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A Moment Forever Cover LARGE EBOOK

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

The profile of her grin was as awe inspiring as the impressive bombers themselves, and it was then he truly knew Lizzy Renner was special, different from any other woman he knew. She was a brilliant beacon of light in a dark world and an ingénue, ready and anxious for the next chapter of her life.

(from A Moment Forever)

A Moment Forever is a beautifully crafted novel by Cat Gardiner about a wartime romance that was so much more and a young woman determined to solve the mystery behind a handful of photos and letters that threaten to dig up long-buried secrets. In 1992, 24-year-old Juliana Martel inherits Primrose Cottage in Brooklyn, New York, from her great uncle Will, who simply walked out of the home in 1950 and never returned. Upon entering the home, dusty and unchanged from the past 50 years, Juliana finds a burned letter in the fireplace and a shrine to a beautiful, vivacious young woman named Lizzy, who obviously stole her uncle’s heart and appears to be connected to his reasons for disappearing.

Still struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father and the fact that she was abandoned by her mother when she was a child, Juliana has lost faith in true love. But when she stumbles upon the World War II-era letters and photos in her uncle’s footlocker, she is sure that Will and Lizzy’s romance is a love story for the ages and proof that a deep, abiding love is possible. A writer for Allure magazine, Juliana sets out to tell Will and Lizzy’s story and soon uncovers a tale of all-consuming passion, unimaginable evils, and overwhelming loss. Juliana’s investigation leads her to Jack Robertson of Newsday, whose connections could help her piece together the puzzle but whose determination to let sleeping dogs lie could stand in her way.

A Moment Forever is a breathtaking novel that takes readers on an emotional roller coaster as it shifts between the 1940s romance of debutante Lizzy Renner and her flyboy, Will Martel, and Juliana’s journey 50 years later that opens up old wounds while healing the holes in her own life. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller, and this novel is perfectly paced. She reveals bits and pieces of information throughout, so you think you know what’s going to happen, and then there’s another twist and turn. I had a hard time putting the book down. I laughed, I cried, I simply loved it. The characters are all endearingly flawed and skillfully developed, and there is so much to ponder about secrets, betrayals, and forgiveness. And I love how Gardiner plays homage to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and not just in the names of her characters. It was fun to see a little something Austenesque here and there.

A Moment Forever is not a book you merely read; Gardiner ensures you actually live the story — from the overindulgence of Long Island’s Gold Coast to the wartime excitement in the Big Apple, from the airfields and USO dances and the fashions of the ’40s to the solemnity of Paris 50 years after the roundup of its Jewish residents for deportation. There are so many layers to this story, and I never wanted it to end. It definitely will make my Best of 2016 list and ranks among my all-time favorite WWII romances.

Disclosure: I received A Moment Forever from the author 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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the-trouble-to-check-her

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

Dreadful, awful, terrible place! She kicked the cap. How could Mrs. Drummond demand she wear such a thing — to dress as a servant, or worse, as though she were on the shelf? She was only seventeen — she was not a spinster, and she would not be one either. But how could she find a husband when she was confined to this…this asylum?

Two years, Mr. Darcy said, two years — that was nearly forever.

(from The Trouble to Check Her)

The Trouble to Check Her is the second book in Maria Grace’s The Queen of Rosings Park series, following the fantastic first installment, Mistaking Her Character. (To truly understand the goings-on in this book, I recommend that you read them in order. You won’t be sorry!) Book two in this variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on Lydia Bennet. Ruined by Mr. Wickham and cast aside by her father, Lydia has no choice but to go where Mr. Darcy sends her: to Mrs. Drummond’s school for girls in situations similar to her own. Mrs. Drummond aims to give these girls with sullied reputations a second chance; some may be lucky enough to re-enter society and marry, but they also must be prepared to accept a position as a maid, governess, or companion.

When Lydia arrives, she is angry at the Darcys for sending her away and bemoans her perceived mistreatment by her family. She is a silly, selfish girl who cannot comprehend the seriousness of her actions and cannot believe she is expected to wear a mobcap and scrub floors. She is befriended by Joan and Amelia, two girls who are just as ignorant as she is. But with the guidance of Miss Annabelle Fitzgilbert, the friendship of her roommate Juliana, and the insight and tenderness of her music master Mr. Amberson, Lydia begins to see the error of her ways and the gravity of her situation, and she wonders whether she is deserving of a second chance at love.

