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Hello, my friends! I hope you’re as excited as I am about Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl, the latest Austen-inspired anthology from Christina Boyd and her talented team of authors. I apologize that I didn’t finish reading the book in time to post my review, but while you wait for my complete thoughts, just know that the stories I’ve read so far are fantastic and emphasize all the reasons why Elizabeth Bennet is our favorite Obstinate, Headstrong Girl.

One of those stories is Leigh Dreyer’s “The Last Blind Date,” a modern-day story that imagines Elizabeth as a grad student/waitress and Darcy as a soon-to-be oil company CEO. It’s set in Oklahoma, where (from what I gathered from the story) football is life (my husband would agree), and takes our dear couple on a blind date to a college football game.

I’m delighted to have Leigh as my guest today to celebrate the release of Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl. Please give her a warm welcome as she shares with us her “Elizabeth” story!

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Why Elizabeth? by Leigh Dreyer

Meg Ryan said it best in You’ve Got Mail when she said, “The heroine of Pride and Prejudice is Elizabeth Bennet. She is one of the greatest and most complex characters ever written, not that you would know.” Elizabeth Bennet is one of a million classic heroines alongside the likes of Jo March, Margaret Hale, Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Meg Murry, or Hermione Granger. All of these women are intelligent, kind, romantic, obstinate, and headstrong, but only Elizabeth Bennet is the perfect combination of all of those traits.

How did I fall in love with Elizabeth?

I first was exposed to Pride and Prejudice in high school. I started reading it, but I had a lot of trouble understanding the cultural aspects. What’s a dance card? Why are they walking around the room? Where are “the lakes” (are there only like seven in all of England)? I finished it, but I hate to say that it made little impact on my day to day. In college I watched the 2005 movie, and something clicked. I began to see Elizabeth’s intricacies. I saw how she loved fiercely, sought for intelligence, killed people (especially Caroline) with kindness, and learned from her mistakes. I re-read the book and later found JAFF and continue to delve more deeply into Elizabeth’s fierce personality on a regular basis.

How did my story come to life?

“The Last Blind Date” was sparked by the story of how my in-laws met. They were set up on a blind date to an Oregon University football game (Go Ducks!) As my father-in-law later told me, they hated each other when they first met. They were fire and ice. Like Darcy and Elizabeth, they later came to their senses and have now been married for more than forty-five years.

My mother-in-law is another obstinate, headstrong girl who has followed my father-in-law across the world and back. She raised six children while the family lived in the Philippines when President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos (famous for owning more than 3000 pairs of luxury shoes) were ousted during the People Power Revolution of 1986. They lived in housing originally constructed before World War I in Hawaii right on the canal leading into Pearl Harbor. They also lived in Ohio, Washington, Alaska, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

Just like Elizabeth, she was willing to turn down a suitor who would have provided financial security for a man who would become the love of her life. Luckily, I found her son who happens to be mine. This story is just a fun idea from that first date story, but I’m glad it was their last blind date.

LEIGH DREYER is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. She is blessed to have multi-generational military connections through herself and her husband, who she met in pilot training. She often describes her formative years in this way: “You know the ‘Great Balls of Fire’ scene in Top Gun (‘Goose, you big stud!’), where Goose and Meg Ryan have their kid on the piano? I was that kid.” Leigh lives with her pilot husband, a plane obsessed son, a “pink pilot” daughter, and a newborn boy, who at two months had already been on six flights. Connect with Leigh via Facebook / website

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About Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl

#OmgItsOHG TOUR

“Obstinate, headstrong girl!” For over two hundred years, Elizabeth Bennet has enchanted and inspired readers by being that “obstinate, headstrong girl” willing to stand up to the arrogance and snobbery of her so-called betters. Described by Austen as having a “lively, playful disposition,” Elizabeth embodies the perfect imperfections of strong-willed women everywhere: she is spirited, witty, clever, and loyal.

In this romance anthology, ten Austenesque authors sketch Elizabeth’s character through a collection of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times. In ELIZABETH: OBSTINATE, HEADSTRONG GIRL, she bares her most intimate thoughts, all the while offering biting social commentary about life’s absurdities. Elizabeth overcomes the obstacles of others’ opinions, not to mention her own flaws, to find a love truly worthy of her—her Mr. Darcy—all with humor and her sparkling charm.

“I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print…” wrote Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, January 1813―and we think so too!

