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Source: Review copy from the editor
Rating: ★★★★★

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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I am beyond excited to be part of the cover reveal event and blog tour for a book I am absolutely dying to read: The Darcy Monologues, a short story anthology edited by Christina Boyd, slated for release on May 22.

I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer, so here is the fantastic cover, designed by Shari Ryan of MatHat Books:

Here’s what the editor, Christina Boyd, has to say about the cover:

The amazing cover art is the genius of Shari Ryan of MadHat Books. She took the cover concept and created exactly as I envisioned. Shari professionally, quickly, and concisely handled my countless questions, suggestions, and “just one more tweak” in the challenging format of the print interior—even had a special script code written to make it happen. And then when the original concept had to be scrapped because of the print-on-demand company’s limitations that were beyond our control (long, convoluted story only to be shared over strong cocktails), Shari AGAIN created the present cover and interior for both print and e-book. I could not recommend her expertise more!

Furthermore, you might have seen graphics on social media advertising the individual short stories. These were created by one of the anthology’s authors, the very talented Beau North! And it’s a snippet from her story that I am delighted to share with you today:

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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

Pre-order The Darcy Monologues on Amazon

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About the Authors

Formally trained as a fine artist and illustrator, Susan Adriani discovered her passion for storytelling over a decade after she graduated from a local art college near her childhood home in New England. Susan is the author of The Truth about Mr. Darcy and Darkness Falls upon Pemberley.

Sara Angelini is a lawyer living in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, three kids, two dogs, a frog, some fish, and a few hundred stick bugs. She never went to veterinary school but if she had, she would have been a true proficient. She enjoys writing from Darcy’s point of view in a way that shows his humor and vulnerability. Her first book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, was published in 2008. She is the co-founder of www.austenunderground.com, where her other Pride and Prejudice-inspired works can be read.

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. 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.

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 her fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are Joanne’s light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight, a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014, her humorous short story, “Spyglasses and Sunburns,” in the Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology, and a playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities, Just Jane 1813’s Favorite JAFF Novella of 2016.

Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of four Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, and A Peculiar Connection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of gorgeous grandchildren.

Jenetta James 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.

Lory Lilian fell in love with Pride and Prejudice thirty-three years ago and discovered the charm of Jane Austen fanfiction exactly twenty years later. She lives in Bucharest, Romania, is a proud mother of an amazing daughter, and addicted to anything Austen. After a career in business, she dedicates her time to reading and writing. Lory is the author of six bestselling books: Rainy Days, Remembrances of the Past, His Uncle’s Favorite, The Perfect Match, Sketching Mr. Darcy, The Rainbow Promise, and A Man with Faults. JAFF readers call her the “Queen of Hot Mush” and she loves it.

KaraLynne Mackrory is no newbie to the writing world. She made her debut as an author at the tender age of 13 when she wrote her first set of bad poetry. As a young adult, she steered clear of bad prose and achieved a degree in social work. Years later, she has published four Austen inspired novels so full of romantic sensibilities as to give you a swoon and hopefully a few laughs. Her books turned out better than her poetry and are: Falling for Mr. Darcy, Bluebells in the Mourning, the IPPY award-winning Haunting Mr. Darcy, and Yours Forevermore, Darcy.

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with literature. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen Onscreen.

Mild-mannered business woman by day, hopeless romantic by night, Ruth Phillips Oakland was always a fan of the fictional gentleman from Derbyshire, but it was her discovery of Jane Austen fanfiction in 2006 that inspired Ruth to become a writer. Ruth has written dozens of short stories posted online and the published novel entitled, My BFF. Ruth lives in New England with her favorite husband of over thirty years and is thrilled to be included in this anthology with so many of her favorite authors and friends.

Natalie Richards is a writer, blogger, and singer. She started her book review blog, Songs & Stories, in late 2010 after falling in love with Jane Austen fanfiction. Her writing can also be found on Figment, the Darcy & Lizzy Forum, TeenInk Magazine, and in the Austenesque anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter. She resides with her family in the Oregon countryside and currently works as a waitress and babysitter.

Sophia Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter anthologies. 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 while Sophia pursued degrees and certificates in education, special education, family history, and social work leading to a rewarding career. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity to read, beta, and review books, and return to writing stories that lean toward the humorous side and always end with a happily ever after.

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives in Canada with her husband and four kids. She is the author of SWAY, a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and the short story “Becoming Fanny” featured in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Her second novel, Collide, inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, is coming soon. You can find her at melaniestanfordbooks.com, on Twitter @MelMStanford, and on Facebook @ MelanieStanfordauthor.

Joana 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 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 All Roads Lead to Pemberley.

Caitlin Williams is an award-winning author of two novels, Ardently and the best-selling The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, both of which spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist and proprietor of Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the 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 her book boyfriend and star crush Henry Cavill when she won a trip to meet him on the London Eye in the spring of 2017.

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Giveaways

There are two giveaways, both open internationally, for two separate winners.

For the first giveaway, one winner will be selected to win a Kindle Fire with Alexa, and a 7” display.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017. To enter this Rafflecopter giveaway, click here.

For the second giveaway, one winner will be selected to win a $25.00 Etsy gift card.

To enter this giveaway, readers will create a Pinterest Board named The Darcy Monologues and post all fifteen story images from the cover reveals, one per each author included in the anthology, and Tweet the board on Twitter. The Tweet must include the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

Good luck!

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Cover Reveal Participants

My Love for Jane Austen
Margie’s Must Reads
My Jane Austen Book Club
Austenesque Reviews
Of Pens and Pages
More Agreeably Engaged
So Little Time
Diary of an Eccentric
Book Lover in Florida
My Vices and Weaknesses
Savvy Verse & Wit
Every Savage Can Dance
Obsessed with Mr Darcy
Polished and Bubbly
The Reading Frenzy
Just Jane 1813
From Pemberley to Milton

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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/Margie’s 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

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Happy New Year!! I thought I would start off 2017 by celebrating the best of the books I read last year. Rather than do my usual Top 10 list, I thought I’d try something new this year and list my favorites in various categories, with links to (and quotes from) my reviews.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION (WWII)

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

A Moment Forever Cover LARGE EBOOK

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.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION (OTHER ERA)

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James

lost among the living

Simone St. James is a new-to-me writer, and as soon as I finished Lost Among the Living I determined that I must read her previous novels, which all seem to be equally suspenseful. I loved her writing here, particularly the passages that describe the intensity of Jo and Alex’s relationship, which enable readers to feel Jo’s grief and the frustration inherent in not knowing Alex’s fate. I also liked that while there was romance and passion, Lost Among the Living is at its core a ghost story, but it’s so much more than that. St. James shows the impact of the war on the returning soldiers and the women whose men never came home, as well as the blurring of the boundaries between social classes and how greed and selfishness can tear families apart.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (REGENCY)

Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter by Joana Starnes

mdbb-final-6_9_m

Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is a beautifully written novel, with just the right amount of angst to move me to the brink of tears without making me put the book down in despair. Starnes has a knack for putting Elizabeth and Darcy in impossible situations, delving deep into their souls, and keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they wonder how a happily ever after will be achieved. I loved the pacing of the novel, and Starnes does a wonderful job evolving their relationship through many ups and downs as they navigate the challenges posed by their families and themselves.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (MODERN)

Without a Conscience by Cat Gardiner

without-a-conscience

Like Denial of Conscience, Without a Conscience is sexy (definitely for mature audiences only) and exciting from the very first page. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who weaves clever plots and navigates Darcy and Liz through the twists and turns while further evolving their relationship. In the midst of the danger and excitement, Gardiner provides plenty of humor, and the obvious rivalry between Liz and Caroline had me laughing out loud several times. The novel is perfectly paced, and there’s just something about Gardiner’s writing style that has me hanging on every word.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (SECONDARY CHARACTERS)

The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace

the-trouble-to-check-her

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).

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (OTHER)

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

TEPcover

I enjoyed reading both Elizabeth’s diary and about the rocky start to Charlie and Evie’s relationship and their determination to find Elizabeth’s papers. I especially loved how James showed that even Austen’s beloved couple likely didn’t have a perfect marriage, and by telling that story from the point of view of Elizabeth, readers are able to see her insecurities and her frustration while having little clue what Darcy is thinking or feeling, which creates just the right amount of tension. I also loved getting a glimpse of the Darcys and their family years into their marriage, so they are no longer bright-eyed newlyweds but older and wiser and settled into their life together. Charlie and Evie’s story was exciting and even had some similarities to Darcy and Elizabeth’s, and Charlie’s client, Cressida Carter, is very Caroline Bingley-esque. The dual narratives were seamlessly connected, and the shifts between the two were timed perfectly to ensure readers can’t put the book down.

MOST UNIQUE AUSTEN VARIATION

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North and Brooke West

fitzwilliamdarcy_frontcoverprint-1

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy is unique and exciting. It made me laugh, and it left me in tears, so much so that my husband kept asking if I was okay and I worried I would short out my Kindle! It’s been a while since I’ve been so emotionally affected by a Pride and Prejudice variation. It’s absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year, possibly one of my all-time favorites, and definitely one I won’t forget!

BEST HOLIDAY NOVEL

Lucky 13  by Cat Gardiner

lucky 13

Oh, how I loved this novel! Gardiner is a master at bringing Jane Austen’s characters into the present day and turning up the heat (and the laughs). From their heated arguments to their heated encounters at the jaw-dropping calendar audition and the chest-oiling photo shoot, I couldn’t get enough of this Lizzy and Darcy. The secondary characters are equally entertaining, from Jane, the supermodel with a secret, to Caroline, the matchmaking poochie mama, and especially Charlotte (aka “Punky) and Darcy’s cousin, Rick (aka “Preppy”), who are the most obnoxious of the numerous matchmakers.

BEST POETRY COLLECTION

The Jane and Bertha in Me by Rita Maria Martinez

BerthainMe

Martinez’s poems are full of vivid imagery (“The Bertha in me sleeps until three in the afternoon and sits on the back porch with a cup of Earl Grey that quells the desire to chop up her crotchety landlord,” from “The Jane and Bertha in Me”), sensual (“Charlotte’s manuscript sepulchered like an incorruptible saint, splayed on its back like a woman whose architecture I want to touch,” from “At the British Library”), insightful (“Pain caused by first love never truly subsides,” from “Jane’s Denial”), and even humorous (“She’ll be sorry for canoodling with the missionary, thinks Rochester, who’s exceeded his cursing quota and looks like Wolverine,” from “Jane Eyre: Classic Cover Girl”). Martinez even writes about Brontë herself, from her different personas to the migraines she suffered through in order to create her “pristine prose” (from “The Literature of Prescription”).

BEST SHORT STORY/COLLECTION

“Tea Time” by Tiffani Burnett-Velez

tea-time

I finished reading “Tea Time” in less than half an hour, and I was satisfied with the abrupt ending even though I wasn’t ready for the story to be over. The final few lines pack a punch and made it a story I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait to read more from Burnett-Velez.

FAVORITE COVER

Undercover by Cat Gardiner

undercover book cover

Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who had me hooked from the very first page. The use of slang from the era, her vivid descriptions, the steamy scenes, and the murder mystery are handled so perfectly that I could picture the entire book in my head, as though I were actually watching a black-and-white hard-boiled crime drama on the screen. She moved Austen’s characters into 1952 New York City in a way that felt true to them. I loved that she gave Darcy a painful back story and that Elizabeth and Jane weren’t the best of friends. Gardiner’s portrayal of Georgiana as a modern and independent though innocent and sheltered young woman is handled beautifully, as is Lydia’s downfall at the hands of Slick Wick.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Some of the more memorable 5-star books from 2016 (click the covers to read my reviews)

darcys-hope

denial-of-conscience

undeceived

COAOEB cover

Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4

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Liebeslied-Final-Kindle

the forgotten room

What were your favorite books of 2016? I’d love to know!

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TEPcover

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

Is this how love dies? Does it falter on the road of complacency and acquiescence? If I do not tend to him as once I did, is it not he who has made me feel thus? A feeling of darkness and loneliness is welling up inside me, and I know not how to push it down.

