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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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Hello, dear readers! Today the Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford duel (which began yesterday on Just Jane 1813) has come to Diary of an Eccentric. I hope you’ll weigh in on the debate. Please give a warm welcome to Lona Manning and Kyra Kramer!

Hello, I’m Lona Manning, author of A Contrary Wind: A Variation on Mansfield Park and author of true crime articles available here.

And I’m Kyra Kramer, author of Mansfield Parsonage and the nonfictional historical books, Blood Will Tell, The Jezebel Effect, Henry VIII’s Health in a Nutshell, and Edward VI in a Nutshell.

Lona: Please join us for the knock-down drag-out (maybe) Fanny versus Mary debate of the decade/epoch/millennium. We will take turns posing each other questions. Please feel free to join in, in the comments!

Kyra: Everyone who comments will be entered in a draw to win a gift pack of Austen goodies from Bath, England.

Was Fanny Price sweetly timid, or a backstabbing brat?

Kyra: I noticed that Fanny Price remains the heroine in your variation, A Contrary Wind, and the Crawford siblings remain the antagonists. What was it about Fanny that inspired your affection for the often-disliked heroine of Mansfield Park?

Lona: I have more respect for Fanny than affection. And more affection for the novel than for its heroine. So, why is it difficult to like Fanny? Certainly the lack of a sense of humour is an issue. Although she does quietly laugh up her sleeve at a few things.

Kyra: You didn’t find her passivity cloying? It made me gag.

Lona: I think it’s perfectly understandable that she turned out the way she turned out. Take one super-sensitive kid, who is very susceptible to being made to feel guilty and who yearns for love and approval, and raise her in Mansfield Park with an Aunt Norris and voila, you have Fanny Price.

Kyra: I find it remarkable I came to dislike a character for whom I had so MUCH sympathy for at first. What a horrible childhood! If only she had not turned out to be such a self-righteous prig.

Lona: C.S. Lewis makes the point that Anne Elliot is actually more “judgey” than Fanny of people around her, and we don’t beat down on Anne Elliot the way we do on Fanny. I say cut Fanny some slack – she is young, shy, sheltered and repressed – a real and believable person but unfortunately lacking the dynamism we look for in a heroine. In my opinion, her worse trait is when she wallows in ultra-humility – two examples: making Mary stand there and wait while she dithers over choosing a necklace, or making four people stand around while she wonders whether she should accept the Grant’s dinner invitation.

Kyra: I think she is passive aggressive; she uses her timidity and inaction to control others.

Lona: I think that’s overstating it!

Kyra: Having been on the receiving end of passive tyranny, myself and my therapists would argue differently. Non-communication, evading resolution, false agreement, and obstruction are all well-known forms of passive aggression. Fanny bullied everyone with her timidity.

Lona: I hear you, but Fanny is still in a subordinate position in her household. I think the problem with Fanny as a heroine is that she is never tempted to do other than what she does. A person who is never tempted to get drunk is not more virtuous than the alcoholic who must resist the urge to drink. A person who is never tempted to gluttony is not more virtuous than the plump person turning away from the buffet table. Fanny has no inner struggle to overcome. She must withstand the outside pressures upon her, especially the pressure to marry Henry Crawford, to stay true to her own beliefs. So, in A Contrary Wind, I have her do something she later regrets.

Kyra: It was nice to see Fanny make a mistake, I admit. Maybe she’d be more forgiving of other’s sins if she had a few of her own.

Lona: I must defend poor Fanny from your rather harsh interpretation of her. You accuse Fanny Price of being a hypocrite when she passively accepts Mary Crawford’s overtures of friendship, but I am thinking that your “hypocrisy” is my “diplomacy.” When Fanny compliments Mary’s acting, you write, “Neither Edmund nor Mary was mistrustful of Fanny’s kindness, since neither knew what a worm-eaten heart was buried in the affectionate sentimentality. Both were credulous regarding Fanny Price’s avowed regard for Mary Crawford.” I think you’re being unfair to Fanny.

Kyra: I have Asperger’s syndrome, so I am excessively fond of honesty. Diplomacy often leads me into trouble, because I assume when someone says, “That will be fine,” they actually mean it will be fine. Mary Crawford’s snarky honesty is, to me, infinitely preferable to Fanny’s mealy-mouth diplomacy. However, I agree my condemnation of Fanny would be unfair if all Fanny did was compliment Mary’s acting or otherwise be polite. However, Fanny visited Mary and made other overtures of friendship. That is beyond polite. That is misleading.

