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Posts Tagged ‘karen m. cox’

Source: Review copy from editor

Editor Christina Boyd and her team of Austenesque authors have done it again with her latest anthology, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. I absolutely loved The Darcy Monologues, so when I heard about this collection, I knew I had to read it, and it lived up to my expectations and more. I love to read about the bad boys in Austen’s novels because they make things more exciting, and I have often wondered what led them astray. The 11 stories in this anthology cover all of Austen’s infamous bad boys and anti-heroes, and while I enjoyed each story on its own, reading them together was even more delicious.

The collection features: “Willoughby’s Crossroads” (John Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility) by Joana Starnes; “A Wicked Game” (George Wickham, Pride and Prejudice) by Katie Oliver; “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” (Colonel Fitzwilliam, Pride and Prejudice) by Beau North; “The Address of a Frenchwoman” (Thomas Bertram, Mansfield Park) by Lona Manning; “Last Letter to Mansfield” (Henry Crawford, Mansfield Park) by Brooke West; “An Honest Man” (Frank Churchill, Emma) by Karen M Cox; “One Fair Claim” (Sir Walter Elliot, Persuasion) by Christina Morland; “The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot” (William Elliot, Persuasion) by Jenetta James; “As Much as He Can” (General Tilney, Northanger Abbey) by Sophia Rose; “The Art of Sinking” (John Thorpe, Northanger Abbey) by J. Marie Croft; “For Mischief’s Sake” (Captain Frederick Tilney, Northanger Abbey) by Amy D’Orazio

It should come as no surprise that my favorite of all the stories was “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” by Beau North because I am a sucker for a good story about the colonel. The agreement he makes with an American heiress shunned by ton was clever, and I loved the bit of action and even getting a glimpse of Mr. Darcy after his failed proposal at Hunsford. I enjoyed the glimpse of the obnoxiously vain Sir Walter Elliot and how he went about choosing a bride in “One Fair Claim,” and he was just as delightfully silly in his youth. But what surprised me is the ability of these authors to make me feel some compassion for the characters I love to hate, like the heartache experienced by George Wickham and Tom Bertram in their stories, which emphasized the complexity of Austen’s characters. Still others will never change, but I felt like I understood their motivations a bit more.

Dangerous to Know is a must-read for those looking for something new in the realm of Austen-inspired fiction. Some of the stories were steamy and passionate, some were more humorous, but all of them make you take another, deeper look at Austen’s rakes and rogues and make you feel something more than contempt.

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About Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

“One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” —Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there’s more than one side to their stories.

It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms … a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: “He is a cad—a brute—all wrong!” But is that not how tender hearts are broken…by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen’s anti-heroes.

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories—a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.

What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily…but heaven help us if we marry one.

Check out Dangerous to Know on Goodreads | Amazon (the ebook is promo priced at $2.99 for the duration of the blog tour, so don’t miss out on that!)

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About the Editor

CHRISTINA BOYD https://m.facebook.com/TheDarcyMonologues/ wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner, The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a commercial ceramicist. A life member of 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 actor Henry Cavill when she won the Omaze experience to meet him in the spring of 2017 on the London Eye. True story. You can Google it.

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About the Authors

KAREN M COX https://karenmcoxauthor.wordpress.com/ is an award-wining author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book, as well as an e-book novella companion to 1932, The Journey Home. She also contributed short stories for the anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and The Darcy Monologues. 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.

J. MARIE CROFT https://www.amazon.com/J.-Marie-Croft/e/B004HZD22W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1508353662&sr=1-1 is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories: “Spyglasses and Sunburns” in the Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology and “From the Ashes” in The Darcy Monologues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

AMY D’ORAZIO https://www.facebook.com/Amy-DOrazio-author-369312830172988/ is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios. She firmly believes that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily-ever-afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and the soon-to-be released A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.

JENETTA JAMES https://www.facebook.com/jenettajameswriter/ 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, as well as a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues.

LONA MANNING https://www.amazon.com/Lona-Manning/e/B01N7UJHJX is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at http://www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at http://www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.

CHRISTINA MORLAND https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Morland/e/B01IJHEZKQ spent the first two decades of her life with no knowledge whatsoever of Pride and Prejudice—or any Jane Austen novel, for that matter. She somehow overcame this childhood adversity to became a devoted fan of Austen’s works. When not writing, Morland tries to keep up with her incredibly active seven-year-old and maddeningly brilliant husband. She lives in a place not unlike Hogwarts (minus Harry, Dumbledore, magic, and Scotland), and likes to think of herself as an excellent walker. Morland is the author of two Jane Austen fanfiction novels: A Remedy Against Sin and This Disconcerting Happiness.