(from The Elizabeth Papers)

Quick summary: Based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Elizabeth Papers follows both Elizabeth Darcy, as her marriage to Mr. Darcy appears to be faltering due to her inability to give him a son, and Evie Pemberton, a London artist and a descendant of the Darcys who learns that there are secrets in her family’s past when private investigator Charlie Haywood enters her life. Charlie has been hired to investigate the Darcy Trust, which Fitzwilliam Darcy established in 1860 to ensure his female descendants would be cared for. Soon, Charlie and Evie find themselves on the way to Pemberley in search of a mysterious document that Elizabeth had wanted destroyed in her final moments. Featuring excerpts from the diary Elizabeth began in 1817, letters Darcy wrote in 1860, and a narrative set in 2014 as Charlie and Evie attempt to uncover the truth about the Darcys’ marriage, The Elizabeth Papers explores love and loss and how even the happiest of marriages have their troubles.

Why I wanted to read it: I absolutely loved Jenetta James’ first novel, Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, so I knew I would be in for a treat. And the summary sounded absolutely delicious!

What I liked: I loved everything about The Elizabeth Papers! It draws readers into the mystery from the very first page. I kept hearing that this is the kind of novel that makes you ignore everything and stay up way past your bedtime to finish it, and that is so true! I finished the book at 1 a.m. despite having to rise at 5:30 a.m. for work because I just had to know what happened. I would tell myself that it was lights out after one more chapter, and one more chapter turned into the whole book!

I enjoyed reading both Elizabeth’s diary and about the rocky start to Charlie and Evie’s relationship and their determination to find Elizabeth’s papers. I especially loved how James showed that even Austen’s beloved couple likely didn’t have a perfect marriage, and by telling that story from the point of view of Elizabeth, readers are able to see her insecurities and her frustration while having little clue what Darcy is thinking or feeling, which creates just the right amount of tension. I also loved getting a glimpse of the Darcys and their family years into their marriage, so they are no longer bright-eyed newlyweds but older and wiser and settled into their life together. Charlie and Evie’s story was exciting and even had some similarities to Darcy and Elizabeth’s, and Charlie’s client, Cressida Carter, is very Caroline Bingley-esque. The dual narratives were seamlessly connected, and the shifts between the two were timed perfectly to ensure readers can’t put the book down.

What I disliked: Absolutely nothing! It’s another winner from Jenetta James!

Final thoughts: The Elizabeth Papers is a captivating novel that calls into question Darcy and Elizabeth’s assumed happily ever after in a way that is brilliant and fresh and unforgettable. It will definitely be on my Best of 2016 list and is easily one of the best Pride and Prejudice inspired novels I have ever read.

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Disclosure: I received The Elizabeth Papers from Meryton 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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suddenly mrs. darcy

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

I understood there was no escape from a union with this high-handed and disagreeable man, and the only advantage, though he loved me not, was that he appeared to wish me no ill.

(from Suddenly Mrs. Darcy)

Quick summary: Suddenly Mrs. Darcy imagines what would have happened in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice if Mrs. Bennet’s scheming to marry off her daughters resulted in Elizabeth being forced to marry Mr. Darcy immediately after the Netherfield Ball in order to preserve her reputation and that of her family.  Jenetta James takes the newly married Darcys on a journey fraught with misunderstandings, secrets, tragedy, and of course, hope.

Why I wanted to read it: Although I’ve read at least one adaptation in which Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are forced to marry, I was curious about Mrs. Bennet’s involvement.  And isn’t the cover just beautiful?

What I liked: James tells the story from Elizabeth’s point of view, which lends some mystery to her portrayal of Mr. Darcy.  I liked having to guess what he was thinking (and hiding) from Elizabeth at various times.  The novel also was perfectly paced; I didn’t have to keep guessing about Mr. Darcy’s secrets for too long, nor did I have to endure pages and pages of them doubting the feelings of the other.  James’ take on Lady Catherine, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Lady Matlock, and Lydia Bennet, along with the inclusion of several original characters, particularly Mrs. Lovelace and Elizabeth’s maid, Hannah, made the story even more enjoyable.

What I disliked: Absolutely nothing!  It’s another winner from Meryton Press!

Final thoughts: Suddenly Mrs. Darcy is a charming novel with just the right amount of angst and romance.  Readers will enjoy watching Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship evolve and strengthen over time, especially as they navigate various obstacles from the original novel, such as Mr. Wickham, in different ways.  I loved this book from start to finish, and I hope James has plans to write another Austen-inspired novel down the road.

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Disclosure: I received Suddenly Mrs. Darcy from Meryton Press 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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