her grandmother terribly. Her adopted family welcomed her with open arms despite her differences; with a German mother and a Nigerian father, she always stood out, especially in Germany at that time.

Never feeling like she truly belonged and feeling abandoned by her mother, Teege battled with depression. In the strangest of coincidences she was drawn to a book in the psychology section of the library in Hamburg, and when she pulled it off the shelf, she saw a photo of a woman on the cover who looked like her mother and shared the same name: Monika Goeth, daughter of Amon Goeth, commandant of the Płaszów concentration camp during World War II and who was hanged for his crimes in 1946. He was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the movie Schindler’s List. The knowledge that she was the granddaughter of a Nazi war criminal and a sadistic murderer nicknamed “The Butcher of Płaszów” affected Teege deeply. She didn’t know how to process this information and how to face her friends in Israel, where she lived for five years and attended college, as many lost family members in the Holocaust.

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past tells Teege’s story of coming to terms with her family’s past and the secret that was kept from her. The book follows Teege as she visits the scenes of the atrocities committed by her grandfather in Poland, tries to balance her love for her grandmother with what she learns about her complacency during the war and her undying love for Amon Goeth, and tries to build a relationship with her estranged mother and understand why she was never told the truth and why she was given up for adoption. Teege’s story is told in her own words and interspersed with historical details and commentary from the people closest to her.

The book raises many issues, from the burden of family secrets to the guilt carried by the descendants of the Nazis, from the need to understand what is impossible to grasp about human nature and how to cope with the knowledge of the horrors and suffering inflicted by their relatives in the recent past even while knowing they are not directly responsible for those actions. Teege is honest with her feelings, the pain and shame she endured, her failure to make certain things right, and how to accept and move on in a positive light. There is much to ponder and discuss within these pages, and despite the heavy themes, the overall message of the book is one of hope, love, and compassion.

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Source: Review copy from author

In the first book in The Lost Heir Novella Series, April Floyd writes a unique take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In Mrs. Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth Bennet is now the widow of Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, with a four-year-old son named after his father. While little of the courtship is mentioned, readers learn that Elizabeth met the colonel after the Netherfield party left. Jane and Bingley are married with a child, Elizabeth and little Richard live with them at Netherfield, and Charles is estranged from his sisters and Mr. Darcy.

Elizabeth has never met the colonel’s family because he broke ties with them, and they know nothing of her son. However, upon the death of the Matlocks’ eldest son, Mr. Darcy is set to inherit, as they are unaware of little Richard being the legitimate heir. This brings Elizabeth to London, where she has a tense meeting with the Matlocks and begins to understand why her husband was estranged from them.

However, she soon finds an ally in Mr. Darcy and his sister. Despite her feelings having changed since the last time she met him, Elizabeth can’t bring herself to make little Richard’s presence known just yet. She knows what is best for her son, but she worries about the Matlocks’ interference in his upbringing. She carries this secret with her as she forges a new friendship with the Darcys and takes her place in London society as the colonel’s widow.

I really enjoyed Mrs. Fitzwilliam, especially the fact that years have made Elizabeth and Darcy wiser and more willing to put the past behind them, bonding over their mutual love for the colonel. I also loved that Bingley was willing to take charge of his own happiness, and his fondness for Elizabeth and especially her son was endearing. The novella does end with a cliffhanger, but not one that will drive you crazy waiting for the next book. At any rate, the second installment, The Colonel’s Son, has already been released, and the final book is coming soon.

Giveaway: April Floyd is generously offering 5 ebook copies of Mrs. Fitzwilliam to my readers! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, September 30, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck! (Also, stay tuned for my review of The Colonel’s Son, along with another giveaway!)

Disclosure: I received a copy of Mrs. Fitzwilliam from the author for review.

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Source: Review copy from author

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

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

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

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

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

****

About What’s Past Is Prologue

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

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

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Ann Galvia

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

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

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

Follow Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

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Giveaway

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

Terms and Conditions:

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

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

****

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

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

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

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

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

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

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

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

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

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

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

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

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

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Source: Review copy from author

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

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

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

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

****

About The 26th of November

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

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

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

Including a man she thought she hated.

Let the hilarity ensue.

Buy on Amazon

****

About the Author

Elizabeth Adams

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

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

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

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

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Giveaway

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

Terms and Conditions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 25 / More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway

July 28 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway

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

August 6 / Austenesque Reviews / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

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

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

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