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

How shall I face the world if Jane is not a pillar of rectitude? Upon whom I can depend and admire? If Jane falls from grace, where is my place? What shall become of me?

(from My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley)

Linda Beutler’s latest novel, My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is full of surprises from the start. The novel opens with Mr. Bingley realizing his sister, Caroline, and best friend, Mr. Darcy, have done him wrong by scheming to separate him from Jane Bennet following the Netherfield Ball. He becomes his own man and returns to Meryton with nary a word to them, with the intent of winning Jane’s hand in marriage. However, Beutler’s version of Jane is not all smiles and everything that is good; she is understandably angry at Mr. Bingley and will not simply accept his apology. In fact, this Jane is so unlike the original that even Mr. Bennet can understand Mrs. Bennet’s nerves!

Meanwhile, learning of Darcy’s role in her sister’s unhappiness means Elizabeth Bennet’s poor opinion of him has only worsened. Darcy acknowledges the need to make amends with Bingley and Jane, but he is not wanted or needed at Netherfield and instead must present himself to the the sisters’ relations in Cheapside. When Darcy and Elizabeth meet again in Kent, Elizabeth knows nothing of Darcy’s new friendship with the Gardiners; she is more exasperated at her sister’s actions than anything. Although Darcy is warned by his cousin, Colonel Alex Fitzwilliam, to check his pride and tread carefully where Elizabeth is concerned, Darcy plows onward, and confusion, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings abound.

I loved how Beutler twisted the story so Jane and Bingley were more complex characters, even if I couldn’t imagine Austen’s Jane acting like Jane does here — and not just in her dealings with Mr. Bingley. I also enjoyed the passionate arguments between Darcy and Elizabeth, their interactions with Caroline, and the chaos in Meryton involving Lady Catherine. There were many times that I laughed out loud, and I didn’t mind having to suspend disbelief here and there. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s involvement in the chaos and his own story were fun to read, and I must admit I fell in love with him over the course of the novel.

My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley was an overall delightful read, with plenty of changes in the plot and characters to keep me curious about what would happen next. There was the right balance of angst, romance, and humor, and plenty of steaminess toward the end. Beutler’s take on Pride and Prejudice is different and exciting, and it definitely makes you think about how drastically changing the personalities of a couple of characters can turn things upside down.

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About My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley

Jane Bennet had a heart to break after all, and I am a party to it.
—Fitzwilliam Darcy

One simple, uncharacteristic subterfuge leaves Fitzwilliam Darcy needing to apologize to nearly everyone he knows! When Charles Bingley reaps the sad repercussions of Mr. Darcy’s sin of omission, Elizabeth Bennet’s clear-eyed view of the facts gives her the upper hand in a long-distance battle of wills with Mr. Bingley’s former friend. By the time Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth meet (repeatedly) in the groves of Rosings Park, neither knows the whole truth except that somehow, someway, their future is inextricably linked to the courtship of Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet.

In this Pride and Prejudice “what-if”, the additional dash of backbone and “far-sighted” action to the character of Mr. Bingley begs the question: how is Mr. Darcy to impress Elizabeth Bennet if Bingley does his own matchmaking? And how is Elizabeth Bennet to trust Mr. Darcy when even faith in a most beloved sister falters?

Includes mature content

Check out My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Linda Beutler

Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does. The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.

Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.

Connect with Linda Beutler on Twitter | Facebook | Wandering Pemberley’s Gardens

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously offering 8 ebooks of My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, open internationally. Click to here enter. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. (1 comment/blog post) Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). You may enter once by following the author on twitter and once by following the author on Facebook.

Remember, tweet daily and comment once per post with a giveaway to earn extra entries.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

**NOTE: Ebook copies are available for 8 winners and the giveaway is international! 8 eBooks will be given away to 8 different winners.**

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Follow the Blog Tour (click the banner below)

Disclosure: I received My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley from Meryton Press for review.

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a will of iron

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

This has been a most trying evening.  Mama continues furious that Darcy has gone away again without extending an offer of marriage.  I say, bless him.  She goes on and on, and I do wish she would invite the vicarage guests to dinner to ease the strain on me as she does not yammer quite so much in company.  Or perhaps the presence of others makes it easier for me to ignore her.  Selfish, Anne!

(from A Will of Iron)

Quick summary: In this darker variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Linda Beutler puts Anne de Bourgh front and center.  A Will of Iron lets readers into Anne’s head through her journals, which make their way into the hands of Charlotte Collins and Elizabeth Bennet after her sudden and shocking death.  Anne had a lively mind, made astute observations about the people around her, and wasn’t shy when it came to taking her future into her own hands.  As the residents and guests of Rosings Park and the Hunsford Parsonage try to come to terms with the events leading up to Anne’s death, they soon face even darker realizations while simultaneously seeking out happiness for themselves.

