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Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Leigh Dreyer back to Diary of an Eccentric, this time with her father and co-author Paul Trockner, to celebrate the release of Came a Flight Gently, the final installment of the Pride in Flight Series, which is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice. Those of you who know me well know that I adore modern versions of Austen’s novels, and I can’t wait to finally get a chance to read these. Leigh and Paul are here today to share a bit about the research process for the book, as well as an excerpt and a giveaway. Please give them a warm welcome!


(Paul) As a pilot this was the fun part for me.  First I went to the Reno Air Race Association (RARA) website and learned about the various classes and race courses for the event.  There’s lots of linked rabbit holes there to the different class websites, the various class rules etc.  Some of the class websites also had the requirements for pilots and the presentations made to the pilots available.  So I read through those.  The racers call a pylon race “non-cooperative formation”.  So having flown formation in the Air Force that was easy to relate to.  Then on to YouTube while I was walking on the treadmill.  There’s everything from old race videos to pilots describing the modifications they made to their aircraft.  Leigh chose the Lancair after our visit to Reno. So I found a Lancair pilot Youtube and watched that. Before the second book came out we visited the Reno Air Races and talked to some of the pilots and got insight to the training required and problems they had.  Pilots generally are a gregarious bunch when talking about airplanes and flying so for me that was fun.  Finally for the racing portion, the Lancair factory is about an hour away from my home.  So I made arrangements for a visit and talked to Conrad Huffstutler, Lancair President and Reno racer.  I asked for 15 minutes and he generously gave me about 2 hours of his time.  We talked about racing, the course, some tips and how he got started.  Then he showed me his aircraft named “Breathless”.  “Breathless” because it doesn’t have a turbocharged engine.  In it, he won first place in the Silver race in 2019.  Mr. Huffstutler also talked about modifications to the aircraft that had been done or that he considered.  I am really thankful to him as he confirmed some of the things I’d already written.  There was more but as Leigh kept reminding me it’s a romance novel with flying.

Darcy’s military flying was either based on my experience or other stories from people I’d flown with in the service.  Going to an airshow and showing off your cool fighter is one of the best ways to give yourself an ego boost. 

(Leigh) The civilian transition for Elizabeth, I based on my transition after the military.  Military vs Civilian flying are really two different mindsets.  Not better or worse just different.  The difficult part there was trying to make it relatable to the target audience of romance readers.  I had to be reminded that many would skip over something too technically detailed that’s not germane to the romance of the story or the romance of flight.  Elizabeth has both in the book.  I did search and YouTube Bonanza information and spoke to Dan Perry, a coworker who owns a Bonanza.  The American Bonanza Society website had information on the various types and provides training programs that I looked over. 

So summing up.  If you have an interest there’s probably a website to search or a YouTube out there to open up the rabbit hole. 


Excerpt from Chapter Five

“Come in or go out, but shut the door. I finally got it warm enough to work,” a gruff voice called from somewhere inside. She startled but did not move. “In or out, I don’t care. I don’t have any money and the hangar door is frozen shut. Just close the door!”

Elizabeth took a step in and closed the door behind her.

“Thank you! Now, we don’t have lessons. I only work here and don’t have time for side jobs,” came the voice from below the front of the Bonanza.

“I’m not looking for lessons or help,” she said, walking to the voice.

A tool fell to the ground, and she heard some muttering under the plane. “Well, what do you want?”

“I came to see the airplanes.”

“I’d give you a tour but I’m busy. Mrs. Reynolds does all the tours at the big house down the road. Call her and I’m sure she can get you fixed up.”

Elizabeth asked, “May I help?”

“Sure,” the voice said sarcastically. “Do you know what an oil filter wrench looks like?”

“Cap or wrap around?” queried Elizabeth as she turned around, looking around the walls and seeing toolboxes, a large work bench, and various compartments for mechanical paraphernalia.

“Wrap around”—hands appeared from under the plane and pointed—“toolbox on the wall, second drawer, and bring the shallow oil pan, and put it on the bench by the nose.”

“Okay,” she said and worked her way to the toolbox and collected the items. By the time she found the wrench and turned around, the engine of the Bonanza was uncovered, and the body of the voice was back underneath, his coveralls exposed.

“Wrench,” came the command, and she slapped the wrench into his hand like an experienced surgical nurse.

A couple grunts later, the man said, “Here, take the filter to the pan but don’t dump it. Careful, it will spill, and it’s a mess to get off the floor and your clothes.”

Elizabeth took the filter to the oil pan and did as directed, though the process was awkward in her too-large coat and gloves. The mechanic crawled off the floor and followed her.

“Grab that filter cutter.” He nodded with his nose while taking the filter. Placing the cutter over the filter, he cut around carefully and removed the bottom plate. He discarded it and poured the oil. “We’re looking for any metal chunks. There shouldn’t be any.” He took out the filter paper and unwrapped each fold. “Where’d you get that coat? Kinda big for ya. You realize you can order different sizes?”

“My husband’s,” Elizabeth answered, studying the unfolding paper. “Do you send the oil off for spectroanalysis?”

“Not this time. Only every other change,” he said. She noticed him looking at her out the corner of his eye. He pointed again.

When she returned to the table, the mechanic spoke once more. “Have to change her oil every fifty hours. The boss flew it a bunch in December, at least two trips to Texas. Built up the hours quicker than I expected. Grab that new filter. The oil is over there.”

Elizabeth dutifully grabbed the new filter and pushed the oil cart over to the aircraft. The man returned underneath and asked for the safety wire pliers. Elizabeth spotted them within his easy reach. Handing them over, she realized what he had been doing. “That was a test, wasn’t it?”

“Yep,” he answered shortly. After coming back up, the man grabbed a clean, but well-used, funnel and filled the oil.

“Good news, bad news,” he said, looking at Elizabeth. “We’ve changed the oil, but the hangar door is frozen shut so we can’t run’er up and check for leaks.” He discarded the last oil bottle and looked down at her like a professor in a university auditorium. “What do you suggest we do?”

“Frozen at the base, hinge or top?” Elizabeth asked.

“Base.”

“Water, de-ice, shovel, or sledgehammer?”

“Based on the temperature,” he said as he walked across the hangar to a small closet, “water will make it thicker before we can shovel. I’ve got some salt and the sun might be on it by now. We’d break the shovel, but I just so happen to have two sledgehammers.”

“Great. Salt and sledges it is.”

He handed her a bucket full of salt and they tramped outside. Elizabeth felt the oppressive cold freeze her cheeks in seconds and shuddered. The large hangar door was just beginning to come into full sunlight. The mechanic showed her how and where to apply the salt for the best melting effect. Once they got across the entire door, he led her back inside.

“The office is there. Just shut the door. It’ll be nice and toasty for you.”

“Thanks.”

He pointed with his chin back behind them. “There’s two chairs by the office. On the other side, you’ll see a Navy-style coffee maker. It’s water. Hot chocolate, coffee, creamer, and apple cider are alongside. I’ve got to see a man about a horse and will join you in a few.”

Elizabeth settled down to warm herself with some hot chocolate and was blowing the steam from the top when the mechanic returned. Now that they were out of the dimness of the hangar and he was not under an aircraft, she could size him up. He was about six feet tall, with short gray hair and about two hundred pounds. His coveralls were used but neat. He was clean shaven with glasses and a kind smile, surprising, considering the quiz she had just received.

“How’d you find this place?” he asked as he sat down with a cup of coffee.

“Mrs. Reynolds sent me down.”

 “I don’t need any help. I’m fifty-nine, not seventy-nine, for heaven’s sake. I can handle the airplane.”

Elizabeth stifled a smile with her cup. “Maybe she thought with two you’d like an assistant.”

“We’ve had two planes before. When Will and Richard were learning to fly, we had a Citabria and the Bonanza. Mr. Darcy and I taught them. Will’s become a great little pilot, though I shouldn’t let him hear me call him little.” Chuckling, the mechanic continued. “No, not Mr. F-22 fighter pilot.” He straightened himself. “Of course, it’s not an A-10. Now, I think he just got done flying ‘38s.”

“Did you fly in the service?” Elizabeth asked, taking a sip.

“Yep, F-111s, two tours, T-37s in between, A-10s and T-38A and Cs. Around forty-three hundred hours. But what I’m most proud of is over two thousand instructor hours.”

“How’d you become a mechanic?”

“Retired from the service. Got into some financial trouble with my ex-wife. Mr. Darcy, Will’s dad, hired me as an assistant mechanic. I apprenticed for a year, then took over when the other retired.” He looked at her over his glasses. “You aren’t in trouble, are you?”

“No, no.” Elizabeth laughed.

“By the way, I’m Steve Weston,” he said, reaching out his hand.

“Elizabeth Ben—I mean—Elizabeth Darcy.”

“You one of their cousins or something?”

“Or something,” answered Elizabeth, not wanting to ruin the moment.

