The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig – Excerpt & Giveaway

The Lure of the Moonflower, by Lauren Willig (2015)It is release day for one of my favorite Regency-era series: The Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig. Her latest and last installment is The Lure of the Moonflower. As you all gasp in shock over my last statement—yes—it is the last book in the series, now totaling 12 novels.

This week, we are honored to be among a group of select bloggers celebrating the release of The Lure of the Moonflower. Here is an excerpt and a chance at a giveaway of the novel. Details are listed at the bottom of the post. Just leave a comment to qualify.

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.

Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

EXCERPT

To set the scene….  It’s 1807 and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, is on the trail of the missing queen of Portugal, with orders to find her before Napoleon does.  But to do so, she needs the help of Jack Reid, the agent known as the Moonflower.  He speaks the language; he knows the terrain.  She doesn’t.  But Jane doesn’t like losing control, so she decides to even the odds by having them travel in a way which gives her the upper hand: disguised as French soldiers, she an officer, and Jack her servant.

She doesn’t count on her “servant” sharing her tent….

“Daydreaming, Lieutenant?” Jack Reid let the flap of the tent fall back down behind him as he walked in as though he owned it.

“What are you doing here?” Hastily, Jane yanked her jacket back around her shoulders. As befitted an officer, the shirt beneath was made of fine linen. Too fine.

Jack tossed his hat onto her cot, where it spattered rainwater on her blanket. “We made less than five miles today. At this rate we’ll make Porto by spring.”

“Don’t be absurd. I’m sure we’ll pick up speed tomorrow.” Jane snatched the hat off the bed and thrust it back at him. “Don’t you have somewhere else you need to be?”

“The mule is settled and Moreau’s servant is short a week’s pay. Dice,” Jack explained helpfully, as he plucked Jane’s cloak from its peg and began rolling it into a makeshift pallet.

“How nice for you,” said Jane, with heavy sarcasm. Heaven help her, she was beginning to sound like him. She set her hands on her hips. “What are you doing?”

“Insurance.” Jack removed a pair of pistols and placed them by the side of the pallet. “Not to mention that it’s drier inside than out.”

He plunked himself down on Jane’s cloak, smiling seraphically up at her.

Jane blinked down at him. She hadn’t thought about where he would sleep. She had assumed, if she had thought of it, that the officers’ servants would have their own accommodations.

The tent felt very small with Jack Reid in it.

Jane narrowed her eyes at him. “You can’t bunk with one of the other batmen?”

“And leave you unprotected?”

There, at least, she was on firm ground. Jane reached beneath her pillow. “I have my own pistols.”

“Try not to point them at me,” said Jack, and settled back, using his camp bag as a pillow. “Would you mind blowing out the lantern when you’re done prinking? I don’t like sleeping with a candle lit.”

Neither did Jane, but that was beside the point. “What about ‘go’ and ‘away’ don’t you understand . . . Rodrigo?”

Jack propped himself up on one elbow. The lamplight picked out the strands of copper in his dark hair, dancing along the lines of his muscles beneath the folds of his shirt.

“Are you going missish on me, princess?” There was a dangerous glitter in his amber eyes. “Because if you are, tell me now and we can abandon this whole bloody charade.”

The profanity, Jane had no doubt, was deliberate and designed to shock. “If this is an attempt to provoke me, I can assure you, it will be quite unavailing.”

“‘Quite unavailing’?” Jack collapsed back on his camp bag, rolling his eyes up at the roof of the tent. “Forget what I said about not pointing those things at me. Put me out of my misery and shoot me now.”

Jane resisted the urge to direct a short, sharp kick to the side of the Moonflower’s head. “No one asked you to join me.”

“Didn’t you?” retorted Jack mockingly. “I don’t remember being given much choice in the matter. Master.”

“In my tent,” Jane amended, glaring at him.

It was too cold to strip down entirely, but she’d intended at least to remove her boots before seeking her bed. Jane regarded the recumbent figure on the floor—on her cloak—with tight lips. Missish, he had called her.

If she could endure his presence in her tent, he could bear with her wet feet.

Jack rolled onto his side, looking up at her with an expression of feigned innocence. “Need help with that?”

“I can manage,” said Jane, with as much dignity as she could muster while hanging half upside down. These boots had been designed with a valet in mind. Either that or the leather had shrunk in the rain.

The first boot came off with a pop, nearly conking her erstwhile batman in the head.

Jack dodged out of the way. “Apparently not,” he said, and before Jane could stop him he had gripped the other boot by the heel. “Relax, princess. Consider this a basic instinct for self-preservation.”

“I thought you had rather a well-developed instinct for that,” said Jane tartly. Empires could rise and fall, but the Moonflower always seemed to land on his feet.

“If I did, would I be here with you?”

The boot came off easily in his hands, leaving Jane’s leg bare but for her silk stockings, rather the worse for wear. Jack Reid’s fingers ran along her calf, his thumb digging into the tight muscles, massaging them.

Jane froze.

So did Jack Reid. He snatched his hand away as though burned.

Jane drew her leg back, tucking it behind the other. She could feel the tingles all the way up her shin. “Thank you. For your help with the boot.”

Jack Reid rocked back on his heels. “This is only the beginning, you know.” He looked up at her, his eyes dark in the uncertain light. “I’m your manservant. I live in your tent. I see to your, ahem, needs. You’re going to be seeing a lot of me, princess.”

Jane pressed her eyes briefly shut. Of course. Another ploy, another stratagem. She ought to have known.

“We’re not going back to Lisbon,” said Jane flatly.

“Suit yourself.” Jack shrugged, burrowing down into Jane’s cloak and tipping his hat down over his nose. From beneath the brim, she heard him murmur, “It’s going to be a long march.”

END OF EXCERPT

AUTHOR BIO

Lauren Willig headshot 2015Lauren Willig is the award winning, New York Times bestselling author of the Pink Carnation novels, set in the Napoleonic Era. Before becoming a full time writer she received a JD from Harvard Law. She resides in New York City.

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The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig
New American Library (2015)
Trade paperback, eBook & Audio (528) pages
ISBN: 978-0451473028

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win one paperback copy of The Lure of the Moonflower, by Lauren Willig by leaving a comment about the Pink Carnation series or your interest in this last novel in the series by 11:59 pm PT, August 12, 2015. The winner will be announced on Thursday, August 13, 2015. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all.

Our Reviews of The Pink Carnation Series

Cover image courtesy of NAL © 2015, excerpt Lauren Willig © 2015, Austenprose.com

Q&A with Patrice Kindl, Author of A School For Brides, & Giveaway

A School for Brides, by Patrice Kindl 2015It is a rare delight in reading to discover a new author that you feel could become one of your most cherished favorites. When “every feature works,” I am revved up and ready to share my excitement.

Such is the case with Patrice Kindl, who until a review copy of A School for Brides landed on my doorstep last month was entirely unknown to me. Further research revealed that this new release was a companion novel to her first in the Lesser Hoo series, Keeping the Castle. Set in the Regency period both novels share many of the same characters, paralleling the same time frame, but from a different perspective. Better and better.

Before diving into A School for Brides I decided to power through an audio recording of Keeping the Castle. It knocked my bonnet off. If I could describe Kindl’s writing in one sentence, I would say that it is a skillful blending of Jane Austen’s genius with social satire, Georgette Heyer’s exuberant humor and Dodie Smith’s poignant romance.

Here is a description of A School for Brides from the publisher:

The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, has one goal: to train its students in the feminine arts with an eye toward getting them married off. This year, there are five girls of marriageable age. There’s only one problem: the school is in the middle of nowhere, and there are no men. Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, and featuring a few of the same characters, here’s the kind of witty tribute to the classic Regency novel that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!

Curious to learn more about Patrice Kindl and the inspiration for her Lesser Hoo novels I asked her if she would be game for a brief interview. Happily she agreed.

Welcome Patrice: 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

Ross Poldark & Demelza, by Winston Graham – Preview & Giveaway of New Sourcebooks Editions

     Ross Poldark A Novel of Cornwall, 1783 to1787 2015 x 200         Demelza A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790 by Winston Graham 2015

It’s always a red-letter day to bibliophiles when books originally published eons ago get a new life and a new audience. It usually takes a major television series or movie for this to happen. In the case of Jane Austen, we have seen new tie-in editions for Pride and Prejudice in 1995 & 2005 and Sense and Sensibility in 1996. Just the other day I saw a beautiful new movie tie-in cover for Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd in my bookstore. A good story is a good story no matter what generation it is introduced to.

Now the Poldark Saga, one of my favorite historical fiction series, is up for a remake. Some of you might remember the wildly popular television adaptation entitled Poldark on the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre in the mid 1970’s. Robin Ellis stared as dashing Captain Ross Poldark and Angharad Rees as his fiery Demelza. The two season and twenty-nine episode series was based on the first sevens novels in Winston Graham’s multi-generational saga. Now the BBC and Masterpiece have created a new production of Poldark. It aired in the UK in March and April to critical and public acclaim, garnering up to 7 million viewers an episode. Happily, US audiences will spend this summer in Cornwall swashing and buckling with dishy hero Ross Poldark when Poldark begins on Masterpiece Classic on June 21. Continue reading

Naxos AudioBooks Narrator Juliet Stevenson Chats with Austenprose

Juliet Stevenson head shot 2I have had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing many of the Naxos AudioBooks classic recordings narrated by a variety of talented British actors, but collectively my favorite readings are those by award winning actress Juliet Stevenson—whose five interpretations of Jane Austen’s novels remain paramount in my personal audio collection.

Awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1992 and the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1999, Ms. Stevenson’s vocal talent is deeply rooted in her classical training at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) and her time with Royal Shakespeare Company. While a friend boasts of seeing her stage performance of Hedda Gabler in London in 1989, beyond her audio recordings I have only had the pleasure of her film and television career—and that alone could sustain any lover of finely measured and intimate interpretations of human nature. Some of my favorite Stevenson performances are her tormented, grieving Nina in Truly Madly Deeply (1990), a part tailored for her by screenwriter/director Anthony Minghella, her outrageously pompous Mrs. Elton in Emma (1996), Evie in Being Julia (2004), and the Oracle in Atlantis (2013-2015). Everything she touches turns to gold. Continue reading

Summer Lovin’ – Meryton Press Short Story Contest

Summer Lovin Short Story Contest 2015

My regular readers know that I really enjoy short stories, so much so that I edited an anthology of Jane Austen-inspired original stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It in 2011. So, I am very pleased to share that Meryton Press, an indie publisher who specializes in Austenesque and romantic fiction is embarking on its first short story anthology called Summer Lovin’. The cherry to the top of the cake is that it will be edited by Austenprose’s long-time contributor Christina Boyd.

The contest runs February 1 – March 15, 2015. Here are the details from the publisher: Continue reading