Posts Tagged ‘barbara cornthwaite’

Source: Review copy from authors

Merry Christmas, my dear readers! I will have some mini reviews of Christmas books when I return next week after the holidays, but in the meantime, I have some special treats for you today, so stay tuned!

When I heard that Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite were releasing the story anthology A Very Austen Christmas, I couldn’t wait to read it, having enjoyed novels from all of these ladies in the past. And I definitely was not disappointed with these delightfully sweet Christmas tales.

Robin Helm’s “Her Christmas Gift” brings Elizabeth Bennet to Rosings for Christmas, where she is reunited with Mr. Darcy after he saved her family’s reputation, as well as an old friend who has his eye on her. Laura Hile’s “The Christmas Matchmaker” brings Elizabeth and Jane to Netherfield with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, along with Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, Thomas Bertram, and some Christmas magic via “Aunt Jane.” Wendi Sotis’ “No Better Gift” brings Mr. Darcy to Mertyon for Christmas, where he finds the village deserted, and when he learns what has happened, both he and Elizabeth come to realize they had misunderstood each other. Finally, Barbara Cornthwaite’s “Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey” brings readers to the world of Mansfield Park where Edmund plans to propose to Fanny at Christmas.

I loved these sweet tales and how the joys of the Christmas season were an important part of each, and I loved the little bits of humor sprinkled in with the romance. I also loved how the focus was on Pride and Prejudice, but there were characters from Emma and Mansfield Park as well. Each of these stories was different, but they worked together as collection, and I found myself looking forward to escaping into these stories as I unwound from some busy days at work. I can definitely see myself reading this collection again during future holiday seasons. After all, you can never have too much of Elizabeth and Darcy falling in love!


The first treat I have for you is an excerpt from “The Christmas Matchmaker” by Laura Hile. Enjoy!

It no longer mattered that Elizabeth’s mother was noisy and ambitious—and her younger sisters too. Or that her portion was considered contemptable. He admired her. No, he loved her.

Love. There, he had said it. Or rather he had thought it—which was almost the same thing.

The only question left was what to do. How to tell her what was in his heart? Would she respond in kind? Or did she dislike him as much as ever?

But she had kissed him in that dream. Surely this counted for something!

Darcy’s thoughts were interrupted by Lydia Bennet’s voice. She, along with her sister Kitty, had come to call.

“We are supposed to be shopping in Meryton,” Lydia was saying. “And so we shall be—later.” Apparently the driver of the family carriage had been bribed to silence, a source of much hilarity.

“We’ve already had the mumps,” Kitty pointed out, “so it makes no difference. We simply had to come, Lizzy, for we’ve such news!”

Lydia took up the tale. “Mr. Collins leaves for Hunsford tomorrow, but oh, Lizzy, you will never believe it. He is engaged—actually engaged—to Charlotte Lucas.”

Elizabeth appeared stunned. “You—cannot mean it,” she said.

Apparently her sisters did. “Lady Lucas held the engagement dinner yesterday night,” Kitty assured her. “The wedding is set for early January.”

And then Darcy noticed Miss Woodhouse. She was looking hard at each of the sisters. “How very odd,” she said. “I could have sworn that Mr. Collins’s interests lay elsewhere. Not that I wish ill on Miss—Lucas did you say?”

Lydia kept talking. “And dear Wickham sends his love. He says it is not the same without you, Lizzy, although I cannot see why. We have the merriest evenings together.”

“It’s all tipsy dance and jollity,” gushed Kitty.

“I beg your pardon?” said Elizabeth.

“It’s—the name of a song, Lizzy,” Kitty protested. “You needn’t look so cross.”

Actually, it was a line from Milton’s Comus, but this fact would be lost on Kitty Bennet.

Elizabeth’s sisters soon took their leave. Darcy watched Elizabeth cross to the far side of the room and stand before the windows.