“Well, hot chocolate’s done. The salt’s probably worked so we have no excuse.”

They donned their gloves again and went back to the doors. The salt had worked and the ice on the doors only required a little persuasion with the sledgehammer. Elizabeth felt a thrill run through her with the physical labor and banging the ice off the door. It’s been too long since I’ve felt useful. After several minutes of work, the large doors creaked open, filling the warmer hangar with cold air.

“We need to work quick,” Mr. Weston called loudly to her from the other side of the hangar. “The block was heated, and it’s been in the hangar, but we need to get the runup done before it cools.”

The aircraft positioned and chocked, Mr. Weston opened the back door and started the engine to let it warm and cycle the propeller. Once shut down, he motioned over to Elizabeth and showed her where to look for leaks. When they found none, they closed the hangar doors and turned up the heater. It was six when they got all the covers put on the plane and it was ready to fly again another day.

“What can you tell me about the Lancair?” she asked, pointing to the candy apple red plane next to Darcy’s Bonanza.

“Not much,” Mr. Weston said as he filed various tools away into their places. “A friend of mine flew it in for Will a couple weeks ago on a ferry permit. The builder did a good job but didn’t fly it. I’ve got the paperwork and books on it. I’ve got to do a condition check and go through all the systems. It’ll take about two months. It has better technology than the Bonanza, well at least newer, composite fuselage, fuel injection. Updated glass cockpit inside. Comfortable, stable, fast, but you have to pay attention more than a 172. You got any time?”

She let her hand glide along the smooth painted wing as she listened. “I’ve my private license and about seventy hours in the T-6.”

“Tailwheel time, eh?”

“Uh, no. The new T-6. I was in the Air Force.”

“Was?”

She shifted uncomfortably as he examined at her. She could practically see the questions running through his mind, though he had not paused his work.

“Yeah, I had a mishap and was medically retired.”

“Hmm, you’ll have to tell me about it sometime. I worked as a safety for a bit, so I enjoy hearing about those things.”

After a pause, Elizabeth summoned the courage to ask: “Mr. Weston, do you still teach?”

“Flying or mechanics?”

“Flying is what I’m most interested in at the moment. I think I would like to get my commercial and become a CFI.”

“Can you afford it? The 172 down the road rents for a hundred and fifty dollars an hour.”

“I think so—my husband has a pretty good gig, and he’s a pilot, too, so I’m sure he’ll be supportive.”

“You’re young. How long have you been married?”

“Almost four months.”

“It will take some time away from him.”

“I think he’ll be okay with it.”

“Huh, let me check with the boss. I don’t think he’d be upset. He just moved back so hopefully no more random trips across the country. Though, with more consistent flying, he might need me around a little more often than in the past.”

“How much will you charge to instruct?” Mr. Weston laughed, a jolly sort of chuckle that Elizabeth found appealing, contrasting his initial porcupine-like personality. He seemed a teddy bear sort of person, one who was initially gruff, but quite warm once he welcomed you to his circle of trust.

“You live near here?”

A smile crossed her face, and she said, “Pretty close.”

“How about you come clean and sweep the hangar, help me with the aircraft, and bring me donuts once a week?”

As she reached out her hand to make the deal, an artic blast came whooshing through the door. Both of them yelled, “Come in or go out, but shut the door!” Shaking hands, they grinned at each other.


About Came a Flight Gently

In the exciting conclusion of the Pride in Flight Series (The Best Laid Flight Plans and The Flight Path Less Traveled), our dear couple Elizabeth and Darcy have moved to Pemberley to begin their lives together. An outsider to New York society and the affluent world of Darcy, our heroine uses her characteristic drive and wit to begin her marriage and all that comes with him. Helped along by Mrs. Reynolds and a curmudgeonly airplane mechanic, Elizabeth discovers a new path to the civilian flight world. Darcy, ever the hero, supports her and learns to trust her instincts. Fast-paced and dramatic, Came a Flight Gently soars through love, adventure, and intrigue as it races through Reno to the finish.

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


About the Authors

Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. She is blessed to have multi-generational military connections through herself and her husband, who she met in pilot training. She often describes her formative years in this way: “You know the ‘Great Balls of Fire’ scene in Top Gun (Goose, you big stud!) when Goose and Meg Ryan have their kid on the piano? I was that kid.” Leigh lives with her pilot husband, a plane-obsessed son, a daughter who was a pink pilot for Halloween, and a one-year-old son who is so used to F-16 noise, he does not even startle to sonic booms.  

Paul Trockner was an Air Force fighter pilot for twenty-eight years. He flew the F-111, T-37, A-10, and T-38. He currently teaches fighter pilots using simulator instruction. He has been happily married for thirty-six years to his lovely wife Elizabeth. Leigh is the oldest of his five children.

Connect with Leigh Dreyer: Email: leighdreyerauthor@gmail.com | Facebook | Goodreads | Website


Giveaway

Leigh and Paul are generously offering an ebook of Came a Flight Gently to one lucky reader, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 28, 2021. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Leigh and Paul, for being my guests today, and congratulations on your new book!

Source: Publisher

What Mothers Withhold is a chapbook of poems by Elizabeth Kropf about motherhood and all the joy, grief, fear, pain, and, of course, love that accompanies it. It’s about the wishes mothers have for their children, how they long to protect them from the harsh truths of the world at all costs.

Kropf captures the power and strength of women during childbirth, as well as the powerlessness and anger and grief that accompanies the loss of a pregnancy — and what some women have to endure to become pregnant in the first place. Kropf writes in “Unraveling”: “we cannot cut these threads tangled around/our fingers, spun so tight. The children we/loved without sight/of them.”

These poems also touch on the loss of control women have over their bodies when they are pregnant; in “The Cost of Obedience,” Kropf writes: “naked in a paper gown/I am without a voice/I nod and accept. I do not say no.”

What Mothers Withhold is not just about withholding; it’s about enduring, fighting, hoping. To me, it read like a love letter from a mother to her children, and a mother’s affirmation of her own strength, a recounting of the journey to motherhood — the joy as well as the pain. This short collection of poems should resonate with anyone who has carried a child close to her heart. While their experiences are different, many of the emotions are the same, and Kropf’s poems push them all to the forefront in What Mothers Withhold.

To read the title poem, and Kropf’s inspiration, check out this guest post.

To learn more about the book and follow the blog tour, click here.

Hello, friends! I am thrilled to welcome Heather Moll back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Nine Ladies, a novel that combines Pride and Prejudice and time travel. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Heather is here to take you on a tour of Bakewell, which is featured in the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!


Hello Anna and thank you for welcoming me back to Diary of an Eccentric! Today I’m going to take your readers on a tour of some of the real places mentioned in Nine Ladies. Now, I know what some are you are thinking: “Heather, I heard this story has time travel. What is real about that?” While you may not be able to travel through time 200 years by standing in a stone circle during certain solar events, the places that our modern Elizabeth visits before she goes back in time to meet Regency Darcy are real.

I finished the manuscript for Nine Ladies in 2018, and in 2019 I visited Derbyshire with a dear friend for our own Elizabeth Bennet tour. Bakewell was our home-base and it’s also where Elizabeth is staying in 2011 when Nine Ladies opens.

This is Bank House on Bath Street in Bakewell. When Darcy rode through Bakewell in 1811, it was a girls’ school, but by the time Elizabeth comes to England it was converted into 3 flats, and she’s renting the second one from Professor Gardiner.

Elizabeth’s friends from Sheffield decide that she needs some cheering up after her father’s death and they come to spend the weekend with her. They leave her flat and walk toward the town center to have breakfast. They pass the Rutland Arms, an inn built in 1804. Jane Austen is believed to have stayed here in 1811.

By the way, I had an amazing sandwich at the Lambton Larder. Nice name, right?

Elizabeth and her friends, Charlotte Lucas and her sister Maria, Willie Collins, and Missy King, then take a bus to nearby Haddon Hall.

Haddon is a 900 year old manor house that is still a private residence and one of the only houses in England that has remained in one family’s ownership. It was empty throughout the Georgian and Victorian era while the family lived elsewhere. When Elizabeth visits Haddon in Nine Ladies, she’s not impressed by the Tudor and Medieval styling, but she does like the terraced walled gardens.

Later, her friends have to decide to visit either a Bronze Age stone circle or the ruins of a Georgian-era home. They decide on the ruins, but the stone circle stays in Elizabeth’s mind.

Of course, they have to finish the afternoon with a Bakewell pudding. This is my friend’s dessert because I ate mine too fast before it even occurred to me to take a picture of it.

After her friends leave, Elizabeth decides to see the Nine Ladies stone circle herself. She walks to Stanton Moor and sees the real Nine Ladies, a stone circle that’s 4,000-years old.

In Nine Ladies, if you stand in the center of the stone circle at sunset on an equinox—in the 21st century—you’ll go back in time 200 years. The one-way portal opens again on a solstice, and anyone inside will move forward in time from the 19th century to the 21st.

