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I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Joy to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth. I will be reviewing it here soon, along with the first book in the Meryton Mystery series, The Honorable Mr. Darcy. (These are standalone novels.) Jennifer is here with an excerpt from The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth and a very generous giveaway! I hope you all enjoy the excerpt as much as I did, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. I am eager to read the book in its entirety!

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An excerpt from The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth, courtesy of Jennifer Joy

Entering the room, Darcy saw the two standing three paces away from each other. Aunt Catherine clutched the sharp-tipped cane she used more to make a statement than for the stability it offered. Tanner’s feet stood hip-width apart, his thick arms crossed firmly over his large chest forming an impenetrable wall against which Aunt’s pointy arrows bounced off. He was clearly unimpressed. Darcy needed to interfere before Tanner suggested she sleep at the stables with the other mules.

Neither of them turned their heads to look at him and Richard as they entered the parlor. Anne sat in a chair by the fireplace massaging her temples while Mrs. Jenkinson fanned her and patted her arm reassuringly. Anne looked dreadfully pale despite the heat from the fire.

“Aunt Catherine, you must allow Mr. Tanner to see Anne to a room. She must be fatigued after your journey,” Darcy said, forgoing greetings and pleasantries when his cousin was in obvious need of assistance.

Tanner’s lips tightened. “That is exactly what I have been trying to convince Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Rosings Park in Kent to allow me to do.” He enunciated every syllable of her name, making it clear he knew precisely who she was. “Mrs. Molly already has a suitable room ready if only her ladyship would agree to it. I have offered to send for the apothecary, but she has refused that too.”

“Darcy! You must order this man to give me the best room in his inn. I will settle for nothing less.”

Mrs. Jenkinson dared approach Aunt Catherine, saying, “Pardon me, Lady Catherine, but Miss de Bourgh should rest.” The softness of her voice was in direct contrast to the intensity of her stare.

Aunt Catherine’s pulse throbbed at her temples, but she nodded her head. Mrs. Jenkinson led Anne out of the room and Darcy heard Mrs. Molly speak with them as the stairs creaked under the footsteps.

Richard broke the tense silence with exaggerated cheer. “Good afternoon, Aunt Catherine. How pleasant it is to see you here. To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”

How he could smile at a moment such as this was incomprehensible to Darcy. Tanner looked like he would strangle Aunt Catherine if he uncrossed his arms. Aunt Catherine looked capable of poking Tanner with her pointy cane.

“You are grinning like a fool, Fitzwilliam. It does not suit you. Or have the residents of Hertfordshire ruined you too?”

Here it came.

“You wish to know the purpose of my visit?” Aunt Catherine turned her glare away from Tanner and Richard to focus on him. Great.

Darcy took a deep breath and steadied himself.

“I am here to discredit certain rumors about my nephew forming an attachment to a young lady of inferior birth. What have you to say about that, Darcy?”

There it was. The accusation that Elizabeth was unworthy of their family. He had thought he was prepared to hear it, but his blood boiled with more anger than he had imagined himself capable of. He closed the distance between himself and his aunt, looking down at her from his superior height. He was unafraid of her and her sharp cane.

He felt Tanner’s hand grasp his shoulder. Darcy was wound up as tight as a carriage spring and his immediate reaction was to lash out against his brother who dared restrain him, but he controlled himself. He looked at Tanner, who met his level gaze and squeezed his shoulder as if to remind him not to lose his temper. Fine advice from one who was so often provoked.

Darcy felt Richard move to his other side. Another reminder to hold his temper. Darcy took a deep breath and cleared his focus.

He would do nothing to satisfy Aunt Catherine’s curiosity until he first got the information he required. It was a much more humane — and far more effective — way of frustrating her. “Who is the source of this rumor?”

“You confirm it is merely a rumor?” she snapped.

He would not make it so easy on her. “I neither confirm nor refute it. Who is the source of the rumor?” he repeated.

“Mr. Collins.” She offered nothing more.

“What did he tell you?”