Lona: Fanny, just like Jane Bennet, can safely say that every advance in intimacy was on Mary’s side.

Kyra: I cannot agree. Fanny sought out Mary’s advice on her dress before the ball in December, because she needed help and her own family members couldn’t be bothered to give her. I would also argue that all of Fanny’s visits to the Parsonage were duplicitous signs of friendship. Fanny could have found the metaphorical guts to not visit Mary. She could have found a POLITE way to do it.

Lona: You forget that Fanny did try to keep her distance. She kept addressing Mary as “Miss Crawford,” a sign that Fanny does not return Mary’s professed warmth of feeling.

Kyra: That’s not really a good indicator of emotional distance. For Fanny to call Mary by her first name would imply an equality between them as well as friendship, and would have been a social faux paus. Mary calls her own sister “Mrs. Grant,” just as Fanny calls her cousin Mrs. Rushworth rather than “Maria” because it was an acknowledgement of the sociocultural hierarchy for married v/s single women. Fanny would rather Mary be fooled by her false regard than have to put herself to the trouble of being brave about maintaining a coolness.

Lona: I think you ask too much of Fanny. Given the difference in their ages, social situations and most importantly, the force of their personalities, how was Fanny going to look Mary Crawford in the eye and say, “no thanks, let’s not be friends”? What ought she have done?

Kyra: Ha! Fanny had plenty of fortitude when she needed it! (That’s part of what made your variation plausible.) She may have wept and dithered and blushed, but she refused Henry Crawford’s proposal and she continued to refuse him EVEN AFTER her Uncle Bertram ripped her apart for it. She could have refused Mary Crawford’s invitations on some pretexts or another. Even more crucially, she could have refused to write to Mary because of “their unique circumstances” regarding Henry’s rejected proposal or something.

Lona: But it would be typical of Fanny’s obliging, yielding nature just to agree to it. We’re talking about writing some letters here, not marrying somebody. Also Edmund kept encouraging their friendship, Mrs. Grant encouraged their friendship, so Mary wouldn’t be bored. She was being pressured by people she respected.

Kyra: She was pressured by people she respected to wed Henry Crawford, too, but she found the wherewithal to refuse that. Agreeing to write Mary was above and beyond polite return visits, too. Letter writing was a serious business, and the Regency equivalent of pledging friendship (not mere acquaintanceship) between two young, unmarried women. If they had been older, married ladies then letters would have been less of a big deal. Fanny knew she was implying a friendship that simply wasn’t there. She knew she was lying to Mary by implication. Moreover, Mary was hardly the only one initiating contact between the two of them.

Alright readers, what’s your opinion of all this? Was Fanny being two-faced or just polite in regards to her relationship with Mary Crawford?

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Lona Manning

Lona Manning is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at 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 www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.

Lona was born in Seoul, South Korea shortly after the Korean War. Her father taught library science and her mother cared for war orphans. She and her husband Ross have two grown sons. They divide their time between their home in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, and China.

Lona is the author of “The Hurricane Hoax,” “The Murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair” and other true crime stories. “A Contrary Wind” is her first novel.

About A Contrary Wind

Fanny Price, niece to Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, is an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, who is grateful for the advantages of education and breeding conferred upon her as result of growing up with her wealthier cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, coupled with the pain of knowing that the man she secretly loves is infatuated with the vivacious but cold-hearted Mary Crawford, compel Fanny to run away from Mansfield Park and find employment as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the one man she loves, will Fanny grow in fortitude and independence? Will a new suitor heal her broken heart? Or will a reckless decision threaten to destroy her own life and the lives of those she holds most dear? This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, as well as some new acquaintances. There are some mature scenes.

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but Mansfield Parsonage is her first foray into fictional writing. You can visit her website at kyrackramer.com to learn more about her life and work.

About Mansfield Parsonage

Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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I’m very excited to welcome Leenie Brown to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time today to celebrate the release of Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy, a continuation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Now, you all know how much I adore Pride and Prejudice and can’t get enough of those variations, but I’m always thrilled to see an author take on a different Austen novel. Please give Leenie a warm welcome as she talks about what inspired her to tackle Mansfield Park, gives us a peek at the novel, and offers my readers a generous giveaway!