I stood in the center of that stone circle for a while, but I didn’t go anywhere. No regency men for me. But if you read Nine Ladies you’ll find out what happens when a 21st century Elizabeth goes back in time to meet 19th century Darcy.


About Nine Ladies

The Darcy family has grudgingly kept the secret about the power contained within a nearby stone circle called Nine Ladies. Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to contend with this secret when a young woman from the future appears at Pemberley. Until the opinionated stranger can return to when she belongs, Darcy is responsible not only for her safety, but also for ensuring that nothing she does threatens Pemberley’s well-being.

Elizabeth Bennet has returned to England to take care of her estranged father, and her life was off track long before she walked into that stone circle at sunset. She quickly discovers that, as a poor and single woman, she’ll have to rely on the arrogant Mr. Darcy. She tries her best to survive in the nineteenth-century until she can return home but, as she and Darcy grow closer, the truth she knows about his and Pemberley’s bleak future becomes harder to keep.

How can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome 200 years of differences in this era-spanning love story?

Buy on Amazon


About the Author

Heather Moll is an avid reader of mysteries and biographies with a masters in information science. She found Jane Austen later than she should have and made up for lost time by devouring her letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era. She is the author of Nine Ladies, Two More Days at Netherfield, and His Choice of a Wife. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether or not to buy groceries or stay home and write. Visit her blog and subscribe to her newsletter for a freebie and monthly updates. Connect with her on FacebookGoodreadsInstagram, and Twitter.


Giveaway

Heather is generously offering a giveaway of 6 ebook copies of Nine Ladies as part of the blog tour, open internationally. This giveaway ends on February 13. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!


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

Hello, friends! Grace Gibson is here today to celebrate the release of her newest Pride and Prejudice variation, Reckless, Headstrong Girl, part of Meryton Press’s Skirmish & Scandal series. Grace is here to share an excerpt from the book that we hope you’ll all enjoy. Please give her a warm welcome!


Thank you for having me Anna! I would like to share a little excerpt from Reckless, Headstrong Girl. Shortly after her elopement with George Wickham, Lydia Bennet has found herself in a bit of a pickle…

Shock, having taken hold, suspended even the silliest thoughts that were prone to arise in the mind of Miss Lydia Bennet, age fifteen, of Longbourn, Hertfordshire. She was acutely aware of the rumble of the wheels of the retreating coach, the low chuckle of the outrider, the subsequent chirping of crickets in the ditch, a few stars shining through the humid haze, and the throbbing in her rear from being thrown onto the hardened clay of the ruts in the road. How long she sat slumped and uncomprehending in this state she could not guess, but eventually, outrage replaced shock, and she staggered upright and screamed at the top of her lungs.

After venting the worst of her rage in roars and unholy howls of indignation, she devolved into sobs, hiccoughs, and moans. Lydia Bennet stood—alone—upon the London road in the dark. Surely Wickham would come back for her, she began to reason, although reasoning was not her strong suit. He could not be so lost to honor and duty that he would abandon a gentleman’s daughter in the wilds of West Sussex in the middle of the night.

Roughly two hours later, Lydia began to think that perhaps Mr. Wickham was not a gentleman after all. When he finally returned for her, she would tell him off at the top of her lungs! This seemed a paltry punishment for what he had done to her, and yet, as she would be dependent upon him to restore her to Colonel Forster’s home, she could hardly tear out his liver with her bare hands. The image of doing so, however, was quite sustaining. Consequently, Lydia—thinking darkly of throwing George Wickham’s beloved Hessians into the fire, cutting his pomaded curls off his head as he lay in a drunken stupor, seeing him bound, pale and weeping, in a tumbrel headed for the guillotine, or paying a thoroughly disreputable sea captain to press him into the lower decks of a second-rate ship headed for Java—finally looked around her. She could hardly remain standing in the road. If the night mail were to pass, she would be plowed down by a team of six at the gallop.

If you are curious as to what happens next in Lydia’s adventure, part two of this excerpt will be featured on February 8th at Austenesque Reviews. Hope to see you there!


About Reckless, Headstrong Girl

A scandalous flight, an inconsiderate couple—

How can things have gone so terribly wrong for Lydia Bennet?

In Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Lydia Bennet runs away from Brighton with George Wickham, but this adaptation of Lydia’s adventures is not your typical story about this brash couple.

Mr. Wickham, proving he is no gentleman, does the unthinkable and casts Lydia out of a second-rate coach. Filthy, exhausted, and penniless, Lydia is just facing the beginning of her ordeal! How can a spoiled, uneducated girl of fifteen—used to having her way—survive a night in the wilds of Sussex?

As Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner vainly search for her in London, Lydia’s sisters struggle to keep her secret from their Meryton neighbors. Though they fear the worst—that Lydia’s wild life has ended in tragedy—all hope is not lost. Mr. Darcy, in the midst of reigniting his courtship with Elizabeth, is determined to recover his love’s unfortunate sibling.

Will Mr. Darcy succeed in finding Lydia and restoring her to respectability? In what shocking condition will this catastrophe render such a reckless, headstrong girl?

*****

The novella, Reckless, Headstrong Girl, may be purchased on Amazon US and Amazon UK. It is available as an eBook, a Paperback, and through Kindle Unlimited. The audiobook, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, should be released in about a month.


About the Author

In addition to mosaic art, which I create at Studio Luminaria, my home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas, I enjoy writing regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations for pleasure.   

Contact Info:  Facebook

Other Books by Grace Gibson

Silver Buckles is available on Amazon. “Old Boots” will be coming summer 2021.


Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously offering 1 ebook copy of Reckless, Headstrong Girl to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway is open internationally through Sunday, February 14, 2021. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!


Thank you for being my guest today, Grace, and congratulations on your new book!

Happy release day to Elaine Jeremiah and her first Pride and Prejudice variation, Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again. Elaine is here to talk a little about the book and share an excerpt. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!


I’m really excited to do this guest post today, on the publication day of my very first ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation, ‘Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again’. Thanks to Anna for featuring me on her blog! I thought I would share with you some thoughts about what are to me some of the most appealing aspects of the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ story, things that make us want to read so many retellings of it.

Well, I guess unsurprisingly, the biggest draw for me is the two main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Aren’t they just great? They’re so memorable and feel so real. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I could be more like Elizabeth Bennet; confident, forthright and witty.

And Mr Darcy. Hmm – he’s just about the best romantic hero ever written. I say that most of all because of the way that after Elizabeth so flatly refuses his first marriage proposal, in no uncertain terms, he goes away and reflects on what she’s said and starts to re-evaluate himself as a person. Over time he realises there’s a lot of truth in what she’s said to him about his character and he begins to change.

The amazing thing is – so does Elizabeth! She too, having read Darcy’s letter after that first disastrous proposal, gradually begins to see things from his point of view. She starts to see that she’s been wrong as well in her behaviour at times – ‘Till this moment, I never knew myself’ – perhaps one of the most famous lines in the novel.

Austen’s tale of Elizabeth and Darcy is perfect, really great – and yet ripe for retelling! You can tell the story so many ways; there are so many ‘what ifs?’ What if Darcy and Elizabeth didn’t meet again in Derbyshire after the first proposal? What if they met when they were very young? What if they meet when they’re older? The possibilities are endless.

The secondary characters are so good too. Who could forget the venomous Miss Bingley, saintly Jane Bennet or the permanently marriage-obsessed Mrs Bennet? There are so many other wonderfully unforgettable characters who it’s possible to use in retellings of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, let alone all the possibility for stories about the secondary characters themselves.

Another thing that I love is the Regency era during which ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was written and in which it’s set. I love the history of the time in which Jane Austen lived, reading about the events that took place during her lifetime and how different society was in England back then. It’s so very different from life in England in the twenty-first century! So that’s another definite draw for me to want to write a novel set in that era.

There’s so many reasons I love Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, almost as many reasons why I love to read retellings of the story, and also a whole load of reasons why I loved writing my own retelling of it myself. I do hope you enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it.


An excerpt from Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again

As Darcy strode away from Elizabeth Bennet, he contemplated the situation they had found themselves in. Being unable to find help did not bode well. If or when they were discovered alone together, they would have difficulty explaining how it came to pass. He was unsure what he would say in his defence if they were.

He reflected too on his ambiguous feelings for the lady. It was true that she was the daughter of an inconsequential gentleman and her other relations… well vulgar did not begin to describe the mother. As for her sisters, excepting the eldest, Miss Jane Bennet who was perfectly amiable, he had never come across such boisterous, flirtatious misses in his life.

And yet he could not deny that Elizabeth intrigued him. She piqued his interest and those eyes of hers were most arresting. He shook his head as he thrashed his riding crop through the foliage of the woods, forcing a path through. Their meeting today was unaccountable. His very purpose for heading out from Netherfield on his horse, despite the indifferent weather, had been to clear his thoughts of her.