“He seemed to think I would be pleased at the news of your attachment to one of his country cousins … one Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Is her uncle not in trade and her father’s estate in a state of disrepair?”

Mr. Collins. Darcy should have known. The clergyman meant well, but he did not know when his assistance was unwanted nor when to keep his mouth shut.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman and, as such, she is my equal.”

Aunt Catherine gasped. “You dare compare your elevated station to one so insignificant, her name is unknown amongst the beau monde?”

“You would regard her as insignificant because she is not recognized in society? Of what use has society been to us?”

Society could hang itself for all the value Darcy placed upon it. Aunt Catherine lived in constant fear of becoming the brunt of its malicious gossip, and his mother had accepted the dalliances of his father because society had taught her to look the other way while pretending to be the adoring wife. It had killed her. And how did society reward its handiwork? His father had died miserable and friendless.

No, Darcy cared not for what society thought of him nor Elizabeth. The fact that she refused to be impressed or intimidated by those who would look down on her only served to reaffirm his decision to make her his wife. As soon as he could convince her to have him. There was that small detail … though his patience grew thinner by the second.

“You dare defy society when you were born into it? Your position in the first circles demands the consideration of your peers.” Aunt Catherine’s lips pinched together so tightly, they were rimmed in white.

“I will choose what is best for me and those for whom I am responsible. It is my decision and mine alone. I will permit nobody authority over me when I am able to make up my own mind.”

“And is that what you have done? Have you chosen to forsake your own cousin and bring reproach on the Darcy name by marrying a nobody?”

He would bring no more reproach— not even close— than what his own father had brought on the Darcy name.

“I cannot forsake Anne when I have given her no promise —” he stopped, the words choking in his throat when Mrs. Molly rushed into the room with a complexion the color of his aunt’s powdered hair.

The rim of Mrs. Molly’s cap trembled. Looking anxiously between Tanner and Aunt Catherine, she said, “Please, Miss de Bourgh is …” She wrung her apron in her hands, looking down at the floor.

Tanner stepped forward, reaching out for her. “She is what? Calm yourself and speak plainly, Mrs. Molly.”

Aunt Catherine’s cheeks had lost all color. She stood frozen in her haughty posture in defiance of bad news.

Mrs. Molly looked up, her eyes shut like a child believing herself to be invisible so long as she saw no one. “Miss de Bourgh has suffered an —”

“Enough!” interrupted Aunt Catherine. “I will see to my daughter. No doubt, she was overly fatigued from our journey and merely needs a dose of tonic from our family doctor. There is no need for talk, do you understand?” She eyed Mrs. Molly with a stony glare until the nervous housekeeper cracked her eyes open.

And then Aunt Catherine did something Darcy had never known her to do. She pulled out some coins and handed them to Mrs. Molly.

“For your silence,” she said as she marched out of the room. When Mrs. Molly followed her, Aunt Catherine astonished them further by refusing her assistance and ascending the stairs alone.

Tanner moved a chair over to Mrs. Molly, who looked like she might collapse at the slightest provocation. She slumped into it and rubbed her free hand over her face, shaking her head back and forth. Finally, after some time, she straightened her spine and, with a firm nod, she held out the coins for Darcy to take.

“I cannot accept these, sir. I understand her ladyship’s reason for giving them to me, but I am now well aware it is not merely her daughter’s future at stake, it is yours as well. My conscience will not allow me to remain silent when you should know what I just saw.”

Darcy’s pulse hammered in his head. She spoke as if her news could adversely affect his future. It must be horrible news for Aunt Catherine to separate from her precious coin to hide whatever it was she wished to bury.

“Very well, but I insist you keep the coin.”

“I cannot, Mr. Darcy.”

“You cannot return it to Lady Catherine. So long as what you have to tell me remains a secret within these walls, I see no reason why you cannot dispose of the coin for the benefit of another and thus appease your conscience.”

The trimming on the front of her cap bobbed up and down as she nodded enthusiastically. “Mrs. Thorne will use it to assist a family in need. She is a good woman.” Mrs. Molly took a deep breath. “I pity your aunt, as will you, once you understand why she insists you marry her daughter.”

