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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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hope for mr. darcyANNA: I’m thrilled to be able to introduce one of the upcoming stars! I promise you that you will see more of her in the future! She made her debut in Hope for Mr. Darcy, the first book in the Hope Series Trilogy by Jeanna Ellsworth. It was just published about five weeks ago. You will fall in love with this sweet and lovely girl. Please welcome, Avelina Gardiner!

AVELINA: Thank you so much for hosting me, Ms. Horner. It is tru…truly an honor.

ANNA: You may call me Anna. You must be nervous. Is this your first interview?

AVELINA: Yes, Anna. I am only fourteen, but I will be fifteen this summer! My father said he is planning a day trip to the other side of London to visit the butterfly garden.

ANNA: Oh! I know you of all people would love that! You may never leave! Mr. Gardiner is your father, correct? And you are Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s, or the soon to be Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy’s, niece.

AVELINA: Yes ma’am. Lizzibell, as only her father and I call her, is like a sister to me. She never asks me to go inside before I am ready. And she lets me tell her all about the butterflies I catch and then draw.

IMG_2173ANNA: I understand that drawing, being outdoors, and wildlife, especially insects, are your passions in life. Most young ladies your age would be swooning over officers and the latest fashion plates. But not you, why? Oh dear, did I embarrass you? Well, I certainly do not intend to make you more nervous. How about we share what Miss Elizabeth herself has said about you in Hope for Mr. Darcy.

AVELINA: Oh please do not! I fear it might make me sound peculiar or abnormal.

ANNA: Oh no, in fact, if you are pressing me to come up with adjectives, I would say it makes you sound intriguing, lovely and distinctive — a rare find in the characters of young girls these days.

EXCERPT

Elizabeth looked on as her oldest cousin, Avelina, was examining intently the specimen in front of her. She was getting very mature. She still had a young woman’s slim hips and petite shoulders, but her tiny waist hinted at her maturity. Many other fourteen-year-olds did not look quite so feminine. Elizabeth knew Avelina’s height made people assume she was older than she was. But despite her feminine form, her interests were far from ribbons and lace. Asking her to choose between shopping for a new bonnet and polishing her new rock left one feeling foolish for asking—for Avelina would always choose the rock.

She had a thirst for nature like Elizabeth, which endeared her to Elizabeth even more, for her young cousin was always willing to go on long walks. But while Elizabeth simply enjoyed her surroundings and the fresh air and sunshine, Avelina was quite a talented naturalist, diligently studying each rock and insect along the path and illustrating her finds in chalk and pencils.

*****

ANNA: See dearest? It is not so dishonest, is it? May I lift that chin of yours? Truly, you must be very tenderhearted. Yes, I have an excerpt for that too. Sit tight while we share it.

EXCERPT

But above all, Avelina was tenderhearted and kind. If Elizabeth were to compare her young cousin to anyone else in the family, she would say that Avelina was very much like her sister Jane, so the young girl held a special place in Elizabeth’s heart.

*****

AVELINA: I do try to be. I am quite good at making a female blunderbus of myself sometimes. May I share a part of Hope for Mr. Darcy?

ANNA: By all means!

AVELINA: Well, this is a section that the widowed Charlotte Collins shared once. She was just beginning to…well, she was in the family way and it was no longer something that she could hide.

EXCERPT

Attempting to change the topic to something less strained—as the last few hours had been filled with nothing but strain—Charlotte stood and turned her profile to the side and placed her hand on her lower abdomen. “What do you think, Avelina, do I look like I am in the family way yet?”

Avelina blushed. “I do not know the proper response to that question,” she hesitated. “I do not wish to say the wrong thing. You have a fine figure, Mrs. Collins. The swelling is most becoming.”

They all laughed briefly, and Charlotte sighed. She could never have done this without these ladies.

*****

ANNA: Oh yes, I remember laughing at that section. From what I have heard, you have made quite the impression on several readers. Not many minor characters get a mention in the reviews. It must be quite the shocker.

IMG_2176AVELINA: It may not be obvious, because I prefer rocks and insects, but I do love a good fairy tale and happily ever after. I loved to sit with her sister Jane and her and hear the story of the two wealthy friends and the fair and witty sisters. In Hope for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth got so very ill, and had a special dream while she was ill. This section I will share with you is when Elizabeth had barely had enough strength to travel to London to recover with my family. She still had come to an understanding of her dream and she was missing Mr. Darcy very badly, although she did not admit it to anyone.

