Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘suzan lauder’

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

She spun around. “Oh! Good morning, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy! We were…watching Mr. Collins…I mean walking Mr. Collins…I mean walking to my aunt’s with Mr. Collins.” I had never seen Jane so flustered!

Mr. Bingley’s face was frozen in a strange grin as Jane again stared at Mr. Collins, who gave her a simpering smile. My Jane, my usually cool and unaffected elder sister, fluttered her lashes and giggled like Lydia! How horrifying!

(from A Most Handsome Gentleman)

I’ve long been a fan of Suzan Lauder’s work, so I was anxiously awaiting A Most Handsome Gentleman, especially since I heard talk about a Hot Collins. Now those are two words you don’t expect to see together! Billed as a Pride and Prejudice comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman does not disappoint. I must admit to waking my husband up by laughing out loud!

Lauder’s latest novel imagines a swoon-worthy (literally) Mr. Collins. When he arrives at Longbourn, he certainly distracts the Bennet sisters and renders Mrs. Bennet speechless. There are no words to describe his beauty, but Mr. Collins certainly finds a way to talk about himself non-stop, which of course means Elizabeth grows tired of him very quickly. She might dislike Mr. Darcy for his pride, but it’s not long before she is comparing the two men, and it’s easy to see who will come out the winner.

Mr. Collins’s looks even distract Elizabeth’s sister Jane, as evidenced from the quote above, and in this variation, he doesn’t allow Mrs. Bennet’s not-so-subtle warning that Jane is as good as engaged to Mr. Bingley to deter him from his goal of winning Jane as his bride. He is the uber-handsome Mr. Collins, of course, and he won’t let you forget it! From Mr. Bingley and Mr. Collins sparring over who gets what dance with Jane at the Netherfield Ball to Mr. Collins’s introduction to Charlotte Lucas to Elizabeth and Darcy joining forces to manage Jane’s suitors, I could not stop laughing.

Just as Jane Austen herself portrayed the ridiculous in her novels, Lauder does so here. Mr. Collins’s over-the-top speeches and Elizabeth’s first-person narrative, alternately witty and snarky, had me wishing the book wouldn’t end. I loved how Lauder dramatically changed the plot of Pride and Prejudice and quickened the pace, even managing to include storylines involving Mr. Wickham and Anne de Bourgh. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud take on Austen’s novel, or even just want to imagine a “hot” Collins, you won’t want to miss this one!

****

About A Most Handsome Gentleman

Elizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.

Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?

Bestselling Regency romance author Suzan Lauder delivers a hilarious Austenesque romance suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice.

Check out A Most Handsome Gentleman on Goodreads | Amazon U.S. (Kindle) | Amazon U.S. (paperback) | Amazon U.K. (Kindle) | Amazon U.K. (paperback)

****

About the Author

Suzan Lauder

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet, a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.

She and Mr. Suze split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a 150-year-old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead www.suzan.lauder.merytonpress.com, on her Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/SuzanLauder, and on Twitter @suzanlauder.

Connect with Suzan Lauder via WebsiteGoodreads Author Page | FacebookTwitter | Amazon Author Page |Pinterest

****

Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 ebooks of A Most Handsome Gentleman as part of the blog tour. To enter, click here. Blog comments are always appreciated, but you MUST enter for the giveaway using the Rafflecopter link.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!

****

10/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway

10/21   My Love for Jane Austen; Guest Post, Giveaway

10/22   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review

10/23   Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway

10/24   Tomorrow is Another Day; Review

10/25   Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Giveaway

10/26   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway

10/27   Just Jane 1813; Guest Post, Giveaway

10/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

10/29   My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway

10/30   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt

10/31   Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Giveaway

11/01   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway

11/02   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

11/03   Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Giveaway

Disclosure: I received A Most Handsome Gentleman from Meryton Press for review.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year!! I thought I would start off 2017 by celebrating the best of the books I read last year. Rather than do my usual Top 10 list, I thought I’d try something new this year and list my favorites in various categories, with links to (and quotes from) my reviews.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION (WWII)

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

A Moment Forever Cover LARGE EBOOK

A Moment Forever is not a book you merely read; Gardiner ensures you actually live the story — from the overindulgence of Long Island’s Gold Coast to the wartime excitement in the Big Apple, from the airfields and USO dances and the fashions of the ’40s to the solemnity of Paris 50 years after the roundup of its Jewish residents for deportation. There are so many layers to this story, and I never wanted it to end.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION (OTHER ERA)