Foreword by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare.

Stories by Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, Joana Starnes, Karen M Cox, Elizabeth Adams, Leigh Dreyer, J. Marie Croft, and Christina Boyd.

Amazon | Goodreads

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Giveaway

Christina and her team of authors are offering a very generous giveaway for the blog tour: The #OmgItsOHG (Oh-my-gosh, it’s Obstinate Headstrong Girl) Blog Tour began February 18 with announcement and cover reveal at Austenesque Reviews, and we hope you will continue to join us and connect with each author about their “Elizabeth” story. We’ve included a Grand Prize package giveaway (a book of your choosing from each of the eleven author’s backlist) as well as additional giveaway: my Silly Austen-inspired blank note cards and coordinating coffee mug. Open worldwide, so be sure to participate. 1) Enter the Rafflecopter for the Grand Prize package of books, and 2) comment on the blog stops to be counted for the additional giveaway (you need not comment everywhere to be entered in that drawing but we hope you’ll have your share of the conversation.) Ends March 31. Good luck!

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Source: Review copy from the editor

Christina Boyd and her “dream team” of Austenesque writers put out the best Austen-inspired anthologies, hands down. It took me a while to finish Rational Creatures, partly because my life has been so busy and reading time has been limited and partly because I wanted to savor this collection. For me, it’s easy to quickly read through stories that are lighthearted romances, and while there is some romance in these stories, the romance in my opinion wasn’t the focal point here.

These stories are about the women in Austen’s novels, a mix of prequels, sequels, and side stories covering the heroines (and everyone’s favorite antiheroine Lady Susan) as well as many secondary characters, including Charlotte Lucas, Sophia Croft, Penelope Clay, Mary Crawford, and Eleanor Tilney. I’m not going to detail each of the stories, as it’s more fun to jump right in and just go with the flow. As with all of The Quill Collective anthologies, I enjoyed each story and getting to know each of these characters in a new way. I loved how the stories delved deeper into each character — their back stories, the love stories we don’t see in Austen’s novels, their thoughts on their place in society and the limitations that accompany that status, and so much more.

Rational Creatures is a fantastic anthology that shows exactly why we love Austen’s characters: love ’em or hate ’em, Austen’s female characters each are strong in their own way. These stories gave me a new appreciation of characters who aren’t the usual favorites, like Fanny Price, or who make bad decisions, like Charlotte Lucas and Louisa Musgrove, or the “bad girls,” like Mary Crawford, or the ones we simply know little about but who must have rich stories, like Sophia Croft. The stories made me laugh, made me think, and basically made me want to re-read Austen’s novels. I really hope these Quill Collective anthologies keep coming!

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Source: Purchased

When I heard that Christina Boyd was releasing another Jane Austen-inspired short story collection, that it was Christmas themed, and that the proceeds would benefit the Chawton Great House, I knew I had to get my hands on the book. When I saw that they were all Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories, a mix of Regency and modern (a huge plus because I love the modern variations), and that the stories were written by some of the best authors of Austen-inspired fiction, I knew I had to read it right away. With all that is going on in my life right now, I haven’t had much time or energy for reading, but I didn’t want to miss out on my annual December month of holiday books, so I turned on my Kindle, started Yuletide, and the next thing I knew, I’d finished the book! It was the right mix of stories, and they were just the right length to get me back in my reading groove.

My favorite passage of the book was from the very first story, “The Forfeit” by Caitlin Williams, in which Mr. Darcy finds himself stranded at Longbourn for the holiday during a snowstorm, and he and Elizabeth make a friendly wager. “It was usually her favourite time of year, when everyone was predisposed to laughter, love was limitless, and much joy was to be had from simple pleasures.” That line is the essence of Christmas for me, and I pretty much knew right then that I would love this collection.

“And Evermore Be Merry” by Joana Starnes shows readers a Christmas at Pemberley through Georgiana’s eyes some years after her brother and Elizabeth’s wedding. “The Wishing Ball” by Amy D’Orazio is a modern story in which Darcy finds some Christmas magic via Facebook and yearns for what his life could be. “By a Lady” by Lona Manning depicts an Elizabeth determined to become a friend to Anne de Bourgh. “Homespun for the Holidays” by J. Marie Croft is another modern tale that finds Darcy stranded on Christmas Eve while attempting to find a unique present for his sister, and he must depend on the generosity of the family he insulted in his pursuit of said gift. “The Season for Friendly Meetings” by Anngela Schroeder puts Elizabeth and Jane in Yorkshire for a Christmas ball, where Colonel Fitzwilliam gets Elizabeth thinking that her first impressions of a certain someone may have been based on falsehoods. And “Mistletoe Mismanagement” by Elizabeth Adams depicts a Christmas house party hosted by the newlywed Darcys at which his Fitzwilliam relatives (not the dear colonel, of course) prove to be anything but proper.

