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Source: Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

Darcy tamped down a memory of a recent ball and the lady whose laugh and spirit haunted him at the most unexpected times. “I do not wish to be hunted, yet…” he continued, his voice low, “I believe I would like to be found.”

(from Mendacity & Mourning)

J.L. Ashton knocked it out of the park with her second variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her latest novel, Mendacity & Mourning, was so very different from other variations I’ve read. From the mysterious death of Anne de Bourgh that has Mr. Darcy known around Meryton as the “Grieving Groom,” to the odious (and odorous) Mr. Collins as a gossipmonger who causes all sorts of trouble for the Darcys, Fitzwilliams, and Bennets, to the bawdy humor of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and even a menagerie, I devoured this book every chance I could get.

In the midst of Darcy’s guilt and grief over his cousin, he plans to find himself a wife. He visits Netherfield for a bit of downtime, and there he meets the family of his friend Bingley’s beloved Jane. Darcy is instantly captivated by Elizabeth Bennet but believes her promised to another. Elizabeth is confused by Darcy’s attentions toward her, believing him to be mourning the cousin who was supposed to be his wife. This is just the beginning of a whirlwind of gossip, scandals, and misunderstandings that conspire to keep them apart.

Ashton really shakes things up with her portrayal of the de Bourghs and Mr. Collins, and I enjoyed watching it all unfold. Although a simple heart-to-heart conversation between our dear couple could have sped things up a bit, I was too busy laughing at everything else going on to care. The book blurb describes Mendacity & Mourning as a “slightly unhinged romantic comedy,” and it certainly is that and more! I don’t want to say too much because you really just need to read it and go with the flow, and half the fun is having no idea where the story will take you next. I can’t wait to read more from Ashton in the future.

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About Mendacity & Mourning

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.

Check out Mendacity & Mourning on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

J.L. Ashton

Jan Ashton didn’t meet Jane Austen until she was in her late teens, but in a happy coincidence, she shares a similarity of name with the author and celebrates her birthday on the same day Pride & Prejudice was first published. Sadly, she’s yet to find any Darcy and Elizabeth candles on her cake, but she does own the action figures.

Like so many Austen fans, Jan was an early and avid reader with a vivid imagination and a well-used library card. Her family’s frequent moves around the U.S and abroad encouraged her to think of books and their authors as reliable friends. It took a history degree and another decade or two for her to start imagining variations on Pride & Prejudice, and another decade—filled with career, marriage, kids, and a menagerie of pets—to start writing them. Today, in between writing Austen variations, Jan lives in the Chicago area, eats out far too often with her own Mr. Darcy, and enjoys membership in the local and national chapters of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Mendacity & Mourning is her second book with Meryton Press. She published A Searing Acquaintance in 2016.

Connect with Jan via Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Blog.

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Disclosure: I received Mendacity & Mourning from Meryton Press for review.

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I am beyond excited to be hosting the cover reveal today for J.L. Ashton’s upcoming release from Meryton PressMendacity & Mourning. Before I reveal the absolutely gorgeous cover, designed by Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou, please give a warm welcome to J.L. Ashton:

As words mean so much, I have to say I am especially glad to have the cover reveal for Mendacity & Mourning here at Diary of an Eccentric (aka Writings of an Eccentric Bookworm).

It is the perfect place for the clever cover designed by the ever-talented Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou. Not only does it pay tribute to the peacock on the first editions of Pride & Prejudice, but it hints at the humor in my romantic comedy with its eccentric allusions to the unconventional people and fulsomely odd relations who surround Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and complicate and misdirect their romance.

The Fitzwilliams fret and spout fruity metaphors, while Kitty Bennet forms an unusual adoration of “the highly fashionable” Miss Bingley. Vain men strut about as gossipy peacocks, sporting beauty marks or spouting platitudes, and the Colonel is a flirty, mustachioed foil to it all.

“Never once had Darcy given honest consideration to marrying his cousin. He had cared for Anne as he might have cared for a piece of fruit. She had been enjoyable when in season, but when her temperament turned dark and surly—as it so often had—Anne had a sour bite to her personality. The apple did not fall far from the tree, his uncle Lord Matlock would grumble.