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About The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth (A Meryton Mystery Book 2)

Two determined women. One murder. No eyewitnesses.

Lady Catherine has come to Meryton.

When a devastating secret is revealed, putting Elizabeth Bennet’s future happiness and the loyalty of the man she loves in the balance, her hopes for a Happily-Ever-After are dashed to pieces. Threats are made and family obligations are enforced, leading to an event no one could foresee. Another murder in Meryton.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is more determined than ever to win Elizabeth’s love— no matter what obstacles their families place between them. When a matron is found murdered in the midst of a militia parade, he soon discovers the strength of the woman’s enemies… and their closeness to Elizabeth. Can Darcy protect her when she is determined to bring the murderer to justice?

With a killer on the loose and their hearts on the line, can Darcy and Elizabeth work together to solve another mystery while fighting for each other? Or will the pressure break them apart forever?

Check out The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth on Goodreads | Amazon

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About The Honorable Mr. Darcy (A Meryton Mystery Book 1)

Everyone has a secret. Who will kill to keep theirs?

Lieutenant George Wickham is dead.

The shot rings out in Wickham’s tent as the good citizens of Meryton dance the night away at Mr. Bingley’s Netherfield ball. The only person who can confirm Fitzwilliam Darcy’s alibi faces the loss of her reputation and her freedom if she comes forward.

Convinced that her sole motive is the pursuit of justice— and not her growing attraction to Mr. Darcy— Elizabeth Bennet begins an investigation to clear his name and evade an unwanted marriage.

If Darcy didn’t shoot Wickham in cold blood, who did? Which of Longbourn’s neighbors is not who they seem?

With a killer on the loose, can Elizabeth avoid being the next victim as she comes closer to revealing the truth?

Check out The Honorable Mr. Darcy on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Jennifer Joy

When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite Jane Austen characters, she is learning Sign language, reading, baking (Cake really is her one weakness!), or chasing her twins around the park (because … calories).

Her wish is to continue to write sweet romances and mysteries with happy endings for years to come.

While she claims Oregon as her home, she currently lives high in the Andes mountains of Ecuador with her husband and two kids. All of them are fluent in Spanglish.

Right now, Jennifer is imagining how a courtship with such a turbulent beginning can possibly lead to a smooth Happily-Ever-After for Darcy and Elizabeth. She senses there’s more trouble to come and promises to keep a detailed account of events (because, let’s face it, it makes for fun reading!).

Connect with Jennifer Joy via Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

***Subscribers to Jennifer’s Historical Romance newsletter will receive access to a BONUS scene involving Lady Catherine and an important character in The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth!***

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Giveaway

Jennifer is generously offering 4 ebook copies of The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth and 2 audiobooks of The Honorable Mr. Darcy. To enter, please leave a comment about what intrigues you most from the excerpt. Please leave your email address and indicate which book you would prefer to win. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 26, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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My guest today is Kyra C. Kramer, who is visiting Diary of an Eccentric with an exclusive video guest post to celebrate the release of her new novel, Mansfield Parsonage, a variation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. In the video, Kyra talks about Mansfield Parsonage and why Mary Crawford is arguably the most interesting and likeable character in Austen’s novel. Please give a warm welcome to Kyra C. Kramer:

Thanks, Kyra! What an interesting take on Mansfield Park! I’m definitely looking forward to reading Mansfield Parsonage.

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About Mansfield Parsonage

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Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

“This book captures Austen’s voice with a fascinating point of view.” – Maria Grace, Author of “Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World”

“Kyra Kramer delights with her cheeky take on one of Austen’s most misunderstood characters. Through sharp observation and a talent for turn of phrase, Kramer polishes Mary Crawford into the bright jewel she truly is. By the end, you’ll be wondering why the original wasn’t written from her perspective all along. This is Regency Era at its finest. Mansfield Parsonage, a true source of felicity!” – Adrienne Dillard, Author of “Cor Rotto”

Check out Mansfield Parsonage on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but this is her first foray into fictional writing.

