Review: Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society, Book 1) by Jayne Fresina

once upon a kissHero: Darius Wainright doesn’t know it, but the ladies of the local book society of Hawcombe Prior have labeled him a real-life Mr. Darcy. He doesn’t have plans for matrimony, he just wants to sort his uncle’s things, sell the house, and leave for society as quickly as possible, but all that changes when he realizes who is in town — that young lady who jumped on him in his bed one year ago in Bath.

Heroine: Not only does Justina Penny not understand her friend’s fascination with Darius Wainright, but she doesn’t understand the appeal of the priggish brute Mr. Darcy. Clearly Mr. Wickham is the hero of Pride and Prejudice. So while she has her sights set on a certain local captain, Jussy plans to help her sister snag Darius… only things don’t quite go as planned as Darius Wainright is the WRONG MAN she encountered a year ago.

Review: Jussy is a fun heroine to read due to her misadventures. She loves a good romp, a fast dash, and a delicious escapade here and there. Her parents have no hope for her to get married and rely on their other daughter to make a great catch. Justina is virtually overlooked when compared to her sister – that is until her scrapes call attention to her unladylike ways. Darius catches her in two scrapes involving his property and decides to teach her a lesson which leads to quite a lot of fun and misadventure. Darius draws on Mr. Darcy in a number of ways, but is still a unique character. Like Justina, he grew up under the shadow of his sibling, but whereas Jussy’s sister is kind, his brother was not. Darius has never been comfortable around women and had to go to great lengths to overcome a strong stutter. Around Jussy, he gets tongue-tied and that my dear readers makes him all the more adorable. I fully recommend this book and consider it one of the best reads of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society)

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Excerpt: Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

finding colin firthGuest blog by Mia March, author of Finding Colin Firth

Book Blurb:

After losing her job and leaving her beloved husband, journalist Gemma Hendricks is sure that scoring an interview with Colin Firth will save her career and marriage. Yet a heart-tugging local story about women, family ties, love, and loss captures her heart— and changes everything. The story concerns Bea Crane, a floundering twenty-two-year-old who learns in a deathbed confession letter that she was adopted at birth. Bea is in Boothbay Harbor to surreptitiously observe her biological mother, Veronica Russo—something of a legend in town—who Bea might not be ready to meet after all. Veronica, a thirty-eight-year-old diner waitress famous for her “healing” pies, has come home to Maine to face her past. But when she’s hired as an extra on the bustling movie set, she wonders if she is hiding from the truth . . . and perhaps the opportunity of a real-life Mr. Darcy.

These three women will discover more than they ever imagined in this coastal Maine town, buzzing with hopes of Colin Firth. Even the conjecture of his arrival inspires daydreams, amplifies complicated lives, and gives incentive to find their own romantic endings.

Buy: Finding Colin Firth

Excerpt:

Only an idiot would attempt to make a pie—a special-ordered chocolate caramel cream Amore Pie—while watching Pride and Prejudice. Had she put in the vanilla? What about the salt?

Damn Colin Firth and his pond-soaked white shirt. Veronica set down her measuring spoons on the flour-dusted counter and gave her full attention to the small TV next to the coffeemaker.

God, she loved Colin Firth. Not just because he was so handsome either. This TV miniseries was at least fifteen years old, and Colin Firth had to be fifty now. He was still gorgeous. But it was more than that. Colin Firth was six feet two inches of hope. To Veronica, he represented what she’d been looking for her entire life and had never found and probably never would, at this point. Veronica was thirty-eight years old. Still not married.

If you wanted love, really wanted love, you’d have it, friends, even boyfriends, had said many times over the years. There’s something wrong with you, her last beau had said before he’d stormed out on her for not agreeing to marry him. Something wrong with the way your heart works.

Maybe there was. No, Veronica knew it was true. And she knew why too. But now, at thirty-eight, friends were worrying about her ending up all alone, so she’d started saying what felt lighthearted but true at the same time, that she was holding out for a man who felt like Colin Firth to her. Her friend Shelley from the diner had known exactly what she meant. “I realize he’s an actor playing roles, but I get it,” Shelley had said. “Honest. Full of integrity. Conviction. Brimming with intelligence. Loyal. You just believe everything he says with that British accent of his—and can trust it.”

