Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘riana everly’

Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Riana Everly back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel, Death of a Clergyman, the first in the Miss Mary Investigates series. Riana is here today to talk about Regency-era forensic techniques and share some excerpts from the novel, as well as a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

CSI-Regency Style

Murder, mayhem, love!

When Elizabeth Bennet is accused of murder, her sister Mary is set on proving her innocent of the crime. Then Mr. Darcy rushes back to Meryton from London, also intent on clearing Elizabeth’s name. Darcy brings with him a private investigator named Alexander Lyons, who quickly sets about his task. But Alexander finds Mary pestering him at every turn. And Mary knows she has found something interesting, if only the annoying man from Town would listen to her!

Mary makes a great sleuth, especially when she teams up with Alexander. Individually they find evidence, and together they put the pieces together to unmask the killer. But what sort of evidence might they have at their disposal? Forensic science was hardly a career taught at the universities, and certainly not in the nursery rooms at Longbourn! Today we watch great shows such as CSI and Elementary and marvel at the science they use to solve their own cases, but things were a bit different in 1811. Here is a very short overview on some developments in forensic science over the years.

The term “forensic” comes from the Latin forēnsis, meaning “of or before the forum,” where criminal cases were analyzed and discussed in order to achieve justice. In modern terms, forensics has come to mean the analysis and application of evidence in the course of an investigation.

Some techniques in this analysis are ancient. Asking questions, interviewing people, and recording their testimony goes back as far as the first twig pressed into a clay tablet. But other endeavours are more deliberate and scientifically based. Let’s look at just a few.

Footprints

During the eighteenth century, reason began to supplant superstition in investigation. Hard evidence replaced belief in witchcraft and logic replaced torture and ordeal. Footprints were one such type of evidence.

One such case occurred in Warwick in 1816, when a farm worker was tried for assaulting and drowning a maidservant. The authorities found footprints and an impression of patched corduroy cloth in the mud where the woman died, which matched the man’s boots and breeches. He was convicted based on this and other similar evidence. (Kind S, Overman M (1972). Science Against Crime. New York: Doubleday)

Footprints could be sketched or filled with plaster to preserve them, and our sleuths could certainly use such evidence in their pursuit of the culprit in this story.

Toxicology

The first test for detecting simple arsenic in corpses was devised in 1773 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish scientist. In 1806 German chemist Valentin Ross furthered this work by working out how to detect arsenic in a victim’s stomach. This was first used in court in 1832 by James Marsh, and when the sample was too degraded for the jury to use it, he came up with a better test still. Marsh described this in The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal in 1836.

So while the concept of testing for poisons was certainly around at the time of our story, the practical use of the science was still a few years away.

Ballistics

Although the first bullet comparison was conducted by Henry Goddard of Scotland Yard in 1835, the idea of analyzing shot predated that by several decades.

In 1784 in Lancaster, John Toms was tried for shooting and killing Edward Culshaw. A pistol wad (a piece of crushed paper from the pistol) was found in Culshaw’s wound. This paper matched exactly with a piece of torn newspaper found in Toms’ pocket. He was convicted.

Fingerprints

The idea of using fingerprints for identification was advanced by Sir William Herschel in 1858. But the first use of fingerprints in a criminal case was by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four in 1890. Scotland Yard did not start to collect and use fingerprints until 1901.

Clearly, our sleuths would not have access to fingerprints in their investigation into Mr. Collins’ death!

However, despite the nascent nature of the science of forensics, our sleuths Mary and Alexander still had access to interesting ways of accumulating evidence. Here are a couple of excerpts from Death of a Clergyman.

Mary

Mrs. Cooke allowed the girl to introduce herself and state her business—namely the search for a position—before ushering her to the large table where Mary and Margaret sat. She caught herself short upon seeing Mary and faltered in her step. “Miss… Miss Bennet!”

“Hello, Polly.”

The girl’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh, please don’t make me go back. If he finds me, he’ll blame me for certain, although I’m sure I haven’t done anything wrong! Please, I beg of you, Miss Bennet!”

“Be easy, Polly,” Mary interrupted. “I am not here to take you anywhere, or to betray your whereabouts to anybody. But I would dearly like to talk to you. Perhaps together we can stop him, so that he will bother you no longer. Will you talk to me? Will you do that?”

The young maid looked from Mary to Mrs. Cooke to Margaret and back again, eyes wide and terrified like a rabbit caught in a trap. “I promise I mean you no harm, only help,” Mary tried once more, and was rewarded by a slight relaxing of the girl’s shoulders and a flicker of her eyelids.

