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Today’s guests are the authors of the new anthology, A Very Austen Romance: Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, Chautona Havig, and Mandy H. Cook. I’m a huge fan of these Austen anthologies, so I was thrilled to hear there was a third installment. These talented authors are here to share a little about their collection of novellas, along with a few excerpts. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. Please give them a warm welcome!

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We are very excited to offer our third anthology to you, A Very Austen Romance.

That’s right, we’re back with another “book that friendship built.” This sounds like a marketing slogan, but with us it’s actually true. The Internet is how we met, and over the years we have encouraged one another as writers. One day we hope to meet together in person. For now, come share our friendship as we offer these new, Austen-inspired Regency novellas to you.

This time, Chautona Havig is joining us as guest author. Chautona is new to JAFF, but she is not at all a newbie writer.

A Very Austen Romance is ready-made for summer reading. And goodness, this book is LONG. (You’ll know that if you peek at the price of the paperback!)

We love these stories, and we think you will too. You’ll smile, you’ll sigh, and you’ll even laugh a little.

Kindle Unlimited subscribers, A Very Austen Romance is ready and waiting!

Here’s what’s inside:

The King of Hearts by Robin Helm

Twenty-year-old Kitty Bennet, the only unmarried Bennet sister, goes for an extended visit with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in London where Elizabeth decides to host a coming out ball in Kitty’s honor.

Four eligible bachelors compete for Kitty’s favor, but only one can win her hand.

Kitty has the wonderful, awful task of selecting one from a field of no bad choices. Which man will she choose?

You’ve Got to Kiss the Girl by Laura Hile

It is Darcy’s duty to marry Anne—and Lady Catherine is determined to see that he does, even if she must have him abducted! But her nefarious plan goes horribly wrong, for the kidnappers seize the wrong girl.

A Step Too Far by Wendi Sotis

While touring his friend’s new estate, Fitzwilliam Darcy comes across a young lady in jeopardy. Even though coming to her aid could also ruin her reputation, he refuses to risk her life by leaving her in such a perilous situation.

During her daily amble, Miss Elizabeth Bennet takes one step too many. Is she in love with the man who saved her life, or is it simply a deep sense of obligation that will fade with time?

John Knightley Takes a Wife by Barbara Cornthwaite

Young John Knightley is in love—so in love that he agrees to invite the beautiful Miss Maria Dudley’s wild younger brother for a visit to the family estate at Donwell Abbey. John finds he’s got his work cut out for him thanks to Dudley’s fondness for pranks and port. But when Dudley sets his sights on Isabella Woodhouse—or, rather, her fortune—John’s views on love and honor are challenged and he must decide what kind of man he really wants to be.

In the Looking Glass by Mandy H Cook

Fanny Bingley, twenty-year-old daughter of Jane and Charles Bingley, chafes under the restrictions placed upon women of her time period. She decides to take matters into her own hands, and unlike her ten siblings, charts her own course to love, finding a husband in an unlikely manner.

Charming Miss Dashwood by Chautona Havig

All Conrad Thayer wanted was a respite in the country and the luxury of days spent in a fine library. However, Margaret Dashwood and a roving band of “highwaymen” have stolen that opportunity, and in regard to Miss Dashwood, his heart along with it.

We are:

Robin Helm

Robin Helm of South Carolina, author of Understanding Elizabeth and More to Love.

Laura Hile

Laura Hile, author of Darcy By Any Other Name and So This Is Love, from northwest Oregon.

Wendi Sotis

From Long Island, New York, Wendi Sotis, author of With My Whole Heart Forever and A Lesson Hard Learned.

Barbara Cornthwaite

Barbara Cornthwaite, author of the George Knightley, Gentleman books and a soon-to-be-released cozy mystery series, from rural Ireland.

Mandy H. Cook

Living in Maryland (for now), globe-trotting Mandy H Cook, author of The Gifted.

Chautona Havig

Joining us as Guest Author, from California’s Tehachapi Desert is Chautona Havig, author of Allerednic and many other titles.

Connect with the A Very Austen authors: Facebook | Amazon

Buy links:

A Very Austen Romance is available as an eBook and paperback, and is also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon | Goodreads

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Excerpts

From A Step Too Far  by Wendi Sotis

Darcy had made his decision to avoid the lady, and since he had thought of little else since, it made absolutely no sense that, upon returning to the house after their morning ride, when Mrs. Curtis informed them that Miss Elizabeth was feeling well enough to traipse down the corridor for a change of scenery, he experienced a burning need to rush through his toilette so he could come here, to the music room, and wait. All the while, he found himself anxiously hoping that Miss Elizabeth did not suffer a relapse and have to cancel her outing again.