All that and yes, he was so damned handsome that Veronica had lost track of her own Amore Pie, a pie she could make in her sleep. Her special elixir pies were in high demand ever since she’d been back in Boothbay Harbor—just over a year now. She’d grown up in Boothbay, but had bought a house in a different neighborhood than the one she’d lived in with her parents. It had been love at first sight for the lemon-yellow bungalow on Sea Road, and the day she’d moved in, while hanging the wooden blinds on her sliding glass door to her deck, she’d heard someone crying. She’d peered her head out the door to see her neighbor sitting on her back porch, wearing only a black negligee

and black leather stilettos. Veronica had gone over and asked if she could help, and the woman blurted out that her marriage was over. Veronica had sat down, and within moments her neighbor, whose name was Frieda, shared the whole story, how she’d tried to entice her husband, who barely looked at her these days, home for lunch with exactly what she was going to do to him. But he’d said he’d brought last night’s leftovers and would just have that.

“He’d rather have a cold meat loaf sandwich than me?” Frieda had cried to Veronica. “For months, I’ve been trying to entice him back to me, and nothing works.” She broke down in a fresh round of tears.

Veronica had told Frieda that she was a baker and would make her a special pie to serve her husband for dessert that night. When she gave him his slice, she was to think about how much she loved him, wanted him. And just for good measure, she could run her hands up the back of his neck.

Well, that night, Frederick Mulverson had said he didn’t know what came over him, but he was back. Frieda had Veronica’s Amore Pie on standing order every Friday. One word to her friends and relatives, and Veronica’s phone had started ringing with orders, just as it had in New Mexico. Amore Pies were her most requested.

She made upwards of twenty special pies a week. Plus two a day for the Best Little Diner in Boothbay, where she worked as a waitress. And nine pies a week for three local inns. But those— for the diner and the inns—were just her Happiness Pies, pies that tasted like summer vacation. She saved her special elixir pies for her clients around town, everything from Feel Better Pie, which came in all kinds of dietetic-friendly varieties, such as gluten free, dairy free, and even sugar free, to Confidence Pie, which involved Key limes.

What she couldn’t seem to do was make a Colin Firth Pie for herself. She’d made Amore Pies for hundreds of clients that seemed to attract love to them. Sure, maybe it was mostly power of thought, but so what, since it worked. You get what you believe is what Veronica’s grandmother used to say. At the thought of dear Renata Russo, who’d died just months before all the trouble had started when Veronica was sixteen, Veronica closed her eyes. She let herself remember what it was like when she’d had a family, when Veronica, her parents, and her grandmother would sit around the table in the house Veronica grew up in—just several miles away from here—and have big Italian dinners. Meatballs and so much linguini in her grandmother’s homemade tomato sauce that it seemed to come from bottomless pots.

She missed those days, days that had ended on an April morning when Veronica was sixteen and blurted out over a pancake breakfast that she was pregnant. One minute, she’d had a family—minus her beloved grandmother. The next, Veronica had been sent away.

Why are you upsetting yourself by thinking about all that? she asked herself as she turned her attention back to the TV and the Bennet sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, conspiring in their lovely white dresses about their love lives. But since she’d moved back to Boothbay Harbor, her past was all she could think about. It was why she’d come home, for heaven’s sake. To face it. To stop . . . running.

Buy: Finding Colin Firth

A Husband and Wife Collaboration

TMWLJAGuest blog by Sally O’Roake, author of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen

In spite of the fact that my name alone appears on the cover, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen was, in truth, very much a collaboration with my late husband F. Michael O’Rourke. Kelly, my step-daughter called us an awesome team and we were, in all respects; our life together was a true collaboration. Many projects came out of that collaboration, among them two feature films, a few television pilots and several books including Christmas At Sea Pines Cottage, Maiden Stone Lighthouse and, of course, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen.

The road to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen was rather circuitous and, I’m afraid, not particularly romantic even though Mike called it the ultimate valentine because it was brought to life by the love we had for each other.

Technically, I suppose that road began when I was fifteen years old and read Pride and Prejudice, enjoying it thoroughly. One Sunday afternoon a very disappointing film version of it was on television. Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier were much too old to be playing the 20 year old Elizabeth and the 28 year old Darcy but changing the story was entirely unacceptable to my youthful psyche (and my adult psyche). It was my first taste of what Hollywood can and often does do to novels. After that I watched every version of the story but never found one worthy of the book. Then in 1995, as all of you know, the ultimate P&P was produced. A&E along with the BBC did the Andrew Davies/Simon Langton/Sue Britwistle mini-series, staring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. FINALLY a wonderful portrayal of the classic novel.

Moving on to late 1999, the health department recommended that Mike and I vacate our home because of toxic mold, requiring us to leave most of our belongings in the contaminated house. After a few months in a hotel it felt like we never talked or thought about anything but the mold and the pending law suit; our life had seemingly come to a screeching halt. In an attempt to, at the very least, not think about it all the time, we sat down and watched the six hour Pride and Prejudice; in its entirety. It worked; we stopped obsessing about the house and, in fact, the marathon inspired me to read all of Jane Austen’s books.

LighthouseFor some reason I had never noticed that there is a theme in all her writings, maybe it was because I’d never read them one after the other but this time I did and found that she made every heroine strong, relatively independent and quite intelligent; not completely unusual in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries however, what made Austen different was not the strong women but the men who loved them for that strength. It made me want to know more about her, why in an era where women were basically chattel did she feel free enough to write such stories. After delving into her life by reading several biographies, I came to believe she wrote Elizabeth Bennet and the others, in large part, because her father and brothers were fairly opened minded and that along with their support and strong belief in her talent was at the center of her success.

Another thing that struck me, particularly in Pride and Prejudice was Darcy’s ability to look at himself, be dissatisfied and make a concerted effort to reverse his attitudes because as he said after Elizabeth accepts his second proposal, You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.” To me Darcy felt more like a modern man than a Regency aristocrat.

When Mike suggested that we start a new project by resurrecting a time travel story I had started some time before. I countered that rather than write about a twenty-first century woman who goes into the future we write about a twenty-first century man who falls back into the England of 1810 and becomes Jane Austen’s muse and perhaps one of the most quixotic heroes ever written; Fitzwilliam Darcy.

We considered many scenarios before settling on Darcy being the wealthy owner of a two hundred year old Virginia horse breeding estate, Pemberley Farms. The back story we created for his ancestors, was touched on when Eliza is presented to the guests at Darcy’s Rose Ball.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know that many people consider love stories better if they end unhappily, if not tragically (A Walk to Remember; Message in a Bottle; The Way We Were; The Bridges of Madison County) but I prefer a happy ending, therefore a modern woman had to be able to compete with Jane Austen. New York artist Eliza Knight does just that.

We discussed making Eliza a poor, struggling artist then decided that we didn’t want it to be a ‘Cinderella’ story; you know, rich guy falls for poor girl and they live happily ever after. So she became a relatively successful artist of fantasy drawings that are used on greeting cards, stationary as well as prints. That success allows her to buy an antique vanity and it is behind the vanity’s mirror that she discovers letters to and from Jane Austen and Fitzwilliam Darcy, triggering the story.

After completing the manuscript, we type-set, printed and hand bound copies to give as gifts to family and friends. It was received with spirited enthusiasm and Mike and I were proud of our nice little story. Then my world crashed, in November 2001, two weeks before his sixtieth birthday Mike died suddenly; we hadn’t gotten out of the house soon enough.

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen was published in 2006. The publisher didn’t want two names on the cover and preferred the one be mine since I would be doing the promotion. I regret not insisting that Mike’s name be used on the cover as a tribute to him. But regret serves no useful purpose and at least his work is being enjoyed by people all over the world.

SeaPinesCottageTaking into consideration that no journal or diary kept by Jane Austen has survived, I started what was going to be a fun little project, to create a journal that would be Jane’s point of view of the events of Spring 1810 when she met Darcy. At the end of one journal entry she is wondering what Mr. Darcy is doing at that moment, suddenly I was writing the sequel to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen.