“Sit, please. Mrs. Cooke, would it be too much trouble to ask for some tea and biscuits, if Margaret does not object? Thank you.” She turned to the maid and reassured her, “We only wish to find out more of what you know. I believe you have done nothing wrong, and together, perhaps, we can ensure that you are never blamed for something you did not do.”

Polly nodded with slow deliberation. “Very well, Miss Bennet. I shall try.”

“Thank you. My first question, so that we may all be certain of whom we spoke, is this: Who is ‘he?’ Who is this man who terrifies you so?

Alexander

As the meal progressed, Alexander found himself slipping further and further into a wine-dulled fog. His ears caught snippets of conversation—“the coaching inn on the road to Scarborough had terrible bread…,” “…seventeen feathers in her headdress, can you imagine it!…,” “…haven’t been back to the estate in months, or is it already two years?…”—but he could not bring himself to focus on any one thread. He allowed his eyes to wander across the table, transfixed in some strange way by the arrangement of dishes and platters on the white embroidered cloth.

Forcing himself out of the mist of wine and exhaustion, he brought his full attention to the beautiful tableware. The platters themselves were of exceptional quality—exquisite china and polished silver fought for pre-eminence at the table, and Alexander wondered if any of these valuable pieces would be the next to disappear from the household’s storage rooms. A sudden inspiration, fueled by boredom and the effects of too much wine—struck him, and he decided he was willing to incur the wrath of his hostess. He was thought to be a lout; let him prove it with his actions.

In the most unrefined manner he could muster, he picked up a large silver platter, now nearly devoid of its burden of sliced ham, and raising it above his head to peer at the hallmark, asked, “I say, Bingley, this must be worth a pretty penny. Any idea what it would set a man back?” Whereupon he replaced the platter atop the crisp linen cloth and sat back to observe his audience. As far as he knew from the servants, the master and his guests were quite unaware of the missing candlesticks. Perhaps, however, someone did have some knowledge! He leaned back to watch through half-closed eyes.

****

About Death of a Clergyman

Mary Bennet has always been the quiet sister, the studious and contemplative middle child in a busy family of five. She is not interested in balls and parties, and is only slightly bothered by the arrival of the distant cousin who will one day inherit her father’s estate. But then Mr. Collins is found dead, and Mary’s beloved sister Elizabeth is accused of his murder. Mary knows she must learn whatever she can to prove Elizabeth innocent of this most horrible crime, or her sister might be hanged as a murderess!

Alexander Lyons has made a pleasant life for himself in London, far from his home village in Scotland. He investigates missing documents and unfaithful wives, and earns an honest living. Then one day Mr. Darcy walks into his office, begging him to investigate the murder of Mr. Collins and to prove Elizabeth innocent of the crime. It seems like a straightforward enough case, but Alexander did not count on meeting a rather annoying young woman who seems to be in his way at every turn: Mary Bennet.

As the case grows more and more complicated, Mary and Alexander cannot stop arguing, and discover that each brings new insight into the case. But as they get close to some answers, will they survive the plans of an evildoer in the midst of quiet Meryton?

Buy: Amazon | Universal Buy Link

****

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Connect with Riana: Website | Facebook | Amazon

****

Giveaway

From Riana: I am giving away one eBook to one lucky blog visitor today. To enter, just leave a comment on the post, and I will randomly select a winner five days after this blog is posted. Please include an email address so I can get in touch with the winner. “Name dot name (at) domain” will do fine if you want to avoid bots! I will contact the winner and email the book directly, so there are no concerns about not being able to receive Amazon gift copies, which sometimes happens. Good luck!

Thank you, Riana, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

I am delighted to welcome Riana Everly back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Bennet Affair. She has brought a special guest with her today: Lord Stanton. Please give them a warm welcome!

****

Riana: Good morning, Lord Stanton. Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with us today.

Stanton: The pleasure, dear lady author, is mine. I am charmed and delighted to converse with you for the edification of your readers. I am speaking to the Royal Academy this evening on my latest discoveries, but I am all prepared and have the day at leisure. Please ask your questions.

Riana: I would love to know more about your alter-ego, the activities you pursue when not being the baron Lord Stanton.

Stanton: Ah yes. I am humbled by your knowledge of my work. I have always had, since childhood, a fascination with Natural History, and most particularly with the local avian wildlife of Britain. In other words, I am a bird lover. Since I have some facility with a pencil and paint, I have achieved some respectable renown as an author of books for interested amateurs who wish to pursue that same interest. I have published my works, most importantly Birds of Britain under my given name of Raymond Orville Fynch. And yes, I have heard the comment before, of how fortuitous it is for a man named Fynch to have a passion for birds!

Riana: Fortuitous indeed! It certainly makes it easy to remember your name. Is this your only interest outside of your barony and the House of Lords?

