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I’m pleased to welcome Caitlin Marie Carrington to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time today to celebrate the recent release of Darcy and Diamonds. When I first saw the cover and read the description, I knew this was a Pride and Prejudice variation that I had to read! I was lucky enough to win a copy in a Facebook giveaway (thanks again, Caitlin), and as soon as my reading gets back on track from a chaotic 2018 and a busy start to 2019, I hope to get a chance to read it. Caitlin is here with an excerpt that is absolutely delightful, and she’s even brought some books to share with you, dear readers. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Thank you Anna for having me here today! I am in awe of all that you do for the JAFF community and love your blog. It’s an honor to be here!

I’m so excited to share an excerpt from my recent sweet and clean romance, Darcy and Diamonds. This variation occurs almost eight years after the original events in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth, now a young widow, and Mr. Darcy meet again at a house party at Netherfield. Unfortunately, a scheming Caroline Bingley and all of Elizabeth’s boisterous relations are there, as well.

In this scene, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have both woken early and independently decided to take their favorite horses for an early-morning ride. (Yes, Elizabeth loves horses, in this variation.) Elizabeth is distressed to see her solitude will be broken by the proud, judgmental and annoyingly handsome Mr. Darcy. And so, in a wild moment, she decides to race him.

What could go wrong?

Enter to win one of five free ebooks below! Happy reading!

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From behind, she could hear Mr. Darcy and his stallion approaching—no, racing—through the woods. He shouted again. Elizabeth couldn’t turn to look at him now; she was too intent on the path ahead. But his exhortation hadn’t sounded angry that she had tricked him and raced ahead. If anything, he sounded—excited. Exultant?

Or perhaps she was just confusing her own feelings with his. How lovely! How wild! Then, twenty feet in front of her, Elizabeth saw the fallen tree. It was recently downed—probably just from last night and the heavy rains. Its roots were lifted high in the air, with dark, wet earth still clinging to them.

And it completely blocked the path.

“No—watch out—!” Elizabeth just had time to try and adjust herself, and her blasted skirts, before Sabine panicked. The horse tried to stop, skidding in the wet, soft earth. At the same time, Elizabeth was urging her forward and over the obstacle. But Sabine refused, bucking and rearing up into the air. Elizabeth shouted, clinging to the saddle as her leg slipped from its secure post. Sabine bucked again, angry and unsure and Elizabeth nearly fell before the horse righted itself. Elizabeth had just gotten her balance but not yet put her right leg up over the padded leather branch, when Sabine finally chose to listen to her first directions and leapt—neatly, cleanly, perfectly over the fallen tree.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth hadn’t expected it. “No!” she cried as she scrabbled for a hold—anywhere, anything. Instead, she fell to the ground, just missing the fallen log, but landing hard on the muddied forest floor.

“Elizabeth!”

She heard Mr. Darcy call her name but she couldn’t quite open her eyes yet. Where was she? On her back, her head aching, her pride in tatters.

“Elizabeth. Oh God.”

She opened her eyes to see blue sky. White clouds. And Mr. Darcy’s beautiful face, directly over her, his eyes frantic.

“Hullo,” she said. “Your eyes match the sky.”

He frowned, staring down at her. “Have you hit your head?”

“But you’re still so…frownish,” she murmured.

Her voice sounded funny to her own ears, like perhaps she was underwater.

Mr. Darcy shook his head, his hands surprising her and suddenly cupping her face. He was so gentle that she felt her eyes closing. “You have injured your head. Don’t—don’t move, Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth blinked and settled back into the earth. Not moving sounded like a good idea. No, an excellent idea. She was sure her hat was crushed—wait, she wasn’t wearing a hat.

“Did I lose my hat?” she said. “And you shouldn’t call me by my given name.”

Mr. Darcy startled her by running his hands over the back of her head. She closed her eyes again. It felt rather nice.

“Elizabeth!” His sudden yell made her startle and she opened her eyes, looking up at him again.

“Gracious, no need to shout, Mr. Darcy.”

“So you know my name? You recognize me?”

“What a silly question.” She squinted up at him. “You’re tall. Tyrannical. Perfectly attired. Yes—yes, you must be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.”

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About Darcy and Diamonds

Forget the missing diamonds. Will Mr. Darcy steal Elizabeth’s heart—again?

What could go wrong at a Netherfield house party?
Why, everything!

Elizabeth is trapped for days with a conniving Caroline, a match-making Mrs. Bennet, and now—surprisingly—Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

She has not seen Mr. Darcy since his disastrous proposal to her in Hunsford nearly eight years ago. Since that time, Elizabeth lost her father and husband—but gained a certain measure of independence.

