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Source: Review copy from author

Nicole Clarkston’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Nefarious, is a whirlwind of a novel that took me on an emotional rollercoaster, and I loved every second of it. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it simply must be experienced and each layer unfolded on its own, but she writes a Mr. Darcy that you’ve never encountered before.

When the novel opens, Mr. Darcy is an angry widower who has nothing nice to say about his dead wife. Shockingly, the former Mrs. Darcy shares the name and look of a certain lady in Hertfordshire who bewitches him the moment he first sets eyes on her. Despite setting his sights on the angelic Jane Bennet, believing she could be the one who brings him back to life, he is hung up on her sister, Elizabeth, who he sees as a minx, an adversary…and the list of his “complaints” about this “enchantress” go on and on.

Nefarious doesn’t stick to the plot of Austen’s novel and is a breath of fresh air in that regard. When Darcy takes up residence at Netherfield, there has been no incident at Ramsgate, for instance, and Georgiana soon joins him in Hertfordshire. That was one of the things I liked best about the novel: the clever twists and turns and not having any idea what would happen next. Darcy’s first-person viewpoint is both brilliant and infuriating — infuriating because he is such a disagreeable fellow for the first quarter of the book and deserves a good thrashing, and brilliant because you get to see his evolution from angry and bitter to helpless and desperate through to his ultimate redemption.

There is something for everyone in Nefarious, from the mysterious events surrounding Darcy’s marriage to the dastardly plots that threaten to ruin him to the romance and passion that one would expect in a Darcy and Elizabeth tale. I stayed up well past my bedtime several nights in a row because I needed to know what happened, and if work and real life hadn’t interfered, I probably would have read this book straight through because, really, who needs sleep when Darcy’s life and happiness hang in the balance?? Clarkston’s beautiful writing and a fascinating story conceived by the JAFF community’s very own J.W. Garrett come together in what likely will be one of my favorite books of 2019, and among my all-time favorite P&P variations.

****

About Nefarious

He hates everything about her.

She despises him even more.

So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?

Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.

He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore.

Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?

Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Nicole is offering a very generous giveaway as part of the blog tour. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and indicate which option you would prefer:

Option 1: $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice (International)

Option 2: Signed Paperback of winner’s choice (U.S. only)

This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 23, 2019. Good luck!

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Source: Review copy from Meryton Press

The Mist of Her Memory is another winner from Suzan Lauder, and this being her first romantic suspense variation of Pride and Prejudice, it shows her versatility and growth as a writer. I don’t want to delve too deeply into the plot because it’s best that you just dive in and enjoy the ride for yourself.

When the novel opens, readers quickly learn that some sort of accident happened when Elizabeth was visiting Lambton with the Gardiners and that she has lost her memory. While her aunt and uncle believe Mr. Darcy isn’t to be trusted, Elizabeth struggles to make sense of the bits and pieces she remembers of him and longs to escape from the confines of the Gardiners’ home to speak to him. Meanwhile, Darcy is struggling with his feelings for Elizabeth and that he can never see her again, given the Gardiners’ demands.

I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book, wanting to know why the Gardiners kept avoiding her questions about Lydia, why the Bennets have been treated so harshly by the townspeople, and what happened to Elizabeth in Lambton to cause her memory loss. Lauder does an excellent job with pacing, parceling out the details in such a way that you can’t stop turning the pages to see how it all fits together. It was hard to see Elizabeth so weak in that she can’t remember things and suffers extreme headaches the more she tries to remember, yet she was so strong in that she survived at all. Mr. Darcy’s suffering was hard to read as well, especially as he laments his permanent separation from Elizabeth. The Mist of Her Memory is the perfect blend of suspense and romance, and it’s definitely one I would read again even though I know how it all plays out.

****

About The Mist of Her Memory

What happened that fateful morning in Lambton?

What brutal attacker caused such grievous, near-fatal injuries?

Does she remain in danger? Elizabeth cannot remember!

Sequestered in her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner’s London home, Elizabeth Bennet tries to recover from a devastating incident that stole her memories during their Derbyshire tour. She continues to suffer from strange, angry voices in her head and to recall events that people tell her never happened. Even those who love her refuse to believe her. Elizabeth can barely endure the confusion!