These nascent feelings for her simply would not do. She and her family were beneath him in every way. So it was that his surprise on happening upon her so suddenly had been great. At first, dismounting from his horse, he had felt as though he had been robbed of the power of speech. When finally he had turned and spoken to her, he saw by the expression of her fine eyes that her surprise was equal to his.

‘Attend to the task at hand, William,’ he told himself. At this moment, his biggest regret ought to have been his horse. Under usual circumstances, the horse would never have behaved in such a way. But he was unused to thunder and lightning, poor creature. Darcy had also had to rein him in very suddenly to avoid trampling Elizabeth, which had only added to the horse’s confusion.

In spite of his attempts to the contrary, however, Darcy’s thoughts would return to Elizabeth. He felt a need to protect her. After all, it was his fault she was injured. It was true that he had no wish to ruin her reputation; in fact, he knew that as a gentleman it was his duty to preserve it. Yet it was something greater than that which spurred him on, forcing him to ignore the raindrops trickling down the back of his neck, his cravat and greatcoat no match for the inclement weather.

He refused to acknowledge that feeling, however. It could lead nowhere. In any case, there were more important considerations to be thought of. He was unsure how long he had been walking for, but at that moment a smallish wooden hut with a stone chimney came into view. He halted abruptly, surveying it. Would it do for their purposes? Was it habitable? Although it was rudimentary, it appeared well kept. When he knocked, there was no answer. Taking a breath, he tried the door and to his relief discovered it was unlocked.

Darcy took a cursory glance around the interior. There was only the one room, but it did have a substantial fireplace on the far wall with firewood piled up beside it and a small bed in one corner. This will do nicely, he thought. Now all that remained was to fetch Elizabeth. It was a considerable distance for him to carry her, but the thought of having her small, warm, curvaceous body in his arms again made his mouth curve upwards in a grin.

~

Could this moment really be lasting an eternity, Elizabeth wondered, as she was sitting under the tree getting wetter by the minute. It certainly felt like it. The pain in her ankle was severe and it occurred to her that it may be broken. God forbid, she thought with a shudder. If she had broken a bone in her ankle and it was then set incorrectly, it could mean she would never walk again.

And Mr Darcy. Elizabeth could not make him out. In all her previous encounters with him, he had been aloof, taciturn and on occasion more than a little rude. During the short time she had been in his company this morning however, he had behaved with great chivalry towards her. It was perplexing to say the least. She shook her head. Mr Darcy was only performing the service that any gentleman would and that was all.

But his keeping hold of her hand for longer than necessary. What could he mean by it, if he truly disliked her? Attempting to answer this vexing question kept her mind occupied for a good while, in fact until the gentleman himself appeared in front of her. Elizabeth felt her face flush and bit her lip as her eyes met Mr Darcy’s own.

For a moment neither of them spoke but remained as they were with their eyes fixed on one another. It was as though someone had cast a spell over them. Elizabeth was startled that Mr Darcy seemed as transfixed as she. She wanted and yet did not want to look away. Finally, he cleared his throat. The spell was broken and he said, ‘Miss Bennet, I have discovered the gamekeeper’s cottage that you mentioned, although in truth it is more of a hut.’ He gave her a rueful smile, which seemed somehow to transform his face, lightening it, making him appear even more handsome than before.

She gave him a brief nod. ‘Thank you for searching in this dreadful weather,’ she said. ‘It may be a mere hut, but I think it is the best we can hope for. Beggars cannot be choosers.’

‘No, indeed,’ he replied. He paused and she saw that he seemed to be bracing himself for what he would say next. ‘Unfortunately, it is quite far from here, about a half mile. Miss Bennet, I must carry you for all of that time, if you will permit me?’

‘But of course,’ she replied. ‘I suppose that will have to suffice, as my ankle can scarcely support my weight.’

He gave a wry smile at her tart comment. ‘In that case, I suggest we depart immediately,’ he said and stooped to pick her up. She put her arms around his neck. ‘You are wet through,’ he added as he straightened and began to walk away from the tree which had proved so mean a shelter for her.

‘It is a very wet day, sir,’ Elizabeth replied lightly. ‘I cannot be expected to look the part of a lady in conditions such as these,’ she added in a mischievous tone.

He did not understand her. ‘Miss Bennet, I was not suggesting for one moment that you…’

‘Of course not, Mr Darcy,’ she replied. ‘I merely jest.’

‘Ah. I see,’ was his response.

They remained silent for a while as Mr Darcy soldiered on through the rain with Elizabeth in his arms. Gradually, her initial apprehension began to wear off and she found herself relaxing the rigid body posture she had adopted when he had lifted her off the ground. His arms around her made her feel warm in spite of the weather. Yet a sense of unease remained. She, an unmarried woman, was being carried a fair distance by a man who was not her betrothed and certainly never likely to be her husband. What would society say?


About Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again

Little does Elizabeth Bennet think the journey across muddy fields from her home at Longbourn to Netherfield Park will change her life forever.

But an unexpected encounter with the proud and haughty Mr Darcy leaves her injured and vulnerable. Worse still, she is left alone with him for a significant amount of time. Her reputation at risk, she is forced to make a decision about her future. Now her life will never be the same again.

Can Elizabeth ever be happy? Or will she always loathe Mr Darcy?

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


About the Author

Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband and their golden retriever, Dug. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire.

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel ‘Love Without Time’, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. ‘Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again’ is the first ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation she’s written.

If you want to connect with Elaine online, her Facebook page can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/elainejeremiahauthor/

Her Twitter handle is: @ElaineJeremiah

Her website is here: https://elainejeremiah.co.uk/


Giveaway

Elaine is generously offering 2 ebook copies of Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 7, 2021. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!


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

Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth Kropf to the blog today to celebrate the release of her chapbook, What Mothers Withhold. I hope you’ll check out the featured poem, and stop by again in February for my review. Please give Elizabeth a warm welcome!


My chapbook “what mothers withhold” has just been published by Finishing Line Press. I would like to share the title poem of my chapbook “what mothers withhold” and discuss the inspiration and how it relates to the chapbook.

what mothers withhold

my four-year-old says she does not like when Elsa is mean to her sister

I try to explain that she is only trying to protect her

as I protect her with a sanitized, joyful version of her birth

as my mother protected me

leaving out for so long life-threatening hemorrhaging 

as mothers have always withheld splinters of pain

unwilling to prick innocent skin

until the moment the child is ready to hold truth tenderly

accept blood trickle from sharp edges

until the child has eyes to see translucent change from shard to jewel

glistening with amniotic fluid, with the deepest shade of ruby,

with the shine of unbreakable diamonds

© 2021, what mothers withhold, Finishing Line Press

When my oldest was a toddler she wanted me to tell me the story of her birth every day. I had a difficult birth with her and omitted many details when telling the story. This paralleled with me becoming an adult and hearing more about my mom’s much more difficult delivery with me. Becoming a mother has helped me appreciate my mom so much more and has brought us closer. Many of the poems are about pregnancy and birth, but there is also a theme of a desire to protect our children, and that is my most primal desire. I hope that readers will either be able to connect to their experiences as parent or child or have a window into the perspective.

Elizabeth Kropf


Thank you, Elizabeth! I definitely can relate to wanting to protect my daughter and withholding truths until she grew up. This sounds like a poignant collection of poems, especially for mothers. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the chapbook next month.


About What Mothers Withhold

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

–Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of “Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems.”

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth—or not—and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

–Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author

Elizabeth Kropf earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College and is widely published in literary publications, including The Texas Poetry Calendar, The Penwood Review, and Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature.  A dream called her from California to Texas where she now lives with her husband and daughters.


For more information about the book, and to follow the blog tour, click the button below.

Hello, friends! C.P. Odom has a new Pride and Prejudice variation, Determination, and I’m excited to welcome him back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release. He’s here today to share an excerpt, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please give him a warm welcome!


This excerpt is from Chapter 8 of my new novel, Determination. Since the released blurb on the cover and previous excerpts in the blog tour make it evident that Colonel Fitzwilliam is in romantic pursuit of Jane Bennet, the colonel issued an invitation for Jane, Elizabeth, and her aunt and uncle to be his guests at the theatre for a new production of Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar. This excerpt is about what happens during that excursion.

Chapter 8

He is not a lover who does not love forever.

— Euripides, writer of classical Greek tragedies

Friday, May 1, 1812
Covent Garden, London

Jane looked out the window in surprise as her uncle’s carriage slowed and came to a halt. Shoppers still thronged the pedestrian walkways to either side of the street since many of the shops along Bow Street stayed open until ten o’clock or even later. But there was no sign of the theatre.

“Why have we stopped, Uncle?” Elizabeth asked, leaning out of the window for a better look. A series of dividers separated the pedestrians from the streets, and she was surprised to see a line of carriages ahead of their coach with several more stopping just behind.

