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Ginger Monette’s Pride and Prejudice variations set during the Great War — Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes and Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (click for my reviews) — were among my favorite reads in both 2016 and 2017. I’m delighted to announce that those of you who haven’t read them yet can now purchase them in a single volume: The Darcy’s Hope Saga.

Ginger is here today to talk about the books, so please give her a warm welcome!

ginger-monette

Ginger Monette

What exactly is the Darcy’s Hope Saga?

The Saga retells Pride & Prejudice but is set during the era of Downton Abbey. It’s a single ebook volume that includes two full-length novels: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes and Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey.

Readers can enjoy their beloved characters in a storyline that is familiar, yet very fresh and different.

What inspired you to catapult Jane Austen’s famous Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from the early 1800’s to the early 1900’s?

Downton Abbey! It was remarkable to me how little British culture had changed from the Regency Era to the Edwardian Era. Darcy could have dined with Lord Grantham at Downton Abbey with little change in decorum. I was also fascinated at how the war affected everyone’s lives and how wealthy English families offered their lavish homes as hospital facilities during WW1.

I began to imagine Darcy and Elizabeth’s “explosive” relationship unfolding on the Western Front. Then asked, what if Darcy had his own wartime tragedy that required him to be hospitalized at a country home like Matthew Crawley? I’m thrilled that the resulting Darcy’s Hope Saga has been such a big hit among fans of both Pride & Prejudice and Downton Abbey.

Did the stories require any research? If so, what kind?

This was one of those topics that the more you read, the more you realize how much you don’t know. I devoured nurse-assistant diaries, a soldier’s diary, memoirs of two orderlies, books on surgery, war wounds, hospital administration, and a LOT more. Then I watched hours of documentaries about everything from battles, to the food and uniforms of British soldiers. I studied six hours a day for nine months and found the history fascinating and the people inspiring!

How were they inspiring?

Machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, and tanks made their debut in WWI inflicting destruction and horrific wounds on an unprecedented scale. Men lived in squalid trenches and saw their comrades dismembered and slaughtered on a daily basis, yet they remained cheerful and self-sacrificing.

And everyone did something to aid in the war effort. Hundreds of women volunteered as nurse’s aides, others wrote letters, sent care packages, and knitted socks. Men too old to serve as soldiers became stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. They fashioned splints from scrap metal, turned church halls into hospitals, and emptied bedpans. These small acts of kindness repeated over and over made an enormous difference. As a result, I am challenged to be cheerful amidst trying circumstances and to offer my own small acts of kindness even when they seem insignificant.

Did your research inspire any of your scenes?

Absolutely. First, I allowed the characters to be molded by the culture and the war itself — just like the real people I read about. I cast Elizabeth Bennet as nurse-assistant, which was a common role for high bred women during the war years. Similarly, I made rich young landowner Fitzwilliam Darcy a captain in the army. Though the saga is first and foremost a romance, much of the richness of the story comes from the hero and heroine both being deeply affected by their experiences during this turbulent time.

There are other elements I lifted straight from the pages of history as well. The chateau-turned-field-hospital in my story is based on one that actually existed. Darcy’s “going over the top” at the Battle of the Somme, an explosion at Messines Ridge, and a chaplain serving in the operating room were real historical events. And finally, I have a colorful Scotsman tell two outlandish stories that are true as well.

What would you say to romance readers who “don’t do war stories?”

I would say the Darcy’s Hope saga isn’t a war story. It’s very much a romance in a wartime setting. Just like Downton Abbey, the war provides a dramatic backdrop against which the romance blooms. The war’s fast pace and ever-changing situations meant that nothing was predictable, and things could (and did) change in an instant. Readers have commented that they couldn’t predict where either story was going, and much of that is due to the volatile nature of the setting.

Did you face any particular challenges in writing the Darcy’s Hope saga?

Yes! In Beauty from Ashes, weaving a romance into a complex setting unfamiliar to most readers, with both the hero and heroine experiencing significant character evolutions, all in the context of a mystery was quite a feat. Donwell Abbey wasn’t any easier. Writing to accommodate the tragedy that befalls Darcy was an enormous challenge. (I can’t tell you what the injury is or the accommodation it required or I would be giving away a major spoiler!)