This was a fantastic lineup of stories, and I was especially pleased to find a couple of moderns thrown in. There was some magic and mischief, stories where Darcy and Elizabeth are falling love, and stories set during their marriage. Manning’s portrayal of Anne de Bourgh was a pleasant surprise, and I enjoyed the colonel’s sly maneuvering in Schroeder’s story. It’s rare to find a short story collection in which I enjoy all of the stories, but given how much I love these authors, I’m not surprised that Yuletide was an exception. This is a must-read if you love Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories, and it would make a perfect Christmas gift for the JAFF fan in your life.

All proceeds to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.

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Christina Boyd has done it again, assembling a fabulous team of authors for another Austen-inspired short story anthology. Rational Creatures pays homage to the ladies in Jane Austen’s works. I’m about a quarter of the way through the collection, and I’m loving it so far.

Today, J. Marie Croft is here to discuss Emma‘s Hetty Bates and share an excerpt from her story, “The Simple Things.” I hope you enjoy it, and please stay tuned for a HUGE giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

An impatient reader might skim over quotes spoken by Miss Hetty Bates, the talkative spinster-aunt in Emma. Her chatter is, after all, entirely inconsequential. Or is it? Read between those lines of hers, and you’ll discover a highly observant character. Hetty—when not prattling on—is watching and listening. 

Unpretentious, Hetty loves life’s simple pleasures. But she isn’t simple…nor is her situation in The Simple Things. In a precarious financial situation, she is sensible, prudent, and in control of her own destiny…with a little help from her friends. Although having no superior intellect or schooling, Hetty shows care and a vision for the future. She’s passionate about education for young women in general and her niece in particular. If it can be helped, Hetty won’t have a loved one remain, like her, in poverty and ignorance. If educated, Jane Fairfax could become, at least, a governess and live a more socially acceptable life than that of her spinster aunt. 

Hetty enjoys relative independence, though; and she has the power of choice. She can stand up for herself. She can refuse to become anyone’s doormat, and she can remain single. Why, she asks, would any rational person, male or female, bind themselves to another without mutual respect or affection? 

One of the few privileges women had in the Georgian era was the right to decline a marriage proposal. Back then, even a famous female author exercised that right; and she survived being single. (Alas, we wish she had survived longer!) 

Similar to Jane Austen’s rational choice, Hetty’s decisions came from strength. Both women made hard choices. They made sacrifices. Woman like that were, and are, strong. Women protect the people and the things we love. As do the opposite sex. After all, women and men are equal.

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At the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cole, Weaver-Smythe strode across the room in time to assist Hetty into her chair at the card table. Flipping coat-tails, he took the seat opposite hers. “I enjoyed your father’s sermon yesterday about overcoming evil with good. But was there really a thief at the vicarage last month? If so, did Mr. Bates really hit him over the head with your family Bible?” 

Hetty lowered her eyes. “No.” 

“Nevertheless, your father is quite the entertaining fellow, for a reverend.” 

“Oh, he can be entertaining, indeed. And, at times, irreverent. Quite irreverent! Father often complains to Old John Adby about our limited income, about being poor. He merely gets teased in return. ‘I know you are naught but a poor preacher, Bates. I hear you every Sunday!’” Hetty smiled as Weaver-Smythe guffawed. Growing sombre, she shook her head. “Mr. Adby has been my father’s clerk for as long as I can remember, but—bless him!—the dear man developed rheumatic gout in his joints. ’Tis sad—so sad!—to witness him, or anyone, in pain.” 

“You have a compassionate soul, Miss Bates.” Weaver-Smythe reached across the table, gently pressing her hand for the briefest of moments. 

Hetty blushed at his touch. “Thank you. Unfortunately, Father’s wit has put him in trouble with his bishop more than once.” At Weaver-Smythe’s expectant expression, Hetty told him to prepare for something dreadful. “I was mortified at the time.” 