In fact, after not seeing her the entire day yesterday, he felt if he did not have the opportunity to lay eyes on her and speak to her very soon, he might actually perish.

He stopped pacing and inhaled deeply. It is quite possible I have gone mad!

“What is wrong, Darcy?” Bingley asked.

He shook his head to end his stupor. “Why do you ask?”

Bingley laughed. “You look as though the devil himself had just walked up to greet you.”

Darcy ignored the comment. “What are we doing here, Bingley? It is the middle of the day. We should be hunting or fishing, or riding out to the tenant houses to check on the progress of the labourers.”

“We just returned from doing exactly that, Darcy.” Bingley’s expression was one of exaggerated concern. “Are you sure all is right with you?”

Annoyed, he answered, “I am fine.”

Bingley seemed satisfied. “Well then, to answer your question, we are here awaiting the ladies.”

Darcy clenched his jaw. “Have you checked with Mrs. Curtis? Are they coming, or have you assumed they are? Are we wasting our time here, Bingley?”

“They are, at this very moment, preparing to join us.”

As Bingley finished his pronouncement, the door opened. Bingley sprang from his chair and moved towards it.

In came Miss Bennet. Bingley stopped short, his grin was so wide the corners of his lips almost reached his ears.

Miss Bennet looked up, smiled at Bingley, and then blushed heartily as she turned to push the door open wider.

Miss Elizabeth came through next, leaning heavily on a footman’s arm.

Envy exploded in Darcy’s chest. Or was it jealousy? He pushed the thought away.

No, Darcy was angry—at himself. He was a gentleman. Gentlemen are supposed to predict a lady’s needs and fulfill them, but he had not anticipated that Miss Elizabeth would require an escort. If he were sane, perhaps he would have waited in the corridor outside her chambers. This simply proved again that he was not in full wits.

Before he knew what he was about, Darcy had already moved across the room and offered his arm to the injured lady.

He flared his nostrils. So much for avoiding her.

When Miss Elizabeth’s clear, jade-green eyes caught his gaze, it was as if every unpleasant feeling he had experienced in the past day and a half were swept away, leaving behind only an agreeable warmth in his soul. His heart swelled when, without hesitation, she reached out and wrapped her hand around his arm.

Why did she have this effect on him? And why did he enjoy it so much?

She smiled and all rational thought left his head.

From John Knightley Takes a Wife by Barbara Corthwaite

It was obvious to George, watching from across the room, that the enchanting Miss Dudley appeared to have his brother on a string. It was also clear to him that she was a heartless little flirt. While she danced with John, she had eyes for no one but him, and seemed to convey that there was nothing on earth so fascinating to her as whatever he was talking about. George was too far away to hear what they were saying, of course, but he could see them bantering and laughing with each other. During the next dance, when John had a different partner, George watched Miss Dudley dance with another young man. She looked just as happy to be dancing with him as she had with John, and when the dance ended she said something quietly to him that made his face light up. A sense of foreboding crept over George.

John, for his part, was elated for himself and irritated with his brother. He had known that George would not dance, but he thought he might have put himself out more. Part of his reason for inviting George had indeed been so that he might meet the incomparable Maria. But another, almost equally strong reason was so that he could fall in love himself. George was always sequestered away at Donwell with no eligible young ladies anywhere nearby, growing old alone. He was settling into middle age much too rapidly—it would do him good to be in love and provide a mistress for Donwell. In the giddiness of his own infatuation, John was eager to see everyone around him matched up as well. He had allowed himself to hope that George would meet a lady who would so awaken his admiration that he would instantly ask her to dance.

But there George was instead, talking sedately to Major Thomas, while ladies of all ages eyed him in varying degrees of furtiveness and positioned themselves near him in case he would be inclined to ask to be introduced to them. George could, no doubt, have won any one of them—he was handsome, wealthy, and honorable.

“He will not take the trouble to invest in his own happiness,” muttered John, and went over to his brother to see if he could provoke him into doing such a thing.

“Is Arthur Dudley here?” George asked before John could say anything.

“No. I thought he would be, but it appears he cried off.”

“I see you had your dances with Miss Dudley.”

“I intend to have more.”