EXCERPT

Avelina was bent over looking into her glass jar, studying her new specimen intently. Elizabeth came up and placed a hand on her shoulder and said, “So, what kind is it?”

“It is a Painted Lady butterfly, a form of Nymphadilae. A male. You can tell from the markings.”

“He looks like the one you already have,” Jane said.

Avelina looked up and smiled. “He is! Now I have a male and a female. I have found a prince for my princess!”

Elizabeth and Jane took turns asking questions of the very knowledgeable Avelina while Edward tried to calm his two younger brothers. “Can they mate?” Elizabeth asked.

“Absolutely. That is what makes it so exciting! It is so romantic! Just think of it, Elizabeth, after turning down all the other ladies who tried to claim his notice, he has finally found his companion! Can you imagine how ardently he must love and admire her?”

Elizabeth was shocked by Avelina’s wording. “Pardon me, I am fatigued,” she stammered. She quickly turned and went inside. But distancing herself from her innocent cousin’s words did not make them echo in her heart any less.

*****

ANNA: Their story is a beautiful one. And you truly were a source of strength and hope for her when Elizabeth did not have “Hope for Mr. Darcy” to return and renew his addresses. I cannot say more or I might give away spoilers. If I understand it correctly, you make short debuts in Hope for Fitzwilliam and Hope for Georgiana! Is there any chance we can get a sneak peek into Hope for Fitzwilliam?

AVELINA: I was hoping you would say that. I actually brought one with me. It makes me laugh. This takes place after the Darcy’s wedding, a few weeks before Colonel Fitzwilliam — who is in love with the widowed Charlotte Collins — must go to war. This is from Georgiana’s perspective. Colonel Fitzwilliam is such a lady’s man! His flirting is atrocious though, but the look he gives Charlotte Collins should be bottled and sold! I hope to capture it one day in a drawing. Well, I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Hope for Fitzwilliam, the second book in the Hope Series Trilogy, which will be published August 1st!

EXCERPT

Richard could be so obnoxious! Georgiana came and pulled Richard away from Avelina. “Ignore my cousin, Avelina,” she instructed. “Do not let him see your pink cheeks, for it only adds fuel to the flame. The man has no scruples when it comes to winning a lady’s affection. He cares not who or how many; the goal is simply to capture and conquer. And I have seen many ladies fall victim. But have no fear; I will let you in on a secret that will assist any lady to resist his unwelcomed advances.” She sent a sly look to her cousin.

“Is that so? And what secret could possibly have such an effect?” the colonel countered.

Georgiana tried not to giggle as she said, “Dear Richard, if you understood the basic definition of a secret, then you would know better than to ask. There is no getting it out of me. You think your charms, generous smiles, and flirtations will work on anyone; but I happen to know they do not.” Richard seemed to flinch slightly at her comment, but she couldn’t back down from her threat now. “Sorry, Cousin. We may share a bloodline, but my loyalty lies with Miss Gardiner.”

When he seemed to have recovered from the verbal spar, Richard made an exaggerated grimace. “What? Are all such family loyalties so easily broken? Dear Georgiana! You wound me!” Then turning to Charlotte and looking intently at her, he added, “No matter. I shall prevail. If I want the attention of a beautiful lady, Mrs. Collins, I can get it, with or without my nearly-seventeen-year-old cousin’s help.” Richard then bowed deeply to Charlotte. “Now, if you ladies will excuse me, I feel the need to explore my masculine side before our shopping spree tomorrow.” He turned back to the Gardiners and said, “I do hope you plan to stay for dinner.”

Mrs. Gardiner giggled, “We would be delighted, thank you. My husband will arrive in an hour, and I have no doubt that he will be most eager to join you with your quest for male-validating activities.”

“Splendid! You may tell Mr. Gardiner that I await him in Darcy’s study. I will begin my mission there, by partaking of a very manly brandy.” Richard looked once more at Charlotte, and then he paraded out with a flirtatious flip of his coattails.

As soon as he left the room, the ladies burst into giggles. Avelina spoke first: “It is just the same with butterflies, you know. Are you aware that a male butterfly has more colorful markings than a female?”

