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The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel, a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, is out today. To celebrate its publication, St. Martin’s Press is offering a giveaway for my readers!

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About The One That Got Away

A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, where a young woman comes face-to-face with a lost love, proving that the one that got away is sometimes the one you get back.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Ten years later, Ruby’s single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past…

Check out The One That Got Away on Amazon

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About the Author

Melissa Pimentel (Photo Credit: Ryan Bowman)

MELISSA PIMENTEL grew up in a small town in Massachusetts in a house without cable and therefore much of her childhood was spent watching 1970s British comedy on public television. These days, she spends much of her time reading in the various pubs of Stoke Newington and engaging in a long-standing emotional feud with their disgruntled cat, Welles. She works in publishing and is also the author of Love by the Book.

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Giveaway

St. Martin’s Press is generously offering one copy of The One That Got Away to my readers. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what interests you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, September 3, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Source:: Author
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Frederick sat there for a moment, thinking. “You know, I have to say the number one barrier in a lasting relationship with me is weakness of character. If a woman can easily be persuaded by her friends and family to do something she doesn’t really want, then she and I won’t make a good pair.”

I sat there looking at the television and I realized I was never going to be able to fix the mistake I had made. This next month was going to be torture.

(from Modern Persuasion)

Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks takes Jane Austen’s Persuasion into the present day. Emma Shaw (Anne Elliot) is an editor at the publishing house run by family friend Karen Russell, who is grooming Emma to take over the imprint run by her father, Walter Shaw. Somehow Emma manages to sort out her father’s and sister Elizabeth’s financial troubles, cater to her needy sister Mary, and get everything in order for PubCon. She’s hit hard by the appearance of Frederick Wentworth, who is there to promote his new book before going on tour.

Circumstances conspire to put Emma in charge of Frederick’s book tour, which makes for some awkward situations given that they haven’t been in touch since she turned down his marriage proposal eight years ago. Emma holds it together the best she can as she and Frederick, accompanied by his friend Patrick and her assistant Louisa, go from city to city barely speaking to one another, and definitely not addressing their unresolved feelings.

Marks’ knowledge and appreciation of Austen’s novel shines through in her retelling. I recognized Anne and Captain Wentworth in her Emma and Frederick (though I wonder why her name was changed to Emma). I liked the setting of the novel, the various cities on the book tour and then in Cape Cod, and how Marks translated the obstacles faced by the characters into modern times and made them feel real and relevant. However, some of the scenes could’ve been fleshed out with some dialogue, and some of the repetitive elements at the end could have been eliminated.

Even so, I enjoyed Modern Persuasion. It was fresh and fun, a fast-paced read, and I always enjoy when authors are inspired by an Austen novel other than Pride and Prejudice.

Disclosure: I received Modern Persuasion from the author for review.

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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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Today I am delighted to welcome Sara Marks to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time to celebrate the release of her new novel, Modern Persuasion, a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I asked Sara if she would be kind enough to share her story of coming to love Jane Austen. Please give her a warm welcome:

High School Overachievement in Reading

I knew very little in High School, but one thing I did know was that I was going to have to read Pride and Prejudice in my senior year.  I have always been a voracious reader and I wanted, at the time, to be ready for the book when it was time to read it.  That how I ended up reading P&P on my own as a Junior.  I still have the copy they gave us when we read it my senior year.  There were so many things I missed as a teenager, but the more often I read Austen books, the more comfortable I got with them.  Over the years I would read more books, stopping and starting as my irritation at characters ebbed and flowed.  I stopped reading for a few years when I tried Sense & Sensibility.  I felt annoyed with characters in this book, especially Marianne.  I enjoyed Northanger Abbey years later, but Mansfield Park felt like it just never ended.  Persuasion was the last of her books that I read and has been firmly locked in my heart ever since.

Movies, Mini-Series, and More

I spent most of my adult reading life as a fan of fantasy and science fiction more than classics.  I re-read a few favorite Austen book (P&P, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion), but, like for many others, it was the movies and adaptations that I found most enjoyable.  I remember the first time I saw Clueless, just as I was starting to read Emma for the first time and realizing they were one and the same.  I remember watching the BBC P&P miniseries and realizing Mr. Darcy SHOULD have lovely curls…he should ALWAYS HAVE CURLS!  I love Colin Firth, but I had to cast my own Mr. Darcy and, alas, he will never play the role… The modern movies and mini-series have more of a place in my heart than the classic ones.  I prefer McFayden’s Emo-Darcy or Matthew Ryhs’ coy and playful interpretation.