Besides who was I to try and write as if I was Jane Austen? Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is no longer a journal but it does reacquaint readers with 21st century American horseman Fitzwilliam Darcy and his influence on the English novelist and her writings; at the same time delving into the complex nature of the man who became the embodiment of one of the most romantic characters in English literature.

The blossoming romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Eliza Knight, the modern-day woman who gave Darcy the letters proving that he did make a trip through time and met Jane Austen, is juxtaposed with Jane’s life as she copes with the subtle celebrity of being the ‘Lady’ who wrote Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

AustenticityAustenticity.com, the website where Eliza first discovers that Fitzwilliam Darcy is real (even if she doesn’t believe it at first) is now also real. I’ve owned the domain since we wrote the book and have now created ‘the everything Austen’ site. Come, visit and spend a bit of time with the inimitable and much beloved author.

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is now available in trade paperback as well as most eBook formats from most on-line retailers.

Find me at:

http://sallysmithorourke.com (blog)

http://www.facebook.com/sally.s.orourke

https://twitter.com/Chawton1810 (@Chawton1810)

YAJA

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen

Chapter 5

Although the sun was fully up in the Virginia summer sky, it was not yet hot. Fitz found jumping exhilarating; the cool morning air caressing his face, and Lord Nelson, so strong and graceful, took all the jumps with no effort.

Heritage Week was over so things could get back to normal. He shrugged. Whatever normal is. He realized there was a very good chance that his normal was about to change radically. Eliza’s letter—the one she had found written to him from Jane—had ended his search for the truth of his Regency encounter. But Eliza did much more than give him the letter.

He had been merely surviving, not living, in the years since his mother’s death. He’d thrown himself into the business of Pemberley Farms to the exclusion of almost everything else. Eliza’s arrival had heralded an acute awareness of that fact. It was as though a light was suddenly shining so he could see the world around him. She made him want to live again. And she had given him the letter… Jane’s letter.

Fitz reined Lord Nelson to a walk as they entered the cool shade of the woods on the edge of his property.

Jane. He had spent more than three years seeking proof of his meeting with her and of her feelings for him. Almost as if he’d been transported again back to Chawton in 1810, the image of Jane’s sweet face flooded his mind. He thought back to that morning and his inauspicious entrance into Jane Austen’s life.

The combination of his head injury and the laudanum prescribed by Mr. Hudson, the Austen family physician, caused Darcy to slip in and out of consciousness. He tried to sit up, the effort making him dizzy.

Jane gently laid a hand on his chest. “Please, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Hudson wants you to remain still.”

Through a cotton mouth, his head spinning, Darcy asked, “Mr. Hudson?”

“The doctor,” Jane said. “You must rest now Mr. Darcy.” The American looked at her face. Her curiosity was palpable even in his drugged state. Unable to think clearly, never mind responding to questions he wasn’t sure he could answer, he closed his eyes completely and turned his head away.

Jane returned to her vanity table where she continued to write; a single candle and the flames in the fireplace her only light. Interrupted in her writing by a low murmur from Darcy, she took the candle and quietly approached the bed. He was tossing back and forth, his face flushed and contorted; he was speaking in quiet tones, a hodgepodge of words that meant nothing to her. He spoke what she could only suppose were the nonsensical ramblings of a sick brain; she attributed words like television and jet to his head injury and delirium. She placed her hand softly on his cheek and was distressed by the heat radiating from him. Using fresh linen soaked in water from the pitcher on her wash stand, Jane swabbed his face and neck, then laid it across his forehead. It seemed to calm him and she went back to her writing.

Each time he grew restless Jane stopped writing and went to the bed to refresh the linen with cool water. After three episodes in close succession she remained on the edge of the bed so she was at hand, and each time he started to toss and turn she would caress his face and neck with the cool, damp linen in hopes that it would, in time, reduce his fever.

