A Jane Austen-inspired Halloween: FrankenDarcy & Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampires, by Tara O’Donnell – Preview and Exclusive Excerpt

FrankenDarcy - actor David Rintoul transformed by Bonnie Carasso

It’s Halloween today—the best day of the year to celebrate Gothic and paranormal fiction inspired by Jane Austen.

Just to put you into the spirit here is an illustration of FrankenDarcy by Bonnie Carasso, a talented graphic designer with a sense of humor. I met Bonnie in the Austenprose Facebook Group. This graphic is her cheeky interpretation of actor David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy in the 1990 BBC/PBS Pride and Prejudice mini-series mashedup as Frankenstein. The inside joke is that his interpretation of Austen’s romantic icon was a bit stiff!

Gothic fiction was a big hit in the late 1700’s. Authors like Horace Walpole’s, The Castle of Otranto (1764), Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Romance of the Forest (1791) influenced and inspired a young Jane Austen to write her own Gothic parody of the genre, Northanger Abbey, published after her death in 1817. If you have not had the opportunity to read it yet, it is hilarious. You don’t know what you’re missing!

Today there are many Austen-inspired paranormal novels featuring zombies, werewolves and vampires interlaced into her classic stories and characters. If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith , Mr. Darcy’s Bite by Mary Simonsen or Georgiana and the Wolf by Marsha Altman you might be ready for a spunky version of Austen’s creepmouse heroine from Mansfield Park, Fanny Price, like you have never seen her before.

Fanny Price: Slayer of Vampires by Tara O'Donnell (2014 )Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampires by Tara O’Donnell embraces the spirit of the Gothic fiction that inspired Jane Austen to write her own Gothic parody. Here is a preview and exclusive excerpt from the author for your Halloween entertainment.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampire gives the classic Jane Austen novel a chilling twist as a series of secret letters discovered by modern day descendants of the Bertram family reveal a menace to Mansfield Park more frightening than a visit from Aunt Norris.

This tale of terror, that Fanny Price never dared to send to her seafaring brother William, chronicles her struggles to defeat the double trouble danger brought on by Mary and Henry Crawford.

This sinister set of siblings with sharp wits, and even sharper fangs, manage to cast a spell of amiability that hides their deadly desire for Bertram blood. Armed with surety of purpose and a specially sharpened keepsake, can Fanny put aside her creepmouse manners in order to protect the only true home she knows and loves, as well as her beloved Edmund? Or does she have enough difficulty keeping Lady Bertram awake during tea time?

From the author of The Austen Avenger comes a fang in cheek celebration of Jane Austen’s most underrated heroine from Mansfield Park, Fanny Price, on the 200th anniversary of the publication of the original novel, Mansfield Park. She may speak softly, but Fanny does carry quite the sharp stick for staking!

EXCERPT (from Letter the Eleventh, from Part One)

In this letter from the first section of the novella, the preparations for Lovers’ Vows are under way and Fanny is doing her best to help behind the scenes. A quiet moment for costume repair is unexpectedly interrupted by a private rehearsal between Henry Crawford and Maria Bertram that Fanny becomes a hidden witness to. Much to her horror, certain fears regarding this friendship are frighteningly confirmed and a new one arises….

My Dear William,

It turns out that Aunt Norris is willing to trust me with the needle when it comes to Count Cassel’s cloak after all. She thrust it at me as I went downstairs upon finishing my last letter to you. “There are but three seams; you may do them in a trice. It would be lucky for me if I had nothing but the executive part to do.” She said before turning to greet Mr. Rushworth, who was hoping that someone would help him with his lines, an almost daily occurrence at this point.

While she chatted with him regarding the need for more material for his costume, I took that most opportune moment to slip away into one of the parlor rooms with my sewing box to better concentrate on the work to be done (and there were more than three seams that needed doing, brother, not that you know much about such things! I wonder who does your laundry and sews up your sleeves that you always manage to tear? A topic for another time, perhaps, and a little peace and quiet.

So, far, I have most of it complete and in a much more satisfying way than before, if I may be so bold to say so. This play business is such a fuss, yet it does seem to make the time go by, especially for Aunt Bertram. She has expressed interest in seeing the play (although she keeps forgetting the title) but since there is a dress rehearsal tomorrow night, she is willing to wait until then to satisfy her curiosity.