Connect with Kyra C. Kramer via website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

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Giveaway

MadeGlobal Publishing is generously offering a hard copy of Mansfield Parsonage to my readers. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and answer the question Kyra poses in her video post: are you pro-Mary or pro-Fanny/Edmund? This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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snowbound-at-hartfield-ebookI’m excited to have Maria Grace as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric again today, this time to celebrate the release of her novella, Snowbound at Hartfield (click to read my review). Because Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Emma are my favorites of Austen’s novels, I was curious as to what inspired Maria to merge these stories, and she has been kind enough to talk about that and the challenges of getting the principal characters together. Please give a warm welcome to Maria Grace:

By all accounts,  Snowbound at Hartfield is a bit of an odd duck. It is an Austen mash-up of three different books, a romance about second chances and a glimpse at the difficult reality single adults, men and women, faced in the regency era. Kind of a tall order under the best of circumstances.

But no one has ever accused me of doing things the easy way.

Ever.

The idea for Snowbound came out of a March Mash-up Madness theme we had last year at Austen Variations. (Shameless plug—we’re doing it again next month! Go by the Facebook group and leave us your suggestion! You never know…) One of our readers suggested a scene between some of the Austen fathers. It seemed to me like Mr. Bennet would find Mr. Woodhouse and Sir Walter Elliot particularly good fodder for his sense of humor.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get them all in the same place at the same time, given that neither Mr. Woodhouse nor Mr. Bennet was fond of travel. Add in the baronet we’d all like to strangle, and it was quite a pickle to get them all in a room together. Since they would not be likely to socialize together, getting stuck together because of bad weather seemed to be the best excuse available and fitting the time period.

It all took an interesting turn when the characters ended up in the drawing room together. I started out writing a scene about the fathers. But midway through that scene, two secondary characters stepped up and informed me that this was their story and it was not going to be over in a single scene. In fact, I tried to end the story twice before I actually got to the end the characters demanded. They were very insistent that I get them to the end they wanted. The oddest thing about it was that it was a heroine I NEVER expected to write.

In general, I have never liked Miss Elizabeth Elliot, especially since I see myself something of an Anne Elliot. So I definitely didn’t want to write her or set her up for a happy ending.

But, I guess I’m a sucker for characters who want to turn over a new leaf (like Lydia in The Trouble to Check Her).  The story begins after Miss Elliot has suffered two very difficult experiences. First, the heir presumptive of the family, William Elliot, has taken her friend, Penelope Clay, ‘under his protections’–which is to say he has made her his mistress. Worse yet, Penelope is living in his house, which was just not done. All this happened while Elizabeth was expecting an offer of marriage from him. Talk about humiliation!

On top of that, her younger sister Anne is married to the very desirable Captain Wentworth, leaving Elizabeth, the eldest sister who should have been the first to marry, the only one left unmarried.

So, Elizabeth is an humiliated spinster, whose financial situation requires her to live with her foolish father. In such a situation, she would be the mistress of the house, handling the management aspect of this home. With little money to work with, it would have been very challenging to live the lifestyle of a baronet, as her father would have required.

Living through all that would tax anyone, maybe even to the breaking point. To me, it seemed the perfect motivation for potential personal change, so that’s the place I wrote her from.

The hero of this tale, believe it or not, is Colonel Fitzwilliam, who in many ways was as broken as Miss Elliot. As a military officer of the era, he would have seen action in the Napoleonic wars. Those wars were brutal and horrific. It is hard to imagine a man who could experience that without some lasting effects. Those experiences impact him greatly, leaving him feeling ‘less’ than the man he used to be.

On top of all that, he is a bachelor in a society that considered unmarried men the ‘scourge of society’. In many instances, bachelors paid substantially more in taxes than married men, while at the same time, they were not regarded as fulfilling their masculine potential. They were not as persecuted at spinsters, but they were definitely looked down upon.