Occasionally, Darcy wondered whether his family’s reliance on fruit metaphors for ill-behaved relatives did not mask some deep-seated resentment of the French vineyards the D’Arcys had abandoned some three centuries earlier. Years ago, when he had mentioned this supposition to Richard, all he had provoked in response was a raised eyebrow and a reminder that no Fitzwilliam had any envy of the frog-tainted D’Arcy blood. “Just our gold and our art collections…” a thirteen-year-old Darcy had mumbled under his breath, but he had refrained from ever repeating it aloud after Richard bloodied his nose.”

I adore the back cover—all subtlety and yet outrageously odd. The cover captures the absolute sense of shock and dumbstruck horror that befalls all who stroll the rooms and halls of the new and improved Rosings. Art may be in the eye of the beholder, but few Bennets, Darcys or Fitzwilliams will look comfortably upon the walls of Lady Catherine’s home. And of course, Mr. Collins has an opinion to share as well….

I hope everyone will enjoy Zuki’s artwork as much as I do, and read Mendacity & Mourning to see how it all ties together. Thanks so much to Anna for hosting me! You are so kind!

It’s truly my pleasure, Jan! Thank you so much for being my guest today!

Now I know you are all anxiously awaiting the reveal, so it is my pleasure to introduce Mendacity & Mourning by J.L. Ashton:

Isn’t that a stunning cover?! I’d been dying to read the book already, but now I am even more eager to delve in.

To get you even more excited, here’s the book blurb and back cover:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.

The ebook of Mendacity & Mourning should be available around June 9-10, with the paperback to follow a couple of weeks later. Join me and some other wonderful bloggers for the Mendacity & Mourning blog tour, which runs from June 19-July 3.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out Jan’s modern Pride and Prejudice variation, A Searing Acquaintance (check out my review here), and connect with her via Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Blog.

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ASA cover

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★☆

“I clean up pretty well for a tomboy, don’t I?” She stared Darcy straight in the eye.

Bloody hell. “You heard that?” He glared at Charles. “Your phone was on speaker? And you didn’t tell me?”

Charles shrugged. “I was doing yoga. It never occurred to me that my highborn friend would say something stupidly insulting about my girlfriend’s sister.”

(from A Searing Acquaintance)

Quick summary: J.L. Ashton’s debut novel, A Searing Acquaintance, is a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is a grad student working for a marketing firm who wants to become a writer. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a businessman from a well-known family with a tragic past. They meet at a University of Meryton football game, where Darcy earns the nickname “Mr. Noir,” and Elizabeth calls him out for his lack of team spirit. When his best friend, Charles Bingley, and her sister, Jane Bennet, hit it off and start dating, Elizabeth and Darcy are forced to endure each other’s company, but a heated moment and a misunderstanding during a weekend getaway to Netherfield lead to months of tension between the pair. Complicating matters are Elizabeth’s work on a sports book, with help from the sports agent George Wickham; George’s characterization of Darcy as a ladies’ man; Elizabeth’s mother, who ran away from the family when Elizabeth was a little girl to pursue her dream of being a country singer; and Darcy’s need to deal with his past and the guilt he has carried with him since he was a teenager.

Why I wanted to read it: I can’t pass up a modern-day Pride and Prejudice!

What I liked: Ashton transforms Darcy into a tragic hero, which means there are more obstacles for him to overcome than his awkwardness in social situations and his pride. Elizabeth’s relationship with her family is more complicated here, which adds another layer to the story. I loved Ashton’s take on the secondary characters, particularly Sylvia Bennet-LaRue, an outrageous take on Mrs. Bennet; Catherine de Bourgh, who reminded me of the Lady Catherine in the Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; and Annabella de Bourgh, the performance artist who thinks far outside the box. Ashton does a great job building the romantic tension and inserting some humorous and passionate scenes to keep the story from getting too heavy.

What I disliked: The pacing felt a little off about halfway through the book, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment at all. I liked that readers got to see Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship progress.

Final thoughts: A Searing Acquaintance is the perfect modern-day Pride and Prejudice for readers who want a little more darkness and complication with the romance. Ashton does a great job bringing Elizabeth and Darcy into the present and letting readers see their fears, confusion, and desires. The characters felt real to me, and her take on Mr. Darcy is one of my favorites.

Click the banner below to check out the other stops on the A Searing Acquaintance blog tour!

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Disclosure: I received A Searing Acquaintance from Mertyon Press for review.

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

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