I never thought I could love and appreciate Lydia Bennet, but in The Trouble to Check Her, Grace deftly imagines a Lydia who isn’t forced to marry Wickham and is given the chance to grow up. This Lydia has a father who is stern, cold, angry, and unforgiving — not merely inattentive — and this Lydia has seen Wickham’s lack of feeling firsthand. Grace handles Lydia’s evolution into a worthy heroine in a believable way while making a statement about the importance of a woman’s virtue and social class in the Regency era, even showing how men were not unaffected by scandal.

Grace’s original characters are given plenty of opportunity to shine, given that Lydia is placed into an entirely new setting. I absolutely loved Annabelle, Juliana, and Mr. Amberson, and I especially enjoyed not being able to predict the outcome of the novel.

The Trouble to Check Her exemplifies why Grace is one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. Her attention to detail in terms of character development and the history of the era is fantastic, and I hope there is another book in the series (mainly because I want to find out what happened to Jane Bingley after her falling out with Elizabeth Darcy). Definitely one of my favorite books of this year!

Disclosure: I received The Trouble to Check Her from the author 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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hope for mr. darcy

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

“You are a proud man,” Richard fumed. “A proud, cowardly man.”

“So I have heard — and from a much prettier face than yours.”

(from Hope for Mr. Darcy)

Hope for Mr. Darcy is the first of three books in Jeanna Ellsworth’s Hope Series of Pride and Prejudice variations. The book opens at Hunsford after Elizabeth Bennet has read Mr. Darcy’s letter. She realizes she was wrong about him and feels guilty for the way she rejected his marriage proposal. Elizabeth’s close friend, Charlotte Collins, finds Elizabeth delirious in the rain, insisting she must write to Mr. Darcy and to her sister, Jane. Fearing for Elizabeth’s health, Charlotte sends for Mr. Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, at Rosings. As Darcy cares for Elizabeth in the early stages of her illness, he is given reason to hope that he could have another chance with her — and plenty of reason to worry, as in her delirium she is walking with him in a garden toward the sun.

After a misunderstanding causes him to lose hope once more, Darcy flees to London while Charlotte and Richard conspire to bring Darcy and Elizabeth together again. Darcy is given the chance to provide himself honorable and kind when Charlotte is left a widow with no home of her own and a baby on the way. As he pieces together the mystery surrounding one of Mr. Collins’s ledgers, he also must face his guilt as scandal threatens to ruin the Bennet family and try to prevent Richard from succumbing to his own lack of hope.

In Hope for Mr. Darcy, Ellworth creates a beautiful love story for Darcy and Elizabeth, gives Charlotte a chance to ponder and possibly move beyond her mistake in marrying Collins, introduces the delightfully sweet Avelina Gardiner, and paves the way for the second book in the series, Hope for Fitzwilliam. I love seeing Jane Austen’s secondary characters get a chance in the spotlight, and I really enjoyed the friendship between Charlotte and Richard as they join forces to ensure that Darcy and Elizabeth find happiness.

The Christian aspects of the story are obvious and might be a bit much for some readers. However, I thought Ellsworth did a good job working them into the story in a believable fashion, and no matter your religious beliefs, I think anyone could find Ellsworth’s message of hope to be comforting and inspirational.

Hope for Mr. Darcy is a strong start to the series, and I am eagerly anticipating both Fitzwilliam’s and Georgiana Darcy’s stories.

Disclosure: I received Hope for Mr. Darcy from the author 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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pride & sensuality

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

Her easy playfulness reminded him of the reason he loved her so. How unfortunate he had spent as much time as he had denying his affections. That she had been immune to his charms never once occurred to him, and only after she had declared him the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry had he realised how unworthy had been his pretences to a woman so worthy of being pleased.

(from Pride & Sensuality)

P.O. Dixon’s Pride & Sensuality is a short story variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set just days before Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding. Spending an evening at Longbourn, Darcy and Bingley must endure the talk of Mrs. Philips, the aunt of their soon-to-be brides, and the outbursts of Mrs. Bennet. Particularly embarrassed by Mrs. Philips’s comments about the men’s nether regions, Elizabeth and Darcy manage to escape the drawing room to seek solitude elsewhere in the house. Some very sensual, though fairly innocent, moments are interrupted by various members of the family — as well as a pack of dogs — and hilarity ensues.

This was a delightful story, passionate without any explicit scenes. Dixon does a great job building the sexual tension and adding bits of humorous frustration along the way. I was surprised that Elizabeth and Darcy were so daring within the walls of Longbourn, and I was entertained by a snooping Bingley and Jane.

Pride & Sensuality is a quick read, perfect for a quiet, lazy morning. It’s just a glimpse of Darcy and Elizabeth, ending with their wedding night, but it is sweet (in more ways than one) and leaves plenty to the imagination. Another fun story from P.O. Dixon!

Disclosure: I received Pride & Sensuality from the author 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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Mr Darcy%27s Pride and Joy Cover MEDIUM WEB

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

“Do not play the matchmaker, Mr. Darcy. You have not yet solved the problem of your own marriage let alone trying to solve the problems of others.”

(from Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy)

Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy is the third and final volume in Monica Fairview’s Darcy Novels series of Pride and Prejudice variations. (I would definitely recommend reading Mr. Darcy’s Pledge and Mr. Darcy’s Challenge before reading this one.) Darcy is thrilled to have finally proposed to Elizabeth and been accepted, but events conspire to prevent him from seeking Mr. Bennet’s permission before the family returns to Hertfordshire following the Bingleys’ wedding breakfast. Elizabeth is confused and worried when Darcy does not arrive on time, and when she receives the worst possible news she can’t help but doubt his feelings for her.

Meanwhile, Darcy must contend with a couple of pretty big challenges: Mr. Bennet’s fierce determination to protect Elizabeth from the cruelty and coldness of Darcy’s social circle, and his public engagement to another woman. Darcy is convinced by his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, that a house party at Pemberley is needed to bring both families together to prove Elizabeth’s mettle. But Darcy is unsure whether he can accomplish his goal of securing Elizabeth’s hand with Lady Catherine and Mrs. Bennet in the same room, young Georgiana Darcy trying to avoid the attentions of an elderly duke, and the husband-hunting Miss Marshall on the prowl.

What a satisfying end to the series! Fairview does a fantastic job throwing even more obstacles in Darcy and Elizabeth’s path to happily ever after, just when you thought everything would be smooth sailing for the pair. The original characters are delightful, from the perceptive and sly Mrs. Fortin to the gossipy, flashy dresser Mr. Travis. I loved that Mr. Bennet had a secret from his past, even if it made him hard-headed and disagreeable, as it made his marriage to Mrs. Bennet more understandable. And his comments to Mrs. Bennet at the end of the novel were so adorably unlike Mr. Bennet that I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Most of all, I loved seeing Darcy, Elizabeth, and their relationship evolve over the course of the trilogy. There is plenty of romance, angst, scandal, and humor within these pages, and Fairview balances them perfectly. I was sorry that the book had to come to an end, but I was pleased with the ride I’d taken with these characters and eagerly anticipate Fairview’s next novel!

If you’re interested in Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy and the Darcy Novels series, Monica Fairview recently stopped by with an excerpt and giveaway, which closes September 11.

Disclosure: I received Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy from the author 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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a matter of chance

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

“Okay, I know he’s been an ass to you, but I think he’s closed himself off to everyone for so long…”

“Don’t go making excuses for him,” said Lizzy, parking the car. “Yes, I feel bad about what happened with his family and that it’s just him, but it doesn’t excuse the way he behaves. He’s not a child, and he should know common courtesy.” She turned off the engine and pulled out the key, pausing before she got out of the car. “I don’t want to argue with you about him. He’s Charles’ friend, and yours as well, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like him.”

(from A Matter of Chance)

A Matter of Chance is a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. L.L. Diamond puts the characters in the U.S. South, turning Longbourn into an Antebellum home. Lizzy Gardiner — having cut ties with the Bennets — inherited the home from her great aunt and lives alone with her two-year-old daughter and overprotective dog, Bear. She teaches art at a local college and prides herself in not depending on anyone for anything — not since she showed up at her sister and brother-in-law’s home two years ago after fleeing her abusive husband, Greg Wickham.

Things aren’t easy for her, but life gets more complicated when she meets her brother-in-law Charles Bingley’s best friend, William Darcy, the CEO of a multi-million-dollar conglomerate who has returned to Mertyon after running to England three years ago following the accident that killed his father and sister. He is immediately drawn to Lizzy, but his intense stares, arrogant attitude, and thoughtless remarks make her uncomfortable and ultimately angry. As William begins to move on after his loss and let Lizzy into his heart, she is determined not to allow him to help her. Her fierce independence could prevent her from finding happiness, and the past catching up to her could destroy them both.

This was my first L.L. Diamond book, but it definitely won’t be the last. (And I sincerely apologize to her for taking so long to read and review this book!) She does an amazing job bringing Darcy and Elizabeth into the present and into a different setting. The characters are beautifully flawed, their losses and their fears making them hesitant. I loved how Diamond turned the Bennets (aside from Jane, of course) into such obnoxious, shockingly bad people and Mrs. Reynolds into the kindest, most generous lady ever. I enjoyed watching Will and Lizzy’s relationship evolve. Lizzy’s daughter, Melanie, is a sweetheart, and her bond with Will is melt-your-heart adorable. At times I felt the progression of their relationship could’ve been tightened up and more time could’ve been spent on Lizzy’s ex, Greg, and Will’s stalker, Caroline Bingley. But none of that interfered with my enjoyment of the novel, as Diamond does a fantastic job throwing obstacles in Will and Lizzy’s path and making them work for the strength to overcome them.

A Matter of Chance is a well-written retelling of Austen’s beloved novel, and while it could stand on its own without the connection to Darcy and Elizabeth, I was delighted to follow them into another place and time. Diamond captures the essence of Pride and Prejudice in these pages, showing how timeless the plot and characters truly are.

Disclosure: I received A Matter of Chance from the author 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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I’m thrilled to welcome Monica Fairview to Diary of an Eccentric today with an excerpt of her latest novel, Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy. It’s the third and final installment of the Darcy Novels series, following Mr. Darcy’s Pledge and Mr. Darcy’s Challenge, both of which I really enjoyed. Look for my review of Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy soon, and stay tuned for a giveaway at the end of this post!

Mr Darcy%27s Pride and Joy Cover MEDIUM WEBPlease give a warm welcome to Monica Fairview:

It is with pleasure that I am visiting Diary of an Eccentric with the inexhaustible Anna, who has kindly hosted me many times over the years. This time, I’m here with an excerpt from the last book in my Darcy Novels series, Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy. I’m also giving away one e-book copy of the Darcy Novel of your choice, so I can accommodate those who are new to the series as well those who have already picked the earlier novels.

This excerpt is from Chapter 7 of Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy. It’s a moment of insight for Mr. Darcy when he journeys back to Meryton.

***

Darcy did not know how much time had passed when he was brought to awareness by the slowing of the carriage, but he was glad to see he was now in familiar territory. The houses belonging to the village of Meryton were before him, evoking memories of his first encounter with Elizabeth. The rain had stopped entirely by now, so he opened the window to catch a glimpse of the Assembly Rooms where he had first encountered Elizabeth Bennet. Little had he known when Bingley had dragged him to that fateful dance that his life was about to be changed so completely. As they drew level with the building, Darcy knocked twice for the coachman to stop. Ignoring the protests of Briggs, Darcy opened the door and leapt down into the street.

There it was. The Georgian building with its unassuming brick facade looked too humble to be the source of so much trouble. Darcy walked to the door and pulled at the handle, expecting it to be closed, but to his surprise, it opened easily. There were workmen inside, putting up decorations, and he realized that they were preparing for the next Assembly. His heart quickened as he decided he would bring Elizabeth there and would announce their engagement to the whole neighborhood by dancing with her three times. The thought made him smile and he stepped inside.

The interior was branded in his memory, even though he had not known at the time that it would be significant to him. Perhaps he had been bored enough that he had really noticed the details, or perhaps he had somehow remembered them later. There, above, was the musician’s gallery. The floor was marble and he now remembered his feet moving across the patterned tiles. He had danced with Mrs. Hurst and with Caroline that night and no one else. How perfectly tedious of him! If only he had known it, then he would have made the most of every moment he could have spent with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Instead, he had insulted her within her hearing.

It was hardly surprising that the assembled guests had thought him a snob. He was a snob, or at least, he had been one until Elizabeth cured him of it once and for all. It was hard to believe that he had preferred the company of Caroline Bingley at the time to that of dearest Elizabeth! Georgiana had been right to reprimand him for giving the wrong impression to Bingley’s sister.

No wonder Caroline had thought he had singled her out for special attention. He had not known it at the time, but he had been using her for his own selfish reasons. She was the means by which he fobbed off the attentions of ambitious young ladies and their matchmaking mamas. He had never given Caroline herself much consideration. She was his friend’s sister and he had known her almost as long as he had known Bingley – it had never occurred to him that she had reached certain conclusions and had been building upon them.

He had danced with her and her sister at the Assembly for other reasons as well. She was familiar and he did not need to make any effort with her. He remembered, too, that he had thought her fashionable London clothes far superior to the clumsy fashions the provincial seamstresses provided. In short, he had considered himself and his party above everyone else attending, even Sir William Lucas, who had attracted his contempt with his self-important boasting about his acquaintance with the Prince Regent. He had considered Sir William, with his new baronetcy, far beneath the Darcys whose ancestry could be traced back to the Norman court.

Suddenly he wondered if his excessive pride in his ancestry had originated in his father’s sense of inferiority to Lady Anne, his mother. After all, she had a title and his father did not, and knowing the inherent arrogance of the Fitzwilliams, his father must have felt he needed to prove himself. The thought startled him, as it had never occurred to him before. Perhaps that was why his given name was Fitzwilliam, after all. Darcy sighed. If a member of the prestigious Darcy family such as his father, whose illustrious heritage went back centuries, had felt the need to prove himself, how would an Elizabeth Bennet, who was a virtual nobody, even if her father was a gentleman, feel about being admitted to such a haughty family? The Earl of Matlock and his wife thought nothing less than a duke was good enough for Georgiana. How would they react when they knew he had stooped, in their eyes, to marry someone so insignificant? He had thought of this before, of course, and had said as much to Elizabeth in his first proposal, but he had been thinking of it only from his own perspective.

She had made him think differently. She had forced him to acknowledge that such thinking was a recipe for unhappiness. His eye turned to the spot where she had first stood when he had been introduced to her, right there under the columns. That was where she had been when Bingley had pointed her out and ordered him to dance with her, and that was the spot where he had stood when he had pronounced those fateful words, the words that Elizabeth had overheard. What was it he had said, exactly? Something to the order of her not being handsome enough to tempt him?

He had not cared at the time if she heard him. His arrogance had known no bounds. To him she was nothing more than a provincial nobody, a young lady whose mother was blatantly trying to reel in a husband for her daughters. Little did he know at that moment how significant that encounter would be, and how much he would come to regret those careless words he had spoken.

“May I help you, sir? Do you wish to hire the room?”

Darcy turned to find the foreman overseeing the repairs hovering next to him. He came to himself with a start. What was he doing standing there, gawping into empty space?

“No,” he replied. Then, because he did not wish to appear arrogant, he added with a quick smile, “Thank you. I was merely looking around.”

He turned on his heel. Enough day dreaming. It was time for action. The long and painful journey that had started in this room was about to reach its final fruition. 

***

About Mr. Darcy’s Pride & Joy

A Jane Austen “what-if” novel.

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are engaged at last, and Mr. Darcy is preparing to take out a special license to get married quickly. But, just when everything seems to be going just right, he encounters opposition from an unexpected quarter. Then, when his engagement is announced – to someone else – Elizabeth, understandably, begins to doubt his sincerity.

Perhaps their love is doomed after all…

Buy: Amazon | Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, tablets

***

About the author

Fairview-image

Monica Fairview is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen’s wit. She loves to laugh, and she is convinced that her cats can understand everything she says. She is the author of several Austenesque novels: two traditional Jane Austen sequels, one post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek Jane Austen spin-off, one multi-author novel THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring Mr. Darcy’s rakish brother Theo, and now the trilogy, THE DARCY NOVELS. She has also written a Regency Christmas novel, A VERY MERRY CHASE, which was published as part of The Regency Quintet anthology and will be coming out soon on Amazon.

Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, in the days when it was faded and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood.

Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims. She has lived in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Massachusetts. By some quirk of fate, she now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area, within a stone’s throw of Jane Austen’s picnic spot in EMMA, Box Hill. She loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.

Connect with Monica: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

***

Giveaway

Monica is generously offering one lucky reader an e-book copy of the Darcy Novel of their choice. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about the Darcy Novels and which book you’d like to win. The giveaway will close Sunday, September 11. 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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