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Archive for the ‘read in 2019’ Category

Source: Review copy from the author

Allie Cresswell’s newest novel, Dear Jane, is the final installment of the Highbury trilogy, based on Jane Austen’s Emma. I can assure you that it’s a standalone novel, as I have not read the first two books yet (but definitely plan to) and was able to follow and enjoy the story just fine. Dear Jane fleshes out the backstories of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, whose childhoods away from their closest relatives in Highbury are mentioned in Austen’s novel but not covered in great detail.

What was it like for Jane to grow up with the affluent Campbell family, away from her impoverished grandmother and aunt, Mrs. and Miss Bates? What was it like for Jane to enjoy the love and acceptance of the Campbell family, plus the luxuries and opportunities afforded to her as their ward, while knowing that it wouldn’t last forever, and that she likely would have to go into service as a governess? Meanwhile, what was it like for Frank to live under his demanding and controlling aunt, to prepare to one day inherit their estate but be unable to enjoy the usual freedoms of young men — not to go to university as planned and not even visit his father, Mr. Weston, without doing so secretly?

Cresswell does a great job showing how difficult it was for them to navigate their situations, even while being given better lives and opportunities than they likely would have had in Highbury. She also gives readers an in-depth look at their meeting in Weymouth and the events that occur before we meet them for the first time in Emma.

I really enjoyed getting a chance to better know and understand Jane and Frank, beyond what is seen of them in the original novel, much of which is clouded by Emma Woodhouse’s opinions about them — her longtime rivalry with Jane and her infatuation with the young man everyone has talked about and fawned over for years before he finally arrives in Highbury. It is easy to dislike both of them in Emma, especially Frank, but seeing this side of their story gives readers much to think about.

Dear Jane is a fantastic look at some of Austen’s most intriguing secondary characters — with the addition of some very interesting original characters, like the infuriating Lady Sowerby — and getting to see Emma, Mr. Knightley, Miss Bates (whose babbling is perfectly captured by Cresswell; I could hear her dialogue in my mind like I was watching one of the movie adaptations), and the rest of the Highbury natives was a real treat.

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About Dear Jane

The final installment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane narrates the history of Jane Fairfax, recounting the events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma.

Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. The velvet path of her early years is finite, however and tarnished by the knowledge that she must earn her own independence one day.

Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate. The glimmer of the prize which will one day be his is all but obliterated by the stony path he must walk to claim it.

Their paths meet at Weymouth, and readers of Emma will be familiar with the finale of Jane and Frank’s story. Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over their early lives, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Allie Cresswell

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners. Most recently she has been working on her Highbury trilogy, books inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com or find her on Facebook.

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Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Dear Jane as part of the blog tour using this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Follow the Blog Tour (click the button below)

 

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Source: Review copy from CICO Books

Sophie Andrews is well-known in the world of Austen-related blogs, and when I heard that she’d written her own book, I was more than happy to join the blog tour. Be More Jane: Bring Out Your Inner Austen to Meet Life’s Challenges shines a light on the lessons we can learn from Jane Austen’s novels, like how to “Be More Lizzy” and what Austen had to say about Love, True Friends, Happiness, the Role of Women, and more. Andrews’ love for Austen’s works shines on every page, and her vignettes from the points of view of Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, and several other characters are a delightful addition. Not to mention to beautiful artwork by Jane Odiwe, another treasure in the Austen community.

Be More Jane is a short book, but one to be savored. Although the insights from Austen’s novels weren’t new to me, I enjoyed Andrews’ writing, and especially the humor in the vignettes. Be More Jane reminds us that Austen’s novels are more than just love stories, and themes in her novels remain relevant today. This book would be a perfect gift for the Janeite in your life or the perfect treat to add to your own Austenesque book collection.

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About Be More Jane

 

Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews, published by CICO Books (£7.99/$9.95)
Illustrations by Jane Odiwe © CICO Books

Are you more Marianne than Elinor, Lydia rather than Lizzy? Be More Jane will teach you to address life with more sense and less prejudice, taking useful lessons from the novels and letters of Jane Austen, one of the world’s best-loved writers. Times may change, but many of our problems remain the same. Sophie Andrews, a young Janeite, knows from personal experience that in times of trouble, or just on matters of friendship, family, and love, answers are to be found in the pages of Miss Austen’s novels.