Georgiana laughed. “Really?”

“Oh yes,” Avelina assured her, feigning a serious tone. “The male butterfly’s coloring is so vivid that the female is nearly drugged with the sight of him.”

She stifled another giggle before continuing, “But of course, male butterflies do have one advantage over the gentlemen of our species: they possess no verbal form of communication. Fortunately, most gentlemen know that they should keep their mouths shut if they wish to receive the attention of a female.”

Georgiana laughed and said, “Why, Avelina! I did not even need to tell you my secret!”

*****

ANNA: Oh dear! You made me laugh so hard I have tears in my eyes! You are very insightful! I thought you said Colonel Fitzwilliam was a lady’s man! He did not do a very good job of being charming! In fact…

AVELINA: Yes, he did not know that being himself is the only way to make Charlotte trust him. He will try everything to earn the love that he thinks he will never have. That is what the Hope Series is about. If you are passionate about something or someone, yet it is unrequited, often it feels hopeless and shatters your reserve.

ANNA: Yes, a truer statement could not be said, and yet, ladies and gentlemen, we have heard it from a fourteen year old, whose wisdom far exceeds people twice her age. Unfortunately that is all the time we have time for today. Miss Avelina, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I thank you for being my guest today!

JeannaLake (5 of 6)GIVEAWAY

Jeanna Ellsworth is kindly giving away a copy of Hope for Mr. Darcy to one of my readers. The winner will have the choice of a Kindle ebook (open internationally) or a paperback (U.S. only). Please leave a comment with your email address, your book preference, and why my interview with Avelina has made you want to read Hope for Mr. Darcy. This giveaway will close on Sunday, June 12. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post.

Jeanna also would love to interview a reader regarding their love of Austen/JAFF/reading or answer questions about her and her writing on her blog, www.heyladypublications.com, or on www.AustenAuthors.net. If you are interested, please leave a comment or send her a message on Facebook (Jeanna Ellsworth Lake).

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

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inspired by grace

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

She let out a laugh that probably sounded a bit forced and said, “You need not protect me.  If you remember correctly, it is I who protected you far too often.  I tore many gowns wrestling your older brother off you.  And I believe I still can claim to be Queen of the Boulder on Chester Pond.  No one ever defeated me.”

His words were quiet, but distinct:  “Grace Ingrid Genevieve Iverson, no one ever will.  I swear it.”

(from Inspired by Grace, page 19)

Quick summary: Inspired by Grace is a Regency romance by Jeanna Ellsworth about childhood best friends whose lives have separated them for the past 10 years.  Gavin Kingston is struggling to come to terms with the tragic deaths of his father and older brother, which forced him to assume the title of Duke of Huntsman, a title he despises.  Grace Iverson is in London to find a husband, attempting another Season after her last was cut short by the death of her mother three years prior.  A chance (and clumsy) encounter reunites the pair, and their friendship resumes as if they had not parted ways when she was just 14 and he was 16.  Still, a lot has changed in the last decade; Gavin needs to learn the many meanings of grace, and Grace needs to learn to trust.  But will they find a way to be together before the hurts in their pasts converge and conspire to keep them apart for good?

Why I wanted to read it: I hadn’t yet read a Regency romance that wasn’t a variation of a Jane Austen novel, and I’ve enjoyed Ellsworth’s previous Austen-inspired novels (check out my reviews for Mr. Darcy’s Promise, Pride and Persistence, and To Refine Like Silver).

What I liked: Ellsworth always manages to inject some humor into her novels, and I laughed out loud several times while reading Inspired by Grace.  I especially loved the banter between Grace and Gavin’s friend, Mr. Silence.  Grace and Gavin are wonderfully flawed, and I couldn’t help but compare Grace to Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.  The romance is sweet and passionate but clean, and the Christian elements are obvious but never heavy-handed.  Moreover, there is plenty of tension and excitement when a face from Grace’s past appears and upends her newfound happiness.

What I disliked: Nothing!  The novel was simply a pleasure to read.

Final thoughts: Ellsworth has a knack for creating likeable, well-developed characters, and I was sad when it was time to say goodbye to Gavin and Grace.  The many meanings of grace are woven skillfully and seamlessly into the novel, and readers of any faith may find it a useful lesson in their own lives.  Inspired by Grace is a charming novel about love built on friendship, how true friends bring out the best in each other, and how happiness requires learning to trust.