Fitzwilliam Darcy is desperate for any hint of his beloved’s well-being, yet he lacks the information he seeks as her family forbids him contact with Elizabeth. His frustration mounts when he learns that her mental impairment incited taunting and torment in her home village of Meryton.

Which of Elizabeth’s recollections bear the closest resemblance to the truth? And what is the result of her sister Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham? How is Mr. Darcy to rekindle his romance with Elizabeth when her aunt and uncle strictly shield her from him?

Prepare to grip the edge of your seat during this original romantic tale of suspense and mystery, another Pride and Prejudice variation by bestselling author Suzan Lauder.

“Suzan Lauder skillfully weaves a story that submerges you into the plot and doesn’t let go. The Mist of Her Memory’s twists and turns hold a well-guarded secret that keeps you guessing until the very end.”

̶ author L. L. Diamond

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Suzan Lauder

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a suspense novel, The Mist of her Memory is the fifth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet; a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, the dramatic tension-filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate, and the Regency romantic comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman.

She and Mr. Suze and two rescue cats split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a 150 year old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead, on her Facebook author page, on Twitter, and on Instagram as Suzan Lauder. She is a lifetime member of JASNA.

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Mist of Her Memory. The giveaway runs until midnight, May 19, 2019. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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May 7 / Just Romantic Suspense / Book Excerpt

May 8 /  Austenesque Reviews / Vignette Post

May 9 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Book Excerpt

May 10 / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post

May 11 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

May 12 / Half Agony, Half Hope / Book Review

May 13 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Character Interview

May 14 / Just Jane 1813 /  Author Interview

May 15 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Excerpt

May 16 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

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Source: Review copy from the author

Allie Cresswell’s newest novel, Dear Jane, is the final installment of the Highbury trilogy, based on Jane Austen’s Emma. I can assure you that it’s a standalone novel, as I have not read the first two books yet (but definitely plan to) and was able to follow and enjoy the story just fine. Dear Jane fleshes out the backstories of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, whose childhoods away from their closest relatives in Highbury are mentioned in Austen’s novel but not covered in great detail.

What was it like for Jane to grow up with the affluent Campbell family, away from her impoverished grandmother and aunt, Mrs. and Miss Bates? What was it like for Jane to enjoy the love and acceptance of the Campbell family, plus the luxuries and opportunities afforded to her as their ward, while knowing that it wouldn’t last forever, and that she likely would have to go into service as a governess? Meanwhile, what was it like for Frank to live under his demanding and controlling aunt, to prepare to one day inherit their estate but be unable to enjoy the usual freedoms of young men — not to go to university as planned and not even visit his father, Mr. Weston, without doing so secretly?

Cresswell does a great job showing how difficult it was for them to navigate their situations, even while being given better lives and opportunities than they likely would have had in Highbury. She also gives readers an in-depth look at their meeting in Weymouth and the events that occur before we meet them for the first time in Emma.

I really enjoyed getting a chance to better know and understand Jane and Frank, beyond what is seen of them in the original novel, much of which is clouded by Emma Woodhouse’s opinions about them — her longtime rivalry with Jane and her infatuation with the young man everyone has talked about and fawned over for years before he finally arrives in Highbury. It is easy to dislike both of them in Emma, especially Frank, but seeing this side of their story gives readers much to think about.

Dear Jane is a fantastic look at some of Austen’s most intriguing secondary characters — with the addition of some very interesting original characters, like the infuriating Lady Sowerby — and getting to see Emma, Mr. Knightley, Miss Bates (whose babbling is perfectly captured by Cresswell; I could hear her dialogue in my mind like I was watching one of the movie adaptations), and the rest of the Highbury natives was a real treat.

****

About Dear Jane

The final installment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane narrates the history of Jane Fairfax, recounting the events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma.

Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. The velvet path of her early years is finite, however and tarnished by the knowledge that she must earn her own independence one day.

Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate. The glimmer of the prize which will one day be his is all but obliterated by the stony path he must walk to claim it.