Now that the Darcy’s Hope saga has received such glowing reviews, does it make it all the research and hard work worth it?

Yes. Hearing that readers love it on so many levels is immensely gratifying. The frustration and angst of three years of hard work fades away.

Do you have any final thoughts for readers?

As the world is commemorating the hundredth anniversary of WWI, I would challenge you to pay attention. Watch documentaries or even read books like my Darcy’s Hope saga to glimpse into the past for a better understanding of what our great-grandfathers experienced and the sacrifices they made. Each soldier, stretcher-bearer, doctor, and nurse has his or her own interesting story. And although my Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are fictitious characters, if you have any fondness for Downton Abbey or Jane Austen’s works, I think you will find their story as told in The Darcy’s Hope Saga not only fascinating, but riveting and moving as well.

Thanks for hosting me today!

Thank you for stopping by today, Ginger! I hope my readers enjoy these books as much as I did!

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DH Saga rose cover NEW flat

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey with Lizzy and Darcy!

Immerse yourself in this romantic and drama-filled saga that includes two full-length Pride and Prejudice variations—
Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes and
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey.

~Volume I: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes:

Heartbroken. Devastated. WWI Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy was rejected by the woman he loved and vows, “No more sentimental entanglements!”

But an undercover assignment at a field hospital brings him face to face with his beloved Elizabeth—who’s working with a dashing American doctor and a prime suspect in the espionage plot.

Forced to grapple with his feelings for her, Darcy has only a few months build a lasting bridge to her and uncover the truth before she’s condemned to a traitor’s noose.

~Volume II: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey:

Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she vanishes.

Still reeling from the loss, Darcy attempts a heroic feat and only survives by the daring rescue of his faithful batman John Thornton.

But the damage is done. Darcy is plunged into a dark and silent world.

Sent to Donwell Abbey to recover, he’s coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse determined to teach him how to live and love again. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth invite his admiration and entice his affections.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth.

His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But a secret at Donwell Abbey just might change everything…

Buy on Amazon

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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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donwell-abbey-cover

Source: Review copy from author

There seemed to be only one option. It would break her heart, but it would protect the man she loved. And wasn’t that the very definition of love? Doing what’s best for the other person, in spite of your own desires?

(from Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey)

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is the sequel to Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes, a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set during the Great War. While Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey can be read as a standalone book, I think it’s important to read them in order for a richer experience.

Picking up where the first novel ended, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have expressed their love for one another and are hopeful about being reunited in a matter of months. However, while waiting for Darcy at his home, Pemberley, Elizabeth receives some terrifying information that prompts her to flee without a trace. Meanwhile, Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, are working to solve a mystery involving a conspiracy when he learns that Elizabeth has disappeared, dealing him a crushing blow that is only the beginning of his pain.

Ginger Monette does a fantastic job painting a picture of wartime, from the trenches to battle to the hospitals, and crafting characters traumatized by their experiences but still open to finding love and happiness. There is plenty of action to keep readers’ attention from the very first page, but Monette also provides plenty of food for thought about the physical, mental, and emotional impact of war. My heart ached for Darcy and Elizabeth, but it rejoiced with them as well. I loved how Monette worked in characters from Emma, with Darcy’s connection to the Knightley family, Hartfield, and Donwell Abbey, as well as Sense and Sensibility, and I especially appreciated how she stayed true to Austen’s beloved couple even while putting them in a different time and more difficult circumstances.

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About Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey

1917. Amidst the chaos of WW1, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she disappears.

Still reeling from the loss, Darcy is struck by a battlefield tragedy that leaves him in a dark and silent world.

Sent to Donwell Abbey to recover, he’s coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth invite his admiration and entice his affections.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth. His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

Check out Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey on Goodreads | Amazon | other retailers

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About the Author

Ginger Monette

Ginger Monette

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I.

When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Connect with Ginger Monette via website | Facebook | Amazon author page

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Disclosure: I received Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey from the author for review.

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