Disclosure: I received Inspired by Grace from the author for review.

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

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to refine like silver

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

Mr. Darcy tried to hold it back, but he knew he could not keep a straight face for long.  “Something tells me you have a lot to say on just about any subject, madam.  I gather your tongue has less restraint than a child with a farthing in his pocket in a sweet shop.”

“Are you calling me impertinent?”

“Does it rain in England in November?”

(from To Refine Like Silver, pages 39-40)

Quick summary: To Refine Like Silver is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is among the most unique variations I have read so far.  Elizabeth Bennet meets Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sister, Georgiana, in Derbyshire while helping her Uncle and Aunt Gardiner settle into their new estate.  Elizabeth recognizes that the light has gone out of Georgiana’s eyes, and she vows to help her overcome the pain of what happened to her at Ramsgate.  In Jeanna Ellsworth’s retelling, the pain in Elizabeth’s own past is a huge obstacle to her happiness with Mr. Darcy, but Elizabeth is a survivor, and in sharing her faith with the Darcys, she helps them understand what it means to trust in God and how one’s trials refine, not define, them.

Why I wanted to read it:  I enjoyed Ellsworth’s previous Pride and Prejudice variations, Mr. Darcy’s Promise and Pride and Persistence, so even though I don’t read much Christian fiction, I was curious how she would shake things up this time.

What I liked: Ellsworth really poured her heart out into this novel, sharing with readers through Austen’s beloved characters how she was able to emerge from depression.  There is much grief and anger in this story, but the banter between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy keeps it from being too heavy.  Ellsworth takes several characters on different journeys in this variation, including Elizabeth, Darcy, and Georgiana, of course, but also Mrs. Bennet, Caroline Bingley, and Mr. Wickham.  Because Ellsworth really alters the storyline, I had no idea how the characters would get to the obvious happily ever after, so it was easy to get lost in this book.  I also liked Ellsworth’s take on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, making them more playful with one another (the frog-catching scene was hilarious), and she makes Mrs. Bennet and Miss Bingley even nastier than in the original, which certainly creates some tension (and made me want to throttle them).

What I disliked: The religious aspect of the book generally comes out through the characters’ actions and conversations with one another, but there were times I felt that it was a bit overdone.  However, I had no problem overlooking this because it made sense in the context of the characters’ spiritual journeys, and the plot changes were so interesting.

Final thoughts: To Refine Like Silver is a story of surviving the worst that life throws at us, feeling the pain but not letting it consume us, trusting that happiness and joy will come again, and learning to forgive (but not forget) in order to find peace within ourselves.  Regardless of one’s faith, I think the words of wisdom from Elizabeth’s prayer journal could be helpful to all.  Ellsworth’s novels always bring a smile to my face, and her Pride and Prejudice variations are both refreshing and romantic.

Disclosure: I received To Refine Like Silver from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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pride and persistence

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

(This review first appeared on Indie Jane.)

Finally, Darcy yelled out, “What are you talking about!  I never proposed two days ago!  A man would remember that!”

At that moment, it hit Elizabeth; he didn’t remember the proposal.  She looked at his face and saw beads of sweat forming on his brow.  He was obviously quite irate.  She was dumfounded.  She didn’t know what to do.  Not only had she agitated him, but she had hurt him once again.  Once again, he had his hand at his chest.  Once again, she had not held her tongue.  Once again, she had been rude and unforgiveable in her refusal.  Not only had she not apologized, she had repeated the same mistake.

(from Pride and Persistence, page 52)

A retelling of Pride and Prejudice must be really unique to grab my attention these days, and fortunately, Jeanna Ellsworth’s latest novel, Pride and Persistence fits the bill. Ellsworth picks up the story after Elizabeth Bennet refuses Mr. Darcy’s disastrous proposal. Right after delivering the letter that explains his role in separating Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, from Mr. Bingley and reveals Wickham’s true character, Mr. Darcy is injured in an accident with his horse. Elizabeth witnesses the accident and plays an instrumental role in saving his life.

Mr. Darcy is too injured to be moved from the Hunsford parsonage, where Elizabeth is staying with her friend, Charlotte, and the odious Mr. Collins. Feeling guilty about the harsh words she said to him in rejecting his proposal, Elizabeth agrees to read to the unconscious Darcy, who is calmed by her presence. It’s soon obvious that his memory has quite literally taken a hit, as he does not recall the accident or his previous proposal and subsequent rejection — and proceeds to propose again, with the same arrogance…and the same result.

This latest refusal causes a setback in Darcy’s condition, so Colonel Fitzwilliam — with the help of the local doctor, Mr. Cummings, and Darcy’s nurse, Madeline — convinces Elizabeth not to reject him outright if he proposes again, in the hopes that he will continue to recover and eventually remember what happened before the accident on his own. Watching Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy navigate the challenges of his memory loss makes for a hilarious and sweet take on Jane Austen’s beloved novel.

Ellsworth brilliantly works in several original characters, my favorite being Mrs. Wilkinson, the Collins’ horrible cook and Elizabeth’s new friend and confidante. She also expands on the secondary characters, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at Colonel Fitzwilliam’s efforts to outwit Lady Catherine — who is hellbent on Darcy marrying her daughter — using battlefield tactics.

Pride and Persistence is definitely a story of, well, persistence, and Ellsworth’s humor makes it a must-read for fans of the Austenesque. If you didn’t think Mr. Collins could be more repulsive, think again. If you never imagined Lady Catherine having deep, dark secrets, then you’ll be gasping and laughing at the same time. Ellsworth’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice is fresh, imaginative, fun, and especially difficult to put down.

Disclosure: I received Pride and Persistence from the author for review.

© 2014 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's promise

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

(This review first appeared on Indie Jane)

“Serafina, I know we have talked about a great deal, but I hope what we say to each other is kept in confidence.”

“Do not you worry, my loyalty is to you and you alone.  Mr. Darcy knows nothing of what you have disclosed, but if I may be so bold, I think he should know how you feel.  May I say one other thing?”  She twisted the braid up high on Elizabeth’s head and pinned it.

“Certainly.”

“You deserve him.  He is the best of men and he has given his heart to the best of women.”

(from Mr. Darcy’s Promise, page 195)

Jeanna Ellsworth’s retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice imagines what would happen if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy were forced to marry after the Netherfield Ball. The scoundrel Mr. Wickham, still upset about his failed attempts to marry Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, for her fortune, takes advantage of Mr. Darcy’s obvious interest in Elizabeth. However, his scheme is once again ruined, and it is Mr. Darcy who is forced to marry Elizabeth.

By the time they marry, Mr. Darcy has overcome his objections to Elizabeth’s family and succumbed to her teasing and impertinent remarks, and Elizabeth has witnessed Mr. Darcy’s tender interactions with his sister and realized he is not the proud man she thought he was. But Elizabeth is miserable because she thinks Mr. Darcy only married her because he had to, and Mr. Darcy hides his true feelings in the hopes that Elizabeth could grow to love him over time. As they spend more time together and truly get to know one another, the promise he made to her on their wedding day weighs heavily upon them — and the ever-scheming Wickham threatens their newly discovered happiness.

Mr. Darcy’s Promise is a sweet story about falling in love and how relationships can take unexpected turns. Ellsworth had me chuckling at Colonel Fitzwilliam’s corny jokes, and I enjoyed the playfulness between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, especially the scenes involving the chickens. Yes, the Master of Pemberley is persuaded to visit the chicken coop, and hilariousness ensues. I only wish that the pace of the story had been a bit quicker in terms of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy recognizing their feelings for one another and that Georgiana hadn’t been crying all the time. But I was never bored and was impressed by how Ellsworth, who raises chickens, according to the author bio, managed to incorporate them into the story in an endearing and humorous way.

Ellsworth throws Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together at a time when their perceptions of each other have only just started to change, and she portrays the early weeks of their marriage, with moments of hope mixed with moments of confusion and misunderstanding, in a realistic way. Best of all, Ellsworth shows their passion for one another without pages and pages of sex, which was refreshing, and introduces delightful original characters, like Elizabeth’s maid, Serafina, who encourages Elizabeth to be more direct when it comes to what she wants from her husband. Mr. Darcy’s Promise is a charming novel about a promise that is made to be broken and being patient when it comes to matters of the heart.

Book 12 for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge

Disclosure: I received Mr. Darcy’s Promise from the author for review.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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