“Covent Garden is the largest theatre in town, Lizzy, and it is usually considered to be the leading theatre of the English-speaking world. Only Drury Lane came close, but the rebuilding likely will not be completed until the fall. Even then, it is uncertain whether it will be able to open since the management is said to have been virtually bankrupted by the cost of the renewal.”

“I thought a new company had been formed to cover the cost of rebuilding by subscription,” Mrs. Gardiner said.

“Quite correct, dear, but subscriptions have proven barely able to keep up with costs. Whitbread and his fellow investors are said to have little left in their purse. In any case, Lizzy, there is always a line of coaches, carriages, and hacks waiting to drop their passengers in front of the theatre. We shall simply have to wait our turn.”

Both Jane and Elizabeth settled back to look out at the shops on either side of the street, and there was much to see. Streams of people strolled along the street, pausing occasionally to inspect the various offerings in the fine, high windows. There were drapers, stationers, booksellers, china sellers, and many more, all close to each other and without any break between shops. The shoppers were dressed well but not opulently. Covent Garden and similar shopping areas such as Leicester Square and the Strand were not in the most fashionable areas, but the shops were still genteel and respectable.

The girls had shopped often with their aunt in Cheapside, which was not so very different from the scene they saw here, but everything was significantly altered at night as the streets were lit by a multiplicity of lamps and lanterns of all different colours and brightness. Jane pointed out a dressmaker’s establishment that showed women’s materials—silks, chintzes, muslins, and more—many of them visible behind the windows lit by carefully placed lamps to pique the interest of those passing by.

Just then, their coach lurched into motion again, and they moved up a coach-length before again halting.

“We could get out and walk,” Elizabeth commented, “and then we could inspect the shops more easily.”

“Ah, but it is not done that way,” responded her uncle with a smile. “The theatre employs people who will stop the pedestrians when we alight from our coach, forming a line so we may enter the theatre. If we walked up to the entrance, we would be simply more pedestrians, either forced to enter with those buying tickets or directed away from the arriving coaches. In addition, I should not like to try escorting three ladies past all these merchants’ windows and still arrive in time for the beginning of the play.”

Elizabeth sniffed audibly to show her opinion of this last comment and returned to inspecting the businesses on her side of the coach while her uncle and aunt shared a soft laugh at her expense.

“It is too bad Miss Lucas declined to attend, dear,” Mr. Gardiner said to his wife. “She might have enjoyed the shops even if she does not care for Shakespeare.”

“I believe she would have liked to come, if only to be able to say she had attended the theatre and seen all of the finest society in London. Why, I understand the Prince Regent will be attending tonight,” responded his wife. “But Maria must have eaten some bad meat when we were at the market yesterday. I especially suspect that beef pie she purchased from the gypsy.”

How Maria would have loved to boast that she dined nine times at Rosings with her ladyship, drank tea there twice, AND attended the theatre when the Prince Regent was in attendance, Elizabeth thought sardonically. Silly girl. I told her not to buy that pie.

Gradually, their coach moved up position by position, and Elizabeth happened to be looking at Jane when she saw her sister’s expression change. Jane had been idly looking at the shops on her side of the coach when her head suddenly swivelled and stopped. Her eyes seemed to sharpen and focus, and her whole expression softened even as her lips curved into a smile.

“There is Colonel Fitzwilliam waiting for us,” she said.

“I daresay he is waiting, Jane,” Mr. Gardiner commented dryly, “but I believe I am correct when I say he is not waiting for your aunt and me.”

“And as amiable as I find the gentleman, I am certain he is not waiting for me either,” Elizabeth said teasingly.

Jane’s cheeks grew a little pinker, and she lowered her eyes, but Elizabeth was sure she was not displeased. However, she could not help feeling a pang of regret when she thought of Mr. Bingley.

Had it not been for Mr. Darcy’s arrogant interference, that might be Mr. Bingley waiting, she thought angrily. No matter how Colonel Fitzwilliam might try to change my mind, I do not believe I can ever forgive Mr. Darcy for that.

***

As soon as their carriage stopped in front of the theatre, two servants in Covent Garden livery quickly opened the door and pulled down the step. Mr. Gardiner would normally have exited first in order to assist his wife and nieces, but he waved Jane ahead since the colonel was already stepping forward to do the honours.

Richard’s breath caught in his throat as Jane stepped through the door of the coach, bent over slightly to duck under the top of the door frame. She thus presented to him a most enchanting view down the front of her fashionably low-cut evening gown.

Her aunt had ordered the gown prepared early in Jane’s visit in order to show off her niece’s figure to best advantage though Jane had never had occasion to wear it until her aunt suggested she do so tonight. Mrs. Gardiner’s suggestion certainly achieved the intended result. Richard was not able to keep his eyes from dropping to Jane’s bodice and the view of her neckline as her breasts swelled against the constraints of her gown. He was at least able to make himself wrench his eyes away after a moment so he could accept Jane’s hand as she straightened and stepped to the ground.

Does she know just how enticing she looks? he wondered in numb confusion. Does she have any idea of the effect she is having on me—and on any other man looking this way?

Only manners strengthened by rigid self-control allowed him to exchange greetings with her, though he really wished to simply step back and stare. He did not think he had ever seen a young lady more beautiful in her person or more attractively attired, though he knew enough about women’s fashion to realize that Jane’s gown was nothing extraordinary. It was quite in keeping with the fashion of the day, heavily influenced by the move towards the more simplified and classical styles of Greece and Rome. The waistline was high, and the material was an inner layer of fine white linen with an outer layer of sheer white silk. Gone were the heavy brocades of the previous century, replaced by the clean lines that fell from the high waist just under her bosom all the way to her hem. The sleeves were short, hardly more than straps across the shoulder to support the dress while allowing a low, square-cut neckline to show off the snow-white perfection of a lady’s bosom.

It is a beautiful gown that many a high-society daughter could not wear with more credit, Richard thought. They might pick elaborate gowns with more embroidery and a much higher price, but they could not look as beautiful as this country lass before me—or as desirable.

The addition of physical desirability to his already fixed admiration for this striking young woman only firmed his already expressed intentions, and the soft smile she gave him sent a tingling sensation down his spine and made his blood seem to sing in his veins. He believed he would never forget this moment, his varied emotions twisting, turning, and melting together until no single strand could be untangled from the others.

My intentions are already declared, at least to her uncle, but tonight makes me absolutely determined that nothing—absolutely nothing—shall sway me from winning her and making her my bride.

“Colonel Fitzwilliam?”

The note of query in Elizabeth Bennet’s voice brought Richard’s attention back to the present as he realized that, despite his attempt at self-control, he had clearly been staring too long at her sister. He was quick to turn back to the coach and assist Miss Elizabeth to the ground. The expression on her face was clear: she knew it was the sight of Jane’s exposed bosom that had paralysed him.

And it was clear that she did not approve.

***

Richard was correct in his supposition since Elizabeth had heartily disagreed with her aunt’s suggestion for Jane’s gown earlier that day, believing it was much too revealing.

“Lizzy, you are in London, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the world,” Mrs. Gardiner had said with a smile. “Every woman attending the theatre for this opening performance will be dressed in her absolute best evening wear with considerable shoulder and bosom on display.”

At Elizabeth’s disbelieving look, her aunt had continued. “It is not customary or proper to wear a low-cut or short-sleeved gown to an afternoon event, even in London, but it is quite appropriate for the evening. Trust me, all the younger women tonight—both married and unmarried—will be showing considerable bosom. Jane will be much admired by all the men—and envied by all the women.”

“Especially one young man,” Elizabeth had grumbled under her breath.

“Well, I certainly hope so,” her aunt had replied merrily. “After all, we women have to use whatever assets God has given us.”

Elizabeth was well aware that her aunt was more sophisticated than either Jane or herself, but it was still startling to accept her aunt’s intention to make the best use of the impact Jane’s innocent but nevertheless undoubted sexuality would have on a healthy young man, even one as urbane as the son of an earl. Then she had a further thought.

“Will you be wearing…that is…”

“Will I be wearing anything similar to Jane, even at my ancient age?”

Mrs. Gardiner had laughed delightedly as Elizabeth turned bright red in embarrassment. “Yes, Lizzy, I have something in mind for myself also. After all, I have a man in my life to entice, even if we have had four children. I just wish I had had time to have something as alluring made for you, especially if your Mr. Darcy decides to accompany his cousin.”

“He is not my Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth had said instantly, startled and upset. But her aunt had simply given her a sly smile, which had left Elizabeth feeling decidedly unsettled.

***

Elizabeth was easily able to discern that Fitzwilliam was having difficulty breaking away from the vision of her sister though he did manage to straighten and mumble a greeting to her. But Elizabeth was inwardly certain that he had little awareness of what he said, and he looked distinctly relieved as he saw Mr. Gardiner step next into the doorway. That meant her uncle could assist his wife, which allowed the colonel to turn back to Jane and offer his arm. Elizabeth was warmed and disturbed at the same time as she saw the animation of her sister’s smile when she took the proffered arm.