“Better and better.” Rubbing palms together, he sat forward, smiling in anticipation. 

“Have you met farmer Mitchell yet? No? Well, he is a local man nearing his fifth decade. No, wait. Upon my honour, I do believe he recently turned one-and-fifty. Or two-and-fifty. No matter. Last April he took to the altar Miss Ward, the butcher’s daughter, who was but fifteen years of age at the time. ‘Mr. Mitchell,’ cried my father in a voice so loud the entire congregation heard, ‘you will find the font at the opposite end of the church.’ Poor Mr. Mitchell looked around in confusion. ‘Beggin’ yer pardon, Mr. Bates, but what do I want with the font?’ In his droll manner, Father said, ‘Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Mitchell. I thought you had brought the child to be christened.’” 

Hetty’s face had grown redder while relating the story, but she chuckled along with Weaver-Smythe. “It may be amusing now, sir. Yes, quite amusing. The entire congregation laughed, but I was mortified. Mortified! Mother hissed at me for slouching down in the pew. I wanted nothing more than the ground to open and swallow me whole. I have never, ever, been so mortified.” Palms to cheeks, she closed her eyes. “Now I am embarrassed all over again.” 

Weaver-Smythe reached across the table, intimately resting, far longer than before, his hand upon one of hers. 

That particular hand went unwashed until Hetty arose the next morning. 

After a fortnight in each other’s company amidst Highbury society, Hetty believed herself in love with Philip Weaver-Smythe. Whether he harboured any special regard for her was less certain. But to have the attention of a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy was something, indeed. 

Save George Knightley, who was always kind, no other eligible man had ever paid Hetty the slightest attention. Weaver-Smythe walked and talked with her. He understood her. He told her she was not at all dull and should not be ashamed of preferring basic comforts and that he, too, delighted in life’s simple pleasures. 

“Who needs more than modest belongings? Why, a second-hand carriage is as functional as a new one.” He smiled the special smile that made Hetty weak at the knees. “Did I ever mention, Miss Bates, that I am a vendor of such conveyances?” 

“Innumerable times, sir.” 

“Are you implying I talk too much?” 

“No. I talk too much.” 

“Utter nonsense! If anyone says you talk too much, you must simply talk them out of it. Now, as a special surprise, I have sent for my bespoke curricle. It should arrive within the week, newly refurbished to such an extent that it is even better than new. Wait until you see the improvements I ordered. If you agree, I shall drive you any place you wish to go. Even to Box Hill, if we can get a party together.” 

Others noticed their peculiar friendship. But Hetty was, after all, nearly a spinster at four-and-twenty. She had no dowry. There could be nothing more than amity between them, no sincere affection, no expectation on either side. Friends and neighbours thought so kindly of Hetty, they simply smiled and turned blind eyes and deaf ears, allowing her a summer of mild flirtation. 

“My dear girl,” said Mr. Bates, holding her hand, “do not set your cap at him. While he obviously fancies you as a friend, he does not seem the sort to know how justly to appreciate your value. Do you truly suppose he has serious designs on you?” 

Of course not”— for I am an undistinguished, penniless, bespectacled spinster with grey strands in my hair. 

Hope, however, bloomed within Hetty’s heart when Weaver-Smythe invited her and Jane for a drive in his curricle. With the three Buckleys following in their own carriage, they arrived at Bramblehill Park, an abandoned estate in Berkshire. The six of them strolled around the overgrown grounds, inspecting the place, peeking through the manor’s grimy, broken windows, and admiring the views. With a great deal of work, the adults all agreed, the place could be an excellent location to settle and raise a family. 

Weaver-Smythe had winked, then, at Hetty.

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About the Author

J. Marie Croft

J. MARIE CROFT is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories in the anthologies Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, The Darcy Monologues, and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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About Rational Creatures

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
 
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Rational Creature SUPER Giveaway: The Random Name Picker winner review all blog comments and select one winner from these blog stop comments during the tour for all 21 prizes: Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks), our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle; #20, a brick in winner’s name to benefit #BuyABrick for Chawton House; and #21, the Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook.

The giveaway ends November 15, 2018 and is open to international winners. To enter, please leave a comment below.