Oh, I hear the door opening, I must complete this cloak and letter later…..

Oh, William, what a shock I have just had! My seat in the parlor was far enough in the corner and slightly behind a screen, so that when Mr. Crawford and Maria came in, they had no real chance of seeing me. I was about to announce my presence in the room when Mr. Crawford took her face in his hands and gazed so deeply into her eyes, with that red glimmer in his pupils growing even so bright!

She stood still in this embrace and was taking such quick breathes that I became worried for her health, but soon enough she calmed herself as Mr. Crawford whispered something to her and then released her from his grasp.

I am ashamed to say, brother, that I cowered back into my corner, feeling compelled to watch the scene unfolding before me. They then began to rehearse a scene from Lover’s Vows, where they are supposed to be mother and son but their behavior was hardily the sort that any mother and son would engage in!

“Take this, good woman” said Mr. Crawford, holding out his hand which causes her character to turn around and recognize him as her child. As they rushed to hold one another, their lips met for a kiss and a rather deep one at that!

Mr. Crawford then nuzzled her neck and said his line “What is this? How do I find my mother thus?” and I could see two of his front teeth grow long and sharp as he did so and then his mouth went from her lips to her throat, with his fangs, the only proper word for such hideous teeth, piercing the skin and drawing blood!

I gasped, fortunately not too loudly as to attract their notice but it was the voice of Mr. Yates that caught their attention as he practiced one of his loud speeches while walking the halls. I waited until they had composed themselves (Mr. Crawford placing a handkerchief to Maria’s neck, along with more whispers in her ear) and departed before leaving the parlor myself.

It is nearly an hour till dinner and yet I cannot think what to do about this. I do not wish to expose Maria’s inappropriate behavior with Mr. Crawford to all, yet I am worried about more than her virtue at this point.

Seeing how Maria’s dress collar was undone, much like Edmund’s those times before when he was alone with Miss Crawford, I truly suspect that both of them have been indulging their unnatural appetites with my cousins and yet, even if I do reveal such horrors and are believed, what will happen then? Perhaps that will embolden both brother and sister Crawford into feeding upon us all or worse….

I must think what to do, William and for now, will keep mum. Clearly, the Crawfords feel secure in their habits and will not do anything rash unless provoked. I will watch and wait but not in the frightened way I have before. I believe the answers I seek may be in those volumes that Uncle Norris left for Edmund and since he never forbade me to read them, I have no qualms about perusing them now.

I will keep you informed, privately of course, as it is far too dangerous to send these letters out to you now.

Pray for me, William, even if you do not know what for!


End of Excerpt

Author Bio: Tara O’Donnell is a former bookseller who is now working at making her literary dreams come true. She is the author of several e-books such as The Austen Avenger, The Hench Woman’s Handbook and The Chronicles of Copper Boom, all of which feature cover art created by her talented sister Stephanie O’Donnell.

Tara has contributed humorous pieces to Galleycat’s Longest Literary Remix series and had a sketch entitled “Bennet Bridezillas” published in the anthology Bad Austen: The Worst Stories That Jane Never Wrote. Her current writing can be seen at Living Read Girl, her pop culture blog, and in private, she has a full fledged novel in the works.

Much like Elinor Dashwood, Tara resides with her widowed mother and younger sister, plus a trio of charming cats (and yes, one of them is named after the heroine of Twilight). Unlike Elinor, Tara does have a passion for dead leaves, along with Gilmore Girls and the delight that a good book can bring.

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Fanny Price: Slayer of Vampires, by Tara O’Donnell
Smashwords (2014)
Digital eBook (163) pages
ISBN: 9781311094391

Cover image and excerpt courtesy of Tara O’Donnell © 2014, Austenprose.com

Giveaway Winners Announced for First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )It’s time to announce the 3 winners of hardcover copies of First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

  • Missyisms who left a comment on Oct 21, 2014
  • Ladysusanpdx who left a comment on Oct 20, 2014
  • Cozynookbks who left a comment on Oct 21, 2014

Congratulations to the winners! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by November 5, 2014 or you will forfeit your prize! Shipment to US addresses only. One winner per IP address.

Thanks to all who left comments, to author Charlie Lovett for his guest blog, and to his publisher Viking (Penguin Group USA) for the giveaways.