She is happy, she reminds herself—especially when Mr. Darcy and his sky-blue eyes seem to seek her out constantly and make her question everything.

Unfortunately, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is as proud, arrogant—and annoyingly handsome—as ever.
And he seems to have very firm opinions about Lizzy’s life and how she should conduct it.

After her first marriage, Elizabeth is determined to never again allow a man to control her. But when a devious thief targets the house party, Elizabeth finds herself working with Mr. Darcy to discover the culprit.
Will they be able to bring the criminal to justice?

And will a changed Mr. Darcy be able to steal Elizabeth’s heart?

Are you ready for a sweet and clean Pride and Prejudice variation that features love, humor, and Mr. Darcy in a soaking-wet shirt? (Because who doesn’t like to be reminded of Colin Firth?) This 67,000-word novel also includes a Darcy who knows what he wants, an Elizabeth who needs to find herself again, a runaway horse, a truly conniving Caroline, a guaranteed happily ever after, and—of course—diamonds!

Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Scribd

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About the Author

By day, Caitlin Marie Carrington juggles motherhood, her editing job, one surly cat and all the fun drama that life with small children (and one giant husband) entails.

By night, she imagines new adventures for her favorite literary couple, Darcy and Elizabeth.

Connect with Caitlin on Facebook | Instagram

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Giveaway

Caitlin is generously offering 5 ebook copies of Darcy and Diamonds to my readers. To enter to win a copy, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what interests you most about the book. The giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 24, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Caitlin, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your newest releases!

Readers who don’t mind a hot and sexy variation should check out Caitlin’s newest book, a novella titled My Alpha, Mr. Darcy.

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

Hitler’s Forgotten Children is the heartbreaking story of Ingrid von Oelhafen’s decades-long journey to uncover her true identity. Ingrid grew up in Germany with German parents, but she was only a young girl when she learned that she might be Erika Matko, who was born in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia in 1942, stolen from her parents, brought to Germany, and placed with “politically vetted foster parents.”

In a first person narrative, von Oelhafen explains in great detail her earliest memories, her cold treatment by her foster parents, how she first learned about Erika Matko and the Lebensborn program, her research into Lebensborn, and all the steps she took over the years to find out the truth.

Von Oelhafen’s story is hard to read at times, from the way her foster parents treated her to the part of her life that was taken away and irrevocably changed by the Nazis. I vacillated between sadness and anger, and there were several times I had to put the book down for a day or two. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the evil of the Nazi regime and how one can live nearly their whole life without knowing who they truly are.

Hitler’s Forgotten Children provides much food for thought, particularly about identity, what makes you who you are, and how to build a life for yourself when you don’t know where you came from or who you belong to. Von Oelhafen was forced to consider what she knew, what she didn’t know, and what she will never know, and the book explains how this affected her opportunities and her decisions over the course of her life. Fortunately, there are moments of hope and light in her story as well, but it definitely is one that will pull at your heart.

Unfortunately, Hitler’s Forgotten Children is a relevant read these days with the migrant children in detention who are separated from their families and may never be reunited with them. It will definitely make you think long and hard about the impact on those children, especially knowing that some of them could very well find themselves in von Oelhafen’s shoes in the coming years, questioning their origin and identity. If you are fascinated with stories about World War II and want to think deeper about its impact, Hitler’s Forgotten Children should be on your list.

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

Niklas Frank was seven years old when his father, Hans Frank, governor general of Nazi-occupied Poland, was hanged after the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1946. In the Shadow of the Reich reads like a conversation with his dead father, in which Niklas Frank pours out his hatred and rage. He details his father’s career as a lawyer for the Nazi party and his rise to the governor general position, his theft from the Jewish ghetto, his groveling at Hitler’s feet, his hatred for Himmler, and, mostly, his cowardice.

In the Shadow of the Reich is the most bizarre book I’ve ever read about the Nazis. Niklas Frank imagines he is speaking to his father in hell. He interrupts excerpts from his father’s diary, letters, and testimony with his own thoughts. He imagines how his father acted in certain situations or what his father should have done, calls his father names, and basically goes on and on (and on and on) about how much he hates his father and his crimes.

This was a hard book to read, both for the content and its rambling. There was a lack of focus in its structure, like the only purpose of the book was to denounce his father. Niklas Frank had a lot of things to get off his chest, a lot of things to say to his father that he wasn’t able to say as a child seeing his father for the last time, and it feels like this book served as a kind of therapy to his tortured soul.