So what happens when these two, worn-around-the-edges characters meet up? Let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting! But this is one snowstorm I’m very glad I got caught in.

Thanks, Maria! I am so glad for that snowstorm as well, since I absolutely loved this novella!

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About Snowbound at Hartfield

Colonel Fitzwilliam should have been happy facing retirement. No more Napoleon, no more tromping the Continent, and his distant cousin had unexpectedly left him an estate. What was more, two of his favorite people, Darcy and Elizabeth, were travelling with him to visit his new home.

But the colonel wasn’t happy, not when he was forced to watch Darcy exchanging enamored glances with his wife. No, he wanted to pitch his cousin out the window. It didn’t help when Darcy kept lecturing him on the joys of wedded life— as if women like Elizabeth Darcy grew on every tree.

Then the snow started.

Now they were stranded at the home of George and Emma Knightley, another intolerable, blissfully wedded couple who wanted nothing more than to see his bachelor days come to an end. Thank heavens they never thought of matching him with the proud spinster who had also been caught in the storm. That would have been utterly intolerable.

Or would it?

Check out Snowbound at Hartfield on Goodreads | Buy from an assortment of retailers

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About the Author

Maria Grace

Maria Grace

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

Connect with Maria Grace via email at author.MariaGrace@gmail.com | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Random Bits of Fascination | Jane Austen Variations | English Historical Fiction Authors

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Giveaway

Maria is generously offering an ebook copy of Snowbound at Hartfield. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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mr-darcys-debtI’m thrilled to welcome April Floyd to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Mr. Darcy’s Debt and learn about her inspiration for the novel, which I will be reviewing here soon. Please give her a warm welcome, and stay tuned for a very generous giveaway at the end of this post.

I am pleased to be a guest on Anna’s blog today and share with her readers the birth of the idea for Mr. Darcy’s Debt.

It’s always hard to say where ideas begin for stories and variations, mainly it is an exercise in asking yourself what if Elizabeth or Darcy did something different at some point in the story that changes the outcome.

For this story, the idea of Elizabeth not only being an accomplished walker but an excellent horsewoman tickled my fancy. I read about women racing in Regency times and I could see an Elizabeth Bennet that loved horses being more than tempted to race.

When I sat down to write that Elizabeth, the idea of an estate near Pemberley that was in the Fitzwilliam family sprang to life. Apparently, this story wanted me to move Elizabeth and family to Derbyshire and so I had to consider how to make that happen.

Cue the scene of Lady Anne and Lady Catherine at a frozen lake on their family estate many years before we meet the Bennet family as we all know them from Jane Austen’s classic, much beloved tale.

I knew there had to be some reason that their eldest brother would consider Thomas Bennet’s future offspring and subsequently provide for them if the entailment on Longbourn came into play.

So, back to that partially frozen lake we go. Bertram Fitzwilliam was a daredevil and Thomas Bennet his partner in crime. Of course the two handsome, young men would test the waters so to speak.

But Lady Anne was never meant to come to harm, it’s just a detail that entered the scene as I wrote it. Originally, it was only Bertie who would go through the ice and Thomas Bennet would save him only to lose him months later as he would not beat the pneumonia that overtook his already weakened body.

By saving his friend, Thomas Bennet would inspire the young man to make a deathbed promise that would lead the rest of his family to honor his dying wish.

Now, with that bit of history, I could have Mr. Bennet succumb to the illness that plagued Jane at Netherfield while Mr. Collins was visiting. Marriage proposal denied, Bennet ladies out in the streets, but how to get them to Derbyshire.

Enter Lady Catherine, a very different personality in this story than the original. She comes to the reading of Mr. Bennet’s will and observes Collins as he deals with the ladies of Longbourn.

She steps in when he’s been provoked by the sisters’ camaraderie and delivers the news that shocks the ladies and sends them on their way to Somersal, that estate near Pemberley where Elizabeth and Darcy will fall in love, have their misunderstanding, and find their way back to one another.

I chose a stronger Bingley for this story and a happy ending for Lydia.