BEAU NORTH http://beaunorthwrites.com/#top is the author of three books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau hails from the kudzu-strangled wilderness of South Carolina but now hangs her hat in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen On-Screen.

KATIE OLIVER https://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon bestseller Prada and Prejudice, as well as the Dating Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and Jane Austen Factor series. She resides in South Florida with her husband (where she goes to the beach far less often than she’d like) and is working on a new series. Katie began writing as a child and has a box crammed with half-finished stories to prove it. After raising two sons, she decided to get serious and get published.

She is convinced that there is no greater pleasure than reading a Jane Austen novel.

SOPHIA ROSE https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13418187.Sophia_Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and Then Comes Winter anthologies, short stories based on Jane Austen’s works. 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 for many years while Sophia enjoyed a rewarding career working with children and families. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity for a return to writing stories that continue to lean toward the lighter side of life and always end with a happily-ever-after.

JOANA STARNES https://www.facebook.com/joana.a.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 one of the contributors to The Darcy Monologues anthology, and 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 her timeline and her author page, All Roads Lead to Pemberley.  

BROOKE WEST https://www.facebook.com/brookewestwrites/ has always loved the bad boys of literature and thinks the best leading men have the darkest pasts. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape,” which appears in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Find Brooke on Twitter @WordyWest.

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Giveaway #1

Enter Rafflecopter to win fifteen (15) books from the anthology authors! One winner. Fifteen books! Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #1 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link.

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Giveaway #2

Follow our “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s #RakesAndGentlemenRogues” Blog Tour and comment on each stop to be eligible for #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures prize pack: ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle; Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel); Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards; and ‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.) Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #2 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.

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THE #RakesAndGentlemenRogues BLOG TOUR

💗Monday, November 6: REVIEW: Margie’s Must Reads, https://margiesmustreads.com

💗Thursday, November 9: REVIEW, Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

💗Monday, November 13: REVIEW, Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

💗Tuesday, November 14: REVIEW, Olga of ROSIE AMBER team, http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/

💗Wednesday, November 15: (release day) REVIEW, Just Jane 1813, http://justjane1813.com

💗Thursday, November 16: REVIEW, Diary of an Eccentric, https://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com

🎩Monday, November 20: FEATURE w/Katie Oliver (George Wickham), From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

🎩Wednesday, November 22: FEATURE w/Joana Starnes (Willoughby), Babblings of a Bookworm, http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com

🎩Friday, November 24: FEATURE w/Sophia Rose, (General Tilney), Herding Cats & Burning Soup, http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com

🎩Monday, November 27: FEATURE w/Amy D’Orazio (Captain Tilney), My Jane Austen Book Club, http://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com

🎩Wednesday, November 29: FEATURE w/Brooke West (Henry Crawford), VVB32 Reads, https://vvb32reads.blogspot.com

🎩Thursday, November 30: FEATURE w/Lona Manning (Tom Bertram), Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

💗Friday, December 1: REVIEW, Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com

🎩Monday, December 4: FEATURE w/Beau North  (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com

🎩Thursday, December 7: FEATURE w/J. Marie Croft (John Thorpe), Harry Rodell blog/ROSIE AMBER team, https://harryrodell.wordpress.com/author/rodellh

💗Friday, December 8: REVIEW, From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com

🎩Monday, December 11: FEATURE w/Jenetta James (William Elliot), Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com

🎩Thursday, December 14: FEATURE w/Karen M Cox (Frank Churchill), Darcyholic Diversions, http://darcyholic.blogspot.com

🎩Monday, December 17: FEATURE w/Christina Morland (Sir Walter Elliot), Of Pens & Pages, http://www.ofpensandpages.com

Disclosure: I received Dangerous to Know from the editor for review.

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

No, he couldn’t blame the young men in the crowd for following her around the room. He even admired her restraint given all that male attention. One thing about Emma, admiration for her looks alone didn’t turn her head; the poor fellow also had to flatter her brains and her sparkling personality to stir her vanity.

(from I Could Write a Book)

Karen M Cox’s latest novel, I Could Write a Book, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Emma set in 1970s Kentucky. Cox’s Emma Woodhouse is a college student who has sacrificed her future to care for her father following a stroke, and her George Knightley is a lawyer whose family has been connected to the Woodhouse’s since he was a child. Emma’s father was George’s father’s partner at Knightley and Woodhouse, and George and Emma have been close friends throughout the years, while George was away at college, through his long list of female companions, and throughout the illnesses of both Emma’s parents.