Buy Links: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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About the Author

Sophie Andrews by Brian Hubbard©HiRes

Sophie Andrews is a founder member of the Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society, and organises events such as picnics, balls and house parties for her fellow Austenites. Sophie started her blog, Laughing with Lizzie, in 2012, aged 16, after studying Pride and Prejudice at school. She has been attending Austen-themed events since then, and was featured in the BBC documentary “My Friend Jane” which focused on the fun and friendship she has found with her fellow Janeites. She lives in Berkshire and has over 100 different editions of Pride and Prejudice on her bookshelves.

Connect with Sophie: Laughing with Lizzie Facebook page | Laughing with Lizzie Instagram page | Laughing with Lizzie Twitter page

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Giveaway

CICO Books is generously offering a copy of Be More Jane to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to readers in the United States, Canada, and Europe. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. Since each stop on the blog tour is offering a giveaway, I’ll keep the giveaway open until after the blog tour ends. This giveaway will close on Friday, April 19, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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April 8         Regency History/Q&A & Giveaway

April 9         Diary of an Eccentric/Book review & Giveaway

April 10       More Agreeably Engaged/Book review & Giveaway

April 11       Babblings of a Bookworm/Excerpt & Giveaway

April 12       My Love for Jane Austen/Guest Post & Giveaway

April 14       My Jane Austen Book Club/Book review & Giveaway

April 15       So Little Time/Guest Post & Giveaway

April 16       Austenesque Reviews/Book review & Giveaway

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Source: Review copy from author

Maria Grace’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Inspiration, is told from the point of view of Fitzwilliam Darcy, gentleman painter. When the novella opens, Mr. Darcy has been unable to put brush to canvas, and Mr. Bingley hopes that he can find some inspiration at Netherfield. From here, the plot of Pride and Prejudice unfolds, but what is different is this inner view of Darcy and his passion as an artist.

Darcy is very observant; everything he sees is dissected into shapes and lines, colors and shadows, and filed away for later use in a painting. The minute he sees Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, he is captivated. She is his muse, the nymph who fills many a canvas when Darcy’s inspiration rushes back. This explains his interest in Elizabeth, his intense stares, and his near obsession makes him all too ready to depart Hertfordshire after the Netherfield ball. He tries to convince himself that Elizabeth merely sparked his creativity, and his duty means it could never go further than that anyway. Meanwhile, his muse has strong feelings for him, but little does he know, they are the complete opposite of his own.

Inspiration is a beautifully written story that explores a different path for Darcy, one driven by creativity and passion, and Grace makes it fit his character perfectly. Grace incorporates snippets of Pride and Prejudice throughout her novella while giving readers a glimpse into Darcy’s head during those familiar scenes. I enjoyed the descriptions of Darcy’s creative process, the observations he makes with an artist’s eye, and how that is both positive and negative in his dealings with people. Overall, I liked watching the events unfold from Darcy’s point of view, from the evolution of his feelings for Elizabeth to the important and painful lessons he must learn. Grace’s Pride and Prejudice variations never disappoint, and I’m already looking forward to what she dreams up next!

**Maria Grace visited my blog yesterday, with an excerpt and giveaway. You can check it out here.

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

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Source: Review copy from Meryton Press

The Most Interesting Man in the World is a most interesting Pride and Prejudice variation told from the point of view of Mr. Bingley. It follows the course of the original novel, beginning with Bingley’s leasing Netherfield Park. J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard do a fantastic job getting into Bingley’s head and making his disjointed thoughts and his ramblings thoroughly entertaining. Bingley’s excessive admiration of his best friend, Mr. Darcy, was hilarious on its own, but reading his attempts at intelligent conversation with Darcy, his inability to understand Latin phrases (and the consequences of one such mistake), and his drunken conversations and imaginings made me laugh out loud more than once.