For some, the match made by Lydia seemed a stretch but it was her frivolity and lack of maturity that was needed to lift the severity of the situation instead of her sister Mary.

I considered making a match for Mary instead, but her demeanor would not have been the tonic that was desperately needed.

I hope that you come to love this story as much as I loved writing it and I’m happy to offer THREE digital copies to THREE winners.

Again, much thanks to Anna for hosting me and allowing me to share my writing process with you.

Thank YOU, April, for being my guest today. I am very much looking forward to reading the book!

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About Mr. Darcy’s Debt

Thomas Bennet has died and left his wife and five daughters during the visit of his cousin Mr. Collins who has come to offer marriage as an olive branch to soothe the way when he inherits their home, Longbourn.

A deathbed promise from the past saves the ladies and Elizabeth Bennet becomes better acquainted with the wealthy, handsome Mr. Darcy, the man who insulted  her at the assembly in Meryton.

With the Bennets living at Somersal, a country estate that belongs to the Fitzwilliam family and is only a short distance from Pemberley, the home of Mr. Darcy, their mutual love of riding fosters a love neither Darcy nor Elizabeth can deny.

After a terrible accident, Elizabeth believes she must race in the spring to secure her family’s future, much to Mr. Darcy’s dismay. His proposal, given to keep her from racing, is summarily refused as Elizabeth Bennet will not marry from necessity.

Check out Mr. Darcy’s Debt on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

April Floyd lives in Alaska with her husband and youngest son. She loves happy endings, nice people, and reading great stories. Once upon a time, she was an Army wife and a phlebotomist and recently ran a successful ebook deals site for four years. Historical fiction, Jane Austen, and fantasy/dystopia are her favorite genres.

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Giveaway

April is generously offering three ebook versions of Mr. Darcy’s Debt. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Maria Grace

I’m delighted to have Maria Grace as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric today to showcase her latest novel, Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon, the first in a new series. Please give Maria a warm welcome as she answers my question: Why Dragons?

I was chatting with Anna one day and she asked, “So what’s a nice regency romance writer like you doing with a book like that? Dragons? Seriously?”

Ok, that’s not really what Anna asked me. (We all know she is much too sweet and well-mannered to say anything like that.) But she did ask me to talk a little about how I ended up writing a Pride and Prejudice variation about dragons. So, same thing more or less, right?

But I digress.

I suppose I could wax philosophical and say that it began back in the dark ages of middle school when I first read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Flight. My imagination was captured by her dragons. Seriously, in the midst of middle school angst, who wouldn’t want an enormous, fire-breathing friend who was entirely devoted to you? I certainly would have welcomed that. Middle school—shudder!

Seriously though, I’ve loved fantasy from the very beginning and only recently wandered into the realm of the regency era and Jane Austen’s world. The first stories I wrote were science fiction fan fiction and the first original novel I wrote was a fantasy. And yes, I still have it, and no, I’m not letting it out of the box where it safely resides. (I ONCE thought about resurrecting it, but yeah, it was written by a fifteen year old, and there was no getting away from that.)

Writing took a back seat to college, graduate school, adult life and kids. Somehow, when I wandered back into the authorial realm, I landed in regency era England.

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Maria Grace

My husband and boys were thrilled that I was fulfilling a long held passion and totally supportive of my efforts. But… (you knew that was coming, right?) They were also science fiction/fantasy fans. Knowing about my prior dabbling in those genres, they really, really REALLY wanted me to write something they would want to read. (Ok, to be fair, my Mr. Darcy actually does read ALL of my books, romance, history, fantasy… all of them.)

So, one day, at the local pizza buffet, I was knocking around story ideas with my boys, something we’d often done before.  We were getting a little silly and just tossing stuff out there, when an idea landed with a resounding, deafening thud. A dragon sized one.

What if there were a secret society of dragons living alongside people in Regency England.

I suddenly had their attention. Ideas were flying fast and furious: ideas for how the species would interact, what government would look like, the economics of it all—and boy could I tell they’d been paying attention in their history and government classes! In the span of way longer than we should have spent eating pizza, we had an entire dragon world built, just screaming for a story to live in it.