Emma Woodhouse, meanwhile, was frowning at the carpet. “I do not understand it,” Darcy heard her tell Miss Bates. “Mr. Collins’s interests were so clearly in another direction. Ah well, I have someone else in mind for her, at any rate.”

“You are always so clever, Miss Woodhouse,” said Miss Bates. “Christmastide, as we well know, is such a time for weddings and engagements. It is a wonderful time of year.”

Would his own engagement be included with the rest? Darcy turned a page of his newspaper.

“I take no credit for dear Jane and Mr. Bingley—that match was already well underway. But his sister?” Although Emma lowered her voice, Darcy could still hear. “An alliance with Mr. Darcy would be very nice; it would bring both families together. As you know, when our Isabella married John Knightley, it answered in every way.”

Darcy knew that he should excuse himself and go out, but Emma was bent on talking. He kept still behind his newspaper.

“My dear, dear Miss Woodhouse,” began Miss Bates, “far be it from me to raise an objection—of any kind. But Miss Bingley is not a soft-spoken sort of person, is she? And dear Mr. Darcy—”

“And Mr. Darcy is,” said Emma, interrupting. “Opposites attract! Now then,” she went on, “if we could only manage to keep Mr. Bertram at home of an evening, he and Elizabeth could get on. He is much too fond of card-playing.”

“As was dear Grandpapa,” lamented Miss Bates. “Although horse racing was his downfall—as it is with so many gentlemen.”

Darcy turned another page. Tom Bertram could go to the devil, for all he cared. He’d had enough of the man’s simpering ways and fashionable manners. But as the husband of Elizabeth? Preposterous!

“I dare say he will learn to outgrow it, although Mr. Knightley would probably disagree. He has the most old-fashioned notions as to character.” Emma hesitated for a moment. “But no, Elizabeth is too lovely and too charming to marry just anyone. She deserves to be the next Lady Bertram, and if I have my way, so shall she be.”


About A Very Austen Christmas

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm

Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time.  Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile

It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis

On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite

When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

Check out the book on Amazon



And the last (but not least) special treat I have for you is a giveaway for an ebook copy of A Very Austen Christmas, generously offered by the authors. To ensure the lucky winner has a chance to delve into this book before Christmas, this will be a quick giveaway, ending at Noon Eastern Time tomorrow, Saturday, December 23, 2017. To enter, please leave your email address in the comment, so the book can be sent to you right away. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received A Very Austen Christmas from the authors for review.



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lend me leave

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

They never fumbled a hand clasp or mis-timed a dos-a-dos: they anticipated each other’s movements.  For this moment they were in complete harmony.  It was the first time they had danced together; it might very well be the last, too, but he would enjoy it to the full.

(from Lend Me Leave, pages 75-76)

Lend Me Leave is the second of two books by Barbara Cornthwaite about George Knightley, the hero of Jane Austen’s Emma.  It picks up right where Charity Envieth Not left off in retelling Emma through Mr. Knightley’s eyes.  Beware of possible spoilers from the first book.

Mr. Knightley is determined to win Emma Woodhouse’s heart, but he is crushed when he believes she has succumbed to Frank Churchill’s charms.  He isn’t sure what those glances between Churchill and Jane Fairfax are all about, but he fears his beloved Emma is headed for heartbreak.  Mr. Knightley resorts to quietly wooing Emma — so quietly that his attempts go unnoticed.

Only Mr. Spencer, the curate at Donwell, knows Knightley’s pain.  He understands it, too, given his failed attempts to win over the widow Mrs. Catherwood, whose kindness stole his heart.  The two men decide there is little they can do but watch their beloveds marry other men and try to move on with their lives.  Although Knightley spends his evenings agonizing over Emma and pouring his heart out to his cat, Madam Duval, he spends his days trying to solve a rash of thefts in the village and figure out what to do about a mentally ill woman living with one his tenants.