Thank you, Anna, for hosting me today. I am delighted to be here to share with you and your readers about my newest book.

Last school year, I was fortunate enough to speak to a class of very young authors.  One of the questions that I got asked during that session was about where I get my ideas for my stories.  My answer? Everywhere.  You have to be curious. Inspiration for stories is all around us. Of course, each book I write tends to have a different source of inspiration and even within the book itself, there may be several sources of inspiration as characters and scenes unfold.  You could say that each story has a story of its own.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little bit about the story behind Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy.

Each Monday on my blog, I share music, writing news, and an excerpt of a current work in progress.  I count these as my accountability posts ─ the posts were I have to examine and share what I created during the prior week. There are days when I would rather do anything but write; however, I know that Monday is coming, and my readers are waiting to sample what I have been working on. Therefore, I write.

However, back in May of this year, I had just finished editing and publishing two books, a short novel and a novelette, and I was working on getting another novella ready that was scheduled to publish in June.  My brain was tired, but Monday was coming. So, I pulled out a story that had been hanging around for a while and attempted to work on it. I managed a few words but none that pleased me.  I knew I couldn’t share what I had written because I wasn’t positive the story was going as I wanted it to go.

Saturday, the day when I prepare my Monday post, arrived, and I had nothing new.  So, I pulled out something I had written for an Emma read along in which I had participated and shared that, explaining that I was between ideas and my creativity was flagging.

In the comments on that post, someone asked if I could write a piece making Henry Crawford redeemable ─ Henry Crawford! Of all the no good, rotten players to have to make likeable! I mean, I love Mansfield Park, but Henry Crawford? Oh, no, I do not like Henry Crawford.  Not. at. all.

However, the idea would not let me go. It begged me to consider it.  I spent that evening rereading sections of Mansfield Park and taking notes.  A story began to formulate, and by the end of the night,  I had even chosen a name for my heroine based on something Henry lacked. I spent another day or two allowing the story time to percolate and solidify into more of a plan, and then I began writing.

In the last chapter of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen writes

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort and to have done with all the rest.

She then goes on to detail in part what the future holds for the characters we met in her novel.  Henry’s section is fairly lengthy and includes details about his affair with Maria and how it dashed all his hopes of happiness with Fanny.  And then, Jane leaves him in wretchedness.

That punishment, the public punishment of disgrace, should in a just measure attend his share of the offence is, we know, not one of the barriers which society gives to virtue. In this world the penalty is less equal than could be wished; but without presuming to look forward to a juster appointment hereafter, we may fairly consider a man of sense, like Henry Crawford, to be providing for himself no small portion of vexation and regret: vexation that must rise sometimes to self-reproach, and regret to wretchedness, in having so requited hospitality, so injured family peace, so forfeited his best, most estimable, and endeared acquaintance, and so lost the woman whom he had rationally as well as passionately loved.

This is where I decided to pick up that “other pen.”  Henry has had his transformative moment ─ that painful experience of having lost everything due to poor and selfish choices.  He has wallowed in his misery for some time, and he is now ready to make his change complete and find a woman of good character to take as a wife.

But change is never easy.  Sometimes it requires help.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4 as Henry begins his lessons with a very pretty and proper tutor ─ Constance Linton.  The other principal players mentioned in this section are Linton ─ Trefor Linton, Constance’s older brother ─ and Trefor and Constance’s Aunt Gwladys.

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“Crawford,” Linton greeted the next afternoon as he entered the sitting room where Henry was waiting for Constance. “What brings you to my house again today?”

“Do try to sound civil,” Aunt Gwladys chided from her corner. “Remember that Mr. Crawford is your friend.”

Linton raised a brow at his aunt. “I remember precisely who Crawford is, and I see his curricle in front of my house and wish to know why.”

“He is taking Constance for a drive at my request.” Aunt Gwladys spared only a glance up at her nephew from her stitching. “Do you not remember that Constance and I are helping Mr. Crawford learn to be a proper gentleman?”

“You said you were going to instruct him on how to treat a lady.”

“And we are.”

“By sending Constance out in his curricle with him?”