Cox does a fantastic job modernizing the story, keeping events and challenges true to the times while allowing the original novel to shine through. Mrs. Taylor has become Emma’s aunt, Nina, who cared for Emma and her sister Izzy while they were growing up without a mother; Harriet Smith has become Mary Jo, a secretary in George’s office who is just as flighty and easily swayed as Harriet; Mr. Elton has become Tim Elton, who is seeking a career in politics and a wife who will assist in those ambitions. Frank (Churchill) Weston, Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates (Helen), and the rest of Emma‘s cast of characters are featured here, and I loved going with the flow and seeing how the story would play out in a different setting.

I couldn’t help but love Emma even when it was obvious that her scheming was misguided. By giving readers a glimpse of Emma’s childhood and her bond with her mother, I felt like I really got to know her and understand why she was so willing to put her life on hold to take care of her father. I loved getting a peek into George’s head as well, and showing some of his romantic relationships made it so much better when his feelings for his best friend began to change. I’ve always loved Mr. Knightley, so I wasn’t surprised that I fell in love with him here.

As with Undeceived, where Cox transformed Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet into Cold War-era spies, I Could Write a Book showcases Cox’s cleverness and understanding of Austen’s characters in shaking things up while at the same time maintaining the structure of the original. Emma is one of my favorite Austen novels, and when I saw that Cox was writing a new spin on it, I expected it to be fantastic…and I wasn’t disappointed! Another contender for my Best of 2017 list, and another addition to my auto-buy author list!

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About I Could Write a Book

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…”

Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.

I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered and predictable, if a bit confining.

Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.

Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.

Rich with humor, poignancy and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.

Goodreads | Amazon (universal link)

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About the Author

Karen M Cox

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of novels accented with romance and history, including 1932 and its companion ebook novella The Journey Home, and the novels Find Wonder in All Things and Undeceived. She also contributed a short story, “Northanger Revisited 2015”, to the anthology, Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, and a story titled, “I, Darcy” to The Darcy Monologues.

Karen was born in Everett, WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee and New York State before finally settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at the age of eleven. She lives in a quiet little town with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter.

If you would like bits of authorly goodness in your inbox once a month (updates, sales, book recommendations, etc.) sign up for News & Muse Letter

Karen loves to hear from readers, so don’t be shy. Contact her through social media, her website, or online sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

Connect with Karen via website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Amazon Author Page 

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Giveaway

Karen is generously offering two themed prize packages as tokens of appreciation for readers of I Could Write a Book and for supporters of the wonderful sites on the blog tour.

Tea Prize Basket includes: A signed copy of I Could Write a Book, Mr. Knightley’s Reserve and Emma’s Perfect Match teas from Bingley’s Teas, a set of Jane Austen Book Coasters, and a Jane Austen Quotes mug.

Pretty Things Basket includes: A signed copy of I Could Write a Book, an “Emma” quote pendant, an Emma bangle bracelet, Regency cameo earrings, and a jewelry roll.

Readers can enter for chances to win these prizes by clicking here. There are bonus entries for social media shares and visits, if you’re on social media. These giveaways are open internationally and end on October 7, 2017. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Laughing with Lizzie / September 6 / Launch Post/Dating Game / Giveaway

So little time… / September 7 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway

Book Lover in Florida / September 8 / Guest post / Giveaway

Austenesque Reviews / September 15 / Book Review/ Giveaway

My Love for Jane Austen / September 16 / Guest Post / Giveaway

Granny Loves to Read  / September 17 / Book Review / Giveaway

My Jane Austen Book Club / September 18/ Guest Post/Mr. Knightley / Giveaway

Just Jane 1813 / September 19 / Author Interview / Giveaway

Sophia’s Sofa Chat / September 21 / An Interview with Karen M Cox on Goodreads

Babblings of a Bookworm/ / September 22 / Book Review/ Giveaway

Silver Petticoat Review / September 23/ Guest Post/ Giveaway

From Pemberley to Milton / September 25 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway

Margie’s Must Reads / September 27 / Book Review / Giveaway

My Vices and Weaknesses / September 30 / Book Review / Giveaway

Diary of an Eccentric / October 2 / Book Review / Giveaway

More Agreeably Engaged / October 4 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway 

Disclosure: I received I Could Write a Book from the author for review.

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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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Longtime readers of my blog know that I am a huge fan of the Austen-inspired fiction published by Meryton Press, so I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the Dear Friend Event:

“Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately received.” – Jane Austen

Jane Austen describes a fine friendship between Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Collins. One friend welcomes another with “the liveliest pleasure,” and the other is pleased to share in that. We at Meryton Press know from your words that you, our fans, receive our books with pleasure and affection. It makes our authors warm inside to know that.