Stanton: Ah. You wish for me to divulge secrets which ought, most properly, to be kept silent. I admit only to some most carefully chosen companions my activities in service to Country. I cannot, of course, divulge any details of my activities, but I have the advantage of using my pursuits of ornithology to further my government work. I may travel throughout Britain wherever I wish and need only explain myself as searching for some new species of yellow wagtail or to discover the nesting grounds of the great heron. And most often, I can indeed combine my tasks, for even the most dedicated spy must take some time for personal amusement! I can think quite well whilst sitting by the edge of a pond, waiting for the wildlife to appear.

Riana: My readers will be, I’m sure, most interested in how you met Mr. Darcy. He is a great favourite, as you can imagine.

Stanton: Ah, yes, Darcy! What a fine young man he is. It began as rather an alarming tale. I was returning to my town house late one evening from a soiree with friends when I saw a gentleman being set upon by ruffians. There were three of the miscreants, all seemingly set on bringing down this gentleman, with what end in mind I do not know. Perhaps they intended theft; perhaps something more vile. This gentleman, I need not say, was your Mr. Darcy.

Although gravely injured, he had managed to fend off one, and might have succeeded against all three, but when the blackguards heard my carriage approach – and at some great speed, once I saw what was happening – they ran off into the night. I might, perhaps, have chased them, but my concern was with this young man who was by now lying insensible on the cold ground. We were almost at the door to my house, so we most carefully carried him inside, whereupon I sent for the doctor to tend to his wounds.

By necessity of his injuries, Darcy spent several days recuperating in my house, during which time I discovered a man whom I am pleased to now call a friend. He is intelligent with well-formed opinions, makes fine conversation, and most importantly, likes birds!

Riana: Was that the end of your association with Mr. Darcy, then?

Stanton: No, as it turns out, our association now goes deeper. When I discovered what skill Darcy has with a pencil and what understanding he has of matters mechanical, I engaged him to assist me with a rather intriguing situation that has come to my attention. I’m afraid I cannot say more at this moment.

Riana: Yes, yes, I completely understand! Thank you once again, Lord Stanton, for your time today. I wish you a most pleasant afternoon.

****

An excerpt from The Bennet Affair

“What happened?” The words scratched themselves from Darcy’s throat. “How…?”

“May I entice you to lean back, sir? Then I shall explain.” The pounding in Darcy’s head convinced him of the wisdom of the suggestion, and he allowed himself to be lowered until his head rested once more on a mountain of pillows, but with his upper body sufficiently inclined that he could see something of the space around him.

“Good,” the doctor nodded once, and then seated himself beside his patient and informed Darcy of his injuries. The strike to his thigh had been a sharp stone, flung from the slingshot, that had torn a gash through his leg. “That leg will smart for a while,” Doctor Yarrow explained with good humour, “but as long as infection does not set in, there should be no permanent damage, other than an impressive scar.” He explained how he had doused the wound in alcohol, as per the most modern military procedures for battle wounds, stitched it closed, and had seen no sign of infection as of yet.

The crack to Darcy’s shoulder had been more serious. “I believe that rock broke your clavicle, your shoulder bone, that is. Not much we can do about that, other than keep it still and give it time to heal. A month, perhaps two, should see you right. I’d recommend a nice long rest somewhere.

“You did lose a fair amount of blood through that gash to your leg,” Doctor Yarrow continued, “which would account for your subsequent loss of consciousness. You hit your head rather hard on the stone street when you went down. That can be a serious injury indeed, but you came to quickly enough, so I foresee little trouble there.” He peered at Darcy’s eyes and bade him to track a moving finger without moving his head. “Seems all right. Still, I would caution you not to move for some days. Lord Stanton assures me you may remain here until I give you leave to depart.”

“But I cannot… I have appointments to make, and business to attend to…”

“And they will all keep. Messages can be sent. Ah, here is Lord Stanton.” The doctor rose and gave a neat bow, then addressed Darcy one last time. “I shall return in the morning, young man. I’ll ask him to summon me if you take a turn for the worse. I’ve left a draught to help you sleep. Your lordship,” he bowed once more to the newcomer and departed the room.

Darcy attempted once more to struggle upright, but the room swam about him, and he succumbed to the pull of his pillows. “Do not, on any account, attempt to move,” a new voice sounded, and a different face now hovered above his own. “The doctor informs me you must rest and rest you shall. I am Stanton, at your service. You are my guest until Yarrow informs me you may be moved. May I have the honour of knowing to whom I speak?”