Cover image courtesy of Viking (Penguin Group USA) © 2014; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2014, Austenprose.com

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery – Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twleve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron 2014 x 200We are very excited to welcome Austenesque author Stephanie Barron to Austenprose today for the virtual book launch party of her new novel, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, the twelfth installment in the fan-favorite Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.

Ardent readers of Austenprose will remember that I am a huge fan of this fabulous series featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth – so much so that we celebrated  2011 with the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge, including all eleven novels in the series to date. It was great fun only dampened by the possibility that the eleventh mystery, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, might be the last in the series. Imagine my delight when I heard the news that Soho Press would be publishing the next mystery!

The three year wait was torture, but now Stephanie Barron’s darling child has arrived in grand style. We are so thrilled that she has honored us with this fabulous guest blog revealing her inspiration to write the novel based on actual history, and Jane Austen of course.

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?


“Vivid characters propel the subtle plot to its surprising conclusion. The first-person narration captures Austen’s tone as revealed in her letters: candid, loving, and occasionally acerbic.” – stared review by – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“[A]n excellent period mystery for all historical fiction fans … Jane Austen devotees will especially appreciate immersing themselves in the many biographical details about Austen that accompany the fictional murder mystery.” – LIBRARY JOURNAL 

“Sings with not just a good plot but courtly language and an engaging group of characters worthy of the famed novelist herself … a first-rate mystery with so many twists and turns that you can hardly blame a reader who doesn’t figure it out until the end.” – THE DENVER POST 


Keeping Christmas with Jane

This year on December 24th we celebrate not just Christmas Eve, but a very special bicentennial: the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of…the Treaty of Ghent.

Signing of the Treaty of Ghent 1814 by Amédée Forestier

Signing of the Treaty of Ghent, by Amédée Forestier (1814)

Alert history buffs will note immediately that two of the men pictured above are vaguely recognizable. At center is John Quincy Adams, then serving as US Ambassador to Russia. Shaking his hand is Admiral of the Fleet, James Gambier—or “Dismal Jimmy” as he was called in the Royal Navy. The Admiral was known for his pious habits and dour command of Britannia’s waves. Standing behind him are his lieutenants—let’s call one of them John Gage.  He’s holding a dispatch case, which eventually proves his undoing.

The treaty signed that Christmas Eve ended the War of 1812. We remember the conflict for two things: Dolley Madison hustling through the burning White House with George Washington’s portrait under her arm, and Francis Scott Key setting a national anthem to an old tavern song. But the British knew this was a war that should never really have happened. It was a waste of their time from start to finish, despite the razing of our nation’s capital. The Royal Navy suffered surprising defeats that suggested we might one day challenge their mastery of the sea. The Treaty of Ghent proved largely in America’s favor. And the Duke of Wellington fretted over the fact that his brother-in-law was killed in the conflict, while his crack Peninsular troops were marching far too far from home.

Jane Austen

Portrait of Jane Austen

Even Jane Austen was annoyed by the whole thing.  She wrote to Martha Lloyd September 2, 1814, that the Americans “cannot be conquered,” and that by engaging them on land and sea, “we shall only be teaching them the skill in War which they may now want. We are to make them good Sailors & Soldiers, & gain nothing ourselves.”  She went on to say that she placed her faith in the fact that England was improving in religion, despite all its evils, which she could not believe true of Americans; so much for her good opinion.

Jane kept up with the political and international news of the day because she had two brothers in the Royal Navy. She also was quite familiar with Dismal Jimmy. Admiral Gambier was one of Capt. Frank Austen’s patrons, and he was married to Louisa Mathew, whose cousin Ann was James Austen’s first wife. The Gambiers and the Mathews formed part of the closely interwoven society of northern Hampshire, the area around Steventon where Jane spent her girlhood—and indeed, spent the Christmas Season of 1814. I had only to connect Dismal Jimmy, the treaty, and Jane Austen to realize there was a book in the business somewhere. The result is JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.

Which brings us to the real point of this essay: Parties.