On the one hand, it was nice to see that he distanced himself from his father’s beliefs, but on the other hand, it felt way too personal. It’s hard to describe the book to people who haven’t read it before, but as someone who has read dozens and dozens of books about Nazi Germany, I must say this is the most unique and yet most disappointing in terms of the writing. Niklas Frank has an interesting story to tell, but I got more out of watching various YouTube interviews with him and other books about the children of Nazis in which he was featured (such as My Father’s Keeper) than from his own book. However, I think it would be worth giving a try if you are fascinated with firsthand accounts from World War II. In the Shadow of the Reich is definitely something different.

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

My Father’s Keeper is based mainly on the extensive 1959 interviews of children of high-ranking Nazis by Norbert Lebert (who died in 1993). These interviews detail what happened to the children of Nazi war criminals right when the war ended and in the 15 years after. Norbert Lebert’s son, Stephan, then follows up (or attempts to) with the “Nazi children” in 1999-2000 to learn about their lives in the subsequent decades.

The book focuses on Wolf Rüdiger Hess, son of Rudolf Hess; Martin Bormann, Jr., son of Martin Bormann; Niklas and Norman Frank, sons of Hans Frank; Gudrun Himmler, daughter of Heinrich Himmler; Edda Göring, daughter of Hermann Göring; Robert and Klaus von Schirach, sons of Baldur von Schirach; and Karl-Otto Saur Jr., son of Karl-Otto Saur.

Some of these “Nazi children” forged a different path and distanced themselves from their fathers’ crimes; some embraced the ideology of their fathers and defended them even decades later. Most loved their fathers still. Some found their fathers’ names to be a detriment; others still reaped the benefits of their Nazi connections. But none can be held guilty for their fathers’ war crimes.

The narrative is a bit disjointed, shifting from the 1959 manuscripts by Norbert Lebert to the later interviews by Stephan Lebert. Stephan Lebert also attempts to discuss the psychological aspects of being a child of a high-ranking Nazi, and how that shaped their early years and contributed to the paths they took later in life. There are quotes from researchers on the subject, some comparisons to the psychological trauma of the children of Holocaust survivors, and even how the German mentality in the 1950s was to sweep the horrors of the war under the rug, rebuild, and move on. But mostly My Father’s Keeper is merely a collection of biographical stories about the “Nazi children.”

There is much to ponder within these stories — like how much guilt, if any, should they bear; whether they should have been allowed to just pick up their lives, albeit without the money and comforts they enjoyed as children during the Third Reich, when so many lives were lost at their fathers’ hands; how to separate their suffering as the children of the perpetrators from the suffering of the victims and their children; whether one should feel sorry for their harsh treatment based on their parentage (they were children, after all); and how they could possibly feel love for their fathers after learning the full extent of their crimes. How could some turn a blind eye to that as they grew into adults? There is no clear answer to any of these questions, but they certainly provide much food for thought.

I had a hard time reading these stories, especially the ones where the children continued to adore their fathers long after the war. But I was fascinated with the psychology behind their stories and felt like I learned a lot from these “case studies.” If you are like me and read as much as you can about World War II, this book is not to be missed.

Source: Review copy from author

Reunited is the second book in Rose Fairbanks’ Loving Elizabeth trilogy of novellas that reimagine the events of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It takes place five years after the first book, Pledged.

It has been five years since Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy parted ways, having pledged themselves to one another before he was to leave on a summer trip to Ireland with his father, Elizabeth’s father and brother Sam, and Mr. Bingley and his father. They were just 16 and 22 when they first met, and despite knowing each other only a matter of days, they forged a connection that they were sure would last.

However, tragedy befell the Bennet, Darcy, and Bingley families on that trip, and the effects linger years later. Still grieving her family’s loss, Elizabeth also mourns the loss of her relationship with Will, as he had written only once to her family and never went to Longbourn to claim her hand. Since their betrothal was secret, she must hide her feelings from the rest of the world, but everything is pushed to the surface when Darcy and Bingley arrive at Netherfield.

It’s not long before Elizabeth and Darcy realize that someone has been conspiring to keep them apart, but despite learning their feelings had never changed, Elizabeth must fight her insecurities and the opposition of her mother and her best friend to their relationship.

Fairbanks has me on the edge of my seat with this trilogy. There is a sense of danger as Elizabeth and Darcy seek to determine who attempted to sabotage their relationship, and there is so much passion between them. I love how they have known each other since Elizabeth was a young woman, and Fairbanks does a great job showing how they and their feelings for one another have matured. I plan to read the last installment, Treasured, soon, so stay tuned for my review.

Disclosure: I received Reunited from the author for review.

Source: Review copy from author

The Colonel’s Son is the second book in April Floyd’s Lost Heir series that began with Mrs. Fitzwilliam. A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the series imagines that Elizabeth Bennet met and married Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, after the Netherfield party leaves Hertfordshire. About four years have passed since Elizabeth gave birth to Richard, who is destined to be the Earl of Matlock. When the late colonel’s family learns of Richard’s existence, Elizabeth is thrust into London society and forges a bond with Mr. Darcy.