But Fitzwilliam appeared more in control of himself as he offered his other arm to Elizabeth, and she lost little time in taking it. She had managed to quell her irritation by now, and her expression was one of careful calm. She knew it would do no good to poison the relationship between Fitzwilliam and herself. Even if she thought Bingley would have been a better match for Jane, it was obvious that Jane was captivated by the colonel. If he did as he had told her uncle and managed to marry Jane, it would be disastrous not to be able to visit her beloved sister because of the disapproval of her husband.

Two uniformed doormen opened the theatre doors as they approached, giving them all a bow. Elizabeth looked around in interest once they were inside, and she quickly realized her aunt had been correct about the eveningwear of the ladies. All the fashionable women walking about on the arms of their escorts or waiting to go to their seats were elaborately coifed and gowned, many in attire even more revealing than Jane’s.

Several of them should have exerted a bit more common sense and self-control, considering they no longer have Jane’s or even my aunt’s figure, Elizabeth thought puckishly, her usual nature beginning to reassert itself. She also apprehended that Aunt Gardiner had been right about Jane’s effect on the men.

The contortions some of these gentlemen are going through in trying to get a closer look at her without offending their present partners would be quite entertaining if it were not so necessary to maintain my composure.

For a moment, Elizabeth felt a brief flash of jealousy that she was not the cause of so many men trying to get a better look, but she easily repressed it. She had deliberately dressed in an understated gown that would have been appropriate for visiting but was rather out of place tonight. However, she felt little desire to attract the attention of other men. Having so unwittingly attracted the attention of Mr. Darcy, she had no desire for further interest along those lines.

The noise level had increased remarkably once they were inside the foyer, and Jane had to lean towards Richard as she said, “There are more people here tonight than I had expected. Is it very expensive to attend this theatre, Colonel Fitzwilliam?”

“Not unduly so, Miss Bennet. The ground level boxes go for six shillings, and a great number of people from all walks of life attend every week. It appears they will be playing to a full house tonight.”

“Where shall we be sitting?”

“We have the good fortune to have the loan of a private box, so we should have an excellent view. We go up these stairs just ahead,” Richard said, nodding towards the stairway. An employee in evening dress was passing parties up the stairs and, when their turn came, Richard handed him the card Darcy had given him. The man took only a cursory look at it since Richard had taken the precaution of presenting the card prior to the arrival of the Gardiner party.

The man snapped his fingers, and one of several uniformed boys sprang to his side.

“Enjoy the performance, Colonel Fitzwilliam,” the man said as he handed the card to the boy.

“Thank you, Logan, we shall,” responded Richard politely.

“After me, if you please.” The boy, who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen, led the party up the stairs and down a long, narrow hallway.

“Here you are, ladies, gentlemen.” He opened a door towards the end that led into a box. “Enjoy the play.”

“Thank you,” Richard said, giving the boy a shilling. Mr. Gardiner gave him another, and the boy grinned widely at his good fortune.

“Thank you, sirs!” he exclaimed before he scampered down the narrow hall, expertly squeezing past the next party being led to their box by one of his fellows.

“Now we know why they employ boys,” Mr. Gardiner said. “They are small enough to get past parties coming this way.”

The box had seats for six, three in front and three behind, with the chairs in front on a lower step so the view from the rear was unimpeded. The chairs were comfortably made with cushions on the seat and back as well as upholstered arms.

***

“Would you and Mrs. Gardiner care for the lower seats, sir?” Richard asked. “Or perhaps we could let the ladies sit in front while we sit behind.”

“No, no, you young people sit down front. I only need my spectacles to read—my vision is otherwise quite excellent. Mrs. Gardiner and I shall make ourselves comfortable in the rear.

And you will also be able to keep an eye on your two nieces, thought Richard with amusement as he recognised Mr. Gardiner’s ploy. Who knows what might happen with Jane dressed as she is?

Richard made sure that Elizabeth did not manage to separate him from Jane, and before she realized what was happening, he had offered her the left hand seat. She had no choice but to take it, which allowed Richard to seat Jane in the middle seat. He took the remaining seat on the right while Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner settled down in the two seats on the right directly behind Jane and him.

Richard saw Elizabeth looking at him in a speculative fashion, and he arched an interrogative eyebrow. The interior of the box was only dimly lit, but their eyes were rapidly growing used it.

“Yes, Miss Elizabeth? Did you have a question?”

“Not a question, sir, a compliment on the skilful way you arranged the seating.”

“Tactics—my soldier’s training, you know. But I do want to offer you a compliment on your diligence in attending your sister. No ne’er-do-well shall get close to her with you providing protection.”

“Surely you are not suggesting you fall into that category.” Elizabeth gave him her sweetest smile but with the light of deviltry dancing in her eyes. She might prefer Bingley as a husband to her sister, but she did very much like Fitzwilliam. “Yet I do note with dismay that you have reverted to your beloved uniform again. And just when Jane and I had reason to believe your wardrobe of fashionable attire was rather extensive.”

“I am afraid your sister has caught me out, Miss Bennet,” Richard remarked, turning now to Jane. “Either your assessment of my indifference to fashion was correct, or I have exhausted the only two pieces of gentlemanly attire I own.”

“Ignore her, Colonel,” replied Jane with a smile. “She and I often tease our younger sisters about swooning over a red coat, but I think your uniform suits you perfectly.”

“I hope I might be introduced to your other sisters soon,” Richard said quietly, his nerves tingling as he awaited an answer to this probe.

Jane was conscious of a sudden constriction in her throat at this indication that Richard’s interest would not be limited to her tenure in London. She had to swallow several times before she could finally say, “If…if you visit our home in Hertfordshire, I shall be glad…very glad…to introduce you.”

“Excellent,” Richard said, feeling a weight lift off his shoulders. “Perhaps I might pay your family a visit Saturday week? I know you travel home tomorrow.”

“I…I shall look forward to seeing you again,” Jane said quietly, and the softness in her eyes as she looked at him made Richard feel about six inches taller.

However, he caught the expression on her sister’s face, and he was not at all sure what to make of it. Not disapproval, exactly, just…assessing. But assessing what?

“I am not at all familiar with this play,” Jane said as they waited for the theatre to fill. “Lizzy and I were usually more interested in the comedies and the tragedies.”

“The tragedies, Miss Bennet?” Richard asked, arching his eyebrows. “I am dreadfully sorry, but I have great difficulty picturing you delving into King Lear.”

“Well, perhaps my interest did lie more towards the comedies,” admitted Jane sheepishly.

Richard fixed his eyes on Elizabeth. “And does that mean you were more interested in the tragedies?”

“Actually, it was the histories rather than the tragedies, though I admit a partiality to Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.”

“I cannot remember hearing of a production of Julius Caesar here in London,” Mrs. Gardiner said. “I read the play many years ago, but it does not seem too popular any more.”

“It used to be popular some fifty years ago,” her husband said. “And I hear it is very popular in America these days. Evidently, they read it in the spirit of republican patriotism, and whenever it is performed, the part of Caesar is invariably played by an actor with a most distinguished upper-class British accent.”

The last sentence was stated in such a droll manner that it inspired a general round of laughter, tinged with some apprehension since relations between America and England gave every appearance of degenerating into dangerous territories.

“In any case,” Richard said, not wishing to dwell on such sombre matters, “it seems this resurrection of Julius Caesar is the work of John Kemble, who manages the theatre and is the brother of Mrs. Sarah Siddons, the famous actress. He will play Brutus, and his brother Charles will play Marc Antony. I have heard they plan a completely different interpretation of the play. Evidently, they intend it to be more of a ‘noble drama,’ with great attention paid to ‘accurate costuming’ and ‘scenic splendour.’ Or, at least that was the way it was described in The Times.”

Richard had noted that Elizabeth was looking around the theatre as he talked, and he guessed that she had just realized how favourably their box was placed, close to the left side of the stage and at a slightly higher level, where they would be able to look down on the actors from a point only slightly above their heads. Suddenly, when she twisted around to look at the empty seat behind her, he was not surprised to see a sudden look of anger on her face.

“Uncle,” she announced, clearly trying to keep her voice calm, “do these not appear to be very nicely located seats? Compared to what I can see, ours would seem to be among the very best.”

“Of course, Lizzy. This is a third level box, a private box. It can only be rented yearly, and the seating is thus very desirable.”

Elizabeth nodded tautly, before turning to Richard. “You mentioned you had the good fortune to have the loan of a private box, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Would it be possible this box belongs to your cousin Mr. Darcy?”

Richard’s expression as he looked at Elizabeth was one of calm composure though he could see embarrassed looks on the faces of her aunt and uncle out of the corner of his eye. He knew Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had to be distressed at the unseemly anger their niece was displaying.