She stayed there until Darcy’s features turned placid and he was breathing more evenly. He finally seemed to be sleeping comfortably. She laid her small, soft hand on his cheek. The fever was broken. She dropped the cloth into the basin. Stiff from sitting in one position for so long without support, she stood up and stretched. She was not particularly tired but needed to get some rest.

Quietly she crossed the wooden floor and slipped the small pages of writing she was working on into the drawer of the vanity, then took a nightgown from the closet next to the fireplace. Glancing back at the bed she stepped behind the screen.

He opened his eyes just enough to see her slender, full-breasted figure silhouetted on the muslin screen, back-lit by the remnants of the fire as the light fabric of her nightgown floated down to envelope her.

Jane stopped at the bed before making her way to Cassandra’s room for a few hours of sleep. As she stood over him he watched surreptitiously through the veil of his eyelashes. She leaned down and whispered, “Good night, Mr. Darcy,” almost brushing his lips with her own. In spite of his continuing laudanum haze, he could see that her eyes were filled with a tenderness that caused him to grab her hand as she straightened up; he didn’t want her to go.

Without opening his eyes or letting go of her hand he said, “Please don’t leave me.”

Unsure whether this was further evidence of the delirium or whether he was actually requesting her presence, she pulled her hand away. He did not move to take it again but said, “Please, stay.”

Cognizant of Mr. Hudson’s admonition of keeping the injured American calm and concerned her leaving might agitate him, Jane sat once again on the edge of the bed. Darcy smiled in the flickering flame of the dying fire. He said nothing more but gently took her hand. He did not relinquish it again until she rose to move to a chair by the side of the bed where she finally slept.

The movement woke him. His mind finally clear of drugs, he scanned the room in the dim, pre-dawn light. There were no electrical outlets or switches, no lamps, television or telephone, and the only clock appeared to be pendulum driven. Everyone he’d seen wore costumes similar to the ones people wore to the Rose Ball. Those things and the medical treatment he had received led him to the inexplicable conclusion that somehow he’d fallen into another time—a time when Jane Austen was alive.

And there she sat, serene in what had to be an uncomfortable position for sleep; his nurse, his savior and much prettier than she was depicted in the only portrait of her to survive to the twenty-first century. She was not the brazen hussy of Darcy family lore but a sweet and loving woman who took care of him without concern for her own safety or expecting anything in return. His mother would have said she was a true Christian.

As he watched her in the pale light of the dying embers his head started to throb as though a nail was being driven through it. He closed his eyes and blessed sleep overtook him.

***

Jane was an incredibly strong, intelligent, willful and virtuous woman who followed the propriety of the day… mostly. During the last three years he’d often wondered what might have happened between them if he’d been forced to stay in early nineteenth-century England. Of course with the way her brothers felt about him, he probably wouldn’t have seen her again.

If the circumstances had been different would he have married her? He could have been happy with her, he supposed, but over the years he’d come to realize that the love he felt for her was based on who she was, the awe in which he held her, caring for him when she certainly didn’t have to, loving him. Then again, did she love him? She had never said it and the letter Eliza had found and given him showed obvious affection but she urged him to find his true love. Apparently she didn’t think she was it. Had they ever loved each other or had it just been a fling across the ages?

He laughed. What difference did any of it make? Jane Austen had been dead for almost two hundred years. Still, the undisputed icon of witty English romance had kissed him whether she loved him or not. He still had to pinch himself to believe it had ever happened.

He had no such questions about Eliza. Everything felt right when he was with her. This was no fling. He had no idea where they were headed, but for the first time in years he was looking forward to the rest of his life. As long as Eliza was with him he didn’t care where they were headed.

Fitz and Lord Nelson crossed the bridge at a leisurely gait; the ground fog was burning off in the warm morning sun. Had it really been only two days since he and the great stallion were galloping across the bridge before the fog had lifted and run Eliza off the road and into a muddy drainage ditch? He hadn’t even realized she was there until it had happened. When he did, he brought Nelson to a stop and, without questioning who she was or why she was walking along a road on his property, he had lifted her onto Lord Nelson’s back and then swung up behind her. She was slightly light headed from the sudden fall, and once on the horse she had leaned against his chest and he’d had to control a strong desire to kiss the top of her head. He still didn’t understand how a complete stranger could make him feel that way, but he didn’t really care. From the first moment, being with her felt right and wonderful and that was all that mattered.

She had touched something in him that no one else ever had, including Jane, even before he knew her. At the Austen exhibit at the New York Public Library he had found himself staring at her. He laughed remembering that he had thought of her as a raven-haired beauty. Then two days ago she had come out of the fog and into his life.

He had told her his story about jumping through a rift in time and meeting Jane Austen. It had been very difficult at first, but once he started it tumbled out and had been a relief that he wasn’t carrying it around anymore. It was as though a weight had been lifted and this slight, feisty New Yorker had done the lifting. She had listened to him with an intensity that had made her a part of the story. She had been kind and compassionate—he had seen real grief when she asked him about leaving Jane—and she had given him the letter that answered his questions about whether he’d actually met Jane Austen and how Jane felt about him.

Jane would always hold a special place in his heart, but Eliza held his heart. Maybe it was too early to take it all for love, but it certainly felt the way he’d always thought love is supposed to feel.

Horse and rider stepped out from the cool canopy of the woods and into the warm summer sun. Spurring his favorite horse to a full gallop Fitz guided him over every fence and stream on their way back to the barn.

Christmas At Sea Pines Cottage Trailer:

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen – The Man Who Loved Jane Austen Trailer:

The Maidenstone Lighthouse Trailer:

Review: By Force of Instinct by Abigail Reynolds

The Question that Starts it All: What if Darcy had been forced to stay at Rosings after giving Elizabeth his letter?

Review (with spoilers): I’m a big fan of Abigail Reynold’s Pemberley Variations, but By Force of Instinct lacked her usual flair. It was heavy on the “My loves” and “My hearts.” Give it to me in another language and it’s not so bad, but I felt there was room for better pet names and that the frequency needed to be turned way down. Through in a few more uses of their names and that would have been good too. As it was the conversations came across as overly mushy and sentimental (and cluttered with unnecessary poetry) distracting from the truly great pieces of dialogue about happiness and love.

Also Lizzy was out of character in a way that wasn’t explained satisfactorily. She was prone to crying and such, instead of meeting (confronting!) situations with confidence and wit we all know her to have.

There was too much misunderstanding between Lizzy and Darcy. Why be so elliptical/obtuse?

Mrs. Gardenier was the character with perfect understanding, who’s insightful commentary was too convenient, taking out the challenge right out from under Lizzy and Darcy, because Mrs. Gardenier gave them everything they needed, instead of letting them figure it out on their own.

A Fun Twist on the Perfect Sister: Georgiana was petulant and sullen over Wickham. She acts like a petty teenager and tells Lizzy that Darcy is actively with a mistress. All this is fine with me but it is all wrapped up in a big bow of understanding and forgiveness with little real contrition. Georgiana should have figured out how to bridge the emotional gap between Lizzy and Darcy. Especially considering…

Mr. Bennet’s intense dislike of Darcy. He refuses to bless their union/marriage until the day of it. His sudden change of heart and understanding is a little far fetched because he isn’t even grudgingly accepting Darcy even after others try to explain how great Darcy is and what Darcy’s done.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: By Force of Instinct (The Pemberley Variations)

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Review: Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds

What If: After six months had passed from the first proposal/letter and Elizabeth received another proposal from a gentleman of modest means, one she knew from childhood, and she said yes?

Summary: Elizabeth accepts a childhood friend’s proposal, knowing she was fond of him, but not in love. She accepted for mercenary reasons, knowing she could no longer hope for Jane to make a good match when she was still so obviously in love with Mr. Bingley. If only she had known Darcy and Bingley were right around the corner! But how was she to know they would show up at Longbourn looking to court the ladies who stole their hearts?