In The Colonel’s Son, Darcy has become a big part of young Richard’s life, and his feelings for Elizabeth and hers for him have slowly blossomed. However, one thing on which they disagree is the presence of Major Wickham at Fitzwilliam House, but Darcy can’t bring himself to tell Elizabeth the exact reasons for his stern warnings against the man. With Wickham and Darcy at odds and Elizabeth still worried about losing her son to the Matlocks, there is a lot at stake and numerous obstacles in Darcy and Elizabeth’s path to happily ever after.

I love that Floyd took a chance in giving Elizabeth a previous marriage, a dead husband, AND a child, and for those of you who commented on my review of Mrs. Fitzwilliam that you were reluctant to read it because of the colonel’s death, please be assured that his death is known from the beginning of the first book, and readers never officially “meet” him but only hear about him in conversation. That definitely softens the blow. And by taking such a chance, Darcy and Elizabeth have much in common — namely their love for the colonel — but also different challenges to overcome.

The story is perfectly paced, and with all three installments having been released, readers don’t have to wait to finish the story. The first two books each feature a major obstacle that Elizabeth and Darcy must overcome and hint at the challenges to come in the next book, but I didn’t feel as though there were any major cliffhangers, which was a real relief to me.

I do hope you will give this trilogy a chance. Floyd shakes things up while staying true to Austen’s characters, and there is plenty of romance and light moments interspersed with the drama. I will be reading the last installment, Mrs. Darcy, soon, so stay tuned for my review.

Giveaway: April is generously offering 5 ebook copies of The Colonel’s Son to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 10, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received The Colonel’s Son from the author for review.

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

Please note: This review is for the 5th book in the Tradd Street series. There are no spoilers for this book, but there might be spoilers from the previous four installments.

The Guests on South Battery is the fifth book in Karen White’s Tradd Street series, one of the few series that I believe continues to get better and better as the main characters evolve and new characters enter their lives. Centered on psychic Realtor Melanie Middleton, now married to Jack Trenholm with 10-month-old twins, the novel begins as Melanie prepares to go back to work for the first time since the babies were born.

As she laments losing some clients in her specialty area of historic homes, she meets Jayne Smith, who recently inherited a home belonging to a childhood friend of Melanie’s mother. Jayne is a shy, skittish young woman, and she wants nothing more than to sell the home as fast as possible. Having grown up in the foster care system, no one is quite sure why the home was left to her in the first place, but knowing from personal experience the troubles that accompany historic homes, Melanie has no qualms about helping Jayne sell. However, she wants her to see the home before making any snap decisions, and on the first tour of the property, Melanie knows something isn’t quite right. Her “gift” of seeing spirits is slowly coming back to her after having the twins, and she senses an evil spirit in the house.

Being new to Charleston, the whole process of renovating and selling a historic home is a bit overwhelming, and Jayne has no job or home. This, coupled with her experience with children and glowing references, works out perfectly for Melanie, who is in desperate need of a nanny, especially since Jack is trying to work on a new book, dealing with the fallout from a previous failed book deal, and playing stay-at-home dad all at the same time. In Jayne, Melanie finds a lifesaver, but Jayne’s youth and beauty, coupled with Melanie’s insecurities about her post-pregnancy body, make Melanie concerned about her marriage. Meanwhile, Melanie also must deal with a cistern discovered in the backyard of her Tradd Street home, weird phone calls in the night, and her mother’s desire to use their psychic abilities to help solve a cold case, as well as navigate her mother’s difficult past and what it means for her own future.

There was a lot going on in The Guests on South Battery, but none of it is confusing or overwhelming. White paces the novel perfectly, and Melanie’s first person narrative is always entertaining. It was nice to see Melanie coming into her own as a wife and a mother, juggling the various tasks that those roles and a full-time job entail, and realizing that she can no longer control and schedule literally every aspect or detail of her children’s lives. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and recognize that you can’t do it all, and perfectly at that.

As always, White does a great job making the ghostly aspects of the story seem believable and adding a bit of creepiness to balance out Melanie’s humorous antics. It also was nice to see more of Melanie’s best friend, Sophie, an historic homes expert who is in charge of the South Battery renovation, and Jayne was an interesting character to try to figure out. Despite piecing together the big twist before it was revealed, I loved the story, and I can’t wait for the next installment, The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street, which will be released in October.

Other reviews:

The House on Tradd Street

The Girl on Legare Street

The Strangers on Montagu Street

Return to Tradd Street

Disclosure: I received The Guests on South Battery from NAL for review.