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James

lost among the living

Simone St. James is a new-to-me writer, and as soon as I finished Lost Among the Living I determined that I must read her previous novels, which all seem to be equally suspenseful. I loved her writing here, particularly the passages that describe the intensity of Jo and Alex’s relationship, which enable readers to feel Jo’s grief and the frustration inherent in not knowing Alex’s fate. I also liked that while there was romance and passion, Lost Among the Living is at its core a ghost story, but it’s so much more than that. St. James shows the impact of the war on the returning soldiers and the women whose men never came home, as well as the blurring of the boundaries between social classes and how greed and selfishness can tear families apart.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (REGENCY)

Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter by Joana Starnes

mdbb-final-6_9_m

Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is a beautifully written novel, with just the right amount of angst to move me to the brink of tears without making me put the book down in despair. Starnes has a knack for putting Elizabeth and Darcy in impossible situations, delving deep into their souls, and keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they wonder how a happily ever after will be achieved. I loved the pacing of the novel, and Starnes does a wonderful job evolving their relationship through many ups and downs as they navigate the challenges posed by their families and themselves.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (MODERN)

Without a Conscience by Cat Gardiner

without-a-conscience

Like Denial of Conscience, Without a Conscience is sexy (definitely for mature audiences only) and exciting from the very first page. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who weaves clever plots and navigates Darcy and Liz through the twists and turns while further evolving their relationship. In the midst of the danger and excitement, Gardiner provides plenty of humor, and the obvious rivalry between Liz and Caroline had me laughing out loud several times. The novel is perfectly paced, and there’s just something about Gardiner’s writing style that has me hanging on every word.

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (SECONDARY CHARACTERS)

The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace

the-trouble-to-check-her

The Trouble to Check Her exemplifies why Grace is one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. Her attention to detail in terms of character development and the history of the era is fantastic, and I hope there is another book in the series (mainly because I want to find out what happened to Jane Bingley after her falling out with Elizabeth Darcy).

BEST AUSTEN VARIATION (OTHER)

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

TEPcover

I enjoyed reading both Elizabeth’s diary and about the rocky start to Charlie and Evie’s relationship and their determination to find Elizabeth’s papers. I especially loved how James showed that even Austen’s beloved couple likely didn’t have a perfect marriage, and by telling that story from the point of view of Elizabeth, readers are able to see her insecurities and her frustration while having little clue what Darcy is thinking or feeling, which creates just the right amount of tension. I also loved getting a glimpse of the Darcys and their family years into their marriage, so they are no longer bright-eyed newlyweds but older and wiser and settled into their life together. Charlie and Evie’s story was exciting and even had some similarities to Darcy and Elizabeth’s, and Charlie’s client, Cressida Carter, is very Caroline Bingley-esque. The dual narratives were seamlessly connected, and the shifts between the two were timed perfectly to ensure readers can’t put the book down.

MOST UNIQUE AUSTEN VARIATION

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North and Brooke West

fitzwilliamdarcy_frontcoverprint-1

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy is unique and exciting. It made me laugh, and it left me in tears, so much so that my husband kept asking if I was okay and I worried I would short out my Kindle! It’s been a while since I’ve been so emotionally affected by a Pride and Prejudice variation. It’s absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year, possibly one of my all-time favorites, and definitely one I won’t forget!

BEST HOLIDAY NOVEL

Lucky 13  by Cat Gardiner

lucky 13

Oh, how I loved this novel! Gardiner is a master at bringing Jane Austen’s characters into the present day and turning up the heat (and the laughs). From their heated arguments to their heated encounters at the jaw-dropping calendar audition and the chest-oiling photo shoot, I couldn’t get enough of this Lizzy and Darcy. The secondary characters are equally entertaining, from Jane, the supermodel with a secret, to Caroline, the matchmaking poochie mama, and especially Charlotte (aka “Punky) and Darcy’s cousin, Rick (aka “Preppy”), who are the most obnoxious of the numerous matchmakers.

BEST POETRY COLLECTION

The Jane and Bertha in Me by Rita Maria Martinez

BerthainMe

Martinez’s poems are full of vivid imagery (“The Bertha in me sleeps until three in the afternoon and sits on the back porch with a cup of Earl Grey that quells the desire to chop up her crotchety landlord,” from “The Jane and Bertha in Me”), sensual (“Charlotte’s manuscript sepulchered like an incorruptible saint, splayed on its back like a woman whose architecture I want to touch,” from “At the British Library”), insightful (“Pain caused by first love never truly subsides,” from “Jane’s Denial”), and even humorous (“She’ll be sorry for canoodling with the missionary, thinks Rochester, who’s exceeded his cursing quota and looks like Wolverine,” from “Jane Eyre: Classic Cover Girl”). Martinez even writes about Brontë herself, from her different personas to the migraines she suffered through in order to create her “pristine prose” (from “The Literature of Prescription”).