Good:

  • That Darcy worms his way into Longbourn as Bingley’s companion and doesn’t give up even though Lizzy is very off the market.
  • Darcy’s possessive, jealous side. It’s hot. Like burn your sheets up, hot. Favorite quote coming up.
  • That Lizzy learns her own heart and is willing to risk all for her own liberty and happiness.
  • That Lizzy has a deeply valid concern for refusing Darcy when he proposes again (pg 147 for those who care to know)… and that Darcy figures out how to get around Lizzy. (Love how Mr. Bennet uses Mrs. Bennet to advantage, bwuahaha!)
  • That Darcy has a rival!

On the Other Hand:

  • Of course Mr Covingon is not much of a rival. He’s a valid choice for marriage with a comfortable home, quazi gentry, a land owner, a farmer, good to his mother, interested in Lizzy, etc. But he lacks passion, depth, and his interest can’t stand up to reputation breaking scandal. He may have Lizzy’s hand but her heart is not such a sure thing.

Bad:

  • The awful petnames. “Best beloved?” What’s wrong with a simple “Darling” or just plain Elizabeth or Lizzy?

Favorite Quote:

Darcy was silent as he wrestled with his own demons. He had never intended it to go so far; he knew full well that he would have taken her if she had not asked him to stop. His toying with her responses at the end, provoking her and demanding verbal submission to replace the physical one he craved, revealed an uncontrolled part of himself he had always harshly repress. But, by God, it had been gratifying to hear her say she wanted him, and to see her helplessly entangled in the pleasure he was giving her. There was, he thought, less of the gentleman and more of the predatory tiger in him than he cared to admit… (page 208)

The bolded part is my doing – it’s also my favorite part of the quote. Seriously hot, and I do mean hot! Love it!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Mr. Darcy’s Undoing

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Adding Supernatural Elements to Pride and Prejudice

Guest blog by Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of Mr. Darcy’s Bite

Hi Keira. It’s good to be back at Love Romance Passion. In setting up this guest post, you mentioned that I love writing about history and that I’m pretty finicky about getting my historical facts right. Correct on both points.

Your question: How did you feel about adding elements of pure supernatural fantasy to Pride and Prejudice? What was easy/hard about it?

First, let me tell you how it was that I came to write a werewolf story. For two years, I was a contributor and reader of stories on A Happy Assembly, a Jane Austen fan fiction site. A contributor posted a werewolf story that was getting hundreds of hits and dozens of comments every time a chapter went up. Although I had never read a paranormal story, I was drawn in by the sinister atmosphere the author had created. Because Halloween was just around the corner, as a goof, I decided to write a short story called “Mr. Darcy on the Eve of All Saints’ Day” about a werewolf. The reception was so great that I expanded it to a full-length novel.

As mentioned, I love reading history and writing historical fiction, so, naturally, I had to research werewolves. But when I learned that these creatures of the night dined on exhumed corpses, I decided that, in this case, I was going to write my own history. I just could not imagine Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy visiting local cemeteries for reasons other than paying his respects.

Completely liberated from the shackles of being historically accurate, I went down my own path—werewolf wise. My intent was to write a love story about Darcy and Elizabeth, one in which Mr. Darcy just happens to be a werewolf. Of course, there were difficulties because what is more complicated than Elizabeth finding out that the man she loves grows fur, fangs, and a bushy tail and roams the woods of Pemberley’s for two days in every moon cycle?

It was easier to write the story than I thought it would be, and that is because I love wolves. I once spent a half hour watching a wolf in Yellowstone National Park trying to catch field mice. He was a determined critter, but on this day, the mice won. Here in Arizona, we successfully reintroduced Mexican wolves into the White Mountains. But people of the Middle Ages did not share my admiration for lupines. By the time of Alfred the Great (circa 900), wolves had been completely eradicated from England, and possibly, the whole of the British Isles. Considering my love of wolves, it seemed appropriate for me to reintroduce, not only wolves to England, but werewolves as well.

Here is the set-up for the story: Mr. Darcy had been calling on Elizabeth Bennet for six months. Although a proposal was expected, Darcy did not make an offer because he was unsure if Elizabeth could accept his dual nature. When he invites her to Pemberley, she must decide if she can love a man who is part beast, and if she does, she must understand that she will always be looking over her shoulder in order to protect the man she loves from those who would harm him. To thicken the plot, there is danger of exposure as well as another woman vying for his affections. Doesn’t that sound interesting? I hope you will want to find out and read Mr. Darcy’s Bite.