If you read my review of Charity Envieth Not, you know how much I love Mr. Knightley and how I delighted in getting to see into his thoughts.  I think I loved him even more in Lend Me Leave and thought his talking to the cat was both sweet and funny.  Cornthwaite proves that you don’t need sex in a novel to show the passion between two characters, as evidenced in Knightley’s thoughts about the dance he shares with Emma at the ball.  When I read Emma, I longed to know what was going on in Knightley’s head.  He seemed so solid, so strong, so sure of himself, and Cornthwaite gives readers a chance to see how he goes from self-assured to anxious mess on the inside, which makes him even more endearing to me.

I really loved these two books and really hope Cornthwaite will revisit Knightley and Emma in the future.  Her love and respect for Austen’s characters really shines through, and her original characters fit into the book so well.  I can definitely see myself re-reading them down the road.

Disclosure: Lend Me Leave is from my personal library.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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charity envieth not

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

He could see from Emma’s face that she was a little taken aback by his harsh words.  He did not repent them, however.  She had been wrong before and suffered humiliation; if he could keep her from doing the same again, he would.

(from Charity Envieth Not, page 149)

Charity Envieth Not is the first of two novels by Barbara Cornthwaite about George Knightley, the hero of Jane Austen’s Emma.  It’s a delightful retelling of Emma through Mr. Knightley’s eyes, from the start of Emma’s matchmaking schemes through Emma and Frank Churchill’s plans for a ball in Highbury.

Unlike some of the other Austen heroes, it’s obvious from the start that Mr. Knightley is among the best of men.  He is intelligent and generous, has impeccable manners, and is always honest.  In letters to his brother, John, Cornthwaite shows off Knightley’s humorous and playful side.  However, Mr. Knightley’s one flaw is his tendency to find fault with Emma Woodhouse, the sister of his brother’s wife and a young woman he has watched grow up.  He has 16 years more worldly experience than Emma, and he is more than willing to pass his wisdom onto her.

It’s true that Emma needs someone to guide her toward right behavior, especially since everyone else in Highbury goes overboard in flattering her — especially the vicar, Mr. Elton, whom Emma has chosen for her dimwitted friend, Harriet Smith.  When Mr. Knightley realizes exactly how he feels about Emma, it’s quite possible that his admonishments may have pushed her into the arms of Frank Churchill, whose air of mystery and playful charm seem to have bewitched her.  Mr. Knightley, however, sees nothing but flaws, particularly Churchill’s inability to defy his overbearing aunt and pay his respects to his new stepmother, Emma’s former governess.

In Charity Envieth Not, Cornthwaite gives readers a look into Mr. Knightley’s thoughts, showing his reasons for sometimes being harsh with Emma and for disliking Frank Churchill, the evolution of his feelings for Emma, and all the anxieties of a bachelor in his late 30s who finally understands his heart but is powerless to act.  She also gives readers a glimpse into his everyday responsibilities as master of Donwell Abbey, a landlord, and a magistrate, from caring for the needs of his tenants to hearing accusations of petty crimes and dealing out punishments.

I loved Cornthwaite’s Mr. Knightley, and given that she incorporates Austen’s actual dialogue at times, I had to keep reminding myself that this Mr. Knightley isn’t Austen’s brainchild.  From the story behind his dislike of dancing to his adopting his niece’s cat, Madam Duval, to his tortured heart upon the arrival of Frank Churchill, Cornthwaite made me fall in love with Mr. Knightley all over again.  I also like how Cornthwaite fleshes out certain secondary characters, like Mr. Elton, in the scenes in which only the gentlemen are present.  She also introduces some interesting new characters, like Mr. Spencer, Donwell’s new curate who, along with Madam Duval, becomes Knightley’s confidante.

Charity Enviety Not made me wish Emma was more popular among the authors of Austen-inspired fiction.  I loved seeing one of my favorite novels from the hero’s point of view, and this retelling is richer and more enjoyable than the diary versions of the heroes’ stories.  You’re going to want to have book two, Lend Me Leave, on hand when you start this one — even if you’ve already read Emma — because you’re not going to want to wait to find out what happens next.

Disclosure: Charity Envieth Not is from my personal library.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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