“Do you? How very optimistic you are. It seems that there are any number of young bucks waiting to ask her to dance.”

“At least I know you will not be of that number.”

“I think I may break with tradition and ask her. She is, after all, very beautiful.”

The corner of John’s mouth quivered. “I think I will punish you for that.” He glanced around and saw a lady passing. “Miss Oliver!”
The young lady paused and turned toward the brothers. She was a plain-faced woman of about twenty-eight, but she had an intelligent eye and a ready smile.

“How do you do, Mr. Knightley?”

“Very well, I thank you. May I present my brother, Mr. George Knightley? He hopes to engage you for the two next dances.”

From You’ve Got to Kiss the Girl by Laura Hile

Bound, gagged, and blindfolded, Mr. Darcy is being transported to who-knows-where. Then he realizes that he is not alone …
The wheels hit another rut in the road. This one was deep, and the wagon swayed dangerously. “What in blue blazes?” shouted a woman’s voice. “This ain’t no time to be drinking, you git!”

“A fellow needs something to warm him,” a man’s voice shouted back. “That wind cuts like a knife.”

“If we break an axle out here, we’re done for.”

“Hobgoblins and ghostly horsemen of the moor? Bah. Bogeys to scare children.”

“Not goblins, you dolt. Marshes and bogs have what they calls quicksand. That what swallows man and beast alive. So keep your wits about you.”

“It’s Dartmoor Prison I’m not liking. Too close for comfort, that is.”

Darcy frowned in an effort to think. The vile potion his captors had him swilling made his head swim. Dartmoor Prison. Did this mean they were in Devon?

The wagon gave another jolt and listed to one side. “Gor blast it, Manny! Slow down! We’ll be ditched if you keep to this pace.”

The wagon righted itself and went lumbering on. Darcy heard his fellow prisoner groan.

Here was another perplexity. That he was kidnapped for ransom was understandable, but why involve a woman?

Unless it was his cousin, Anne.

Of course it was Anne. Who else could it be? Even without this ordeal, his cousin’s life was not a happy one. And now she was being held for ransom.

With a miserable howl, the wind buffeted the wagon’s high sides. “Blast this infernal wind!” the man shouted. “What was Jackman thinking?

Why this godforsaken place?”

“For easy money, that’s what. Nab the gent and the girl; dump them here and clear out.”

“Why not hide ’em in London? Instead of driving two hundred miles and more in all this cold? What I wouldn’t give for a warm fire and a pint.”

“We’ll have both soon enough, once we get free of the moor. If you don’t ditch the wagon!”

The wind howled, and his captors continued to complain. At length Darcy grew weary of listening to them. If only his headache would abate, perhaps then he could think!

Sometime later he woke to more cursing.

“How do you know it’s the right house?”

“Only one out here, dolt. Can’t miss it, Jackman said. There’s the lake and there’s the house.”

At last the wagon ground to a halt. Darcy came fully awake, every sense on the alert. God only knew what would come next.

“Took you long enough,” a voice shouted.

“This ain’t exactly the easiest spot to find. Lend a hand. I want to be away before nightfall.”

“No need to be telling me twice.”

When the wagon’s doors came open, Darcy felt the bite of the cold wind. The scent of rain was in the air.

Anne was taken from the wagon first, and she moaned several times. This was difficult to hear, but it meant she was alive.

Presently the men returned for Darcy. He was pulled into a sitting position, and the rope binding his ankles was removed. When his feet met the ground, Darcy realised that he wore only stockings. What had happened to his riding boots?

“March,” someone ordered. Darcy did so, stumbling over wet, rocky terrain. And then it began to rain. A chorus of curses erupted.

Rough hands pushed Darcy along. Then a surprise: his feet encountered wooden boards. The hollow sound reminded Darcy of a dock, and his guess turned out to be correct. Amid complaints about his size and weight, he was lowered into a small boat. The rain gained in strength; Darcy could hear it hissing against the surface of the water. Oars were fitted; the boat swayed precariously. Finally, it was pushed clear of the dock.

Darcy struggled to think. Were he and Anne being taken out of England? But that could not be right. To board a seagoing vessel, shouldn’t they be in a port city? Hold hard, someone had mentioned a lake. Was this significant? He wished he knew.

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Giveaway

The authors are very generously offering an ebook copy of A Very Austen Romance to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway is open through Thursday, July 2, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you to all the authors for being my guests today, and congratulations on your new release! I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes there’s another anthology on the horizon…

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