I Gave Myself Permission to Write

The shift in my obsession stems from Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.  I know it’s not for everyone, but it brought me back to Austen in a way nothing else had.  For me, it was the introduction to the idea that I could write fan fiction of Austen and tell an original story.  It got me interested in reading the Jane Austen Fan Fiction (some I loved and some made me cringe…most I loved).  Seeing other authors try to modernize, re-interpret, extend, or look back in time on Jane’s stories was thrilling as a reader and writer.  Then came the Lizzy Bennet Diaries and it was like I had permission to write the fantasies inside my head.  I had always played around with trying to understand who a character would be if he or she was alive today.

What Comes Next?

I have taken a break from most JAFF at the moment because I am writing it.  I read it with a range of emotions from “I would have done this instead” or “well, all my writing is crap compared to this!” I have a list of Persuasion JAFF books that I am going to finally read once Modern Persuasion comes out!  I am also re-reading Austen’s books on my blog.  I have done Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.  This fall will be Emma and winter 2018 I will do Pride and Prejudice.  It helps me get back into the frame of the story as I write my modernizations.  I love having my readers leave comments through the readings!

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About Modern Persuasion:

Which would you pick: the person you love or your own dreams? What would you do if given a second chance at that decision? Eight years ago Emma Shaw picked her career and family over the man she loved, Fredrick Wentworth. Since then she has built a career in publishing and spends her free time making sure her father and sisters are taken care of. Fredrick has spent the same years building his career as a screenwriter under increasing public scrutiny as a celebrity. When the editor of Fredrick s first book is injured, Emma is forced to travel with Fredrick on his book tour. Tension builds for the two former lovers over the course of the tour. Emma and Fredrick must face their emotional baggage and their misunderstanding about how their break-up impacted the other. Will they be able to find their way back together for a second chance at love?

Check out Modern Persuasion on Goodreads | Amazon

Read a sample chapter here.

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About the Author

Sara Marks

Sara Marks is an author, knitter, Wikipedian, and librarian from Massachusetts. Born in Boston, her family moved to Miami, Florida, when she was 3.  There she spent the next 14 years of her life. She attended Florida State University for 3 years, but graduated with an A.A from Miami-Dade College and a B.A. from Florida International University before moving back to Boston for graduate school.  She hasn’t left Massachusetts since (except to visit people and places in the world).  Now, over fifteen years later and over 10 years of participating in National Novel Writing Month, she is releasing her first novel, Modern Persuasion, with Illuminated Myth Publishing.  Sara works with local writing group Mill Pages, which creates an annual anthology of short stories, poems, and art work.  She is a member of the Society of Independent Publishers and Authors (SIPA), a group supporting writers in the Merrimack Valley.

When she isn’t writing, Sara is an academic librarian at University of Massachusetts Lowell.  She has a masters degree in library science and another in Communications.  She is an active Wikipedian who has been editing Wikipedia for over 10 years.  She is a member of Toastmasters International where she has twice earned the status of Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest status members can achieve.  She is one of the local organizers for National Novel Writing Month.  She is an avid knitter who designs and publishes her own patterns.  She love unicorns, Paris, and the color purple.

Connect with Sara via email | website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Giveaways

#1: Sara is generously offering an ebook copy of Modern Persuasion to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us what most excites you about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, June 4, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post.

#2: She is also offering a special giveaway to U.S. readers. Since part of the story happens on Frederick’s book tour, she is offering touristy knick-knacks from each of the cities they visit (the NYC item will be a surprise!). The winner will receive the entire collection of knick-knacks and an autographed paperback copy of the book. To enter, you need to sign up for her mailing list, and you can do so and enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter link. Everyone who signs up for the mailing list is added to the raffle and also will receive a short story related to Modern Persuasion: “Mary and the Anti-Feminist.” This giveaway ends on June 5.

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5/22 My Jane Austen Bookclub

5/22 More Agreeably Engaged

5/23 Half Agony, Half Hope

5/24 JustJane 1813

5/24 The Ardent Reader

5/25 From Pemberly to Milton

5/26 Diary of an Eccentric

5/26 My Love for Jane Austen

5/27 Babblings of a Bookworm

5/28 Musings from the Yellow Kitchen

5/29 vvb32 Reads

5/29 Austenesque Reviews

Thank you, Sara, for being my guest today!

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snowbound-at-hartfield-ebookI’m excited to have Maria Grace as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric again today, this time to celebrate the release of her novella, Snowbound at Hartfield (click to read my review). Because Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Emma are my favorites of Austen’s novels, I was curious as to what inspired Maria to merge these stories, and she has been kind enough to talk about that and the challenges of getting the principal characters together. Please give a warm welcome to Maria Grace:

By all accounts,  Snowbound at Hartfield is a bit of an odd duck. It is an Austen mash-up of three different books, a romance about second chances and a glimpse at the difficult reality single adults, men and women, faced in the regency era. Kind of a tall order under the best of circumstances.

But no one has ever accused me of doing things the easy way.

Ever.

The idea for Snowbound came out of a March Mash-up Madness theme we had last year at Austen Variations. (Shameless plug—we’re doing it again next month! Go by the Facebook group and leave us your suggestion! You never know…) One of our readers suggested a scene between some of the Austen fathers. It seemed to me like Mr. Bennet would find Mr. Woodhouse and Sir Walter Elliot particularly good fodder for his sense of humor.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get them all in the same place at the same time, given that neither Mr. Woodhouse nor Mr. Bennet was fond of travel. Add in the baronet we’d all like to strangle, and it was quite a pickle to get them all in a room together. Since they would not be likely to socialize together, getting stuck together because of bad weather seemed to be the best excuse available and fitting the time period.

It all took an interesting turn when the characters ended up in the drawing room together. I started out writing a scene about the fathers. But midway through that scene, two secondary characters stepped up and informed me that this was their story and it was not going to be over in a single scene. In fact, I tried to end the story twice before I actually got to the end the characters demanded. They were very insistent that I get them to the end they wanted. The oddest thing about it was that it was a heroine I NEVER expected to write.

In general, I have never liked Miss Elizabeth Elliot, especially since I see myself something of an Anne Elliot. So I definitely didn’t want to write her or set her up for a happy ending.

But, I guess I’m a sucker for characters who want to turn over a new leaf (like Lydia in The Trouble to Check Her).  The story begins after Miss Elliot has suffered two very difficult experiences. First, the heir presumptive of the family, William Elliot, has taken her friend, Penelope Clay, ‘under his protections’–which is to say he has made her his mistress. Worse yet, Penelope is living in his house, which was just not done. All this happened while Elizabeth was expecting an offer of marriage from him. Talk about humiliation!

On top of that, her younger sister Anne is married to the very desirable Captain Wentworth, leaving Elizabeth, the eldest sister who should have been the first to marry, the only one left unmarried.

So, Elizabeth is an humiliated spinster, whose financial situation requires her to live with her foolish father. In such a situation, she would be the mistress of the house, handling the management aspect of this home. With little money to work with, it would have been very challenging to live the lifestyle of a baronet, as her father would have required.

Living through all that would tax anyone, maybe even to the breaking point. To me, it seemed the perfect motivation for potential personal change, so that’s the place I wrote her from.

The hero of this tale, believe it or not, is Colonel Fitzwilliam, who in many ways was as broken as Miss Elliot. As a military officer of the era, he would have seen action in the Napoleonic wars. Those wars were brutal and horrific. It is hard to imagine a man who could experience that without some lasting effects. Those experiences impact him greatly, leaving him feeling ‘less’ than the man he used to be.

On top of all that, he is a bachelor in a society that considered unmarried men the ‘scourge of society’. In many instances, bachelors paid substantially more in taxes than married men, while at the same time, they were not regarded as fulfilling their masculine potential. They were not as persecuted at spinsters, but they were definitely looked down upon.

So what happens when these two, worn-around-the-edges characters meet up? Let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting! But this is one snowstorm I’m very glad I got caught in.

Thanks, Maria! I am so glad for that snowstorm as well, since I absolutely loved this novella!

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About Snowbound at Hartfield

Colonel Fitzwilliam should have been happy facing retirement. No more Napoleon, no more tromping the Continent, and his distant cousin had unexpectedly left him an estate. What was more, two of his favorite people, Darcy and Elizabeth, were travelling with him to visit his new home.

But the colonel wasn’t happy, not when he was forced to watch Darcy exchanging enamored glances with his wife. No, he wanted to pitch his cousin out the window. It didn’t help when Darcy kept lecturing him on the joys of wedded life— as if women like Elizabeth Darcy grew on every tree.

Then the snow started.

Now they were stranded at the home of George and Emma Knightley, another intolerable, blissfully wedded couple who wanted nothing more than to see his bachelor days come to an end. Thank heavens they never thought of matching him with the proud spinster who had also been caught in the storm. That would have been utterly intolerable.

Or would it?

Check out Snowbound at Hartfield on Goodreads | Buy from an assortment of retailers

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About the Author

Maria Grace

Maria Grace

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

Connect with Maria Grace via email at author.MariaGrace@gmail.com | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Random Bits of Fascination | Jane Austen Variations | English Historical Fiction Authors

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Giveaway

Maria is generously offering an ebook copy of Snowbound at Hartfield. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. 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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snowbound-at-hartfield-ebook

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

He understood her and was willing to offer respect in a way her father never had. There was much about him that reminded her of Wentworth.