BEST SHORT STORY/COLLECTION

“Tea Time” by Tiffani Burnett-Velez

tea-time

I finished reading “Tea Time” in less than half an hour, and I was satisfied with the abrupt ending even though I wasn’t ready for the story to be over. The final few lines pack a punch and made it a story I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait to read more from Burnett-Velez.

FAVORITE COVER

Undercover by Cat Gardiner

undercover book cover

Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who had me hooked from the very first page. The use of slang from the era, her vivid descriptions, the steamy scenes, and the murder mystery are handled so perfectly that I could picture the entire book in my head, as though I were actually watching a black-and-white hard-boiled crime drama on the screen. She moved Austen’s characters into 1952 New York City in a way that felt true to them. I loved that she gave Darcy a painful back story and that Elizabeth and Jane weren’t the best of friends. Gardiner’s portrayal of Georgiana as a modern and independent though innocent and sheltered young woman is handled beautifully, as is Lydia’s downfall at the hands of Slick Wick.

****

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Some of the more memorable 5-star books from 2016 (click the covers to read my reviews)

darcys-hope

denial-of-conscience

undeceived

COAOEB cover

Miss Darcy's Companion front cover_V4

img_0878

Liebeslied-Final-Kindle

the forgotten room

What were your favorite books of 2016? I’d love to know!

Read Full Post »

img_0878

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

She must turn back into the woman she was before she had met Georgiana Darcy.

The letter was folded and put away, like the Darcys had done with Elizabeth’s heart.

(from Letter From Ramsgate)

Suzan Lauder’s latest novel, Letter From Ramsgate, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that imagines what might have happened had Elizabeth Bennet been the one to interfere with Mr. Wickham’s attempt to elope with Georgiana Darcy to gain access to her fortune. Elizabeth and her aunt spend the summer in Ramsgate with her aunt’s childhood friend, Lady Edwina, and in the midst of enjoying the ladies’ tales of their mischievous adventures as girls and taking part in Lady Edwina’s ladies salon, Elizabeth befriends the shy Georgiana, who is on holiday with her companion, Isabel Younge.

Georgiana’s stories of her older brother and guardian, Fitzwilliam, make Elizabeth confident that he is the best of men and should be consulted when Georgiana, in her youthful whirlwind of romantic notions, confides in Elizabeth her plans to go to Scotland with Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth’s decision sets into motion a series of events that both save her dear friend and ruin her own chances at happiness.

I absolutely loved Letter From Ramsgate, from the way it deviates from the original novel to Lauder’s writing style (using only words in use during the Regency period) to her original characters and her expansion on Austen’s secondary characters. Lauder portrays Mrs. Younge in a sympathetic way, allowing readers to understand her motivations for scheming with Wickham, and she writes Georgiana as a girl stronger than she appears at first glance, who is fiercely loyal to the people she loves. Lady Edwina was a breath of fresh air, giving Elizabeth a connection to the highest circles (though through her aunt in trade), encouraging intelligent discussion, and providing a shoulder for Elizabeth to cry on. I truly enjoyed Lady Edwina’s backstory, how she understood Elizabeth and her pain, though I wish the resolution of her story had been shown. She was such a well-developed, interesting character that she could carry a novel on her own.

Lauder does a great job showing the evolution of Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship, though I had a hard time accepting Darcy’s swift about-face and then ended up being really angry at him for a time. However, Lauder takes care to highlight both Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s flaws and how they both contributed to the misunderstanding that tears them apart.

Letter From Ramsgate is a novel about loyalty, friendship, and the power of the written word. Lauder takes Elizabeth and Darcy on a journey from the sea to a menagerie, with plenty of passion and pain along the way. I had no idea how they would find their way back to each other, and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face while reading the last scene. After loving both Letter From Ramsgate and Lauder’s first novel, Alias Thomas Bennet, I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!

For more about Letter From Ramsgate and to follow the tour, click the banner below

lfrhorizontalbanner

Disclosure: I received Letter From Ramsgate from Meryton Press for review.

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

Read Full Post »

then comes winter

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★☆

What I did know was that I needed to go to that party. I was trying to be Elizabeth, not Fanny, after all. Fanny would stay at home and pine after her cousin (gross). Elizabeth would go and have fun, be witty, and impress men with her “fine eyes.”

