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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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clipar41In Marrying Well for Fun & Profit: Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot Advises the Upwardly Mobile Miss, Laura Hile channels Jane Austen’s high society expert. Today, I’m delighted to welcome the man himself to Diary of an Eccentric. Please give a warm welcome to Sir Walter Elliot:

My Dear Vulgarian Reader,

After 200 years of silence, I, Sir Walter Elliot, have written a book, Marrying Well for Fun & Profit.

Its publication represents a triumph. You see, Jane Austen misquoted me frightfully in Persuasion. Now I am able to speak for myself.

Marrying Well is a treasure trove of practical tips and social sagacity. It is designed to be read for inspiration, say, alongside your morning coffee or tea. And you need advice, dear reader, because marrying above one’s station is not as easy as it appears.

Are you thinking that I, a baronet, have had to take a job? Heavens, no. Writing is not an occupation, nor is it a hobby. It’s charity work.

That is just what it is. I simply had to do something. I mean, really. People in your day are wearing pajama pants to do their shopping.

I understand being eager to purchase new clothes. But if you intend to buy ready-made garments—a thing I have never done—then you ought to use the dressing room. Instead of, say, arriving at the store half-undressed to save time.

It is the same with marrying well. You need to use your wits to ensnare the right husband, rather than your body. Keep your feminine assets attractively covered and ensnare him with attitude and charm. Allow me to show you the way. Here is the buy link for Marrying Well for Fun & Profit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZ9TC45. I’ve priced it so that it is affordable for anyone, even you. The right men are out there—if you know where to look and how, shall we say, to bait the hook.

Cordially yours in the upward climb,

Sir Walter Elliot

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About Marrying Well for Fun & Profit

marryingwell-smWas there ever a snob like Sir Walter?

He fairly leaps from the pages of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

With one eye on the looking glass and the other the Baronetage, Sir Walter is Regency England’s high society expert.

Who better to give advice to the modern young woman wishing to improve her worth through marriage?

Because marrying into wealth and privilege–thus improving the family gene pool–is not as easy as it appears.

And so Sir Walter Elliot has consented to share advice with the less fortunate.

That would be us.

Come and sit at the feet of the one who was Born to be Seen.

Check out Marrying Well for Fun & Profit on Goodreads | Amazon

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Giveaway

If you’re interested in Sir Walter’s helpful advice, you’re in luck! Laura Hile is generously offering 2 ebook copies of Marrying Well for Fun & Profit. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what interests you most about Sir Walter and his expertise in navigating modern society. The giveaway will close on Sunday, January 29, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks to both Sir Walter and Laura Hile for being my guests today!

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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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