Why I wanted to read it: I enjoyed Beutler’s previous takes on Pride and Prejudice (check out my reviews of The Red Chrysanthemum and Longbourn to London), love the variations that expand on Austen’s secondary characters, and couldn’t resist imagining an even darker side to Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

What I liked: Beutler wastes no time in shocking readers, and I was glued to the pages from Anne’s very first journal entry.  The dark twists and turns of this novel are both shocking and morbidly funny, and there are plenty of love triangles and romantic entanglements to lighten the mood.  Beutler does a great job blending the darkly comic events with the sweet romantic scenes.  The novel is set just after Elizabeth rejects Darcy’s first proposal, and watching them find their way back to each other amidst all the other happenings was exciting.

What I disliked: Nothing at all (except trying to summarize the plot without saying too much).

Final thoughts: A Will of Iron is a must-read for fans of Austen-inspired fiction, who, like me, continually seek out unique variations of Pride and Prejudice.  I must say that I’ve never read anything like this novel before, and I was surprised by how many times I was shocked and then laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all.  It definitely wasn’t what I expected, which made me love it more.  I can’t wait to see what Beutler writes next!

Disclosure: I received A Will of Iron 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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Sun-Kissed

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

“You honestly expect me to splash about in the brine, naked as the day I was born?” Darcy scoffed.  “I think not.”

“Prig.”

“Just because I prefer privacy and prudence does not signify I am prudish.  I swim — without clothing, I’ll have you know — at Pemberley Lake.”

(from Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, “Spyglasses & Sunburns” by J. Marie Croft)

Quick Summary: Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer is Meryton Press’ first short-story anthology featuring eight feel-good tales of summer, most of which involve Jane Austen’s novels and characters in some way.  Included in the collection are several takes on Pride and Prejudice, from a young Darcy’s education in becoming a great lover to Anne de Bourgh’s splash in the sea at Sanditon to the confessions of foolishness and love at a masquerade ball.  Sun-Kissed also features modern-day takes on Persuasion and Northanger Abbey set on the beach and a sweet non-Austen-related story about how a chance encounter can turn one’s life upside down.

Why I wanted to read it: Short stories, particularly lighthearted, romantic stories with a Jane Austen connection, sound perfect for the beach…or at least when you’re dreaming about a beach excursion.

What I liked: The selection of stories was fantastic.  I enjoyed the mix of period and modern-day stories and the mix of new-to-me authors and authors whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past.  I also was impressed that Sanditon was included; Austen’s unfinished novel about a seaside resort begs to be included in a summer anthology, and it was nice to see those characters mingling with characters from Pride and Prejudice.  I loved or at least really liked every story in the collection, and despite their brevity, I felt like I really got to know the characters, and each had a satisfying ending.

What I disliked: That there were only eight stories in the anthology.  Don’t get me wrong, the anthology was the perfect length, but once I was immersed in the collection, I didn’t want it to end.

Final thoughts: Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer is the perfect summer read for fans of Austen-inspired fiction, with a little something for everyone.  Hats off to the editor, Christina Boyd, for helping to create an anthology that flows beautifully from story to story and provides enough variety to both satisfy readers and keep them wanting more.  Although I didn’t read this book at the beach, these authors and their delightful tales transported me to the sun and surf at least for a few hours.

Meryton Press will be releasing a holiday-romance-themed anthology late this fall. The short story contest for that volume is now open for submissions. Click here for further details: Official Rules

Disclosure: I received Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer 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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longbourn to london

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

“I have divided them into stacks, the first being those we need not accept.”

“Is there such a thing?” Mr. Bennet asked over a lowered corner of his paper.  “I had thought a lady must accept all invitations.”

“Indeed, sir!”  Darcy smiled a little.  “I am more interested in that pile than any other.  I should make a study of how to extend an invitation into society in such a way as to have it not accepted, and then I shall give lessons to all of these others.”

Mr. Bennet smiled and nodded.  “Very wise, Mr. Darcy.”

Elizabeth extended them an arch look.  “Are you quite finished, the two of you?”

(from Longbourn to London, pages 18-19)

Longbourn to London is a different take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in that it’s not a re-imagining or a sequel.  Instead, Linda Beutler aims to fill in the blanks left by Austen when it comes to the weeks of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s betrothal and the early days of their marriage.

Much of the novel focuses on Elizabeth’s worries about what awaits her on the wedding night, the difficulties she and Mr. Darcy encounter in controlling their desires before their wedding day, and their many amorous moments afterward.  Yes, much of the book is about sex, and Beutler does not shy away from writing lengthy and quite descriptive sex scenes, so this is definitely a book for mature audiences only.  Although there isn’t much of a plot, just a recounting of the events that occurred during this period, there are a few obstacles that crop up and are almost immediately resolved.  I didn’t mind the sex scenes much, but given how many there were, they did start to get old after a while.