Aunt Gwladys nodded and peered over her spectacles once again at Linton. “There is no better way to learn something than by doing. So, Mr. Crawford is going to practice courting a lady on your sister. There is nothing to fear. Constance is not so retiring that she will not tell him where he is going wrong, and you have been threatening the man with bodily harm for several years, have you not?”

Linton growled, and Henry worried the brim of his hat. “If you harm her or her reputation, I will see you pay.”

“I know, you have said so several times, and I do not doubt your words,” Henry replied. He swallowed as Linton stepped close enough to his side that their shoulders were touching.

“Do not break her heart,” Linton whispered, “or I will pierce yours.”

“I have no intention of engaging her heart.”

Linton scowled. “See that you don’t.”

Constance stopped at the doorway. She knew that her brother had said he threatened Henry on a regular basis, but she had never seen it until now. Though she did not hear any exchange of words, she could tell that Henry was not just uneasy but fearful. To give him time to compose himself and to spare him any embarrassment, she stepped back from view and called out cheerfully that she was ready as she entered.

Henry smiled at her. She was lovely. The blue of her eyes was heightened by the blue of her pelisse and hat. “Shall we go then?”

Constance shook her head and grinned. “No. A gentleman should always compliment a lady on her looks before they depart. We like that sort of thing. Begin again.” She caught how Henry darted a look at her brother. “He shall not harm you for saying his sister is lovely.” She crossed her arms and glared at Trefor. “Unless, of course, he thinks she is not.”

“Do not be ridiculous, Connie. You know I think you are beautiful.” He crossed the room to give her cheek a kiss. “I just find it difficult to hear other gentlemen say it.”

She patted the hand that had grasped hers. “Then do not listen.” She chuckled at his huff. “Mr. Crawford and I are only friends. He requested my help, and I am providing it.” She tipped her head and smiled up at her brother.

“Be careful,” Linton cautioned.

“When am I not?” Constance asked.

“You do not wish for me to answer that. However, I will say that you are intelligent enough to know how easily plans can go awry.”

“All will be well,” Constance assured him. “Now, my pupil awaits to tell me how fetching I look.” She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. “You can question me about every detail over dinner.”

She turned away from her brother and back to Henry. All would be well, she assured herself. She could entertain the attentions of a charming gentleman without falling under his spell. This was Henry Crawford, after all. She had never before fallen for his pretty words. Of course, that was before he had taken on his current persona. No, she shook herself mentally, this was Henry. All would be well.

“You look lovely,” Henry said as he approached her and offered his arm. “Now, shall we go?”

She nodded and placed her hand on his arm. “That was much better. However, in the future, a more specific compliment might be better. You might wish to mention the colour of my ensemble as being flattering or some such thing.”

“Not with your brother present,” Henry muttered.

“Are your intentions less than honourable?” she questioned in a teasing voice.

“No.”

“Then you should not fear what a brother or guardian might think. They do the same when they greet ladies. I have heard Trefor do it.”

Henry laughed, looking over his shoulder at Linton. “Perhaps I should not fear your brother, but I do.” He gave Linton a knowing nod and was rewarded with something less like a scowl and more like a smile as they left the sitting room.

****

You know, of course, that not all will be well, right? There will have to be at least a few stumbles and moments of decision in which our hero, the reformed Henry Crawford, can prove his worth before we come to a happy ending. 

However, when this book ends, my time with Mr. Crawford and his friends will not.  There are currently two more stories that I would like to tell.  It’s amazing the ideas that a simple question from a reader has sparked! 

If you would like to have your say about which character’s story I should write next in this collection of books, stop by my Other Pens Readers Group before September 22, 2017, and cast your vote in my poll. 

Thank you so much, Anna, for the opportunity to share about my book with you and your readers.

Thank you, Leenie, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release! I’m looking forward to reading it!

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About Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy

He’s failed before, but with her help, this time, he might just succeed.

Henry Crawford has failed to secure the heart of a good woman before ─ and quite spectacularly so! There are few in town who have not heard of his scandalous affair. While his debacle might have proven great fodder for the gossips, it has left him with a shattered heart and a deep desire to change his ways.

However, change is never easy.

Old habits can die hard, and some friends may wish to see you say as you always were. Thankfully for Henry, there are others, such as Trefor Linton, who will wish to help and will offer his sister as a dance partner to help Henry ease his way into society.

While most girls her age dream of a rich and handsome husband, Constance Linton is looking for more. She wishes for an intelligent gentleman of good character who is not opposed to a bookish lady. But sifting through the dross in a ballroom in search of such a man is no easy task.

A gentleman with Henry’s reputation is not the sort of man for whom Constance seeks, yet she is not opposed to lending him her aid in achieving his desires.

What begins as a single dance will grow into a collaboration that will equip Henry with all he needs to win a woman of worth, while entangling hearts and leaving not only his own heart and reputation but also that of his friend and tutor at risk of being irreparably damaged.

Check out Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy on Goodreads | Amazon (global link) | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Other Retailers

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About the Author

Leenie Brown

Leenie Brown has always been a girl with an active imagination, which, while growing up, was a both an asset, providing many hours of fun as she played out stories, and a liability, when her older sister and aunt would tell her frightening tales. At one time, they had her convinced Dracula lived in the trunk at the end of the bed she slept in when visiting her grandparents!

Although it has been years since she cowered in her bed in her grandparents’ basement, she still has an imagination which occasionally runs away with her, and she feeds it now as she did then ─ by reading!

Her heroes, when growing up, were authors, and the worlds they painted with words were (and still are) her favourite playgrounds! Now, as an adult, she spends much of her time in the regency world, playing with the characters from her favourite Jane Austen novels and those of her own creation.
When she is not traipsing down a trail in an attempt to keep up with her imagination, Leenie resides in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia with her two sons and her very own Mr. Brown (a wonderful mix of all the best of Darcy, Bingley, and Edmund with a healthy dose of the teasing Mr. Tilney and just a dash of the scolding Mr. Knightley).

Connect with Leenie Brown via email (LeenieBrownAuthor@gmail.com) | Twitter | Facebook | Other Pens Readers Group | Instagram | Blog | Mailing List | Austen Authors

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Giveaway

Leenie is kindly offering 2 ebooks of Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us what intrigues you most about this take on Mansfield Park. This giveaway will close on Sunday, September 3, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★☆

Holidays with Jane: Spring Fever is a collection of short stories set during Easter and the spring season. Each of the six stories in the book is a modern take on one of Jane Austen’s novels. I had hoped to finish the book before summer arrived, but I’ve been so busy these days that I’m just glad to have finished it! Besides, these holiday story collections can be enjoyed any time of year.

Here’s a short rundown of the stories in this collection:

“Extra Innings” by Jessica Grey (based on Persuasion)

Annie Elliot is the administrative assistant to the GM of the Chawton Choppers. Rick Wentworth is a former major league baseball player who returns to coach the team. The pair must come to terms with the end of their relationship so many years ago and figure out whether there’s a chance to move forward.

“Miracle at the Abbey” by Cecilia Gray (based on Northanger Abbey)

Kathia returns to The Abbey, the home where she lived as a teenager after her mother’s death, for her paranormal reality show. She is reunited with the owners’ son, Henry Trang, and is forced to come to terms with the past and the events that prompted her to flee The Abbey…and Henry.

“Whine and Wineries” by Melissa Buell (based on Sense and Sensibility)

The Dashwoods are forced to leave their family home upon the death of their patriarch. The move to a cottage at the Barton Winery separates Elinor from Edward just as their friendship seems to deepen, but her family’s involvement in a wedding planning business results in their crossing paths again.

“Emma’s Inbox: An Emma Story” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Emma)

Emma is a writer for the Hartfield Herald, and Noah Knightley is the town’s mayor. This story of matchmaking gone awry is told through emails and text messages among the various characters.

“No Vacancy at Mansfield Motel” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Mansfield Park)

This story is set on the ocean, with Fanny Price stuck taking care of the Mansfield Seaside Motel while the rest of Bertram family does whatever they please. She had hoped to spend time with her favorite cousin Eddie while he is on break from school, but instead he is preoccupied with the friends he brings along, Mary and Henry Crawford, and fails to notice Fanny and all the dreams she’s pushed to the wayside to care for the family.

“Lydia Reimagined” by Jennifer Becton (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Lydia Bennet is determined to prove that she has learned from her failed relationship with George Wickham by attending his wedding. When she bumps into an old friend, Kyle Dennison, she is forced to consider her motives for being there and the larger questions of who she has become and what she wants.