Anne and her husband loved one another. Could she love the colonel, and he her? Did it matter, though?

Compatibility and friendship were far more significant concerns. Those were the things that would last.

(from Snowbound at Hartfield)

Maria Grace’s new novella, Snowbound at Hartfield, is a delightful mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Emma, told from the alternating points of view of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot.

A blizzard finds Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, and Mr. Bennet stranded in Highbury on their way to the colonel’s newly inherited estate, Listingbrook. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and her father, Sir Walter, are traveling to visit their Dalrymple cousins when they are caught in the storm. Fortunately, Darcy runs into an old friend, Mr. George Knightley, and he invites both groups to stay with him, his wife Emma, and her father at Hartfield.

It’s not long before Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Elliot, having briefly met a few months prior, begin a careful assessment of each other, as spending several days at Hartfield with happily married couples and irritating fathers take their toll. Both have been hurt — the colonel by the war, Elizabeth by her cousin and her best friend — and they begin to understand one another in a way that only people with their own baggage and their own ghosts can. But can they get past these obstacles and learn enough about each other to build a foundation for a lifetime of happiness before the snow melts and they go their separate ways?

I couldn’t wait to read Snowbound at Hartfield because I love Grace’s writing and was curious how she would combine the characters from my three favorite Austen novels, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. I love Austen-inspired tales that put the secondary characters front and center, and Grace’s take on Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Elliot was spot on, in my opinion. A haunted, scarred Fitzwilliam embarking on a new life after his military career seemed authentic, as did an Elizabeth Elliot crushed by the betrayal of her friend, the marriage of her two younger sisters, and her diminishing prospects for marriage as she nears 30.

I also loved seeing a Mr. Bennet amused by Sir Walter and Mr. Woodhouse, and I laughed out loud several times as he baited the status-conscious baronet. It was also entertaining to see a friendship develop between Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Knightley and see them both happy in their marriages.

Snowbound at Hartfield is my favorite in Grace’s series of Sweet Tea novellas and short stories, with plenty of romance and humor to balance out the more serious aspects of the plot. It was fairly short but satisfying, and I savored it over a period of a few days because I didn’t want it to end.

Disclosure: Snowbound at Hartfield is from my personal library.

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marryingwell-sm

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

Laura Hile channels Sir Walter Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion in her latest book, Marrying Well for Fun & Profit: Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot Advises the Upwardly Mobile Miss. It’s a short escapist read written from the point of view of a high society snob who is overly concerned about his looks and keeping up appearances, regardless of how much money that requires one to spend. What ensues is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek advice on marrying well that touches on such topics as Debt, Bling, Ageing, The Fauxpology, Cyber Dating, and His Mumsie Dearest. I loved the title of one section, “Your Mirror, Your Friend,” given Sir Walter’s love of the looking glass.

Sir Walter begins and ends each section with relevant and equally amusing quotes, leads off each column with “My Dear Vulgarian Miss,” and in true Sir Walter fashion, signs off each time with “Cordially yours in the upward climb.”

I laughed out loud so many times throughout the book, and I even annoyed my husband and daughter by insisting on quoting several passages. Here are some of my favorites:

On “Debt”:

My dear, you must adjust your thinking. For nothing shrieks Plebeian or Cit (or my personal favorite, Mushroom) more loudly than a voiced determination to pay one’s debts. Repeat after me: ‘It is enough to simply pay the interest.’ And, ‘I’ll pay it off once I get my inheritance.’

Gambling debts–as between gentlemen and gentlewomen–are something else entirely. Neglect these to your peril! I do not gamble. Shopping is safer.

On “Chocolate, the Inexpensive Therapist”:

It has been said that chocolate is a girl’s best friend. It is the Inexpensive Therapist, no appointment necessary. Chocolate calms nerves, subdues sorrows, and patches together a broken heart. It also relieves menopausal symptoms, although I would not know. (Even if I were a woman, I am not at all old enough to experience those.)

On “His Mumsie Dearest”:

A mother-in-law who is deceased is one of the benefits to marrying a much-older gentleman. But young ladies never consider this. They should! Especially in your modern times! Cholera was pernicious in my day, but it had its uses.

Hile does a great job poking fun at Sir Walter and our enjoyment of him. I could picture a Sir Walter type with his quill poised over the paper, seriously contemplating these matters and delighting in the chance to contribute his expertise. If you have a couple of hours to spend with a pot of tea and are in need of some laughs, I highly recommend Marrying Well for Fun & Profit.

Please check out Sir Walter’s guest post from yesterday and Laura Hile’s generous giveaway of 2 copies here.

Disclosure: I received Marrying Well for Fun & Profit from the author for review.

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