The Georgian Christmas was nothing like ours, which is essentially an invention of Queen Victoria and her German Albert. The Georgian—and by extension, Regency Christmas—began on Christmas Day and carried on with games and dances and multi-course meals and gifts and great clothes until Twelfth Night, the eve of January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany.  During those twelve days, everyone paid calls on one another, drifted innocently under pagan sprigs of mistletoe, drank rum punch against the bitter cold, and got up impromptu parties in various drawing-rooms. They also planned their costumes for the culminating treat: the Twelfth Night Ball. This looked a lot like our Mardi Gras. Social norms were inverted; master became servant, servant became master, ladies paraded as gentlemen and gentlemen teetered in high heels beneath their gowns. Children played Kings and Queens and had toddlers for their Court. Jane’s Ball is held at The Vyne, home of the Chute family and one of the great houses in the Steventon neighborhood.

Illustration of The Vyne in Hampshire circa 1800

Illustration of The Vyne in Hampshire, England circa 1800

William Chute was a member of parliament, but is best remembered as Master of the Vyne Hunt, of which James Austen was an enthusiastic member. The Vyne Hunt traditionally met on the Feast of St. Stephen—December 26th, now known as Boxing Day in England. Seen below are the Heathcotes of Hursley Park: Sir William, 3rd baronet, and his sons Thomas and William, in their Vyne hunting jackets.  William Heathcote married Jane’s friend Elizabeth Bigg in 1798 and widowed her, sadly, only four years later.

Heathcoastes of Hurley Park by Sir Willaim Daniel Gardner 1790

 Heathcoastes of Hursley  House,  Hampshire by Daniel Gardner circa 1790

A blizzard and the unexpected arrival of John Gage with his dispatch box forestall the Hunt’s plans in JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. There are compensations, however. Jane enjoys her stay at The Vyne, with its excellent conversation, its flowing wine, its comfortable fires and its consoling library—not to mention one intriguing fellow guest: Mr. Raphael West. The eldest son of the Royal Academy founder and revered artist, Benjamin West, Raphael has journeyed into Hampshire to paint William Chute. But when a body is discovered in the snowy drifts of the park, Jane gives full rein to her suspicions. Is West merely a painter? Or adept in the art of murder?

Here he is, left, in a portrait by his father.

Raphael West and Benjamin West Jr., Sons of the Artist, by Benjamin West, c 1796

 Raphael West and Benjamin West Jr., Sons of the Artist, by Benjamin West, c. 1796


Author Stephanie BarronStephanie Barron is the author of  JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, the twelfth in the series of Jane Austen Mysteries, which Kirkus hails as “charming, literate and unequaled,” the New York Times calls “genteelly jolly,” and Entertainment Weekly applauds for “echoing the rhythms of the Austen novels with uncanny ease.”  Oprah put Jane on her list of “Ten Mystery Novels Every Woman Should read,” while Publishers Weekly simply says: “Superb.”

A graduate of Princeton and Stanford, Stephanie studied European history and spent four years at the CIA. She also writes as Francine Mathews; the New Yorker called Mathews’ JACK 1939 “the most deliciously high-concept thriller imaginable.”   Ian Fleming gets the spy treatment next in the forthcoming World War II thriller TOO BAD TO DIEStephanie/Francine lives in Denver, Colorado, where she is currently writing JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP, set at Carlton House In the autumn of 1815.

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In celebration of the release of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, please enter a giveaway chance for one of five hardcover copies signed by Stephanie Barron available by asking the author a question today, October 28th, or by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about this new mystery, or which one of the previous novels in the series is your favorite by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, November 5, 2014. Winners will be announced on Thursday, November 6, 2014. Shipment to US addresses. Good luck to all!

Many thanks to author Stephanie Barron for the signed copies of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas and for joining us today. I am of in raptures over the announcement of the thirteenth book in the series, Jane and the Waterloo Map!

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron
Soho Press (2014)
Hardcover & eBook (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1616954239

Cover image courtesy of Soho Press © 2014; text Stephanie Barron © 2014, Austenprose.com

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6), by Victoria Connelly – Preview and Exclusive Excerpt

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6) by Victoria Connelly (2014)Austenesque author Victoria Connelly’s next installment in her contemporary Austen Addicts series has just been released by Notting Hill Press. At Home with Mr. Darcy marks her sixth book following: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (2011), Dreaming of Mr. Darcy (2011), Mr. Darcy Forever (2013), Christmas with Mr. Darcy (2013) and Happy Birthday, Mr. Darcy (2013). Each of the novels and novellas continue the story of original characters that endearingly resemble Austen’s in some small way or another.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

The Austen Addicts are back!