In the month of April, we want to show our appreciation to you, our most steadfast supporters, our dear friends. Good friends give each other gifts. You have given us the gift of your affectionate reception, and we want to reciprocate by giving some of you gifts in return.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t give everyone a gift, but at each hosted blog post during this event on the schedule listed below, an opportunity will be given to enter to win a surprise gift. Each person who comments can enter a Rafflecopter drawing to win. Although a person can enter multiple times (once on each blog post and tweet daily on each blog post), they can win only once. One winner will be chosen at each blog. Five gifts total will be awarded.

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What a very generous giveaway! I’ve read and enjoyed many books from Meryton Press, so the winner is in for a real treat! If you are interested in learning about some of the books published by Meryton Press, check out my reviews of these stellar books:

2017

The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

2016

Letter from Ramsgate by Suzan Lauder
Second Impressions by Amy George
The Elizabeth Paper by Jenetta James
Side by Side, Apart by Ann Galvia
A Searing Acquaintance by J.L. Ashton
Undeceived by Karen M Cox

2015

Then Comes Winter edited by Christina Boyd
Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North
A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler
Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer edited by Christina Boyd
Suddenly Mrs. Darcy by Jenetta James
A Peculiar Connection by Jan Hahn
Aerendgast by Rachel Berman
Pride, Prejudice & Secrets by C.P. Odom

2014

The Muse by Jessica Evans
Haunting Mr. Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory
Consequences by C.P. Odom
Alias Thomas Bennet by Suzan Lauder

2013

The Red Chrysanthemum by Linda Beutler

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The Dear Friend Event is not just about Meryton Press showing appreciation to their readers; it’s also a celebration of books and why avid readers love to read.

I’ve always loved to read. I don’t remember when I started; it’s just something I’ve always done for as far back as I can remember. Books have always been an escape for me. They’ve helped me through some difficult times over the years, giving me an opportunity to put aside my troubles for a little while and slip away to another world. They help relax my mind after a long day at work and send me off to sleep every night.

One of the reasons Meryton Press grabbed my attention so many years ago was its focus on Jane Austen, and Pride and Prejudice in particular. Pride and Prejudice is one of the first classics I ever read and fell in love with. I never read Austen in school; only on my own. So after the stresses of college were over and the stresses of marriage and motherhood began, I was overjoyed to stumble upon dozens and dozens of Austen variations and realize that I never had to let go of my favorite characters.

Moreover, I love to read World War II novels; the history of that period just fascinates me. However, they aren’t the easiest books to get through, especially the ones focused on the horrors of the war. So to finish one of those and then pick up an Austen variation and be 99 percent sure that Darcy and Elizabeth will find their way to each other and live happily ever after is refreshing.

But most of all, my love of books and Jane Austen has brought me in touch with so many like-minded people, and I treasure these friendships here on the blog, on Goodreads, and on Facebook. 🙂

Now, as a special treat, I am delighted to welcome Meryton Press author Karen M Cox to Diary of an Eccentric to talk about her love of reading…and Jane Austen, of course! Please give her a warm welcome:

I don’t remember learning to read.

I asked my mother to teach me when I was three, according to the family lore. All I know is, by the time I was about five, I could pretty much read whatever my child’s mind wanted. My mother and father are both readers, so becoming one myself was as natural as breathing. There were always books in my parents’ house. In my childhood, I devoured children’s novels:  A Wrinkle in Time, Little House of the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn, The Witch of Blackbird Pond were among my favorites. Alas, as I grew, life sometimes got in the way of reading for fun: music and plays in high school, boys (!), college and graduate school, and then marriage and little children of my own. I couldn’t always drown myself in that netherworld of a great novel when I wanted, but that only made the experience more precious when I had it.

I love taking in the stories of people’s lives, whether in history (Mary Chesnut and Thomas Meagher come to mind) or in novels (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Dragonwyck, the In Death series by JD Robb). When I found Jane Austen though (as an adult—late, compared to some) something was different. She was unique: witty, satirical, funny. And yet, (like a certain gentleman’s version of an accomplished woman) to all this, she added something more. She saw her characters: their truth, their flaws, their foibles, their sweetness, their infamy, and their integrity. And she told their stories in a way that made them leap off the page for me, and become real enough to stick around as I went through my days. When I found others who felt the same way I did about Austen, it was kismet. And when I discovered along the way that I too, had things I wanted to say—about families, about love, about life—Jane was the one who pointed the way for me to do that.

Joseph Campbell’s books on the role of myth in culture and society have always intrigued me. In The Hero’s Journey, he states: “When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous.”

This is sort of inadvertently how I’ve built my reading house. It’s a chaotic, disordered house at times, littered with history, sociology, education, psychology, literature, trashy novels, serious works, and wonderful fluffy stories that make me smile. Campbell might find a few too many “scraps” here, there and elsewhere in my reading world. But what I’ve discovered is that in the midst of this chaos, my series of author obsessions, and reading what influenced them and who they, in turn, influenced, is a meandering path that leads me to places I never imagined. It makes for a rich, colorful journey around the sun. Reading opens the world to all of us. I don’t know how an activity that seems so solitary can connect us, but it does. Reading is a powerful thing, a magic—ever-changing, ever fresh and new—that any of us can obtain, simply by picking up a book and entering within.

And if, by some quirk of fate, I can write something that takes a reader to a place where she can smile, think, or remember, I’m humbled by that—and eternally grateful.

Happy Reading!

Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your story! You describe my thoughts on Austen perfectly. And my dear readers, I hope YOU will share your stories about learning to read and falling in love with books in the comments!

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Giveaway

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Eligible entries will comment on Dear Friend Event blog posts, tweet about the event and use the rafflecopter to enter. Winners will provide a valid U.S. shipping address for gift delivery upon request. Further details for entering to win a gift are posted here.

General: 

  • All Winners will be contacted via social media or email and announced on the Meryton Press website, Facebook, and/or Twitter.
  • In the event that a winner or winners do not respond within 5 days, a new winner will be drawn.
  • Winners may not be Meryton Press employees, contractors or authors.
  • An entrant can enter once per Dear Friend Event blog post and multiple times on Social Media, but can win only once.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Twitter.

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Dear Friend Blog Schedule:

More Agreeably Engaged–April 1; ends at 11:59 PM April 6th; winner announced April 7th

Austenesque Reviews–April 8; ends at 11:59 PM April 13th; winner announced April 14th

So little time…–April 15; ends at 11:59 PM April 20th; winner announced April 21st

Diary of an Eccentric–April 22; ends at 11:59 PM April 27th; winner announced April 28th

Just Jane 1813–April 29; ends at 11:59 PM May 4th; winner announced my May 5th

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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undeceived

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

He picked up the menu. “So, you better put on a good flirt for me, Liz darling, because I’m whisking you off to a charming little village near Lake Balaton day after tomorrow.” He leaned forward, a smug smile on his face. “By the way, sweetheart, Hungarian secret police just came in the door.” He stared into her eyes, mocking her even as he smiled in a way that made her insides heat up.

“You’re such an ass,” she whispered, and took a sip of her wine, putting on a fake, sultry smile of her own.

He covered her hand with his and looked right into her eyes. “And yet, you’re crazy about me.”

(from Undeceived)

Quick summary: In Undeceived, Karen M. Cox takes Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to the Cold War era, following CIA agents William Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet on a journey to Hungary, East Germany, and Northern Virginia in search of double agents and moles. Elizabeth is a newbie agent and linguist who enters the world of counterintelligence when George Wickham convinces her to take a job investigating the legendary William “London Fog” Darcy. She has no trouble believing Darcy could have ties to the KGB, given a botched mission in Prague and, well, she just doesn’t like him. Darcy is skeptical of Elizabeth’s abilities but has no problem flirting with her for the job, except that he is drawn to her despite being so far above her career-wise. Despite his arrogance and mysteriousness, Elizabeth soon realizes that what she has been told about Darcy is not the truth, but will they find the real villain before it is too late?

Why I wanted to read it: Pride and Prejudice and spies…enough said!

What I liked: I absolutely loved this novel from start to finish. What a unique way to retell Austen’s novel, and it really works! I loved Darcy as the arrogant yet charming spy and Elizabeth as a strong woman determined to get ahead in her career on her own merits, not by her father’s legacy in the agency. Fitzwilliam as MI6 and Charlotte as FBI, not to mention the bumbling agent Bill Collins, were fantastic additions to the cast of characters. The novel was so different that despite keeping the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice, I had no idea how it all would play out.

What I disliked: Nothing!

Final thoughts: Undeceived is exciting and suspenseful, but above all, it ranks on my list of all-time favorite Pride and Prejudice retellings. This novel will definitely make my Best of 2016 list!

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Disclosure: I received Undeceived from Mertyon Press for review.

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

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