As with the previous Holidays with Jane anthologies I’ve read (Trick or Sweet and Christmas Cheer), I enjoyed each of the stories. They were all unique and clever retellings of Austen’s novels. “Lydia Reimagined” is the story that stood out most to me. I loved seeing Lydia putting herself on the right track, bumbling through awkward situations with her head held high and with good intentions.

While the spring season itself wasn’t always front and center, each story did touch on the themes of renewal and hope. I really enjoy when these authors come together to celebrate various holidays and seasons, and of course, our love of all things Austen. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of these themed collections.

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My guest today is Kyra C. Kramer, who is visiting Diary of an Eccentric with an exclusive video guest post to celebrate the release of her new novel, Mansfield Parsonage, a variation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. In the video, Kyra talks about Mansfield Parsonage and why Mary Crawford is arguably the most interesting and likeable character in Austen’s novel. Please give a warm welcome to Kyra C. Kramer:

Thanks, Kyra! What an interesting take on Mansfield Park! I’m definitely looking forward to reading Mansfield Parsonage.

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About Mansfield Parsonage

mansfield_parsonage

Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

“This book captures Austen’s voice with a fascinating point of view.” – Maria Grace, Author of “Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World”

“Kyra Kramer delights with her cheeky take on one of Austen’s most misunderstood characters. Through sharp observation and a talent for turn of phrase, Kramer polishes Mary Crawford into the bright jewel she truly is. By the end, you’ll be wondering why the original wasn’t written from her perspective all along. This is Regency Era at its finest. Mansfield Parsonage, a true source of felicity!” – Adrienne Dillard, Author of “Cor Rotto”

Check out Mansfield Parsonage on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but this is her first foray into fictional writing.

Connect with Kyra C. Kramer via website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

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Giveaway

MadeGlobal Publishing is generously offering a hard copy of Mansfield Parsonage to my readers. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and answer the question Kyra poses in her video post: are you pro-Mary or pro-Fanny/Edmund? This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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mansfield_parsonage_book_tour_poster

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holidays with jane

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

“I’ve an assignment for you,” Samuel said as he clunked the cup back down.

Jane sighed. “I thought as much. Why does He always send you? Couldn’t He send someone with a sharper wit to entertain Cassandra and me?”

“It was either me or a Brontë, my dear girl. I thought I’d spare you that.”

(from “It’s a Wonderful Latte” in Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer)

Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer is a collection of six Christmas-themed stories based on each of Jane Austen’s novels.

“The Work of an Instant” by Jennifer Becton  (based on Persuasion)

An oddly dressed Santa working in the Mansfield Perk coffee shop informs Dr. Anne Elliot that she will receive her Christmas wish just before her old flame, Lieutenant Commander Frederick Wentworth waltzes in, apparently on leave from the USS Kellynch. Her nurse friend Louisa pounces immediately, but could a Christmas ball and some Christmas magic reunite Anne and Frederick after so many years apart?

“Mischief and Mistletoe” by Melissa Buell (based on Northanger Abbey)

Pastor’s daughter and aspiring fashion designer Catherine Morland gets a chance to spread her wings when she is offered a job making new costumes for the annual Dickens’ Christmas Festival in Santa Barbara. Cate is over the moon when she meets Henry Tilney, but she worries that a misunderstanding of her situation could alter his feelings for her.

“A Tale of Three Christmases” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Sense and Sensibility)

The lives of the Dashwood sisters are in chaos following the death of their father. The youngest, Maggie, finds solace in her writing, and a thoughtful gift from her father and a bit of Christmas magic help her navigate the family and romantic dramas over a period of three years.

“With Love, from Emma” by Cecilia Gray (based on Emma)

Emma Gold may not have any family to keep her company during the holidays, but she takes comfort in her matchmaking abilities. However, she fears her efforts to pair up members of the bridal party at her best friend’s wedding may have gone awry amid her confusing feelings for and competitive banter with Lance Knightley, whose bar is next to her flower shop and whose kiss under the mistletoe she can’t forget.

“It’s a Wonderful Latte” by Jessica Grey (based on Mansfield Park)

Mansfield Perk manager Evie and her best friend Frank find themselves at odds when the Piper siblings solicit their help for a fundraiser. Not sure what to do about her new relationship-going-nowhere and her complicated feelings for Frank, Evie needs the help of Jane Austen herself, who uses a bit of Christmas magic to help Evie realize love (and the real meaning of the novel Mansfield Park).