And really, as a mother, and an author, how could I possibly walk away from something that my kids helped me build? Seriously? I had to write something for that world. It was about that time that I encountered Pride Prejudice and Zombies—which was an interesting experience and we’ll leave it at that.

But it did get me thinking, which is a dangerous thing. As much fun as zombies might be (ok, not really, I’m not a zombie kinda gal), dragons had to be better right. So the gauntlet was thrown, and Mr. Darcy’s Dragon was born.

To be entirely honest, I have never had as much fun writing a series as I have with these dragon books. I’m currently half way through the second book and into plotting the third book. With any luck book two should be done this quarter and I’d like to have the third one done by the end of the year. I know it’s a big leap for regency romance readers, but I hope that some of you will grab the dragon by the tail and join me in a dragon world where Darcy and Elizabeth must prevent the outbreak of a new dragon war (and maybe fall in love in the process) with a little help from their dragon friends.

Thank you, Maria, for sharing your inspiration with me and my readers. I can’t wait to delve into this world of dragons!

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About Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon

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England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind.  Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.

When the first firedrake egg laid in a century is stolen from Pemberley, the fragile dragon peace teeters on collapse. Darcy has no choice but to chase down the thief, a journey that leads him to quaint market town of Meryton and fellow Dragon Keeper, Elizabeth Bennet.

Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced. More than that, her vast experience and knowledge of dragon lore may be the key to uncovering the lost egg. But Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy’s arrogance and doesn’t trust him to care properly for a precious baby firedrake. After all, he already lost the egg once. What’s to prevent it from happening again?

Can he win her trust and recover the stolen egg before it hatches and sends England spiraling back into the Dark Ages of Dragon War?

Check out Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon on Goodreads | Amazon (Kindle) (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble (Nook) (Paperback) | Kobo

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About the Author

Maria Grace

Maria Grace

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

Connect with Maria Grace via email at author.MariaGrace@gmail.com | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Random Bits of Fascination | Jane Austen Variations | English Historical Fiction Authors

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Giveaway

Maria is generously offering an ebook copy of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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among-the-lostToday’s guest is Seth Steinzor, author of Among the Lost (In Dante’s Wake: Book 2), who is here to discuss his inspiration for the poem about giving birth and how it serves as an opening for his take on Dante’s Purgatorio. Please welcome Seth Steinzor:

Fresh in my mind when I began writing Among the Lost was something that W.S. Merwin had pointed out in the Foreword to his translation of Purgatorio. I’m sure he’s far from the first to have noticed this, but it made a forceful impression on me: of Dante’s three canticles, Purgatorio is the only one to take place on earth. Inferno trudges through an idealized subterranean environment; Paradiso flies through the heavens; Purgatorio climbs a mountain.

Another thing sets Purgatorio apart from the first and third books of Dante’s trilogy. Each of the characters in Inferno and Paradiso has reached an ultimate end point in his or her personal development, and exists in a state of stasis. Unlike them, the denizens of Mount Purgatory continue to work through the moral muddles that were produced by their manners of living. The ones who were angry in life are still plagued by anger. The ones who were apathetic still have to overcome that. And so on. Admittedly, in Dante’s view, the Mount Purgatorians possess the certainty of salvation, not only the hope, and so might be said to have reached a sort of fruition; but they haven’t actually found it yet. Their experience of their own sure perfectability is frustrated temporarily by themselves. That’s pretty much my experience of life, in a nutshell, although I tend towards a somewhat less optimistic view of the overall human condition. (There’s a buddha within, but nobody’s sure of realizing it.) So add to the idea that the book takes place on earth, the idea that it depicts a state of being unfinished, unclear.

Also in my mind was the means whereby Dante escaped to Purgatory from the underground Inferno. He clung to the back of his guide, Virgil, as Virgil climbed up Satan’s enormous body and then through a tunnel to a sunlit beach at the foot of the mountain. So…our hero enters this earth through a narrow dark tunnel, from which he emerges unfinished and unclear. What else could one think of but a birth canal?

