Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, Edited by Christina Boyd – A Review

Sun-Kissed, edited by Christina Boyd (2015)From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

Today I have the distinct honor of reviewing Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, edited by none other than my fellow Austenprose contributor Christina Boyd. It comes along at the perfect time of year as many of us are packing our beach bags full of summer reads that provide companionship while lying on a beach towel or sitting in a chair with our toes in the sand. I’ve always been a big fan of short story anthologies because they offer fun and tantalizing stories that typically lead me to read more of the authors’ works, much like an appetizer before the entrée.  This particular collection of works has been chosen for its relevance to summer or other light and refreshing themes. Although I personally don’t have any plans for a trip to the beach soon, I sat down with this collection on my back porch and improvised, taking in the light and fun works that soon whisked me away.

Since there are several stories in the anthology, here are their plot summaries from Goodreads: 

“So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in…” Thomas Hardy

If you desire a little heat, a summer flirtation, or an escape to bask in your own private sun…this whimsical collection of original short stories is inspired by all things summer. From some of Meryton Press’s most popular and award-winning authors, the anthology debuts other promising and emerging talent.

  • In KaraLynne Mackrory’s “Shades of Pemberley,” Mr. Darcy, with some fantastic assistance, discovers Elizabeth Bennet in a most unlikely place.
  • Karen M. Cox’s “Northanger Revisited” modernizes Northanger Abbey at a fictionalized Georgia seaside.
  • Linda Beutler takes us to Paris as a young gentleman is schooled in the ways of amour in “The Incomplete Education of Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
  • In “Spyglasses and Sunburns,” J. Marie Croft takes the Miss Bennets to the seaside where they chance upon handsome acquaintances.
  • In Abigail Bok’s “Summer at Sanditon,” a little sea-bathing seems just the thing to cure what ails Anne de Bourgh.
  • In Natalie Richards’ “Midsummer Madness,” an honest confession and a promise between mysterious strangers at a masque ball mends a misunderstanding.
  • Sophia Rose re-imagines a modern-day Persuasion in “Second Chance at Sunset Beach.”
  • In Morgan K Wyatt’s “Dream Spinner,” a near-death car accident and an unlikely trucker, brings fresh perspective to a young co-ed’s life and love.
  • Contemporary and Regency alike, each romance was dreamt as a perfect summer refreshment to bring a smile to your own sun-kissed face.

Typically I provide a synopsis of the work I’m reviewing, but given that this is an anthology, I’ll provide some thoughts on certain works that stood out and made me smile. First off, “Spyglasses & Sunburns” by J. Marie Croft was definitely my favorite work of the bunch. I really enjoyed how Croft infused humor into the story, and as a hilariously pale person myself, I often chuckled every time a character mistook someone’s blushing for sunburn. It was a collection of these small yet smart and funny asides that made the story a joy to read and kept me laughing to the end.

My second favorite work was “Second Chance on Sunset Beach” by Sophia Rose, a contemporary version of Persuasion. Simply put, the writing was beautiful. Although these short works only have a limited amount of time and space to get their points across, this one came through loud and clear. It packed an emotional punch that pulled me in from the very beginning. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a short story that has been able to have such a fast-acting impact on me, and as such I was riveted until the end. Callie and Cameron are definitely characters that will stick with you.

Another great standout in this collection has to be “Midsummer Madness” by Natalie Richards. Although it could just be the shared word, it really reminded me of A Midsummer Night’s Dream due to its whimsical nature. It was quick, smart, and I really enjoyed the way that Richards used the masque ball as a backdrop to the story. The imagery was really vibrant and I had no trouble imagining the setting.  (And the star crossed “Lady Butterfly” and “Sir Shadow” will certainly make your heart flutter with their feelings on the loves they seem to think are gone forever.)

I have to commend Christina for editing together such a great group of short stories. I love the unified themes of summer, romance, and the sea that permeate these works and make me feel even closer to summer. I think it’s a great testament to the Jane Austen fan fiction community as a whole that such quality work can come together and provide us with great entertainment this season. As in any anthology there are bound to be stories that readers will like and dislike. There is enough of a variety here to please Austen fan-fiction readers of all tastes. In all, the stories in Sun-kissed will make you feel all the joy, beauty, and respite that a day spent in the sun at the beach exudes.

5 out of 5 Stars

Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, edited by Christina Boyd
Meryton Press (2015)
Trade paperback & eBook (251) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009435

Amazon | Goodreads

Additional Reviews

Cover image courtesy of Meryton Press © 2015; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2015, Austenprose.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Poldark Season One Episode Three on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson in Episode 3 of Poldark (2015)

Last week in episode two of Poldark we saw Ross and Elizabeth’s sexually charged dance at the assembly ball reveal their continued attraction, the wile Warleggans planting seeds of destruction and Demelza, cleaned up and earning admiration from her employer.

This week in episode three we witness two weddings and a scything.

Fair warning. This episode is packed with so many plotlines that even this most astute fan needed to take extensive notes. In addition (if you did not blink) we witnessed a mine opening, scurrilous gossip, two births, a near fatal heart attack, more scurrilous gossip, a court trial, accusations of sin, said sin actualized, and of course, more slithering on the sidelines by those dastardly Warleggans.

(there be spoilers ahead)

RECAP

Are the rumors true do you think? — Dr. Choake

Well, he’s a damn fool if they are not.” — Horace Treneglos

Rumors are afoot in Cornwall. Captain Poldark may have employed the13 year-old Demelza with honorable intensions to save her from beatings and starvation, but society can only see the scandal in it. Are these comments telescoping what will come now that she is 17 and a beautiful young woman?

Jason Squibb and Aidan Turner in Episode 3 of Poldark (2015)

Rev. Odger (Jason Squibb) lays on the implied guilt to Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner)

Continue reading

Shakespeare Basics for Grown-Ups: Everything You Need to Know About the Bard, by E. Foley and B. Coates – A Review

Shakespear Basics for Gown Ups, by E Foley and B. Coates 2015 x 200From the desk of Br. Paul Byrd, OP:

“We [the authors] don’t claim to be Shakespeare scholars; we are ordinary readers who were curious to learn more about our greatest national poet, and we became passionate about passing on the most interesting facts we discovered. The aim of this book is to give a solid understanding of Shakespeare’s genius and to arm you with the tools you need to enjoy him with confidence and insight” (2).

So begin Foley and Coates, two British book editors and authors of Homework for Grown-Ups (2009). In this new book, the duo takes on the daunting task of presenting a survey course on Shakespeare for adults in just 326 pages. But this is not your typical “For Dummies” book with a blue-million timelines, illustrations, and text boxes interrupting every other line and making it nearly impossible to focus and remember; instead, this book is a well-crafted teaching tool for those wanting a basic, but detailed, education on Shakespeare. This includes what one might expect: reviews of Shakespeare’s life, background information about Renaissance theatres, and summaries of Shakespeare’s major plays; but the book also boasts several unique features, which I will discuss below. Suffice it to say that, as an English teacher, I learned a great deal from this book and intend to use several selections from it in my lessons next school year.

The first chapter is all about Shakespeare’s identity. How well does anyone really know the most famous British writer of all time? The authors’ first order of business is to remind readers that there is actual evidence that a man named William Shakespeare did in fact exist. “There is a record of his baptism at Holy Trinity Church in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564…” (13). We know that he married Anne Hathaway in 1582, and that he was a rather successful businessman by the 1590s (14-15). That’s not to say that Foley and Coates skirt the conspiracy theories; in fact, they conclude the first chapter with a chart of all the major theories of authorship, beginning with those centered on Shakespeare himself, then moving into the other suspected authors: Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere (Earl of Oxford), Christopher Marlowe, and Queen Elizabeth I (36-41). Given its concise formatting, this chart is the perfect tool for group discussion or classroom instruction. Continue reading

Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow — A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Miss Georgiana of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow (2015)It is pleasure to welcome author Shannon Winslow to Austenprose today. Writer of several popular Austenesque novels, Shannon will be releasing her next book, Miss Georgian Darcy of Pemberley on July 21, 2015. A companion novel to her best-selling The Darcys of Pemberley, the story is told from the point of view of Mr. Darcy’s little sister Georgiana and parallels the events we experienced in the first novel. Here for your enjoyment is a preview and exclusive excerpt.

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

What’s Georgiana Darcy’s story? Jane Austen tells us so little in Pride and Prejudice that we’re left to wonder. How did the early loss of her parents shape Miss Darcy’s character? And what about her near-disastrous affair with Mr. Wickham? Is that the true source of her shyness? She adores her brother and his new wife Elizabeth, but will their guiding influence be enough to steer Georgiana clear of new trouble as she comes of age and falls in love again?

This work is intended as a companion of sorts to The Darcys of Pemberley (sequel to Pride and Prejudice), with the timelines of the two running parallel. Both novels are unique and complete in themselves, but together they supply a richer reading experience than either one alone. The earlier book focused primarily on Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship during their early married life. There was a third Darcy represented in the title, however. Now she and her courtship story take center stage in Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.

EXCERPT (from chapter 12)

Setup: Following a devastating disappointment on the romantic front (concerning a gentleman who shall remain nameless in this excerpt to avoid spoilers), Georgiana hears some good news – her brother and his wife are expecting their first child.

Perhaps if I had not been so fully occupied with my own situation, I might have noticed the change in my sister’s state of health sooner. I might have marked the alteration in her appetite. I might have likewise detected her especial glow of spirits and the more tender care my brother suddenly took of her. But all these clues were lost on me. As I wrote to Andrea, the news took me completely by surprise. When Elizabeth told me, I reacted just as I reacted to nearly everything else at the time; I promptly burst into tears. Continue reading

Poldark Season One Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Poldark Season One Aidan Turner and Heida Reed

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Heida Reed as Elizabeth Poldark

We were mesmerized by last week’s premiere of Poldark on Masterpiece. Even though it was a front loading fest—to get us up to speed on the characters and lay of the land—the energy and tension really propelled our interest (and admiring gaze) toward what promises to be a swash and buckle summer.

This week in episode two, Ross dances, George wiles and Demelza washes her hair!

BRIEF RECAP (there be spoilers ahead)

A scandalous suicide and closure of another mine shocks the community, bringing the dangers of running a mine close to home. Undaunted, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) is determined to reopen Wheal Leisure, his father’s derelict copper mine. After discussions with friendly banker Mr. Pascoe (Richard Hope), they are hopeful to acquire investors in the scheme. Ross asks his cousin Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller) to join him as a partner in his venture, but he is reluctant, surprised by Ross’s altruistic reasons for resurrecting the mine to help his tenants. In a rare moment of doubt, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) expresses concern to his Uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) of their culpability in the death of mine owner Lord Basset after not extending his loans. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Sun-kissed and Mr. Darcy’s Rival

Sun kissed and Darcy Rival banner x 400

It’s time to announce the winners of Sun-kissed and Mr. Darcy’s Rival giveaways. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

Sun-kissed summer-themed gift package

  • Patty Edmisson, who left a comment on June 18, 2015

A print or digital copy of Mr. Darcy’s Rival

  • MargiesMustReads, who left a comment on June 19, 2015

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and addresse by July 03, 2015 or you will forfeit your prize! Mail shipment to US addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and to authors Christina Boyd and Kara Louise for their guest blogs and great giveaways.

Cover images courtesy of  Meryton Press and Heartworks Pulication  © 2015; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2015, Austenprose.com