“Pride & Presents” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Liz Bennet is ready to take the reins at the Longbourn Community Center and enable her father to retire. She hopes for a Christmas to remember, with the help of basketball star Charles Bingley. Meanwhile, his lawyer friend Will Darcy has Liz all out of sorts, and he certainly made a bad first impression, so when he asks her out, she is shocked and turns him down. And then the fantastic Christmas she has planned for the children starts to crumble, along with her family’s grasp on Longbourn, and Liz must swallow her pride and realize she may not be such a good judge of character after all.

As with Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet, I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, and again, I loved how they were connected in little ways, through the Mansfield Perk coffee shop and Cate’s Creations. In fact, this time it’s too hard for me to choose a favorite story! I also love how these are modern takes on Austen’s novels and how they aren’t straight retellings, and even though the stories are short, I was satisfied with all of the endings. I hope to squeeze more holiday reading in before the new year, but if I don’t have time, I’ll be thankful to have ended on a bright note. I’m looking forward to reading the other Holidays with Jane collections next year!

Merry Christmas!!

Disclosure: Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer is from my personal library.

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trick-or-sweet

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Jane laughed, “I know exactly what you mean! That’s the beauty of novels, isn’t it? How well fiction can illustrate and even reflect everyday life. I never open a novel without reading about someone I know — and often meet people I’m already familiar with from the pages of a book.”

(from “Once Upon a Story” in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet)

Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is a collection of six Halloween-themed stories based on each of Jane Austen’s novels.

“Must Be Magic” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Persuasion)

Anne Elliot is still learning how to control her powers — the powers that cost her the love of Fareed Walia eight years ago when she turned down an offer from him in order to find herself — when her family is forced to sell Kellynch House. Fareed comes back into her life at the same time as a dark figure from Anne’s past seeking a powerful talisman and revenge.

“Once Upon a Story” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Northanger Abbey)

College student Catie meets a pair of curious sisters at a coffee house as she attempts to piece together what went wrong at the annual Fall-o-Ween festival. Her research about the Battlefield Legend may have cost her the friendship of the Tilney family and the man she loves.

“Insensible” by Cecilia Gray (based on Sense and Sensibility)

Betrayed by her parents, Miriam Dashwood’s life and the family’s business, Dashing Events, are in shambles. She scrambles to pull off the ultimate Halloween party for Brandon Firestone’s law firm as she navigates her confusing feelings for him and the excitement of a motorcycle ride with the bad boy rocker from the band Willow Bee.

“Emma Ever After” by Melissa Buell (based on Emma)

Emma Woodhouse is planning the annual Fall Ball to benefit the charity in her late mother’s name and decides it would be a great idea to auction off local eligible bachelors. Her friend Grant Knightley is skeptical of the plan, her matchmaking abilities, and TV show host Frank Hill, who may or may not have his sights set on Emma.

“Mansfield Unmasked” by Jennifer Becton (based on Mansfield Park)

In a mash-up of Mansfield Park and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pug — Lady Bertram’s furry friend at the Mansfield Park Boarding House — wants to use his cupid magic to help his friend, Pryce, but things get all mixed up at an outrageous, last-minute Halloween party.

“Beyond Midnight” by Jessica Grey (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Will Harper loses a bet to his sister and must attend the high school’s Trick or Sweet dance dressed in the costume of her choice: Mr. Darcy. Things get very uncomfortable for Will when he insults Elena Marquez, who is unlike any girl he’s ever liked before, and he worries the magic between them will be lost when the dance is over and he takes off the Darcy costume.

All of the stories in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet are fun, humorous, and romantic, not to mention quick and satisfying. The stories are connected in small ways, namely the Mansfield Perk coffee house, which I really wish existed! I enjoyed all of the stories, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be probably be “Insensible,” as I really found myself drawn to Miriam and Brandon’s sweet relationship and how they both changed over the course of the story. All of these authors did an admirable job setting the autumn/Halloween scene and retelling important aspects of Austen’s novels in just a handful of pages, making them modern and very different (in a good way) at the same time. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Holidays with Jane collections!

Disclosure: Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is from my personal library.

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

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