They, of course, must have immediately deduced what has only now occurred to their niece, he thought, but they had too much tact to comment on it; whereas, Miss Elizabeth, with her usual forthright manner, simply plunges in and speaks her mind.

“It is indeed Mr. Darcy’s box. He was kind enough to offer it to me for our use tonight.”

“I do hate to be so uncharitable since we are your guests tonight, Colonel,” Elizabeth said, her anger now openly displayed, “but I remember your original reason for visiting my uncle’s house. I cannot help wondering whether Mr. Darcy might coincidentally be joining us tonight.”

“No, he will not,” Richard said flatly. He locked stares with Elizabeth, and he saw the surprise on her face at his blunt statement and his cold, dispassionate tone. She could not long maintain her glare in light of such a refutation of her suspicions, and he could see her anger fading away.

“Then why did he give these seats to you?”

“Because he knew he would not be attending. When I mentioned my intention to attend tonight, he offered the box to me, saying someone might as well have the use of a box for which he had already paid.”

Fitzwilliam’s last words had been stated in an emotionless tone, and Elizabeth flushed in embarrassment as she realized how rude her comments had been.

“I might also mention,” Fitzwilliam continued, “that my cousin has always favoured Shakespeare’s histories, and he had shown the greatest interest in attending this revival of Julius Caesar. I was thus surprised when he made his offer. In addition, this is not the first time he has allowed me and others of his friends to make use of his box. He has always been most generous, even when we were boys together.”

Elizabeth was now stricken at how she had converted the convivial atmosphere to one of cold formality, and she realized Fitzwilliam had just thrown in her face the knowledge that Mr. Darcy had not put her out of his mind but was instead avoiding his usual activities because of the blow to his spirits. She felt especially dreadful as she remembered commenting so lightly to Jane that she was sure he had other feelings that would soon drive away any thought of her. Obviously, such a change in his opinion had not taken place, and she suddenly realized just how spiteful and malicious her behaviour must appear to her companions. A great wash of embarrassment and shame swept over her, and her cheeks flamed red as other remembrances flashed across her mind.

“I am sorry,” she said in a strained voice. “I spoke very much out of turn. I beg everyone’s forgiveness for my careless and thoughtless words.”


About Determination

“Love at first sight” is a laughable concept in the considered opinion of Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam andnever occurs in real life—certainly not in the life of an experienced soldier. In fact, until he observes the smitten nature of his cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy, he doubts that fervent love truly exists. Marriage, after all, is a matter of money, social standing, and property.

But his cousin becomes besotted with Elizabeth Bennet, the lovely but penniless daughter of a Hertfordshire gentleman, and is determined to make her his wife. Unfortunately, emotions overwhelm hisgood judgment, and he botches an offer of marriage.

When the colonel attempts to untangle the mess, his own world becomes almost as chaotic when he makes the accidental acquaintance of Miss Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s beloved elder sister. Can emotions previously deemed impossible truly seize such a level-headed person as himself? And can impassible obstacles deter a man of true determination?

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


About the Author

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.

I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have five novels published:  A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019), and A Covenant of Marriage (2020). Four of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal, Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets, Consequences, and A Covenant of Marriage.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

Colin Odom Facebook page | C. P. Odom Amazon Author page | C. P. Odom Goodreads page | C. P. Odom Meryton Press page


Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously offering 8 ebook copies of Determination as part of the blog tour. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!


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

My Favorite Reads of 2020

Happy New Year, friends! Sorry it’s taken me so long to take stock of last year’s reading, but last year definitely wasn’t a normal one for me…and unfortunately I don’t see a return to normalcy anytime soon. Between working overtime nearly every day, grappling with some health issues and all the associated stress, and losing a beloved pet and having to work through that grief, my reading and writing dramatically dropped off. In fact, after years of reading 50-100 books a year, I only managed to finish 16 in 2020. Of course, quality matters more than quantity, and thankfully, I read some good books last year! Here are my favorites from that list:

What were your favorite books from those you read last year? I’d love to see your lists, so please let me know in the comments!

Hello, friends! I’m thrilled to have Jessie Lewis as my guest again today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Fallen. Jessie is here to share a deleted scene from the novel, and there’s a giveaway as well. Please give her a warm welcome!


This scene didn’t make the final cut into Fallen, but I wrote it to demonstrate how the relationship between Darcy and the Bingleys is the-same-but-not-quite-the-same as we’re used to seeing in Pride and Prejudice. Their ‘closed ranks’ superiority is heightened, yet the tension between them all is more pronounced, and it is this which intrigues the observant Elizabeth Bennet right from the off as she attempts to put her finger on what is going on behind the scenes at Netherfield Park.


“Move over, Mary, you are taking up half the seat.” This demand was accompanied by a determined shove as Lydia shouldered her sister into the corner of the carriage.

“I am taking up no more room than you!”

“For heaven’s sake, put your book down.” Mrs Bennet gave Mary no time to object—only snatched the offending article from her grip, snapped it closed and thrust it back towards her. “There is not enough room for you to sit with your elbows sticking out every which way.”

Lydia sent Mary a look of triumph; Elizabeth sent Lydia one of disapproval that was returned with a loud sigh and theatrical eyeroll. She turned away to look out of the window, wishing she had insisted upon walking, for so many Bennet women in such a confined space was making even the short drive to Netherfield arduous.

Several coos arose when the house came into view. Elizabeth had glimpsed it many times over the last few years, but as neither her mother nor any of her sisters shared her love for walking, this was their first sight of it since the Connellys gave up the place. Nobody had been inside since then, and Elizabeth could not help but be impressed by what she saw as they were shown through to the saloon, for she had forgotten quite how grand the house was. Her interest in the proportions of the rooms was not equal to her curiosity about the people occupying them, however, and while Mrs Bennet craned her neck to admire the gilt cornices, Elizabeth watched closely to see how they were received by the ladies of the house.

With dismay bordering on alarm was how, if she did not mistake the fleeting look Miss Bingley sent Mrs Hurst, and the disdainful twitch that pulled at the former’s top lip until it stretched into a tight smile. “How good of you to call, Mrs Bennet,” that lady said. “And so soon after we saw you at the assembly.”

Mrs Bennet—from whom Jane had inherited her propensity to always see the good in people, and Elizabeth her propensity to always assume people would see the good in her—smiled unquestioningly. “That is precisely as we thought, Miss Bingley, for though we were enchanted to make your acquaintance on Saturday, there is never much opportunity to talk at a dance,”—Elizabeth dipped her head to hide a smile, fancying her mother had never suffered any such impediment—“and we wished to make certain you knew how welcome you are to the neighbourhood.” As though to ensure they never left it, Mrs Bennet anchored herself, without being invited to, on the nearest sofa. Her youngest three daughters followed suit, dropping onto various pieces of furniture around the room until only Jane and Elizabeth remained standing.

Miss Bingley’s chest swelled with indignation.

“Are you finding the country to your liking?” Elizabeth enquired to distract her from her pique.

“We are not yet much acquainted with the area, so it is difficult to say. Will you not sit down, Miss Elizabeth? Miss Bennet? You may as well now.”

Elizabeth inclined her head and lowered herself into the nearest seat, as did Jane and then Mrs Hurst. Miss Bingley remained standing.

With seamless grace and a little assistance from Elizabeth, Jane turned the indelicate beginning into a genteel discussion of Hertfordshire’s merits. Mrs Bennet only occasionally contributed; Mary, Kitty and Lydia not at all; thus, the conversation had begun to show real promise of becoming agreeable to all when the door burst open and Mr Bingley strode into the room, looking for all the world as though he had thought it was on fire and he was the man to put it out.

“Ah! Caroline! I heard we had guests, and…well, I…I thought you might need me to…that is, I was worried you would, ah…Good day, Miss Bennet. And Mrs Bennet. And Miss…Good day to you all.”

Elizabeth could not be happier for Jane, whose presence had almost certainly induced this hasty and tongue-tied arrival. Why Mr Darcy had thought it necessary to come was less clear. He walked into the room more sedately than his friend, but glowering at everybody present, less as though he meant to extinguish a blaze and more as though to determine who started it. She was still delighting in his supercilious nonsense when his sweeping gaze reached her, and she took some pleasure in his obvious surprise at having been observed in his scrutiny of the room. She made no attempt to disguise the fact that she was diverted and instead raised an eyebrow by the smallest increment—I know what you are about, sir!—then turned to join the conversation that had sprung up amongst the others.

“Aye, there is a dance every month at the assembly rooms,” Jane was telling Mr Bingley.

“Though, you must not concern yourself that you will have to wait that long to dance again with Jane,” Mrs Bennet informed him. “There are forever impromptu little reels being danced at the sorts of parties we attend.”

Elizabeth cringed inwardly, which turned out to be an unnecessary precaution, for Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst both did so outwardly.