Their paths meet at Weymouth, and readers of Emma will be familiar with the finale of Jane and Frank’s story. Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over their early lives, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Allie Cresswell

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners. Most recently she has been working on her Highbury trilogy, books inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com or find her on Facebook.

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Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Dear Jane as part of the blog tour using this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Follow the Blog Tour (click the button below)

 

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Source: Review copy from author

Maria Grace’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Inspiration, is told from the point of view of Fitzwilliam Darcy, gentleman painter. When the novella opens, Mr. Darcy has been unable to put brush to canvas, and Mr. Bingley hopes that he can find some inspiration at Netherfield. From here, the plot of Pride and Prejudice unfolds, but what is different is this inner view of Darcy and his passion as an artist.

Darcy is very observant; everything he sees is dissected into shapes and lines, colors and shadows, and filed away for later use in a painting. The minute he sees Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, he is captivated. She is his muse, the nymph who fills many a canvas when Darcy’s inspiration rushes back. This explains his interest in Elizabeth, his intense stares, and his near obsession makes him all too ready to depart Hertfordshire after the Netherfield ball. He tries to convince himself that Elizabeth merely sparked his creativity, and his duty means it could never go further than that anyway. Meanwhile, his muse has strong feelings for him, but little does he know, they are the complete opposite of his own.

Inspiration is a beautifully written story that explores a different path for Darcy, one driven by creativity and passion, and Grace makes it fit his character perfectly. Grace incorporates snippets of Pride and Prejudice throughout her novella while giving readers a glimpse into Darcy’s head during those familiar scenes. I enjoyed the descriptions of Darcy’s creative process, the observations he makes with an artist’s eye, and how that is both positive and negative in his dealings with people. Overall, I liked watching the events unfold from Darcy’s point of view, from the evolution of his feelings for Elizabeth to the important and painful lessons he must learn. Grace’s Pride and Prejudice variations never disappoint, and I’m already looking forward to what she dreams up next!

**Maria Grace visited my blog yesterday, with an excerpt and giveaway. You can check it out here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Inspiration from the author for review.

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Source: Review copy from Meryton Press

The Most Interesting Man in the World is a most interesting Pride and Prejudice variation told from the point of view of Mr. Bingley. It follows the course of the original novel, beginning with Bingley’s leasing Netherfield Park. J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard do a fantastic job getting into Bingley’s head and making his disjointed thoughts and his ramblings thoroughly entertaining. Bingley’s excessive admiration of his best friend, Mr. Darcy, was hilarious on its own, but reading his attempts at intelligent conversation with Darcy, his inability to understand Latin phrases (and the consequences of one such mistake), and his drunken conversations and imaginings made me laugh out loud more than once.

Bingley proves to be observant about Darcy’s admiration of Elizabeth Bennet and his downtrodden state following his trip to Kent, even if he doesn’t assume the facts quite right. The interactions between Bingley, Darcy, and the colonel (known as Archie in this variation, which suited him quite well) — especially after copious amounts of brandy — were delightful, as was seeing Bingley’s personal growth as he realized that he may be more knowledgeable than Darcy when it comes to certain things.

I was concerned at first that Bingley’s ramblings would grow tiresome after a while, but that was never the case. Ashton and Rivard ramp up the humor, and even insert a few scenes from Darcy’s point of view, to keep readers turning the pages. It was fun to know the details behind the scenes to which Bingley was unaware, and it was nice that all of those details weren’t rehashed here. Furthermore, I liked that even though Bingley seemed a bit flighty and exuberant, he was more complex than I had expected. Overall, The Most Interesting Man in the World is a fresh take on Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of a most interesting man, indeed!

****

About The Most Interesting Man in the World

 

What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately?

Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it.

What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Authors

Justine Rivard

Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.

J.L. Ashton

J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.

Connect with Justine Rivard on Twitter

Connect with J.L. Ashton on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram: jancat95 | Blog

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Most Interesting Man in the World. The giveaway runs until midnight, March 1, 2019. You MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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February 11 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview

February 12 / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life / Guest Post

February 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

February 16 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet the Authors

February 18 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

February 22 / From Pemberley to Milton / Character Interview

February 24 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

February 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Excerpt

February 28 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Most Interesting Man in the World from Meryton Press.

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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.

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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.

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