However, what I liked best about Longbourn to London were the humorous scenes, from the way Mr. Bennet and Mr. Darcy conspired to tease Elizabeth to Mrs. Bennet being put in her place about a certain wedding bonnet.  Beutler lets readers see Caroline Bingley come undone, gives Louisa Hurst some personality, and enables Mrs. Gardiner to swoop in and save the day, or Elizabeth’s sanity at least.  Even Mr. Collins made an appearance without trying my patience.

Longbourn to London is a sweet tale about two lovers — neither of whom expected to find such happiness, given Mr. Darcy’s disastrous first proposal and Elizabeth’s vehement rejection of it — navigating the nervousness and newness of getting married.  Like most couples, they experience stress with the wedding planning, have to deal with tiresome relatives, and spend less time together than they’d like.  Despite the abundance of detail when it comes to their most intimate moments, Beutler does a good job showing the joy Elizabeth and Darcy brought to one another and especially how Elizabeth softened Darcy’s rough edges.  I admire Beutler for taking a chance with this Pride and Prejudice “expansion,” and I liked it more than I thought I would given its focus.  If you’re looking for a happily-ever-after tale and detailed sex scenes don’t bother you, Longbourn to London provides some lighthearted entertainment for a lazy afternoon.

Disclosure: I received Longbourn to London from Meryton Press for review.

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

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the red chrysanthemum

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

Bingley snorted, trying to suppress outright laughter.  “Darcy, you didn’t!”

Georgiana hid a smile behind her hand.

“Oh, I most certainly did.  I told her my feelings of repugnance were natural and just.”

Georgiana spoke up, clearly confused.  “Please speak plainly, Brother.  You told her your love was natural and just?”

Darcy ruefully shook his head.  “No, I meant my disapprobation of her family was natural and just.”

Georgiana could not help giggling.  “Oh my…the sweet words any lady longs to hear:  I loathe your family; marry me anyway.”

Bingley joined her.  “Very smooth, Darcy, you silver-tongued devil…”

(from The Red Chrysanthemum, pages 52-53)

The Red Chrysanthemum is a delightful retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Darcy and Elizabeth, unsure of each other’s feelings following his disastrous proposal at Hunsford, express forgiveness, admiration, and love using the language of flowers.  Linda Beutler opens the novel after Elizabeth tours Pemberley with the Gardiners and is embarrassed to run into Darcy.  During their stay in Lambton, Darcy, having taken Elizabeth’s censure to heart, renews their acquaintance.  More in love with her than ever, Darcy merely hopes Elizabeth can see him in a new light and maybe allow him to court her.  Elizabeth, however, fears there is no way Darcy will ever propose to her a second time.

Beutler imagines what might have happened had Darcy and Elizabeth worked together to reunite Bingley and Jane, whose happiness is secured when Jane arrives for an extended stay at Pemberley with her sister and aunt.  Just as Darcy thinks he has made progress in winning Elizabeth’s love, news of the Lydia/Wickham scandal reaches Pemberley, and a misplaced red chrysanthemum has Elizabeth believing that a happily ever after is impossible.

The Red Chrysanthemum drew me in from the first page, with the humorous interactions between the characters.  I loved Beutler’s portrayal of Bingley as amiable, sweet, and not willing to put up with his sisters’ rudeness.  I was pleasantly shocked by the scene with Darcy and Lady Catherine, and I laughed long and loud after the scene with Mrs. Bennet and the Bingleys.  I also loved the floral illustrations and how the meanings behind various flowers were cleverly worked into the plot.  I’m not well versed in gardening, so it was helpful to have a picture to put with the name.

My only complaint is that the last few chapters of the book are devoted to the sexual tension between Darcy and Elizabeth as they wait to consummate their marriage and the extensive lessons he gives Elizabeth on how to be passionate in bed and act like both a wife and a mistress.  I don’t have a problem with sex in Austen-inspired fiction, but I don’t think those chapters were necessary.  Beutler did such a good job showing their love and passion prior to the wedding that readers don’t have to witness their escapades in the bedroom to understand how well suited they are for each other in every way.  Thankfully, those chapters were well written so I could easily overlook their inclusion.

The Red Chrysanthemum is a fun take on Pride and Prejudice, mainly due to Beutler’s handling of the characters.  Readers will delight in the villainous characters getting what they deserve and in Beutler’s development of several secondary characters, from Bingley and Georgiana to Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Reynolds, and of course, the humorous banter was quite enjoyable.

red chrysanthemum tour

Book 13 for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge

Disclosure: I received The Red Chrysanthemum from Meryton Press for review.

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

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