It’s summer and renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, has organised a treat: the first Purley Hall Jane Austen holiday – to the home of Mr Darcy no less.

With Katherine and Warwick, Robyn, Doris Norris and the rest of the gang, it’s going to be a trip to remember. But then a hardened journalist and non-Janeite, Melissa Berry, joins the party. Fearing a stitch-up, the friends rally together, hoping to convince Melissa that the only way is Austen…

At Home with Mr Darcy is the sixth title in the bestselling Austen Addicts series.

EXCERPT (from chapter 6)

‘Chatsworth is one of England’s greatest “Treasure Houses”,’ Dame Pamela announced as the minibus came to a halt after arriving at its first Pemberley, ‘and a place I was lucky enough to call home for a summer whilst I was filming Twelfth Night.’ She paused as the minibus exploded into applause as everybody remembered the tour de force that was Dame Pamela’s Viola.

‘Pemberley was thought to be situated near Bakewell,’ she continued, ‘and many Jane Austen fans believe that Chatsworth is the house she had in mind when she was envisioning Mr Darcy’s home.’ She took a deep breath. ‘”To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.”‘

Everybody except Melissa cheered as they remembered the line from the book, standing up from their seats and grabbing their bags and cameras.

‘This is too too exciting!’ Doris Norris exclaimed as she caught Katherine’s eye.

‘You know, Elizabeth and the Gardiners took “their Northern tour” in the month of July. So we’re here at the perfect time too,’ Katherine said.

‘Of course,’ Dame Pamela said. ‘We like to get things right, you know.’

‘Isn’t it Chatsworth on the front of the Hodder edition of Pride and Prejudice? I’m sure it is,’ Annie said, producing a copy from her handbag.

‘It looks very much like it,’ Rose said, peering at it.

Mr Allsop, the driver, cleared his throat. ‘Can I switch this off now?’ he asked.

Dame Pamela looked confused for a moment and then she realised that the Dario Marianelli soundtrack to the 2005 film adaptation was still playing.

‘Oh, yes,’ she said.

‘Thanks heavens for that,’ he said under his breath.

Dame Pamela shot him a look of disapproval as she left the minibus.

The driver turned to look at Robyn. ‘You folks really are nuts about this Austen woman, aren’t you?’

‘Oh, yes,’ Robyn said.

They were to spend the entire day at Chatsworth. With the enormous house, extensive gardens and grounds as well as the restaurant, cafes and deluxe shops to be visited, there was enough to entertain any holidaymaker let alone a Janeite who needed to do nothing more than wander around with a trusty copy of Pride and Prejudice in their hands.

The group soon split up with most making a beeline for the house first. Robyn was one of them, drifting around in a dream as her eyes roamed from fine old portraits to decadent pieces of furniture. She gloried in crossing the black and white floor in the Painted Hall just as Keira Knightley had done in the 2005 adaptation and nearly screamed for joy when she saw her first view of the Emperor Fountain from one of the bevelled glass windows.

It was an enormous house with so many splendid rooms that it made Robyn feel quite dizzy. Like Elizabeth Bennet when she visited Pemberley, Robyn made sure she looked out of each window at the landscape beyond, glorying in the immaculate gardens and the countryside in which they were set.

‘”To be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”‘ she quoted to herself, remembering Elizabeth’s words as she’d thought about what her future might have been had she accepted Mr Darcy’s first proposal. Robyn smiled. How would she have reacted if Dan had revealed himself to be the master of a property like Pemberley? Would she have swooned at the thought of being its mistress? She didn’t think so. She probably would have run a mile because their home at Horseshoe Cottage was her idea of perfection. Of course, she was also lucky enough to be able to work at Purley Hall which was grand by anybody’s standards. No, she thought, as beautiful as they were, the Chatsworths and Pemberleys of the world were suited to other people – not her.

After touring the house, Katherine and Warwick found themselves walking behind Melissa Berry. She had shunned the house in favour of the gardens and was now making her way towards the stable block where the restaurant and shops were.

‘Shall I tackle her now?’ Warwick asked Katherine.

‘I don’t like your use of the word tackle,’ Katherine said. ‘It sounds like you’re going to get her in some sort of head lock.’

‘I wish I could,’ he said, ‘then maybe I could make her see reason.’

‘You haven’t got to make her see reason,’ Katherine said, ‘only the joys of Jane Austen.’

‘Isn’t that the same thing?’ Warwick asked with a lopsided smile that still melted Katherine. ‘Leave her to me. You go and buy yourself a book or something in the shop.’

Katherine laughed. ‘I don’t need any encouragement to buy books.’

They entered a wide courtyard where tables and chairs were set out and people were eating and drinking in the sunshine. There was a small fountain in the middle and a bar at the far side selling drinks and ice creams. Melissa Berry was heading towards the bar.

‘Can I get you a coffee?’ Warwick asked as he approached her.

She jumped in alarm. ‘I thought you lot would all be in the house following in the footsteps of Mr Darcy,’ she said.

‘We’ve just been round,’ he said.

They both bought coffee and went to sit in one of the bright purple seats.

‘How long have you been a journalist?’ he asked.

‘A couple of years,’ she said, sipping her coffee.

‘And you like it?’

‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Do you like being a novelist?’

‘So you know about that?’

‘It’s my business to know about the people I write about,’ she said, her face blank and unreadable. ‘So, do you like it?’

‘I love it,’ he said. ‘It’s the kind of job you couldn’t do unless you love it.’

‘I guess,’ she said and there was a pause.

‘So,’ Warwick began again after taking a sip of his coffee, ‘have you read much Jane Austen?’

‘No,’ Melissa said bluntly. ‘Just a bit of that Pride and Prejudice one and some stuff about her life in preparation for this job.’

Warwick’s left hand clenched into an angry fist under the table. A bit of that Pride and Prejudice one. She was a hopeless case, wasn’t she?


Many thanks to author Victoria Connelly for sharing this passage from her new novella, At Home with Mr. Darcy. We look forward to reading it.


Author Victoria Connelly (2012)Victoria Connelly was brought up in Norfolk and studied English literature at Worcester University before becoming a teacher. After getting married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and living in London for eleven years, she moved to rural Suffolk where she lives in a 200-year old cottage with her artist husband and family of rescued animals.

Her first novel, Flights of Angels, was published in Germany and made into a film. Victoria and her husband flew out to Berlin to see it being filmed and got to be extras in it.

She has had ten novels traditionally published worldwide and seventeen titles indie published. Several of her books, including her first volume of autobiography – Escape to Mulberry Cottage – have been Kindle bestsellers. She is now working on a brand new series called The Booklovers which will launch in 2015.

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A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (Austen Adiction Book 6), by Victoria Connelly
Notting Hill Press (2014)
Trade paperback & eBook (128) pages
ISBN: 978-1910522028

Austen Addicts banner 2014 US covers

Cover image courtesy of Notting Hill Press © 2014; text Victoria Connelly © 2014, Austenprose.com

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Charlie Lovett

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )We are thrilled to welcome bestselling author Charlie Lovett to Austenprose today as guest of honor for the virtual book launch party of his new book, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, just released by Viking (Penguin Group USA).

This intriguing new novel combines two of my favorite genres – historical romance and contemporary mystery. It features dual heroines: English author Jane Austen while she is writing her first draft of Elinor and Marianne (later entitled Sense and Sensibility) in 1796 Hampshire and Sophie Collingwood, an antiquarian bookseller in modern day London who stumbles upon a literary mystery that casts doubt upon the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s second published novel and her most famous work.


  • “[An] ingenious novel….Ardent fans of Jane Austen and lovers of gripping stories will enjoy following Sophie’s pursuit of the truth.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “[An] appealing combination of mystery, romance, and bibliophilism….An absolute must for Austen fans, a pleasure for others.” — Booklist
  • “A delightful read that Janeites will love….[Lovett] adds bookish intrigue to the life of another luminary of English literature.” — Library Journal

Mr. Lovett has generously offered a guest blog sharing his inspiration to write First Impressions—and to add to the festivities—his publisher has also offered three hardcover copies of the book in a giveaway contest. To enter, please ask Mr. Lovett a question or leave a comment following this blog post. The entry details are listed below. Good luck to all.


When I first wrote my novel The Bookman’s Tale (Viking 2013), I titled it Marginalia, which would have been a great title if the only customers were rare book librarians and literary scholars. My agent wisely suggested a change. He sold the book as The First Folio, and it ultimately became The Bookman’s Tale, but the idea of The First Folio stuck with me. If one book was titled The First Folio might my next book be titled The Second . . . something? That’s when I started thinking about the idea of a book that was worthless in its first edition but, for some reason, priceless in its second edition. Once I threw in Jane Austen, the idea for First Impressions was born. I talked to my agent about the idea very early on and he encouraged me to do two things: not write a sequel to The Bookman’s Tale, and have a female protagonist. Those two ideas are what really solidified First Impressions in my mind.

I spent several months making notes and when my wife and I were in England in the summer of 2012 I visited Steventon in Hampshire, where Jane Austen had grown up and where part of my novel would be set. I relate very strongly to place in my writing, and even though we spent less than an hour in this peaceful village, I began to see Jane there. I visited other sites associated with Jane Austen—from Bath to Winchester to Chawton—but I wanted to write about young Jane Austen, and Steventon is where she spent her formative years and where she started writing. That one hour spent basking in the quiet, looking out over the fields shimmering in the summer sun, sitting inside the cool stone church Jane had attended for all those years, provided more inspiration than a hundred hours of research possibly could.

Why Jane Austen? Well, it seems that Jane Austen was always in my house. My father, now retired, was an English Professor at Wake Forest University, and his specialty was the eighteenth century. True, Jane Austen’s novels were not published until the early nineteenth century, but her work was very much a part of his syllabus and he often talked about her. In seventh grade, I made the rather impetuous decision to read more “grown up” books in my spare time. I read Brave New World and then I moved on to Pride and Prejudice. Now I can’t tell you exactly who Jane Austen’s imagined audience was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t seventh grade American boys of the 1970s. To me, the novel was nothing more than a soap opera. How could my dad spend all his time with this stuff? Sadly, I let this impression of Austen guide me for the next couple of decades. I was probably in my thirties when I picked up Pride and Prejudice and gave it a second chance. The first thing that surprised me was that it was funny—really funny. And it was smart and incisive and observant. I regretted having spent so long laboring under my seventh grade misconceptions, and since then I have read Austen frequently and with much enjoyment.

When I set about writing Jane Austen as a character, I didn’t want to know too much about her. Yes, I wanted to get the facts of her life correct—where she lived, when she wrote her novels, the names of her family members—but I was creating a character in a novel. So, instead of looking to her biography to discover her personality, I looked to the novels. What kind of person, I asked myself, would write Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility? To me Jane had to be not just smart but witty, energetic, a tad irreverent, and quietly revolutionary. I did my best to make her all of this as she interacts with her fictional mentor, Richard Mansfield. I also endowed my contemporary heroine, Sophie Collingwood, who fights to save Jane’s reputation, with some of the same qualities.

I truly enjoyed spending time with these two remarkable young women, and I hope you will too.

Charlie Lovett 2014AUTHOR BIO: Charlie Lovett, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Bookman’s Tale, is a former antiquarian bookseller who has collected books and materials related to Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland for over thirty years. He has written several books on Carroll and served as president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. As an educator, he served for more than a decade as writer in residence at Summit School in his hometown of Winston-Salem, NC. There he wrote twenty plays for young audiences, which have been published and seen around the world in more than 3000 productions. Charlie is a member of the Grolier Club for book collectors and is currently at work curating an exhibit at Lincoln Center on “Alice in Performance” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland. He and his wife Janice live in Winston-Salem and in Kingham, Oxfordshire. Please visit him online at his website, charlielovett.com, on Facebook as Charlie Lovett Author, and follow him on Twitter as @CharlieLovett42.


UPDATE 10/23 – Q&A with author Charlie Lovett has closed, but the giveaway contest

remains open until Oct 30th. Just leave a comment to qualify. 

In celebration of the release of First Impressions, please enter a chance to win one of three hardcover copies available by leaving a question for Charlie Lovett or a comment sharing what intrigues you about this novel before 11:59 pm, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Thursday, October 30, 2014. Shipment is to US addresses only. Good luck to all.

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett
Viking (Penguin Group USA) 2014
Hardcover and eBook (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0525427247

Cover image courtesy of Viking Adult © 2014; text Charlie Lovett © 2014, Austenprose.com