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Follow the Blog Tour

September 18 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post

September 22 / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post

September 25 / Books & Wine are Lovely Playlist

September 27 / Fangs, Wands and Fairydust / Guest Post

October 2 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

October 4 / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post

October 9 / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post

October 11 / Silver Petticoat / Guest Post

October 15 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review

October 16 / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post

October 18 / Rosie’s Review Team / Book Review

October 23 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

October 25 / The Book Rat / Guest Post

October 30 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

November 1 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Guest Post

November 6 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

November 8  / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review

November 13 / Let Us Talk of Many Things / Guest Post

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I read 73 books last year, and while I enjoyed most of them, there are a handful that really stood out. Here are my top 10 favorites, with links to my reviews (in no particular order):

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Darcy by Any Other Name by Laura Hile

The Honorable Mr. Darcy by Jennifer Joy

The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

A Lie Universally Hiddenby Anngela Schroeder

T

he Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd

Rules for a Successful Book Club by Victoria Connelly

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Wait for the Rain by Maria Murnane

Attempting Elizabeth by Jessica Grey

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette

Mendacity & Mourning by J.L. Ashton

A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder

What were your favorite books of 2017? Please tell me in the comments!

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Source: Review copy from editor

Editor Christina Boyd and her team of Austenesque authors have done it again with her latest anthology, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. I absolutely loved The Darcy Monologues, so when I heard about this collection, I knew I had to read it, and it lived up to my expectations and more. I love to read about the bad boys in Austen’s novels because they make things more exciting, and I have often wondered what led them astray. The 11 stories in this anthology cover all of Austen’s infamous bad boys and anti-heroes, and while I enjoyed each story on its own, reading them together was even more delicious.

The collection features: “Willoughby’s Crossroads” (John Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility) by Joana Starnes; “A Wicked Game” (George Wickham, Pride and Prejudice) by Katie Oliver; “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” (Colonel Fitzwilliam, Pride and Prejudice) by Beau North; “The Address of a Frenchwoman” (Thomas Bertram, Mansfield Park) by Lona Manning; “Last Letter to Mansfield” (Henry Crawford, Mansfield Park) by Brooke West; “An Honest Man” (Frank Churchill, Emma) by Karen M Cox; “One Fair Claim” (Sir Walter Elliot, Persuasion) by Christina Morland; “The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot” (William Elliot, Persuasion) by Jenetta James; “As Much as He Can” (General Tilney, Northanger Abbey) by Sophia Rose; “The Art of Sinking” (John Thorpe, Northanger Abbey) by J. Marie Croft; “For Mischief’s Sake” (Captain Frederick Tilney, Northanger Abbey) by Amy D’Orazio

It should come as no surprise that my favorite of all the stories was “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” by Beau North because I am a sucker for a good story about the colonel. The agreement he makes with an American heiress shunned by ton was clever, and I loved the bit of action and even getting a glimpse of Mr. Darcy after his failed proposal at Hunsford. I enjoyed the glimpse of the obnoxiously vain Sir Walter Elliot and how he went about choosing a bride in “One Fair Claim,” and he was just as delightfully silly in his youth. But what surprised me is the ability of these authors to make me feel some compassion for the characters I love to hate, like the heartache experienced by George Wickham and Tom Bertram in their stories, which emphasized the complexity of Austen’s characters. Still others will never change, but I felt like I understood their motivations a bit more.

Dangerous to Know is a must-read for those looking for something new in the realm of Austen-inspired fiction. Some of the stories were steamy and passionate, some were more humorous, but all of them make you take another, deeper look at Austen’s rakes and rogues and make you feel something more than contempt.

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About Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

“One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” —Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there’s more than one side to their stories.

It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms … a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: “He is a cad—a brute—all wrong!” But is that not how tender hearts are broken…by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen’s anti-heroes.

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories—a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.

What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily…but heaven help us if we marry one.

Check out Dangerous to Know on Goodreads | Amazon (the ebook is promo priced at $2.99 for the duration of the blog tour, so don’t miss out on that!)

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About the Editor

CHRISTINA BOYD https://m.facebook.com/TheDarcyMonologues/ wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner, The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a commercial ceramicist. A life member of Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England was made possible by actor Henry Cavill when she won the Omaze experience to meet him in the spring of 2017 on the London Eye. True story. You can Google it.

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About the Authors

KAREN M COX https://karenmcoxauthor.wordpress.com/ is an award-wining author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book, as well as an e-book novella companion to 1932, The Journey Home. She also contributed short stories for the anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and The Darcy Monologues. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

J. MARIE CROFT https://www.amazon.com/J.-Marie-Croft/e/B004HZD22W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1508353662&sr=1-1 is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories: “Spyglasses and Sunburns” in the Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology and “From the Ashes” in The Darcy Monologues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

AMY D’ORAZIO https://www.facebook.com/Amy-DOrazio-author-369312830172988/ is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios. She firmly believes that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily-ever-afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and the soon-to-be released A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.

JENETTA JAMES https://www.facebook.com/jenettajameswriter/ is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers, as well as a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues.

LONA MANNING https://www.amazon.com/Lona-Manning/e/B01N7UJHJX is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at http://www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at http://www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.

CHRISTINA MORLAND https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Morland/e/B01IJHEZKQ spent the first two decades of her life with no knowledge whatsoever of Pride and Prejudice—or any Jane Austen novel, for that matter. She somehow overcame this childhood adversity to became a devoted fan of Austen’s works. When not writing, Morland tries to keep up with her incredibly active seven-year-old and maddeningly brilliant husband. She lives in a place not unlike Hogwarts (minus Harry, Dumbledore, magic, and Scotland), and likes to think of herself as an excellent walker. Morland is the author of two Jane Austen fanfiction novels: A Remedy Against Sin and This Disconcerting Happiness.

BEAU NORTH http://beaunorthwrites.com/#top is the author of three books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau hails from the kudzu-strangled wilderness of South Carolina but now hangs her hat in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen On-Screen.

KATIE OLIVER https://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon bestseller Prada and Prejudice, as well as the Dating Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and Jane Austen Factor series. She resides in South Florida with her husband (where she goes to the beach far less often than she’d like) and is working on a new series. Katie began writing as a child and has a box crammed with half-finished stories to prove it. After raising two sons, she decided to get serious and get published.

She is convinced that there is no greater pleasure than reading a Jane Austen novel.

SOPHIA ROSE https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13418187.Sophia_Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and Then Comes Winter anthologies, short stories based on Jane Austen’s works. Sophia’s love for writing began as a teen writing humorous stories submitted for Creative Writing class and high school writing club. Writing was set aside for many years while Sophia enjoyed a rewarding career working with children and families. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity for a return to writing stories that continue to lean toward the lighter side of life and always end with a happily-ever-after.

JOANA STARNES https://www.facebook.com/joana.a.starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is one of the contributors to The Darcy Monologues anthology, and the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward—The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion and Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. You can connect with Joana through her website http://www.joanastarnes.co.uk and on Facebook via her timeline and her author page, All Roads Lead to Pemberley.  

BROOKE WEST https://www.facebook.com/brookewestwrites/ has always loved the bad boys of literature and thinks the best leading men have the darkest pasts. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape,” which appears in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Find Brooke on Twitter @WordyWest.

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Giveaway #1

Enter Rafflecopter to win fifteen (15) books from the anthology authors! One winner. Fifteen books! Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #1 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link.

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Giveaway #2

Follow our “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s #RakesAndGentlemenRogues” Blog Tour and comment on each stop to be eligible for #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures prize pack: ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle; Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel); Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards; and ‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.) Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #2 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.

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THE #RakesAndGentlemenRogues BLOG TOUR

💗Monday, November 6: REVIEW: Margie’s Must Reads, https://margiesmustreads.com

💗Thursday, November 9: REVIEW, Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

💗Monday, November 13: REVIEW, Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

💗Tuesday, November 14: REVIEW, Olga of ROSIE AMBER team, http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/

💗Wednesday, November 15: (release day) REVIEW, Just Jane 1813, http://justjane1813.com

💗Thursday, November 16: REVIEW, Diary of an Eccentric, https://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com

🎩Monday, November 20: FEATURE w/Katie Oliver (George Wickham), From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

🎩Wednesday, November 22: FEATURE w/Joana Starnes (Willoughby), Babblings of a Bookworm, http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com

🎩Friday, November 24: FEATURE w/Sophia Rose, (General Tilney), Herding Cats & Burning Soup, http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com

🎩Monday, November 27: FEATURE w/Amy D’Orazio (Captain Tilney), My Jane Austen Book Club, http://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com

🎩Wednesday, November 29: FEATURE w/Brooke West (Henry Crawford), VVB32 Reads, https://vvb32reads.blogspot.com

🎩Thursday, November 30: FEATURE w/Lona Manning (Tom Bertram), Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

💗Friday, December 1: REVIEW, Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

🎩Monday, December 4: FEATURE w/Beau North  (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

🎩Thursday, December 7: FEATURE w/J. Marie Croft (John Thorpe), Harry Rodell blog/ROSIE AMBER team, https://harryrodell.wordpress.com/author/rodellh

💗Friday, December 8: REVIEW, From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

🎩Monday, December 11: FEATURE w/Jenetta James (William Elliot), Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

🎩Thursday, December 14: FEATURE w/Karen M Cox (Frank Churchill), Darcyholic Diversions, http://darcyholic.blogspot.com

🎩Monday, December 17: FEATURE w/Christina Morland (Sir Walter Elliot), Of Pens & Pages, http://www.ofpensandpages.com

Disclosure: I received Dangerous to Know from the editor for review.

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Source: Review copy from the editor

The Darcy Monologues, edited by Christina Boyd, has been on my must-read list since I first heard that it was being released. It is a collection of 15 stories inspired by Jane Austen’s beloved hero, Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, and it exceeded all of my expectations. I have plenty to share with you today in addition to my review, so I’m not going to profile each story, but I will say it is a collection that has a little something for every reader who has ever fancied Mr. Darcy.

The Darcy Monologues lets readers see things from Darcy’s point of view, and it is divided into two sections: The Regency and Other Eras. What I loved most about the collection, besides the fact that it gathers in a single volume some of the best authors of Austen-inspired fiction, was the sheer creativity within these pages. In addition to more traditional Darcy and Elizabeth tales, this collection features a fairy tale mash-up with Beauty and the Beast; takes Darcy to World War II, a radio station in the 1960s, and a stagecoach in 1860 California; and portrays him as a school principal and a baseball player, among other things.

I absolutely adored this collection and never wanted it to end. I skipped around while reading, mixing the Regency stories amongst the other eras, and I definitely can see myself reading these stories over and over again. I loved reading something new from some of my favorite authors, like Beau North, Joana Starnes, and Jenetta James, to name a few, and it was delightful to be introduced to authors I’d never read before and hope to read again. These authors see the depth of Darcy’s character and understand why readers love him so much, flaws and all. The entire collection will make readers weak in the knees with deliciously sweet and sexy renditions of their favorite Austen hero. The Darcy Monologues will definitely be on my Best of 2017 list!

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Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Lory Lilian to Diary of an Eccentric to express her appreciation for the work of Jenetta James. Please give her a warm welcome!

Lory Lilian

Admiring the Long and the Short from Jenetta James by Lory Lilian

When I heard about the team of authors involved in The Darcy Monologues, one of the first things that aroused my curiosity was Jenetta James’s story. It made me wonder if Jenetta’s poignant, rich writing style would shine as equally strong in a short story as it did in her two full-length novels — Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth’s Papers. The answer is yes — it did! LOL!

My curiosity and eagerness of reading anything new from Jenetta — and especially a story from Darcy’s POV — should be clear for everyone who has already enjoyed her beautiful novels. I became acquainted with her writing in 2015, when she published her first book — Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, which is an excellent forced marriage scenario. And I became her fan the moment I read the astonishingly beautiful The Elizabeth Papers — a fabulous journey between the present to past, a closer look into the Darcys’ blissful marriage and their intimate thoughts, fears, and their joys. It is a story that blows the reader’s mind. If you read it already– you will surely understand my meaning. If you did not read it yet — I beg you to do it and let me know if I was right or not!

Jenetta is a newer addition to the world of JAFF, but one that added talent, class, and value to this community. And as much I loved her beautiful short story in The Darcy Monologues, I look forward to another longer project as soon as possible!

I am a huge fan of Jenetta myself. I adored both Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers, and I was delighted to see that she had written a World War II-era story for The Darcy Monologues. And I am especially excited to have her here today to answer a few questions! Please give her a warm welcome!

Jenetta James

Jenetta, can you share with my readers a six-word memoir about yourself?

Cheerful reader, unexpected writer, hopeless dancer

How did you come to be inspired by Miss Austen, as both a woman and as a writer?

I first encountered Jane Austen as a teenager. It is hard to read it and not be touched by the quality of the writing. I love the simple, light touch of her prose and the clever ribbon of satire that runs through it all. All of her novels are so well composed, which I admire. As a woman, I admire her industry. It takes a lot of focus to write novels in any circumstances, and Jane Austen managed to do it to such a standard in a man’s world.

Your story, “Reason to Hope,” and Jane Austen, what do you think makes them work together? What do they have to say to each other?

When I submitted my story to Christina for editing, it was nameless, and she christened it, “Reason to Hope”. It is a short tale of love in wartime, set in Meryton Hertfordshire in 1943. I grew up in that neck of the woods — being born in Hertfordshire and living most of my childhood in Cambridgeshire — so I know the area pretty well. I’ve often wondered how the world of Pride and Prejudice would work if you just picked it up and put it, lock, stock, and barrel in a different time period — but kept the location the same. The idea of using wartime society for the backdrop came to me after reading Beau North’s debut Longbourn’s Songbird, where she sets the story in the post-war South Carolina. It got me thinking that wartime Britain had more in common with the Regency than first meets the eye.

There is the threat of war, the upheaval occasioned by evacuation and military service, the shifting of social mores and the rigid class structure. I knew from my childhood that the area had several airbases operational during the war (many of them, still so), and the idea was born. Our hero is a Group Captain in the RAF, stationed close to Meryton and Elizabeth is at Longbourn with her family, working in the land army. Just like the original, they are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances and they need to get over a few hurdles before finding themselves, as well as each other.

The modern-day woman appears as besotted as ever by Mr. Darcy. What were the attributes that you felt you needed to include in the Mr. Darcy character in your story?

Group Captain Darcy has spent the war dedicating himself to service. He has made more sacrifices than those around him realise and he is inevitably a more rounded character than the Fitzwilliam of Jane Austen’s early chapters. He has done more and met more people in more equal circumstances. But at the point in which he encounters Elizabeth, he remains superior and condescending in his attitude. What she doesn’t realise, but the reader is allowed to glimpse, is that this Mr. Darcy has sacrificed almost all of his peacetime life for the war-effort. He has focussed on his duties to the complete exclusion of his personal life. He is nobility personified, but at the time, he needs Elizabeth to teach him about himself.

Why do believe Austen’s stories still speak to modern-day readers?

Well, I think it’s because people are people and love is love, wherever you are from and whenever you are alive. Thinking about transplanting Pride and Prejudice into different time periods brings this into focus. The themes that govern people’s emotions are like a thread running through history — it isn’t that Jane Austen speaks to modern life — it is that she speaks to life in general.

What can readers look forward to reading from you in the future and how can readers stay in touch with you?

I am currently working on two projects – another Pride and Prejudice inspired story which I hope will be ready for release later this year (*she says, hopefully*). I am also working on a non-Jane Austen related romance which I hope will be finished at some stage in the next decade. My previous novels are Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers. I love hearing from readers and I can be reached on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenettajameswriter/ or Twitter: @JenettaJames

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About The Darcy Monologues

“You must allow me to tell you…”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Check out The Darcy Monologues on Goodreads | Amazon

Check out The Darcy Monologues playlist on Spotify and the Pinterest board

Follow on Twitter using the hashtag #TheDarcyMonologues

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Giveaways

I am thrilled to offer my readers two fantastic giveaways!

One winner will win the grand prize of 24 paperback books, each one autographed by the author, and mailed to the winner’s home.

The second winner will win their choice of either a Pride and Prejudice pocketbook or a Pride and Prejudice Kindle Fire Case with stand (Pride and Prejudice Book Cover Case for Amazon Kindle Fire 7″ and 6″ – Kindle Fire / Fire HD / Fire HDX tablet).

All giveaways are international. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter link.

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April 3 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Launch Post & Giveaway

April 10 / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway

April 17 / The Reading Frenzy / Guest Post & Giveaway

April 20 / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post & Giveaway

April 24 / Margies Must Reads  / Book Review & Giveaway

May 1 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

May 8 / Just Jane 1813 / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

May 15 / Austenesque Reviews  / Book Review & Giveaway

May 22 / Austenesque Reviews  / Guest Post & Giveaway

May 25 / Of Pens and Pages  / Book Review & Giveaway

May 29 / More Agreeably Engaged  / Book Review & Giveaway

June 5 / So Little Time  / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 12 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

June 19 / Book Lover in Florida / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Review & Giveaway

July 3 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Book Review & Giveaway

Disclosure: I received The Darcy Monologues from the editor for review.

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