Mr Bingley either did not share his sisters’ disdain for ungarnished country amusements or was too gallant to show it. “How merry and uncontrived all your gatherings must be. I am impatient to experience one for myself.”

“Then I hope you will agree to dine with us a week on Tuesday, sir. We shall send a card, of course. I hope you will come, for if it is lively and informal that pleases you, then I think you will like Longbourn very well indeed.”

Elizabeth’s increasingly good opinion of Mr Bingley was bettered further still when he gave no indication of being put off by this and accepted on behalf of his entire party. She glanced at Mr Darcy to determine how deeply the prospect appalled him and caught sight of Miss Bingley sending a most expressive look in the same direction—one that seemed to beg him to extricate them from the engagement. Elizabeth did not think he could have missed it, for Miss Bingley was directly in his line of sight, yet rather than acknowledging her, Mr Darcy turned away to look out of the window. It was an exchange by which Elizabeth was uncharitably diverted. Jane had reported to them all a remark Miss Bingley had made that while Mr Darcy rarely spoke among strangers, he was remarkably agreeable among his intimate acquaintance. Not so very agreeable, it seems, she thought. Or so very intimate. Poor Miss Bingley!

“Have you had the opportunity for much sport since you arrived?” enquired Mrs Bennet, never one to let a conversation lapse long enough for anybody to grow complacent.

“Not as much as my brother would like,” Mr Bingley replied amiably.

“We thought you might be shooting today,” Jane said with a smile that Elizabeth fancied must signal to everybody her pleasure that he was not.

“We would have been, had we known the weather would be so clement. Alas, we went out yesterday—in the rain—and we have to constrain ourselves to one shoot a week else Darcy will kill every bird on the estate before Michaelmas.” He leant forwards and whispered theatrically, “There is such a thing as being too good an aim.”

“How good of you to be the one to make the sacrifice,” Elizabeth remarked. “I might be more inclined to enjoy the sport whenever I chose and ask my friend to curb his efficiency.”

“We could hardly expect Mr Darcy to shoot fewer birds simply because Charles does not aim as well,” Miss Bingley interjected. “We should as soon ask Mr Hurst to win fewer hands at cards because none of us play as well as he.”

“Or you to buy fewer dresses, though you do look better than I in all of them,” Mr Bingley said to her over his shoulder.

Try as she might, Elizabeth could not fully repress a laugh; it bubbled up and caught in her throat just loudly enough to draw notice. She made a more concerted effort to conceal her amusement when Jane cast her a beseeching look, though she did not truly believe she had done much damage until she noticed Mr Darcy was glowering at her again. She bit her lips together to banish her smile and resolved to be sensible for the remainder of the visit.

“Well, that went well, did it not, girls?” Mrs Bennet said as their carriage pulled away. Then her expression soured. “Though Lizzy must learn not run on at people the way she does.”

“She was only being polite, Mama,” Jane protested.

“No, no she was not!” She tossed a vexed glanced at Elizabeth. “She was being clever, as she always has to be. Well I beg you would stop being clever, Miss Lizzy, until your sister is engaged. Then you may run on at everybody to your heart’s content.”

“Why, thank you, Mama. I am not sure there is any logic to your hope that my being stupid will increase Jane’s chances of falling in love, but if you are convinced it will help then you may count on my obedience.”

This answer pleased her mother not at all, but Jane laughed more easily than she usually would have, convincing Elizabeth that the visit truly had gone well, and delighting her enough that she did not object once to Mary’s elbowing her in the ribs all the way home.


About Fallen

The air was all gone, and coldness overtook her, as though she had fallen into icy water and was sinking into the blackness. Her stomach churned, as it was wont to do these days. He would not marry her. She was ruined.

THE ARRIVAL OF TWO ELIGIBLE GENTLEMEN at Netherfield Park sends ripples of excitement through nearby Meryton. But Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy are not the only additions to the neighbourhood raising eyebrows. An unremarkable cottage in the woods between Netherfield and Meryton also has new tenants. One of them—a lively little girl with an adventurous spirit, a love of the outdoors, and a past shrouded in mystery—draws the notice of more than one local.

ELIZABETH BENNET—YOUNG, INTELLIGENT, and UNFASHIONABLY INDEPENDENT—forms a poor first impression of the haughty Mr Darcy. On closer acquaintance, and against her better judgment, her disgust begins to give way to more tender feelings. Yet standing in the way of any potential romance is the closely guarded history of a certain little girl in a cottage in the woods. Elizabeth might be ready to disclose her hidden affections, but she is about to learn that some things are better kept secret, and some hearts are safer left untouched.

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About the Author

Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken, Speechless,and The Edification of Lady Susan,enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English Language. She has always been particularly in awe of jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children, and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.

You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter, or on her Facebook page.


Giveaway

Quills & Quartos is generously offering a free ebook of Fallen as part of the blog tour. The winner will be chosen by the publisher from the commenters on this post one week after the tour is over (January 22, 2021). Good luck!


Thank you, Jessie, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

Hello, friends! I’m thrilled to spotlight Traci Borum’s latest novel today. Meet You Under the Stars is the second book in the Morgan’s Grove series, which is set in Texas. I’ve adored all of the books in Traci’s Chilton Crosse series set in England, so I’m really looking forward to having a chance to start this series. Traci is generously sharing an excerpt from Meet You Under the Stars. Enjoy!


A tapping sound caught Chaynie’s attention before she could swivel to cross the street. She paused to see Mindy’s Boutique, next door, with some commotion going on inside the front window. Mindy, herself, was on a ladder, stretched high to attach something to the glass. Chaynie squinted as the “something” came into view: pink and red paper hearts, flanked by Cupids. Valentine’s decorations.

Already?

            Mindy fastened the decoration to the window, then caught Chaynie’s gaze below and waved. Chaynie used her free hand to wave back, then she crossed the street and realized the paradox. Christmas decorations still lingered on one side of the town square, while pink hearts and Cupids were erected on the other side. Seeing them in their vivid glory, Chaynie felt the sting of last year’s Valentine’s, painfully fresh.

Blake, her boyfriend of almost a year, had broken up with her on Valentine’s Day. Even worse, he took the coward’s way out, and did it by text. Chaynie had read the message several times before it sank in: Been doing a lot of thinking this week. Not sure this is working anymore. Us. Please understand. Sorry.

            Granted, the final few months of their relationship had been conducted mostly by text or video chats because of the distance between them (Chaynie had moved back, temporarily, to Morgan’s Grove while Blake remained in west Austin, a fifty-minute drive). But she’d had faith in their communication skills, and in the strength of their relationship. And she thought Blake had, too.

            That Valentine’s morning, Chaynie had stared hard at the text, at the word “Sorry,” for several seconds afterward, until it became a nonsense word to her brain. Sorry. Such a brief word to end a year-long relationship. She’d thought about texting him back or calling, but she knew it would be pointless. It was over. He later apologized—again, by text—for breaking up with her on that particular day, saying he’d completely forgotten what day it was.

Whether he was lying or not didn’t matter. The damage was already done. So, Chaynie and her mother had finished that lonely Valentine’s together with two spoons, sharing a gallon of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on the couch.

            Valentine’s hadn’t always been Chaynie’s least favorite day of the year. In fact, up until last year’s breakup, she had completely believed in its magical properties—a breathless hope, an enchanted promise that love still existed in this unpredictable world.

            But since Blake’s text, the magic had disappeared, and the only thing Chaynie felt this year for Valentine’s was jaded.

Stepping onto the curb of the town square’s main centerpiece—the courthouse and library buildings—Chaynie decided to brush off Valentine’s this year. She couldn’t completely avoid the décor, the ads, the mushy music. But she could divert her eyes, change the channel, focus on other things until the holiday had passed. If she pretended Valentine’s didn’t exist this year, perhaps, somehow, it wouldn’t.


About Meet Me Under the Stars

Chaynie Mayfield is the last person who should be heading up the Morgan’s Grove library Valentine’s event. Ever since her boyfriend dumped her last year—on Valentine’s Day—she’s had a hard time believing in love. 

When Greg Peterson, a handsome architect who happens to be her former schoolmate, is commissioned to oversee the library’s renovations, Chaynie’s spirits are instantly lifted. Greg helps her brainstorm the library’s event, and together they create an “Under the Stars” theme that promises to deliver a magical night for the entire town. 

The longer Chaynie and Greg work together on the romantic project, the deeper their attraction grows. But when her dream job comes calling, Chaynie must decide whether her future aspirations are worth the price of leaving a town, a family, and a library she adores–as well as a love she’s not sure she can live without.

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About the Author

Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Connect with Traci on her website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Book Bub Author Page


Check out my reviews of Traci’s previous books:

Painting the Moon

Finding the Rainbow

Seeking the Star

Savoring the Seasons


Thank you, Traci, for giving us a peek at your new book, and congratulations on your latest release!