Bingley proves to be observant about Darcy’s admiration of Elizabeth Bennet and his downtrodden state following his trip to Kent, even if he doesn’t assume the facts quite right. The interactions between Bingley, Darcy, and the colonel (known as Archie in this variation, which suited him quite well) — especially after copious amounts of brandy — were delightful, as was seeing Bingley’s personal growth as he realized that he may be more knowledgeable than Darcy when it comes to certain things.

I was concerned at first that Bingley’s ramblings would grow tiresome after a while, but that was never the case. Ashton and Rivard ramp up the humor, and even insert a few scenes from Darcy’s point of view, to keep readers turning the pages. It was fun to know the details behind the scenes to which Bingley was unaware, and it was nice that all of those details weren’t rehashed here. Furthermore, I liked that even though Bingley seemed a bit flighty and exuberant, he was more complex than I had expected. Overall, The Most Interesting Man in the World is a fresh take on Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of a most interesting man, indeed!

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About The Most Interesting Man in the World

 

What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately?

Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it.

What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Authors

Justine Rivard

Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.

J.L. Ashton

J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.

Connect with Justine Rivard on Twitter

Connect with J.L. Ashton on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram: jancat95 | Blog

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Most Interesting Man in the World. The giveaway runs until midnight, March 1, 2019. You MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

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

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

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February 11 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview

February 12 / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life / Guest Post

February 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

February 16 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet the Authors

February 18 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

February 22 / From Pemberley to Milton / Character Interview

February 24 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

February 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Excerpt

February 28 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Most Interesting Man in the World from Meryton Press.

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Source: Purchased

Today marks the last of my holiday catch-up reviews, and I finished with a good one. A Holiday to Remember by Jennifer Redlarczyk is a modern-day Pride and Prejudice variation with very little angst but a lot of romance. Redlarczyk’s Elizabeth Bennet is a choral director at the Mertyon Academy for the Performing Arts, and Mr. William Darcy is CEO of Darcy Enterprises. Their troubles and misunderstandings happen before the events of this book, when Georgiana Darcy has an unfortunate run-in with George Wickham at a summer music festival. In the months since they last saw each other, Darcy has come to his senses and realizes he acted harshly toward Elizabeth and her aunt, who was his sister’s piano teacher.

Elizabeth and Darcy are brought together again at a Christmas party thrown by Charles Bingley, Will’s friend and the boyfriend of Elizabeth’s sister, Jane. A mishap with a dress and some sultry music increase the steam between them — and prompt an unfortunate (but entertaining) reaction from Caroline Bingley. Their romance is a whirlwind that takes readers through the holiday season, and it read much like a Hallmark movie.

I really enjoyed Redlarczyk’s take on Elizabeth and Darcy, even if their romance progressed a little too quickly. I loved that it was a sweet, fun read for the busy holiday season, but I do wish there had been some obstacle or tension of some sort to stand in their way. However, that didn’t affect my enjoyment whatsoever. I also loved how music was woven throughout this short tale, helping to ramp up the romance.

Redlarczyk offers readers a treat at the end of the novella in the form of a Regency-era short story centered around the Twelve Days of Christmas. Someone takes the song a bit literally, and the Darcys’ home is thrown into chaos. I loved it, and I can’t wait to see what Redlarczyk comes up with next.

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Source: Review copy from the authors

I had some problems with my laptop over the past few days, so I apologize for my review being late, but thankfully it’s up and running again. I’m so glad because I’m thrilled to be sharing this book with all of you. I adored A Very Austen Christmas, so when I saw that some of my favorite JAFF authors were back with A Very Austen Valentine, I couldn’t pass it up. And I’m delighted to say that I wasn’t disappointed one bit.

A Very Austen Valentine has a little bit of everything for the Austen fan, and of course, plenty of romance for Valentine’s Day. Robin Helm’s “I Dream of You” has the Darcys settling into married life and Elizabeth devising ways for them to get to know each other on a deeper level. Laura Hile’s “Sir Walter Takes a Wife” is the perfect Persuasion/Pride and Prejudice mashup that made me laugh so hard I cried. Wendi Sotis’ “My Forever Valentine” has Elizabeth and Darcy meeting in Kent after the Bingleys have married, with Richard and Anne helping things along. Barbara Cornthwaite’s “Pretence and Prejudice” has Darcy and Elizabeth meeting in a completely different way, with spies and romance! Mandy H. Cook’s “My Valentine” is the love story of the Darcys’ daughter, Charlotte, and brings in some characters from Sense and Sensibility. Finally, Susan Kaye’s “The Lovers’ Ruse” imagines what might have happened if Anne Elliot hadn’t been persuaded to give up Captain Wentworth.