So what would you say if Mr. Darcy made you an offer of marriage and then revealed that he was a werewolf? I know what I’d say. :D

Buy: Mr. Darcy’s Bite

Review: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud

Genre: Pride and Prejudice Variation, Contemporary

Summary: Slurry, the rock band started by Fitzwilliam Darcy has just lost another warm up band for it’s Grind tour. Due to rumors that the members of Slurry are Rock and Roll’s bad boys, Long Borne Suffering is the only band willing to help them out of a jam. Despite their talent, Darcy is only seeing trouble ahead. Bandmates Charles Bingley and Richard Fitzwilliam are making eyes at LBS’s Jane Bennet and Charlotte Lucas. The remaining member of LBS, Jane’s sister Elizabeth can hardly stand Darcy. Can they act likes professionals or will they act like the artists they are and give into their passions?

Couples:

Richard/Charlotte: They’re pretty steamy in these pages, but Richard has got lots of issues as he’s a serial addict. First it was alcohol, now it’s the ladies.To keep Charlotte safe from him, he’ll break up with her. When did boys get to be so dumb?

Charles/Jane: As sweet as the original. Jane is more outgoing and therefore Darcy can’t use her even temperament to persuade Charles that she doesn’t care. They will have troubles, but they simply can’t breathe without each other. One of the best scenes in the book is the two of them finally making love.

Darcy/Lizzy: Classic He said something harsh/She overhears and gets her back up. Darcy sticks his foot in it a lot, but that’s because he doesn’t know how what he says seems to have secret meanings to Lizzy. She judges him harshly, but in the end they figure each other out and learn to let go of the fear that’s keeping them apart. One of my favorite scenes is where Darcy doesn’t listen to Lizzy as she begs him for emotional space and he completely overwhelms her with his intensity. Hot and sad.

Other classic characters:

  • George Wickham: Is a real sleaze. Luckily he doesn’t go after Lydia.
  • Georgina Darcy: Sweet as can be, she graduates high school.
  • Lydia and Kitty Bennet: Cameo appearances in the beginning.
  • Mr/Mrs Bennet: Cameo appearances as well.
  • Collins: Hideous as usual but handled swiftly.
  • Ann/Catherine de Bourgh: Both are pretty unlikeable characters.
  • Caroline Bingley: Not an evil snob, but a hard working loyal sister.

Review: A fun alternative to Regency based P&P variations. Recommended if you like Rock & Roll & Sex!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star

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Review: Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise

How can you get Lizzy and Darcy to meet each other without prejudice? Take them out of the country of course! By sticking them on a ship bound to the Americas, Kara Louise gives them a chance to see them for themselves… well sort of ;) There’s still some obstacles and misunderstandings.

Two years before the voyage Darcy and Lizzy met on a carriage ride out of London. (Darcy was on this hired carriage because the family one was being repaired.) They have a great conversation which sticks with both of them long after they separate. They just forgot one thing – to get each other’s names!

Darcy’s going to America to retrieve Georgiana after her governess takes ill and can’t return to England. There’s no way he’s letting her go by herself!

But that’s just what Mr. Bennet allows Lizzy to do. She’s traveling to America to be with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners. Jane decided not to go because she gets seriously sea sick.

When Elizabeth falls ill after taking care of the women and children in steerage, Darcy chucks convention overboard and gets on bended knee. Lizzy is too out of it to really see that his “Marry me and you get a nice bed out of steerage, I promise this is totally platonic, you’ll be saving me from marriage minded barracudas, we’ll get it annulled back in England later” really means “I want to marry you, it will save me from marriage minded barracudas, can we please share a bed? I want you and I don’t want an annulment.” :D

Of course he keeps by his vocal promise, which leads to misunderstandings and an angst ridden separation. Poor Lizzy and Darcy. They really need to work on their conversation skills and learn to say what they’re really feeling and not assume the other can read their mind.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Darcy’s Voyage: A tale of uncharted love on the open seas (Pride & Prejudice Continues)

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