(from Then Comes Winter, “Becoming Fanny” by Melanie Stanford)

Quick summary: Then Comes Winter is the second short-story anthology from Meryton Press, with stories inspired by the winter season and Jane Austen. There are a mix of modern-day re-imaginings and Regency-era stories, from a Northanger Abbey-inspired story set in Tahoe to a Pride and Prejudice-inspired story that has Elizabeth Bennet running a successful Italian restaurant. There’s something for everyone in this collection!

Why I wanted to read it: I was intrigued by the Austen connection, of course, but I also really enjoyed the summer-themed short-story anthology, Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, so I just had to read the winter-themed one, too. And it’s the perfect time of year for a collection of stories that can be enjoyed by the Christmas tree with a cup of hot chocolate.

What I liked: The selection of stories was perfect, and I enjoyed them all. The anthology introduced me to several new authors, and again, editor Christina Boyd did an excellent job ensuring plenty of variety and a seamless flow from story to story. It would be hard for me to select a favorite story, but some that stood out were “Holiday Mix Tape” by Beau North and Brooke West, a modern-day take on Persuasion, “A Man Whom I Can Really Love” by Natalie Richards, a unique retelling of Sense and Sensibility, and “The Unexpected Gift” by Erin Lopez, a Pride and Prejudice-inspired tale in which Georgiana Darcy refuses to let her brother give up on love.

What I disliked: Nothing at all!

Final thoughts: Then Comes Winter is a perfect addition to my small library of holiday-themed books and would make a perfect gift for fans of Austen-inspired fiction. I’m very picky when it comes to short stories because I often feel like I’m left hanging at the end, but both Meryton Press anthologies are full of stories that leave readers satisfied. Not once did I think something was missing or that a story would have been better suited as a novel. It’s a delightful collection that can be read a little at a time amid all the holiday chaos.

Disclosure: I received Then Comes Winter from Meryton Press for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

alias thomas bennet

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

“Mama, Papa, please?” Lydia wheedled.  “Can I attend a ball?  I promise you, I would behave.  I would not dance; I would just like the opportunity to see all the lovely ball gowns and pretend that I am a lady who is out in society.”

“No, my dear, I am firm on this point,” said her father.

“I am in agreement with your Papa,” Mrs. Bennet said.  “Remember, you have three older sisters unmarried yet, and Kitty has precedence and will most certainly be promoted before you.  At least one of your eldest sisters should be married before we add you and Kitty to the group.  It would be considered improper to have all five daughters out at once.”

(from Alias Thomas Bennet, page 97)

Alias Thomas Bennet is one of the most unique retellings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I’ve come across so far in that it makes Mr. Bennet a main character.  Suzan Lauder imagines what might have happened had Mr. Bennet been more careful with his finances and he and Mrs. Bennet had been more attentive to their daughters’ education and manners.  In this variation, it’s Mr. Bennet’s secrets that put his daughters in danger.

The novel centers on the question “Who is Thomas Bennet?”  Readers will question his identity as soon as Mr. Darcy questions whether they have met before and as soon as it becomes clear that all of the Bennet sisters are well-mannered, intelligent, and accomplished.  Lauder takes readers back and forth in time to watch the evolution of Thomas and Fanny’s relationship and slowly reveals the truth of his identity.  There are darker forces at work in this novel, but I prefer a mystery and a villain bent on revenge over a lighthearted retelling focused only on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s romance.

Lauder’s portrait of the Bennets as a close-knit, intellectual family and Thomas and Fanny as sensible and completely in love was refreshing.  Even without Mrs. Bennet’s nerves and outrageous comments all in the name of matchmaking and Mr. Bennet’s complete disregard of his youngest daughter’s lack of propriety, Lauder manages to put plenty of obstacles in the way of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.  I loved that even when I thought I’d pieced together Mr. Bennet’s story, I hadn’t, and that even after all was revealed, I still had no idea how it would all play out.

Alias Thomas Bennet is a real treat for fans of Austen-inspired fiction, and I cannot praise its originality enough.  Lauder’s portrayal of Mr. Bennet as a hands-on father and a man desiring a quieter, less important life than the one to which he was entitled is heartwarming, as is his relationship with Mr. Darcy.  I was pleasantly surprised by Lauder’s elevation of Mr. Bennet to the status of hero alongside Mr. Darcy, but it made for a book that I simply couldn’t put down.  Alias Thomas Bennet uses Austen’s beloved characters to show a different side of the Bennet family and emphasizes that one’s name is less important than one’s character.

alias thomas bennet blog tour

Disclosure: I received Alias Thomas Bennet from Meryton Press for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »