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Source: The authors
Rating: ★★★★★

How could she have known what a love of Jane Austen’s writing had brought her: the friends, the life choices which had led to a job she loved, a slow but steadily growing confidence in herself as someone of value?

She felt like someone had died, the sense of loss was so severe.

(from The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen)

In The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, Ada Bright and Cass Grafton ponder what the world, and one woman’s life in particular, would be like if Jane Austen never existed. The novel is set in Bath during the annual Jane Austen Festival and centers on Rose Wallace, who lives in a basement apartment in the building the Austen family occupied in Bath. Rose is happy with her job at a company that rents out luxury apartments in the city for people on holiday, and she is ecstatic that her online friend, Morgan, is coming from California to meet her in person and attend the festival.

Rose and Morgan’s friendship is a testament to the welcoming online community that has been created around a mutual love for Jane Austen’s novels. Rose is quiet and reserved, especially around her crush, Dr. Aidan Trevellyan, who she sees only once a year during the festival. Morgan’s outgoing personality, and her ability to make friends everywhere and anywhere she goes, takes Rose out of her comfort zone but complements her perfectly. And it is this friendship, as well as the novels of Jane Austen, that could be lost forever when Rose meets a mysterious, intriguing stranger.

If I hadn’t been so busy the last couple of weeks, I would’ve devoured this book in a day! Bright and Grafton give readers a little of everything: friendship, romance, time travel, and plenty of humor to keep the sense of despair from weighing down the story. The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is an endearing tale that had me pondering how my life would be different without the influence of Jane Austen — from the novels I love so much that I read them over and over again to the fan fiction that means I never have to say goodbye to my favorite characters, from the friends I’ve made in the JAFF community to the novel I’m working on right now.

I loved everything about this book: the characters, the relationships, the setting, the writing. I especially enjoyed how Bright and Grafton opened the door for a sequel, and I am dying to see what happens next! Definitely a contender for my list of favorite books read this year.

Disclosure: I received The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen from the authors for review.

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I’m delighted to welcome Cassandra Grafton back to Diary of an Eccentric. Today she will be sharing an excerpt from A Quest for Mr. Darcy, which will be released tomorrow, and a very generous giveaway that fans of Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy will not want to miss!

First, here’s the blurb for A Quest for Mr. Darcy:

Fitzwilliam Darcy is on a quest. Convinced he is over his foolish infatuation with Elizabeth Bennet, he returns from a year of travelling with a plan, both to protect the estate of which he is guardian and to ensure his sister’s happiness: he intends to do his duty and secure a wife at the earliest opportunity.

Duty; a path from which Darcy knows he should never have been diverted. Duty was safe and nothing would persuade him from it a second time.

Soon restored to his home in Derbyshire, Darcy puts his quest in motion, preparing to welcome guests from Town, one of whom is the suitably eligible young lady he has earmarked as his future wife.

But what of the Bennets of Longbourn? What befell them in Darcy’s absence from England? And what of the new tenants on his estate named Bennet? Is his path fated to cross with Elizabeth’s once more?

With the addition of his friend, Bingley’s, mischievous twin younger sisters, letters from a stranger and a shadowy figure lurking in the grounds of Pemberley, Darcy’s life is about to be turned upside down

Can he remain steady to his purpose, or will his carefully laid plans soon be in tatters as the rigid protection he has placed around his heart begins to falter?

Check out A Quest for Mr. Darcy on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Please enjoy this excerpt from A Quest for Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Cassandra Grafton

‘As you can see from the story blurb, Darcy has been travelling for a year and is now back in London set upon his quest to find a wife. This excerpt is from Chapter Three.’ ~ Cassandra

Chapter Three

Once he had broken his fast the following morning, Darcy repaired to his study where he found it difficult to settle, eyeing the small pile of still unopened post on his blotter unenthusiastically. His gaze drifted to the silver salver beside it. He had been back little more than four and twenty hours before calling cards were being handed in by those anxious to reinstate their connection with him. Lifting the card on the top, he studied the embossed name thoughtfully, then turned it over to read the few words penned on the reverse.

Latimer was keen to see him, and Darcy suspected the purpose behind his prompt presentation of his card: his daughter must remain unshackled. But then, what did it signify? Was this not precisely what he sought?

Fitzwilliam had the right of it. He was a single man in want of a wife. Miss Latimer would suffice as well as any other – was she not well educated, of impeccable lineage and with nothing but the common civilities to say for herself? Yes; she would suit him very well.

Darcy dropped Latimer’s card onto the desk and began sifting through the post to determine if any might warrant his attention, but just then a quick rap came on the door as Bingley’s head peered around it, and Darcy happily tossed the letter aside and got to his feet.

‘Good morning, Darcy! I cannot tell you how splendid it is to see you behind your desk once more.’ Bingley came to shake the proffered hand, beaming widely. ‘Pagett will berate me, for in my eagerness to see you I dodged around his stately progress!’

Darcy laughed, waving his friend into a seat. ‘You look in fine spirits. Are you well?’

Bingley leaned back in his seat, crossing his legs at the ankles. ‘I shall not complain; though I would berate the length of your absence. You were missed beyond measure, and it is not only I who delights in your return. It was merely a spark of ingenuity which permitted my escape from Hurst’s house without Caroline attached to my coat tails.’

So Miss Bingley remained at home. Darcy almost shrugged. Though he had forsaken love, he was not quite so desperate!

‘We have much to catch up on, Bingley. Will you join us, take up your usual rooms?’

There was silence for a moment and then, to Darcy’s surprise, his friend leapt from his seat and walked over to the window.

Darcy frowned. ‘There is no obligation – do not feel under duress.’

Bingley swung around. ‘No – no, it is nothing of the sort. I am merely—‘ he ran a hand through his unruly hair.

‘You wished to speak to me – you are troubled?’

Bingley’s air was unusually serious. ‘I have long reflected in your absence on the correct direction to follow – yet always I desired your counsel, and thus my deliberations have come to nothing.’ He waved a hand at the painting of Pemberley above the mantel as he walked back across the room. ‘I have been considering my estate. I am a poor tenant of it. Should I give it up?’

‘And what then? You were determined to purchase and not leave it to the next generation.’

‘Indeed, I was.’ Bingley sank back into his chair. ‘I did like Netherfield, very much. But I do wonder if its attraction was enhanced by the local populace.’

Darcy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had long owned responsibility for separating his friend from Elizabeth’s sister, though he had kept it to himself. ‘Then, perhaps,’ he hesitated, unsure of his motive. ‘Should you not relinquish the lease, seek an establishment elsewhere?’

‘Well, there is the rub of it.’ Bingley ran a hand through his hair again. ‘I must now consider my sisters’ needs; all of my sisters’ needs. I have deliberated long and hard, yet I fail to reach a conclusion which delivers satisfaction for all.’

Darcy leaned back in his seat, eyeing his friend’s conflicted countenance. ‘Tell me.’

Bingley sighed. ‘Well, here it is: the twins have completed their formal education under their governess and are presently awaiting entrance into the same seminary Louisa and Caroline attended in London, where they will duly receive the finishing touches to their accomplishments.’ He laughed ruefully. ‘Though I believe they will present a greater challenge to their tutors than my other sisters!’

Darcy smiled. He had heard sufficient tales from Bingley of the twins’ exploits to understand he made no exaggeration.

‘So,’ his friend continued, ‘they will be here in Town whilst being tutored and thus residing in Grosvenor Street during the holidays. The former is what feeds my disquiet; the latter does likewise to my sisters.’

‘How so?’

Bingley released a slow breath. ‘I am reluctant to place Olivia and Viola in an establishment renowned for turning young girls into what my other sisters have become. I cannot bear to think of their merry natures being crushed or their joy of life constrained into oppressive formality, though I suppose it is almost inevitable.’

With Bingley’s countenance expressive of his concern, Darcy knew not what to say by way of comfort.

‘But can you imagine, Darcy, how the thought of having the twins in their home for any duration is being received by the Hursts and Caroline, let alone my younger sisters themselves?’

‘And Netherfield? Should you return and take up residence, it is conveniently situated for Town and the perfect home for the girls when not being prepared for the demands of formal society. But what of Julia? She is full young yet, is she not?’

‘Indeed.’ Bingley nodded. ‘She will return to Scarborough to complete her formal education at home, by which time I am certain Cousin Margaret will be well once more. As for Netherfield, though it would serve the twins well when they are not under tuition, Caroline would, as a consequence, have to return to run the household. I am certain you can imagine how they all feel on such a matter!’

Darcy comprehended his friend’s difficulty. Though he had rarely been in company with the twins, Miss Bingley had made no secret of her dislike for her younger half-sisters when they had made a brief appearance at Netherfield, and she frequently complained of them to her brother in Darcy’s presence. As for Miss Bingley’s liking or otherwise for Hertfordshire, he doubted it had undergone much alteration since she left with such obvious satisfaction in the year eleven.

‘The stability of a home with you at Netherfield must be preferable for the younger girls, and being cooped up together in a town house in London is unlikely to satisfy any of the family. In Hertfordshire there are ample opportunities to partake of the country pursuits. Would not the size of the property secure Miss Bingley some solitude?’

Bingley threw his friend a keen glance. ‘Caroline could allocate a part of the house to the twins and keep to as many other rooms as she wished, you mean?’

Precisely. Darcy shook his head. ‘Not at all.’

Bingley sat up slowly in his seat. ‘I do not know if it will answer, but it does offer a more palatable solution than we have at present. Besides, I do wonder…’ he met Darcy’s gaze. ‘I do think I ought to pay a visit… to Netherfield.’ He fixed his friend with a determined stare. ‘I can avoid it no longer; I must speak of it. You recall the Bennet family and my tendresse for the eldest daughter?’

Tension began to seep into Darcy’s shoulders, but he refused to pay it any mind, waiting for Bingley to continue.

‘Well, then. I will own I fear bringing unease upon the lady. You said Miss Bennet was indifferent to me. My removing myself from the neighbourhood must have brought considerable relief. If I now return, will she fear I might renew my attentions?’

Darcy stirred in his seat again. ‘You assume she remains at home. It is nigh on two years since your brief sojourn in Hertfordshire. The lady may well have found an establishment.’

Bingley slumped back in his seat, his skin paling. Was it as Darcy had feared? Did his friend remain affected, even after all this time?

Yet he, Darcy, had recovered from his foolish admiration for the lady’s sister, had he not, and had sworn to think on her no more? Thus, the sooner his friend made a decision, the better for all.

‘Then shall we not go directly?’

Bingley looked startled. ‘Now? This very day?’

‘Why ever not?’ Darcy glanced at the clock on the mantel. ‘It is a ride of but a few hours and the weather holds fair. We could stay overnight, assess the estate on the morrow, and be gone from the neighbourhood within four and twenty hours. If you are at leisure?’

Bingley got to his feet. ‘I am at leisure all too often, my friend; all too often!’

Returning to Hertfordshire had never been part of Darcy’s expectation but he got to his feet determined. The sooner the visit was paid, the better, and what finer evidence was there to prove his distance this past year had been the effective cure for putting the past firmly where it belonged?

~o0o~

Shepherding Bingley into action took longer than Darcy had foreseen, and they had barely reached Hertfordshire before dusk fell. They passed what remained of the evening in a small sitting room, having been served a hastily prepared dish of soup by one of two custodian servants, their conversation touching on many things pertaining to the house and the twins, but never on the family who lived but three miles across the parkland.

The following morning dawned clear and bright, and Darcy took the opportunity to walk out into the grounds. The air was fresh and the prospect pleasing as he approached the area of woodland forming the boundary between the park and the lane as it wound its way towards Meryton.

Reaching the far wall, Darcy leaned on the stone stile and stared thoughtfully into the distance. The spectre of Elizabeth hovered in the air, taunting and tantalising – out of reach yet ever present. He had not anticipated it here at Netherfield, and though he did not welcome it, he had no power to expunge it. He stood even now at the very spot where he had met her on the morning she sought news of her sister’s health, and she appeared before him as clearly as though it were yesterday.

 Darcy released a frustrated breath. ‘Be gone,’ he muttered, turning away from the boundary wall. He needed to concentrate on their reason for being there, and to ensure their departure today was timely.

He walked back across the parkland, his eye now fixed upon the house. It had a pleasing aspect and was in excellent condition for a property leased out since it had been built but five and twenty years ago. Should Bingley retain it; purchase it, even, and make a much-needed home for himself and his younger sisters, or should he give it up?

This morning would perhaps bring a solution. They had agreed to ride out and tour the park and the remainder of the estate and, determined to hasten a decision so he could remove himself swiftly from the memories curling around him like ever thickening wisps of smoke, Darcy picked up his pace and returned to the house.

~o0o~

Some hours later, Darcy and Bingley turned their mounts away from the furthest boundary of the estate and began to ride back towards the house. Their tour of the land had been somewhat circuitous, with any foray in the direction of the Bennets’ home neatly avoided.

Yet, as they made their way along the lane and neared Netherfield once more, Darcy realised they were perilously close to Longbourn.

‘I say, Darcy,’ Bingley hailed his friend as they reached a junction in the road which would determine their course.

Darcy turned in the saddle. ‘You wish to make a call.’

Bingley would attribute the disinclination in his voice to an entirely inaccurate cause, but it suited his purpose. His reluctance to truly test his mettle in Elizabeth’s company was his concern alone — should she even remain at home.

Bingley drew his mount to a halt next to Darcy. ‘You will not accompany me. I understand. Yet I wish to call and pay my respects. When I went away in the year eleven, I took no proper leave of the family. I do not intend to make Miss Bennet-’ he hesitated. ‘Should Miss Bennet remain at home, I have no desire to make her uncomfortable, but I do feel duty – and honour – bound to do what I could not back then.’

Darcy shifted in his saddle. ‘As you wish. You may have my support if you so desire, but if you would prefer to attend alone…’ he hesitated. ‘I was never well received by any of the family.’

Bingley threw him an unreadable glance. ‘I think it was fairly reciprocal, old man.’

Darcy acknowledged the hit. ‘Then if you will excuse me, I shall continue on to Netherfield and await your return.’

With a touch of his hat, Bingley turned his mount, branched left at the junction and set off at a canter towards the gates to Longbourn.

For a moment, Darcy watched his friend. Why this sudden and irrational urge to follow him? With a tug at the reins, he turned his mount to the right. This was no time for self-indulgence. Staying away would clearly answer for Elizabeth and her family having an easier time of it during Bingley’s visit. His friend had the right of it; he, Darcy, had displayed no inclination for the company of the family in the past, and they none for his, and the sentiment was unlikely to have undergone any alteration in his absence.

~o0o~

Darcy returned to the house quite out of countenance but reluctant to own it. No resurgence of memories would be permitted to undermine the newly-found peace he had acquired; yet he could feel himself weakening and was gaining a devil of an ache in his brow from attempting to prevent it. The sooner Bingley returned and they headed back to Town the better. Any qualms he suffered over what news his friend might bring of Elizabeth and her present marital status he rigidly silenced. What was it to him anyway?

Barely had he set foot in the entrance hall, having returned to the house through the boot room, when he came face to face with a middle-aged woman who let out a shriek.

‘Oh, my dear sir! Such a fright you did give me!’

‘Forgive me, madam.’ It was Bingley’s former housekeeper, and Darcy racked his memory for a name. He could not recall exchanging a single word with her during his earlier stay – he had left such pleasures to his friend and his sisters.

‘Mr Bingley wished to visit the house for a brief period. We will be returning to Town directly, and thus he felt no need to recall the household servants.’

The woman before him looked disapproving. ‘All the same, sir, I would have appreciated the opportunity to ensure the provision of adequate meals and a warm fireplace by which to sit. The house is cold from lack of use.’

Could she not leave him in peace to indulge his aching head? ‘Perhaps you could address your concerns to Mr Bingley on his return from Longbourn.’

The woman paled visibly, a hand shooting to her throat. ‘Oh dear! Oh dear me!’

Darcy was intrigued despite himself. ‘What is it? What ails you – here, perhaps you should be seated.’

He waved the housekeeper onto a nearby settle, and she all but fell onto it.

‘Oh, Mr Darcy, sir!’ Clearly, she had a better recall of names than he. ‘This is no way for the master to find out.’

An icy hand took hold of Darcy. ‘Find out what, madam?’

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Cassandra Grafton

Connect with Cassandra Grafton via Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway

Cass is generously offering an assortment of goodies to one lucky reader: an ebook or paperback (winner’s choice) of A Quest for Mr. Darcy, an ‘I’d Rather Be at Pemberley’ mirror, a ‘Mrs. Darcy’ badge, a set of 20 Jane Austen bookplates, and a silver Jane Austen silhouette charm, all in an ‘I’d Rather Be at Pemberley’ tote bag!

This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us, now that you’ve had a peek, what makes you most excited about reading this book.

This giveaway will close on Thursday, June 29, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you so much, Cass, for sharing the fantastic excerpt and giveaway! I can’t wait to find out what happens next, and hope you’ll visit again soon!

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PrintI’m delighted to welcome Ada Bright and Cass Grafton to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, which I will be reviewing later this summer. Please give them a warm welcome!

Thank you so much, Anna, for inviting us to visit you at your Blog! We are so pleased to be here and to share with your readers an excerpt from our newly released novel and to offer a giveaway of the book.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is a contemporary mystery-cum-romance set against the beautiful backdrop of the city of Bath.

When the story opens, it’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the Jane Austen Festival, an annual celebration of the famous author and her works.

Rose, a Bath resident as well as an avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and for the Festival to start, but she’s unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a magical secret that ultimately leads to Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy disappearing!

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

We’d like to share with you an excerpt from Chapter Twelve of our story, but beforehand, here is a little background.

Rose, our heroine, is such a dedicated Jane Austen fan, it has influenced her choice of home (the basement flat located beneath No 4 Sydney Place, the Austens’ main Bath residence) and her choice of job. She has a rich social life on Internet forums, based mainly around Jane Austen’s life and works, something she has effectively hidden from her friends and colleagues in her day to day life, but this year, that is due to change. Rose has invited her best friend, Morgan – a Californian, whom she has never met in real life, to the Festival.

Despite some trepidation over mixing these two worlds, Rose is convinced it’s going to be the best week of her life. That is, however, until she begins to get distracted by the visitor staying in the flat above hers, the ground floor holiday apartment of No 4 Sydney Place. The young lady is clearly a dedicated Jane Austen fan, from her very authentic Regency clothing to her attempts to copy the author’s familiar handwriting, and Rose is intrigued.

This afternoon, Rose and her friends are attending a beginners’ dance class in preparation for attending the ball at the end of the week, but soon Rose’s mysterious neighbour arrives and once again she finds herself drawn to her.

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve

4 Sydney PlaceRose smiled happily as she moved elegantly – or so she hoped – along the line as they followed the instructions of the incredibly patient caller, a cheerful if emphatic lady called Diana. They had been at the beginners’ dance class for over an hour now, and Rose’s cheeks ached with laughing, but, though it could hardly be said they were moving as one, they were definitely making progress.

Everyone was in good spirits, gamely stepping well out of their comfort zone, but Rose had been surprised to find Morgan hadn’t mastered it in her usual quick way. Not that it dampened her friend’s mood as she sailed off in the wrong direction once more. ‘I think I got it that time. No!’

‘Your other left!’ Rose called over her shoulder as Morgan skipped straight into the next line over from them, laughing and apologising at the same time.

Rose was enjoying the swishing of her long skirt as it brushed against her ankles. Whilst there were a fair number of people in period dress, she had opted for a full-length but modern skirt and an Empire line top. Morgan had been instantly regretful for throwing on her jeans, and Rose and her friends had quite a job on their hands persuading her against grabbing one of the white cloths from the tables in the foyer to fashion a makeshift skirt of her own.

Stopping triumphantly on the final note of the music, Rose turned with everyone else to cheer their almost successful completion of a whole routine. Tess and Sandy, who were attending the advanced class later in the week, were watching from the side lines and applauded enthusiastically. Morgan was high-fiving Marita, celebrating their survival of the set if not their dancing prowess, and Leo was bowing deeply to a blushing Chrystal. Turning back, Rose smiled – their second dance, if she was not mistaken.

It was exactly as she’d imagined it should be: laughter and music and friendship. She looked around at the happy faces and sighed blissfully. Just then, however, she spotted Jenny gliding towards the chairs lining the walls and taking a seat. Like Rose, she wasn’t in costume today but wore a similar floor-length, full skirt, a neatly buttoned blouse and clutched a shawl in her lap. Making a sudden decision, and under the distraction of everyone grabbing cups of water – it was surprisingly warm work – Rose walked over to sit beside her.

‘Are you going to join in? It’s so much fun.’ Rose gestured towards the milling dancers as they chatted and practised a few steps.

‘Good afternoon.’ Jenny looked briefly in Rose’s direction, those bright eyes sparkling as always. ‘It is not my purpose – no.’

‘But it’s a dance class.’

‘A fine sport indeed.’

‘So…’ Rose turned in her seat to face Jenny, who glanced at her again but this time did not turn away, her eye caught by the necklace around Rose’s neck. Then she raised her gaze to meet Rose’s and smiled. There was something in her steadfast gaze…

‘I’m curious; why did you come if you don’t want to dance?’

Jenny glanced around the room. ‘Is one obliged to participate? Did you never attend the theatre merely to enjoy the performance? Do those who follow the sporting endeavours of others join them on the field of play? There is ample amusement to be derived from observation and thus little need for the effort of partaking.’

It was the most Jenny had ever said to her, but Rose found herself wrapped in circles over what her actual meaning was. Perhaps she was best left to her own devices after all.

‘Do not mistake me, Miss Wallace. I appreciate your interest, but please rest assured I am perfectly content.’

Realising the dancers were reassembling, ready for more mayhem, Rose stood up. ‘Well then, I’ll leave you in peace. See you later.’

‘Had a nice chat?’ Morgan grinned as Rose rejoined her.

‘I asked if she planned to join in. But Morgan – I wonder…’

‘Yes, you wonder a lot about her. Rose, let it go.’ Morgan threw her a fond look.

‘I’m trying but I just can’t help but feel I’m missing something. And it’s weird; when you talk to her, when she’s got you fixed with her eye…’

finalfinalmap‘Her eye? Now you’re making her sound spooky. She’s just a mad crazy fan who learned how to write like a famous author – or… I dunno, maybe she’s like an actress, playing a role. Hey, that’s it!’ Morgan laughed. ‘She’s one of those; you know, the ones who have to live the part they are about to play. What do they call it? Role immersion? No, wait – Method acting.’

Rose tried to apply it to everything she’d seen, to how she felt when in Jenny’s company. ‘I don’t know. It’s even more than that. It’s not as if she’s trying to live the life so much as – it is her life.’

‘Well, that’s the point of the Method, I think. It’s that, or she’s even more delusional than we first thought.’ Morgan turned back to face the dance hall.

‘But I don’t want her to be delusional. I so want to believe in her.’

‘What?’ Morgan choked back another laugh. ‘You want to believe she actually is Jane Austen? Rose –’

‘No! Of course not. But I don’t want her to be a criminal either.’ She glanced over her shoulder, then back to Morgan. ‘I feel some sort of – oh, I don’t know… connection when I see her? Like she’d be fun to know?’

‘Despite the possible forged letters you saw – and the candles and all the loot?’

‘Maybe it’s as we first thought and she’s just something to do with antiques? She clearly loves the past and anything associated with it – and why not? Perhaps the letter-writing is something she enjoys, loves to indulge? What if she’s pretending she lives in that era and because of her job, she’s able to acquire the props to help her live the dream?’ The more she spoke, the more sense it made to Rose.

Morgan eyed her sceptically, then grinned and waved a hand at the lines of dancers who were trying some new steps under Diana’s careful guidance. ‘You’d have thought she’d have leapt at a chance at this, then. Why don’t we both go and see if we can persuade her? I still think her lack of interest does hint more at fraudster than obsessive fan, though.’

Rose looked around again, just as Jenny raised her head and they locked eyes. They stared at each other for a second before a flash of unease crossed the lady’s face. ‘Shit, she’s seen us looking at her. I have to go and–’

Morgan grabbed Rose’s arm. ‘Where are you going? No! Are you kidding me? You can’t just accuse her of being a fraud – or a loony!’

‘I’m not going to,’ Rose muttered. A whirlwind of images spun through her mind as she stared at Jenny: the inexplicable disappearance into thin air, the figure staring reverently at Jane Austen’s books in Waterstones; her well-worn costumes and the curiously old-fashioned style she favoured at other times. Then there was the vast array of candles in the flat above hers, the boxes spilling their old yet suspiciously fresh contents over the floor, and the handwriting, using proper ink and a genuine pen of the era…

Trying to read the look on Jenny Ashton’s face as she got slowly to her feet and picked up her shawl, Rose narrowed her gaze, her head swirling with all sorts of impossible thoughts. Then she murmured, ‘Jenny. That was Mr Austen’s pet name for his youngest daughter.’

Morgan rolled her eyes. ‘Okay, look, just hold on. We don’t want to scare her. Let’s just–’

‘She’s going,’ Rose said urgently as the lady turned to leave the room.

‘Well, no surprises there. You’ve been staring at her! Enough to freak any normal person out, never mind Crazy Jenny!’

‘I’m going after her.’

Morgan had to walk with a sort of trot to keep up as Rose strode out into the entrance hall and pulled open the door to the street.

‘Rose, seriously.’

‘I want to catch her before she disappears.’

She hurried down the steps to the street just in time to see Jenny escape from view around the corner, and Rose drew in a steadying breath. For a reason she couldn’t quite explain, time seemed critical, as though she didn’t have a moment to waste.

‘I’m cold! Let’s just go back inside.’ Morgan rubbed her arms, but Rose shook her head. ‘I just want to ask her about some things. That’s all. This is my own… quest or… delusion or… something.’ For a second, the image of Jenny’s face from moments earlier appeared before her, and Rose gasped. ‘And she knows.’

Morgan frowned. ‘Knows what?’

‘She knows that I suspect she’s…’ Rose stopped. What on earth did she suspect? ‘Please bear with me! I have to find her, I have to talk to her.’

‘Rose, she will think you are the mad one!’

‘Then she and I will have to run mad together!’ She gave her friend a quick hug before turning and walking rapidly down the street in Jenny’s wake.

Then she called over her shoulder as she broke into a run, ‘But do not worry, we shall not faint!’

About the Authors

IMG_9793-LAda Bright by Cass

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Ada. She likes Cheerios and bacon burnt beyond recognition (though not on the same plate), and she has an interesting sense of direction. This doesn’t just apply to getting from A to B, but also in reading – she read the third Harry Potter book first – and likes to read the end of every book before she starts.

She’s a talented artist, photographer and writer, but more than that, she’s one of the best friends I have ever made.

Since we met 14 years ago, she’s had three gorgeous children and moved house twice – from Pasadena in California to Pasadena to… wait for it – Pasadena!

Oh, and she’s so cool, her name reads the same backwards too – that can’t be just a coincidence, can it?

IMG_9762-LCass Grafton by Ada

I am very lucky to be able to count Cass as a best friend and writing partner for over a decade. She likes cold wine, cats, and the written word. People are drawn to the beauty of how she strings words together to create a story, but I love the humour with which she does it.

She is a poet in her writing, an adventurer in her life, and the most generous host I’ve ever known.

Since we met, oh so long ago, she has lived in three countries and thrown more parties than I have washed dishes. She has also celebrated the joys in my life with the same love and attention as she has her own family. Though, at this point, I have to say that family is basically what we have become.

She deserves top billing here, but, being Cass, she would not hear of it. Alphabetically is simply how these things are done, and there is really no use doing anything if you’re not going to do it right.

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About the Book

It’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works.

Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and the Festival to start, unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy at risk.

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

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Giveaway

Ada and Cass are generously offering a winner’s choice international giveaway (paperback or ebook). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about the excerpt. This giveaway will close Sunday, July 31. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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the darcy brothers

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

“They really are — I can see why they hold your attention…” his head lolled forward for a second and Darcy feared he had lapsed into unconsciousness and grabbed his good arm to steady him, but then Theo shook his head again and raised it to meet his brother’s confused gaze.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  She has — do you not think, she has the finest pair of…”

“Theo!”

Theo blinked; then, he fixed Darcy with a stern look.  “If you would only let me finish, Brother!  She has the finest pair of eyes I have ever seen on a woman.”

(from The Darcy Brothers)

Quick summary: The Darcy Brothers is a collaborative retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks, and Abigail Reynolds.  Fitzwilliam and Theophilus Darcy barely tolerate one another but embark on a trip together to visit their Aunt Catherine at Rosings, at the same time that Elizabeth Bennet is visiting her friend, Mrs. Collins, at the parsonage.  It’s not long before Theo meets Elizabeth and is entranced, and Elizabeth is surprised that Theo is much more charming and amiable than his older brother.  But even as Elizabeth learns that William is not as proud and arrogant as she initially thought, she can’t help but notice the rift in the brothers’ relationship, and she wants nothing more but for them to reconcile.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve enjoyed several books by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, and Abigail Reynolds, so I couldn’t resist.  Plus, I’ve heard Theo is a charmer, and I wanted to meet him.

What I liked: Giving Darcy a younger brother who is everything he is not and who immediately captivates Elizabeth puts a wrench in his plans to win her over.  The authors’ portrayal of Anne de Bourgh is hilarious, from her outspokenness and her scheming to her ability to perfectly tie a cravat.  Theo is a fantastic character, and his complicated relationship with Darcy ensures the novel is not just another romantic retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  But what I loved the most is that the narrative is seamless and the voices are consistent, despite having multiple authors.

What I disliked: Nothing, except that I had to say goodbye to Theo before I was ready, and I wanted to know how things played out for Anne.

Final thoughts:  The Darcy Brothers is a novel full of misunderstandings and schemes, with the right balance of humor and heaviness.  It’s easy to fall in love with Theo, who has the easy charm of Mr. Wickham, the amiability of Mr. Bingley, the goodness and honor of the Darcys, and of course, a touch of mischief.  I hope it’s not the last we see of him!

Disclosure: I received The Darcy Brothers from the authors for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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