Darcy blinked and the face came into focus. Stanton seemed only some ten years older than himself—somewhere between five-and-thirty and forty years of age, Darcy surmised—and possessed dark eyes and hair that had not begun to grey. His manner was soothing and everything elegant, and he spoke with the calm tones of a man more accustomed to sober thought than rash action. The invitation had been warm and genuine but not gushing, and despite being a man slow to trust others, Darcy took an instant liking to his savior.

****

About The Bennet Affair

A tale of secrets, sweethearts, and spies!

Elizabeth Bennet’s bedroom in the ancient tower of Longbourn has always been her private haven. So what are those footsteps and shuffling noises she’s now hearing from the room above her head? Drawn from her bed one dark summer night, her clandestine investigations land her in the middle of what looks like a gang of French spies!

William Darcy’s summer has been awful so far, especially after barely rescuing his sister from a most injudicious elopement. Then he is attacked and almost killed nearly at his own front door in one of the best parts of London. Luckily his saviour and new friend, Lord Stanton, has a grand suggestion—recuperate in the countryside and help uncover the workings of a ring of French spies, rumoured to be led by none other than country squire Thomas Bennet!

Drawn together as they work to uncover the truth about the Frenchmen hiding in their midst, Elizabeth and Darcy must use all their intellect as they are confronted with an ingenious code machine, a variety of clockwork devices, ancient secrets and very modern traitors to the Crown. And somewhere along the line, they just might lose their hearts and discover true love—assuming they survive what they learn in the Bennet affair.

The Bennet Affair is a full-length JAFF novel of about 112, 000 words.

Buy Link

****

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

You can follow Riana’s blog, and join her on Facebook and Twitter. She loves meeting readers!

****

Giveaway

Riana is generously giving away one eBook copy of The Bennet Affair on each stop of the blog tour. To enter, please leave a comment on this post, and include your email address so Riana can contact the winner. She will choose the winner using a random number selector. This giveaway will be open through April 13. Good luck!

****

Follow the Blog Tour

March 31 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
April 4 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
April 6 ~ From Pemberley to Milton
April 9 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
April 13 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
April 15 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
April 17 ~ More Agreeably Engaged
April 24 ~ Author Takeover at The Historical Fiction Club
May 8 ~ Austenesque Reviews

Thank you, Riana, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

I’m a little late in posting about the two books I read for Halloween, but better late than never (and I figured a Friday the 13th was appropriate). I found two Austen-inspired books that I’d downloaded for free a while back while perusing my Kindle for something short and sweet.

A Nightmare on Grosvenor Street by Karen M Cox takes readers on a rollercoaster ride as Darcy is forced to live a nightmare in which Elizabeth is married to…let’s just say it’s someone who isn’t Darcy. It’s no picnic for Darcy to watch Elizabeth being married to this man, and Elizabeth’s married life is no picnic for her either. This story was a bit of a shock but still a delight to read. Definitely not what I’d been expecting, and it was perfect for Halloween in that it was a scary scenario, both for Darcy and for those of us who love him and Elizabeth together.

Meanwhile, Northanger Angst by Riana Everly is a unique take on Northanger Abbey. Set at Northanger Abbey as Catherine Morland is preparing to leave at the orders of General Tilney, the story takes Catherine on a literal adventure deep into the abbey as her curiosity gets the best of her. This was a shocking story, too, and more in a Halloween-ish scary way.

Both were quick and fun reads with unexpected twists and turns.

Read Full Post »

It’s release day for Riana Everly’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Through a Different Lens, and I’ve invited her here today to talk about the inspiration for her unique take on Mr. Darcy. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

I am thrilled to be releasing my third novel today, and am equally thrilled to be celebrating here at Diary of an Eccentric. Thanks, Anna, for hosting me.

My new release, Through a Different Lens, takes a slightly different view of Mr. Darcy. What if, rather than merely being aloof or shy or unreasonably proud, he has something else going on, a neurological difference that makes social interactions extremely challenging for him? In short, what if Mr. Darcy is on the autism spectrum?

My inspiration for this question that spawned a novel came from the pen of Jane Austen herself. In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy excuses his unsociable behaviour by telling Elizabeth, “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

Many, many years ago I did some work for a charity that helped kids on the autism spectrum, and I have a son who flirts with the edges of Asperger’s Syndrome (now classified as a type of “high-functioning” autism). Consequently, I’ve done a fair bit of reading and research, and Darcy’s words leapt out at me. These are exactly the things that someone with Asperger’s would find challenging: tone of voice, facial expressions, reading between the lines, feigning interest where there is none—these subtle cues that are so much a part of “normal” interactions and which can be all but incomprehensible to someone whose brain works differently.

I started with a single scene, just to write out what I imagined would happen if Lizzy had the same idea that I had. What if she had other experiences with somebody on the autism spectrum, a young cousin perhaps? What if she understood a little more than might be expected? In a world long before autism was identified as a “thing,” where there were no supports or therapies or awareness of such neurological differences, there was nothing left but personal experience and compassion to help people on the spectrum manage in a society that didn’t really understand them.

I happened to mention this idea of mine to a friend and fellow JAFF author who also has a child on the spectrum. She commented that she had wondered the same thing, and after some wonderful discussion, I sent her my scene. She read it and immediately said, “Finish the story!”

And so I did, and this is the result.

Here is an excerpt from Through a Different Lens.

“I am,” stated the grave gentleman as he stood so awkwardly by the pianoforte, “ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers.”

Elizabeth heard these words somewhat distractedly, as she perused the selection of music being placed before her by the colonel, his friendly eyes matched by an engaging grin. Still, something in the more serious man’s demeanour caught her attention. She had never liked him, but she had always found herself fascinated by him. She sat up a little straighter and listened as Fitzwilliam Darcy continued to explain himself. He spoke, as always, formally, somewhat stiffly, as if acting the part of himself in the grand production of his life.

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said he, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

Suddenly, with these words, Elizabeth felt her world shift slightly. With every syllable that haughty man uttered, isolated facets to his perplexing character seemed to realign themselves and come into focus. She stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. He cleared his throat and stepped back an inch, standing quite still and averting his eyes from her curious gaze. A flood of recollections and half-formed ideas cascaded through her consciousness. She stared up again at the stiff and serious man half hiding in the shadows, wondering if her suppositions might be correct.

“Miss Bennet?” the genial colonel sounded concerned. “Are you well?”

Realising she had been distracted most grievously from her supposed task of selecting music, she uttered a rushed apology. “Indeed, very well, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Forgive my wandering mind, please. I have no excuse but that your cousin, Mr. Darcy, suddenly reminded me of somebody I know, and at that realisation, you might have knocked me down with a feather, it was so surprising.”

The man under discussion drew closer, edging towards the pianoforte where the two were conversing with such easy repartee. “Knocked you down with a feather?” he asked in some confusion, “How could that possibly be? While you are by no means a large woman, your weight most certainly surpasses that of a bird’s plumage, even that of an ostrich or a peacock. To knock you down would surely take something much more substantial than a mere feather!”

Exchanging an understanding smile with the colonel, Elizabeth replied evenly, “It is an expression, sir, meaning to surprise greatly. Is this, may I ask, but one example of why you feel discomfort joining others’ conversations?”

The man nodded. “Indeed it is so. I seem, always, to miss the meaning of what is being said. Not everybody is as compassionate as you, to explain the nuances I do not catch.”

Thank you, Riana, for sharing your inspiration and excerpt. I’m looking forward to exploring this different take on Darcy. Congratulations on your new release!

****

About Through a Different Lens

A tale of second glances and second chances

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.

Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?

Warning: This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.

This is a full-length novel of about 100,000 words.

Buy on Amazon

****

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!

You can follow Riana’s blog, and join her on Facebook and Twitter. She loves meeting readers!

****

Giveaway

Riana is generously offering five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide as part of the blog tour! Just sign up through this Rafflecopter link to enter.

If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send Riana an email message (riana.everly@gmail.com) or leave a note on her Facebook page, and she’ll add you to the list for the draw.

Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day. Good luck!

****

Jan 21 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
Jan 22 ~ Author takeover at Historical Reads and Research with Leila Snow
Jan 23 ~ Rose Fairbanks
Jan 24 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Jan 25 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
Jan 28 ~ So Little Time…So Much to Read
Jan 29 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
Jan 31 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 5  ~ From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 6  ~ More Agreeably Engaged
Feb 8  ~ Austenesque Reviews

Read Full Post »

It’s a pleasure to welcome Riana Everly back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, a prequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, titled The Assistant, which focuses on Elizabeth Bennet’s uncle and aunt Gardiner. Riana has brought a guest today, the Elusive Miss Grant. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Good day to you,

I do hope you will forgive me if I do not remove my bonnet and mask. Even the heaviest veil was insufficient to conceal my features, and I must remain hidden and unknown, for your safety as much as for my own. If he should discover where I am, or that you know me…  Thank goodness the fashion is for bonnets with deep brims this year!

But I digress, and I must not alarm you. I am satisfied that my disguise is robust, and that none of us need fear. He will not know me, concealed as I am, neither does he know where to seek me. Let us talk, rather, of more pleasant matters.

Despite the danger in which I find myself, and the dreadful events that have led up to it, I am remarkably well settled. I have, as the expression goes, fallen upon my feet. I have found safe and secure lodgings, and the people where I live are kind and good to me, for all that they do not know whom they host. I would never endanger them by revealing my identity! I am kept busy much of the time, which prevents me from dwelling too much on my troubles, I have a ready supply of material to read, and I need not stray far to enjoy the company of interesting people.

But listen! I have done something so shocking, Mother would scold me for weeks were she ever to discover it! Oh, poor Mother, wherever she may be. If only she were near enough to discover my deeds, I should gladly withstand all the scolding she could give me. When these troubles are over, I shall do what I can to find her once more. What have I done, you ask? Come close and I shall tell you!

I have been writing letters to a gentleman with whom I have no agreement! Indeed, we have not even been introduced! Are you horrified? I titter like a schoolgirl when I think how brazen my actions have been.

And even more shocking, he has written back! We have engaged in a long correspondence, and I dare to believe that he likes me as much as I like him. To be clear, he is not a gentleman in the literal meaning of the word, for he is a merchant and by that measure, below my station. But he is a gentleman in the essence of the matter, for his manner and understanding are everything that is proper, and he expresses himself uncommonly well. I might otherwise choose to write one of my stories about him, for I do like to cast interesting characters of my acquaintance into my novels (there, another matter to shock you! I write novels!), but truth be told, I like him too well, and would not have him exposed to the world, or whoever might one day read my poor scribblings.

I wonder what would happen were we to be properly introduced? I would like so much to meet him in some public place or at a ball, where we may converse as freely as we do in our letters. I must set to work to make this happen, for I have quite grown to love Edward Gardiner!

****

An excerpt from The Assistant, courtesy of Riana Everly

The first letter arrived three weeks after Edward returned to London.

It was addressed to Mr. E. Gardiner, Gracechurch Street, and was written in a fine, elegant hand. A woman’s hand, graceful and precise. Matt handed it to Edward in person. “It is from a lady from my former home,” he blushed. “I have a way to contact her without the others knowing. I told her what you done for me, and she wished to thank you.”

“Indeed! How extraordinary!” Edward’s eyebrows shot up, but he accepted the letter without further comment and proceeded to examine the small package. The seal was unbroken, but it was a plain expanse of smooth red wax, with no imprint or other identifying mark. The paper seemed to be of good quality, white and thick, but common enough amongst those with some means. It provided no suggestions as to its origin. Intrigued, Edward broke the seal and perused the contents.

The letter was written in the same hand as the direction: elegant, precise and careful. Almost too careful, whispered a part of Edward’s mind, as if the writer were engaged in an exercise in penmanship, forming each letter to a tutor’s expectations of perfection. Or, whispered a suspicious part of his brain, as if the writer were hoping to disguise her handwriting. None of this Gothic Novel nonsense, Edward. Read the note! He chastised himself. Having concluded the better part of his business affairs for the day, he gave in to his curiosity and rang for some tea before sitting down in the library with the letter, where he began to read.

Mr. Gardiner,

I beg that you will excuse my forwardness and lack of propriety in sending you this missive. I am quite well aware that an unmarried lady should not write to a man whose acquaintance she has not made, nor with whom she has no understanding, but I find that these curious circumstances compel me to ignore the guidance of my tutors and my more delicate sensibilities and speak with you through whatever means I have at my disposal.

I write to you about young Matthew. Matthew lived in my home as a child, and he is closer to me than a brother. I care greatly about his welfare. He has arranged to correspond with me through a mutual acquaintance, whose identity must remain concealed for Matthew’s safety. I cannot speak of the circumstances that forced him to leave his home, but accept my word, Sir, they were real and dire. Had he remained in the house, his very existence would have been threatened.

Matthew has informed me of your great service to him. I am much relieved at his safety and current situation. Sir, when you rescued him from the river, as he informs me, you saved his life! For that, I can never thank you enough. He will not speak to you of his undying gratitude – his shyness and intense sense of privacy will forbid it – but I can speak, and speak I shall. How kind you are, how generous and full of feeling for your fellow man! So many would not have searched out a crying youth, nor would they have risked the safety of their own limbs to wade through icy water in order to bring that youth to safety. And then, to take upon yourself the cost and inconvenience of treating his injuries – that is so much more than any person would expect.

But you, Mr. Gardiner, have surpassed even those generous actions. You took the time to get to know my young friend and have discovered his unique abilities. Further, you have provided him not only with life and the possibility of healing, but you have also provided for his security with a position. For this grand act of charity and humanity, I cannot tell you enough of my gratitude. But I beg of you, do not waste Matthew’s abilities. Teach him, guide him, challenge him! He is willing to learn and will repay your efforts manifold.

If I may ever be of assistance, I should be happy to offer such to the best of my ability. Matthew will know how to find me.

Yours,

Miss Grant

****

About The Assistant

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean

When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.

But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.

Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

Click here for the universal buy link for The Assistant

****

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Connect with Riana Everly via Facebook | Website

****

Giveaway

Riana is generously offering five ebook copies of The Assistant as part of the blog tour. You must enter using this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

****

Thank you, Riana, for being my guest today, and congrats on the new release! I’m looking forward to reading it, and I’m sure my readers will agree that it sounds fantastic!

Read Full Post »

It’s my pleasure to welcome Riana Everly to Diary of Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Teaching Eliza, a mashup of Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion. Riana is here to talk about men’s fashion during the Regency period, and she’s brought with her an excerpt from the novel and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Most of my characters in Teaching Eliza are borrowed directly from Jane Austen, but a few are my own creations as well. Would it be horrible of me to say that of these, my favourite is Alfred, Viscount Einshill, affectionately known as Freddy? I needed Freddy to fill the role of Freddy Einsford Hill from Shaw’s Pygmalion, but in my novel he is a bit of a different creature. Shaw’s character is sweet and doting and very proper and elegant, and also flat broke! My Freddy is sweet and doting and very elegant, and filthy rich! And did I say elegant and ostentatiously dressed? Oh, yes, the man likes his clothing.

In short, Freddy is a fop!

In terms of men’s fashions, the time of the Regency in England saw the transition from the elaborate garb of the Baroque and Georgian eras to the more subdued and sedate styles we associate with men’s formal wear even today. Gone were the frills and brocade and richly embroidered coats of the earlier 18th century. In their place, largely thanks to Beau Brummel and his crusade for simple elegance, came immaculately clean linens, precise tailoring, and restrained colours. Pantaloons and then trousers took the place of knee-britches in formal wear, and indeed, the entire style was based on the less formal clothing of country squires and sportsmen rather than on courtiers bowing and scraping in their elaborate velvets and silks. Waistcoats were the one place were the Regency Dandy was allowed his bling, for they were often flashy and elaborate.

But as with any style, the elegant dandies were soon subject to their own fripperies. A class of gentleman arose, known as fops, who wished to outdo the Beau and each other in their quest for sartorial pre-eminence. In these circles, clothing became something of a competition, with an eye not to elegance but to show. 

In her book Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, Jennifer Kloester writes:

“Like the dandy, the fop took an absorbing interest in his clothes. Unlike the dandy, however, the fop dressed for show, adorning his person with clothes of bold or unusual design or hue and embellishing them with ostentatious jewels, frills and furbelows. The fop craved attention and did everything in his power to draw the eye of the passer-by. He was frequently a chatterer and usually deemed a vain fool by his peers…  Many fops aspired to set a trend or create a new fashion and some took their clothes to extraordinary extremes – such as wearing their shirt collars so high that they could not turn their heads or wearing voluminous trousers or coats with overlong tails.”

****

An Excerpt from Teaching Eliza, courtesy of Riana Everly

The door flew open, and a man strode in. Elizabeth was half-hidden behind the countess and could not immediately take the measure of the newcomer, but she imagined it could only be a resident of the house, and so it turned out to be.

 “Alfred,” the countess exclaimed, “I had no notion you were to come down for our at-home! You are always ‘out’ when our guests arrive.”

“Mother, Richard, Darcy,” he greeted his family. “Richard told me there was to be a special guest today, and I hoped to meet her. Has she arrived? Is she as pretty as Richard intimated? I shall have to be on my best behaviour, I suppose.”

The countess stepped aside to reveal Lizzy, who now rose to her feet to greet the stranger and be presented. The gentleman she saw was fine and tall, with all the affectations of the aristocracy. He was very finely dressed, albeit in a selection of hues that the Beau would certainly disparage. Eggshell-white trousers fell in perfect lines to his polished slippers, and a striped blue and gold waistcoat emerged from beneath an exquisitely cut coat of soft mauve. From the lapels of his coat, an elaborate knot decorated an embroidered cravat, which in turn disappeared into collar points so high the man could scarcely turn his head. Lizzy could not help by compare his peacock-bright garb to the professor’s understated elegance in black and dark green, or to the colonel’s serious military garb of scarlet and brass.

The gentleman’s hair was tousled to the ideal degree, which must have taken his valet some considerable time to arrange, and not a single one of those hairs was out of place, but they shone golden and perfect in the bright sunlight that suffused the room. Lizzy could not help but let her eyes flicker over to the professor, whose own mane never quite obeyed his commands of perfection, to the wayward lock that gave the serious Professor Darcy a dash of roguish charm.

The countess made the introductions. “Alfred, Viscount Eynshill. Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

The viscount stood perfectly still, his eyes riveted to Elizabeth. “What vision is this, to transfix me so?” he whispered, turning his entire upper body in his brother’s direction — for such were the restrictions of his fashionable collar points —  but not allowing his gaze to wander for a moment from Elizabeth’s face. Eyes wide, he finally bowed in Lizzy’s direction, executing a motion so graceful and effortless that he must have spent hours practicing before a looking glass. “Miss Bennet. A delight. An unfathomable delight.”

***

(From a bit later in the book, at their second meeting)

Tentatively at first, Lizzy began to speak of her studies into the research of John Dalton, and Aunt Patricia responded enthusiastically. By the time Darcy returned with Mrs. Pearce some time later, the two ladies were deep in a spirited discussion about cloud formation and the trade winds. “If I understand correctly,” Lizzy was saying as they entered, “the sun constantly heats the earth and the air successively from east to west. The air being heated then expands in different directions to restore an equilibrium of pressure. Because this expansion has a lateral and perpendicular motion, it has a concurrent effect on the barometer, as well as influencing wind strength and direction.”

“How fascinating!” Aunt Patricia supplied.

“How charming!” came a voice from behind Darcy and Mrs. Pearce, and Alfred, Viscount Eynshill, strode into the room. “Miss Bennet, a delight to see you again. Once more, I am enthralled by your knowledge and abilities. I must chastise my cousin yet again for hiding you from us for so very long. Really, Darcy, she is a treasure!”

“Freddy,” his mother greeted him, “You did not tell me you planned to come by.” Her tone was not approving.

“You would only have forbidden me, Mother,” he replied with a smile. “And how could I be denied another opportunity to converse with the enchanting Miss Bennet?” He executed an elaborate bow and threw another wicked smile in Lizzy’s direction. “I brought these for Miss Bennet.” From behind his back he withdrew a bouquet of flowers that perfectly matched the dress she had worn the previous day and presented them to her with a flourish. Lizzy accepted them gracefully and requested a vase be brought. A glance at Darcy’s stony face informed her that he was unimpressed.

Watching, as if from a distance, Lizzy took further stock of the viscount. Tall, as were the entire family, with the same light hair as the colonel, he was slightly more handsome and entirely charming. He moved with the ease and grace of long practice, and caught the eye with his elegant demeanour, and Lizzy suppressed a chuckle as he paused before the mirror above the mantelpiece to assess his striking appearance.

The viscount had his brother’s amiability and easy nature, but where Richard’s pleasant demeanour was overlaid atop the sober and responsible core that comes with the demands of military leadership, Alfred’s was pleasantry atop frivolity. It was clear that he loved his clothing, for he wore his finely tailored garb like a model for the clothes-makers’ magazines. As with the flowers, he had chosen a waistcoat that matched the yellow of the previous day’s frock, and he picked carelessly at the ample lace that extended from his cuffs. If he was a man, like Narcissus, who admired himself too much, he was redeemed because he liked others nearly as much, and sought to befriend where another man might seek to disparage.

Lizzy knew he was a man who could afford to indulge his whims. She knew he need never account for his actions, for his life’s work was merely to be the earl and eventually provide an heir. With those two requirements easily managed, he had the luxury to do and act as he pleased. If he did not waste away the family’s income, he would be considered a fine example of an English nobleman; if he did fritter it away, he would be thought no worse than most of his breed. It was a career well suited to his temperament.

Despite his foppishness, Lizzy could not help but like him. He was nothing like the serious, deep-thinking men she often found the best company, but his genuine friendliness and lack of condescension endeared him to her almost immediately. That he clearly liked her very much also did not impede her affinity to him. He lowered himself to sit beside her, careful not to disarrange his apparel, and when seated on the long sofa with its old-fashioned and elaborate upholstery, turned his body to face her and offered a friendly comment, then another, and another, until she began to answer in like fashion.

****

About Teaching Eliza

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Teaching Eliza is a full-length novel of about 110,000 words.

Check out Teaching Eliza on Goodreads | Buy from multiple retailers via Pronoun

****

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Connect with Riana via Facebook | website

****

Giveaway

Riana is generously offering 5 ebook copies of Teaching Eliza for the blog tour. Please click here to enter via Rafflecopter. You MUST use the Rafflecopter link to enter. Good luck!

****

Oct. 19 From Pemberley to Milton

Oct. 23 Babblings of a Bookworm

Oct. 24 So Little Time… So Much to Read!

Oct. 25 Diary of an Eccentric

Oct. 27 Savvy Verse and Wit

Oct. 28 My Love for Jane Austen

Oct. 30 More Agreeably Engaged

Oct. 31 Savvy Verse and Wit (review)

Nov. 1 Austenesque Reviews

Read Full Post »