When I put it this way, it sounds rather more consecutively thought out than it was. I was fortunate enough to have attended the births of both my children. There is no more meaningful event than that, except perhaps one’s own coming and going. I knew as soon as I began to contemplate writing Among the Lost that the book would begin in a birthing room. And yet, at the same time, the rationale for doing so, which I have outlined above, accompanied this undeliberated intention fully formed.

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About Among the Lost

Among the Lost, set in the modern American rust belt, is a meditation drawn from Dante’s Purgatorio. To Dante, Purgatory was the mountain where souls not damned went after death to cleanse themselves of sin in preparation for entering Paradise. What, Steinzor asks, are we preparing ourselves for, having lost the fear of hell and the hope of heaven, in the course of our daily urban existence? And whatever that is, how do we go about preparing for it?

Check out Among the Lost on Amazon | Goodreads

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About the Poet

Seth Steinzor protested the Vietnam War during his high school years near Buffalo, New York, and his years at Middlebury College, advocated Native American causes after law school, and has made a career as a civil rights attorney, criminal prosecutor, and welfare attorney for the State of Vermont. Throughout he has written poetry. In early 1980s Boston he edited a small literary journal. His first, highly praised book, To Join the Lost, was published in 2010.

To follow the tour for Among the Lost, click the button below:

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clipar41In Marrying Well for Fun & Profit: Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot Advises the Upwardly Mobile Miss, Laura Hile channels Jane Austen’s high society expert. Today, I’m delighted to welcome the man himself to Diary of an Eccentric. Please give a warm welcome to Sir Walter Elliot:

My Dear Vulgarian Reader,

After 200 years of silence, I, Sir Walter Elliot, have written a book, Marrying Well for Fun & Profit.

Its publication represents a triumph. You see, Jane Austen misquoted me frightfully in Persuasion. Now I am able to speak for myself.

Marrying Well is a treasure trove of practical tips and social sagacity. It is designed to be read for inspiration, say, alongside your morning coffee or tea. And you need advice, dear reader, because marrying above one’s station is not as easy as it appears.

Are you thinking that I, a baronet, have had to take a job? Heavens, no. Writing is not an occupation, nor is it a hobby. It’s charity work.

That is just what it is. I simply had to do something. I mean, really. People in your day are wearing pajama pants to do their shopping.

I understand being eager to purchase new clothes. But if you intend to buy ready-made garments—a thing I have never done—then you ought to use the dressing room. Instead of, say, arriving at the store half-undressed to save time.

It is the same with marrying well. You need to use your wits to ensnare the right husband, rather than your body. Keep your feminine assets attractively covered and ensnare him with attitude and charm. Allow me to show you the way. Here is the buy link for Marrying Well for Fun & Profit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZ9TC45. I’ve priced it so that it is affordable for anyone, even you. The right men are out there—if you know where to look and how, shall we say, to bait the hook.

Cordially yours in the upward climb,

Sir Walter Elliot

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About Marrying Well for Fun & Profit

marryingwell-smWas there ever a snob like Sir Walter?

He fairly leaps from the pages of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

With one eye on the looking glass and the other the Baronetage, Sir Walter is Regency England’s high society expert.

Who better to give advice to the modern young woman wishing to improve her worth through marriage?

Because marrying into wealth and privilege–thus improving the family gene pool–is not as easy as it appears.

And so Sir Walter Elliot has consented to share advice with the less fortunate.

That would be us.

Come and sit at the feet of the one who was Born to be Seen.

Check out Marrying Well for Fun & Profit on Goodreads | Amazon

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Giveaway

If you’re interested in Sir Walter’s helpful advice, you’re in luck! Laura Hile is generously offering 2 ebook copies of Marrying Well for Fun & Profit. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what interests you most about Sir Walter and his expertise in navigating modern society. The giveaway will close on Sunday, January 29, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks to both Sir Walter and Laura Hile for being my guests today!

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