All of the stories are beautifully written, and despite being shorter works, they are perfectly paced and completely satisfying. I loved the mix of stories, covering different points in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship and featuring characters from other Austen novels — and even original characters. Moreover, the stories are very different from each other and equally enjoyable — and it’s hard to find anthologies where you like ALL of the stories. A Very Austen Valentine is a must-read for JAFF fans, and I truly hope these authors release another anthology in the future.

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About A Very Austen Valentine

I Dream of You by Robin Helm

Newly-married Elizabeth Darcy has a plan: to charm her too-busy husband into desiring her company as much as he did when he was courting her.  A series of romantic dreams gives her just the push she needs to put that plan into action.

Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile

Faced with a lonely future and finding himself strapped for cash, Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot manfully decides to marry again. But his careful plans go sadly awry! A lighthearted Valentine mash-up featuring two of Jane Austen’s worst snobs.

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis

Jane and Charles Bingley have married, even though Miss Elizabeth Bennet remains certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy gave his best effort to keep them apart. After Mr. Darcy refused to stand up with Bingley and did not attend the wedding, she despises the gentleman more than ever and finds his company intolerable. How will she endure her visit to Kent if Mr. Darcy turns up everywhere she goes?

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite

A chance encounter with a handsome stranger forces Elizabeth to resort to subterfuge in order to discover his true intentions.

My Valentine by Mandy H. Cook

Little Charlotte was always determined and independent, traits which served her well as she battled a serious childhood illness and later as she took on Polite Society. Will those traits now deprive her of true love? Or would her lifelong Valentine win her heart?

The Lovers’ Ruse by Susan Kaye

In this Persuasion alteration, Anne is so altered by Wentworth’s love in the summer of 1806, she refuses to give him up when both her godmother and father try to persuade her. “The Lovers’ Ruse” follows Frederick and Anne through their whirlwind courtship and their secret engagement. When Wentworth returns for his Annie girl, the cat comes out of the bag.

Buy on Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon (U.K.)

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About the Authors

Robin Helm

Robin Helm’s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.

Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance).

She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017. A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2  was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3 is planned for December 2019.

She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.

Connect with Robin: Amazon Author PageBeyondAusten.comTwitter | Facebook (Robin Helm) | Facebook (Austen Anthologies) | Instagram @jrhelm or @AustenAnthologies | GoodreadsBlog

Laura Hile

Readers are loving Laura Hile’s joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with teen students!

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks.

Her fiction is for everyone, even teens. 

Connect with Laura: Amazon Author PageBlogTwitterFacebookBeyondAusten.comGoodreads

Wendi Sotis

Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.

The Marriage Pact, and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress, have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.

Connect with Wendi: Amazon Author Page | WebsiteFacebookTwitter | BeyondAusten.comGoodreads

Barbara Cornthwaite

Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Connect with Barbara: Amazon Author PageJane Started It!

Susan Kaye

Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley. “I don’t know a lot, but I do know I’ve probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else.”

Connect with Susan: Amazon Author PageJane Started It! | Facebook

Mandy H. Cook

Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.

She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?

Connect with Mandy: Facebook | Instagram @hisloved1s

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Giveaway

The authors are generously offering an ebook of A Very Austen Valentine to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway will run through Wednesday, January 23, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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01/06 Just the Write Escape

01/07 Margie’s Must Reads

01/08 So Little Time…

01/09 Babblings of a Bookworm

01/10 Half Agony, Half Hope

01/11 Austenesque Reviews

01/12 My Love for Jane Austen

01/14 From Pemberley to Milton

01/15 My life journey

01/16 My Vices and Weaknesses

01/18 Diary of an Eccentric

01/20 Darcyholic Diversions

01/21 Austenprose

Disclosure: I received a copy of A Very Austen Valentine from the authors for review.

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