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I am beyond excited to be hosting the cover reveal today for J.L. Ashton’s upcoming release from Meryton PressMendacity & Mourning. Before I reveal the absolutely gorgeous cover, designed by Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou, please give a warm welcome to J.L. Ashton:

As words mean so much, I have to say I am especially glad to have the cover reveal for Mendacity & Mourning here at Diary of an Eccentric (aka Writings of an Eccentric Bookworm).

It is the perfect place for the clever cover designed by the ever-talented Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou. Not only does it pay tribute to the peacock on the first editions of Pride & Prejudice, but it hints at the humor in my romantic comedy with its eccentric allusions to the unconventional people and fulsomely odd relations who surround Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and complicate and misdirect their romance.

The Fitzwilliams fret and spout fruity metaphors, while Kitty Bennet forms an unusual adoration of “the highly fashionable” Miss Bingley. Vain men strut about as gossipy peacocks, sporting beauty marks or spouting platitudes, and the Colonel is a flirty, mustachioed foil to it all.

“Never once had Darcy given honest consideration to marrying his cousin. He had cared for Anne as he might have cared for a piece of fruit. She had been enjoyable when in season, but when her temperament turned dark and surly—as it so often had—Anne had a sour bite to her personality. The apple did not fall far from the tree, his uncle Lord Matlock would grumble.

Occasionally, Darcy wondered whether his family’s reliance on fruit metaphors for ill-behaved relatives did not mask some deep-seated resentment of the French vineyards the D’Arcys had abandoned some three centuries earlier. Years ago, when he had mentioned this supposition to Richard, all he had provoked in response was a raised eyebrow and a reminder that no Fitzwilliam had any envy of the frog-tainted D’Arcy blood. “Just our gold and our art collections…” a thirteen-year-old Darcy had mumbled under his breath, but he had refrained from ever repeating it aloud after Richard bloodied his nose.”

I adore the back cover—all subtlety and yet outrageously odd. The cover captures the absolute sense of shock and dumbstruck horror that befalls all who stroll the rooms and halls of the new and improved Rosings. Art may be in the eye of the beholder, but few Bennets, Darcys or Fitzwilliams will look comfortably upon the walls of Lady Catherine’s home. And of course, Mr. Collins has an opinion to share as well….

I hope everyone will enjoy Zuki’s artwork as much as I do, and read Mendacity & Mourning to see how it all ties together. Thanks so much to Anna for hosting me! You are so kind!

It’s truly my pleasure, Jan! Thank you so much for being my guest today!

Now I know you are all anxiously awaiting the reveal, so it is my pleasure to introduce Mendacity & Mourning by J.L. Ashton:

Isn’t that a stunning cover?! I’d been dying to read the book already, but now I am even more eager to delve in.

To get you even more excited, here’s the book blurb and back cover:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.

The ebook of Mendacity & Mourning should be available around June 9-10, with the paperback to follow a couple of weeks later. Join me and some other wonderful bloggers for the Mendacity & Mourning blog tour, which runs from June 19-July 3.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out Jan’s modern Pride and Prejudice variation, A Searing Acquaintance (check out my review here), and connect with her via Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Blog.

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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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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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